500 Miles in the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport; Exclusive Interview: North American Car of the Year President

Why did the 2021 Hyundai Elantra win North American Car of the Year Honors, plus 2021 Lincoln Corsair Road Test

In this edition of the award-winning America on the Road we take the brand-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport on a real-world 500-mile road trip. Host Jack Nerad and his youngest daughter, Greta, set off on a trek to take her back to college. The open question was could the Bronco Sport swallow all the gear a college student needs these days? The results were surprising.

On the other side of the road test equation, this week co-host Chris Teague put the 2021 Lincoln Corsair crossover utility through its paces. Does the Corsair offer advantages its opposite number, the Ford Escape, doesn’t offer? And can the Corsair hold its head up versus the European luxury SUVs? We’ll have the answers for you.

In the interview segment of America on the Road, Jack Nerad will have a lengthy discussion with North American Car of the Year jury president Gary Witzenbug about the just-released winners. They discuss how the winners of the North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards matched up against the other finalists, that are pretty good vehicles in their own right.

2021 Hyundai Elantra wins North American Car of the Year award, and we’ll talk to the president of the jury that chose it.


Filled with new tech, the 2021 Ford F-150 has just been named North American Truck of the Year.

Big news this week is the cancellation of the annual North American International Auto Show for this year. Originally the 2021 NAIAS was scheduled to take place in September after a series of date changes that were complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the show won’t happen at all and in its place the organizers will stage a “celebration of the automobile:” called Motor Bella. And in other news, rumors abound regarding a hot performance version of the Hyundai Kona small crossover SUV.

Look back at what was named North American Car of the Year for 2020

The following is a partial transcript of Episode 38 created with AI, so please forgive some occasional grammar, spelling, and usage errors.

Jack Nerad 0:03
This is America on the Road, winner of the International Automotive Media Conference Gold Medal Award for radio and now in its 24th year on the air. Thanks for being with us as we bring you the latest automotive information from around the world. And we’ll have special coverage of the North American Car of the Year for you today. America on the Road is brought to you by Driving Today.com and the Coalition for Vehicle Choice. I’m Jack Nerad, with me is co host, Chris Teague. Chris is very excited because he’s moving from one house in Maine to another house in Maine. And he writes for Ford Authority, Forbes, Driving Today, among others. Tell us all about that exciting new house there, Chris.

Chris Teague 0:42
I think it’ll be most exciting not to live in a house stacked tall with boxes. But the new house will be great. I’ll have a garage to do projects on cars and actually park a car for the first time. And we’ll have a little bit of waterfront too so the view never hurts.

Jack Nerad 0:55
Wow, a little waterfront. I like that What kind of water?

Chris Teague 0:58
A river, not the ocean, unfortunately, but it’s still better than nothing.

Jack Nerad 1:02
Yeah, I like a little little river view. That would be very nice. This week, our special guest is Gary Witzenburg. He is president of the North American Car of the Year organization. I have a little bit of an in and getting an interview with him because I’m Vice President of that organization. He will give us a close up look on what to expect from the 2021 North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year winners. They were just announced this week. He and I both participated in that program outside Detroit. In the car review segment, Chris will give us his opinion of the 2021 Lincoln Corsair sounds like a nice vehicle, I’m going to tell you about my recent 500 mile drive with my daughter, my youngest daughter in the 2021 Ford Bronco sport, kind of real world test of the vehicle. But before we do that, let’s take a look at the latest in automotive news. And you’ve got some kind of radical news for us, don’t you, Chris? What’s that?

Chris Teague 2:01
Yeah, I came across this earlier today. And it just kept getting more interesting, the more I read about it. So the Consumer Electronics Show CES, which is virtual this year, because of COVID-19. It’s usually in Las Vegas. As part of the show Cadillac, General Motors, showed up with a visualization of a flying car that they plan to make. We don’t have much of a timeline on when that’s going to happen, but they said that it will have a total of four rotors or propellers. I’m not an aviation expert, so I have no idea which of the two it actually is. It’ll be powered by a 90 kilowatt hour EV motor and can travel at speeds of up to 56 miles an hour. Not to be outdone, though, Fiat Chrysler also released or announced its plans to mass produce flying cars by 2023. And it is partnering with a company called Archer to do that. I should mention that all of these are probably going to start off as air taxis. So some sort of mass transportation there. But I can’t help but wonder and this is something I got caught on because I don’t see or have not heard of any infrastructure being built to accommodate a mass produced flying cars, have you?

