2016 Honda Civic, test drive, Tarrytown, NY, Oct 2015Enlarge Photo
The finalists for the pair of awards known as the North American Car (and Truck) of the Year were released today.
For the 2016 Car of the Year finalists, the finalists are the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Civic and Mazda MX-5 Miata.
The North American Truck/Utility of the Year finalists for 2016 are the Honda Pilot, Nissan Titan XD and the Volvo XC90.
The winner of each of the two categories will be named at a ceremony to be held next month at the Detroit Auto Show.
The awards (now known informally as NACTOY), however, are not affiliated with the North American International Auto Show (as the Detroit event is formally known).
2016 Chevrolet Malibu HybridEnlarge Photo
Unlike the plethora of "car of the year" and similar awards given by media outlets and other enterprises, the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards are decided by an independent jury of more than 50 automotive journalists from both the United States and Canada.
That jury is funded by dues paid by the jurors themselves, who are invited onto the jury by their peers. The NACTOY awards has no paid staff.
The purpose of the awards is to recognize the best new or substantially changed vehicles of a given model year, highlighting those that set new benchmarks for innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and value, within their market segments.
Voting takes place in three stages, each of which reduces the list to a smaller number of vehicles.
2016 Honda PilotEnlarge Photo
From every new or changed vehicle on sale before the end of January, jurors choose a "short list" of those that deserve additional consideration.
Early in December, jurors vote on three finalists for each award, using the services of Deloitte & Touche in Detroit to ensure votes remain anonymous.
The finalists were disclosed today at a luncheon in Detroit held by that city's Automotive Press Association.
Winners are then chosen by a final ballot; last year's North American Car of the Year was the Volkswagen Golf, and the North American Truck/Utility of the Year was the Ford F-150.
2016 Volvo XC90, Catskill Mountains, NY, Aug 2015Enlarge Photo
For more information, visit the official NACTOY website.
In the interests of full disclosure, High Gear Media has a total of five editors and contributors who are NACTOY jurors this year.