Hyundai cleans up at the 'Oscars of the automotive industry' with big wins at Detroit show

Key Points
  • Hyundai took home two of the three North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.
  • The Kona SUV won for best utility vehicle, and the Genesis G70 sport sedan won best car.
  • Fiat Chrysler's Ram 1500 won best pickup.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric is unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, March 28, 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

It is already shaping up to be a good year for Hyundai.

The Korean carmaker took home two of three major automotive industry awards at the Detroit auto show this year, and the recognition could be a boon to its brands looking to lure customers away from more established rivals.

The awards, referred to as the "Oscars of the automotive industry," rate cars based on innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value. They're judged by a panel of automotive journalists and analysts.

Hyundai took home the North American 2019 Utility Vehicle of the Year award in the utility category for its Kona sport utility vehicle, beating out the two top finalists: the Jaguar I-Pace electric and the Acura RDX. The Kona SUV comes with either a traditional gasoline engine or electric power.

Hyundai's luxury brand Genesis took home 2019 Car of the Year award for its G70 sport sedan, beating other finalists: the Honda Insight and the Volvo S60/V60. The G70 has received praise as a potential contender to incumbent luxury sport sedans, such as the BMW 3-series. The award is another feather in Hyundai's cap for Genesis, which debuted in 2008. By 2018, Consumer Reports rated Genesis No. 1 in a ranking of automotive brands, and Genesis has topped J.D. Power Initial Quality surveys as well.

A Hyundai Motor Co. Genesis G70 sedan stands on display during a launch event in Hwaseong, South Korea, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.
SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

But industry analysts have said that one of Genesis' biggest challenges is getting on buyer consideration lists, especially in a market that is ditching cars for crossovers.

Fiat Chrysler's Ram 1500 full-size pickup won the truck category, beating two comparable pickups from General Motors —the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500. The Ram truck had been the expected favorite by many in the industry. Ram has historically trailed in sales behind Ford and Chevrolet in pickup sales, but the brand has impressed buyers and critics with its bold exterior designs, capability, and its high-end interiors.

2019 Ram 1500 pickup truck of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is displayed at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on January 15, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.
The Asahi Shimbun | Getty Images

With the award, Ram parent Fiat Chrysler has managed to make a splash at two auto major shows in the span of just a few months. Late last year, the automaker's wildly successful Jeep brand unveiled its Gladiator pickup truck. Both Ram and Jeep have been successful, but some of Fiat Chrysler's more sedan-heavy brands have struggled, and the company is trying to stay on course after the unexpected death of former CEO Sergio Marchionne, who was widely considered a towering figure in the auto business.