Mazda3, Genesis GV80 named AJAC’s 2021 Car and SUV of the Year

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has crowned the 2021 Canadian Car of the Year and 2021 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto last month, the announcement was made today during a live broadcast of The Morning Show on Global Television.

AJAC members road-tested and evaluated over 250 commercially available models, using many different criteria including performance, features, technology, design, fuel consumption and value. The eight category winners were revealed on February 20.

"2020 was a challenging year for everyone, our industry included. Despite our inability to hold events such as our annual TestFest due to pandemic-related restrictions, our members rallied to arrange and perform hundreds of test drives from their homes across Canada throughout 2020,” said AJAC President Stephanie Wallcraft. “It took a monumental effort to generate the amount of assessment data required to uphold the standards of our program so that we can share our unbiased assessments today with Canadians. Our members take this duty very seriously, and it shows through our ability to produce these results."   

Photo: Mazda

2021 Canadian Car of the Year

The Mazda3 takes home the trophy for the second year in a row, marking a first in the history of AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year awards.

Solidly built, agile and fun to drive, it’s hard to complain or find fault in this car—especially with so many versions and options catering to a wide range of customers. For 2021, the big news is the addition of a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces up to 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque when using premium fuel.

The two other finalists were the refreshed Genesis G80 and the all-new Kia K5.

2021 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year

On the utility side, the winner for 2021 is the brand new Genesis GV80, a midsize luxury SUV that offers two turbocharged engines including a 2.5-litre four-cylinder rated at 300 horsepower and a 3.5-litre V6 serving up 375 horsepower. In order to maximize comfort for passengers, Genesis came up with a particularly effective noise cancellation system as well as many advanced safety and driver assistance features.

The two other finalists were the Kia Telluride (the 2020 World Car of the Year) and the completely redesigned Nissan Rogue.

2021 Best Innovations of the Year

Just like it does every year, the AJAC also handed awards for the best innovations across the auto industry.

When it comes to safety, Honda’s next-generation front passenger airbag gets the nod. Unlike the "D" shape of conventional bags, the Honda airbag activates in a “V” shape. A smaller centre airbag connects to two larger “wings” that project outward towards the sides of the passenger, thus improving protection for the head and upper torso. You can find this system in the new 2021 Acura TLX and 2022 MDX.

Photo: Ford

The best green innovation award goes to the redesigned 2021 F-150 and its PowerBoost hybrid powertrain, which is available on a number of trim levels and configurations. It produces 430 horsepower and 570 lb.-ft. of torque combined from the 3.5 litre V6 engine and electric motor. Natural Resources Canada estimates average fuel consumption at 9.8 L/100 km for the most popular 4x4 models, resulting in 19 percent fewer CO2 emissions.

Ford also secured the best technical innovation award for the ProPower On Board system, which comes in three sizes: 2.0 kW, 2.4 kW and 7.2 kW. There are outlets in the side of the cargo box and in the cab allowing the use of 120V accessories or power tools. On the F-150 PowerBoost, the 2.4-kW system is standard and the 7.2-kW system is optional, the latter offering a 30-amp/240V outlet to power heavy-duty power tools.

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