Australia's best cars named

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

The winners have been announced for Australia’s Best Cars 2015-16, the national vehicle assessment program that aims to answer the two main questions car buyers have: “What car do I want?” And: “What car do I need?” We hope that once you’ve examined the offerings in the following pages, the answer should be the same for both, because ABC is designed to find the best car for your individual needs.

All auto club resources

The program pools the resources, expertise and vast experience of RACV and motoring clubs from all other states and territories. With judges in every state, we examine not just the year’s new releases but all popular vehicles on the market. Any time a model is upgraded or modified, it is compared with its competition. If it raises the bar in what it brings to the buyer, then every car in the class is re-assessed against that new benchmark.

The depth of the clubs’ knowledge pool isn’t just about looking at lots of cars straight out of the showroom, either. We have the road patrols who see the breakdown issues every day. We have auto care centres that service and repair thousands of cars a week. Our insurance businesses add more insights to the industry, and the clubs’ advocacy programs are devised to work on behalf of the consumer across the whole life of their vehicle.

Defeat devices

A factor in determining entrants for this year’s program has been the use of so-called ‘defeat devices’ to evade clean air standards in Volkswagen Group vehicles worldwide.

Given ABC’s strict standards, judges were unable to accurately or fairly assess VW Group vehicles against each criterion. So no Volkswagen, Audi or Skoda vehicles were able to be considered in the program.

Strength lies in scoring table

While each vehicle class has a worthy winner, it may not be the best car for your individual needs. The published scoring table is the true strength of ABC, where points are given for many different criteria, so you can find the car that scores well in the areas most important to you. You can get all the scores for all 180 cars in the program at australiasbestcars.com.au.

One thing to remember about ABC is not to compare vehicles in different classes, because a car’s score relates only to its direct competitors.

But the judges did allow themselves a free vote to find one vehicle they saw as having the greatest impact on the market. It’s the Judges’ Choice, and you’ll find it in this feature.

How ABC is judged

Any new car available for sale in Australia by 1 December 2015 is eligible. The best-seller in its model line-up is scored.

Each vehicle’s overall score reflects its position in the class and should only be compared within its category. The scores for each criterion are weighted – critical, high, medium or low – according to their importance to buyers. This weighting varies by category.

Drive-away pricing is a national average and is only a guide to what the buyer will pay. Running and repair costs are calculated over five years/75,000km.

The safety score is based on available ANCAP assessments. The environment score is its Green Vehicle Guide rating.

Category winners

Best Micro Car
Best Light Car
Best Small Car under $35K
Best Small Car over $35K
Best Medium Car under $50K
Best Medium Car over $50K
Best Large Car under $70K
Best Family Wagon
Best Sports Car under $50K
Best Sports Car $50-$100K
Best Small 2WD SUV under $35K
Best AWD SUV under $50K
Best AWD SUV $50-65K
Best AWD SUV $65-$125K
Best 4x4 Dual Cab Ute