BMC-Testfest -Jeep Cherokee (CUV under $35K)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Jaguar XJ (Prestige $75K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Jaguar XJ - int (Prestige $75K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Cadillac CTS (Luxury $50K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Gen 1
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Toyota Corolla (Small car under $21K)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 (Luxury under $50K)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Honda Accord Hybrid (Family $30K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Ford Fiesta (Small Car $21K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Ford Fiesta (Small Car $21K+) - 2
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Corvette Stingray (Performance $50K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Porsche Cayenne - off-road test (CUV $60K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh

Driving 30 vehicles in three days does leave one exhausted with a numb bum!

But that’s what 80 auto journalists – including yours truly – endured last week at the annual Canadian Car of the Year event, which is often referred to as TestFest.

I’ve attended every one of the gatherings staged by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) for the past 26 years and witnessed many changes in the auto industry, dramatic changes in the cars we drive there.

To start with, Niagara Falls was the new location for TestFest and it was hosted by the Niagara Parks Commission. The beautifully landscaped and serene Legends on the Niagara Golf Course was the staging location.

The age demographic of those AJAC members attending was also noticeably lower and the enthusiasm level was noticeably higher – great to see. All undertook back-to-back vehicle assessments, on specially prepared evaluation courses and on public roads.

Awaiting their critical approval were 174 vehicles (representing 57 all-new 2014 model year vehicles), and they were arranged into 12 voting categories. The range of vehicles included everything from a highly fuel-efficient Mitsubishi Mirage with its little 3-cylinder/74 horsepower engine to a big and blindingly fast Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG with a bi-turbo V8 that can generate 577 horsepower.

A flood of full-electric vehicles entered last year – none this year. That said, there was the Ford CMAX plug-in hybrid and there were some very interesting new full-hybrids like the brilliantly engineered Honda Accord Hybrid, VW Jetta Hybrid, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid. The performance level of this new breed of hybrid vehicles is much closer to, or can even exceed, gas engine counterparts.

While I don‘t know which vehicle will win each category, the following vehicles were the top performers in acceleration and braking exercises performed at TestFest or claimed best fuel economy:

  • Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic (4.1 seconds)
  • Acceleration 80 to 120 km/hour: Corvette Stingray (3.2 seconds)
  • Braking 100 to 0 km/hour: Corvette Stingray (34.4 metres)
  • Fuel economy city: Ford CMAX (1.9 L/100 km)
  • Fuel economy highway: Honda Accord Hybrid (4.0 L/100 km)
  • Back-to-back testing, on the same roads, on the same day, under the same conditions, is a fundamental principal of TestFest, to ensure fair and comparable evaluations. The best vehicle in each of the twelve categories will be announced on December 3 and from that group the overall 2014 Canadian Car of the Year and 2014 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year will then be picked.

Styling, occupant environment, performance, vehicle dynamics, price/value, market significance, emotional appeal and off-road capability (where applicable) are all incorporated in an exhaustive and detailed voting procedure. Ballots are tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG and the results are kept confidential – even from AJAC – until the following awards press conferences:

More online information on Canadian Car of the Year and TestFest is available on the AJAC web site:

bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Entries for 2014 Canadian Car of the Year :

SMALL CAR (under $21k)      


Mitsubishi Mirage

Nissan Versa Note

Toyota Corolla

SMALL CAR (over $21k)        

Chevrolet Cruze (Diesel)

Kia Forte 5-Door

Kia Forte Sedan

Mazda3 Sport

FAMILY CAR (under $30k)

Fiat 500L

Kia Rondo

Kia Soul

FAMILY CAR (over $30k)

Chevrolet Impala

Ford CMAX Energi

Honda Accord Hybrid


Volkswagen Jetta Turbocharged Hybrid

LUXURY CAR (under $50k)   

Buick Regal AWD

Kia Cadenza

Lexus IS

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

LUXURY CAR (over $50k)

Acura RLX

Cadillac CTS

Hyundai Equus

Infiniti Q50

Jaguar XF AWD

Lincoln MKZ

Mercedes-Benz E 250

SPORTS – PERFORMANCE (under $50k)       

Ford Fiesta ST

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Kia Forte Koup

Subaru Forester XT

SPORTS – PERFORMANCE (over $50k)         

BMW 4 Series Coupé

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Jaguar F-Type

Porsche Cayman

PRESTIGE  (over $75k)         

Cadillac XTS

Jaguar XJ

Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG

Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid

Range Rover

Entries for 2014 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year are as follows:

SUV – CUV (under $35k)       

Buick Encore

Jeep Cherokee

Mitsubishi Outlander

Subaru Forester

Toyota RAV4

SUV – CUV ($35k-$60k)        

GMC Acadia (Denali)

Hyundai Santa Fe XL

Kia Sorento

Mercedes-Benz GLK 250

SUV – CUV (over $60k)

Acura MDX


Buick Enclave

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Mercedes-Benz GL 350

Porsche Cayenne (Diesel)

Range Rover Sport


Chevrolet Silverado

Ram 1500

GMC Sierra

3 thoughts on “TestFest’s Quest to Find the Canadian Car of the Year

    Judy Campbell says:

    We have been looking at the Acura MDX SUV, will be interesting to see how it rates against other vehicles in it’s category.

    R Cairns says:

    Judy. Check out the 2014 Dodge Durango.

    Frank says:

    All these results and studies are they based on reliability or cost of vehicles? People tend to buy what they can afford. A lot of top rated vehicles also demand a top dollar.

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