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Hyundai's Elantra wins car of year

Rebecca Cook / Reuters

Hyundai Vice President Seong Hyeon Park and John Krafick, right, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, pose with the 2012 Elantra after it was named the North American Car of the Year.

By msnbc.com news services

The Hyundai Elantra has won the North American Car of the Year award.

The award was announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which holds media previews this week and opens to the public on Jan. 14.

The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque won the North American Truck of the Year.

Fifty automotive journalists voted on the winning vehicles from a group of finalists. Car finalists included the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat. Truck finalists were the BMW X3, Honda CR-V and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque.

A vehicle must be all new or substantially changed to be eligible.

This is the 19th year for the awards. Organizers accept no advertising, though automakers capitalize on the marketing value of the honors.

Automakers will unveil more than 40 new cars and trucks this month at the auto industry's annual trade show in Detroit. While there will be a few wild concept cars, like a tiny pickup from Smart, there will also be many models that will go on sale this year.

Last week, Hyundai reported its sales rose 20 percent in 2011. Top sellers for the year included the Elantra, which saw a 41 percent increase in sales over 2010.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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