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Old 01-09-2003, 02:29 AM   #1
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Red face North American Car Of The Year Award

The 2003 vehicles in contention for this year's North American Car and Truck of the Year awards were announced in Detroit on Friday, December 13, during a press conference held in preparation for the North American International Auto Show.
The three finalists for the 2003 Car of the Year award are, in alphabetical order, the Infiniti G35 sedans and coupe, the Mini Cooper and Nissan's 350Z sports car.

A First
For the first time since the creation of the North American awards program, in 1994, two of the vehicles in contention for the Truck of the Year award were tied for points, after compilation of the jurors' secret ballots by the accounting and consulting firm of Deloitte & Touche.

As a direct consequence, four finalists - instead of the usual three - were revealed, after the opening of sealed envelopes handed over by Deloitte & Touche vice chairman Richard Gabrys, long associated with the NACOTY awards program.

The Truck of The Year finalists are, again in alphabetical order: Honda Element, Hummer H2, Nissan Murano and Volvo XC90.

Continental Focus
The North American awards program was created, and remains entirely run and funded by an independent group of 49 automotive journalists. The pre-eminent automotive media and a wide spectrum of the major general interest media from across Canada and the United States are represented within this jury, of which 7 are Canadian journalists.

The MSN group is well-represented within this select group, by MSN Carpoint Canada reviewers Jim Kenzie and Gerry Malloy, by MSN Autos (US) reviewers Ann Job and Dan Jedlicka, as well as MSN Carpoint Canada Editor (and reviewer) Marc Lachapelle.

The voting is secret and the results known only to Mr. Gabrys. In order to cast their ballots by the December 9 deadline, jurors had to evaluate dozens of new vehicles. A first selection was made in September. A "short list" of 12 cars and 13 truck entries was determined and sent to jurors for a final round of testing.

The car nominees were: BMW 7 Series, Honda Accord, Honda Civic Hybrid, Infiniti G35 coupe and sedan, Mazda 6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mini Cooper and Cooper S, Nissan 350Z, Pontiac Vibe, Saab 9-3, Saturn Ion and Toyota Matrix.

On the truck side, the nominees were: Ford Expedition, Honda Element, Honda Pilot, HUMMER H2, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus GX470, Lincoln Aviator, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Murano, Subaru Baja, Toyota 4Runner and Volvo XC90.

Value Always Paramount
New vehicles in contention are evaluated on numerous factors including general design, innovation, build quality, handling, performance, safety, fuel economy and driving pleasure.

But special emphasis is put on the value element: jurors decide how much consumers are getting for their loonies or dollars when they consider any of these new entries.
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