Motor Trend magazine announced Thursday its 2014 Car of the Year, and the honor goes, as it usually does, to an American brand: in this case the newest Cadillac CTS mid-sized luxury car from General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM).

The magazine has awarded the title almost every year since 1949, and only eight times to foreign brands, the first being the Citroën SM in 1972.

GM is putting a great deal of effort into Cadillac, hoping to finally make a truly global luxury car that can hold its own against the Germans that dominate. The Cadillac ATS luxury compact won the North American Car of the Year from a panel of 50 journalists at the Detroit auto show in January, and the Tesla Model S electric sedan was the 2013 Motor Trend winner, so clearly GM has turned some heads among the professional critics.

“The all-new 2014 Cadillac CTS prevailed over one of the most competitive fields in recent memory because it best met our award’s key criteria. Our judges were particularly impressed by the CTS’s responsive powertrains and masterful balance of smooth ride and sporty handling,” said Motor Trend editor-in-chief Ed Loh.

On the other hand, the award doesn’t necessarily mean the winner is really a winner. There have been plenty of lemons or retrospectively “meh” cars that have received the accolade. Does anyone remember the 1995 Chrysler Cirrus or 1976 Plymouth Volare?

Motor Trend also seems to hand out the accolade with a mind to what’s en vogue, which explains how a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and an electric car have won in recent years. Setting aside the noble, environmentally correct aspect of a hybrid, who actually believes the Toyota Prius was the best overall car in 2004?

Nevertheless, this is the first car award for the 2014 model year and it offers a glimpse of the full gamut of finalists, pointing car buffs to which significantly retooled model is getting attention.

Motor Trend's seven other finalists are from two German brands, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, two models from Japanese automaker Mazda, South Korea’s Kia Forte, Britain’s Jaguar F-Type and GM’s sporty Chevrolet Corvette. In case you’re wondering, here are the eight foreign models to have won the prize since Motor Trend began the annual award 54 years ago.

1972: Citroën SM

1985: Volkswagen GTI

2003: Infiniti G35

2004: Toyota Prius

2006: Honda Civic

2007: Toyota Camry

2009: Nissan GT-R

2012: Volkswagen Passat