Just as the glitter and confetti from all our New Year celebrations is being swept up, Ford and Hyundai have been sweeping up 2021’s North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards.…

Hyundai and Ford clean up at 2021 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards

2021 Hyundai Elantra Car of the Year
Hyundai’s 2021 Elantra (also shown above) just won the North American Car of the Year.

Just as the glitter and confetti from all our New Year celebrations is being swept up, Ford and Hyundai have been sweeping up 2021’s North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards.

Yes, it appears as if 2021 is the blue-oval brand’s year to shine as two of its vehicles drove away with class wins, the always best-selling F-150 earning 2021 Truck of the Year honours, and the controversially named Mustang Mach-E silently accepting 2021’s Utility of the Year.

Car of the Year went to Hyundai with its new 2021 Elantra, the reality of which might cause some in Dearborn to wonder what might have happened if the much-lauded (in Europe and other markets) new Focus had been made available in our market.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford’s 2021 Mustang Mach-E took top honours as this year’s North American Utility of the Year.

Runner up in the Car sector is Genesis’ redesigned G80 mid-size luxury sedan (FYI: Genesis is Hyundai’s luxury division), while Nissan’s revised Sentra took a respectable third place in the annual awards program. Of note, the Chevrolet Corvette won the Car of the Year Class in 2020, but no GM products earned awards this year.

Just behind the Mustang Mach-E crossover EV, Genesis once again placed well in the Utility of the Year category with its new GV80 mid-size luxury crossover SUV, while Land Rover’s rugged new Defender 4×4 earned third. Last year it was Kia’s turn to impress, incidentally, with its stellar Telluride three-row, mid-size crossover SUV.

2021 Ford F-150
Ford’s 2021 F-150, the only fully redesigned model entered in the North American Truck of the Year contest, earned top spot.

Lastly, but hardly least when it comes to sales, NACTOY judges chose the “Desert Rated” Jeep Gladiator Mojave for second place in the Truck of the Year category (the entire Gladiator line won this class last year), while the off-road “race replica” Ram 1500 TRX showed up in third.

Notably, the just-noted Truck of the Year finalists are merely significantly upgraded trims of models already available in 2020, leaving the winning F-150 as the only entirely redesigned model entered into this year’s North American Truck of the Year class. How this may have impacted the Truck of the Year results is not known.

If you’re interested in purchasing one of the above-mentioned vehicles, make sure to click on the associated link to find out about available manufacturer leasing and financing rates, possible manufacturer rebates, and best of all, dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. CarCostCanada is our nation’s top source for money-saving automotive info, so be sure to download their free app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store and save money now.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Ford, Hyundai

If you’d asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market’s most and least entertaining cars, I’d have put Nissan’s subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective…

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The 2017 Sentra carries forward last year’s styling upgrades while adding a more potent 188-hp SR Turbo trim level. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you’d asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market’s most and least entertaining cars, I’d have put Nissan’s subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective lists. For 2017 the Micra remains a personal favourite cheap performer in the entry-level categories, and much to my delight Nissan has elevated the Sentra’s fun factor times ten.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Sentra SE-R was a highly respected sport compact, and while this once revered model is no more, the Sentra four-door can now be had in as-tested SR Turbo guise as well as top-line Nismo trim. I’ll leave the Nismo for a future garage entry and road test review, because the SR Turbo is what currently occupies my driveway.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The SR Turbo gets a rear spoiler and sportier bumper cap. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Before delving into this all-new 2017 trim, Nissan gave its Sentra a thorough mid-cycle refresh for the 2016 model year that pulls its much more agreeable styling cues from other models within the Japanese brand’s lineup, particularly the Altima mid-size sedan. The most prominent change was the addition of Nissan’s now trademark V-motion grille in chrome and black mesh, extending upward into a new hood and downward into a revised lower fascia, while new complex headlamps included LED low beam projectors in SL and SR trims. Around the sides new 17-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets were added to the latter two trims as well, while all Sentras received new taillight lenses and a reworked rear bumper in typical mid-cycle makeover fashion.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
A new 370Z-inspired steering wheel makes the SR Turbo look and feel better, as does the much improved Sentra interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All of this remains the same except for the elimination of SR trim and adoption of this SR Turbo nameplate for 2017, plus the engine and other performance tweaks that make it so fun to drive. The new 1.6-litre direct-injected four-cylinder gets borrowed from the already impressive Juke crossover, complete with 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque (up a sizeable 58 horsepower and 49 lb-ft of torque over the base 1.8-litre four). Even better, it can be paired with the as-tested six-speed manual gearbox or an available continuously variable automatic (CVT), both boasting unique tuning specific to SR Turbo trim.