Jack Nerad 3:11
I have not. And I’m wondering how much infrastructure they need. I mean, this kind of dates back, it probably dates back way before I was a kid, but even dating back to when I was a kid is a long, long time ago. And you know, the Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines of the day would always have cover stories about flying cars. And they were always promised to us as being imminent within the next several years. And it all seems so wonderful, because you wouldn’t have traffic congestion, you’d, you know, just take off from your house. And I think most of these would be vertical takeoff kind of things as opposed to requiring a runway and landing strips and that kind of stuff. I would think they would be mostly like giant drones. Isn’t that kind of your take on what these things are likely to be like?

Chris Teague 4:00
It is I’m thinking? Yes. And you’re you’re absolutely right. So some of the images that looks kind of like a drone with a single seat. And so, you know, this would be probably for an autonomous trip, you know, short trip around town, but I’m thinking more about like urban urban areas. I mean, are these things gonna sit down right in the middle of the sidewalk or the street? I guess well defined, wait and find out. But yeah, that was always very interesting.

Jack Nerad 4:24
That is was always the question, right? I mean, and the unanswered question was, okay, how would one actually use this? If you were to have it? Yeah, you know, would you fly over to the grocery store and, you know, landed in the parking lot or and then take off from the parking lot, and zip home? Or maybe, I guess, I don’t know. Good question. Right?

Chris Teague 4:47
It’s actually promising that they’re probably going to start autonomously because I couldn’t imagine the training required to not run into someone else’s you’re parking your flying car at the grocery store.

Jack Nerad 4:58
Yeah, yeah. True enough? Well, we hear so many problems with drones and various neighborhoods and people hating drones and wanting to shoot them down and getting the old shotgun and out to, to take down drones, I can imagine what it would be like if we have human-sized drones zipping around various neighborhoods, it probably really be crazy. And here’s something else that I found a bit crazy. It was announced at the same time, or virtually the same time as we announced the North American Car of the Year. And that is that the North American International Auto Show, which was typically held in January every year and then was postponed from January, they were gonna move to a mid summer or June date, I guess that’s not really mid summer. But as summer broke, and then that all got flushed out the window because of COVID. Now they’re not going to have a show at all, it’s 2021 Auto Show is off. In its stead, there will be an event called Motor Bella, two words: Motor Bella, that’s going to be held from September 21 through 26, in Pontiac, Michigan, close by to Detroit, Michigan. And it’s going to be an outdoor extravaganza of automobiledom, but not a traditional auto show in any way, shape, or form. And I guess what this means is they have decided not to solicit manufacturers to have traditional Auto Show type displays, probably not getting a lot of car manufacturers who are signing up. So they decided, Okay, we’re gonna not do that this year. And instead, we’re going to do this essentially kind of like a state fair or county fair, except all around cars. And what’s your take on that? Chris? What do you think about that idea?

Chris Teague 6:51
I think it’s it’s pretty reasonable. It may not be what we as journalists expect or even get excited about every year, but it puts some more time in between now are the original date and the new date. So people more people presumably will have been vaccinated by then the moving it outside. So you know, that, you know, helps out to I’m no virologist or immunologist. But I’ve heard that being outside is helpful. So I think it’s reasonable. What it ends up looking like I think will be interesting to see, but I can’t blame them for trying.

