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Canadian car and truck of the year unveiled

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada bucked a trend by naming the Mazda6 as car of the year on Thursday.

The other two finalists were the Mazda3 and Corvette Stingray.

The Jeep Cherokee was named utility vehicle of the year.

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Redesigned for 2014, the mid-size Mazda6 sedan competes in a class with the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry among others.

Infused with the company's "Skyactiv" technology, the 6 comes with a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine, and manual and automatic transmissions.

The base model retail cost is $24,495. With horsepower of 184, fuel efficiency is cited as 5.1 l/100 km and 7.6 l/100 km.

The Jeep Cherokee has a nine-speed automatic transmission and two engine choices, a 2.4-litre inline-four and 3.2-litre V-6. This five-passenger mid-size SUV ranges in price from $23,495 to $32,195.

Also redesigned for 2014, the Mazda3 had won numerous other awards internationally.

The award was announced at the Canadian International Automobile Show.

"We work so hard on these vehicles and I'm really glad to see these efforts recognized," said Kory Koreeda, president, Mazda Canada.

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Road & Track magazine named the Mazda3 best economy car; Yahoo!, best compact; the Canadian Automotive Jury, best of the best; and it made Car and Driver's 10 best cars list.

First introduced in 2004, the Mazda3 had begun to lose market share recently, falling behind the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla in compact car sales.

For 2014, Mazda introduced Skyactiv technology, reduced the car's weight, boosted fuel economy with 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines, improved interior features and provided greater leg room in the back seat.

At a Globe and Mail-sponsored function on Wednesday, Koreeda said sales have been robust since October. He called the Mazda 3 a "game changer."

AJAC members, all automotive journalists, vote for the top car in each of 12 categories after driving each contender back to back at the group's TestFest in Niagara. Each category winner is eligible for the top prize.

For more coverage of the Canadian International Auto Show, please click here.

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