The new Ford Mondeo has won the popular mid-size car category (over $28,000) in Australia's Best Cars Awards.
The awards are judged and presented by the Australian Automobile Association and Australia's auto clubs - NRMA Motoring & Services, RACV, RACQ, RAASA, RACWA, RACT and AANT.
AAA Executive Director, Mike Harris, said Australia's Best Cars Awards judged vehicles in 12 categories and consumer feedback was an important component. This year more than 250 vehicles were assessed before a short list of 36 finalists was drawn.
"These awards are not about the automotive industry - they are about the consumer," Mr Harris said.
"AAA and Australia's auto clubs represent more than 6.5 million Members and these awards provide them - and all motorists - with an independent program that recognises vehicles for the safety, comfort, value for money and other important features they provide drivers and passengers."
Chief Judge, Ernest Litera, acknowledged the improvements in cars available on the local market each year and said the Ford Mondeo was a particularly good example of this.
"While the Mondeo name will be familiar to many people, the all-new model comes with class-winning build, comfort and safety features. It has beaten well-established names like the Volkswagen Jetta and Honda Euro," said Mr Litera.
The recreational four-wheel drive category was also strongly contested, with Nissan's popular X-Trail narrowly beating the Honda CR-V and new Toyota Kluger for line honours.
"These manufacturers are acting on what consumers want from their recreational vehicles and have really lifted the bar in this class," he said.
Toyota's Aurion AT-X continued its dominance in the best large car category, by delivering everything consumers now expect, including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and six airbags.
"It's a terrific well-rounded package of technology and refinement. Toyota has produced a big six that has continued to outstrip traditional rivals in the Australian market."
The Polo TDI was judged Australia's best small car. "Diesel passenger cars continue to grow steadily in popularity, with one of Europe's leading brands, Volkswagen, demonstrating that an entry-level vehicle such as Polo can offer economy, durability and real substance," Mr Litera said.
The Honda Odyssey won the best people mover category for the fourth year running. "It excelled in serving the purpose that it was built for. This is a dedicated design that brings car-like ride and handling and a level of engineering sophistication to the category."
Mr Litera said Honda also won the best mid-size category (under $28,000) with the Civic, "a vehicle which combines top quality engineering and value for money."
The winners of the two sports car categories were the all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf R32 and the new BMW M3. "The Golf created the 'hot hatch' class three decades ago and the R32 is the ultimate incarnation of this philosophy, combining blistering performance with high levels of safety and comfort."
"The BMW M3 is the ultimate example of precision and balance. This car has relegated some legendary machines to secondary status thanks to its technologically advanced four litre V8 and the best electronically managed selectable drive system. The M3 is simply an amazing machine to drive.
"Lexus has once again taken home awards for the best prestige and luxury categories, with the IS250 and GS450h. Consumers who purchase vehicles in these categories want high levels of safety, build quality and drive comfort. The GS450h achieves the elusive 10 in all of these areas. It also offers a glimpse into the future with its innovative hybrid technology," he said.
The Land Rover Discovery 3 SE TDV6 won the best all-terrain 4WD category. "This vehicle has come up trumps for the third time running, and is clearly at the high-quality end of the all-terrain 4WD market.
"BMW's state of the art X5 diesel stole the crown from the Lexus RX350 to become this year's best luxury 4WD. While this vehicle has the ability to be a serious off-roader, it is more likely to be appreciated for its luxurious appointments, precision handling and economy," said Mr Litera.
2007 Australia's Best Cars Winners and Finalists
Note: Finalists are listed in points order under each category winner.
Best Small Car: Volkswagen Polo TDI ($22,990) Read the car review
2. Mazda2 Neo 1.5 ($16,500)
3. Toyota Yaris YRS 1.5 ($16,990)
Best Mid-size Car under $28,000: Honda Civic VTi 1.8 ($21,490) Read the car review
2. Hyundai i30 CRDi 1.6, ($21,490)
3. Toyota Corolla Ascent 1.8 ($20,990)
Best Mid-size Car over $28,000: Ford Mondeo TDCi 5-door 2.0 diesel ($37,990) Read the car review
2. Volkswagen Jetta TDI ($37,790)
3. Honda Accord Euro Luxury 2.4 ($42,990)
Best Large Car: Toyota Aurion AT-X 3.5 ($34,990) Read the car review
2. Mitsubishi 380 ES 3.8 ($30,990)
3. Holden Commodore Omega 3.6 ($34,990)
Best People Mover: Honda Odyssey Luxury 2.4 ($45,790)
2. Toyota Kluger KX-R, 2WD, 7 seat, 3.5 ($42,490)
3. Mitsubishi Grandis VRX 2.4 ($43,000)
Best Sports Car: Volkswagen Golf R32 3.2 DSG ($58,790)
2. Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 manual ($39,990)
3. Subaru Impreza WRX 2.5 manual ($39,990)
Best Luxury Sports Car: BMW M3 Coupe 4.0 V8 ($156,000) Read the car review
2. Audi RS 4 Quattro 4-door 4.2 ($164,500)
3. BMW 335i Coupe 3.0 ($108,900)
Best Prestige Car: Lexus IS250 2.5 ($56,990) Read the car review
2. Subaru Liberty 3.0R ($50,990)
3. Honda Legend 3.5 ($74,500)
Best Luxury Car: Lexus GS450h 3.5 CVT ($121,964)
2. Audi A6 TDI Quattro 3.0 auto ($99,900)
3. Lexus LS 460 4.6 auto ($184,874)
Best Recreational Four-Wheel Drive: Nissan X-Trail ST 2.5 ($33,990) Read the car review
2. Honda CR-V 2.4 ($33,990)
3. Toyota Kluger KX-R, AWD 3.5 ($44,490)
Best Luxury Four-Wheel Drive: BMW X5 Diesel 3.0 auto ($86,800) Read the car review
2. Lexus RX400h 3.3 CVT ($94,074)
3. Lexus RX350 Sports Luxury 3.5 auto ($85,374)
Best All-Terrain Four-Wheel Drive: Land Rover Discovery 3 SE TDV6 ($74,990) Read the car review
2. Mitsubishi Pajero VRX CDi 3.2 ($59,590)
3. Toyota Prado GXL 3.0 Diesel ($57,790)