by Bob McHugh

The final round-up of entries for Canadian Car and Truck of the Year are on the mat this week and it’s an ‘extreme’ group, indeed. Low priced entry-level cars, high-priced super-cars, sophisticated high-performers and dirt-loving, hog-hauling work trucks – they’re all here!

As we’ve been doing for the past four weeks we would like to get your thoughts on the entries and you can also join in the judging action on the British Columbia Automobile Association web site. Because there are three final judging categories represented here, we’re also allowing you to vote three times (once in each category: Economy, Luxury/Prestige, and Pickup truck). We will publish the results of the Internet fun poll next week. Send your comments about the contenders for this year’s Car of the Year, along with your name and location, to


Economy Car

Kia Spectra 4-Door:
Bigger and also heavier than Rio, Spectra comes with a more powerful 1.8 litre engine (125 hp) that meets ultra low emissions specifications. The transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic, which comes with a handy overdrive on/off switch on the shift level. Front and rear stabilizer bars and variable power assisted steering, that’s sensitive to engine-speed, are standard features. The sedan comes in base and LS trim levels and there’s a five-door version, the GS-X.

Base Price: $14,595 As tested:$17,595
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 11.8 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 47.5 metres

Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 10.9/7.3city/highway

2002 Kia Spectra
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

Kia Rio 5-Door RXV:

This is a new version of the little car that fronted the first Kia invasion last year. The RX-V is a hatchback (five-door) Rio and an even more appealing styling exercise that doubles the cargo space, when the split-back 60/40 rear seats are in the folded position. Air conditioning, power windows and locks and a roof rack are all standard on the RX-V version. An optional sport package includes 14-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.

Base Price: $15,095 As tested:$16,095

Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 11.7 seconds (manual)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 50.3 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): city/highway 9.3/7.3

2002 Kia Rio
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

Mazda Proteg� ES:
The Proteg� ES comes with a new 2.0-litre (130-horsepower) engine that meets ULEV emission standards. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and an electronically controlled four-speed automatic is an option. Super-value standard features include anti-lock brakes, a lockable 60/40-split fold-down rear seatback, power windows, mirrors and door locks, cruise control and fog lamps. The award-winning OptiSpace interior design allows exceptionally good rear seat passenger room, for a small car, and Proteg� led the economy cars in all AJAC performance tests.

Base Price: $17,995 As tested:$17,995
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 10.4 seconds (manual)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 42.7 metres

Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 9.6/7.3 city/highway

2002 Mazda Protege
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

Luxury Car (under $55k)

Infiniti I35:

A replacement for the I30, the new Infiniti I35 comes with new 255-horsepower 3.5-litre V6, plus interior and exterior upgrades. Styling changes give it a Q45-like front grille, with Xenon (HID) headlights up front and a smoother look to the rear end. Inside it now comes with a Bose 200-watt audio system, steering wheel audio controls, Sojourner leather upholstery and a wood-tone accents and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. A Sport package with Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels and side sill spoilers is also available.

Base Price: $39,500 As tested:$41,000
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 8.2 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 41.8 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 12.1/8.3 city/highway

2002 Infiniti I35
Photo: Nissan/Infiniti
Click image to enlarge

Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 4M:

This is Passat with everything included! The only option on GLX is a side curtain air bag system ($375.00). The 4-Motion all-wheel-drive system continuously distributes power to all four wheels by means of an automatic-locking Torsen centre differential. Classy convenience features include power side mirrors that automatically point downward when the car is in reverse and additional stereo and cruise control switches on the steering wheel. Standard features include leather upholstery; a Monsoon sound system; walnut wood trim; a climate control system; an anti-theft alarm system; a power moonroof and a self-dimming rear-view mirror.

Base Price: $43,305 As tested:$43,680
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 9.9 seconds (automatic)

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 39.6 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 12.5/8.3 city/highway

2002 Volswagen Passat 4Motion
Click image to enlarge

Volvo S60 AWD:

A new version of last years “best new sports sedan” award winner comes with an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that’s a little different. Power normally goes to the front wheels and only when it detects front wheel spin is power delivered to the rear wheels. A mechanical oil pump and a ‘wet’ multi-plate clutch, all located in the rear differential, are used to transfer power to the rear wheels. It’s also a smart system that does not engage the rear wheels during low speed cornering or a parking maneuver.

Base Price: $43,995 As tested:$47,990
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 8.9 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 41.8 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 11.4/7.7 city/highway

2002 Volvo S60 AWD
Click image to enlarge

Prestige Car (over $55k)

Audi S8:

This years most expensive Car of the Year entry, was also one of the quickest. The S8’s full-sized luxury, leading edge safety features, all-wheel-dive and stability systems (for maximum traction) and sports-car-like power and performance, create an intoxicating driving experience in this genuine “super-car”. A construction method called the Audi Space Frame (ASF) also makes it the first all-aluminum production car. The weight saving carries over to its all-aluminum suspension, which is stiffer and 20-mm lower than its Audi stable-mate the A8. Options on the test vehicle included a power rear sunshade, heated rear seats and a solar sunroof that powers fresh air fans, when the S8 is parked in the sun.

