The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada is revamping their Canadian Car and Utility of the Year award process. The changes affect how the testing is done, how the votes are scored, and even what vehicles are eligible, in order to "make the program more efficient and more relevant for Canadian consumers."

The biggest changes cover what cars are eligible and when and how they will be scored.

In prior years, in order for a car to be eligible, it had to be new or revised plus the automaker had to supply three identical models to appear at AJAC's yearly Testfest test event. All scores were based on drives conducted during the testing event.

Automakers also had to pay a fee to help cover the testing and the vehicles had to be available for sale to the public prior to December 1 of that year. The requirements lead to some notable cars being omitted from testing, like the 2017 Honda Civic hatch that arrived too late for the test, but before the December deadline.

Now testing will be more simple. First, there is no more test fee for automakers (although they will still have to be AJAC members). They also can send just one model to Testfest, or even none at all. That's because the judging will now be a full year process. Member journalists will be able to vote based on their regular test drives, instead of basing it solely on shorter drives at the event. Members can vote on every car they drive that year, as long as they drive at least five vehicles in their assigned category.

The scores are changing too. They will be altered to "reflect today’s changing needs of the new-car buyer." Subjective scores and opinion will have more weight, although objective data will still be taken into account.

There will still be a Testfest event, allowing AJAC members to drive and test vehicles, but it will be a shorter event, and won't be the sole source of Canadian Car and Utility of the Year voting. The voting deadline will be moved back to December 1, to allow journalists to drive cars that might not have been ready by Testfest in late October.

To reflect the issues with past eligibility, AJAC is opening up 2018 voting to all vehicles. As long as the manufacturer makes them available to test. Starting with 2019, eligible entries will be limited to "new and significantly redesigned models," but the previous category winner will be eligible as well. That way Canadian car buyers will know that a winning model is the best in the class, not just the best that was new that year.

AJAC will continue to reveal category finalists, then finally the Canadian Car and Utility of the Year awards will be revealed in February at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. Canadian Green Car and Green Utility of the year will see the same changes and will continue as well.