By on October 30, 2011

It’s safe to say that most of the seemingly infinite number of “car of the year” competitions are so utterly bunk that they’re not even worth the effort of exposing. But the reality is that you still see advertisements for cars proudly proclaiming them the favored choice of some local, national, or media outlet’s car of the year competition. So, to show just how non-representative and unscientific these awards can be, we thought we’d share the categories from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada (AJAC)’s “Test Fest,” which will determine the “Canadian Car Of The Year” as well as the favored cars in several categories. Our Canadian tipster writes:

They do all kinds of crap that skew the results.  For example, they use the cars “as tested” price to determine what category it falls under, rather than MSRP.  So what category the car falls under is completely at the whim of whatever car the manufacturer drops off and what category THEY want the car tested in.  You could have an Elantra fall into the “Over $21,000” category or “Under $21,000” category depending on content.  Same car, 2 different categories.  But it gets better.  Some of the categories I call “lump” categories because they just throw everything in one category.  My favorite is Sports Car Under $50K.  They actually have the Veloster competing against an Charger SRT8 and a C Class Merc.  No, I’m not making this us.  I’ve included the list for you, so that you may try and decipher WTF these boobs are doing.

Hit the jump to check out the categories for yourself. But first, it should be noted that despite previous questions about the AJAC award’s ethics, the competition now has a page on its website dedicated specifically to enumerating the ethical obligations of participating journalists and the award’s organizers. Unfortunately that page is limited to the following content:

Code of Ethics

AJAC Ethical Guidelines

Under review.


Small Car < $21K
Chevrolet Sonic Sedan
Fiat 500
Honda Civic Sedan
Hyundai Accent
Kia Rio S
Nissan Versa Sedan
Scion iQ

Small Car > $21K
Ford Focus
Hyundai Elantra
Subaru Impreza
Volkswagen Beetle

Family < $30K
Chevrolet Orlando
Chrysler 200
Kia Optima LX
Mazda 5
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Passat TDI

Family > $30K
Chevrolet Volt
Dodge Charger
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Kia Optima Hybrid
MINI Countryman
Toyota Prius V

Luxury Car
Acura TL
Buick LaCrosse eAssist
Chrysler 300S
Infiniti M35h
Lexus CT200h
Mercedes C-Class C350 4MATIC

Sports/Performance < $50K
Buick Regal GS
Dodge Charger SRT8
Honda Civic SI Coupe
Hyundai Veloster
Kia Optima SX
Mercedes C-Class Coupe

Sports/Performance > $50K
BMW 1 Series M Coupe
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Chrysler 300 SRT8
Hyundai Genesis R-Spec
Mercedes CLS C-Class
Porsche Cayman R

Prestige > $75K
BMW  6 Series Cabriolet
Jaguar XKR-S
Mercedes S-Class S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

SUV-CUV < $35K
Dodge Journey
Jeep Compass
Jeep Wrangler

SUV-CUV $35-$60K
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer
Range Rover Evoque
Volkswagen Touraeg TDI

SUV-CUV > $60K
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Mercedes M-Class

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

23 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Competition?: Canadian Car Of The Year Edition...”

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Is this a joke? Fiat 500, Dodge Journey, Chrysler 200????? wow!! well these are the same folks that come down to Fla in the winter and wear speedo’s no matter how fat they are

  • avatar

    Hey, at least they take them to Shannonville and run them around the track. You can bitch about any award ever given. It’s all an opinion and if you don’t agree with it, you criticize. Too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Extra Credit

      Has Shannonville been relocated to Niagara-on-the-Lake? :-)
      Although they have used Shannonville in the past, it looks like they were at Niagara District Airport this year.

      And why is it so difficult for automotive journalists to spell “Touareg”?

    • 0 avatar

      Sometimes. Lately they’ve been in Niagara on the Lake: Airport for closed track testing, the escarpment(?) for curvy roads, and gallons and gallons (3.785 litres and 3.7851 litres) of wine.

  • avatar

    Jeep Compass ? Competing with the Jeep Wrangler ? In the same catagory ? Really ?

  • avatar

    For example, they use the cars “as tested” price to determine what category it falls under, rather than MSRP.

    I don’t see why using the base MSRP is allegedly any better. I can think of why it would be worse — that only encourages companies to develop loss-leader entry level models (that nobody will buy) just so that they can compete with better equipped cars in the lower-priced categories. Using the “as is” pricing makes perfect sense.

