Car of the Year 2012

Hyundai Elantra, Range Rover Evoque sweep awards at 2012 Detroit Auto Show
By Vince Bodiford

2012-Car-of-the-Year-Range-Rover-Evoque-300x200The North American International Auto Show (aka Detroit Auto Show) is the world’s showcase of the best and newest automobiles. At the press preview kickoff of the world’s most important motorshow, the all-new Hyundai Elantra was chosen 2012 North American Car of the Year. It’s the second time in three years Hyundai has won an award of this magnitude at the show, and it beat out rivals such as the Audi A6, Toyota Camry, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Passat – all believed to be a shoe-in for the award.

“So, um, wow — we are very surprised and humbled. It’s an amazing honor,” said a visibly surprised John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, who accepted the award at the award ceremony. Krafcik was stunned not because the Elantra isn’t a worthy car, but because it faced such stiff competition. “The Focus is an amazing car, and the Passat is incredible,” he said. “We’re just surprised and humbled to have the respect of the fifty automotive journalists,” referring to the panel of judges for the awards.

The Elantra is Hyundai’s compact sedan and the best-selling Hyundai model in America. First imported to the U.S. for 1991, the Elantra was redesigned for 2010 with a new look that follows the design direction of the midsize Sonata and Tucson SUV. When the Elantra was last redesigned for 2007, it was the seventh model from Hyundai in just 24 months with a new design from headlight to taillight, more safety features and additional interior space. Available in GLS, SE and Limited trims, the Elantra has an all-new chassis with a fully independent suspension with a body that’s up to 49 percent stiffer. Prices start at $16,445.

North American Truck of the Year honors went to the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Andy Goss, president of Jaguar/Land Rover, was visibly excited and glad to accept the award: “Thanks very much, and I can tell you that we’re going to market the hell out of this,” indicating the importance of the award. The evocative Evoque beat out rivals such as the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and Honda CRV.

All of the Truck of the Year candidates were SUV’s – and Ford’s venerable F150 pickup wasn’t even on the list, a bit of a surprise considering it is Motor Trend’s 2012 Truck of the Year.2012-Car-of-the-Year-Hyundai-Elantra-300x200

Goss said the Evoque is a “transformational vehicle” for Land Rover, noting that its 4-cylinder engine gets 28-mpg. The quirky crossover utility vehicle is a radical departure from the normally brawny, Safari-stomping big SUVs that they’re known for.

The Range Rover Evoque is a new luxury SUV that offers a new interpretation of classic Range Rover design cues and is the smallest, lightest and most fuel efficient Range Rover ever offered. Land Rover describes the Evoque as offering the premium levels of craftsmanship, luxury, performance and multi-terrain capability expected from a Range Rover, in a more compact package. Evoque will be offered in two versions: a coupe and a five-door which are identical in overall length and width with a slightly higher roofline for the five-door. All Range Rover Evoques for the U.S. market will be equipped with full-time all-wheel drive and powered by a 240-horsepower direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. Prices start at $43,145.

This is the 19th year for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. The panel selects winners based on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. The Detroit Auto Show is going on now, and some of the best online coverage from the show is from MSN Autos, who also contributed to this report.

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