If you’re looking to buy a new vehicle this year, here’s a shortlist of cars and utility vehicles to keep on your radar.

All 14 winners beat out the competition within their segment — from best city car and sports-performance to premium crossovers and pickups.

The winners were announced this past Thursday at the 2018 Montreal International Auto Show / Salon de l’Auto — Canada’s first major auto show to kick off the year. And now, all 14 of them are in the running to become the 2018 Canadian Car of the Year and 2018 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, to be announced on media day of the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto on February 15 next month.

The Voting Process: Change is Good & More Fair for Consumers

So, how exactly do the nearly 100 voting members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) come up with these winners? It’s a comprehensive process that puts the consumer first, ensuring fairness backed by credibility — and on a global level, there’s really nothing else like it; each vehicle is scored anonymously on many different factors, including performance, features, technology, design, fuel consumption and value for money

The annual voting event is called TestFest, and it’s been going on for decades.

But like any long-running process, change is both good and often necessary to keep with the times. For 2018, TestFest was radically different from previous years — and really, the big winner here is the Canadian consumer shopping for their next vehicle.

ajac testfest 2017

What’s different?

In a nutshell, TestFest requires the cooperation of the car manufactures. If they don’t show up or choose not to enter certain significant products into the process (not enough worthy vehicles updates to reenter, cost, etc.) then the eligible categories become skewed with missing and/or inappropriate entries. End of the day, this hurts the Canadian car buyer.

Now, TestFest operates in a more balanced, independent state, taking all pertinent vehicles into account. And that’s a good thing, for everyone.

As new AJAC President, Mark Richardson, puts it, “The process of judging and selection changed radically this year to allow all vehicles for sale in Canada to be considered for the Canadian Car of the Year awards.

He adds, “We believe it is not only the fairest system of voting possible but also the most useful and representative for potential vehicle buyers, who just want to know which are the best vehicles out there. We may refine our categories a little for 2019, for example, introducing a category just for electric vehicles, but overall we believe we’ve created the very best awards system possible for new Canadian vehicles.”

Again, the vehicles below are eligible for the 2018 Canadian Car of the Year and 2018 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year announced by AJAC on February 15 in Toronto. 

View more photos and award presentations at AJAC’s Facebook Page

ajac testfest 2017 car lot

Here are the 14 AJAC category winners:

BEST CITY CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Volkswagen e-Golf

BEST SMALL CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Mazda3

BEST LARGE CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Honda Accord

BEST SMALL PREMIUM CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Jaguar XE

BEST LARGE PREMIUM CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Volvo S90 / V90

BEST SPORTS – PERFORMANCE CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Volkswagen Golf R

BEST PREMIUM SPORTS – PERFORMANCE CAR IN CANADA FOR 2018: Jaguar F-TYPE

BEST CONVERTIBLE IN CANADA FOR 2018: Mercedes-Benz SL

BEST SMALL UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA FOR 2018: Mazda CX-5

BEST LARGE UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA FOR 2018: Mazda CX-9

BEST SMALL PREMIUM UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA FOR 2018: Range Rover Velar

BEST LARGE PREMIUM UTILITY VEHICLE IN CANADA FOR 2018: Acura MDX

BEST MINIVAN IN CANADA FOR 2018: Chrysler Pacifica

BEST PICK-UP TRUCK IN CANADA FOR 2018: Ram 1500

ajac testfest 2017 3

Amee is an award-winning motor & lifestyle photographer and writer in the auto niche. His work has been published in various global outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. A member of AJAC and founder/publisher of TractionLife.com, he enjoys travelling and spending time with his kids and family.

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