Regular readers of this column know that, on occasion, I stray from auto racing to discuss other automotive subjects. It's one of those days.
The Chevrolet Silverado won Truck/Utility Vehicle of the Year honours at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week and good for GM. But it was a hollow victory over the Acura MDX and the Jeep Cherokee because the Silverado didn't have any real competition.
If Detroit does one thing before next year's show, and this goes for the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto as well, it must rejuvinate the Truck of the Year competition. A mouthful to begin with, this Truck/UV of the Year business is also a cop-out because of the way the rules are set out.
For a pickup to be entered for Truck of the Year, it has to be all new or substantially changed. Because most pickups stay essentially the same for years after they're introduced, they can't be entered again and again. Organizers were stuck with fewer and fewer trucks in the category, so added utility vehicles to fill it out. It's not working and looks bush league.
A truck is a truck; a utility vehicle is not. I can get a load of lumber in the back of a Silverado, or an F-150 or a Ram 1500 but I can't get a similiar amount in the back of a Cherokee (with due respect). It's as simple as that and it's folly to group them all together.
If either Detroit or Toronto wants to have a Utility Vehicle of the Year category, go ahead. But please stop putting a Kia Sorento or a Land Rover Range Rover Sport in the same category as a Toyota Tundra. It makes no sense.
And it's ludicrous that the Ford F-150, the best-selling pickup truck in the United States and the best-selling vehicle in Canada, can't be included in a contest for Truck of the Year. I don't care if all they changed on it were the knobs on the radio dial. The 2014 F-150 was different than the 2013 model and should have been eligible.
As happens, the organizers and the juries for these awards sometimes lose focus. They get too close to the subject and forget the big picture.
Consumers vote with their wallets and the F-150 pickup is the clear winner. Not only should this be reflected in the Truck of the Year contest, but does anybody really think all those millions of owners of Ford F-150s (or Ram 1500s, for that matter) give a hoot about an award in which their favourite vehicles aren't even eligible?
Of course not. So change it.
- NORRIS McDONALD