The BEST or not the BEST?

    Posted by Car Reviews by Rob Davidson about 10 months ago
    “So what’s the best car , eh?”

    It’s almost inevitable: whenever someone finds out I commit Auto Journalism for a living the question eventually emerges: “So , what’s the best car , eh?”. I don’t blame anyone for asking. I’ve most likely just finished telling them I drive fifty-odd cars every year. I drive at least one new car every week. So surely to Christ I should know what the “best” car is then, eh? The truth , however , is always a little disappointing to the questioner: there are no “BEST” cars. 

    So the BAD cars are….?

    Everyone has different reasons for wanting/needing a vehicle. Some just need a beater to get from Point A to Point B. Some need to emotionally commit to their car , they need to love it. Some need to hate it. 
    While there are some cars I would never consider buying the astonishing fact is there are almost no “BAD” cars any more. Not in North America. The era of the disposable Pony or the inflammable Volkswagen or the dependably awful British Car (definition of British Engineering? ”Never Give Up On A Bad Idea”) are long gone: cars have never been safer , more dependable or ,frankly,  more homogenous.

    Picking the Best

    Yet every year about 60 or so auto journalists from right across Canada vote on “The BEST” car in Canada. I’m part of that group. Every single one of us knows there are no “best” cars. And every year we end up picking one. This year was no exception.
    As I write this the field for Canadian Car Of The Year has been winnowed down from dozens of entries to just three finalists. I’m not even remotely surprised by the finalists – they’re all excellent cars. But I also know on a different day three other cars might very well have been chosen. And they would have been deserving as well.
    So here’s how it to separate the wheat from the….er…wheat.

    This year the rules underwent a substantial change and journalists were expected to keep records of any cars that were on the “list of entries”. Supposedly the list was compiled from every car that is to be sold in Canada for the next calendar year. Which is an impossibility. Manufacturers are always going to have surprise additions to their line up. But every year a list gets made. The cars are divided up into categories: Best Small Car , Best Large Family Car , best Performance Car etc. (there are also several categories for SUV’s , CUV’s and trucks but for this article we’re just talking about cars.) 
    So over the course of last spring , summer and fall I drove as many cars on the list of entries as possible: Mercedes Benz C Class convertible , Mazda 3 , Mazda CX5 , Mazda Miata/MX5 , Hyundai Sonata , Honda CRV and so on and so on , keeping meticulous records of performance , noise , handling and so on.
    Next on the schedule was an event called “Test Fest”. Organized by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Test Fest brings together a couple hundred cars and a hundred or so journalists and sets them loose on 1) the Canadian Tire Motorsport Track 2) an improvised off road track (for SUVs) and 3) on public roads. The entire reason d’etre for Test Fest used to be the choosing of the CCOTY (Canadian Car Of The Year) , but this year the organizers tried to de-couple the event from it’s roots. Manufacturers were invited to bring any cars they wanted to show off and if that included some of those pre-determined category entries that was fine. If not…”meh”.
    I don’t think it quite worked for me: There were a lot of cars I’d already driven as well as categories that were so large I had almost no hope of completing them . Nevertheless I pitched in and spent two days driving and “evaluating” about 19 cars.. You see every car is assigned a ballot. The “judges” assign numerical scores (from 1 to 10) to such things as “Noise , Vibration , Handling.” , exterior and interior design , fit and finish , braking , acceleration etc. The scores are then inputted into a computer program and an algorithm spits out three winners in each category.  So this year the categories winners looked like this:
    BEST CITY CAR IN CANADA  Volkswagen e-Golf
    BEST SMALL CAR IN CANADA  Mazda3
    BEST LARGE CAR IN CANADA  Honda Accord??
    BEST SMALL PREMIUM CAR IN CANADA  Jaguar XE
     BEST LARGE PREMIUM CAR IN CANADA
    Volvo S90 / V90
    BEST SPORTS - PERFORMANCE CAR IN CANADA
    Volkswagen Golf R
    BEST PREMIUM SPORTS - PERFORMANCE CAR IN CANADA
    Jaguar F-TYPE
    BEST CONVERTIBLE IN CANADA Mercedes-Benz SL
    BEST SMALL UTILITY VEHICLE Mazda CX-5
    BEST LARGE UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA Mazda CX-9
    BEST SMALL PREMIUM UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA Range Rover Velar
    BEST LARGE PREMIUM UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA
    Acura MDX
    BEST MINIVAN IN CANADA Chrysler Pacifica
    BEST PICK-UP TRUCK IN CANADA Ram 1500

    So a lot of Mazda vehicles , a lot of Jags and Land Rovers and a couple of surprises (I was pleasantly surprised to see the Volvo on the list. As much as I liked the car Volvo is still a bit of an outlier in the Canadian Marketplace.)

    …and the Winner is….!”

    The journalists were invited to go on the AJAC website and vote for the winner. You could ONLY vote if you had driven the car so that limited my rankings , but in the end three cars were chosen as finalists: Mazda 3 , Honda Accord and Volvo V90.
    All good cars. I would have been happy if any of them won.
    In the end the Honda Accord took top honours. 
    So…….is the Accord best car?
    I can attest it is a damn fine car. I probably wouldn’t buy it because I don’t need quite that much car and , frankly , it ain’t cheap. Same for the Volvo. In fact the car I’d probably buy didn’t even win its category.
    So……in the end I think the “best” car is the vehicle that “turns your crank” enough for you to part with your hard earned cash. But that won’t stop me from going through the Canadian car Of The Year process again next year!

    Tags:
    #AJAC, Canadian Car Of The Year , Mazda 3 , Honda Accord , Hyundai Pony , Volkswagen,

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