2014 Chevrolet Corvette
The 2014 Car of the Year: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. General Motors

The 2014 Detroit Auto Show kicked off Monday morning with an event announcing the winners of the Car and Truck/Utility of the Year. General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM), which had three of the six finalists, took both prizes: The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

This year’s list of nominees originally included 28 cars and 18 trucks/utility vehicles. In September that list was whittled down to a dozen in each category. Last month the list was narrowed to six finalists, with General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) heavily represented.

The winners were picked by a jury comprised mostly of North American-based automotive journalists. To be eligible for the award, a vehicle has to have been “substantially changed” from the previous model and must go on sale shortly after the announcement of the award, which has been given every year since 1994.

Last year GM won the car of the year award for the Cadillac ATS, while Fiat-owned Chrysler Group LLC won for the Ram 1500 pickup truck.

All of the vehicles that make it to the finalist’s stage in Detroit are widely considered to have the best overall combination of handling, innovation, value, performance and safety. Here are the six finalists and why they made it so far.

2014 Acura MDX – Priced from $42,290, the third-generation of the crossover made by Honda’s luxury brand was made shorter by height and length while extending the wheelbase (aka more leg room). The new MDX is considered a more refined version of its predecessors.

2014 Cadillac CTS – The mid-size luxury sports sedan is aimed squarely at buyers of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. It’s in its third generation, but the 2014 is considered to be the first real contender against the Germans with its high performance rear-wheel drive setup. The car is priced from $39,495.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – The latest Corvette is lighter with a mix of aluminum and carbon fiber and has received an overall re-design. Under the hood is an all-new fifth generation 6.2 liter V8 with 455 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. The new Stingray starts at $51,995.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado – GM’s popular truck received major changes inside and out, including more refined interior styling and features, such as a touchscreen entertainment system and heated and cooled seats. The V8 engine purrs at high speeds and is noticeably quitter than its predecessors. The price starts at $25,965.

2014 Jeep Cherokee – Chrysler has brought back the Cherokee nameplate to North America that was retired in 2001 and replaced by the Liberty. Now it’s back to critical acclaim in both design and interior quality. The price starts at $22,995.

2014 Mazda3 – The Japanese compact has won accolades for both performance and design. It has slightly more torque than its predecessors and is widely considered one of the best performers in its class, especially with the larger 2.5 liter engine and optional (increasingly rare) manual transmission. Pricing starts at $16,945.