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U.S. Car and Truck of the Year Awards to be Announced at Detroit

An independent coalition of automotive journalists will select this year's car and truck of the year at the Detroit Auto Show early next month.

Three cars, the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and the Volkswagen Passat along with three trucks, the BMW X3, Honda CR-V, and the Range Rover Evoque were selected as the finalists for the two most prestigious awards in the North American automotive calendar: the 2012 North American Car and Truck of the Year. The finalists, selected by a 50-member jury made up of auto journalists, had a list of 17 new cars and seven new trucks to select from.

This year was a bit different from the past several, as only one car (and no trucks) with an alternative drivetrain, i.e. and EV or hybrid, made it to the final list: the Toyota Prius V. All other cars and trucks are powered by good old gasoline only. Interestingly for this year as well, no American truck made the cut list, all being European or Asian. Mercedes-Benz also suffered a defeat as its new M-Class failed to impress. However, the all-new BMW X3 and Mini Countryman were selected. Even the Saab 9-4X was singled out as a potential winner. To recap, last year's winners were the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer.

In fact, Ford trucks have won the last three truck of the year awards, so it's nice to see the chance for another vehicle to take home the top prize this year. The awards are unique in the U.S. because instead of being given by a single media outlet, they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada representing magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites. The awards are financed by the jurors' dues, as the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) does not accept any advertising from automakers.

To be eligible, a vehicle must be all-new or substantially changed. Going into their 19th year, the awards will be announced on January 9th at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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