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Ram 1500, Cadillac ATS win top auto awards

General Motors unveils its newly redesigned Corvette Stingray formal industrial complex Sunday Jan. 13 2013 night before press days North

General Motors unveils its newly redesigned Corvette Stingray in a formal industrial complex, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, the night before press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. When 1,000 GM engineers and designers started work on the next-generation Corvette, they began with the usual priority list for a muscle car. Killer looks. Big engine. Fast. But topping the list was something that belies the roar of the Chevrolet's giant V-8: Gas mileage. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Updated: January 14, 2013 1:07PM



DETROIT — The two U.S.-based automakers that emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2009 have earned bragging rights for two new vehicles.

General Motors’ Cadillac ATS and Chrysler’s Ram 1500 pickup on Monday won the 2013 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year. The winners were unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“We worked tirelessly with blood, sweat and tears to come through the hell we’ve been through,” Fred Diaz, president and chief executive of the Ram brand, said after the award was announced. “What a difference three years makes.”

Other truck and utility finalists were the Ford C-Max and Mazda CX-5. The other car finalists were the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord.

This is the 20th year of the awards, voted on by 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. A vehicle must be all new or substantially changed to be eligible.

The word utility was added to the name this year because of the rising number of crossover vehicles.

The choices represent an aim to recognize the vehicles’ overall quality: The judges evaluate finalists on value, innovation, handling, performance, safety, and driver satisfaction. Organizers accept no advertising, though carmakers try to capitalize on the marketing value of the honors.

The awards also provide some vindication for GM and Chrysler, which went through bankruptcy after the industry collapsed in 2008.

Diaz the award comes at a key time for the company as pickup truck sales have started to rebound. He expects the award to help the Ram, which garnered the award in 1994, generate even more sales.

Sales of full-size pickups rose 9 percent last year, but the growth accelerated in the last three months of the year. Sales of the refurbished Ram, which gets up to 25 mpg on the highway, rose nearly 20 percent.

Diaz said there’s a direct correlation between the housing industry and pickup sales, and housing has been on the rise recently.

“From a timing standpoint, I really think we’re hitting the mark just right,” he said.

David Leone, GM’s executive chief engineer for performance luxury vehicles, said the automaker “worked tirelessly for five years to bring the car to market.” That included months where no product in the pipeline — or even the survival of the company — was certain. Leone said he expects the award will help propel sales for the small luxury car that seeks to compete with the BMW 3-Series.

The award’s history shows an edge for U.S.-based automakers. They have won the car award 10 times and the truck award 12 times. European makers have won the car four times and truck three times. Japanese have won car three times and truck four times. A Korean automaker, Hyundai, has won the car honor twice.



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