The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has just announced the winners of its 2021 Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Utility of the Year awards. The awards were handed out during a live TV broadcast this year instead of the usual Canadian International Auto Show presentation, with the honours going to the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback in the Car category and to the Genesis GV80 luxury crossover for Utility.

This marks the first win for Genesis, the newest luxury brand on the block, and for Mazda marks the second time that a vehicle has won Canadian Car or Utility Vehicle of the year back to back.

The winners were narrowed down first from more than 250 eligible vehicles including every model on sale during the year that received the minimum number of votes required for a vehicle to be eligible in AJAC's awards. From that list, eight category winners were awarded and then three finalists in each of the Canadian Car of the Year and Utility of the year classes became the two overall winners.

2021 Canadian Car of the year finalists were the Genesis G80, Kia K5, and Mazda3, with the Utility of the Year finalists the Genesis GV80, Kia Telluride (last year's winner) and the Nissan Rogue.

"2020 was a challenging year for everyone, our industry included. Despite our inability to hold events such as our annual TestFest due to pandemic-related restrictions, our members rallied to arrange and perform hundreds of test drives from their homes across Canada throughout 2020. It took a monumental effort to generate the amount of assessment data required to uphold the standards of our program so that we can share our unbiased assessments today with Canadians," said AJAC President Stephanie Wallcraft.

The Mazda3 is the latest version of Mazda's compact car model, offering a sedan and hatchback as well as the option of one of the most powerful engines in class and all-wheel drive. The Genesis GV80 is the brand's first crossover, a midsize offering that offers German levels of luxury and performance from a brand that offers innovative home delivery services and fixed pricing.