The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada has just revealed the finalists in the 12 categories of the 2020 Canadian Car and Canadian Utility of the Year awards. And here they are along with our own picks for category winners.
More than 1,200 ballots were cast by AJAC’s voting members, including several of our own staff and contributors. That’s nearly a full year of driving and voting on new and updated vehicles as well as last year’s class winners. From these 36 finalist vehicles in 12 classes, the AJAC category winners will be revealed January 16th at the Montreal International Auto Show. Overall Canadian Car and Utility of the Year award winners are announced in February at the Toronto show, and Canadian Green Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards will be handed out March 25th at the Vancouver show.
While some of these category finalists are last year’s class winners, that honour was no guarantee of a spot on this year’s list. Earlier this year at AJAC’s TestFest vehicle evaluation event, we took a look at each category, so we’re including our own picks for each class.
Best Small Car in Canada for 2020:
Kia Forte/Forte5 (2019 category winner)
Our pick: Mazda3. We said, “it’s got the looks both inside and out, it’s got the ride and handling and now, it’s got the tech, too.”
Best Large Car in Canada for 2020:
Kia Stinger (2019 category winner and Canadian Car of the Year)
Our Pick: Kia Stinger. Last year’s overall winner returns and it stays extremely competitive. Kia’s first real sports sedan offers up comfort, speed, and value.
Best Small Premium Car in Canada for 2020:
Our Pick: Mercedes-Benz A-Class. You can get this premium offering as a hatch or sedan. It also brought us the latest in-dash tech from Benz before its bigger siblings, and the rest of the interior is enough like those more expensive models to put it tops on our list.
Best Sports-Performance Car in Canada for 2020:
Hyundai Veloster N
Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Our Pick: The Hyundai Veloster N. We said that “Hyundai’s first entry into legit high-performance is a breakout hit.” With a six-speed stick, limited-slip diff, and a value-conscious price, it’s a performance bargain that doesn’t leave anything out.
Best Premium Sports-Performance Car in Canada for 2020:
Jaguar F-PACE SVR
Porsche 911 Carrera
Our Pick: Porsche 911 Carrera. The latest Porsche is the greatest Porsche. We called it “the kind of car that inspires you to be a better driver.”
Best Mid-Size Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020:
Mazda CX-5 (2019 category winner)
Our Pick: Toyota RAV4. We said that “with its recent redesign, the Toyota RAV4 has gone from being one of my least favourite small SUVs to in my view being the best on the market.” More rugged looks, improved interior, excellent value.
Best Large Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020:
Mazda CX-9 (2019 category winner)
Our Pick: Hyundai Palisade. It shares a platform with the Telluride but has a more upscale cabin and exterior style. We said, “it’s a vehicle that is both finely crafted and loaded with the sort of useful technology and advanced design consumers have come to expect in this segment.”
Best Small Premium Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020:
Range Rover Evoque
Our Pick: Volvo XC40. The XC40 offers a premium interior, excellent ride, a quiet highway experience, and Volvo safety. The Polestar version we tested also made sports car turbo noises which made us smile.
Best Mid-Size Premium Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020:
Infiniti QX50 (2019 category winner)
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Our Pick: Porsche’s Cayenne is tough to beat. We loved the touch panel with fewer buttons in the console, premium materials, and the sports-car steering and ride.
Best Pick-up in Canada for 2020:
Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
Our Pick: Ram EcoDiesel. 480 lb-ft and improved fuel economy. It’s hard to argue with those, but this diesel is also near-silent and great to drive, in the most luxurious interior of the current crop of trucks.
Best EV in Canada for 2020:
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (2019 category winner)
Hyundai Kona Electric
Our Pick: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It’s got a useful all-electric range in the most practical body style you can buy. Seating for seven real adults with room for cargo, and good looks for something that hauls loads of stuff. We said, “the Pacifica was already good; the addition of an efficient PHEV powertrain takes it to the next level.”
Best Premium EV in Canada for 2020:
Jaguar I-PACE (2019 category winner and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year)
Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered
Our Pick: Jaguar I-PACE. It was the only one in the premium category that was a full EV, which boosted it above the competition. But that’s not the only perk, it uses high-class interior trim and has a style inside and out that is uniquely Jag.