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2010 Canadian Car of the Year Category Winners

Annual TestFest picks the top models in 12 vehicle categories

Journalists from across Canada gather to test vehicles valued at more than $8 million over four days.

By Bill Roebuck, TestFest Team Member

Journalist Jeremy Sinek notes results of performance measures conducted with one of the Car of the Year’s new GPS-based devices.Seven German models, four Japanese makes and one North American vehicle qualified as winners in the latest Canadian Car/Utility Vehicle of the Year awards competition, held Oct. 27-30, 2009, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON.

The annual competition, known as TestFest, this year saw 51 new 2010 models compete in 12 categories (grouping similar models together) and evaluated by 70 journalist members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). The journalists came from across Canada to attend TestFest and evaluate the vehicles under a strict set of rules that make the testing process fair, balanced and unbiased.

With three identical test vehicles per model, there were more than 150 new vehicles from almost every major North American, European, Japanese and South Korean manufacturer were brought to the event site for testing. The suggested retail prices of the individual vehicles on site ranged from $20,495 to $190,300 and totalled more than $2.6 million. (Considering there were three models of each entry available for testing, the total value of the entries on the TestFest site was almost $8 million. And that's not including the support vehicles, manufacturer motor homes and other display vehicles.)

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. During testing, each vehicle is driven on public roads - exactly where consumers drive - so that the test, and vote, results are relevant to potential car and truck buyers. The vehicles also are testing on a race track to evaluate other driving and handling features.

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.

Contenders in the Best Sports/Performance Car under $50,000 category aligned before the start of comparative testing.Team members use a detailed rating form, comprising up to 23 separate evaluation parameters that include acceleration, braking, vehicle dynamics, manoeuvrability, and 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, consisting this year of more than 46,000 individual data points, were tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG. The results were kept confidential -- even from AJAC -- until the awards press conferences when the category and overall winners are announced. These results were unveiled at a press conference at TestFest site on Oct. 30, 2009.

The category winners are as follows:

2010 Canadian Car of the Year Category Winners
Best New Small Car (under $21,000):
Best New Small Car (over $21,000):
Mazda3 Sport
Best New Family Car (under $30,000):
Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI
Best New Family Car (over $30,000):
Ford Taurus
Best New Luxury Car (over $50,000):
BMW 335d Sedan
Best New Prestige Car:
Porsche Panamera
Best New Sports / Performance Car (under $50,000):
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Best New Sports / Performance Car (over $50,000):
Audi S4
Best New Convertible:
Audi S5 Cabriolet
Best New SUV / CUV (under $35,000):
Subaru Outback
Best New SUV / CUV ($35,000 - $60,000):
Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel
Best New SUV / CUV (over $60,000):
Lexus RX450h

The 12 category winners listed above now go on to compete for the honour of becoming the 2010 Canadian Car of the Year or the 2010 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. These overall winners will be announced on Feb. 11, 2010, at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, ON.  Award winners for Best New Design and Best New Technology, presented by Shell Canada, will also be announced at that time.  

In addition, an award for Best New Green Technology for 2010, also presented by Shell Canada, will be announced at the Montreal International Auto Show on Jan. 14, 2010.

Three AJAC surveys have shown that consumers are powerfully influenced by a Canadian Car of the Year award win. In 1999, the influence on buyers of the Canadian Car of the Year was 45%. In 2002, that percentage rose to 47.5%. While in 2005, the survey confirmed an influence of 58.4%.

There's lots more information from TestFest 2010 available on the AJAC website. For example, you'll learn the fastest car tested went from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds; while the slowest took 12.7 seconds to reach the same speed. As for braking, the best went from 100 km/h to 0 in 36.2 metres, the worst covered 48.0 metres. It's all useful data to help you choose your next vehicle.

For more information about the Canadian Car of the Year Awards, visit the AJAC website at, or call the AJAC office at 1-800-361-1516.

Posted Oct. 31, 2009. Bill Roebuck is the Editor and Chief Reviewer of CarTest! and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). ©

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