Detroit Auto Show 2011

January 10th, 2011 by canadianpontiacguy

Buicks seem to keep getting smaller, and the new Verano will be the brand’s most diminutive new offering.

Based on Chevrolet’s new compact Cruze, the Verano is about 9 inches shorter than the Regal that debuted last year. (The Regal is based on the European Opel Insignia.)

GM says interior materials have been upgraded over those in the Cruze, and the Verano shares the larger 2.4-liter version of the Ecotec four-cylinder engine with the larger Regal. The direct-injected 177-hp engine, with 170 lb-ft. of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. GM claims a 0-60 mph acceleration time of about 8 seconds. EPA ratings are expected to be 22 mpg city and 31 highway. A 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine is expected to be added later.

The 49 jurors of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards have spoken: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Ford Explorer are this year’s winners. The announcement this morning at the Detroit Auto Show drew a line in the sand for the contentious fan bases of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Nissan Leaf.

As passionate as green-vehicle fans can be about their personal favorites, however, the fact that electric or largely electric vehicles constitute two thirds of the finalists for the award speaks volumes about the industry’s recognition of the impact of the technology on the industry, not just now, but in the long term. Being the 2011 NACOTY won’t hurt the Volt’s case, though.

The truck category was a bit less heated, with Chrysler vehicles in two of the three finalist spots. The winning 2011 Ford Explorer joined the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango to make it an all-American shutout.

American dominance in trucks is unsurprising: American brands have taken the truck win 11 times over the award’s previous 17 years. In the last five years, however, Japanese carmakers (Honda and Mazda) have edged out the win twice.

Last year’s NACOTY winners were the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the 2010 Ford Transit Connect van.

The original pool of over 50 vehicles nominated for a 2011 NACOTY award were eliminated over a series of votes, narrowing the field to 28 then to six, and finally, to the two top vehicles of the year

2011 North American Car of the Year Nominees

Audi A8
Buick Regal
Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet Volt
Ford Fiesta

Hyundai Sonata/2.0T/Hybrid
Infiniti M37/56
Jaguar XJ

Kia Optima
Mazda Mazda2
Nissan Juke

Nissan Leaf
Volkswagen Jetta
Volvo S60

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