Plenty of awards are handed out at the annual SEMA show each year, but usually for specific vehicles rather than popular models. This year, though, SEMA will recognize the most popular customized models in three classes including cars, trucks and SUVs.
Anyone wandering the endless halls of SEMA will notice that some models are better represented than others. While you'll occasionally see a tricked-out supercar like the Ford GT, Chevy Camaros are far more common. For the first time this year, SEMA will recognize the models that get the most love from customizers with the SEMA Award. Contestants must be new or significantly revised, incorporate at least one new technology and be involved in at least one SEMA OEM program. A panel of industry experts will identify the hottest model in each category based on the number of exhibitors offering products for each vehicle, participation levels at previous SEMA shows, magazine covers featuring project vehicles and data downloads from the SEMA Technology Transfer program.
The 2010 contestants have been announced and the Truck and SUV categories are below.
Chevrolet Silverado: Silverados get plenty of love at SEMA and the truck has picked up SEMA's "Most Accessory-Friendly Hybrid" award in both 2007 and 2010. Is it enough to take the prize?
Ram: Forget specific trims like the Silverado Hybrid. Ram has picked up awards for being the "Most Accessory-Friendly Truck" at past shows. It's a strong all-arounder, but then there's...
Ford F-150: ...a three-time "Most Accessory-Friendly Truck" winner. It's no surprise that customizers love the Ford, after all, it's the best-selling truck in America and has the biggest market for aftermarket parts.
Toyota Tundra: It may not be able to keep up with the domestic trio in sales, but the Tundra has gotten itself a nice cult following, particularly among customizers. It even picked up a "Most Accessory-Friendly Truck" award back in 2007. Will that be enough to challenge the other three?
Ford Explorer: It certainly wasn't the original SUV, but the Explorer is the SUV most-responsible for popularizing the segment with the buying public. Hanging on far longer than most of its competition, the Explorer has a fresh new model for customizers to play with, making it a strong all-around contender for the award.
Jeep Grand Cherokee: If any vehicle can challenge the Explorer's creds, it's the Grand Cherokee. Customizers ranging from off-roaders to drag strip specialists love them for their broad array of offerings and like the Explorer, there's a hot new model out for them to play with. If "Jeep" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when someone says "off-road," you're not doing it right.
Jeep Wrangler: If the Grand Cherokee is good, the Wrangler is better. There is no truer off-roader than the Wrangler or one more dedicated to its purpose. Tracing its roots to the original Willys Jeep, the Wrangler has been popular amongst the public and the aftermarket industry for decades and even picked itself up a "Most Accessory-Friendly SUV" award in 2007, something none of the other contenders can say.
Subaru Outback: A dark horse candidate for sure, the Outback has been freed of the Impreza and is steadily gathering followers looking for a capable off-roader they can still park at the office. These weekend warriors have kayaking to do, and the Outback is the SUV that'll take them there. The aftermarket is coming around, but will it be enough to snag the trophy?
Toyota FJ Cruiser: Perhaps not as popular as some of the other contenders, the FJ Cruiser has built itself a loyal fan base and proved itself on the trails. It's got the rugged performance to run with the pack, but does it have the aftermarket support?
Cast your vote in the comments for the Hottest Truck and Hottest SUV, then tune in on November 2 through 4 for our coverage of the 2010 SEMA show to find out won.