Anyone Can Hand Out an Award


Like anyone else who's passionate about cars and trucks, I enjoy seeing which new vehicles garner the most attention from different "experts" who hand out annual awards. In fact, we give quite a few of those awards attention right here at PUTC.

But the 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists who make up the panel that votes on the North American Truck of the Year (and announces the winners at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit) are really having trouble getting their act together this year. 

The car and truck awards have been given out by this esteemed group for almost 20 years, but clearly they have lost their way in understanding pickups or light trucks. 

The vehicles qualifying for the 2012 North American Truck of the Year Award are the BMW X3, the Honda CR-V and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Clearly, these vehicles aren't trucks no matter what type of common sense you're using. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to call these three vehicles SUVs. And since each one is on a version of an existing car platform, some might argue they can only be called a CUV (more like cars than SUVs).

On the face of it, it looks like the judges are doing everything they can with their criteria to stack the deck against anything that can be defined as an actual truck. Are we to assume this type of snobbery (bigotry?) is a result of some kind of preference or agenda-driven point of view, or is it as simple as no one on the panel knows how to judge a truck beyond the cliches? Didn't a Ford Transit Connect win a Truck of the Year award in the recent past?

The obvious question is why hand out a "Truck of the Year" award if you don't seem to understand trucks? The Ford F-150 has a completely new lineup of powertrains and several model and technolgy changes. Ram has a completely new cargo van on the market this year. Nissan has the all-new commercial and passenger NV series van as well. Ram also added several new models to its light- and heavy-duty Ram Truck lineup this year. Did the judges not know this, or do they just not care?

I've heard members of the voting panel won't consider any of the new HD pickups or vans because they consider them "commercial" vehicles and, as such, are not part of the eligible vehicles. And I'll be the first to say any organization should have the right to set its own criteria, but if vehicles qualify based on your own criteria, then any oversight after that is on you. If you want trucks or vans or SUVs or crossovers to be more like cars, then say that, so that those of us who are interested in intelligent opinions don't get fooled by a silly bait-and-switch tactic.

Believe me, I completely understand and am quite sympathetic to the arguement that there are not any (or enough) new vehicles this year to judge. In the words of one juror, Edward Lapham, executive editor of Automotive News, "That's not our fault. ... There weren't any new or substantially changed trucks introduced this year. There were just seven vehicles in the truck category, all dandy SUVs and CUVs, but no real truck."

Fine, I say, then don't give out an award to the most trucklike vehicle you could squeeze into an already-tweaked-beyond-recognition definition. Lapham titled his short defense of the award, "Why the 2012 Truck of the Year will get some push-back" and for good reason: He and his juror colleagues are standing on very thin ice. Not only are they missing vehicles that seem to qualify, but they are also including vehicles that nobody would call or consider a "truck."

Now if they called it the "Light Truck of the Year Award," that might make more sense and more able to include pickups, minivans, crossovers and SUVs in a single category. Nobody is arguing the appropriateness of having two awards. Given the jurors' obvious bias and knowledge scope in favor of cars, maybe they should call the two awards the Car and Not-Car of the Year awards.

For our sake and all those who are interested in these types of awards, please get enough knowledgable jurors on both sides of the aisle to make an intelligent decision. Better luck next time because this year's choices (and omissions) missed the mark.  


I have the same sentiment.

Congratulations! You just won "post of the day" for!

Actually this was quite entertaining reading and I have to agree with you 100%. There should be cars, trucks, and other for categories


You hit the nail on the head, and its about time some people and organizations stop giving out awards if they don't know what a car and truck is.


I have been saying this for YEARS to those I know. I understand that the classification of what constitutes an "SUV" has been changing more and more each year. This was inevitable due to car platforms replacing truck-based platforms. However, a truck is a truck is a truck. It has nearly always had an open bed attached to the rear of the chassis or has been based on an honest to goodness truck chassis. There have been a few exceptions (Honda Ridgeline, though it has a bed), but not many. These journalists need to come to grips with what constitutes a truck and get off their high horses. Cheers.


People in Montreal call their SUVs "trucks". Ridiculous.

@ Mark Williams agree, ludicrous defintion and omissions by that committee.
Why not break the award into categories? best, SUV, best CUV, best Pickup? There are ranges within those categories, but nothing like the quite silly "Truck.

Bravo, Mr. Mark Williams! Very well stated.

Thank you for being the voice of the die-hard truck fans, here on!!!


Thank you Mark. Well written and spot on.

And shouldn't the North American Car/Truck of the year at least be North American? BMW, Honda, Range Rover... If you're going to claim a champion you have to at least define the game. I might as well state that the best dog in North America is a Shitzu.

@Mark Williams, I would also very much be interested in a PUTC Truck of the Year Award. This award would carry more weight to me than any of them. Have you considered this?

I very much agree w/ unclebud there. Boy could I see the fan boys going nuts for that now. And its nice to finally see something we all can agree on

At least give Edward Lapham a *little* credit, Mark...

