“Same-day, back-to-back vehicle category assessments are performed, using both specially prepared evaluation courses and on public roads…”

You gotta love a competition that pits a small, zero emissions 74-horsepower (Smart Car) electric vehicle against a 707-horsepower, tire-smoking, (Dodge Challenger Hellcat) muscle car. That’s what’s on the cards if both vehicles win their categories in this edition of the Canadian Car of the Year Competition.

This was the second year in a row that TestFest was held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and once again, the Niagara Parks Commission, at the Legends on the Niagara Golf Course, hosted it. No golfing for Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) members who converged on the place in droves, but lots of opportunities to fill out score cards on the fifty 2015 model year vehicle entries arranged into fifteen categories.

Same-day, back-to-back vehicle category assessments are performed, using both specially prepared evaluation courses and on public roads by the invited journalists during the six day TestFest event. So, until the official category winners are announced December 2, here are my picks in seven categories, in which I evaluated all the entries:

City Car

Kia Soul EV & Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Bob’s Pick: Both entries are small electric vehicles and they’re close in terms of performance, but the Kia Soul EV is my choice. It seats five (instead of two), has more cargo space and rides nicer, making it a more practical everyday car.

Price (base/as tested):                               $34,995/$34,995

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                10.5 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       43.4 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  2.0/2.6 Le/100 km

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Small Car – Over $21,000

Mini Cooper, Kia Forte5 & Volkswagen Golf

Bob’s Pick: The winner of this category should be a strong contender for the overall car of the year title. Lower, longer and wider, the all-new seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf is my pick. It’s an even more refined hatchback and loved its new base turbocharged 1.8-litre engine.

Price (base/as tested):                               $19,995/$24,295

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                8.4 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       41.4 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  9.3/6.5 L/100 km

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Family Car – Over $30,000

Hyundai Sonata, Subaru WRX & Toyota Camry Hybrid

Bob’s Pick: The ultra reliable Toyota Camry Hybrid is a great value package. Nearly every exterior surface has been redesigned and the interior has been upgraded. It now comes with 10 standard air bags and a clever new feature allows it to recharge a smart phone wirelessly.

Price (base/as tested):                               $28,410/$34,500

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                8.0 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       43.9 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  5.7/6.1 L/100 km

**********

Luxury Car – Over $50,000

Acura RLX Hybrid, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Hyundai Genesis & Kia K900

Bob’s Pick: My clear winner here is the Acura RLX Hybrid, a large all-wheel-drive luxury sedan that’s fun to drive, yet very easy on fuel. It uses a 3-motor hybrid powertrain with a front electric motor & twin rear motors. The drivetrain also includes a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Price (base/as tested):                               $49,990/$69,990

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                6.0 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       44.3 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  8.0/7.5 L/100 km

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Sports Performance – Over $50,000

Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang GT & Volvo V60 Polestar

Bob’s Pick: Priced well below the other two entries in this category, the new Ford Mustang GT provides excellent bang for the buck and looks awesome.

Price (base/as tested):                               $42,499/$51,899

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                6.2 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       39.5 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  15.2/9.3 L/100 km

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SUV/CUV – $35,000 to $60,000

Chevrolet Tahoe, Lincoln MKC, Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 & Toyota Highlander

Bob’s Pick: Big can be beautiful, as Chevrolet Tahoe has evolved into a more drive-able vehicle that offers a supremely comfortable ride, can pull a (3863 kg) mountain and the new EcoTec 5.3 litre V8 engine provides decent fuel economy, especially on the highway.

Price (base/as tested):                               $57,245/$59,460

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                8.0 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       42.1 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  14.9/10.1 L/100 km

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SUV/CUV – Over $60,000

GMC Yukon XL, Mercedes-Benz GLA AMG & Porsche Macan

Bob’s Pick: A performance utility vehicle that actually can go off-road, the Porsche Macan came with an optional (height adjustable & self levelling) air suspension. On a paved road … it’s a Porsche!

Price (base/as tested):                               $54,300/$64,030

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/hour:                5.2 seconds

Braking 100 to 0 Km/hour:                       38.1 metres

Fuel economy (city/highway):                  13.7/10.3 L/100 km

There’s a lot more information about Canadian Car of the Year, this year’s TestFest event and all the entries available online at the AJAC web site (www.ajac.ca).

 

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

Read about Alexandra Straub’s experience at TestFest at drivewaybc.ca

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