The Chevrolet Corvette won the North American Car of the Year Award at an event in Detroit on Monday morning. In addition, the Kia Telluride was named SUV of the Year and the Jeep Gladiator won Truck of the Year.
The awards, voted on by a jury of 50 automotive journalists, are considered to be among the most prestigious automotive honors. To be eligible, a vehicle had to be either completely new for the 2020 model year or be substantially redesigned.
The Corvette and the Telluride also both received the MotorTrend Car and SUV of the Year awards in November in Los Angeles.
The 2020 Corvette represents a major change for the famous American sports car. Ever since its introduction in 1953, every Corvette has had its engine in front under the hood, as do most other cars. The 2020 Corvette has its engine behind the seats, more or less in the center of the car. This follows the pattern of most high-cost exotic sports cars, such as Lamborghinis, McLarens and some Ferraris.
"A mid-engine Corvette was a huge risk for Chevy's muscle-car icon. They nailed it," said Henry Payne, auto critic for The Detroit News and a juror for the award.
Prices for the base version of the Corvette start at about $60,000, which is far less than the $200,000 or more the similarly-designed European exotics cost.
"We're really proud of what we've been able to accomplish and this award is kind of the ultimate validation for that," said Tadge Juechter, chief engineer for the Corvette, who accepted the award for General Motors.
The Corvette beat out two finalists, the Toyota Supra and Hyundai Sonata, for the award.
The award for the Telluride marks the first time a Kia has ever won a North American SUV, Car or Truck of the Year Award. The Telluride is Kia's first large SUV. Critics, including MotorTrend, have lauded its luxury-like ride quality and extensive list of available features.
The Telluride's interior layout and design would meet luxury SUV standards, while its refined drivetrain, confident driving dynamics and advanced technology maintain the premium experience," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Cox Automotive, who also voted on the award.
The other two finalists for SUV of the Year were the Hyundai Palisade and Lincoln Navigator.
The Jeep Gladiator is also an all-new vehicle for the 2020 model year. It is essentially a pickup truck version of the Jeep Wrangler, and it is built in the same Toledo, Ohio, factory as the Wrangler. It's a mid-sized pickup competing against trucks like the Ford Ranger, which was also a finalist for the award, and the Chevrolet Colorado.
The Dodge Ram Heavy Duty was also one of the final contenders for the Truck of the Year award.
The North American vehicle awards had long been given during the opening days of the Detroit Auto Show. Starting this year, the auto show will be held in June instead of January, but the awards committee decided to present the awards at this time of the year inside the same convention center.