Jack Nerad 7:22
Yeah, absolutely. as something similar was going to be part of the Auto Show. And I I think this is just a way to extend themselves a little bit and and not over-promise that you would have something that is akin to an auto show at this event. Instead, it will be more of a showcase for off roading capabilities. There’s going to be vehicle demonstrations at this place, I think just a lot of experiences around the car. And I think a car being a dynamic object, doing it outside where you can see it, see it actually drive cars and ride in cars is probably a very, very good thing. So you know, I’m kind of excited about it. I’ll be excited to see what it’s like. We’ll just have to see how that unfolds when it unfolds in September. And then the following year. I think in 2022, we will see a more traditional North American International Auto Show at around the same dates, which would perhaps conflict with an overseas a European event that was typically when the Frankfurt Motor Show was I think Frankfurt has been superseded now by the Munich auto show that is purported to going to take place this year but we’ll have to see how what happens in so that’s what’s going on that score motor motor Bella in September versus instead of the traditional Detroit Auto Show,

Chris Teague 8:46
Hopefully by then we can all get on planes and enjoy life again.

Jack Nerad 8:50
Well, I was on a plane as recently as yesterday so when can and I was amazed at how many people are in all kinds of different types of outfits. Let me tell you I saw everything from people who looked like they were scuba diving to people who looked like they were just going for a walk in the park. All kinds of different ways of dealing with the the the threatened virus here. Well here’s another news story. It is on what might be a very hot small SUV coming to America. Hyundai in Europe has taken the wraps off almost — they actually didn’t unpeel the camouflage — but thy are showing off the Hyundai Kona N and is going to be or is the performance arm of of Hyundai kind of like M is for BMW or AMG is for Mercedes Benz. The Kona N is going to debut in Europe later this year and it’s going to be pretty cool. I could have as much as 275 horsepower. That’s a lot for that little vehicle, 260 pound feet of torque from a two liter turbocharged four cylinder engine. And it’s going to have the eight speed wet clutch dual clutch transmission. So you got to like that. I think it would be exciting. Should it appear in the United States, and I think there’s probably a good chance it will, it won’t probably will not appear this year, at least for sale but might appear next year as a 2022, or maybe even a 2023 model year vehicle.

Chris Teague 10:29
I’ll take it. I think the regular, the standard Kona is great. Hyundai and Kia, they both build a great dual clutch transmission. So no complaints there. The Veloster N was great. And I keep saying great. But the Veloster N was a solid, solid effort and so well. So with the efforts they’re putting into the Elantra line, so I’ll be excited to see where they come out. You know, I guess I’ve said this to you before, but the more family oriented performance cars that are available, the happier I will be so no complaints from me.

Jack Nerad 11:02
Yeah, exactly. I’m right with you. Well, when we come back, we will be road testing a couple of interesting vehicles that I think a lot of people will will find very palatable, right? You were driving the Lincoln Corsair for 2021. I was driving a much talked about car, the Ford Bronco Sport. I took a long drive in it with my youngest daughter to take her away to school. So we’ll talk about that when we come back. With Chris Teague, this is Jack Nerad with you. And thanks so much for being with us on America on the Road.

Welcome back, everybody to America on the Road. Jack Nerad back with you. And we’re so glad you’re with us. We really do appreciate you joining us here on America on the Road. It is road test time. And it seems like there’s a never ending stream of crossovers to talk about in the marketplace. We’re certainly going to talk about a bunch of them in our interview segment. Coming up, but but right now, Chris, tell us all about the Lincoln Corsair for 2021.

Chris Teague 12:09
Yeah, you’re not kidding about the stream of crossovers, but this is a good one. It’s the 2021 Corsair This is the Reserve trim that I’m testing this week. It comes with a 2.3 liter turbocharged inline four. And the striking thing here is the horsepower number. It’s a 280 horsepower in line for an a vehicle that’s not all that much larger than a Ford Escape. This vehicle is actually built on the same platform as the Ford Escape though it’s hard to tell that that’s the case between the two the course there is very striking styling a very spacious interior. No issues at all. With headroom in the back seats or the front seats, the child seats fit perfectly in the rear. I should note though, that the difference here between this and the escape doesn’t end with the appearance though. This one starts at around $57,000 where the the Escape tops out and I think at around $40,000. But that money buys top end leather interior of Revel stereo system for with 14 speakers. It’s got an in-dash navigation on an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And a 12.3 inch i think is the measurement digital display with a head up display as well. Every safety feature known to man from blind spot monitors to forward collision warnings. And I’m currently sitting in the 2021 Corsair with the heated and massaging massaging seats going. And I have to say those are quite nice as well.

