DETROIT – North American Car of the Year finalists include two firsts: a car with a diesel engine (the Volkswagen Jetta TDI) and a sedan made in South Korea (the Hyundai Genesis).

Those two groundbreakers join the Ford Flex (a new design take on the traditional minivan) for the final round of judging in the car category.

The three finalists for North American Truck of the Year are: the Dodge Ram, the Ford F-150 and the Mercedes-Benz ML 320 BlueTEC.

Fifty automotive journalists will participate in a second round of judging to select the winners in both categories. Winners of the 16th annual awards will be announced Jan. 11 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Except for the Genesis, all the finalists are North American-built vehicles. The Ram, F-150 and ML320 SUV are made in the U.S.; the Flex is made in Canada and the Jetta in Mexico.

To be eligible, vehicles must be “all-new” or substantially changed from previous models. The jury started out considering 50 vehicles.

Last year, the winning car was the Chevrolet Malibu; the winning truck, the Mazda CX-9.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com