|Hyundai Avante (sold as Elantra in the U.S.) / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor|
By Nam Hyun-woo
The Hyundai Avante, sold as the Elantra in the U.S., has won the 2021 North American Car of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious automotive citations in the region, Hyundai Motor and the award's organizer said Tuesday.
The Avante won the recognition after beating the Genesis G80 and the Nissan Sentra in the final contest to pick the best car in the model year. The organizer, the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) Awards, picks the best vehicles in the categories of car, truck and utility vehicle.
This is the second time the Avante has won the Car of the Year Award. The fifth-generation Avante grabbed that title in 2012. Only two cars have won the award more than once ― the Chevrolet Corvette and the Honda Civic.
This is also Hyundai Motor's fourth win in the Car of the Year category ― the Genesis G70 in 2019, the Avante in 2012 and the Hyundai Genesis in 2009. Genesis was separated as Hyundai's own luxury division in 2015. The automaker has won the awards five times including the Kona and Kona EV, which won Utility Vehicle of the Year in 2019.
"It is refreshing to see an automaker so committed to the sedan segment that at launch they offer such a wide variety of models as is in the Hyundai Elantra family," North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) juror John Davis said. "Hyundai did not do the drip-drip of the model variants over a longer term as is typical for the class."
Hyundai Motor America CEO Jose Munoz said the accolade should be shared by all of the automaker's employees in Korea and the U.S. who build and sell the Avante.
"I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the entire company, our Alabama and Ulsan plant employees who build Elantra and our dealers," Munoz said. "The Elantra is a symbol of our blend of dynamic design, advanced technology and great fuel economy. Elantra customers are going to experience all of the hard work and dedication that went into making this class-leading car."
In this year's award, three Korean vehicles made it into the finals in the car and utility vehicle categories ― the Avante and the Genesis G80 in the car category and the Genesis GV80 in the utility vehicle category.
Now in their 28th year, the NACTOY awards are selected through a series of three separate votes by a diverse jury of automotive journalists in the United States and Canada. Jurors evaluate the finalists based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.