I recall little about the 17 sport sedans, luxury cars and SUVs I drove recently at the North American Car of the Year jury’s program to compare semifinalists for 2022 car, SUV and truck of the year.

Because, pickups.

The best year for pickups is here, resulting in the most interesting and tightest competition ever.

► Toyota bZ4X:Toyota unveils its first electric car in 2022

Normaly, truck of the years is the lowest-competitive. Midsize pickups are more popular than big trucks, while the top-selling models rarely face off against each other in the same model year.

These vehicles can be very impressive. The competition isn’t.

Minivans or vans? NACTOY’s voting history says they’re also-rans, no matter how much they mean to the economy and rec-league soccer teams. Thank you for your participation. Enjoy a slice of orange.

2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup

The year ahead is quite different. The new year will bring four exceptional pickups, which appeal to very different buyers.

It’s anybody’s guess which will win. For the first time in my memory, I can’t even guess which three will be finalists.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier midsize pickup's styling recalls the brand's 1980s 'hardbody' models.

As a NACTOY juror, I’m one of 50 automotive journalists from across the United States and Canada who vote for the awards each year. We’ve got a couple of weeks left for driving and thinking before voting to pick three finalists each for North American car, truck and SUV of the year.

November 17th will see the announcement of the finalists. My fellow jurors, and I will have approximately six weeks to complete additional evaluations before we announce the winners on January 11, 2022.

Semifinalists for the 2022 North American Truck of the Year

  • Ford Maverick
  • GMC Hummer EV
  • Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Rivian R1T
  • Toyota Tundra

The Fantastic Four Out of Six

I have found the Ford Maverick (GMC Hummer EV), Hyundai Santa Cruz (Hyundai Santa Cruz) and Rivian R1T pickups to be my strongest and most diverse pickup range. Each one is completely new.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup

I think it’s an odds-on bet three of them will be finalists, but there’s no question the 2022 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup and Nissan Frontier midsize – welcome new versions of existing pickups – will get votes.


  • All that I have written about trucks comes from my own opinion and not the opinions of other jurors.
  • I’m not sure which picks are going to get semi-finalists votes as I type this.
  • All prices exclude destination charges.

Ford Maverick

  • Small pickup
  • Price base: $19 995

The Maverick, the least expensive hybrid available on the marketplace is it. You can fit five passengers, it can tow 4,500 pounds, and carry 1,500 additional pounds in its bed and cab.

More than that, it’s a no-excuses, entry-level vehicle that won’t embarrass its owners. The vehicle’s clever design and engineering gave it a unique look, functionality and practicality. It still comes in at under $34,000, thanks to its excellent audio system, all-wheel-drive, and 250-horsepower motor.

2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup

The Maverick’s strongest selling point is affordability. That’s traditionally a good card to play with NACTOY voters.

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GMC Hummer EEV

  • Pickup for electric luxury and full-size vehicles
  • First edition price: $112,595

GMC Hummer E-Vehicle Moe. Mo’ power: 1,000 horsepower  from a new electric-vehicle system. Mo’ technology: four-wheel-steering, hands-free highway driving, three independently controlled motors. Mo’ electric range: 350 miles, with superfast 800v DC charging capability. Mo’ bravado: LED lights a mile wide across its nose, 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds. Mo’ money: $112,595 for the launch edition. An eventual ‘base’ model will cost $79,995 in 2024.

The GMC Hummer EV on Sept. 25, 2021 at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Mich.

GMC Hummer five-passenger checks each box with such force it tears through the paper

NACTOY jurors like affordability, but we’re suckers for advanced technology and no-apologies performance.

► Which is more expensive:How do I charge an electric car or how can I fuel a car using gas?

Hyundai Santa Cruz

  • Small pickup
  • Price base: $23,990

Hyundai’s dynamic-looking Santa Cruz pickup may be the brand’s best-handling vehicle, thanks to a stiff chassis and nicely tuned steering and suspension. It’s also practical, comfortable and loaded with tech for convenience and safety.

And the Santa Cruz looks like a spaceship, but in a cool “Mandalorian” way, not the Tesla Cybertruck’s crash-landed-on-an-asteroid look.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup

NACTOY members have always preferred small pickup trucks. Combine that with outstanding handling, and Hyundai’s little truck made a big impression.

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Rivian R1T

  • Luxurious pickup
  • First edition: $73,000

Being first counts, and Rivian’s slick R1T was the first electric full-size pickup on the market, beating the GMC Hummer by a few months. The R1T makes no pretense to being a work truck, as witnessed by options like a camp kitchen with an electric range and sink that slides out of a handy compartment between the five-seat club cab and the R1T’s short bed.

Jurors were convinced by brief drives at R1T that Rivian is a startup which combines Silicon Valley money management and Detroit engineering with Midwestern manufacturing.

A newcomer could win truck of year by getting more time in the seat.

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Nissan Frontier

  • Pickups for midsize vehicles
  • Price base: $27.840

The Frontier is an example of this wallflower. It’s a great revamping of a well-respected model. Hundreds of thousands of Americans buy midsize pickups every year, though, and Brie Larson will tell you during commercial breaks of virtually any NFL game that trucks like this helped establish Nissan’s reputation.

The 2022 Frontier reprises the brand’s popular 1980s “hard body” look. It can tow up to 6,570 pounds, has a 310-horsepower 3.8L V6, two- and four-door cab sizes, and two bed lengths.

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Toyota Tundra

  • Pickups in full-size
  • Prices starting at TBA

The 2022 Tundra, the second generation of Toyota’s first truly full-size pickup makes several leaps from its 14-year-old predecessor:

  • The V8 is gone in favor of twin-turbo, V6 engines.
  • There’s a hybrid model.
  • Rear suspension with independent standard.
  • American-designed infotainment device with virtual assistant.
  • Navigation, memory, and other features that are cloud-based.
2022 Toyota Tundra

That combination could spell “winner “in other years, but the Tundra’s work is cut out for it this year.

► 2022 Toyota Tundra:Pickup will bring hybrid power to Truck Wars and a cloud-based nav system.

Contact Mark Phelan at 312-322-6731Or [email protected] Follow him Twitter @mark_phelan

Source: USAToday.com

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