The finalists for the coveted 2010 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards have just been released ahead of next month's ceremony in Detroit.

Slated to be unveiled on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show on January 11, the nominees have been whittled down from 25 contenders to the following vehicles: In the car category, the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Volkswagen Golf will be waiting nervously in the wings, and in the truck category, the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect, and Subaru Outback will vie for the title.

The awards are the result of the deliberations of 49 North American automotive journalists and the winners will succeed last year's winners, the Hyundai Genesis sedan and Ford F-150 pickup. Check out a high-res gallery of this year's finalists below, peruse the official press release after the jump, and then let us know which vehicles you think deserve to take home the hardware in Comments.



[Source: North American Car & Truck of the Year]



PRESS RELEASE:

2010 North American Car and Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

DETROIT, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A jury of 49 veteran automotive journalists has selected the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Volkswagen Golf/GTI as finalists for North American Car of the Year and the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect and Subaru Outback as finalists for North American Truck of the Year.

The awards are unique in the United States because -- instead of being given by a single media outlet -- they are given by 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 vehicles of the year based on factors that include 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. This year the jury considered more than 50 vehicles and finally focused on 16 cars and 10 trucks.

Michelle Collins, Vice Chairman Automotive at Deloitte LLP, was responsible for counting the ballots, which jurors sent directly to the accounting firm.

The finalists were kept secret until today when Ms. Collins disclosed their identities during an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit.

Ms. Collins is still the only person who knows the winners, which will be announced January 11th at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Although the winners are disclosed at a news conference at the auto show it does not give the awards.

Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Hyundai Genesis and the North American Truck of the Year was the Ford F-150.

This is the 17th year of the awards, which are funded exclusively by the jurors. During that time:

* Hybrids have been honored three times. The Toyota Prius was the 2004 North American Car of the Year and the Ford Escape Hybrid was the 2005 North American Truck of the Year. The Honda Civic Hybrid was included when the Civic was named the 2006 North American Car of the Year.

* Chevrolet's vehicles have been named the North American Truck of the Year three times. Most recently the Silverado was the 2007 North American Truck of the Year.

* While Ford has been a finalist in the car category many times, it won only once. The Ford Focus was the 2000 North American Car of the Year.

* Ford has dominated the truck category with five wins, followed by Chevrolet with three. Most recently, the F-150 was the 2009 North American Truck of the Year.

* General Motors won North American Car of the Year three times. Most recently, the Chevrolet Malibu was the 2008 North American Car of the Year and the Saturn Aura was the 2007 North American Car of the Year.

* Volkswagen's Jetta TDI was a finalist last year. Volkswagen's New Beetle was the 1999 North American Car of the Year.

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

* Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year 10 times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.

Here are the vehicles on which the jurors voted:

2010 North American Car of the Year nominees

BMW 335d

Buick LaCrosse

Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

Chevrolet Camaro

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford Taurus/Taurus SHO

Honda Insight

Kia Soul

Mazda3/MazdaSpeed3

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Porsche Panamera

Subaru Legacy

Suzuki Kizashi

Toyota Prius

Volkswagen Golf/GTI/TDI

2010 North American Truck of the Year nominees:

Acura ZDX

Audi Q5

Cadillac SRX

Chevrolet Equinox

Ford Transit Connect

Honda Accord Crosstour

Land Rover LR4

Lincoln MKT

Subaru Outback

Volvo XC60

More information on the awards -- including the names of jurors as well as previous finalists and winners -- is available at: www.northamericancaroftheyear.org.

SOURCE North American Car & Truck of the Year

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