Oct 12, 2019

Why I'm driving everything for the Car and Truck of the year awards

Me jotting down driving impressions in the Toyota Supra. Photo: Curt McAllister

This week, I managed to get away from the office for 2 days for some fun — and important — driving.

The big picture: I'm one of approximately 50 professional automotive journalists on the jury for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards, now in its 26th year.

  • The awards honor vehicles that have raised the standards and become new benchmarks in their class.
  • Vehicles are judged on criteria including: innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value.

How it works: We evaluate the newest cars, trucks and crossovers throughout the year and then vote on the ones we think are worthy of further consideration for the year's best.

  • We then gather in the fall to drive the semifinalists back-to-back on some of Michigan's best roads to refine our comparisons.
  • It's not fair to compare a Corvette sports car to an entry-level Kia, so we compare vehicles against other vehicles in their class, not against other nominees (unless they're in the same class).
  • We then vote a second time for our favorites.
  • 3 finalists in each category will be announced in November and the winners will be awarded in early 2020.

At this week's drive event in Ann Arbor, I got seat time in most of the semifinalists, which include 12 cars, 12 utilities and 5 trucks.

Quick impressions, without giving anything away:

  • The new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette was a surprise; moving the engine completely changes the driving dynamics. I'll have more in an upcoming review.
  • The Audi e-tron is impressive; it's an electric mid-sized crossover with everything you love about Audi, plus seamless acceleration — and no emissions.
  • The reborn Toyota Supra — shared with BMW's Z4 and available only with an automatic transmission — is still massively fun to drive.

Go deeper

What I'm driving: A review of the 2020 Toyota Supra

2020 Toyota Supra. Photo courtesy of Toyota

What a fun weekend I had zipping around southeastern Michigan in the highly anticipated 2020 Toyota Supra.

The big picture: This is the fifth generation of the Supra but the first sold in the U.S. since 1998. Enthusiasts pleaded for Toyota to bring it back and now it has finally arrived.

Go deeperArrowNov 1, 2019

2020 Democrats promise clean car agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While President Trump is moving to ease Obama-era tailpipe emissions rules, Democrats running to unseat him want to accelerate the shift to electric cars, trucks and buses and take gasoline-powered vehicles off the market entirely.

Why it matters: The 2020 presidential race could produce two vastly different outcomes for the auto industry, and that regulatory whiplash is hampering carmakers' long-term investment decisions.

Go deeperArrowNov 8, 2019

Transportation's looming overhaul

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The transportation industry is teetering between tried-and-true business models of the past and an alluring, but uncertain, future.

The big picture: The modernization of cars, trucks, planes and public transit could be one of the greatest reorderings of civilization since the dawn of the horseless carriage. But progress in the $1.5 trillion transportation industry is getting snagged on technological, regulatory and social issues.