North American Car of the Year - award crystal

Although the domestic auto season is not yet upon us, the picture for the 2014 model year is well established, with many models already on sale at dealerships. Likewise, the jurors of the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year awards are already in the thick of their new vehicle evaluations, and they've culled down their "long list" of nominees down to a tighter list of candidates. Whereas the long list essentially represents all new vehicles that are expected to launch in a given year, the "short list" below is a more focused look at what the self-funded, independent, non-profit jury of 50 North American auto writers feel is worth closer consideration.

This year's NACTOY short list is composed of 12 cars and 12 truck and utility vehicles, with the latter category once again including crossovers. The list of Car of the Year candidates covers a broad bandwidth of segments, from sporty coupes (BMW 4 Series, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray) and convertibles (Jaguar F-Type) to bread-and-butter offerings like the Chevrolet Impala, Mazda3, Mazda6 and Toyota Corolla. Vying for the Truck/Utility award is everything from the tiny Buick Encore to honking full-size pickups like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, along with luxury CUVs like the BMW X5 and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

Overall, General Motors enjoys a particularly robust showing this go-round, with three vehicles up for consideration in each category, and Toyota has notched a vehicle on both the car and truck lists, along with a model from its Lexus brand. Mazda has landed both of its new-for-2014 offerings on the short list, BMW and Kia both have two entries, and Nissan has a pair of vehicles including their premium Infiniti marque.

The next step in the process will see the jurors training their gaze on these short-listed vehicles before another round of voting leaves just three finalists in each category. Another round of evaluation and voting follows that, with the eventual winners announced at a press conference on the first press day of the Detroit Auto Show in January.

*Full Disclosure: Author is a NACTOY jury member.

2014 North American Car of the Year short list: