Chrysler 300, Escape hybrid bag awards

Associated Press

Detroit, January 10:

America’s ‘in’ sedan and the first gas-electric hybrid sport utility vehicle (SUV) were named North America’s top vehicles at the North American International Auto Show.

The Chrysler 300 — which becomes the 300C when it’s equipped with Chrysler’s powerful Hemi V-8 engine — collected its latest honour as 2004 North American Car of the Year on yesterday. Ford Motor Co’s new Escape hybrid SUV garnered the award as 2004 North American Truck of the Year. The last time entries from Detroit’s Big Three won both car and truck of the year was 1996. The awards were announced during the first day of media previews at the auto show, one of the industry’s most prestigious stages, covered by 6,600 journalists from more than 60 countries. To be eligible, a vehicle must be substantially changed from the previous model or a completely new vehicle.

The 300, whose unique look has captured buyers from the hip-hop set to Baby Boomers, already had claimed Motor Trend’s 2005 Car of the Year award, among other honours since its April introduction. “Chrysler has single-handedly reinvented the large, V-8-powered American sedan,” said Matt DeLorenzo, Detroit editor of Road & Track magazine.