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2006 Best Car, Best Truck, Best Design, Best Technology awards

By Bill Roebuck
The 2006 Honda Civic is a Top Pick by Consumer Reports.Toronto, ON -- At the official opening of the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto on Feb. 15, 2006, the Honda Civic Sedan was declared the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

As well, the auto writer's group selected the Honda's Ridgeline as the 2006 Canadian Truck of the Year. Also honoured was the Pontiac Solstice for the "Best New Design" award for 2006, and Lexus received the 2006 Best New Technology award for an innovative fuel injection system introduced on the 2006 Lexus IS 350 luxury sport sedan.

The Honda Civic beat eight other overall 'best new' category winners to win the top prize, while the Ridgline won over two other competitors.

2006 CCOTY chair, Paul Williams, commented: "New car buyers are powerfully influenced by whether a car has won a Canadian Car of the Year award. AJAC's latest survey of Canadian Car of the Year buyers confirms an influence of 58.4%*".

Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants said recently: "As car awards go I personally believe that the Automobile Journalists of Canada (AJAC) serve our industry very well. Their testing process is very thorough and fair, involving journalists who evaluate a very wide spectrum of vehicles through the year and thus know how to evaluate a complex product. They come together once a year to evaluate these specific vehicles and their choices are almost always right on the mark."

2006 Honda Ridgeline is the Canadian Truck of the Year.Jim Miller, executive vice president of Honda Canada, was on hand to receive both of the overall top prizes. Miller said he was pleased at winning both of the major awards particularly because both vehicles are built in Canada at Honda's Alliston, Ont., assembly plant.

Although a manufacturer has won both overall Car and Truck awards before (Nissan in 2003), it is the first time in the history of AJAC's Car of the Year Awards that a manufacturer has won six of the 15 awards. Civic variants were previously named Best New Economy, Sports, and Alternative Power vehicles, and the Ridgeline took Best New Pickup honours.

The Pontiac Solstice was chosen the overall design winner from amongst 62 eligible vehicles representing all entries in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year awards.

"Trends come and go, but good design endures. It's what sets a vehicle apart from the hundreds of models, thousands of variations and millions vehicles on the road" commented Williams. "The intent of the AJAC design award is to identify and reward the vehicle that we collectively judge to exhibit the most aesthetically pleasing combination of appearance and function.

2006 Pontiac Solstice received the Best New Design award from AJAC."Judging is based on exterior and interior appearance, but in a real-world context. That means, for example, that an extremely raked windshield or exceptionally low roofline should be judged on the basis of their effects on headroom and visibility as well as styling, and the styling should be appropriate to the type of vehicle. The best balance of form and function should be rewarded."

Regarding the Best New Technology winner, the Lexus IS 350 is powered by a 306-hp, 3.5-litre, 24-valve, dual overhead cam V6 engine that features a unique fuel injection system. This system combines direct fuel injection - delivering fuel to the combustion chamber - and port fuel injection - delivering fuel to the intake ports. Fuel distribution is controlled via the two types of injection according to driving conditions:

When the engine is running under low or medium loads at lower speeds, both systems are used to create a homogeneous air-fuel mixture. This stabilizes combustion, improves fuel efficiency, and reduces exhaust emissions. When the engine is running under heavy load, it automatically converts to a direct injection-only system. By controlling the timing and duration of fuel being injected directly to the combustion chamber, the combustion efficiency of each charge is maximized. It also allows the engine to operate at a higher compression ratio, thereby improving engine output and performance, by reducing the tendency of the compressed mixture to ignite prematurely.

The Car of the Year vote results are posted to the AJAC web site for use by readers as a resource buying guide. The results show comparisons between all 11 category winners as announced on December 6, 2005.

In addition, readers will also find comparative test data -- acceleration, braking, manoeuvrability, cargo capacity -- on more than 180 new vehicles representing the 62 entries in the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year Awards. The data derives from the journalists' annual 'TestFest'. It's a rigorous four-day team testing program that includes real-world driving on public roads -- where consumers drive.

Still looking to buy a 2005 new car? AJAC archives the comparative test data and vote results from previous years on its website.

For more information on the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year Awards, either visit or call the AJAC office at 1-800-361-1516, or send an e-mail to:

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