\So on the road, this thing has plenty of juice to get going 280 horsepower from a turbocharged engine, it’s a little bit slow on the pickup, but once it really once it hits the turbo, it will definitely scoot The ride is very, very smooth on the $700 adaptive suspension package that this vehicle has as Lincoln quiet as you would expect from a larger vehicle. And it really takes a lot of those those touches from the navigator. And the Nautilus and the other the larger vehicles and shrinks them down into a manageable package that there’s the floating dash, the signature piano key gearshift, which after a little bit of adjustment as I’ve warmed up to it quite a bit. And as I mentioned, a full suite of technology, both safety and entertainment features. If you can spend the money, I would definitely spring for this. I think it’s a good competitor to smaller outies like the Q3 or the BMW X3 or V1 or the X2, I think there is now as well. So it competes well against the Europeans. The price is a little steep, but you get quite a bit for what you’re paying here.

Jack Nerad 14:39
I think it does compete very well against the Europeans. But I think the sad fact is that probably very few people who would consider a European SUV are going to take a look at the Lincoln Corsair. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. I think more likely they {Corsair buyers} would consider other domestics and maybe some maybe a vehicle from Hyundai or Genesis or something like that. And how much the pity. I just think the people who are have their nose in the air about European SUVs are missing out with the Corsair. Because I think there’s a lot to like about it. I think Lincoln has done a very good job — Ford Motor Company — has done a very good job in differentiating the Corsair from the Ford products. As you say, you don’t look at one and think it’s the other. There’s definitely differences from the exterior styling and certainly in the interior when you add all that act extra cash that you’re putting into it, I guess you expect something out of it from the interior, and you pretty much get it so i i think it’s a really good execution. I’m not sure that it is well received in the marketplaces, it probably deserves to be.

Chris Teague 15:52
Yeah, that’s a good point. Even comparing domestically, it sets very favorably against the Cadillac XT4 and XT5 for what you’re paying, the interior feels feels much more premium than the XT4 or the XT5 you know, the price is a little bit higher in some configurations. But there’s never been a point in time in this vehicle where I felt like you know, if I had spent the money on it, I would I would be shortchanged, even though it’s a smaller crossover, a smaller SUV, it’s got everything a big Lincoln has and probably then some because it’s not spread out so far away. So you know, I it’s a shame but like you said, it’s it’s definitely a solid offer.

Jack Nerad 16:29
Absolutely. And we’re taking a look at, I had the chance to take a long look at the Ford Bronco Sport. I had a first edition vehicle this time around. And I know we’ve talked about this vehicle on the show before Of course, it’s one of the hottest vehicles, we think to come into the market in a long, long time. And what I did differently this time was the previous time in an event that was sponsored by Ford I had a chance to drive it primarily off road there was not that much on road component to it. And of course most people are going to be driving these vehicles on the road most of the time and occasionally they’ll go off road. And certainly the Ford Bronco Sport has the chops to go off road. I mean I found that out the last time around.

So this time around, I was taking my daughter about 200 miles away to college for the the winter quarter in college and she brought home a lot of stuf. She came home before Thanksgiving and the goal was to see if we could get all that stuff into the Bronco Sport and then get her up to where she was going to her college very successfully. And it turned out even better than we expected. Actually, I was very very pleased with the way the Bronco Sport handled on mostly freeways that we were driving on, plenty of power, in terms of acceleration excellent. 245 horsepower from its two liter four cylinder engine turbocharged four cylinder engine 275 pound feet of torque, all very accessible, pretty good fuel economy 23 miles per gallon combined. You know that’s not fabulous, but this is an all wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle that’s meant to go off road so it has that kind of gearing and those kinds of tires.

What was really telling to me and frankly we had some questions about would this be able to swallow up all this stuff she had brought home in a much larger vehicle and it did it with actually aplomb. Very very simply and there we could have put more stuff in it, a lot more stuff and I did some some checking about maximum luggage volume and compared it to the the most logical competitor for the Ford Bronco Sport and that is the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and you’re looking at 60.1 cubic feet of total cargo volume versus 54.7. So that’s a much larger cargo area. In terms of the actual cargo area with the seats all in use, it has 29 cubic feet of cargo area versus 25.8 cubic feet in the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. And you know we’re big fans of the Trailhawk Don’t get me wrong, I like that vehicle a lot. But the Ford has more interior volume it’s and it’s more useful, very accessible, easy to get into really large, rear hatch squared off rear rear hatch.

