Car of the Year Nominees

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Best New Electric Car: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Years of cheaper gas have torpedoed consumer interest in hybrids and plug-in cars, but they didn't slow GM's pledge to make an affordable, 200-mile electric vehicle. So came the Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric hatchback with an EPA-estimated 238 miles of range, overnight chargeability and a starting price around $30,000 after federal tax credits. That's Tesla Model S range at about half the price, a feat the California EV maker hopes to accomplish with the forthcoming Model 3. But Detroit beat Silicon Valley to the punch.

Given its credentials, the Bolt could skate by with a lot of mediocrity otherwise. But GM's EV is a lot better than that. The 150-kilowatt electric motor unleashes strong, instant power from your right foot. The brakes have convincing response, and the battery pack's low center of gravity lends sharp handling. The cabin is surprisingly roomy. Storage space abounds.

The Bolt doesn't skate; it flies. GM has hit a home run.

Expense and range — one too high, the other too low — remain significant obstacles to the EV movement, which affordable gas seems to have grounded all over again. Could the Bolt represent a breakthrough to long-term EV popularity regardless of fuel prices? Chances are good.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica photo by Angela Conners

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Best New Minivan: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

For many large families, only a minivan will suffice, and Chrysler's newest model will be a must-have for busy families who need its just-right blend of comfort, room and convenience features. The new Pacifica has all that and adds polished road manners, innovative twists on family-friendly features and loads of style. Yep that's right — this minivan has style in spades. 

Outside, the Pacifica's curvy lines and elegant face are a radical stylistic departure from the Town & Country's dowdy breadbox look. Inside, there are seats for seven or eight and loads of creature comforts to keep Mom, Dad and the kids happy, from an available built-in vacuum cleaner and revised Stow 'n Go seats to plentiful USB ports for device charging and its Uconnect theater's twin touchscreens with built-in apps for rear-seat entertainment.

With many minivans, drivers sacrifice style, power and maneuverability for a living room on wheels, but that's not the case with the 2017 Pacifica. Stunning good looks and refined road manners make it a standout in the class.

2017 FIAT 124 Spider

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2017 FIAT 124 Spider

Best New Convertible: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider

There's no point in owning a convertible if it's hard to put the top down, and Fiat has thought of that with the simplest top operation next to a can of soda. Yes, purists will point out there's a lot of Mazda MX-5 Miata in the 124 Spider and that the only real difference is the engine and some styling tweaks. We'd remind those folks that the genetic difference between individual humans is only 0.1 percent, then point to the recent election to demonstrate how significant small differences can be.

On second thought, who cares? Look at this thing: It's pretty. Next, drop the top, rev the engine, listen to the sweet 1.4-liter engine, find a twisty road and see if your cares disappear with the wind. We're betting they will, and that's why the Fiat 124 Spider is our Best New Convertible of 2017.

2017 Genesis G90

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2017 Genesis G90

Best New Luxury Sedan: 2017 Genesis G90

The G90 is the flagship model of the new Genesis luxury brand — a car formerly known as the Hyundai Equus until Hyundai created its own stand-alone premium marque.

But this is more than just a refreshed Equus: The G90 is a truly fantastic new luxury car, with Genesis engineers going through every inch of the vehicle and upgrading it to a level that easily rivals competitors from Lexus, Infiniti, even BMW. It's a massive car — with as much rear legroom as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class — but features a standard turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 that is super smooth, amazingly refined and easily our choice over the larger available V-8.

Inside, you'd never know this was once a Hyundai — all of the switches, controls, gauges, multimedia screens, thoughtful materials and the well-thought-out, formal designs are uniquely Genesis. On the road, the G90 is a limousine, a stately and isolated luxury cruiser whose sole goal is the comfortable coddling of its occupants. To top it all off, Genesis is offering up the full-size G90 for the price of other luxury brands' mid-size sedans with the industry's best warranty to boot. If the car and the luxury experience matter more to you than the badge on the hood, the Genesis G90 can't be beat.

2017 GMC Acadia photo by Evan Sears

2017 GMC Acadia

Best New Mid-Size SUV: 2017 GMC Acadia

In these days of "bigger is better," it's unusual for a car to shrink in size but grow in stature. The Acadia manages this feat easily. GMC pared the full-size SUV to a mid-sized version, but with the redesign, it created a family hauler that's fun to drive and filled with useful features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Rear Seat Reminder and an available Tow Vision trailering system.

The Acadia is now about 7 inches shorter, but its interior space keeps up with rivals such as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer. Unlike its competitors, however, the Acadia can be had with just two rows of seats as the SLT version with the All Terrain Package. Both the three-row and two-row Acadia earned all A's in their Car Seat Checks, and the two-row Acadia also fit three child-safety seats across its bench seat, the holy grail for many parents.

In a head-to-head comparison, the two-row Acadia beat the Nissan Murano, the winner of our 2016 Midsize SUV Challenge. And in our Three-Row SUV Challenge 2016, the three-row Acadia finished in a close second place behind the Honda Pilot.

GMC took a risk with the Acadia's redesign, but it paid off with a flexible SUV that will appeal to families of all sizes.

2017 Kia Sportage photo by Angela Conners

2017 Kia Sportage

Best New Compact SUV: 2017 Kia Sportage

 It's hard to overstate how far Kia has come in the last 15 years: The South Korean brand has steadily refined its lineup while adding features that wouldn't be out of place in a luxury vehicle. The redesigned 2017 Sportage compact SUV continues that trend with its distinctive styling, a roomy interior, easy-to-use technology and upscale available features.

Powered by a choice of two four-cylinder engines, the five-seat Sportage makes strong power with the optional turbocharged engine, which pairs with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission. Steering feel and ride quality have improved, and the optional all-wheel-drive system seamlessly shifts available engine power to the wheels with the most grip.

Inside, the cabin has good materials, with nicely grained plastics and soft-touch surfaces, and the Sportage's higher trim levels come with nice amenities like heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a touchscreen multimedia system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.

The SUV segment is booming and compact SUVs are especially hot. That field is extremely competitive, but the new Sportage is well positioned to challenge them — and win.