In today’s Internet-fueled media environment, the auto industry produces about as many “vehicle of the year” awards as it does actual vehicles. But there’s just one award with enough clout to be considered the North American Car of the Year honor, and the folks involved have recently released their finalists for the 2012 recognition.
It’s a step up from the typical third-party award—at least theoretically—because of the “independence and the breadth and depth of the jury members’ expertise.” That is, any costs involved come from membership dues, not contributions from potential advertisers, etc., and the 50+ decision makers are all veteran auto journalists drafted from a wide range of different media outlets. The award will be presented on Jan. 9, 2012, in conjunction with the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Only all-new or “substantially changed” vehicles are eligible for the honor, with the caveat that automakers must expect the cars to reach at least 5,000 annual North American sales. Which is something none of the 2012 finalists have had any trouble accomplishing.