Detroit – An international group of automotive journalists has selected the Ford Fusion, Honda Civic and Pontiac Solstice as the finalists for the 2006 North American Car of the Year.

The Ford Explorer, Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Xterra were selected as finalists for the 2006 North American Truck of the Year.

The results were announced today (Tuesday, Dec. 13) at a news conference during a luncheon co-hosted by the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and the Detroit Economic Club.

The winners will be announced on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006, the first press day for the 2006 NAIAS.

The awards are unique because instead of being given by a single publication, radio or television station they are given by 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.

The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding vehicles of the year based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. To be eligible vehicles must be “all new” or “substantially changed” from the previous model.

Dozens of new 2006 vehicles were eligible but the jurors whittled the field down to 14 cars and 14 trucks on which they voted.

Steve Laughman, a partner at Deloitte & Touche, was responsible for counting the ballots, which jurors sent directly to the accounting firm in Detroit.

However, Laughman remains the only person who knows the winners, until they are announced Jan. 8 at 2006 NAIAS.

Although the winners are disclosed at NAIAS, the show does not give the awards.

Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Chrysler 300/300C, while the North American Truck of the Year was the Ford Escape Hybrid.

In the last 12 years, domestic automakers have won the North American Car of the Year six times. Japanese automakers have won twice and European automakers have won four times.

In the last 12 years, domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year eight times. Japanese and European automakers have each won twice.

The jurors represent outlets such as the Toronto Star, Car and Driver magazine, AutoWeek, The Chicago Tribune, MotorWeek, USA Today, Autoline Detroit,, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Road & Track magazine, the San Jose Mercury News,, Consumer Guide, the Boston Globe, Automotive News, Popular Mechanics and Fortune.

For more information contact these members of the organizing committee:

John McElroy (Autoline Detroit), 734-542-7000 or cell 313-475-2735

Mitch McCullough (New Car Test Drive), 310-543-2601

Christopher Jensen (The Plain Dealer), 216-999-4830 or cell 216-401-0516

Don Chaikin (Popular Mechanics), 212-649-2867

John Davis (MotorWeek), 410-581-4186 or cell 410-967-0188.

Alex Law (freelance), 416-463-2658

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