This year's selection for North American Truck of the Year was something of a sign of the times as the pool of nominees didn't really fit the traditional definition of "truck" – beasts of burden with features like a low range, open bed and/or body-on-frame construction. Not only were all three finalists crossovers (including the winning 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque), but so were the other four on the short list of nominees.
The jury has been monitoring the market's shift from body-on-frame SUVs to unibody-based crossovers for years now, and detailed discussions about whether to alter the name of its Truck of The Year award have been a staple conversation among members of the voting pool for perhaps half a decade. Those debates have finally bore fruit. Beginning with next year's award, instead of North American Truck of the Year, the hardware will be awarded as the North American Truck/Utility of the Year.
The name change should not only be a bit cleaner when it comes to including the market's ever-diversifying pool of crossovers, it will also afford room on the other end of the spectrum for the inclusion of heavy-duty full-size trucks, a segment of vehicles that previously weren't eligible. The change reflects another shift in the market, where vehicles like the Ford F-Series Super Duty and Ram 2500 HD are no longer being considered solely for purchase as work trucks – more and more everyday consumers are looking to them as capable daily drivers. The jury had previously considered only light-duty trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Toyota Tacoma for the award.
With the crossover segment mushrooming in popularity and diversifying rapidly, it's become difficult to readily classify what constitutes a crossover vehicle as opposed to a car. Branches of the U.S. government classify the exact same vehicle as a car and a truck, automakers invent new terminology to trumpet, journalists call them one thing and consumers end up labeling them another. The NACTOY jury will thus look to indicators like overall height and capability to help funnel eligible vehicles into the Car of the Year or Truck/Utility of the Year category.