NSJ Second Annual Auto Awards – The North State Journal



It’s hard to believe 2021 is almost over, but here we are. As such, it’s time to pick our winners for the second Northern State Journal Automobile prices. These picks, in several different categories, come entirely from my impressions of driving a car and comparing it to anything I’ve driven this year.

We’ve narrowed down the categories slightly this year, dropping the Green Car of the Year because it’s time for hybrids and EVs to compete on a level playing field (and they did). We have the North State Journal Best of the Year and Sports Car, Truck, SUV and Luxury Car of the Year.

There was fierce competition in all categories, but this year’s car crop was by far the best I have ever driven. It’s an amazing time to buy a new car. We’re spoiled for choice, and each vehicle is apparently better than the last. But we have to choose, so consider them as we move towards 2022.

Best of the Year: Ford Maverick

Photo courtesy of Ford

I am amazed at the quality of the Ford Maverick. This little pickup comes standard with a hybrid engine that sports 42 mpg and is well-equipped even in the base $ 21,000 version. Add in a slew of tech and practical features, and you’ll still get less than $ 30,000.

It was so popular that Ford had to stop taking orders for the hybrid because the entire 2022 race ran out. I’m not sure how the rest of the market hasn’t seen what Ford has done, but I expect a slew of small, car-based pickups to roll out soon. The Maverick is now my choice whenever someone asks me which affordable car to buy, and with good reason. Well done, Ford.

Sports Car of the Year: Ford Mustang Mach-E GT

Photos courtesy of Ford

The Mustang Mach-E I drove in the first half was great, but the GT version takes it to another level. By adding more performance, style and comfort, the top-of-the-line Mach-E GT is a worthy competitor to all other luxury electric vehicles.

And, it’s so much fun in itself that it’s one of the best sports cars around. Of course, it’s not a sports car (or even a car), but I decided a long time ago that a “sports car” doesn’t need to have two doors, a low profile design. or even a big noisy V8.

I want a wildly fun automobile that puts a smile on my face when I hit the accelerator, throw it around a sharp turn in a canyon, or take it for a spin on an autocross track. The Mach-E GT offers everything you could ask for from a sports car.

Truck of the Year: Rivian R1T

Photos courtesy of Rivian

The Rivian R1T is the first EV designed for Americans. We love big trucks and SUVs, and we haven’t had any good ones with an electric powertrain. That changed with the R1T, a luxury pickup packed with innovation everywhere you look.

It rivals luxury SUVs, sophisticated pickup trucks from Big 3 truck makers, and even the latest generation of high-end electrics from Porsche, Tesla and Ford. The R1T shows how exciting our future can be and that we don’t need to compromise in the pursuit of a zero-emission future. And who doesn’t want a pickup with over 800 horsepower?

SUV of the Year: Ford Bronco

Photo courtesy of Ford

When I made this list I had to check it myself because Ford won three different categories. But each is well deserved. The new Bronco is an incredible SUV, with all-terrain chops and on-road comfort, not to mention a design that honors the past and looks into the future.

Whether you’re an experienced quad or never going to leave the curb, the Bronco is a great choice. And, since they’re seemingly endlessly customizable with hundreds of accessories, you can completely customize them as well. This one is special.

Luxury Car of the Year: Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost

From time to time, a car arrives which amazes me. Unsurprisingly, this year that car was the Black Badge Ghost. It’s a truly breathtaking automobile that is second to none in terms of comfort, luxury or attitude.

And it is the latter that is critical for this Ghost. Black Badge is the after-hours alter ego for Rolls-Royce, bringing a mysterious, dark and playful attitude to the world’s best car. The Black Badge Ghost is the Ted lasso of cars: an unprecedented masterpiece.


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