What? Furd gurly men all upitty because Furd isnt in the running. That gurly man step aint foolen these judges. Ha ha. Chevy is $1. You will see when the new truck is out. Give up. Chevy SUVs are better to. We win. The wurld is filled of loozers.

Unfortunately most of the definitions of "truck" are vague enough to encompass what these journalists consider a truck.

According to US government regulations, light trucks - "The class includes vans, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks."

If you change the wording to pickup truck, the definition becomes "pickup truck - a light truck with an open body and low sides and a tailboard".

This RV site had some defintions more in line with what we are accustomed to using:

I personally cannot see how anyone could lump pickup trucks, mini-vans, SUV's, and vans into one category.

Is an Assembly plant in North America (Mexico, USA, Canada) a criteria for the award?

Range Rover Evoque will be manufactured at Land Rover's multi award-winning Halewood plant in Merseyside, UK.

BMW Manufacturing announced today that production of the new BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle got underway at the South Carolina plant.

The CR-V came to Honda's East Liberty, Ohio plant with a British accent. When CR-V production was established in in 2007

The Honda CRV and the BMW X3 are American made, and the Range Rover Evoque is an import.

looks like Jalopnik was less subtle than PUTC -
"Go Truck Yourself"

Here is the full list for NA truck of the year:
North American Truck of the Year:
Honda CR-V
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Mercedes-Benz M-Class
Mini Countryman
Nissan Quest
Saab 9-4X

Nissan Quest - a mini van ?

A 4 door Austin Mini is a truck? WTF?

Laughable at best....

How does one totally render an award completely and totally meaningless/useless?

These bozo's have a contact link:

I do believe they need to hear from real truck owners.

This is unfortunate, when judges (who are supposed to be impartial and fair) hand out awards on the basis of their bigotry and discrimination.

Very good article. Mike Levine may be interested in this and his counter parts at the other real truck manufactorers.

A truck is a truck is a truck. Even my 1 year old (20 month), recognizes a truck. I have nothing against a CR-V or an X-3. But calling them a truck is like calling a pig a horse. Has journalism sunk this low?

Journalism with an agenda. Typical.
Real pickups are not cool in the eyes of the typical auto journalist. Gas pigs, CO2 belching, redneck caddilac's in their eyes. So they take the discussion away from these vehicles and towards what they believe should be the new "trucks".

Unclebud> I have to disagree, the award should be applicable to trucks available in North America regardless of point of manufacture.

Not a single vehicle on the road today in this country deserves an award.

A 100 year old technology that is polluting our planet and driving most of us to the poor house doesn't deserve an award.

A truck that deserves an award would be one that at the least, gets markedly better fuel economy or runs on an alternative fuel.

Payload and towing capacities are worthless if only the wealthy or people willing to go deep into debt can get one.
Any vehicle can shatter records is MSRP is of no concern but trucks are for working people. Always has been and hopefully always will be.

No awards this year. That's what I say.

Awards are useless and most posting on here know it.

As to only including North American vehicles in a shootout or comparo, there's no reason that couldn't happen but excluding vehicles from outside of North America (whatever that means nowadays) isn't doing much of a service to the reader. Should a Camry or Accord be excluded from a sedan shootout? Should a Tacoma be excluded from a mid-sized truck shootout, a Tundra from a fullsized shootout? You don't have to buy or even like any of these but to exclude them does nothing for the consumer.

I don't need a magazine telling me what to buy any more than I need them to propagandize their testing by excluding any competitor in a segment. IMHO, this would be as much of an example of poor journalism as the example pointed out by Mark in this thread.

What's in a name? When I hear the word "truck" I think of heavy duty semi tractors and box trucks. To me, anything smaller than a Top Kick is more of a "pickup" or at least "pickup truck."

...but that's just me.

Sounds like this award is meaningless. Any real truck enthusiast will ignore it and any winners of this that use this in their advertising will not get much mileage out of this award. This award is at best ignored.

Good piece Mark. I commented a while a go that this site was a past favorite but has lost something that made me come and read just once a week. BUT something is going good now. I'm stopping to read more than three times a week. Pieces like this and a mid-size shoot out are making me stop by. Keep up the good work!

So with their list of so called trucks the winner could also be the the North American Car of the Year.

The Honda Ridgeline believe it or not constitutes as a truck way more than the Ford Transit Connect van, RR Evoque, BMW X3, Honda CRV, or any of these crossovers in my opinion.

I'm just surprised that there's still people who put any sort of weight on any of these "awards".

Do people really take these seriously?

I don't buy anything based on awards. I'd rather see a shootout with well defined parameters, and clear results per category. I can then decide for myself which one is the best for me.

@Jason H,
Outside NA "Truck" does Semis' and Box Trucks. Anything else is a Ute, Van, Pickup or car.

American International Auto Show in Detroit) are really having trouble getting their act together this year.

hey ray ban,
and no we are not having trouble getting our act together.

i think this is great good job everyone

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