• Jan 10, 2011
2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

The competition for this year's North American Car and Truck of the Year was certainly stiff, but at the opening ceremonies for the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, the winners have finally been crowned. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Ford Explorer take top honors as the Car and Truck of the Year for 2011.

We aren't necessarily surprised by either winner, especially the Volt, which has taken the automotive industry by storm in recent months. General Motors' range-extended EV has already been named Motor Trend Car of the Year and Automobile of the Year, and regardless of the sedan's shortcomings, it is no doubt an impressive engineering feat for GM. The Volt also won the Green Car of the Year award and the Detroit Free Press' Car of the Year title.

Thomas Stephens, GM's vice chairman of global product operations, said that the Volt represents the soul of the new General Motors, so critics (we're looking at you, Rush Limbaugh) will probably continue to have lots to complain about in the coming years.

2011 Ford ExplorerWith the Explorer's win, Ford has now taken the North American Truck of the Year award for the past three years, with the Transit Connect and F-150 winning in 2010 and 2009, respectively. The new Explorer's transition from a traditional body-on-frame SUV to a modern crossover certainly hasn't weakened its appeal to both the media and consumers alike, and with an EcoBoost version arriving within the next few months, the Expy's market share will undoubtedly get larger.

Congratulations to both the Volt and Explorer, and a tip of the hat to runners-up Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Leaf, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.

Photos copyright ©2011 Chris Paukert and Drew Phillips / AOL
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DETROIT, - The Chevrolet Volt is the 2011 North American Car of the Year and the Ford Explorer is the 2011 North American Truck of the Year.

The winners were revealed Monday morning at a news conference at the North American International Auto Show.

While hybrid vehicles have won four times in the 18 years that the awards have been given this was the first win for a vehicle that can move a meaningful distance on electric power alone.

The winners were chosen by a jury of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

The awards are unique in the United States 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 who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.

The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding new vehicles of the year. These vehicles are benchmarks in their segments based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.

It is the fourth time General Motors has won the North American Car of the Year. Most recently, the Chevrolet Malibu was the 2008 North American Car of the Year.

It was the second year in a row that a Ford was named the North American Truck of the Year. Last year the winner was the Transit Connect. It is also the seventh time a Ford has been the "North American Truck of the Year," a category it has dominated.

The Volt won with 233 points followed by the Hyundai Sonata with 163 and the Nissan Leaf electric with 94.

The Explorer won with 253 points while the Jeep had 138 and the Durango 99.

"The Volt seamlessly bridges the gulf between today's liquid fueling intrastructure and the plugged-in electric future," commented juror Lindsay Brooke of Automotive Engineering International.

Mark Phelan, the auto critic of The Detroit Free Press said the Explorer offers "class-leading fuel economy and technology and features you can't get in luxury crossovers that cost twice as much."

To be eligible a vehicle must be all new or "substantially changed." The jurors considered dozens of new vehicles before sending their ballots to Michelle Collins, a partner at Deloitte & Touche early in December.

On December 16th the three car and truck finalists were announced.
But only Ms. Collins knew the winners until she handed over envelopes today to Karl Brauer of Edmunds.com, a member of the awards' organizing committee. Mr. Brauer announced the winners.

During the 18 years of the awards:

* Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year ten times. European automakers have won four times, Japanese automakers have won three times. A Korean automaker has won once.

* Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year twelve times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.

Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the North American Truck of the Year was the Ford Transit Connect.

The awards are administered by a five-person organizing committee. This year its members are Karl Brauer (Edmunds.com); Tony Swan (Car and Driver); Lindsay Brooke (Automotive Engineering International); Mark Phelan (The Detroit Free Press) and Christopher Jensen (Freelance).

More information including the names of the jurors is available at www.northamericancaroftheyear.org.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      American cars car back . G.M. from death and the not found at old rust dump ford .
        • 4 Years Ago

        I'm saying wow too! They all look great! The Explorer is my favorite! Maybe because it's the only vehicle I've ever seen that I'd actually buy in the color Brown and not feel like I bought it in 1976. It's really nice!

