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Grand Cherokee, Durango named Truck of the Year finalists

by Bill Cawthon on

The Automotive Press Association announced the finalists for North American Truck of the year and Chrysler Group products earned two of the three slots.

The all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango are both in the running along with the newly-revamped Ford Explorer.

The winner, to be announced on January 10 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, will be determined by the votes of 49 U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists representing print, TV, radio and online media. The judging criteria are innovation, design, driver satisfaction, handling, safety and value for the dollar.

In a statement released today, Mike Manley, CEO of the Jeep Brand, said, “We are delighted that the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee has been named a 2011 North American Truck of the Year finalist. Consumers are clearly noticing the unique blend of on-road driving dynamics, capability, efficiency and craftsmanship that our premium Jeep icon delivers. We’re pleased this respected, opinion-leading group of journalists recognizes the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s attributes as well.”

Ralph Gilles, CEO of Doge Brand, had a comment, as well: “The Dodge team is honored that journalists who have driven the all-new Dodge Durango have made it a finalist for the 2011 North American Truck of the Year award. The Durango represents where the Dodge brand is going with its six new or refreshed products for 2011– striking vehicles that are thoroughly engineered and fun to drive. It’s always rewarding when third party sources recognize that we’re creating products that will delight our customers.”

Nominees for North American Car of the Year are the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Hyundai Sonata.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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