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Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer Named North American Car and Truck

Domestic manufacturers have swept with the Chevrolet Volt being named North American Car of the Year and the Ford Explorer being named North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The Volt bested the Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Leaf while the Explorer overcame the Dodge Durango and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The awards were selected by a panel of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

Of the two, the Ford Explorer is the more significant of the vehicles because SUVs continue to be popular among North American buyers. Also, unlike the Volt, the Explorer is available in all areas of the U.S. The Volt is still in the midst of a limited rollout. Chevrolet plans to produce only 45, 000 Volts this year.

The Volt is an electric vehicle that can operate under a range of weather climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery. The Volt has a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank.

Ford revealed the all-new Ford Explorer in July, showcasing the SUV’s combination of improved driving dynamics, available convenience technology, towing capability up to 5,000 pounds and available Intelligent 4WD with the Terrain Management System. The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine enables class-leading highway fuel economy. Featuring technologies such as twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT), a six-speed automatic transmission, electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) and aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff, Explorer also offers a wind-skimming aerodynamic shape to maximize fuel economy.

The North American Car of the Year is the latest in a series of major awards presented to the Volt, which previously was named:

  • Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year
  • Green Car Journal 2011 Green Car of the Year
  • Car and Driver 10Best for 2011
  • Ward’s AutoWorld 10 Best Engines for 2011
  • AUTOMOBILE Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year
  • 2010 Breakthrough Technology, by Popular Mechanics

The win by Explorer marks the seventh time a Ford has been North American Truck of the Year, with Ford dominating in the truck category. Last year, Ford Transit Connect was the winner. The best-selling Ford F-150 pickup won the honor in 2004 and 2009; the fuel-efficient Ford Escape Hybrid won in 2005.