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Camry wins 'Car of the Year'

Motor Trend gives its coveted award to most popular car model sold in U.S., giving Toyota another edge in sales battle.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Toyota Camry, the nation's most popular car has now been rated as its best new model.

Motor Trend gave its coveted "Car of the Year" honor to the redesigned Camry Wednesday, as it recognized all versions of the sedan, including the fuel-efficient hybrid version.

"Creating an innovative, engaging automobile with broad mainstream appeal is one of the toughest tasks facing any automaker," said Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend. "The Camry is the one car rival automakers all wish they could build. It offers something for nearly everyone -performance, efficiency, and roominess - at a price point most Americans can afford."

Last year's award went to the redesigned Civic from Japanese competitor Honda.

The Camry has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for a number of years, edging out the Honda Accord.

Camry's U.S. sales have been basically flat so far this year, with a 1.6 percent rise, while Toyota Motor posted a 12.2 percent gain in U.S. sales through the first 10 months of the year.

Camry sales have been tempered as Toyota made the shift the to newly-designed model, which hit showrooms this fall. Still the 374,717 sold through October is enough to stay ahead of the Accord.

Americans still prefer light truck models such as pickups and SUVs, but higher gasoline prices have trimmed truck and SUV sales. Both Ford and the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler have slashed North American production this quarter because of slow truck sales.

While General Motors has seen better sales of its redesigned SUVs, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade, it has continued to lose U.S. market share to import brands like Toyota.

More than 80 percent of the Camrys sold in the U.S. are built here. Toyota accomplished the switch to the redesigned model, in part, by nearly doubling the importation of Japan-built Camrys as it trimmed North American production by about 11 percent during the first 10 months of the year.

Motor Trend gives its car of the year award to a new or redesigned vehicle. The Camry beat out six models from the U.S. automakers, nine from Japanese competitors, five from Korea, four from Germany, one from England and one from Sweden.

Among those beat out were the Korean-built Chevrolet Aveo, the Kia Rondo and Sedona, the Saturn Sky Redline, the Chrysler Sebring, the Suzuki SX4, the Dodge Caliber, the Lexus ES 350 and LS 460 and the Honda Fit.

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