2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDIEnlarge Photo
The three car finalists are the Ford Flex, the Hyundai Genesis, and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Ford's Flex shows much promise for domestics in the land of the crossover; Marty Padgett was suitably impressed ferrying it around the traffic-clogged hills of suburban Atlanta. Despite a few journalistic jeers due to its softie suspension tuning, Hyundai worked hard on its Genesis sedan, and its Tau V-8 and interior do nothing but impress. Finally, you've heard me rave about the Volkswagen Jetta TDI's killer torque, awesome DSG transmission, and fun driving experience; the folks at Green Car Journal agreed, naming the VW the Green Car of the Year.
2009 Hyundai Genesis
2009 Dodge Ram 1500 ST
The truck finalists are represented by the blue oval (2009 Ford F-150), the Pentastar (2009 Dodge Ram), and the three-pointed star (Mercedes-Benz ML 320 BlueTEC). Ford has been cleaning up in the truck awards so far with its new F-150, having taken both Truck of Texas honors as well as snagging Motor Trend's Truck of the Year. Wonder if Chrysler will emerge victorious in Detroit? Mercedes-Benz and all the other Germans have their work cut out for them in trying to repopularize diesels in America. Diesels make sense in heavy SUVs like the ML 320 BlueTEC, where they can average mid-20s mpg, a whole lot better than your neighbor's Escalade. Time will tell whether BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and VW's clean diesel experiment will pay off in '09/'10, but a win in Detroit surely wouldn't hurt. It's too bad Chrysler doesn't have its new mid-size V-8 diesel ready for duty in the new Ram, as that would be quite the compelling entry in this competition.--Colin Mathews
2009 Ford F-150 Platinum
2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTECEnlarge Photo