March 3, 2014
There has never been a better time for Canadian automotive consumers. The choices available in our market are diverse and growing every year, everything from luxurious all-electric vehicles to the growing selection of diesel and hybrid powertrains, and of course everything from economical three-cylinder compacts to high-horsepower sports cars and rugged SUVs and everything in between.
However, some vehicles excel at their automotive mission better than others, and we are here to help guide you to the best options on the market. After countless hours of seat time in almost every vehicle on the market and extensive research, we award the annual Autos.ca Top Picks to the deserving manufacturers for vehicles that we believe best serve the needs of consumers shopping in these segments.
How are the top picks chosen?
The Autos.ca staff of two editors and over a dozen top Canadian writers each ranked every new vehicle for sale in Canada for the 2014 model year within six vehicle categories: Compact Cars, Family Vehicles (including minivans), Sports Cars, Luxury Cars, SUVs and Crossovers (CUVs), and Pickup Trucks.
We took into account factors such as styling, comfort, functionality, quality, performance, safety features, reliability, and value for money. We also considered class-specific aspects such as acceleration, fuel economy, handling, cargo capacity, payload, towing, utility, and ground clearance.
The top two vehicles in each category were then chosen as part of our Top Pick list, except in SUVs and Crossovers, where there was a tie for second, so three vehicles were chosen, and in Trucks, where one vehicle was our only pick in that category.
Our Honourable Mentions are awarded at the discretion of our editors when some choices are worthy of a mention and your consideration without officially winning a Top Pick.
2014 Mazda3 and 2014 Volkswagen Golf. Click image to enlarge
If there were an overall Top Pick, the 3 would win it, collecting 7 first-place votes and 4 second-place votes, an engaging, efficient all-rounder, proving itself in an Autos.ca comparison and sweeping the Small Car segments in AJAC Car of the Year voting as well.
In the final year of its model run with a new 2015 model knocking on our door, the Golf and GTI still have enough variety, efficiency and quality to earn a Pick.
2014 Mazda6 GT iELOOP and 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. Click image to enlarge
Even with only a single body type and single engine option, the Mazda6 is still a great family car. The Mazda6 throws as many unexpected features and interior quality at the mainstream buyer as seductive curves, challenging the Ford Fusion for the title of hottest-looking mainstream family four-door.
The Honda Accord is still a favourite, keeping things fresh with a new Hybrid model on top of its standard practicality and great driving manners.
Honourable Mention: Ford Fusion
While not receiving a Top Pick this year, the Fusion is too pretty, efficient (a hybrid and plug-in hybrid model are available!) and fun to not pick. The Ford Fusion deserves extra points not only for its slick looks, but also for its hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains; hopefully these won’t sacrifice trunk room and cargo flexibility quite so much in their next go-round.
2014 Mazda CX-5. Click image to enlarge
You don’t win Autos.ca Comparisons without being a good vehicle, and the CX-5 takes the Top Pick thanks to a new-for-2014 powertrain that is finally up to the task, matching the basic practicality and enjoyable driving experience it has had all along.
With a V6, a bunch of V8s, a diesel and a sporty GTS model, the Cayenne has something for everyone, including the desirable Porsche badge. With interior quality, prestige, and excellent driving experience paired with the utility a family needs, this is a luxury SUV that can be a joy all year round.
Hyundai Santa Fe
Between the four-cylinder Sport models (turbo power!) and V6 seven-seat XL, the Santa Fe’s practicality and value stand out in this crowded and booming segment. Calculators have been burned to a crisp by competing auto execs trying to figure out how Hyundai stuffs so many features into its mainstream cars at the prices they do, and the Hyundai Sante Fe is another fine example of this, but the essential quality of engineering and driving experience also impress.