“Don’t worry, everyone’s a winner.” There are few utterances that get my eyes rolling more than that little fence-sitter.
Give me a bloody break. Everyone is not a winner.

What that neo-liberal, crowd-pleasing claptrap fails to recognise is one of the fundamental human characteristics that has propelled us from a bunch of hairy knuckle-draggers to planning a mission to Mars.

Competition – that drive to be better than the next person – has set the benchmarks ever higher and driven us ever forward. Provided the participants have all been given an equal and fair shot, the winners should be acknowledged and celebrated.

And, just as some people are better at things than others, so too are some cars better than others, which is what 23 pages of this issue are all about. Our annual Top 12 Best Buys awards acknowledge what we believe to be the best vehicles – both new and used – in 12 key market segments, along with 10 special awards that recognise significant industry achievements in the last 12 months.

The “everyone’s a winner” premise also lacks conviction. The proclaimer has not had the courage to make a call and deal with the fallout from those who leave disappointed. It would be easy if the decision was based on pure numbers, but the reality is that there is no absolute empirical evidence that points to an unequivocal winner in each of the Top 12 awards.

It’s no thumb suck, either. Instead, the nine members of the CAR editorial team, who drive and test more than 100 new cars each year (and boast a century’s worth of collective experience), make a call on what we believe to be the category winners. We take a number of factors into account – from price to safety and performance – weight them appropriately for each category and then we debate, discuss and ultimately vote. The decisions are not influenced by the whims of celebrity judges, nor commercial concerns, but taken by nine people who take their jobs seriously. No doubt, you’re unlikely to agree with every winner we have chosen, but we have made our call and, as ever, welcome your feedback!

- Steve Smith -