LOS ANGELES - The five finalists for Green Car Journal's 2011 Green Car of the Year include the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and Nissan LEAF. The award winner will be announced during a press conference at the LA Auto Show Press Days on Nov. 18.

In 2009, the 2010-MY Audi A3 TDI earned the title of "Green Car of the Year."

The Green Car of the Year award honors environmental leadership in the automobile field and recognizes vehicles that become available to consumers during the award year. For the first time, the Green Car of the Year finalists include two primarily electric-drive vehicles in addition to two hybrids and a high mile-per-gallon, gasoline internal combustion engine.

Along with vehicles incorporating electric drive, a new generation of internal combustion gasoline and clean diesel models are expected to push efficiencies ever higher in the coming years, according to the Journal.

Factors considered when selecting the potential nominees included vehicles employing all fuels and technologies in the effort to raise the bar in environmental performance, such as high efficiency gasoline internal combustion, advanced diesel, hybrids, electrics and vehicles capable of running on alternative fuels. According to the Journal's criteria, "nominees must stand out as exemplary models that forward environmental performance in meaningful and quantifiable ways. Market significance and 'newness' are also factors." All nominees must be on sale by Jan. 1 of the award year.

Jurors include leaders of national environmental organizations, including Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club; Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society and Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA. Also, Jay Leno, noted auto enthusiast and host of the "Tonight Show," as well as automotive icon Carroll Shelby join Green Car Journal editors in rounding out the 2011 jury.

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