Day one of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada's (AJAC) “TestFest” event is now in the books. Canada's top automotive writers and bloggers make an annual pilgrimage to the Niagara region to compare and evaluate the best new vehicle offerings for 2014. A total of 58 vehicles in 12 categories compete to win the laurels for their respective categories as well as a chance to be named either the overall Car of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year.
Over the course of five days journalist members will test-drive the latest crop of new vehicle models on a Solo type handling course as well as on predetermined routes incorporating real world streets and highways in the Niagara Falls area. Truck and SUV entries are also tested on a carefully crafted off-road handling course.
Journalist members are assigned to a minimum of three category teams and are required to drive all of the entries in a category for a minimum of 30 minutes each. Team members are issued a detailed rating form, comprising a carefully selected list of evaluation parameters that include performance factors such as acceleration, braking, vehicle dynamics, and manoeuvrability, but also items like ride comfort, safety features and cargo capacity. Each parameter is rated using a prescribed 0 – 10 rating scale.
For the journalist's vote to count he/she must also complete an entire category on the same day. This will ensure that the test results are sound and relevant to both the consumer and the respective manufacturers. The ballots are then tabulated by accounting firm KPMG and the results remain confidential -- even from AJAC -- until the awards press conferences wherein the category and overall winners are announced.
As soon as the winners are declared, the comparative test data, and vote results are posted to the AJAC web site (www.ajac.ca) for use by consumers as a resource buying guide.
All category winners will then be eligible to compete for either the 2014 Canadian Car of the Year or 2014 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year awards which will be awarded . The overall Canadian Car of the Year and the Canadian Truck of the Year are announced in February during the first media day of the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.
AJAC TestFest entries for 2014
Best New Small Car (Under $21,000)
•Nissan Versa Note
Best New Small Car (Over $21,000)
•Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
•Ford Fiesta ST
•Kia Forte Sedan
Best New Family Car (Under $30,000)
Best New Family Car (Over $30,000)
•Ford CMAX Energi
•Honda Accord Hybrid
•Volkswagen Jetta Turbocharged Hybrid
Best New Luxury Car (Under $50,000)
•Buick Regal AWD
•Mercedes-Benz CLA 250
•Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Best New Luxury Car (Over $50,000)
•Jaguar XF AWD
• Mercedes-Benz E 250 Blue-TEC 4MATIC
Best New Sports /Performance Car (Over $50,000)
•Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
•BMW 4-Series Coupe
•Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Model 4MATIC
•Mercedes-Benz E 350 4MATIC Coupe
Best New Prestige Car
• Jaguar XJ
•Mercedes-Benz S 550 4MATIC
•Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid
Best New SUV / CUV (Under $35,000)
Best New SUV / CUV ($35,000-60,000)
•Jeep Grand Cherokee
•GMC Acadia Denali
•Hyundai Santa Fe XL
•Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC
Best New SUV / CUV (Over $60,000)
•Porsche Cayenne Diesel
•Range Rover Sport
•Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC
Best New Pickup