North American Car and Truck of the Year Finalists Announced
An international group of automotive journalists has selected the Ford Fusion, Honda Civic and Pontiac Solstice as the finalists for the 2006 North American Car of the Year. The Ford Explorer, Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Xterra were selected as finalists for the 2006 North American Truck of the Year. The results were announced this week at a news conference during a luncheon held by the Detroit Economic Club. The awards are unique because instead of being given by a single publication, radio or television station they are given by 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding vehicles of the year based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. To be eligible vehicles must be "all new" or "substantially changed" from the previous model. Dozens of new 2006 vehicles were eligible but the jurors whittled the field down to 14 cars and 14 trucks on which they voted.The full list of finalists for Car of the Year include, from the Big 3, the Chevrolet HHR, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion and Pontiac Solstice. From Germany comes the Audi A3 hatchback, the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes-Benz R-Class and Volkswagen Passat. Japanese nameplates include the new Honda Civic sedan, coupe and hybrid, Infiniti M35 and M45 models, Lexus IS 250/ 350 sports sedans, the Toyota Avalon, Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Hyundai Sonata.The list of finalists for North American Truck of the Year includes the Dodge Ram Mega Cab pickup, Ford Explorer SUV, Hummer H3 and Jeep Commander. From Korea comes the new Sportage compact SUV, from Germany the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV and from Britain, the Range Rover Sport.Japanese nameplates include the Honda Ridgeline, the hybrid Lexus RX 400h, Nissan Xterra SUV, Subaru’s B9 Tribeca SUV, the Suzuki Grand Vitara, the Toyota RAV4 compact SUV and the Highlander Hybrid. Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Chrysler 300/300C, while the North American Truck of the Year was the Ford Escape Hybrid. In the last 12 years, domestic automakers have won the North American Car of the Year six times. Japanese automakers have won twice and European automakers have won four times. In the last 12 years, domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year eight times. Japanese and European automakers have each won twice.