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DETROIT — For just the third time in the 17-year history of the program, a single automaker has swept the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

Taking home top honors in both the car and truck categories was Ford, whose Fusion Hybrid was named the 2010 North American Car of the Year and Transit Connect was dubbed 2010 North American Truck of the Year.

An automaker winning both awards has only occurred two other times, but both of these instances were in the last five years.

Honda earned both honors in 2006, while General Motors swept the awards in 2007.

"Winning both of these prestigious awards is confirmation that the ONE Ford plan is working, delivering industry-leading products for our customers," stated Mark Fields, president of The Americas.

These awards are based on such factors as innovation, design, safety, handling, driver's satisfaction and value for the dollar.

They are chosen by auto journalists from various magazines, newspapers, Web sites, TV and radio outlets throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The Fusion Hybrid scored 241 points to beat out fellow car finalists Volkswagen Golf/TDI/GTI, which scored 146 points, and the Buick LaCrosse at 103.

Meanwhile, on the truck side, the Transit Connect (213) was chosen over the Chevrolet Equinox (183) and Subaru Outback (94).

For models to be considered for the award, they had to be either all new for substantially changed from the prior edition. Over 50 vehicles were considered before the jury whittled it down to 16 cars and 10 trucks.

The car nominees included the following:

—BMW 335d

—Buick LaCrosse

—Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

—Chevrolet Camaro

—Ford Fusion

—Ford Fusion Hybrid

—Ford Taurus/Taurus SHO

—Honda Insight

—Kia Soul


—Mercedes-Benz E-Class

—Porsche Panamera

—Subaru Legacy

—Suzuki Kizashi

—Toyota Prius

—Volkswagen Golf/GTI/TDI

The truck nominees were:

 —Acura ZDX

 —Audi Q5

—Cadillac SRX

—Chevrolet Equinox

—Ford Transit Connect

—Honda Accord Crosstour

—Land Rover LR4

—Lincoln MKT

—Subaru Outback

—Volvo XC60

Commenting on the Fusion Hybrid, juror Csaba Csere noted: "Though not the first hybrid on the market, or even the second or third, the Fusion Hybrid is simply the best one ever built. In addition to delivering terrific mileage, it looks and drives like a regular car — and a very good one indeed."

Offering his thoughts, Jim Mateja, of the Chicago Tribune, said of the Transit Connect: "A U-Haul that fits in your garage. Holds people and so much of their stuff — bikes, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, skis, tents, boats, ladders, furniture, you name it. Defines multi-purpose and boasts a reasonable price even when you add side and rear windows and back seat."

Ford winning these honors marked the ninth time that a Big 3 brand has won the Car of the Year award, and the 11th time for trucks.

Japanese brands have been honored three times in the car segment and four times for trucks. European OEMs have taken top car honors four times and won twice in the truck category.

Korean brands have won once, when the Hyundai Genesis was last year's Car of the Year (the Ford F-150 won the truck honors in 2009).