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Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Canadian Car of the Year gets down to the best of the best
Well, six, technically - but that's a
pretty steep winnowing from the 182 vehicles that were eligible for this year's
Canadian Car of the Year Awards. And it means there are now only three
contenders (or a contender and two pretenders?) for the titles of Canadian Car
of the Year and the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.
the way with three vehicles that are still in the running - and as a Mazda fan
I'd be happy with any of them taking their categories. Alas, the prevailing
"wisdom" seems to be aimed elsewhere, at least in the "car"
of the year category.
because the new Honda Accord (Best Large Car in Canada) also made the short
list and it's winning all sorts of awards from various groups inside and
outside of Canada. It's a fine car, too, but I'd rather own a Mazda 3, the Best
Small Car in Canada. Alas, the 3 isn't "all-new" this year, while the
Accord is, so that may also work against Mazda winning yet again. Still, Mazda
took three categories in 2014 (two for the Mazda 3 and the overall Car of the
Year went to the Mazda 6), and it's a perennial finalist and category winner.
especially as showcased in the Accord, appear to be on their way back in terms
of usability. For example, they've put real knobs back on the centre stack for
the audio system and, while that may sound like not much of a deal at all, it
is if you've tried to change stations or crank the volume in a recent Honda
while driving. Their nannies are still very annoying, but the cars are still
built well and, as long as you don't mind a continuously variable transmission,
they drive well, too. Bet on the Accord winning.
vehicle not to have been left on the Car of the Year roadside yet is the Volvo S90/V90
(which took the "Best Large Premium Car" in Canada category). They're
good vehicles, undoubtedly, but plain in appearance and weird inside; I would
have given the nod to any of the competitors in this category (Porsche's new
Panamera, Lexus' awesome LC coupe and the Genesis G80 sports sedan) over the
Swedes, especially the Genesis for its audacity in taking on the big players in
the luxury sport sedan market and doing it so well right out of the box.
usual, that's just me and my votes count as only one of nearly 100 journalists voting.
Boy, I get tired of them being wrong!
Still in the
running for the Utility Vehicle honours are the Chrysler Pacifica (Best Minivan
in Canada) and the other two Mazdas, the CX-5 (Best Small Utility
Vehicle in Canada)
and CX-9 (Best Large Utility Vehicle in
Canada). I had to
duck lest I get struck by lightning for having actually enjoyed driving the
Chrysler (and it was a hybrid, to boot!), but I loved both Mazdas - and no, not
only does Mazda not pay me, but I've never owned a Mazda, either - though I
I'd have a
tough choice between the CX-5 and CX-9. The CX-5 is more my size of vehicle, and
I love driving it, but the CX-9 three row SUV is nearly as great to drive and
is so luxurious you might mistake it for a Lexus or Acura or something. And the
CX-9 is $52,121 CAD loaded, whereas the competitors I've named (the new, three
row Lexus RX 350L and the Acura MDX) start
at $66,050 and $56,276.25
respectively. They're all great "crossovers," but even though it's
only a four banger (with gobs and gobs of lovely turbocharged torque) and supposedly
not a "premium" vehicle it's the best of those three to drive and the
one I'd buy if it were my money.
naturally, I figure the Chrysler will win…
For 2018, the Canadian Car of the Year awards voting was changed to include all new
vehicles available to Canadians, rather than the past method of only allowing
entries from vehicles that were new to the market or revised significantly. I
think that's great!
Heck, just because a car isn't all
new doesn't mean it can't hold its own against the upstarts. This is
undoubtedly why cars like the Mazda 3, which was upgraded this year but isn't a
new generation, beat out some all-new models such as the Kia Rio (which I liked
a lot, too).
This year, we could also vote on
vehicles we'd driven throughout most of the year, in our own neck of the woods,
rather than just at the Canadian Car of the Year TestFest. This is a
double-edged sword because we generally get a whole week with review cars but
only a half to three quarters of an hour at TestFest. So we get a better feel
for the cars we drive at home - but on the other hand we drive category
entrants back to back at TestFest, which is better for an apples-to-apples
As AJAC's press release about this
short list said "if we drove them, then we had an opinion on them – and we
passed that opinion on through an anonymous system of standardized voting to determine
which vehicles are the best of them all."
According to AJAC, the expanded
testing helped lead to nearly 3,000 ballots being cast on 182 eligible
vehicles. Sure glad I didn't have to tabulate all that!
Once the 14 overall category winners
were chosen, the three finalists on each side of the vehicular ledger were
chosen in a second round of voting in which we AJAC members were tasked with
choosing the category winners that we thought deserved to be the overall best
car and utility vehicles for 2018.
The next step is for the final votes
to be tallied in preparation for the Big Announcement - which will happen next
week, February 15th, at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. The
results "are a closely guarded secret, known only to the auditing firm of
KPMG," according to AJAC.
Bet on the Accord and Pacifica, if
for no other reason than to continue my tendency toward calling it wrong. I do
think one of the Mazdas will take the Utility Vehicle title, though, possibly