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The premise, of course, is simple enough: As the end of the year approaches, bring everyone together – ideally in just one room – and discuss your choices for a car, truck or SUV of the year, as Motor Trend does. Car and Driver magazine avoids the ‘of the year’ scrum with its annual 10 Best, and while selecting just ten from all of the available choices can itself be problematic, it probably results in less hair pulling than Motor Trend’s regimen. For the team at txGarage, scattered among multiple zip codes, we’ve chosen to mail it in. And in the absence of a single room, we’ve elected to submit one nominee each that best represents, in our individual views, the most significant automotive intro in the last calendar year. Here, then, are those choices:

2023 Ford Maverick

The Maverick XLT Hybrid is an outstanding buy, as the price for a new base model starts at $21,490 and the Hybrid begins around 26,000. The vehicle mileage is estimated at 42 mpg for the city and 33 mpg on the highway. As one of the lowest price vehicles on the road today, it’s accessible at a time when the average transaction prices for most vehicles top $40K. The XLT is both well-equipped and capable. The Maverick hybrid’s 2000-pound towing capacity and 1500-pound payload is more than adequate for most buyers in this segment. This is the right truck for the time, and it offers a lot for your money. You may have a hard time finding one on a dealer’s lot as they come and go fast, so order one and (patiently) wait. 
– Harold Allen

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

Hands down, the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is my pick for Car/Truck/SUV of the Year. With a base MSRP just under $50K, which is about $15K over a base gasoline F-150, the all-electric Lightning is in a class by itself. It delivers all of the capability of the gasoline version, plus it goes from 0-60 in just over 4 seconds. Yeah, it’s crazy fast and a full-size pickup, to boot. After eons of loud muscle trucks, the Lightning is a swanky alternative. It’s at the top of my list from Santa this year. Just hoping I haven’t been too naughty.
– Steve Kursar

2023 Ford Escape PHEV

Those of us in flyover America looking to kick our fossil-fuel addiction have limited choices, but after more than a year of research and thought, Blonde Bride and I think we found the optimal solution for this point in the transition to clean energy – the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid. 

In the 90 days since we bought the car, we have had zero issues – which we expected: The hybrid drive and digital skills all are mature technologies at Ford. As we do with our telephones, we plug the car into a wall outlet before bedtime. Rarely do we use the full 32 miles of electric driving that gives us. Including gasoline purchased on a road trip to the Ozarks, we have spent less than $25 on gas, and our electric bill climbed by an average of $1.17 a month. Combined, our smooth, powerful, and quiet Escape PHEV delivers 87.8 mpg. Until someone builds more charging stations in our neck of the woods, that will do just fine.
– Bill Owney


The Honda CRV Hybrid stole the show on design, fuel economy and value. Hybrids represent a real step to an all-EV future. Right now we’re trying to balance this out. In an ideal world, we’d all be driving EVs already, and charging them at home or anywhere else we drive. But as we know, the world is never ideal. Compromises are made. The Honda CRV is such a compromise. 

Although it’s a hybrid it’s not a plug-in hybrid, so you don’t have to think about plugging it in. It just does its thing. Plus, it is comfortable and roomy inside, and isn’t overloaded with gadgetry few buyers actually need. It simply and faithfully does the job. And it’s a best seller in an entire lineup of best sellers!
– Alan Pease

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

If referencing Toyota in the 2023 model year for an ‘of the year’ recognition, the go-to decision should probably be Toyota’s all-new Prius, available as both a traditional hybrid and Prime plug-in. And I’ve been mightily impressed by the Prius and its 50-mpg reach, although less impressed as the window sticker climbs toward $40K. My pick: Toyota’s Corolla Cross Hybrid, a small crossover capable of delivering an EPA estimate of 45 miles per gallon city, 38 on the highway and 42 miles per gallon combined. It does this while giving a family of four all the room they could reasonably need, or an active couple with all of the necessary room for their activity-oriented stuff. And the Toyota hatch does it a base price of around $32,000!
– David Boldt

2023 Kia Carnival

The Kia Carnival, a minivan that undeniably deserves Vehicle of the Year, given its exceptional qualities that cater to the diverse needs of families. While I haven’t driven the Carnival as a review vehicle this year, I did buy one for my family – and I think that says a lot. The Carnival has a spacious and versatile interior, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience. What sets the Carnival apart is its reasonable pricing; a starting MSRP of just over $33k makes it an affordable choice without compromising on quality or features. In a market filled with tough competition, the Kia Carnival stands out with its sleek and modern design, and compares favorably with SUV styling rather than that of a minivan. This helps the Carnival outshine its rivals and make a strong aesthetic statement. Its winning combination of family-friendly features, affordability, and stylish exterior position the Kia Carnival as a standout choice, truly deserving of recognition as the Vehicle of the Year.
– Adam Moore

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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