So it’s just handled this very very well in terms of interior creature comforts. They were all there. It’s equipped with a SYNC 3 system not the SYNC 4 system but a SYNC 3 system. with eight inch touchscreen. It’s very compatible with Apple CarPlay which I was using. It is compatible with Android Auto but I don’t have that system so I didn’t test it with that. It does have Sirius XM Satellite Radio. I actually listened to a playoff football game on my way home from From this event while I was deadheading it back home. But I did this about 400 to 500 mile round trip in one day with plenty of ease. And, you know, we stopped off at grocery stores, we stopped off at a discount store to get a bunch of stuff to just set her up for the new term. So this is a real world test of the Ford Bronco Sport. So it’s excellent off road. And I think it doesn’t beat you up. It’s very quiet, easy to use and handles really well on the highway. So I think that was very telling,

Chris Teague 20:35
That’s good to hear. I’m still waiting to get behind the wheel of one, you’ve been behind the wheel of two. So I’ll be jealous from over here. But it’s good to hear that it’s great on the highway because so many people, the initial presentation of the vehicle is done off road. So that became the sort of overwhelming opinions everyone drove it off road. And now people are starting to get them out on the highway, both from journalists testing and from actual buyers. So I’m encouraged to hear that it does well, as well, almost as well on the road as it does in the dirt.

Jack Nerad 21:03
Yeah, I was really impressed with it. And, of course, this came at a price I had a First Edition, which is their highest, zootiest and I think even sold out model Its price started at $38,000 $38,160. So that’s a pretty stiff MSRP for a compact SUV. You know, certainly there are many others that are less expensive than that. But in terms of presence on the road, what it will do off road all its off road capabilities, and then how it performs in in everyday use. I think Ford has a big winner here. And I think they’re gonna sell an absolute boatload of the Ford Bronco Sport.

Chris Teague 21:44
Well, let’s hopefully see they’re the real the big Bronco coming soon.

Jack Nerad 21:48
Yes, and it’s a row over the horizon. And I think we will see it soon. But I think in the meantime, a lot of people are going to be quite satisfied with the Ford Bronco sport, and we’re gonna see a bunch of those on the road before very long. And when we come back, we’re going to be taking your listener questions. So we’d love to hear from you. Give us our question, and we’ll try to answer it on an upcoming show. With Chris Teague, Jack Nerad with you and stay with us right here on America the Road. power control. And it’s a computerized ignition and engine management system that is used in Volkswagen Group vehicles. And of course, Volkswagen builds Volkswagens de Audi’s Porsches, and some others Bentley’s, not sure Bentley uses EPC so much, but they probably do. It was designed initially just to manage ignition, I go back to when we had points and condensers. And then we went to transistorized ignition. And then we have electronic ignition and throttle functions. And that’s where EPC came in. Its role kind of has been expanded in many models, it kind of oversees a variety of electronic systems or at least interacts with electronics systems. So for example, if electronic stability control were to experience a problem in your vehicle, and your Volkswagen Group vehicle, it would affect EPC. And EPC, then might shut down the engine or put it into limp mode, limp home mode, because it doesn’t want to injure the car. So all these systems kind of work together these days. The typical car has an electronic control unit, or ECU that essentially operates is the brain of the car, it tells different functions what to do. And if something malfunctions, it also picks that up and then does things like flashes warning lights and changes the operation of the vehicle, your check engine light is liable to go on at the same time you get an EPC flash on your dash. And again, it’s likely that the cruise control will cease to work at that point. Maybe some of the others Systems won’t be working either. And then EPC might Institute this limp home mode. So you don’t blow up your engine as you’re trying to get to the side of the road or get to a service station or something where it can be fixed.

