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Chevrolet Malibu wins Car of the Year

General Motors' mid-size sedan wins coveted North American Car of the Year award. Mazda CX-9 SUV is Truck of the Year

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By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com staff writer

2008 Chevrolet Malibu
2008 Mazda CX-9

DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors' Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan, radically redesigned for the 2008 model year, won the North American Car of the Year Award Sunday at the first media preview day for the Detroit auto show.

The Mazda CX-9, a sporty crossover SUV, was named Truck of the Year.

The Malibu and CX-9 were selected by a jury of 47 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada representing a range of media outlets including Fortune magazine, Edmunds.com, Road & Track and the Chicago Tribune.

To be eligible, vehicles must be "all new" or "substantially redesigned" from the previous model year. The journalists selected the Malibu and CX-9 from a field of 13 cars and 15 trucks.

With the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu, GM (GM, Fortune 500) hopes to finally take on the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord which have long been the top-selling cars in America.

The mid-size sedan has been well-reviewed by the media, including CNNMoney.com. The Malibu's interior has a twin-cockpit design that mimics classic Chevrolet Corvettes. Its exterior shape, with smooth sides, wide rear window pillars and side turn signals, is intended to resemble European luxury sedans.

This marks the second year in a row that a GM vehicle won Car of the Year. Last year, the Saturn Aura, a sedan that shares most of its engineering with the Malibu, won Car of the Year.

GM also won Truck of the Year last year with the Chevrolet Silverado and stood a good chance of winning again this year since two of three finalists were GM products.

But Mazda took the award with the CX-9 winning against the Buick Enclave SUV and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid SUV. Ford Motor Co. (F, Fortune 500) owns a controlling interest in Mazda.

The Mazda CX-9, a so-called crossover SUV, has already been named SUV of the year by Motor Trend magazine. The curvaceous CX-9 gets kudos for its ride and handling characteristics, which are especially good for an SUV with three rows of seats.

Shortly after its introduction, Mazda upgraded the CX-9's engine to a new V6 engine capable of producing 273 horsepower, 10 more than the engine with which it was originally introduced.  To top of page

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