The Honda Accord has been chosen the Canadian Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), edging out the other two finalists, Hyundai Elantra Touring and Porsche Boxster.
By “edging,” we’re talking a point and a half difference between first and second places.
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport was chosen Utility Vehicle of the Year, over the other finalist, Ford Escape 1.6 Eco-Boost.
The Best New Design Award went to the Porsche 911 Carrera S, over the Cadillac ATS sport sedan and the Porsche Boxster.
The Best New Technology award went to General Motors, for the Front-Center Air Bag, now available on Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. The other finalists were the Mazda i-ELoop regenerative braking system, and the Subaru Eye-Sight driver assistance system.
Complete results can be found at www.ajac.ca.
The winners were announced Thursday at the Media Day for the 40th Annual Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto.
Why the Accord won Car of the Year:
All of these awards are voted upon by members of AJAC at the annual Test Fest, held each October in Niagara on the Lake.
Eligible new car, truck, SUV/Crossover and minivan entries in a variety of functional/price categories are brought to one location, where 80 AJAC members who perform regular road tests drive them back-to-back: Same roads, same conditions, same day.
Voters rate the vehicles based on a wide range of attributes: Performance, ride, handling, comfort, ingress and egress, quality, feature content.
These attributes are weighted according to category; acceleration, for example, is considered more important in Sports/Performance cars than in Economy Cars.
Instrumented acceleration and braking tests are conducted by a subset of experienced test drivers, and those data are made available to all voting members.
Transport Canada fuel consumption data are also built into the evaluation process.
Finally a price factor is applied, on the theory that a more expensive car should be better than a cheaper one.
Why the Hyundai Santa Fe won SUV of the Year:
Voters file their ballots online during the Test Fest; the winners of the various categories are announced, and the category winners must then be driven by each voter before the final balloting takes place to determine the overall winners.
The top three vote-getters in each division — Car and Truck/Utility Vehicle — are announced at the Montreal Auto Show in January.
This year, there were no eligible trucks or minivans, or SUV/Crossovers in the over-$65,000 category, so there were only the two finalists for Utility vehicle of the Year.
The overall car and utility vehicle winners, plus the Design and Technology Awards, are what were announced today.
The exception to the voter eligibility rule is the Technology Award, which is voted upon by twelve AJAC members with specific experience in engineering, yours truly included.
Vehicle manufacturers nominate specific engineering innovations. The voting panel narrows the list down to ten finalists, and each company has the opportunity to present their case to the panel.
The AJAC car of the year process, whereby all eligible vehicles are subjected to back-to-back testing by a large group of testing experts from coast to coast and from a wide variety of media outlets is, as far as we know, unique in the entire world.
Not to say that in my personal judgement, the best process always produces the best result.
This year, for example, I thought the Cadillac ATS would be a walk-away winner.
Not to take anything away from the Honda Accord, which is an outstanding remake of a car which has become something of a legend in its own field.
But to me, a car of the year should be more than just a good all-round car. It should somehow break the mould, move the goalposts, be something truly special.
To me, the Cadillac was that car.
Yes, it is a very ‘good all-round car’. It goes, rides and handles with the best, it is beautiful, and nicely-finished inside.
But for a domestic manufacturer, especially one like Cadillac which is best-known for making massive luxo-barges, to build a car that can honestly be compared to the BMW 3 Series, the perennial champion in this segment and for the ATS to be the lightest comparably-equipped car in its class well, to me, those are the credentials of a Car of the Year.
Which is why the ATS won Motoring TV’s car of the year award, and also the North American car of the year (for which this writer is also a voter).
ATS did win its AJAC Category (Luxury Car). But my colleagues collectively did not even vote it into the top three, let alone the overall winner.
As my Grade 11 history teacher used to say when we collectively got the answers to his pop-quizzes wrong, “Another failure of democracy.”
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