Chris Teague 25:14
That’s interesting, especially, you know, I would think that’s a very obscure thing that Volkswagen makes a ton of cars. So there are probably plenty of people who need to know that.

Jack Nerad 25:21
Yeah, and essentially, similar systems are at work on virtually every car out there. Now, I mean, these electronic systems, computerized electronic systems are all over the place in every car, you can’t escape them, and nor should you, they do so much for us. I mean, what they’re able to do in terms of emissions controls, for example, for fuel economy, and for lessening pollution is just absolutely amazing. So we want to have these systems. And we also want to know when they’re not working, and one thing that if if you get an EPC light on on your dash to track down what the problem is, because it could be a lot of things, it could be something very, very minor. And sometimes it’s even just the sensor is malfunctioning. But oftentimes, it’s something minor, but it could be something major, you should use it OBD two scanner to check that out. A lot of people don’t have those I actually went out and bought one not long ago, a few years ago, actually. And I found it to be extremely handy. And it was a lot less expensive than I expected. And you know, I’d recommend, it’s something that a lot of people think about buying Yeah, I think you’d probably get one for well, less than $50. And then when you have a code or something comes up, you can, you could check it out. And you know, be your own mechanic if you’d like

Chris Teague 26:45
I agree. And you can even get one I tested one a few months ago, I think it’s called I fix it or something like that, that connects to your phone via Bluetooth. So you don’t even need the giant expensive unit to test anymore. So

Jack Nerad 26:56
yeah, the unit I have fits in the palm of your hand, it’s about the size of a cell phone, maybe a little bit bigger. And it not only reads the codes, but then it translates them to you in plain English. So you have at least some kind of sense about what the problem is and all that for less than $50. I think maybe well less than $50. It’s it strikes me as a pretty good investment. Absolutely. And when we come back, we will be chatting with an old friend of mine. And he is very old. His name is Gary Witzenburg. He is the president of the North American Car of the Year organization, the jury, which I serve as vice president. And we will be talking about the recently just this week, announcements of the North American car of the year, the North American Truck of the Year and the North American utility vehicle of the year. So stay with us for that with Chris Teague, jack knee read with you. Thanks for being with us right here on America on the road.

Welcome back, everybody to America on the Road. Jack Nerad with you and we are outside Detroit, Michigan right here in Troy, Michigan. And I am honored to be with the president of the North American Car of the Year jury, Gary Witzenburg, an old friend of mine, a guy I’ve known for decades now, very talented writer and car reporter. And we’ve just come off introducing and announcing the North American Car, Truck and Sport Utility of the Year. Gary, thanks so much for being with us.

Gary Witzenburg 28:28
Thank you, jack. Good to be with you.

Jack Nerad 28:30
Let’s talk a bit about North American car of the year and North American Truck of the Year and North American utility of the year. It’s a very prestigious award program. I guess we shouldn’t keep people waiting. Let’s tell them what the winners are for 2021. Which you do the honors?

Gary Witzenburg 28:47
Sure we just came out of the presentations online, live remote virtual card here, Hyundai Elantra. And that isn’t just a single car that was actually a family which includes a hybrid and includes a inline performance version. And that could be one reason they won the award because they were basically launching all of those almost simultaneously, right? For a Truck of the Year. Not much of a surprise, because it was the Ford F 150. Which is the biggest selling vehicle in the country for how many 44 years or something straight. Yeah, but also because the other two contenders were models of an existing line, the RAM, trs highperformance, 702 horsepower desert racer version of the RAM and the kind of along the same line the Jeep Gladiator Mojave, which was a desert racer not that much power but otherwise very capable desert racer kind of midsize truck. Yeah, of the gladiator or the gladiator which one last year, by the way was last year’s Truck of the Year. So it was unlikely that the Mojave version would have won this year. So Ford F 150 is not a surprise winner. We kind of expected that all of the TRS Empty our exes very upright.

