The awards are judged by 50 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada -- representing magazines, newspapers, Web sites, TV and radio.
The criteria used to judge the winners include innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
The 2012 car semifinalists were the Audi A6, Audi A7, Buick Verano, Chevrolet Sonic, Chrysler 300/SRT8, Fiat 500, Ford Focus, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Rio/Rio 5, Scion iQ, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius V, VW Beetle and VW Passat.
The truck semifinalists for 2012 were the BMW X3, Honda CR-V, Mercedes-Benz M class, Mini Countryman, Nissan Quest and Saab 9-4X.
Last year, General Motors won North American Car of the Year with the Chevrolet Volt sedan. American automakers have won the car honor 10 times. European automakers have been selected four times and Japanese automakers have won three times. A Korean car has won twice.
Domestic automakers have dominated the North American Truck of the Year award with 12 wins. Japanese automakers have been selected four times and European automakers have now won three times.
The jurors include Edward Lapham, executive editor of Automotive News.
For a list of previous years' winners, click here.