Day 4:

Day by Day Review: Testfest in Niagara daily car reviews car of the year
Click Image to Enlarge

I will admit that I am not much of a gambling man, but today, that is what I was forced to do. As part of this process, each journalist must drive each category winner and submit their votes on these cars by the end of the day on Friday. With 53 cars in 12 categories, it is impossible to drive every one of them. On Friday the category winners will be announced, but there are only three vehicles of each type to sample and with perhaps 60-plus journalists here, it will be a mad scramble to get all the required testing done by end of day.

Before today I had squared away six categories, ensuring at worst case I would need to drive six cars on Friday. Today I finished off two more categories: SUVs under $35,000 and Luxury Cars over $50,000. This means, worst case, I have to drive four cars on Friday. This is where the gambling comes in — for the rest of the day I attempted to drive vehicles that I thought had a chance of winning their categories. I did not get to all the categories, and as it sits, my best case scenario on Friday is that I only have to drive two cars.

Day by Day Review: Testfest in Niagara daily car reviews car of the year
Click Image to Enlarge

What did I drive today? As mentioned I started off with SUV’s under $35,000, which consists of Subaru Outback, Toyota Venza and Chevrolet Equinox. A small category, so I decided to not gamble and just drive them all. They were all close; I give the nudge to the Venza but I really enjoyed the Equinox and would not be surprised at all if it came out victorious.

Next, I decided to complete the Luxury Cars over $50,000, which includes the BMW 335d sedan, the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. To be honest I actually did not drive the Mercedes based on comments that made the BMW sound like the sure winner, but I drove the CTS as I feel it is also a strong competitor. As much as the Mercedes-Benz is a great car and don’t want to say “I hope it loses,” I just did not have time to drive it, so I’m betting against it.

Day by Day Review: Testfest in Niagara daily car reviews car of the year
Click Image to Enlarge

Another large category with some tough competition is SUV/CUVs between $35k and $60k. With seven vehicles, I took a stab and drove the Audi Q5, the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and the Acura ZDX. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ZDX’s driving dynamics, including myself, but interior space is limited and in this category that is a major factor. The Audi Q5 seems to hit all the right buttons, so I’m betting on it as the winner. I drove the Benz as I feel it is the most stylish and it also presents great value in the segment and I actually liked it the most.

Another tough category to choose a winner from is the Best New Family Car (under $30,000) category. This one features the Ford Fusion, the Subaru Legacy Sedan, the Toyota Prius and the Golf Wagon in TDI form. At the end of the day, I had a good feeling the Golf was going to take the category so I grabbed the keys; another journalist convinced me that despite everyone’s love for the Golf, he thinks the Prius will win, so I ended my day in the Prius, “just in case.”

Tomorrow, the winners are announced at 10am EST. Look for the news story on CanadanDriver around that time — hint hint.

Connect with Autos.ca