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North American Car and Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

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On: Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 3:40PM | By: Chris Weiss

North American Car and Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

As you probably already know, the 2011 North American International Auto Show is drawing very near. The show gets underway for its press preview on January 10 and 11, and opens to the public on January 15. Between that and the fact that the year is coming to a close, one has to wonder: what is the official car of the year? Well, that answer is a little closer because the finalists for the North American Car of the Year, to be awarded at the NAIAS, were selected last week. Also selected were their truck counterparts.

The North American car and truck awards are voted on by a field of top auto journalists in the United States and Canada. 49 journalists voted to select the three finalists for both car and truck categories.

The cars are of little surprise: the Chevy Volt, Hyundai Sonata, and Nissan Leaf will compete for the car of the year prize, which will be awarded at a ceremony on January 10. Both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have dominated headlines throughout the year, and the Hyundai Sonata has received its fair share of praise, including an IIHS Top Safety pick.

Personally, judging by the way similar awards have been going, I'd be surprised if the Hyundai Sonata won. The Chevy Volt has been dominating awards in North America, including a "Car of the Year" pick by Motor Trend and a "Green Car of the Year" pick by the Green Car Journal. While the Nissan Leaf hasn't had the same recognition in the States, it recently brought home the "European Car of the Year" award. I suspect those two will be battling it out for this award as well.

The truck finalists are a who's who of redesigned SUVs: the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. All three of those models received major overhauls for the 2011 model year and were introduced earlier this year. As the NY Times points out, it's interesting that each of these models is a unibody SUV as opposed to a more traditional truck-style, body-on-frame SUV. The Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer received some question/criticism for making the move to unibody construction with these redesigned models.

The Car and Truck of the Year ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. on January 10.

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