best buys

How The Car Guide’s Best Buys Are Determined

Once again, the team at The Car Guide has selected the best buys of the year following a long, painstaking process that involved some heated debates. For 2021, we have made changes to the various categories in order to help new-car shoppers make an informed decision more easily.

Every vehicle is rated on five different criteria including fuel economy, predicted reliability, safety, driving experience and overall appreciation. The first three criteria are purely objective. All models are assessed against the others in their respective categories.

The five scores add up to a total rating which allows The Car Guide to rank vehicles from best to worst. In the event of a tie, the team can either crown two winners or pick just one of them. Unrated vehicles are those that have not been tested by our journalists yet. As such, they are excluded from the rankings.

  1. Fuel economy 15%

    We used data from Natural Resources Canada to figure out the average fuel consumption for each model’s lineup. When it comes to fully electric vehicles that don’t burn any fuel, we relied on the industry-standard Le/100 km rating (as in “litre equivalent”), also based on data from Natural Resources Canada. The Hyundai Kona Electric, for example, achieves 2.0 Le/100 km.

  2. Predicted Reliability 15%

    Reliability is based on data from various reputable organizations and adjusted to reflect Canadian conditions. Some scores can change dramatically from one year to the next, while others remain steady. A sudden or significant drop in reliability is often caused by the introduction of a brand new technology or a new powertrain that experiences problems right after launch. Automakers typically fix these problems in time for the following model year, but the reality is that early adopters are often risk takers.

  3. Safety 10%

    Safety is the ability of a vehicle to protect its occupants in the event of a crash using a rigid chassis and an assortment of airbags (50 percent of the score) and to prevent accidents from happening in the first place using driver assistance features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitors and more (30 percent). We also take into account the drivetrain—FWD, RWD or AWD—and the visibility drivers enjoy behind the wheel (20 percent).

  4. Driving experience 20%

    This aspect may seem difficult to rate, but we think we have found the right way to figure it out. Looking past the vehicle’s price, fuel economy, reliability and safety, The Car Guide’s journalists simply rate how fun their experience is behind the wheel.

  5. Overall Appreciation 40%

    A sports car equipped with a powerful engine might be extremely fun to drive, but using it on a daily basis is another story. Conversely, a less exciting car might prove to be an excellent and logical choice. That’s why certain models score 9 out of 10 in the driving department but only 5 out of 10 for the overall appreciation—and vice versa.

All vehicles are rated on a scale of one to five stars. The Car Guide’s ratings reflect all aspects of ownership. A particular car may be awesome to drive, solidly built and capable in most situations, yet have a poor resale value that will make you lose money. On the other hand, a model that fails to impress on the road may retain excellent value over time, thus proving a better buy in the long run. With our rating system, you know exactly what to expect when shopping for a vehicle