RACQ Motoring

Australia's Best Cars 2013

Welcome to Australia’s Best Cars (ABC) 2013, the leading independent new car awards program conducted by the Australian Automobile Association and constituent state auto clubs, including the RACQ.

Australia's Best Cars is a comparative guide to 210 volume-selling models across some 15 popular categories, aimed squarely at informing the consumer.

The big news this year is the inclusion of a category for 4x4 dual cab utes. Used as work horses by some and show ponies by others, dual cab utes represented the third largest-selling vehicle category in Australia last year, having grown 25 percent over 2011. They now outsell all of the popular SUV categories.

As in many of the 15 categories, picking a winner was not easy for the 12 ABC judges, which is a fair reflection on the quality and quantity of choice enjoyed by anyone shopping for a new car in
Australia these days.

Value for money is outstanding, and there has never been a better time to buy.

The judges took the top three vehicles in each ABC category to the purpose-built Australian Automotive Research Centre at Anglesea in Victoria in October to put them through a final week of testing and evaluation.

After driving each vehicle and crunching the numbers one more time, only then are the 15 winners and 30 placegetters determined. Just what won, and why, this year is detailed below.

About Australia's Best Cars

Australia's Best Cars logo

Just about every prominent Australian media organisation offers its own take on individual ‘car of the year’ awards.

However, most of these awards focus solely on new models that arrived on the Australian market during the year which, for the main part, is like comparing apples with oranges, ignoring the critical question of how the newcomers compare with existing models.

Enter Australia’s Best Cars (ABC), the long-running national annual car awards program that is much more than a ‘beauty contest’.

Technical Researcher John Ewing (top), Editor of The Road Ahead Barry Green (bottom) are RACQ's representatives on the ABC judging panel.

In delivering a detailed, comparative guide to more than 210 volume-selling models (including this year’s newcomers) across some 15 popular categories, ABC is aimed squarely at informing the consumer.

ABC is the most transparent awards program of its kind, being the only one that lists all scores for all judging criteria (between 19 and 21, depending on category) for every vehicle.

Vehicles are scored throughout the year in three key areas: Value for Money, Design and Function, and On the Road. Within each of these areas, there are up to eight criteria. Each is given a score of between one and 10, and are then weighted critical, high, medium or low, according to their importance to buyers in the relevant market segment.

Each October, the top three vehicles in each category are assembled at the purpose-built Australian Automotive Research Centre at Anglesea in Victoria. They are put through a week of final testing and evaluation by a panel of 12 judges representing all state auto clubs, including the RACQ.

After driving each vehicle and crunching the numbers one more time, only then are the 15 winners and 30 placegetters determined. Just what won, and why, this year is detailed below.

Which is best for you?

Australia’s Best Cars (ABC) gives you the opportunity to decide the best car by selecting which criteria are important to you.

Simply visit the website Australia's Best Cars website, click on ‘My Best Car’ and follow the steps from there. ‘My Best Car’ will calculate and identify the three cars, in order, that best suit your requirements. It’s as easy as A, B, C.

Australia's Best Cars 2013 - Category & Winners

Best Light Car

  1. Renault Clio TCe120 Expression
  2. Hyundai Accent Active
  3. Ford Fiesta Ambiente

The last time Renault won an Australia’s Best Cars award was in 2002, in the then named Small Car category, with its Clio Expression. This year, it was the new, 1.2-litre Clio Expression TCe120 that wowed the judges with a combination of performance, standard features and value for money, beating some big name and popular brands in the process.

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Best Small Car under $35,000

  1. Hyundai i30 Active
  2. VW Golf 90TSI Comfortline
  3. Kia Cerato Si

Small cars are now Australia’s most popular, outselling most other segments by more than two to one. And the winner again this year is Hyundai’s base model i30 Active.

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Best Small over $35,000

  1. Audi A3 Sportback TFSI COD
  2. Mercedes-Benz A 180
  3. BMW 116i

Audi has introduced a new cylinder on demand (COD) model to its A3 Sportback range. COD has the car operating on four cylinders in most driving conditions, but drops it to two when only minimum power is required.

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Best Medium Car under $50,000

  1. Mazda 6 Touring Sedan
  2. Toyota Camry Hybrid H
  3. VW Jetta 118 TSI

Redesigned from the ground up and incorporating significant improvement, the new Mazda 6 Touring Sedan proved unbeatable in this year’s awards, taking both its category and being named the Judges’ Choice.

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Best Medium Car over $50,000

  1. BMW 3 Series 320i
  2. Lexus IS 300h Luxury
  3. Mercedes-Benz C Class C250 Avantgarde

BMW has always positioned itself as a car for the driver and it was in the on-road performance area that the 320i had the edge on the other contenders.

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Best Large Car under $60,000

  1. Holden Commodore VF SV6
  2. Peugeot 508 Hdi Allure
  3. Toyota Aurion AT-X

The ‘ultimate evolution’ of a range that started in 1978 has elevated Holden’s Commodore VF – in the form of the SV6 sedan – to an Australia’s Best Cars win for the first time.

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Best Large Car over $60,000

  1. Lexus GS350 F Sport
  2. Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid
  3. Lexus GS 450h Sport Luxury

Where the rubber hits the road at the premium end of the large car segment, the Lexus GS350 F Sport has fought off the European brigade to claim consecutive Australia’s Best Cars titles.

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Best Sports Car under $50,000

  1. Volkswagen Golf GTI
  2. Ford Fiesta ST
  3. Ford Focus ST

Just when you think the current Golf can’t be bettered, Volkswagen goes and releases a new generation – number seven.

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Best Sports Car over $50,000

  1. BMW 1 Series M135i
  2. Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG
  3. Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport

Such is the competence of its design and function qualities and on the road prowess, that the M135i, metaphorically speaking, took the chequered flag after starting towards the back of the grid as an average to below-average value for money proposition.

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Best SUV under $45,000

  1. Subaru Forester 2.5i
  2. Kia Sportage Platinum
  3. Mazda CX-5 Sport Maxx 4x4

In 2000, the Subaru Forester won the Best Recreational Vehicle category in our Australia’s Best Cars awards and went on to take honours again in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

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Best SUV $45,000 - $65,000

  1. Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander AWD
  2. Kia Sorento Platinum
  3. Ford Territory TX 2WDm

The key to Santa Fe’s appeal is that it is consistently good in almost every aspect of the buying process, long-term ownership and general driving ability. It’s an attractively styled, practical medium-size seven-seat SUV that is well suited to normal family duties.

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Luxury SUV over $65,000

  1. Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI
  2. Mercedes-Benz ML 350CDI Bluetec
  3. Range Rover Sport TDV6

Volkswagen has done it again, with the Touareg V6 TDI eclipsing the field.

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All Terrain 4WD

  1. Land Rover Discovery4 TDV6
  2. Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo dsI
  3. Toyota Landcruiser Prado GXL

 Despite heightened competition, Land Rover’s Discovery took home an Australia’s Best Cars trophy for a record ninth time in 2013.

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People Movers

  1. Hyundai iMax
  2. Toyota Prius V
  3. Peugeot 5008 Active

No winner has been named in the People Mover category in 2013. The iMax topped the score sheet, but is unable to be crowned the winner because its safety rating is below what’s expected from Australia’s Best Cars.

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Best 4X4 Dual Cab Utes

  1. Ford Ranger XL
  2. Mazda BT-50 XTR
  3. VW Amarok Highline TDi 420

In planning its new Ranger, Ford took the opportunity to study its dual cab competitors in such things as shifting the center pillar position for improved vision and rear seat space, opening the rear doors wider for access, and incorporating multiple storage compartments.

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