How we judge

Our judging process is the difference

Australia’s Best Cars is the most comprehensive, objective and transparent awards program in the country. We stand by each and every score we award which is why we publish them for you to see. We are the only awards program in the country that does so.
Watch the judges video

Why don't you have one "car of the year" like other programs?

Australia’s Best Cars is a fair and unbiased awards program. We don’t believe one car can be crowned a “car of the year” when cars are designed to meet the needs of many different consumers. Our data set compares a car with its direct competitor, not a car that is built for a completely different purpose or buyer.

For a better representation of how people shop we divide the cars into 15 categories so that they are competing with “like” cars in their respective categories to better help you choose which cars meet your needs. We also determine the indicative driveway price to make shopping for a car even easier.

Who are the judges?
  • Alex Forrest
  • Andrew Clark
  • Barry Green
  • Darren Moody
  • Greg Hill
  • Jaedene Hudson
  • John Ewing
  • Lisa Luscombe
  • Mark Borlace

How is a car selected for judging?

All cars on sale prior to December 11TH, 2016 are eligible to be considered for ABC but it must pass our stringent eligibility criteria.

How do you score the cars?

Each vehicle is assessed against three areas and up to eight criteria:

1. Value for Money

  • Pricing
  • Cost of depreciation
  • Running and repair costs
  • Fuel consumption
  • Warranty and dealer access
  • Insurance
  • Standard features

2. Design and Function

  • Safety
  • Environment
  • Comfort
  • Space
  • Practicality
  • Ergonomics
  • Build and finish quality

3. On the Road

  • Performance
  • Ride
  • Handling
  • Braking
  • Smoothness and quietness

Utes are also scored for tray payload as well as cabin space.

Each car is given a score between 1 and 10 for each criterion. 10 is the best. The scores for each criterion are weighted – critical, high, medium or low – according to their importance to buyers. This weighting varies by category.

Each vehicle’s overall score reflects its position within the class and should only be compared within its category.

Where are the cars tested?

We test at Australia’s most unique vehicle proving ground in Angelsea, 125 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. The Australian Automotive Research Centre (AARC) is the largest privately owned and independently operated automotive testing facility in Australia.

Why do you test here?

The AARC encompasses virtually all driving conditions found in Australia from passenger cars and four wheel drives to heavy trucks and mining equipment. It is used by all manufacturers for the testing of cars as well as bus, truck and automotive component suppliers.

The AARC allows our judges to literally leave no stone unturned. We are thorough and need a facility that provides as many different road surfaces and the toughest, roughest and most rigorous conditions we could find. If a car can’t survive at Anglesea then you don’t want to buy it! Here are some of the conditions we measure in our testing:

1. Gradient section: designed for testing component and vehicle durability as well as torque and general driveability.

2. Gravel road: we test in-cabin noise, suspension, braking and traction control systems, dust entry, cooling systems, etc

3. Extensive four-wheel-drive areas: with varying terrain, gradients and surfaces, mud baths and rocky terrain. We use these to test engine retardation systems, hill descent, hill hold systems, traction control systems, vehicle fording capability and approach and departure angles.

4. Dynamic Handing Facility: Used for testing of ABS, traction control, electronic stability programs and vehicle handling.

What is the stringent eligibility criteria?

  1. To maintain our unbiased testing process a judge from two different clubs must score a car for it to be eligible. If a car is unavailable but the judges predict it will be a front runner it will be taken to the testing week.
  2. We choose the volume selling model for each car based on the cars you buy, not what manufactures tell us is the “most popular model”.
  3. To ensure we capture the cars you are buying in each category we have a minimum sales volume of 150 or 500 retail sales (depending on the category).
  4. We support green engineering so any hybrid, electric or fuel cell model is automatically allowed into the program regardless of sales volumes.
  5. Manual or auto? That is the question. Based on sales data we have determined the only categories where manual gearboxes are more popular than automatics is in Micro and Sports so we only tests manual variants in these categories and automatics in all others
  6. As experts, the judging panel is given some discretion to put forward a case for a car to be eligible if there is a relevant reason to do so – such as market interest, newness, innovation, etc.
  7. All new brands and completely new models are allowed into the program (despite not meeting the minimum sales volumes) as long as the cars pass the other eligibility criteria.

Where does ABC get the safety scores from?

Safety is considered a critical part of our awards program. All our crash data comes from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

ANCAP is Australasia's leading independent vehicle safety advocate and provides transparent advice and information to consumers on occupant and pedestrian protection. ANCAP has more than 500 passenger and light commercial vehicles crash test result for cars that are sold in Australia and New Zealand. Cars are given a safety rating between 1 and 5 stars to indicate the level of safety provided in the event of a crash. The more stars, the better the vehicle performed in the crash test.

ABC will not award any car that doesn’t have a 5 star rating or is unrated. The car may win its class but won’t win an award. If the highest scoring vehicle in the category does not meet the requirements then the award for that category will be withheld. It won’t be transferred to the next highest scoring 5-star car.

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