Here are four outstanding pickups

I recall little about the 17 sport sedans, luxury cars and SUVs I drove recently at the North American Car of the Year jury’s program to compare semifinalists for 2022 car, SUV and truck of the year.

Because, pickups.

This is the best year ever for new pickups, setting up the tightest, most-interesting contest ever.

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Normally, I find truck of the year to be the least-competitive category. Big trucks trump midsize pickups, and the leaders seldom square off with all-new models in the same year.

The vehicles are frequently great. The competition isn’t.

Vans and minivans? NACTOY’s voting history says they’re also-rans, no matter how much they mean to the economy and rec-league soccer teams. Thanks for playing. Have an orange slice.

2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup

This year is very different. Four outstanding new pickups appealing to very different types of buyers are debuting, alongside replacements for a pair of long-running models.

It’s anybody’s guess which will win. For the first time in my memory, I can’t even guess which three will be finalists.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier midsize pickup's styling recalls the brand's 1980s 'hardbody' models.

As a NACTOY juror, I’m one of 50 automotive journalists from across the United States and Canada who vote for the awards each year. We’ve got a couple of weeks left for driving and thinking before voting to pick three finalists each for North American car, truck and SUV of the year.

The finalists will be announced Nov. 17. Then my fellow jurors and I have about six weeks for more evaluations before the winners are announced Jan. 11, 2022.

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