Hyundai Elantra is the 2012 International Car of the Year (and Why That’s a Big Deal)

Hyundai Elantra: The 2012 International Car of the Year

Come January, The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is THE place to be. Not just because it’s essentially a world stage for auto manufacturers to show off their latest and greatest but because it where the North American Car and Truck of the Year are named.

The big winners for 2012 are Hyundai for its Elantra sedan and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque on the truck side. You already know there are about as many automotive awards as there are publications and entities to award them. Think “The International Institute of Highway Safety”, “Consumer Reports”, and “MotorTrend”, to name a few. But North American Car/Truck of the Year honors are special because they’re not awarded by a single group. Instead, the decision is made by 50 journalists from all facets of American and Canadian media, from print to broadcast to the web. With 174 votes, the Elantra bested its closest competition, the Volkswagen Passat, by 13 points. One member of the jury, Jayne O’Donnell with USA Today wrote, “The Hyundai Elantra is sporty, yet sensible. Luxurious, yet affordable. Spunky, but safe. The Elantra is a series of paradoxes and every one is another argument for the latest, impressive entry in the Hyundai lineup.”

Hyundai’s leaders are ecstatic, as well they should be. It’s the Korean automaker’s second spin in the International Car of the Year spotlight after winning with the Genesis in 2009. But this time around the award is more about bragging rights and branding than increasing sales. According to Hyundai’s North American COE John Krafcik, the Elantra’s already so popular they’re barely keeping up with demand as it is!