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2016 Chevrolet Volt crowed EcoloDriver Car of the Year

As we head into 2016, it’s time to take a look back on the cars and trucks that most impressed us in 2015.

The year that just closed was full of choice, and consumers that took the time to do their research had numerous choices at their disposition.

Chevrolet-Volt-2016-20

As is often the case, the choice wasn’t easy but EcoloDriver’s Car of the Year managed to rinvent itself, while at the same time keeping the properties that made it so attractive when the original model arrived in 2010. Still, the 2015 Chevrolet Volt is better on almost every level.

If the electric car segment wants to grow, it need not look any further than that which is found at the top of our list this year. Even if it is getting easier to develop EVs thanks to the availability of more EV tech as well as the increased growth of the Canadian EV charging network, there are still some restrictions that make EVs tough for a large part of the populace.

Restrictions remain, and while you can go almost anywhere with your EV, there are still concessions to be made. For some, those are easy to take. For others, that’s simply not the case and the sales figures prove it.

With our 2016 Car of the Year, however, there are no concessions required. Being a range-extended electric vehicle, owners can do most of their daily tasks without consuming a single drop of gas. If longer trips are in order, then that’s OK, too, and without even having to find a charge point thanks to the car’s range-extending gas engine.

We strongly believe that if the EV craze is to continue moving forward, then the range-extended route taken by the Volt is going to be the way to go. If you already own a full-EV, then you may not agree. You’d be in the minority, however.

Winner: 2016 Chevrolet Volt

With an enlarged full-EV model (it now sits at 85 km), the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will be able to cover the majority of your daily tasks without consuming a single drop of gas. Even once the EV battery is drained, you’ll still see an impressive fuel economy of 5.6L/100 km.

Starting at $38,390 before freight and PDI, the 2016 Volt qualifies for an $8,000 rebate off the purchase price in the Province of Quebec. Put together, it all points to a vehicle that, while not accessible to all budgets, still has a fairly reasonable price when you compare it with stuff like the BMW i3 or Tesla Model S, or even Hybrid versions of the Honda Accord or Hyundai Sonata.

Interior improvements such as a more ergonomic centre console add to the attraction. It’s primary shortcoming has to be the somewhat cramped rear seats, but you can fit five passengers back there this time around.

Finalist: 2016 Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic Sedan Touring

The 10th Generation Honda Civic is the best one we’ve seen yet, which will likely enable it to maintain its title of bestselling passenger car in Canada, a title it’s held for 16 years.

The base 2.0L motor now makes more power—it jumps from 143 hp to 158—but the fuel economy has also improved, with the 2016 Honda Civic returning a claimed 6.9L/100 km when using the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Further, an all-new, turbocharged motor that makes 174 hp does even better in the fuel economy department, returning an impressive 6.7L/100 km.

On top of all that, the new Civic is more spacious and safer. It’s only real shortcoming? The all-touch centre stack carried over from last year is not the most responsive in the biz, although it didn’t hurt the 2015 model’s popularity.

Biggest disappointment: Tesla Model X

2016-Tesla-Model-X-side-motion-view

We wanted to like the Model X. We really did. In fact, we assumed we would; after all, it’s the world’s first all-EV SUV available at retail, and the third model from Tesla, whose cars are generally well-received.

There’s the issue of price; yes, it’s a niche product but Tesla’s asking you to part with your funds for a car that one be available until next summer, since Tesla’s is having production issues.

The problems will probably iron themselves pout over time, but the addition of superfluous features like rear gullwing-style doors and a filtration system that can withstand some biological weapons seems strange. Yes, it’s amazing to think about what the filtration system can do in normal (or even LA smog-like) conditions if it can survive a biological attack, but why not market it that way? Why talk about it as if you’ll only need this car to prep for an impending zombie apocalypse?

And why those doors? Why not a traditional opening? Is it not enough that you have the world’s first all-EV SUV? Do you really have to further differentiate yourself? Those doors will surely cost a fortune to repair, they’ll be useless when covered in snow in the winter, and will surely have the owner cursing himself whenever they’ve parked between two cars at the mall, and they have to get a kid out of the middle seat.

Honurable mention

BMW i3

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“Unique” is the word of the day for the i3, which manages to fill a void between the all-conquering Tesla Model S and the Ford Focus EVs, Nisan Leafs and Chevrolet Spark EVs of the world.

BMW i8

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Powerful when you want it to be and comfortable if necessary, the i8 can even venture outside in the winter thanks to its AWD. It can even do so in full-EV mode, and what a design!

Chevrolet Spark EV

The 2014 Chevy Spark EV's EPA estimated 82 miles of range and combined city/highway 119 MPGe, make it the most efficient retail EV. With a starting price of $19,995 minus the maximum Federal income tax incentive, the Spark EV provides a spirited driving experience thanks to the 400 lb-ft of torque produced by its electric motor.

As long as you’re willing to display the proper driving style, the Spark can travel a full 150 km on a single charge. An EV that merits consideration.

Tesla Model S P90D

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One of the biggest car stories of the year, the P90D can lay claim to being one of the world’s fastest cars, as well as the most economical thanks to 400 km of range. The Model S is already impressive in its basic form; the P90D takes that successful formula and cranks it up to 11.

Mazda CX-3

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Sporty in both the style and drive departments, the CX-3 is the sexiest compact crossover, by a country mile.

Honda HR-V

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With nice, easy and spacious cargo capacity, an economic motor and competitive pricing make for a competitive sales argument for the 2016 HR-V.

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid/Panamera S E-Hybrid

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Finally, Porsche is offering a plug-in hybrid. While the Porsches’ 22 km EV range may not seem spectacular, remember that the Panamera is the only car in its segment to have an EV mode of any kind, and all the Cayenne has as competition in the PHEV luxury SUV world is the Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

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In addition for 2016 being the first year for an all-new Sonata Hybrid, we get the bonus of a plug-in electric version good for a claimed 38 km of EV range.

Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid

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Another hybrid intermediate luxury SUV, the XC90 T8 Hybrid claims 40 km of EV range and after that, a 7.7L/100 km fuel economy figure when the gas engine is employed.

 

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