        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't mean to have bias for Domestic Automakers *Cough*, but I think this is like the first time in years that AMERICAN cars have won both of the North American Car and Truck of the year competition. Definitely a good sign
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think we have a winner in tail light design with the Chevy Volt! I love those sleek looking lights. Now if we could just start chipping away at the price of the car. Save money and look forward to buying this in the future. Http://bit.ly/CouponSavings can help you to save with free coupons and stuff every day.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like the chevy volt Http://www.hybridcarplace.com but I like the truck too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        With all the green initiatives and supposed worry about fuel over the next couple of years- its amazing that the domestics all have great new SUVs- Durango, Gr Cherokee, Explorer, and the Traverse.
        I guess you can change the laws but you cant change the minds.

        I'm not an SUV fan normally but wow.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Deja Vu? I thought this was reported last week? Nah, maybe its groundhog day around here.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Okay with the Volt's pick, the Grand Cherokee is My pick for "Trucks"
      • 4 Years Ago
      What I really object is giving a tax credit of $7500.00 to a foreign car company like the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf is not even built in the USA and I find that insane to give our tax dollars to foreign companies who compete with the American companies. Do you think Japan would do the same, take for example the Volt. Hell wouldl freeze over before Japan or any other country would do the same.

      Why so few people share the same criticism is also beyond me. It's probably because US citizens are so use to give to the world, that we don't think twice about it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        the issue most have with 'throwing a bone' to Japan has nothing to do with xenophobia but more to do with the fact that the gov't was/is taking taxpayer dollars that they dont have and sending them overseas. So, the question is why should we borrow money from Japan to pay Japan and then owe them the money again plus the vig, I mean interest.

        Let's clean our financial house first and then with our excess money, help others out.

        And most of Asia is more patriotic than we are when it comes to buying cars, so I dont know why you call it xenophobic for US citizens to prefer money stay here when its only being pragmatic and patriotic
        • 4 Years Ago
        Your answer is foolish, why should any of my HARD earned money go to bailout a company that was to STUPID to take care of business, I used to buy GM's along time ago BUT not anymore. I will NEVER buy anything from GOVERNMENT MOTORS ( GM ). Now I will stick with the only one out of the Big three That DID NOT take anything from oblama and that is Ford say what you may,Ford was the only one that had been preparing way before all the junk hit the fan. As far as the volt is concerned it has not proven itself to anyone, and it is still a hybrid. ( has a gasoline engine in it.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Since when did a SUV become a truck????? Where is the bed for the 4wheeler or the snowmobile or the load of friewood for the outside furnace.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ford Explorer is a car based SUV not a truck
      • 4 Years Ago
      The new Ford Explorer is a very impressive vehicle...Sat in one at a car show recently and I was blown away at the interior quality, it was very nice...

      I'll definitely consider one for our next vehicle...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't the volt like 12 years old or something? It might be time for a refresh V 1.2 ..... Just my 2 cents. How is it named car of the Year? Oh yeah it's a GM!
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is address to gua@2

        We've been giving and giving for a long time and I think it's time we start thinking about our selves, when our unemployment is so high. We will not be able to give anymore if we bankrupt our selves. I'm sure if that ever happened, Japan would not feel all that bad about it.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Rush's objection to the Volt is the same many of us have, taking money from other people to pay others to buy one is ridiculous. I like the technology in the Volt but I will wait for version 2, or should I say, similar tech in a different platform, like a CUV. However I would not want someone else to pay a chunk of my new car, face it, people buying 42k cars don't need money that should be going elsewhere. Let them buy their own expensive cars on their own dime.

      $7500 can pay to teach a child for a year in many parts of the US, are we really saying having someone in the 100K+ income bracket buying this car is a better use of our money?

        • 4 Years Ago

        Japan's incentive for fuel efficient vehuicles applied to any vehicle regardless of brand or where it was built.

        I think it was wrong of them to do so just like when the US does it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was against the hybrid tax break as well (for the Prius, GM, Ford and Honda hybrids). Also TARP and the bailout of GM and Chrysler.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Good point.