Jack Nerad 30:02
Yeah, so we I’m sure we’re gonna dive in a bit let’s let’s give the the final winner with the utility. With that

Gary Witzenburg 30:10
utility really tough category jack, as you know, we had I forget 27 or something originally narrowed it down to 15 with our first vote semifinalist, that’s unusually high. Normally we have 10 or 12, that are considered semi finalists based on that vote. And of those 15, the three that emerged as finalists, as you know, were the Genesis gv at the Land Rover Defender and the Ford Mustang Maki, and the machi. One, why did the machi win? I mean, all three were really outstanding are really outstanding vehicles. In my opinion, in this, I’m just one juror even though I’m president, when you’re a 50, I only get one set of votes, right. But I’m not terribly surprised because of the significance of that vehicle, the message it sends, and also the execution of that vehicle, and also the versatility of that vehicle. I mean, Who would have guessed a year ago, that you’d see a Mustang utility? And who would have given it credibility? Why would they do such a thing? Well, it’s full electric, it has two different battery sizes available, but if you get the large size, it’ll deliver 300 plus miles, full electric. It’s not slow. On the contrary, it’s quite quick. It’s fun to drive. It’s very heavy, because it carries that much battery,

Jack Nerad 31:28
right. But it’s man driving it and it has that Mustang field to it or sporting field that you can use a Mustang is not just slapped on the side.

Gary Witzenburg 31:36
At the local driving event they have they had for us and you may have attended one on the west coast, they had a slalom course I would say it was not the greatest slalom course vehicle because of its weight. But out on twisty two lanes, it did very nicely, it would not be a penalty to drive it on a mountain road. And you can still have fun with it as you could with a conventional Mustang. And the other thing that I didn’t mention is it’s got the utility of a crossover. It’s actually got real room inside, right backseat and cargo room. it’s larger than a Mustang obviously and a lot heavier. But combining all of those things crossover utility pure electric and Mustang iconic brand. filata. Like I think a lot of people were skeptical maybe myself included with this was just the right thing to do to put a Mustang badge on that thing. The more I look at it, the more I drove it. Yeah, I think they’re on

Jack Nerad 32:28
I think putting the Mustang name on, it kind of focused this vehicle in a way that it wouldn’t been focused if it was named Ford. Pick a name right for something other than Mustang. I mean, it delivered the styling direction and helps, you know, suggest the styling direction. Now at the same time, it said it has to be performance oriented. Let’s make it that

Gary Witzenburg 32:49
I was going to mention the styling too. Obviously, styling is subjective. And I’ll be honest with you, when they unveiled this thing, what was it a year ago or something? We saw it in LA unveiled? Yes. And I said, I don’t know. It’s kind of vague. And I’m not sure. But then when I saw it again and drove it and drove it again. I think it has earned that Mustang badge even in terms of its appearance, they’ve done a very nice job of making a Mustang looking utility,

Jack Nerad 33:17
Well, we kind of made the the deep dive into the individual vehicles here. And it’s it’s interesting that the first deep dive was on utility because one thing that changed in 2020 was utilities became the biggest overall category, more than 50% of vehicles sold in 2020. Were sport utility vehicles for the first time. So it’s kind of apropos in a lot of ways maybe the most important award. If you want to rank the importance of the awards is not Car of the Year so much anymore, or Truck of the Year, but it might be utility of the year. What do you think about that?

Gary Witzenburg 33:54
Well, it’s not the biggest market segment yet because I think trucks still are.

Jack Nerad 34:00
Trucks include sport utility. So if you separated pickup trucks. Oh, yeah, from the overall truck market, sport utilities are definitely the biggest.

Gary Witzenburg 34:09
As you know, up until 2017, there were two nactoy Awards, Car and Truck. And that got increasingly difficult because the sport utilities, and the crossover utilities, which we call them, which are car based crossover carving utilities, basically, you take a body off a Honda Civic and put a CRV body on it, and it’s a car based vehicle, but now suddenly, its utility, and those were considered trucks. So as you know, in 2017, nactoy chose to separate those out, make a new category and a third award. And that probably was the right thing to do. And as you say it is the fastest growing segment of all sizes, very small ones and very large ones like the new Cadillac Escalades, the Chevrolet, suburban and the GMC Yukon. these are excellent vehicles.

