DETROIT - The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric car, Honda Ridgeline pickup and Chrysler Pacifica minivan, respectively, were named North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the year at the North American International Auto Show Monday in Detroit.
The three vehicles demonstrate how the push for increased efficiency and connectivity is changing every kind of vehicle.
The Bolt aims to be the first affordable electric car with a long enough range to be most people’s sole vehicle. It can cover 238 miles without stopping when its lithium-ion batteries are fully charged, according to the EPA. That more than covers the distance most Americans drive in a day, making the Bolt practical for long distance commuters as well as city dwellers.
“The Chevrolet Bolt represents a breakthrough in EV technology that provides extended range at an affordable price, KBB.com managing editor for news Matt DeLorenzo said. “The packaging offers class-above accommodations along with high tech infotainment. Ease of operation, great visibility and good performance add up to a car that is definitely a game-changer in the EV category.”
The Bolt also costs considerably less than previous long-range electric vehicles like the Tesla S luxury sedan. After tax credits, Bolt prices start under $30,000, putting it in the same range as mainstream midsize sedans and SUVs. The Bolt’s carries five people and has plenty of cargo space.
The Ridgeline attempts to change the formula for pickups, using a car-type structure that helps it deliver a smooth ride and good fuel economy. It also offers unique features like a large storage compartment under its cargo bed, and audio speakers in the walls of the bed for tailgate parties.
“Conventional pickup trucks have gotten more refined with each generation, but they don’t come close to the quiet comfort of the Ridgeline,” juror Joe Wiesenfelder of Cars.com said.
“Pickup die-hards still won’t take this redesigned truck seriously, but its difference from rank-and-file trucks is a strength, not a weakness.”
The Pacifica minivan brings sleek new looks and a host of technologies to the classic family vehicle. It has easy-to-use, driver pleasing controls and kid-friendly features like rear video screens that can play videos or serve as touch screens to play travel games like Hangman. It’s also the first minivan to offer a plug-in hybrid model. It can cover 35 miles on battery power alone, enough to cover the daily use of many minivans.
“The Pacifica takes minivans to a new level with features consumers want,” said juror Lauren Fix, the Car Coach.
The Bolt received 364 points from jurors. The other finalists for North American Car of the Year were the Genesis G90, which received 105 points and the Volvo S90, 101 points.
The Ridgeline got 305 points to top the Ford F-Series Super Duty, 193 points, and Nissan Titan, 72.
The Pacifica received 300 points to win over the Mazda CX-9, 135, and jaguar F-Pace, 125. This is the first year of the Utility of the Year award, recognizing the overwhelming growth in sales of sport utility vehicles and minivans.
The North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle awards are presented by a panel of about 60 automotive journalists from across the United States and Canada. Now in their 24th year, the awards recognize vehicles that deliver innovation, value, performance, design excellence and driver satisfaction. I'm one of the jurors, and vote for the awards.
The jury consists of journalists working in print, broadcast and online media. The awards are the longest running automotive awards that are not affiliated with a specific media outlet. The variety of outlets helps create a diverse base of jurors.
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