2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T – Click above for high-res image gallery
The finalists for this year's North American Car and Truck of the Year awards may have been no big surprise, but the vehicle that our readers think will win Car of the Year honors came as something of a shock.
The NACTOY judges have picked the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf as finalists for Car of the Year. While the Leaf saw a little bit of love with 2,820 votes in our unofficial poll, as well as being named European Car of the Year, the final tally came down to a bare-knuckled fight between the Volt and Sonata. Surprisingly, the Hyundai eked out a win with 8,058 votes and 42.7-percent of the total votes cast, which just barely bested the 7,985 votes cast for the Volt and its 42.3 percent of the total vote.
That's not a huge margin of victory by any means (a statistical dead heat, as they say), but considering that the Volt has whirred away with honors like the Green Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine's Automobile of the Year and Motor Trend's Car of the Year awards, we fully expected the Bowtiie to handily walk away with our impromptu poll.
We were pretty smitten with both the 2.0T and the hybrid variants of the Sonata when we hopped behind their wheels earlier this year, and buyers have been no less taken with the base model. The 2011 Sonata has enjoyed a huge year in terms of sales with 183,102 units sold by early December, a year-over-year increase of 65 percent.
Meanwhile, the 2011 Ford Explorer handily beat the 2011 Dodge Durango and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee in our informal North American Truck of the Year poll. You can check out the results from both surveys here, and the stay tuned for when the real winners are announced at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show in early January.
Photos copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL