AJAC announces 2016 Canadian Car of the Year Awards finalists

Vehicles competing for the 2016 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year awards were evaluated in Clarington, Ontario. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

As 2015 products are quickly being cleared out at dealerships, that means it’s almost time to hand out the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) awards for the best of the next model year’s vehicles. While the final winners haven’t been announced yet, this week AJAC named the top three in each of the segment categories.

A total of 41 newly introduced cars were tested at the annual weeklong October AJAC evaluation event known as “TestFest,” this year taking place for the first time in and around the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Clarington, Ontario. About 80 accredited journalists engaged in a total of 1,911 test drives involving public roads, performance, handling and off-road courses to rate factors ranging from ride comfort and handling to interior quality and road noise.


The purpose of CCOTY is to provide Canadian consumers with credible comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market. Program co-chair Justin Pritchard says the benefits are twofold.

“First, back-to-back testing brings out even subtle differences between competitors, which are reflected in the scoring results,” says Pritchard.

“And second, all of our results are quantified. When a vehicle wins or loses in the program, the public can see precisely why, since all of our testing and voting data is published online at www.ajac.ca. This isn’t a popularity contest. When we declare a winner, we’ve got hundreds of thousands of data points, collected during thousands of man-hours of controlled test-drives, to back it up.”

2016 AJAC TestFest off-road course

Results are tabulated by international accounting firm KPMG, and kept confidential until the official announcement of the awards take place. 

Below are some of the notable models from the 2016 CCOTY top three category finalists. The overall winners will be announced on Nov. 24 in Toronto, ON, which will then compete for the top honour of 2016 Canadian Car of the Year and Truck or Utility Vehicle of the Year, as well as their environmentally friendly counterparts Canadian Green Car of the Year and Truck or Utility Vehicle of the Year.

2016 AJAC TestFest staging area

Best New Small Car: Honda Civic Sedan

Best New Family Car: Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon 1.8 TSI

Best New Sports/Performance (under $50,000): Mazda MX-5

Best New Prestige/Performance: Porsche Cayman GT4

Best New SUV/CUV (under $35,000): Honda HR-V

Best New SUV/CUV (over $35,000): Hyundai Tucson

Best New Pickup: Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Double Cab

AJAC TestFest 2016 Honda Civic Sedan

AJAC TestFest 2016 Mazda MX-5

AJAC TestFest 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4

AJAC TestFest 2016 Honda HR-V

AJAC TestFest 2016 Toyota Tacoma

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights