An international group of automotive journalists today selected the Mini Cooper and Cooper S as the North American Car of the Year and the Volvo XC 90 as the North American Truck of the Year.

The awards honor vehicles that set new standards or will become benchmarks in their classes. Jurors evaluate them based on criteria including innovation, design, handling, safety and value for the dollar.

new MINI R50

The awards are unique because instead of being given by a single publication, radio or television show they are given by 49, full-time automotive journalists from the United States and Canada representing magazines, newspapers as well as radio and television programs. Many of those on the jury have covered the auto industry for decades and evaluate 50 to 100 new vehicles a year.

This is somewhat of a surprise as many expected the Infiniti G35 or Nissan 300ZX to take top honors this year. However it appears those cars split their respective votes and cleared a path for the MINI to take this years award.

In terms of true car of the year I can’t imagine anything else having the impact that the MINI has had. Not to mention how The MINI will forever alter the small car field in the US.