It’s that time of year again, folks: time for the Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) awards program.
Held in Bowmanville, Ont., at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the five-day event, known in the automotive industry as TestFest, has been running full-throttle since Monday and brings Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) members from across the country together to evaluate and grade 2017 models that are either all new or significantly redesigned for the model year.
Free Press Autos writers and TestFest veterans Kelly Taylor and Haney Louka arrived in Ontario on Monday and have been testing vehicles all week.
While testing new vehicles may sound like a car lover’s dream come true, the reality is there’s a boatload of work that goes into these thorough evaluations.
According to AJAC, in addition to testing vehicles on the racetrack the rigorous testing program also includes driving on public roads — exactly where consumers drive.
This ensures all results are relevant to potential car and truck buyers. An exhaustive testing program, with input from Canada’s top automotive journalists, lies at the core of the CCOTY program.
Gary Grant, a veteran automobile journalist, AJAC member and co-chair of the Canadian Car of the Year awards, has his hands full again at this year’s event, but he took a moment to remind folks just how valuable the association’s independent vehicle testing is for consumers.
“The Canadian Car of the Year program brings seasoned automotive journalists from across the country together in order to compare vehicles back-to-back on real roads along with a variety of testing exercises to determine the best vehicles on the market,” Grant says. “Entries are split into market categories, ensuring the program is a valuable tool for new car buyers by comparing vehicles which they may already be considering.”
Unlike evaluations done from American agencies and associations, the work done at TestFest is by homegrown journalists from across our country.
“The awards offer consumers a uniquely Canadian view into how well a vehicle is suited for life in this country,” says Grant, who calls Whitby, Ont., home.
According to their website, AJAC members compare each vehicle in their chosen classes, on the same roads and under the same conditions, to ensure objective evaluation. A detailed rating form covers 21 separate evaluation parameters that include acceleration, braking, vehicle dynamics, maneuverability and, when applicable, off-road capability. Every detail, from safety features to cargo capacity, is thoroughly scrutinized, discussed and individually rated by secret ballots.
Those ballots are then tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG. The results are kept confidential — even from AJAC — until the awards press conferences.
Winners in each category will be announced later this year, while overall winners will be revealed at upcoming auto shows in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Consumers can view, compare and analyze collected testing data from this year’s program, as well as previous TestFest events, on the AJAC website, ajac.ca