The Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat are finalists for the 2012 North American Car of the Year, and the BMW X3, Honda CR-V and Range Rover Evoque are finalists in the truck category. Hit the jump to read the rest of the story.

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The finalists were announced today at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association.

Winners of the 19th annual competition will be named on Jan. 9, prior to the opening of the Detroit auto show. Last year’s winners were the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer.

The awards for new or substantially redesigned vehicles are judged by 50 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. Criteria include general design, safety, fuel economy, handling and roadworthiness, performance, comfort, quality, functionality, innovation, driver satisfaction, price and value.