US Car of the Year: Honda Civic

The Honda Civic and the Volvo XC 90 were named the North American car and truck of the year. (AFP)

The Honda Civic and the Volvo XC 90 were named the North American car and truck of the year from Car & Truck Magazine at an awards ceremony Monday.

After reading through three nominees in each of the two contests, Car and Driver contributing editor Tony Swan opened a pair of envelopes to reveal the winners.

The brief gathering is styled on other award fetes and traditionally opens the Detroit Auto Show.

"There aren't any bad cars anymore," Swan said before getting down to the business of naming winners.

"Distinctions are increasingly subtle" between emerging models.

Lex Kerrsemakers, chief executive and president of Volvo Cars USA, said the award, which is selected by 53 auto journalists, would help Volvo as it aims to re-emerge as a bigger player in the US. Volvo is owned by the Chinese Geely group.

Kerrsemakers said the vehicle combines Volvo's reputation for superior safety with better fuel-economy, owing in part to its use of a four-cylinder engine.

"This shows we obviously are on the right trail," he said.

Kerrsemakers said Volvo's Chinese owners grant the company operational independence.

"I don't have any particular opinion about Chinese cars in the US," he said.

"We are Volvo. We are Scandinavian. We are Swedish."

Honda executive vice president John Mendel, said he was excited about the prize and that there is "more to come from the Civic."

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