February 13, 2003

Nissan wins big at Canadian Car of the Year awards

Toronto, Ontario – For the first time ever, one car company has won both the Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Truck of the Year awards. The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) announced today that its members had chosen the Nissan 350Z as the “Canadian Car of the Year”, the Nissan Murano as “Canadian Truck of the Year”. As well, the Nissan 350Z was voted “Best New Design”. The announcement was made during the opening ceremonies for the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

2003 Nissan Murano
2003 Nissan Murano – Canadian Truck of the Year. Click image to enlarge

“To say we are thrilled is a huge understatement,” said Brad Bradshaw, president of Nissan Canada Inc. “This is clear testimony that Nissan is designing and building the best vehicles in the industry.”

Nissan also won last year’s Canadian Car of the Year award with the 2002 Altima.

AJAC President, Tony Whitney, described the selection process, “The winners were selected from an initial field of 56 new-for-2003 vehicles entered in AJAC’s annual Car of the Year competition. To win the overall Car of the Year award, a vehicle must first be voted as the best in its class.” Last November, the 350Z was voted “Best New Sports/Performance car” after defeating the Acura NSX, BMW Z4, and Mercedes-Benz SLK 32.

Jim Kenzie, President of the Canadian Car of the Year awards explained that, “The overall Canadian Truck of the Year for 2003 was selected from two category award winners announced last November.” Before claiming the overall title, the Nissan Murano won “Best New Sport Utility under $45,000” after being pitted against the Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, Jeep Rubicon, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Subaru Forester.

2003 Nissan 350Z
2003 Nissan 350Z – Canadian Car of the Year. Click image to enlarge

Last October, fifty-four AJAC automotive journalists from across Canada took part in a four-day back-to-back evaluation process at Shannonville Motorsports Park, near Belleville, Ontario. The journalists formed test teams to compare every vehicle in a class, back-to-back, on the same surfaces, under the same conditions, on the same day to ensure valid, objective comparisons. The testing program includes driving on a test track as well as using “real world” public roads where consumers drive.

Every detail, from safety features to cargo capacity, is scrutinized, discussed, and individually rated by secret ballot. Those ballots are then tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG, which keeps the results confidential – even from AJAC – until today’s press conference. The nine category winners were announced in November. The overall Canadian Car of the Year is chosen from the nine class winners.

The “Best New Design” award, won by the Nissan 350Z, is determined by a vote amongst the 54 participating AJAC journalists.

“The intent of the award is to identify and reward the vehicle that we collectively judge to exhibit the most aesthetically pleasing combination of appearance and function,” said Tony Whitney, President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). “Judging is based on exterior and interior appearance, but in a real world context. That means, for example, that an extremely raked windshield or exceptionally low roofline should be judged on the basis of their effects on headroom and visibility as well as styling, and the styling should be appropriate to the type of vehicle. The best balance of form and function should be rewarded.”

Voting is by secret ballot. The points for each vehicle are totalled and the vehicle with the most points wins. Those ballots are tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG, which keeps the results confidential until the awards ceremony.

The vote results, as well as the comparative performance data produced during the annual Test Fest, are available to consumers on AJAC’s web site at www.AJAC.ca.

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