About the Awards

What Makes a Winning Car?

At AutoTrader, we’re committed to being a trustworthy source of expert car advice and we hope everything we do will help Canadians become more confident in their car-buying journey.

There is a lot of truth in the cliché that every car out there is a “good car.” Cars today are safer, more high-tech, drive better, and have more features than ever before. We understand that this only makes picking the right car more difficult, so these awards are a way for you to gain some insight into what the experts think and what separates a “good car” from an “award-winning car.” Winning vehicles are ones that our experts would confidently recommend to their friends and family.

What Makes Our Awards Different? What Cars Are Eligible?

AutoTrader looks at awards from a car buyer’s perspective. That’s why every single new car that is available for Canadians to buy today is eligible for an award — that means we consider more than 350 models! Other awards only look at cars that were redesigned for the year, but that excludes some excellent options and we think knowing all the options makes for a more informed and confident car buyer. We have the most comprehensive and practical automotive awards in Canada: Our jury is a diverse group of more than 20 expert automotive journalists who evaluate hundreds of cars according to 12 different criteria to help you make more confident decisions when buying your next car.

Here’s What Our Jury of Automotive Experts is Looking for in a Winning Vehicle

Overall Excellence: A winning vehicle will set a new standard or benchmark for its segment or, even better, will move the needle for the entire automotive industry as a whole. All the elements below come together to create an almost-perfect package with no serious flaws. A winning car goes above and beyond what’s expected.

Value: A winning vehicle will be priced fairly when compared to its competitors and offer Canadians the most bang for their buck. A winning car will be packaged smartly and should have generous standard features with fairly priced options.

Innovation: A winning car will push the boundaries of technology, revolutionize a way of doing things, or introduce something new or clever.

Technology and Features: A winning car will have desirable, innovative, and useful technology and features. These should make a car more connected and more convenient.

User-friendliness: A driver should be able to get into a winning car and be able to use everything with no learning curve. A winning car should be comfortable for all passengers and have logical ergonomics so everything is where you expect it to be.

Performance: A winning car will excel at doing what it is intended to do. Whether it’s a truck, sports car, family car or anything else; it will accomplish its intended purpose effectively.

Engineering Excellence: The mechanical elements of a winning car all work together seamlessly. Each element is robust on its own but works in harmony with other elements to create a cohesive experience.

Driver Satisfaction: A winning car shouldn’t be a chore to drive – it should be enjoyable and easy.

Design: A winning car should have an intelligent interior and exterior design that helps achieve its purpose. It should be appealing yet practical, and not make too many compromises.

Safety: A winning car will have high crash test and safety ratings. A winning car should have a suite of active safety technology available.

Quality: A winning car should be well-built and the fit and finish should be solid. The materials used should be durable and robust.

Efficient: Fuel economy and driving range are important to Canadian buyers and a winning car should be efficient when compared to its competitors.

These criteria have different weighting depending on the segment of vehicle we’re awarding. For example, driver satisfaction is more important than fuel economy to our jury when evaluating a sports car. Similarly, a luxury car won’t be penalized because it costs more than a little city runabout, and a minivan won’t be judged heavily on its exterior design or style.