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2015 AJAC EcoRun: Green is the Word

Victoria, B.C. -- It’s no secret that automotive journalists are a competitive bunch. Mention the word, “prize,” or “timed exercise,” and it’s like we morph into a new breed of people.

But what better cause than to compete when it’s for and on behalf of the consumers?

Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) annual EcoRun event. Don’t be scared by the “Eco” in the Run. It’s not all about how great electric vehicles are or how amazing hybrid fuel economy is.

Not everyone wants or needs either of those types of vehicles. That’s the beauty of this event.

A variety of makes and models from Mazda to Nissan to Ford, and even Porsche took part in the program.

It’s about giving realistic driving impressions and fuel figures to the public, but having a little fun along the way.

And of course, vying for the coveted “Green Jersey” award for most efficient driving. (Spoiler alert, it wasn’t me, but I didn’t do too badly.)

The event, for the second time, was held in British Columbia.

Scribes from across Canada were present to take the various vehicles for a spin starting in downtown Vancouver to Nanaimo, then Victoria and back. The journey involved a couple of ferry rides, visits to local “green” hotspots, as well as a trip to BC’s legislature to meet with ministers who support the furthering of the green movement.

One might think that a Ford F-150 -- one of the vehicles in the EcoRun lineup -- is not considered to be anything other than a gas-guzzler. However, with their EcoBoost technology, Ford’s bestselling pickup uses less fuel than before, and gets more mileage per tank. That’s great news for those who are in the truck market.

While a lot of people would love to own an all-electric vehicle like the Nissan LEAF or the Kia Soul EV, it’s not always a viable option. Nor can some people afford to buy a hybrid even though they’ve come down in price over the years.

Having gasoline-powered options with favourable price tags and even better fuel economy is what a lot of consumers are after.

Of the six vehicles assigned to me -- all were picked at random -- I had the pleasure of captaining the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Colorado 2WD (with a manual, no less), the VW Golf TDI, Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, and lastly I sat in the lap of luxury in the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid.

The cross section of vehicles couldn’t have been more varied, but then again that’s kind half the fun. The EcoRun is all about asking the question: Will these vehicles really be as efficient as they say they are?

The RLX Sport Hybrid loved stop-and-go traffic. I barely tapped into the gasoline engine.

The LEAF got impressive range even though I had my auxiliaries on.

The VW Golf TDI? Well, it speaks for itself.

Regardless of which vehicle I drove or how it was powered the real power really goes back to the customer. When they make informed choices about buying/leasing their next fuel-efficient or green car/truck/SUV, they’ll be equipped with real-world information.

Visit www.ajac.ca and click on the EcoRun tab for all participating vehicles, manufacturers, and photos.