2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra was named North American Car of the Year and the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque was named North American Truck of the Year by a group of 50 automotive journalists last night. The Elantra beat out finalists including the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Passat, while the Evoque surpassed the Honda CR-V and BMW X3 crossover SUVs for the title.

The Detroit News predicts that these awards signal an important change in the U.S. auto sales landscape. “Significantly, there was not a single Japanese product among the three North American Car of the Year finalists,” the newspaper notes. Hyundai is based in South Korea, while Jaguar Land Rover is a British company.

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra ranks at the top of its class for its sharp looks and good fuel economy. Though some testers say its interior materials feel a bit cheap, they praise its long list of standard features.

But most journalists say the real news is the 2012 Range Rover Evoque’s win, which is the first for the Land Rover brand. The Evoque is also the first car-based crossover made by Land Rover, and although its two-door SUV design and high price mean it’s not particularly practical, test drivers love its unusual exterior, classy interior and nimble handling.

“The awards will undoubtedly sit proudly atop the mantles at both Hyundai and Jaguar Land Rover's headquarters, but will surely be received with particular jubilation by Range Rover, which has won the award for the first time in this, its largest market,” writes Autoblog.

The Range Rover Evoque’s title of North American Truck of the Year is surprising to some auto journalists, who argue that the Evoque isn’t a truck, considering its SUV title and unibody platform. “The truck award particularly has engendered controversy, as nominees increasingly share more mechanical parts with passenger cars than with body-on-frame stump-pullers,” explains The New York Times’ Wheels. The Evoque gets to compete for the North American Truck of the Year award because it’s classified as a truck by the EPA.

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra starts at $16,445, and the 2012 Range Rover Evoque has an MSRP of $43,995. Both are currently on sale.

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