    As for the nominee list, it looks to me as if the nomination criteria consists of whether the car is a first-year model (although with consideration for trim level.) This is similar to the criteria used for Motor Trend’s COTY nominees.

  • avatar

    I take any COTY awards with a grain of salt. In the past, these award bearers have picked some real duds i.e., the Dodge Omni. And they’ve passed over some good ones. Who is to say the car is as good as its award when the people who give them out don’t actually have to live with the cars.

  • avatar

    I thought that Motor Trend’s criteria was the ability to write a big check… allegedly…

  • avatar

    So it’s just as bad as the shenanigans done by the TAWA here in the Lone Star State. Always good to know!

  • avatar

    Just for reference, these are the actual class winners:
    Small Car (under $21k): Hyundai Accent

    Small Car (over $21k): Hyundai Elantra

    Family Car (under $30k): Kia Optima

    Family Car (over $30k): Kia Optima Hybrid

    Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350 4MATIC Sedan

    Prestige Car (over $75k): Mercedes-Benz S-Class S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

    Sports/Performance Car (under $50k): Hyundai Veloster

    Sports/Performance Car (over $50k): BMW 1 Series M Coupé

    SUV/CUV (under $35k): Dodge Journey

    SUV/CUV ($35k-$60k): Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel

    SUV/CUV (over $60k): BMW X3

    It’s admittedly somewhat arbitrary how they split it up, although the only two that stand out to me as exceptionally odd are the Optima Hybrid (which might partially be hype in Korean supremacy) or the Touareg (it’s diesel, ergo it must be amazing, even if the dealers kind of suck, and you’ll be seeing a lot of them).

    On one hand, it’s somewhat telling, how each manufacturer thinks their vehicle is best represented – for instance, was Ford more eager to win the 35-60k SUV class, or did they think a base Explorer couldn’t compete with the Journey? On the other hand, some of it is probably strategy to chase down maximum awards – by fielding a >21k Elantra, Hyundai wasn’t competing with themselves with the Accent.

  • avatar

    I guess money does talk and bullshit does walk, especially in this economy. Looks like Hyundai/Kia wins that battle.

    And +1 to “scarey”. Classifying a Compass to a Wrangler would be like in 1983 classifying an Eagle to a Wrangler (sorry, been on an AMC kick of late).

    Sounds like they need some more vinegar on their french fries…eh?

  • avatar

    I guess money does talk and bullshit does walk with ‘payola’, especially in this economy. Looks like Hyundai/Kia wins that battle.

    And +1 to “scarey”. Classifying a Compass with a Wrangler would be like in 1983 classifying an Eagle with a Wagoneer (sorry, been on an AMC kick of late). :)

    Sounds like they need some more vinegar on their french fries…eh? That’s what i’m talkin’ aboot…

    • 0 avatar

      On the other hand, in the first three categories, the only car which seems to be a legitimate competitor to the Hyundai/Kia products is the Focus. And with both the Optima Hybrid and the Veloster, they’re both more value-oriented for their respective classes, which is pretty important in the frugal Canadian market (admittedly, I might be trying to ignore shenanigans).

    • 0 avatar

      You really mean poutine, right?

  • avatar

    AJAC awards are A J O K E . Always have been, always will be!!!

  • avatar

    I’ll reserve judgement until I see the Korean vehicles after ten Canadian urban winters. Salt and freeze-thaws are not kind to cars.

    • 0 avatar

      You obviously don’t get up to Ottawa very often.

      Ten-year old Sonatas, Elantras and Accents are running around all over the place up here. Many of them look pretty damn good; like “one of the newer models” until you realize their age. And they did this at the hands of the typical 2001 Hyundai owner. Think about that.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: @Garak: It would also be good for search and rescue. In a search, with a gas model, the noise could drown out...
  • Garak: I could see quite a few places where you’d might want an electric model. Countries with expensive gas,...
  • DungBeetle62: Don’t know whose apple my Dad polished but in the early 80s after a parade of awful Cutlasses...
  • JD-Shifty: lowest gas prices were under Clinton. But that’s none of my business. We’ve seen wild price...
  • Buickman: anyone notice AutoNews has eliminated their comment section?

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber