DETROIT -The Hyundai Elantra and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque on Monday were named North American Car and Truck of the year by a panel of independent automotive journalists after the opening ceremonies of the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
The Elantra beat out the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Passat as finalists for the car of the year. The Evoque beat out the BMW X3 and the Honda CR-V. The finalists were named last month.
John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai North America, said Hyundai has sold more than 200,000 Elantras since the new model was introduced. Krafcik said the award will help to cement Hyundai's reputation for quality and improvement the company has made since it entered North America 1986.
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The Elantra, which was designed at Hyundai's California studio, is a compact car that gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
"It's an amazingly competitive segment. To have this honor feels really good," Krafcik said.
Andy Goss, president of Jaguar and Land Rover North America, said the Evoque symbolizes the changes that SUVs and crossovers are going through in the automotive industry as manufacturers adapt to more stringent fuel economy standards.
"I think it will come as a surprise to some that the North American Truck of the Year is a highly capable, luxury four-cylinder SUV that achieves 28 miles per gallon," on the highway, Goss said.
The North American Car and Truck of the Year awards are different from other industry awards because they are given by a jury of 50 veteran automotive journalists from Canada and the U.S.
Most other automotive awards, in contrast, are given out by individual publications or organizations. Before today's awards were announced domestic automakers had won 10 North American Car of the Year awards, European automakers had won four and Japanese automakers have won three. Hyundai won one time prior to today.
By Brett Snavely, Detroit Free Press