VW leads N. American car, truck of year semifinalists

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Volkswagen leads this year's semifinalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

The German automaker has four vehicles on the jury's short lists of 10 cars and 12 trucks competing for the awards, which historically have gone to domestic automakers. The jury is comprised of dozens of automotive journalists.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Following VW, Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. each have three short-list finalists. The Detroit automakers have seven vehicles on the two lists, including Chrysler Group LLC's 200 midsize sedan.

The lists will each be reduced to three finalists each in the car and truck categories in December, with winners announced in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The awards are intended to recognize a car and truck that set new benchmarks in the classes in which they compete. Jurors evaluate the vehicles on factors including value for the dollar, innovation, handling, performance, safety and driver satisfaction.

Cars on the 2015 short list are the Acura TLX, Audi A3, Chrysler 200, Ford Mustang, Honda Fit, Hyundai Genesis sedan, Hyundai Sonata, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Golf/GTI.

Trucks on the short list are the Audi Q3, Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford F-150, GMC Canyon, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz GLA Class, Nissan Murano, Porsche Macan, Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander.

Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer, a NACTOY juror, said the vehicles still in the running are a good representation of how strong the entire industry is right now.

"You have a good mix of strong cars and trucks," he said during a Tuesday morning phone interview. "It will be interesting to see who makes the final three. There's just so many viable cars."

Chevrolet swept the 2014 awards with the Corvette and Silverado.


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