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By Benjamin Yong,, 27 Jan, 2015:

Seventy-three journalists wheeled in to Niagara Falls, ON for the 27th annual Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year awards (CCOTY).  

Dubbed “TestFest,” the journalists evaluated 49 of the newest vehicles produced by over 20 brands placed in several key categories such as best family car under (and over) $21,000, luxury car under/over $50,000 and sports performance under/over $50,000. Bigger vehicles like crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks joined the fun as well with their own respective sections.

"TestFest is the most intensive new vehicle evaluation process on the planet," said CCOTY co-chair, Gary Grant, in a news release. “No other organization employs such stringent testing methods to determine their car of year award winners."

As part of the evaluation procedures, participating vehicles are driven back-to-back on a prescribed route involving mainly public roads and highways, mimicking the conditions a consumer would typically experience in everyday ownership. There is also a small parking lot slalom-type course where handling characteristics are gauged, and a long windy stretch of a closed two-lane road where some of the faster cars can get up to higher speeds.  

Following the drive, journalists then score the entries on value, fit, finish, performance, comfort and so on. Approximately 106,405 data points were collected via 1,640 test drives at Test Fest, which took place from Oct. 20 to 24. The information is collected and tabulated by international accounting firm KPMG, and category winners announced in December.