The 2013 Ford Fusion. Photo courtesy of Ford.

Finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards have been announced. For North American Car of the Year, the finalists are the Cadillac ATS, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. The finalists for the North American Truck of the Year award are the Ford C-Max, Mazda CX-5 and Ram 1500.

The winners will be announced  Jan. 14 as part of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. A panel of 50 automotive journalists votes on the awards.

One thing that stands out in the truck award is that few people would consider two of the finalists trucks. "The official lines between cars and trucks have blurred beyond logic, largely as car makers have sought the benefit of lower fuel-economy standards for 'light trucks,'" writes The Wall Street Journal. "If a company can get away with classifying its station wagon as a truck, its overall environmental profile improves. But has this gone too far?" In fact, the Ram is the first true pickup to make it to the final round since 2009.

The Ford C-Max is the only hybrid to make it to the final round of this year's awards. The Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in was the last alternative powertrain vehicle to win. It won North American Car of the Year in 2011. The Ford Fusion Hybrid won 2010 North American Car of the Year.

The 2013 Car of the Year category is dominated by midsize sedans. The Detroit Free Press writes, "The Fusion and Accord face each other in what many observers regard as the industry's most-competitive segment -- mainstream midsize sedans. The segment accounts for about one in four new vehicles sold in the U.S."

We take awards such as the North American Car and Truck of the Year into account when we rank cars.  The finalists get a bump in their scores and the overall winners see an even bigger increase. The Ford Fusion is currently the eighth-ranked car in the midsize class, and the Honda Accord is number 14. The Cadillac ATS is the number-six upscale midsize sedan. The Ram 1500 was our 2012 Best Full-Size Truck for the Money, and the Mazda CX-5 is in third place in our compact SUV rankings. The Ford C-Max is in second place in our affordable wagon rankings. When the award winners are announced, we'll update our scores, so check back. 

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