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Q: The number of car awards out there makes my head spin! Which “Car of the Year” award is the best and most respected within the industry?

Illustration of various cartoon cars.Michael says...
If you want one award that evaluates most vehicles on the market, plus their reliability and safety scores, I’d go with Consumer Reports. They don’t award an annual car or truck of the year per se, but they offer up their top vehicle picks, as determined by very thorough scientific testing. These won’t be the awards you hear about the most, as car companies aren’t allowed to promote them or even advertise in the magazine’s pages. But given Consumer Reports’ unique testing facility, extensive reliability surveys and heavily researched figures, it’s easily the most respected in the North American car industry. In Canada, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Car of the Year Award is one of the few award programs in the world that actually gathers up every new vehicle nominee for side-by-side com-parison testing—a massive undertaking. Their site features detailed listings of the results and is a valuable resource for new car buyers. Still, no rating system is perfect. For instance, Consumer Reports features only U.S. pricing, while AJAC evaluates only new or heavily redesigned vehicles, not every single model.

Michael Bettencourt test drives more than 100 new vehicles a year and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Send him your car questions here.