AJAC declares Canada’s “Best New” 2008 vehicles

2008 Audi R8 next to Mini Cooper S
2008 Audi R8 next to Mini Cooper S

TORONTO, (Ontario) – The 2008 “Best New” winners in 12 different “Canadian Car of the Year” categories were announced today by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) at a press conference held at the Toronto Congress Centre, in Mississauga, Ontario. The purpose of the Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) awards program, created by journalist members of AJAC, is to provide consumers with sound, comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market.

For that reason, the vote results that determined today’s winners are available on the AJAC web site www.ajac.ca, for use by consumers as a resource buying guide when researching the purchase of a new car, truck, SUV, or CUV for 2008. Also available to consumers are the comparative test data derived from the journalists’ extensive three to four day evaluation of 177 new 2008 vehicles in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario from October 29 – November 2, 2007. This annual event is known in the industry as “Test Fest.”

The rigorous Test Fest evaluation program includes real world driving on public roads – exactly where consumers drive so that the test and vote results are directly relevant to potential car and truck buyers.

In order to vote, the more than 70 journalists had to be on-site and drive the vehicles back-to-back on the same roads, on the same day, in the same weather conditions so as to ensure valid comparisons. Each vehicle is carefully scrutinized using 17 evaluation parameters that include driver position and ergonomics, engine smoothness, steering, handling, visibility as well as exterior and interior styling. Objective ratings for acceleration, braking, cargo capacity, safety features, fuel consumption and exhaust emissions are then added to the journalists ballots by the international accounting firm KPMG prior to their vote tabulation. The scores are then weighted by the type of vehicle as well as a price factor in order to ensure a level playing field for all 59 entries.

2008 CCOTY co-chairman Paul Williams commented, “The AJAC Canadian Car of the Year awards are founded on the most objective, informed and thorough evaluation process you’ll find. The evaluations are based on back-to-back testing in real-world situations. They’re a uniquely Canadian resource for people looking to buy a new vehicle.”

The BEST NEW 2008 category winners are:

CONVERTIBLE: BMW 335i Cabriolet
SMALL CAR: Saturn Astra
FAMILY CAR: Honda Accord EX Sedan
LUXURY CAR: Mercedes-Benz C Class
PRESTIGE CAR (over $75,000): Audi R8
SPORTS/PERFORMANCE CAR over $50,000: Audi S5
MINIVAN: Hyundai Entourage
PICKUP TRUCK: Chevrolet Silverado
SUV/CUV under $35,000: Nissan Rogue
SUV/CUV $35,000 – $60,000: Saturn Vue
SUV/CUV over $60,000: Buick Enclave

In addition to the 12 category winners, AJAC handed out the “Most Coveted Vehicle” award. Inaugurated in 2005, the award was created to acknowledge what is truly a dream car; a car that stirs the hearts and minds of automobile enthusiasts. In other words, if you won the lottery today, which of the fifty-nine AJAC Car of the Year entries would be your dream car, truck or SUV? In order to win this award, the majority of the seventy-four voting journalists had to cast a ballot and the winning vehicle had to receive two-thirds of those votes. The winner of the 2008 Most Coveted Vehicle award is the Audi R8.

The overall Canadian Car of the Year as well as the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year will be announced on February 13th, 2008, at the 2008 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Ontario. The 2008 Best New Design and Best New Technology winners will also be declared at that time.

And there’s more. our AJAC journalists who evaluated the brand-new models at TestFest are available across Canada for interviews to talk about the vote results and comparative data. Media are invited to visit the AJAC web site and log-in under “Ask The Experts”, then choose the “Car of the Year” link for interviews once they’ve been validated.

Photos from the Test Fest evaluation program, and from today’s press conference, are also available for print and broadcast media on the AJAC website.

Still looking to buy a 2007 new car? AJAC archives the comparative test data and vote results from previous years on its web site.

AJAC’s three consumer surveys show that winning an AJAC Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) award is increasingly important for potential buyers of new cars. For example, a survey of 2004 Canadian Car of the Year buyers confirmed an influence of 58.4%. In 2002 that influence was 47.5%; in 1999 the influence was 44.5%.

For further information: on the 2008 Canadian Car of the Year Awards, either visit the AJAC web site (www.ajac.ca), call the AJAC office at (705) 924-3444, or send an email to beth[a]ajac.ca