Additionally, the SR Turbo gets reworked electric power steering for more direct response and feel, aided by stiffer springs and dampers plus extra bracing for greater rigidity overall. I’ll fill in all the driving dynamic blanks in my upcoming review, but suffice to say it’s worthy of contention with Honda’s new turbocharged Civic powerplant, and can mix it up with the new Elantra Sport as well.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
A backup camera is always appreciated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to the changes that came with last year’s car, the 2017 Sentra carries forward all interior updates such as its more refined surface treatments that now make generous use of soft-touch synthetics and metallic accents, while the SR Turbo gets a sporty new 370Z-inspired three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s a lot better looking due to a reshaped centre hub and side spokes (it’s no longer a big ugly blob) and less crowded multifunction controls. Additionally, new trims were added to the centre stack and doors, the one in my SR Turbo particularly nice.

On the digital front, all 2016 Sentras received a 5.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge package, with higher end trims getting better screen resolution, while Siri Eyes Free was also added to the mix.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
These powered and heated leather seats are part of the SR Premium upgrade package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’m not going to go into every trim level being that this overview is for the SR Turbo, a very different type of car targeting a more performance-oriented buyer, but take note that S and SV trims offer a little more enjoyment from the base engine thanks to their standard six-speed manual gearbox, whereas the more efficient CVT is available with these trims as well, and comes standard on the luxury-focused SL.

Diving right into the SR Turbo, which starts $5,800 higher than the base $15,898 S at $21,598 plus freight and fees, the equipment list includes all items mentioned thus far as well as fog lamps, 205/50VR17 all-season tires, larger 11.7-inch front ventilated sport brakes with upgraded pads (the base car gets 11s), 11.5-inch solid rear discs (base gets drums), active understeer control (when you “upgrade” to the CVT), LED turn signals integrated within the side mirror housings, side rocker extensions, a rear deck lid spoiler with an LED centre mounted brake light (CHMSL), a sport rear fascia with a matte black diffuser-style centre insert, a chromed exhaust tip, and more on the outside.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The Sentra has long been praised for its accommodating passenger compartment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Proximity-sensing keyless access gets you inside and pushbutton ignition gets the motor percolating, while interior upgrades include the leather-wrapped sport steering mentioned earlier, a leather and metal shift knob, exclusive sport inlays, microfiltered air conditioning, a 5.0-inch colour infotainment display with a backup camera, SMS- and email-reading capability, Siri Eyes Free, AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone with streaming audio and more, with additional SR Turbo features including premium sport cloth upholstery, heatable front seats, a sliding front armrest, a flip-down rear seat centre armrest with cupholders, tire pressure monitoring with Easy-Fill alert, etcetera.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The Sentra’s trunk is massive, with 428 litres of space plus expandability via standard 60/40-split rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester came with $300 Aspen White paint, the only other available option being the $3,400 SR Premium package that adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, upgraded sunvisors with extensions and dual illuminated vanity mirrors, an auto-dimming LED centre dome light, a powered moonroof, an upgraded NissanConnect infotainment interface with a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, navigation, eight-speaker (including two subs) Bose premium audio with satellite radio, leather upholstery, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. All the extras pumped the price up to $25,298 before freight and fees, which seems pretty reasonable, especially considering Nissan’s current (at the time of writing) $3,500 cash discount.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
Meet the new SR Turbo’s 188-hp 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder with 177 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course this all gets added to myriad features available in lesser trims, of which I’ll go into in more detail as part of my upcoming road test review, although take note if you’d like your Sentra with enough active safety gear to qualify for IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status, which it does, such as emergency autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, you’ll need to step into a less powerful CVT-only model.

To its credit that seemingly anemic base Sentra powerplant gets the segment’s best fuel economy at 8.1 L/100km in the city and 6.3 on the highway with its optional CVT, or 9.0 city and 6.8 highway with the standard six-speed manual, while the turbo increases consumption to a claimed 9.1 city and 8.9 highway.

Before signing off I’ll mention one of the Sentra’s greatest attributes, its accommodating passenger compartment and massive 428-litre trunk. I’ll run over more dimensional details and comment on the car’s overall comfort in my review, but its standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks are a bonus no matter how it measures up.

Until next time, sport compact fans might want to consider testing out this new Sentra SR Turbo or its even quicker Nismo sibling. I’ll be back with my road test results and more soon…