DETROIT -- Automotive journalists named the Cadillac ATS sports sedan and Chrysler's Ram 1500 pickup truck as the North American Car and Truck of the Year at the opening of the North American International Auto Show here.

A panel of 49 automotive journalists considered the new cars, SUVs and trucks over the past year and narrowed the field down to six finalists. The Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord were the other finalists for the car award.

The Ford C-Max and Mazda CX-5 were the runners-up in the SUV and truck category.

"This is a very meaningful honor for the entire Cadillac team, especially the men and women who build the ATS in Lansing, Mich., and our dedicated and talented designers and engineers," said Bob Ferguson, GM vice president, global Cadillac.

Cadillac introduced the ATS at the 2012 auto show in Detroit, positioning the sports sedan as a competitor to BMW's famous 3 Series lineup. It reached dealers in the last few months of 2012, garnering about 7,000 sales. Cadillac is expected to grow the size of its CTS sedan when it is next redesigned to give the brand a lineup that better matches with offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Chrysler executives said they were pleased with the win for the Ram truck. Although the automaker does a big truck business, it is a perennial third behind Ford's F-series trucks and the Chevrolet Silverado.

"For the Ram truck brand, this ranks as one of the proudest days in our history," said Fred Diaz, chief executive of the Ram truck brand. "Every truck maker aspires to win the North American Truck/Utility of the Year. I tip my hat to the folks who worked behind the scenes to make the 2013 Ram 1500 a technological triumph."

In other news, Toyota has once again dethroned General Motors as the world's top-selling automaker.

The Japanese company sold 9.7 million cars and trucks worldwide in 2012, although it's still counting. GM sold 9.29 million.

Both companies saw higher sales, but Toyota's growth was far larger as it rolled out new versions of popular models like the Camry. GM executives promised sales growth this year, especially in the U.S. Both companies say publicly that they don't care about who wins, but concede that the crown is an important morale booster for employees.

GM was the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. But GM retook the sales crown in 2011 when Toyota's factories were slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster left Toyota dealers with few cars to sell. The company has since recovered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report