The game-changing and all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata has been named one of three finalists for North American Car of the Year, one of the most exclusive automotive awards in the world.

A jury of 49 independent automotive journalists evaluated all the new cars introduced this year and chose three that will compete for the top honor, to be announced at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 10, 2011.

Its a breakthrough year in the automotive industry and it appears consumers and journalists alike see the 2011 Sonata as a breakthrough vehicle, says Hyundai Motor America president and CEO, John Krafcik. With more than 200,000 Sonatas finding homes in North American driveways this year, it appears weve created a bit of a sea-change in the family car segment.

The 2011 Sonata broke new ground as the first mid-size sedan to forego a traditional V-6 engine option, which drove significant weight savings and delivered a perfect home for an industry-first family of three high-tech, fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines. The base model features a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that uses gasoline direct injection to achieve 35 miles per gallon on the highway, and a class-leading 198 horsepower. An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine replaces the less efficient V-6 option, while delivering more power (274 horsepower) and better fuel economy (33 miles per gallon on the highway). The Sonata Hybrid goes on sale in January, delivering a segment-leading 40 miles per gallon on the highway, and 35 in the city.

The 2011 Sonata was the first mid-size sedan to meet NHTSAs tough new 2011 crash test requirements with a 5-star result.

The base price of the 2.4L Sonata is $19,915. The 274-horsepower 2.0T starts at $24,845 and the Hybrid starts at $26,545.

The North American Car of the Year award is decided by a jury of 49 independent, full-time automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. This is the 18th year of the awards, which were inspired by the prestigious European Car of the Year. They are administered by an organizing committee and are funded exclusively with dues paid by the jurors. Jurors judge the cars on a number of factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.

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