2021 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, and Best New Automotive Innovations for 2021, Announced by Automobile Journalists Association of Canada  

The Mazda3 was announced as the 2021 Canadian Car of the Year and the Genesis GV80 as the 2021 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, as selected by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) March 30. For Mazda this adds to the Mazda3’s list of achievements with just the second back to back win in the history of the awards and the first for a car.

The two vehicles were awarded with Canada’s highest automotive accolades during a live broadcast of The Morning Show on Global Television. This followed months of testing and evaluation by dozens of the country’s most-esteemed automotive journalists from Vancouver to Halifax who tested each vehicle on the same roads and conditions Canadian drivers face each day. Ballots are scored anonymously on many different factors, including performance, features, technology, design, fuel consumption and value, first narrowing the list to eight category winners and finally three finalists for both the Car and Utility categories. 

These winners were selected from across more than 250 eligible vehicles – all on-sale vehicles including those newly designed, recently refreshed, or carried over from last year – as long as they received a minimum number of ballots cast. 

“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,” said AJAC President Stephanie Wallcraft. “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.”    

The Canadian Car of the Year award presentation is typically held during the opening ceremonies of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) in Toronto, which was cancelled this year due to the public health measures dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic. AJAC looks forward to continuing our partnership with CIAS when the show returns to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in February 2022. 


Following the broadcast, three key automotive innovations were awarded the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) 2021 Automotive Innovation Awards presented by the Canadian International AutoShow. 

The winners are: 

Best Safety Innovation – Honda Next Generation Front Passenger Airbag. 

Fifty-six percent of all frontal collisions involve an angular impact. 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, the powertrain 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 litres per 100 km for the most popular 4×4 models, a figure 2.2 litres per 100 km better than non-hybrid models, resulting in 19 percent fewer CO2 emissions while maintaining a maximum towing capacity of 5772 kg. 

Ford’s F-Series trucks are and have been the best-selling nameplate in Canada, as a result, the increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions offered in the Ford F-150 PowerBoost could have a much larger impact on the environment than a similar innovation would in another body style. 

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 in 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 lower-emission than a conventional generator, and does not reduce truck bed function. 

Nominations for the innovation awards were made by AJAC members and finalists were selected in each of the three categories. Each automaker selected as a finalist presented its technology virtually to a panel of 10 judges, comprised of some of the most knowledgeable and respected journalists in Canada who regularly cover automotive technologies. 

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