Jack Nerad 34:59
They didn’t even make this as a finalist cut. So that shows you. I mean, you could take a look at, say the escalator and the technology on the Cadillac Escalades and everything that it brings to the party and and in another year, that might well have been the utility of the year just because right when it offers, right, so it shows you how deep the field was this year.

Gary Witzenburg 35:22
And we are considering those large truck based utilities as utilities, not as trucks even though they’re based on trucks, because that’s the way the consumer perceives them as utility vehicles, so it makes sense to have them in that category.

Jack Nerad 35:37
let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about Elantra. I would say I’m also one of the jurors. I’m Vice President of the organization. So I guess I’m speaking with some authority here. When you look at the cars involved, you have we had an individual car g at the Sentra, we had the Sentra, a compact direct competitor to the Elantra, and then the Elantra line, walk walk us through your thinking about that decision?

Gary Witzenburg 36:08
Well, I think it was a smart decision, first of all, for them to group them together, both from a public launch perspective, but also from a nactoy competition perspective. Because I think I can only speak for myself as one of 50 jurors, and like you. But I think that was a consideration the fact that there were three very distinct variants of this new Elantra coming out at almost the same time. And it wasn’t just a single vehicle you, you could go for the regular vehicle, you could go for the more fuel efficient hybrid, or you could go for the more fun to drive performance oriented in line. There’s still another one coming, which was not considered this year. And that’s the end itself, which is even higher, even higher performance, like a track capable version of it. That one’s not available yet. But it’s a smart, smart strategy, I think to launch them as a family. Yeah. And I’ll bet that if Nissan could have done that it would have been a tougher competition. That’s

Jack Nerad 37:06
right, because I think the center itself is a great car, but it is more centered on a particular audience. And they’ve taken some chances with the Sentra. But you can say with the Elantra, it is a broader base. And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure which one of the if I had the the four to choose from, if I had the Sentra, or the other the various Elantra variants, which one I would choose for myself, I can kind of guess the central

Gary Witzenburg 37:32
surprise to everyone, I think because the previous vehicle wearing that badge was nothing special. It was okay. Right. Nothing great. sold. Okay, but not great in its segment. But this new one was a huge leap in in every way styling and features and quality and everything else. from the previous version. That surprised all of us, I think, and it’s gotten a lot of good, good reviews, good. Kudos, very little negative about it. It’s a strong competitor. And I’d be surprised. We haven’t seen the vote the vote totals yet from this last vote. But I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a very close second. Yeah. And that’s not to say that gvhd is not really ranking God is not a terrific vehicle. Also, it is.

Jack Nerad 38:16
It’s just a more specialized vehicle, right. The other two, which are, you know, much broader, broader appeal to a compact sedan versus a luxury sedan. Let’s talk a bit about trucks. I mean, f150, has been the champ in terms of sales for 44 years. I mean, it is a cornerstone of what ford motor company is doing. to you how big a leap forward? Is this f 150 versus the previous one?

Gary Witzenburg 38:42
You know, to be honest, Jack, I’m not entirely qualified yet to answer that definitively. Because I haven’t spent that much time in it. I have driven it. But it was fairly brief. It was another vehicle that was launched late. So they did well to get us out to it. Get it out to us as jurors at all around the country and, and Canada. So I don’t have a lot of time with it, yet. It It seems that it’s built on what was already, if not the leader, certainly the sales leader. But it, it took what was already the top selling truck, didn’t change it in appearance a whole lot, but added a lot of features. And a lot of I think some additional capabilities. And it I don’t know why it would not continue to lead the segment as good as the Silverado and the ram are right. I think

Jack Nerad 39:34
I agree. And I think adding the hybrid version and the hybrid version, and especially the the power onboard aspect of that, you know, essentially having generator capability or the ability to power a lot of things. I mean, that really spoke to me about Yeah, Ford is really paying attention to what the consumer the buyer of this vehicle is going to want to do in that case. case it might be a tradesman. Or it might be somebody who’s out camping and wants to have that capability. There were a lot of little touches, I think in the Ford F 150. That really set it apart. And of course, it was competing as you, as you mentioned, against specialty vehicles that had been introduced in prior years and had actually done quite well, in our judging over the course of prior years. So I think that’s what really set the F150 apart this time around.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai