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acceleration, braking and cargo space, the Elantra Sport posted better fuel efficiency numbers. A significantly lower MSRP ($20,000plus) also worked to its advantage.
In addition to impressive performance testing scores, the Focus RS also produced the highest throttle response, engine refinement and drivetrain results. It clearly has the strongest performance pedigree of the three, yet it still retains some practicality thanks to its all-wheel drive platform and cavernous amounts of cargo space.
Like the Focus RS, the Fiat 124 Spider scored well in performance testing, but gave ground in areas of practicality such as occupant environment (roominess, comfort, access, etc.) and available cargo space. Not a surprising result, given that it is a convertible – the trade-offs are obvious.
It must be noted that these three are unlikely to be crossshopped due to their respective body style, performance and pricing differences, so these results should be taken with a grain of salt.
The presence of the Chrysler Pacifica in the Large Utility category seems a bit strange at first blush, but when one considers that both minvans and SUVS were conceived with a similar audience in mind – families with lots of stuff – grouping it in a category with two traditional SUVS does make some sense. It is quite conceivable that the Pacifica will be cross-shopped with SUVS.
In terms of this category, the Pacifica edged out the Mazda CX-9 to win the category by the smallest of margins – a single point.
The Pacifica's styling didn't impress AJAC voters, in the main, but its occupant environment scores (driver position, ergonomics, visibility, comfort, access, etc.) were the highest of the three by a wide margin.
It was level with the others in vehicle dynamics (steering, braking, handling) but posted the highest ride comfort score which, when combined with its other strengths (including cargo capacity), was enough to offset its lack of off-road capability.
The Mazda CX-9 is a solid all-around performer. It produced the highest styling scores and recorded consistent numbers just about everywhere else, including vehicle dynamics and performance testing. The problem for CX-9 was it didn't really outshine the competition in any one area, which was enough to relegate it to second place.
At the risk of oversimplification, the GMC Acadia was a third-place vehicle in most categories, hence its placing. It posted the best off-road score and held its own in vehicle dynamics and performance testing, but it was also had the highest average fuel consumption figure (11.6 L/100 km) and the biggest price tag.