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In a contest where any of the three finalists could seemingly have won, the Hyundai Elantra has officially been crowned the 2012 North American Car of the Year. The Elantra beat-out the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Passat for the honor, which was announced today in Detroit at the start of the North American International Auto Show.
The Elantra has been praised for its impressive design, high-grade interior and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that it gets 40-mpg standard – regardless of the transmission choice and without having to purchase an expensive high fuel-efficiency model.
The North American Car of the Year selection process is decided by a panel comprising 50 accredited automotive journalists from the US and Canada.
Last year’s North American Car of the Year was the Chevrolet Volt.
GALLERY: 2012 Hyundai Elantra
The annual North American Car and Truck of the Year awards has just released its short list for 2012, selecting 17 cars and seven trucks that will compete for the prestigious prize.
In the running for the 2012 North American Car of the Year are three from Hyundai (the Accent, Elantra and Veloster), two from Audi (A6 and A7), two from Volkswagen (Passat and Beetle) and two from Toyota (Camry and Prius v). Others on the list include two GM models, the Buick Verano and Chevrolet Sonic, while two Chrysler group nominees include the Chrysler 300 and Fiat 500. Rounding out the list is the Ford Focus, Kia Rio, Scion iQ and Subaru Impreza. Notably absent from the list is the all-new Honda Civic.
The 2012 North American Truck of the Year short list includes just one vehicle from seven different automakers: the BMW X3, Honda CR-V, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes M-Class, MINI Countryman, Nissan Quest and Saab 9-4X.
The three finalists in each category will be announced later this year with the winners being announced at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Last year the Chevrolet Volt took home 2011 Car of the Year, with the Ford Explorer as 2011 Truck of the Year.
See the full list of nominees after the jump: