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AJAC’s 2021 Car and SUV of the Year Awards: Mazda3 and Genesis GV80 Grab the Gold

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The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada today announced its grand winners for Canadian Car and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year for 2021. The finalists were announced a few weeks ago, recall, and we’ve been on pins and needles ever since. Here’s the tale told by the votes made by the organization’s members.

2021 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year: Mazda3

For the second straight year, Mazda takes it in the sedan category with its Mazda3. This is the first time a model has accomplished the feat, so hats off.

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Mazda3 Turbo
Photo: D.Heyman
Mazda3 Turbo

As it has been for many years, the compact Mazda3 is eminently drivable, fuel-efficient and well-constructed. But for 2021, Mazda threw in something extra, in the form of a turbo engine in the product offering, which can deliver up to 250 hp for the little car that could.

The Mazda beat out the totally revised Genesis G80 as well as the all-but-totally new Kia K5, the reincarnation of the Korean automaker’s Optima sedan.

See also: 2021 Mazda3 Turbo First Drive: A Rare Breed

2021 AJAC Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year: Genesis GV80

Luxury Korean automaker Genesis may have lost in the car category, but it beat all rivals for the SUV award with its brand-new GV80. You know, the one that may have saved Tiger Woods’ life and has a gotten a serious boost in popularity - or at least brand recogntion - since.

Genesis GV80
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Genesis GV80

In any event, the AJAC’s members preferred the value-packed luxury model to the Kia Telluride, itself very familiar with award-winning, and the Nissan Rogue, freshly overhauled and also a serious contender for awards this year.

The GV80 is of course the first utility model to come from the former Hyundai model and now stand-alone brand Genesis. Buyers can choose from a 3.5L V6 (good for 275 hp) to make it go, or a smaller 300-hp 4-cylinder. The focus with this model is to deliver a smooth ride, elegant exterior and refined interior for a much lower price than the German heavyweights that dominate the big luxury SUV segments. Genesis has a big hill to climb, but it’s got pretty strong arguments in its favour with the GV80.

See also: 2021 Genesis GV80 First Drive: Child Prodigy

Innovations of the year
Today’s presentation also included the awarding by AJAC of its Innovations of the Year awards. This year, it recognized Honda’s next-generation airbag, which stands out for being V-shaped rather than the more-traditional D-shape. It’s already in use in some models, notably the 2022 Acura MDX and the 2021 Acura TLX.

On the environmental front, an award was given to Ford for its PowerBoost powertrain, found in several versions of the 2021 F-150 pickup. Essentially, this system combines the EcoBoost V6 engine (3.5L) with a 35-kWh electric motor to deliver 430 hp but reduces fuel consumption and emissions.

The best technical innovation award also went to Ford, for the ProPower generator found in the new F-150.