- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

DETROIT (AP) — Two Honda vehicles — the Civic sedan and the Ridgeline pickup — were chosen as the car and truck of the year at the North American International Auto Show.

The awards were presented yesterday, the first day of press previews for the show. The show opens to the public Saturday.

It’s the first time in the award’s 12-year history that both winners were from the same automaker. The winners were chosen by a group of 49 full-time automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada. Finalists had to be new or substantially redesigned from the previous model. More than 50 cars and trucks were eligible for the 2006 award.

Honda officials said the awards were the culmination of years of hard work.

“You can’t believe how much work went into reviving the Civic,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co.

The other two finalists for car of the year were the Ford Fusion and the Pontiac Solstice. The other two finalists for truck of the year were the Ford Explorer and Nissan Xterra sport utility vehicles. The Xterra won truck of the year honors in 2000.

This is the second major award bestowed on the Civic and the Ridgeline. Late last year, Motor Trend magazine named the Ridgeline its truck of the year and named the Civic its car of the year.

Motor Trend said the Ridgeline’s innovative features set it apart from other trucks in its class, including an 8.5-cubic-foot trunk under the pickup’s bed and four cargo lamps that illuminate the bed.

Motor Trend praised the Civic for new styling and technical innovations, including more power and better fuel efficiency.

Honda says it expects to reach its goal of selling 50,000 Ridgelines in the first 12 months the pickup is on sale. The Ridgeline went on sale in March. Civic sales were flat for the year, although they rose in the fall after the new Civic hit showrooms.

The North American honors have been given annually since 1994. Jurors scrutinize each vehicle’s design, safety, handling and innovations. Judges also consider driver satisfaction and value.

Last year’s car of the year was the Chrysler 300. The truck of the year was the Ford Escape hybrid, the first hybrid sport utility vehicle.

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