Canuck Car of the Year

The first round of voting is over and there are winners and losers. Here’s a video of me thrashing around the Ste. Catharines Niagara District Airport runway test track in the one of the winners:

They’re not all this crazy and “TestFest” is not all fun and games!

Seventy of Canada’s top automotive journalists spent a week in the picturesque tourist town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We weren’t there for the scenery or the wine tasting, though naturally many do partake (long after driving shoes and gloves are put away of course).

My fellow journalist members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and I were all driven by purpose, to find out who makes the “Best New” cars, trucks and SUV/CUVs in this great country.

As part of AJAC’s annual Canadian Car of the Year Awards program, we put a whole whack of these to the test through three full days of intensive, back-to-back testing and evaluation off and on the track.

We call this week TestFest and here this year’s crop of “Best News”…
BEST NEW SMALL CAR (under $21k) – Mazda3
BEST NEW SMALL CAR (over $21k) – Mazda3 Sport
BEST NEW FAMILY CAR (under $30k) – Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI
BEST NEW FAMILY CAR (over $30k) – Ford Taurus
BEST NEW PRESTIGE CAR – Porsche Panamera Turbo
BEST NEW SPORTS/PERFORMANCE CAR (under $50k) – Volkswagen Golf GTI
BEST NEW SUV/CUV (under $35k) – Subaru Outback
BEST NEW SUV/CUV ($35k-$60k) – Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel
BEST NEW SUV/CUV (over $60k) – Lexus RX450h

The evaluation process for the Canadian Car of the Year Awards (CCOTY) is based on “real-world” back-to-back testing so that the results have relevance for consumers.

In other words, the rigorous testing program includes “real world” driving on public roads–exactly where consumers drive – so that the test, and vote, results are relevant to potential car and truck buyers.

Every member of a test team compares each vehicle in its class, back-to-back, on the same roads, under the same conditions to ensure objective evaluation.

Team members use a detailed rating form, comprising 21 separate evaluation parameters that include acceleration, braking, vehicle dynamics, maneuverability, even off-road capability, where applicable. Each parameter is rated using a prescribed 0-10 rating scale.

Every detail, from safety features to cargo capacity, is thoroughly scrutinized, discussed, and individually rated by secret ballot.

Those ballots are then tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG. The results are kept confidential–even from AJAC–until the awards press conferences wherein the category and overall winners are announced.