The winners of the ecoENERGY Awards have received their trophies (a day late, since the minister couldn't make the Toronto Auto Show press day where they're normally handed out) for the most fuel-efficient cars in Canada.
You can read my report in the Toronto Star by clicking here.
The awards look good when the manufacturers go up on the podium to receive them, but I've always been of two minds on them, and part of that has to do with the way vehicles are tested. It's all done in the lab - you can read about it in my story here - using methods that don't really mirror the way cars operate in the real world. Really, if you're going to use Natural Resources' fuel figures when buying a car, you need to compare all the vehicles and then add about another 20% to the numbers.
The awards are also skewered by new models on the market, and the way Natural Resources slots the vehicles. The Chevrolet Volt, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf all took top honors, but with the exception of the Volt when it's running on extended range, none of them use any fuel. And none of them are mainstream models that will be sold in any great quantities, at least in the near future.
As for the categories, much depends on your definition of a vehicle. The Mazda5 took the "minivan" slot - yes, it's a minivan and truly a mini one compared to most in the segment, but I still think of the Mazda5 as more of a crossover when compared with vehicles like the Grand Caravan or Sienna. The small Ford Transit Connect took "large van" - well, yes, it's much bigger than a breadbox, but I tend to think of vehicles like the Sprinter or Express in that category. With so many niches now in the auto market, it's tough to slot many of them. Which is probably why I don't work for Natural Resources Canada.