BY GERRY MILES
The voting is in and all that remains to kick off the new year for some automakers is being named as either the 2014 North American Car or Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show.
Culled from the dozen car and truck finalists were the Corvette Stingray, Cadillac CTS and Mazda3 while GM’s Chevy Silverado nailed down a spot in the truck segment next to the Jeep Cherokee and Acura MDX.
Some 48 journos from two countries — OK, the US and Canada, eh? — began with a list of 28 cars and 18 truck/SUVs that were trimmed to a dozen of each shown below:
North American Car of the Year:
BMW 4 Series
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
North American Truck/Utility of the Year:
Hyundai Santa Fe LWB
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Journos make their decisions based upon the following criteria includingThe awards recognize the most outstanding vehicles of the year based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
To be eligible, vehicles must be “all new” or “substantially changed.”
What’s my selection?
Well, some of the vehicles that I’ve driven such as the Range Rover Sport is substantially
changed and in many ways it mirrors the past and the future in one neat vehicle. So, too, are the Subaru Forester, Jeep Cherokee, a long-wheel-based Santa Fe, Mazda3, Caddy CTS and more. The Chevy Impala is a real dark-horse car that handles and feels like a European sedan more than twice the price. It’s that good, folks. Best Impala ever made.
In the Truck category I select the Jeep Cherokee.
I just drove one and it’s phenomenal. Folks may be polarized by the styling but the ride, drive and handling, not to mention mileage keep it true with street and off-road cred to its bigger brother, the Grand Cherokee.
In the Car category, given the kudos give to the Corvette all around from the start I figured it would/could win this title. It’d be no surprise. I look forward to sliding behind the wheel some sunny day.
The Mazda3 is also remade and rewarding. It’s roomy, refined and not what you might have expected while offering a standard transmission if so ordered.
Cadillac, and I’ve got friends who agree, is nothing to sneeze at mechanically, but I think the brand has lost its way. The brand’s name used to be synonymous with being the best of the best. And the new Caddys are much better than before, but they don’t look like a Cadillac but any homogenized sedan with a sloping hood and stubby rear. It’s short, it’s not recognizable as a Caddy while a 2005 STS with its Northstar engine underneath jumps out as if saying, “I am a real Cadillac.”
Soap box sidebar aside, I can’t see the Corvette – arguably one of America’s top motoring icons – NOT taking the top title. Stay tuned until next year.