The Australian car market is very competetive. Apart from the driver's licenses, CTP insurance and registration, selecting a vehicle to suit your requirements is easier said than done.
However, this process is about to get a lot simpler with the announcement of this year's finalists for Australia's Best Cars Awards. Across 15 categories, 45 finalists have been whittled down from a mammoth 220 contenders.
Whether you are interested in a micro car or a large four-wheel-drive, there is a category to tick all the boxes. In each of the 15 categories, three finalists have been named. On November 25, the winners will be announced at a national event in Brisbane.
How are the vehicles chosen?
Long hours and intense scrutiny led judges to the competition's current point. All judges have extensive experience in automotive engineering, vehicle testing and motoring advocacy and analysed each vehicle on a number of factors. This included value for money, design, function and on road performance.
Australia's Best Cars Chief Judge Mark Borlace explained the dedication to find the top vehicles in the country.
"The judges have spent all year reviewing the vehicles, including an intensive week of back-to-back testing, to come to the tough decision of agreeing on three finalists for each category," he said.
Mr Borlace said choosing a perfect make and model is tricky for consumers as it is a big purchase and there are so many options in the market at present.
"Purchasing a new car is a major decision and we hope our assessment will make it a little easier for the consumer," he stated.
"Our research into each car will give consumers all the information they need to compare against their personal criteria and make the process of buying a new car less intimidating."
2014 has seen many changes in the Australian automotive industry and as such, the categories have been amended to reflect this. The 'Micro car' category has been introduced for the first time while the 'People Movers' category has changed name to 'Family Wagons'.
Extensive sales of SUV and 4WD vehicles have also forced amendments to those particular categories as well. According to Australian Automobile Association Chief Executive Andrew McKellar, these categories highlight the preference changes in the car industry at present.
In addition, the finalists are widely spread on the basis of price. For example, the cheapest vehicle featured is the Mitsubishi Mirage ES at under $20,000 while the most expensive model is the Range Rover Sport at a price tag of more than $120,000.
It is important to note that the finalists are from a cross-section of powertrains as well, including hybrid energy, diesel and petrol.
Selection of finalists
Light Car - Honda Jazz VTI, Renault Clio Expression TCe 120, Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline.
Large Car < $70K - BMW 320i, Lexus IS300h, Mercedes Benz C200
Family Wagon - Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Honda Odyssey VTI-L, Kia Sorento Si 2WD
Small 2WD SUV - Ford Ecosport Trend, Nissan Juke ST, Nissan Qashqai
When purchasing a new vehicle is also important to do your own research into your chosen make and model. Make sure you read into its rating on the Green Vehicle Guide as well as insight from crash test authority The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).