I don’t know why, but it seems I seldom agree with my colleagues in the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Car of the Year selections.
This year is no exception.
In line with the concept that “everyone’s out of step except MY son”, they got three of the four major awards wrong for 2009.
Fortunately, they got the most major one right – the Hyundai Genesis is Canada’s Car of the Year.
It was as close as close gets – it garnered 806 points in the final balloting, while the Mazda6 earned 805. I knew this would be close, but I didn’t think it would be THAT close.
The Toyota Corolla came third, well back.
For Utility Vehicle of the Year (AJAC’s term to lump pick-ups, SUVs and Crossovers together) the worthy winner wasn’t even on the finalists’ roster. That of course would have been the Ford F-Series pick-up.
We understand that while AJAC’s Test Fest program is by far the most sophisticated and rigorous of any such program in the world, one drawback is that we really do not have the time and facilities to properly evaluate the things that trucks are supposed to do well. As a result, the Dodge Ram beat out the F-Series in the first round, because the things the Ram is good at, notably on-road ride, were more persuasive.
At least the right car company got the award, with Ford’s Oakville-built Flex crossover taking home the hardware.
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Subaru Forester were the other finalists.
Best New Design is not supposed to be merely a beauty contest, but reflect good aesthetics combined with good functionality.
But seeing photos of the Honda Fit and the Jaguar XF together on the screen during the presentation – well, how could anyone vote for that ugly, boxy, dumpy little thing over that gorgeous Jaguar?
I hardly have to tell, you the result, do I?
The other finalist was the comely Volkswagen Passat CC.
I admit, I am in the minority on the Fit. Graeme Fletcher chose it as the overall Car of the Year for TSN’s Motoring 2009, and several other journos whose opinion I generally respect really like this car.
In addition to it being ugly, I think it is gutless, noisy, cheap-looking inside - and it has lousy outward visibility.
It takes a lot more than a semi-clever folding rear seat to make up for that in my books.
In Best New Technology, I won’t deny that Mitsubishi’s modestly-named Super all-wheel drive control system is pretty slick when you’re trying to eke that last one tenth of one percent of performance out of your Lancer Evolution X rally-rocket, although I don’t know that it’s a whole lot better than a couple of other systems out there at the moment.
But compared to Nissan’s simulated overhead camera parking assist, which can be used every time you drive the car to make sure you don’t fiend your alloy wheels on the curb or run over your kid’s bike?
Not even close.
GM’s OnStar police pursuit terminating system, the other technology finalist, is also more real-world, in my view.
I’d say “Wait ‘til next year”, but I bet it won’t be any different.