        Heck even with the tax breaks GM is already dumping them on fleets:

        • 4 Years Ago
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Dr Greenthumb, ..Thank You for placing the shoe on the other foot.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To FT -- I see that you got thoroughly dumped on.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rush's opposition is at least much directed to GM having a received a $50 billion federal bailout as it is to the tax break to hybrid car buyers.

        Here's an interesting take on the issue from a retired GM engineer, http://bit.ly/dXnV0S

        While I agree, to a point, that a tax break to buy a specific product is fundamentally wrong, it's done all the time, and not just to encourage sales of a particular car. What I have more of an issue with is giving a break to cars that lack a certain level of domestic content.

        A more important question might be to ask if Japan and South Korean governments would extend a tax incentive for green cars not manufactured in their respective countries? I seriously doubt it, especially given how they help fund technology initiatives for their home-based manufacturers.

        Richard Truesdell
        Editorial Director, Automotive Traveler
        • 4 Years Ago
        FT, are you aware that being a part of the rental fleet is an endorsement for certain cars not a curse?

        Here is a list of other GREAT cars that also did rental car duty.

        The Hertz Mustangs
        1st. Gen Mitsubishi Diamantes
        Lambos etc. etc.

        All are part of America's rental fleets.

        The cars that you & I rent, are not necessarily the same cars that the well heeled rent when they travel.

        The Volt is the new trick in the Auto world. It would be a feather in Hertz' cap to offer these cars while their competitors are not. People, myself included often rent a car before going out to buy one.

        When I sold Toyotas, Quite a few of my Celica & Camry sales were from people who drove them as rentals, and liked them enough to buy one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @B&B: Considering they've only sold like 300 volts this month according to your own link, sending this to even one Enterprise location is dumping it haha. Relativity folks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Then every Prius owner should be made to give their tax incentives back.

        Here is my problem with both you & Rush. Where the heck was your objection to the Tax incentives prior to the Volt coming out? How many Ford & Toyota hybrids were bought with OTHER PEOPLE's MONEY as part of the payment.

        I have no problem with your or his logic on the incentives, but your motives are NOT pure. Some of us here can see right through your farce of an objection.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Prius wasn't sold to fleets within a month of it's release.

        Furthermore Toyota sold 15K+ Prius in December of 2010. GM sold a paltry 276 Volts and is already dumping them on fleets, not a good thing at all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rush is a drug-abusing idiot.

        Tax incentives are in place partially to move cars (which stimulates the economy) and partially because the idea is to reduce our dependence on OPEC/oil while helping the environment.

        The "government bailouts" are low-interest loans designed to help the company in question not go under, thus costing millions of jobs. These loans are in the process of being paid back. It's not free money, it's not a screwjob, it's not a "bailout" - it's a loan. Loans happen every day. I have a loan for my car. You might, too.

        You may not agree with a forty thousand dollar price tag for a car, just as you might not agree with the waste a battery pack produces. That's fine. But to sit here and grand-stand for a guy whose job it is to enrage people makes you a fool, period.

        Don't support Rush's drug habit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Was'nt sold to the fleets within months eh? Google 2004 prius rental.

      • 4 Years Ago
      LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE THAT VOLT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO GM!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Volt is a no brainer but the Explorer? Nah should have been the Grand Cherokee. Someone wanted to keep Ford happy
        • 4 Years Ago
        GC's fuel economy is too bad. 16 city, 23 highway is not gonna cut it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      An article obviously financed by Uncle Sam and the US Government. As major owners in the bankrupt disaster called the US auto industry you got to find a way to sell the $hit piles that these bankrupt failure of a company make. If you really believe that GM, Ford or Chrysler could ever build anything get a life. GM and Chrysler are as dead as 4:00 am in small town America. Uncle Sam gave control of GM to the very idiots that helped to destroy it: The UAW. I'll always drive Japanese tin.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am Soooo glad GM is back......When can I expect reinbursement for the $400,000 in GM bonds I'm holding????????
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