Detroit Cars Lead 'Car/Truck of the Year' Nominations

U.S. vehicles out-numbered those marketed by foreign-based competitors for North American Car and Truck of the Year consideration.

The awards, voted on by 49 North American auto industry journalists from various media outlets, is considered more valuable and objective than awards given by single media outlets that are dependent on auto industry advertising. The award will be given out next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.The 2011 finalists are: Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Sonata for Car of the Year. Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango are finalists for Truck of the Year.

The Chevy Volt is an extended-range electric vehicle, allowing the driver to go about 40 miles on an electric charge before a gas engine kicks in to power the battery until it can be plugged into an electrical outlet an recharged. The Nissan Leaf is a full electric vehicle. The Sonata is a standard family sedan, though it comes in a hybrid version.

The Truck of the Year finalist list is a boon to Chrysler, which has two SUVs on the list. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango are built on the same engineering platform, but have different designs and features. Chrysler is still majority-owned by the Federal government after the company's 2008 bankruptcy. Chrysler is 20% owned by Italian automaker Fiat, which manages the company. The Ford Explorer has been fully redesigned, as well, and is now smaller and lighter with better fuel economy than the old version.

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