Our auto expert's picks for best vehicles of the year
By now, my neighbors have gotten used to seeing a new car (or two) in my driveway every week.
- As an automotive writer and juror for the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards, it's my job to test-drive the latest models. (Yup, I get paid to drive new cars.)
Why it matters: On Wednesday afternoon, the jury will announce the 2023 winners for most outstanding car, truck and utility vehicle.
- That's when I'll find out whether my personal choices were in line with the rest of the 50-member jury.
Details: There were 47 eligible vehicles (meaning new or substantially new in 2022) — a tie for the most ever — and 19 of them were electric, a record.
- I drove them all, including various trim levels and engine or battery options, so I could experience the full gamut of choices.
- We narrowed the list twice over the past year, including after a three-day comparison drive in October, to come up with three finalists in each of the three categories.
- We're looking for new benchmarks for innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value.
Here are my picks, and why:
Car of the year: The Genesis G80 Electrified.
- The other finalists were the reborn Nissan Z and Acura Integra — two cars aiming to recapture past glories. They're super fun to drive, but not particularly innovative.
- The Genesis isn't exactly breaking new ground, either — it's a battery-electric version of an existing luxury sedan. But Genesis models are just so appealing in every way; turning the G80 into an EV makes it even better.
Truck of the year: The Ford F-150 Lightning.
- This category seemed pre-ordained, given the splash that Ford's new electric pickup made over the past year. It really changed the conversation about EVs in America.
- But I saved a few points for the underdog Lordstown Endurance, which features a novel hub-motor system, with electric motors on each wheel. The truck, intended for fleet owners, is pretty spartan, though. Plus, this automotive newbie is unproven.
Utility of the year: Genesis GV60.
- This was the toughest category, by far, with three excellent electric SUVs as finalists, including the Kia EV6 and the Cadillac Lyriq.
- I gave the edge to the Genesis for its beautiful styling and value among premium e-SUVs (it starts around $59,000 vs. $71,000 for an Audi e-tron).
Yes, but: This might be where I differ from the rest of the jury. I suspect the highly acclaimed Kia EV6, starting at $48,700, will be the group's ultimate pick, in part for its advanced ultra-fast-charging capability.
- I didn't vote for the Lyriq because GM production delays have kept Cadillac from selling them in large numbers — and I didn't get enough seat time. That said, my first impressions were excellent.
The bottom line: This could be the first year that all three winners are electric.