Base Price: $102,500 As tested:$113,120

Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 6.6 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 40.8 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 16.0/10.1 city/highway

2002 Audi S8
Photo: Audi
Click image to enlarge

BMW M3 Coupe:
The new 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine with the double-VANOS treatment can deliver 330-horsepower in the rear-drive M3 coupe. In addition to propelling it to the fastest 0 to 100 km/h time clocked (5.5 sec.) the M3 also claimed leadership in a most of the dynamic test ratings. Under larger wheel arches, than the standard 3-Series coupe, the M3 sits on 18-inch wheels and ZR rated tires that are wider in the rear. A navigation system with the mapping for Canada and the U.S. is an option.

Base Price: $73,500 As tested:$79,120
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 5.5 seconds (manual)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 39.3 metres

Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 14.5/9.0 city/highway

2002 BMW M3
Photo: BMW
Click image to enlarge

Infiniti Q45:

The third generation 2002 Q45 comes with a 340-horsepower 4.5-litre V8 engine, a 4-wheel independent suspension and restyled exterior and interior. Based on a new longer wheelbase, all-steel chassis, that claims 40-percent more rigidity, the stylish and taller new body features prominent and unique headlights. Looking like a Gatling machine gun under its clear protective cover the seven-lens xenon (HID) headlights are the most powerful lighting system in the world, according to Infiniti. A driver oriented interior has a centre dash mounted information display on a 5.8-inch LCD screen, voice-activated controls and a front seat active head

Base Price: $73,000 As tested:$73,000

Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 6.9 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 43.9 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 13.6/8.8 city/highway

2002 Infiniti Q45
Photo: Nissan/Infiniti
Click image to enlarge

Jaguar XKR Coupe:
The epitome of elegance, few cars – if any – can match the perfectly proportioned and exquisitely fluid styling lines Jaguar XKR. A descendent of the legendary E-Type made back in the 60’s, the XKR is a go-faster version of the XK8. Its supercharged and intercooled 4.0 litre AJ-V8 engine can produce 370-horsepower, making it the fastest production Jaguar on the market. High-tech innovations include a CATS (computer active technology suspension) with two-stage damping and an ultrasonic front passenger seat sensing system that controls air bag deployment.

Base Price: $104,500 As tested:$104,500
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 5.6 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 43.6 metres

Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 14.6/9.9 city/highway

2002 Jaguar XKR
Photo: Jaguar
Click image to enlarge

Pickup Truck

Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4X4:

The Dodge that brought style to the truck market has been redesigned. However, the most important improvement in the new Ram is a more fundamental one – an all-new fully-boxed, hydroformed chassis. Other improvements include new safety features, a larger passenger cab with new user-friendly features, better brakes and a better ride and a handling package, that includes rack and pinion steering. The styling lines are smoother, the cab is 8-cm (3-inches) longer, the windshield is bigger and more steeply raked and the horse collar front grille is bigger – and I mean really big.

Base Price: $30,365 As tested:N/A
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 10.8 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 48.2 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): N/A

2002 Dodge Ram
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

Chevrolet Avalanche 4X4:

Avalanche is two pickup trucks in one. A collapsible mid-gate that allows it to quickly transform from being a crewcab with a short box into a regular cab with a long box. With mid-gate it can comfortably seat five or six adults. With mid-gate down it can swallow a standard 4×8 sheet of plywood or drywall, with the tailgate closed. Based on Chevrolet’s big sport utility vehicle, the Avalanche is 85% Suburban, the outside dimensions are almost identical, it has similar handling and ride qualities and it’s towing capabilities are also a match and a heavy-duty 2500 (3/4 ton) version will follow next year.

Base Price: $42,205 As tested:$45,390
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 10.2 seconds (automatic)

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 43.9 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 16.9/12.7 city/highway

2002 Chevrolet Avalanche
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

Nissan Frontier SC V6 4X4 LB:

The big news here is a supercharged version of the 3.3-litre SOHC V6 engine and a long box version of the Crew Cab. It can produce 210-horsepower, but more importantly 245 ft-lb of torque at a low engine speed for pulling power. And a limited-slip differential is also standard on the supercharged V6 models. Frontier SC comes in King Cab and a
4-door Crew Cab body style, that now claims the compact long box title. The new body has an aggressive look with prominent fender flares, a new front fascia, hood, grille, round headlights and a lockable tailgate.

Base Price: $35,398 As tested:$35,398
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 10.7 seconds (automatic)
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 47.5 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 15.5/11.8 city/highway

2002 Nissan Frontier
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

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