On March 30, the Mazda3 and Genesis GV80 were announced as the 2021 Canadian Car and Canadian Utility of the Year.
The announcement was made during a live presentation of the Morning Show on Global Television. Both vehicles were selected as winners in their respective categories by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
They were chosen from three finalists in the Canadian Car and Utility of the Year categories, narrowed down from an original total of over 250 on-sale vehicles that were either new for 2021, significantly refreshed, or carried over from the previous year.
Back to back winner
The Mazda3 was a repeat, back-to-back winner in the Canadian Car of the Year category, marking the very first time this has been achieved in the passenger category and only the second time in history within both categories.
Traditionally, the Canadian Car and Utility of the Year Awards are announced as part of the opening ceremonies of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS), but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the format was switched to The Morning Show on Global. Plans are afoot to return to the traditional CIAS opening ceremony in 2022.
In revealing the latest Canadian Car and Utility of the Year winners, AJAC President Stephanie Wallcraft said, “AJAC is very proud to present our highest honours today to the 2021 Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. 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.”
“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,” she added.
Innovation award winners
Following the Canadian Car and Utility of the Year broadcast, AJAC also announced three automotive innovation category award winners, selected by a panel of 10 judges. These are:
- Best Safety Innovation – Honda Next Generation Front Passenger Airbag.
This new airbag design from Honda represents an important advancement in airbag development intended to further protect the front passenger in these types of collisions. The Honda airbag activates in a “V” shape unlike the “D” shape of conventional restraints.
A smaller centre airbag connects to two larger “wings” that project outward towards the sides of the passenger. Connecting the two “wings” is a cloth panel that catches the passenger’s head and upper torso to ease motion into the centre chamber of the airbag. Developed at Honda’s research centre in Ohio, this next-generation front passenger airbag was first utilized as standard equipment in the 2021 Acura TLX. Honda has made this design available to other automotive manufacturers through their airbag supplier.
- Best Green Innovation – 2021 F-150 PowerBoost Full Hybrid Powertrain
Available on F-150 models from XL to Platinum trim levels, PowerBoost is offered with two- and four-wheel drive and produces 430 horsepower and 570 lb.-ft. of torque combined from the 3.5-litre V6 engine and electric motor.
Assembled on the same line as other F-150s, PowerBoost-equipped models incorporate an electric motor in the bell-housing area of the 10-speed automatic transmission and a lithium-ion battery pack mounted between the frame rails just behind the cab.
Hybrid models can operate on electric power full- or part-time and achieve a Natural Resources Canada estimated fuel consumption average of 9.8 L/100 km for the most popular 4×4 models, a figure that’s estimated to be 2.2 L/100 km better than non-hybrid models, resulting in 19% fewer CO2 emissions while maintaining a maximum towing capacity of 5772 kg (12,725 lbs).
Given the popularity of Ford’s F-Series trucks in Canada (they’ve been best sellers for more than four decades) the PowerBoost option is seen as having a greater impact on boosting fuel economy and reducing emissions than similar hybrid powertrain setups offered in other types of vehicles
- Best Technical Innovation – Ford Pro Power Onboard
The Pro Power Onboard system comes in 3 models: 2.0 kW, 2.4 kW and 7.2 kW, with outlets in the side of the truck box and the cab allowing the use of 120-volt accessories or power tools. On the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid, the 2.4 kW system is standard and the 7.2 kW system is optional, with the upgrades providing additional electrical outlets.
The 7.2 kW system comes with a 30 amp, 240-volt outlet to power heavy-duty power tools. Ford’s Pro Power Onboard system is more convenient, quieter, and results in lower-emissions output than a conventional generator, and does not reduce truck bed function.