The Tesla Model Y is News Corp’s 2022 Car of the Year.
Tesla’s all-electric SUV beat out a highly competitive field led by Ford’s new Ranger ute.
Our team of experts have road tested all of this year’s additions and found the eight best models for touring the Australian roads.
Award coincides with new government incentives for EV buyers
Full Car of the Year Judging Details
The eight models were then tested on a mix of urban and rural roads and then compared against our criteria of value for money, performance, technology, safety and design.
Here’s why Tesla won and the others didn’t.
NISSAN X TRAIL
Why was he here: The Nissan X-Trail has been a favorite with Australian families for years and the latest generation is sure to be no different. It offers excellent build quality, a first-rate cabin covered in high-quality materials, and the flexibility to choose a five- or seven-seat layout. All of this for less than $50,000 made it a worthwhile addition.
Why you didn’t win: The great value of the X-Trail is let down by an uninspiring ride. Its old-school 2.5-litre petrol engine is off the beat for 2022, with fuel consumption of 7.4l/100km, more than most rivals.
Why was he here: There are few cars that can deliver the driving excitement of the BRZ for the same money. Priced at less than $50,000, the BRZ is a throwback to the glory days of Japanese sports cars. Its recipe for a 2.4-litre making 174kW and 250Nm, rear-wheel-drive layout and weighing less than 1,300kg delivers smiles for days.
Why you didn’t win: Arguably the best BRZ to drive is equipped with a manual transmission, but that model lacks vital safety features like automatic emergency braking, which is unacceptable in 2022. It’s also thirsty, drinking 8.8L/100km.
Why was he here: Big, beefy and robust, the Ford Everest is just as adept at handling the daily school run as it is at hitting the road on family adventures.
Designed and built in Australia, the Everest shares its mechanical elements with the new Ford Ranger ute, but adds a touch more class to the driving experience and cabin feel to set it apart from its utility brethren.
Why you didn’t win: It is expensive. We brought in the all-wheel-drive Trend variant that is priced at around $71,000 by car. It uses a carryover four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine that can seem unresponsive at times. He also has gait and handling deficiencies. It’s the best family-focused seven-seat 4WD on sale, but not the best car this year.
TOYOTA COROLLA CROSS
Why was he here: The Corolla Cross is just the right size and shape, and it’s from a brand whose name is synonymous with reliability in this country. The new compact SUV also features fuel-efficient hybrid technology that reduces fuel consumption to an impressive 4.3 l/100 km. It’s packed with active safety equipment and its gasoline-electric combo has a surprising amount of zip.
Why you didn’t win: The cheapest GX Hybrid we brought over was attractively priced at under $40,000, but it came with a spartan interior that felt underwhelming for a new car. An inexplicable shudder in the brake pedal at low speeds counted against him.
Why was he here: Kia knocked it out of the park with its flagship electric car. It’s attractive, packed with luxury features and high-tech elements. We tested the fully loaded all-wheel drive GT-Line version that uses two powerful electric motors to generate a combined 239Nm and 605Nm. It can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds. A big battery provides 300 miles of range, and its ride and handling are easily the best of the three electric car finalists.
Why you didn’t win: The top-spec version is the most desirable, but its price of more than $95,000 is about $20,000 more than the Tesla. And good luck buying one, as supply is extremely limited. Dealers are selling “demo” models for much more.
BYD ATTO 3
Why was he here: This cheap and cheerful electric car is the surprise package of 2022.
The Atto 3 is cheap by EV standards, coming in at around $47,000 before state government incentives are factored in.
It has a lot of high tech features and the long range version we had is good for 420km of driving. It is pleasant to drive and has a roomy interior compared to its small exterior dimensions.
Why you didn’t win: Build quality is still not where it needs to be and an overly ornate interior design may be too much for some.
The warranty causes some concern. The multimedia system is only covered for three years and 60,000 km, while there are shorter warranties for the vehicle’s shock absorbers, wheel bearings, bushings and lights.
A great first effort from BYD and one to keep an eye on in the future.
Why was he here: Easily the best double cab utility vehicle for sale in Australia. It’s packed with clever design elements, like a built-in side step for tray access, a rear door that doubles as a workbench with ruler measurements inscribed, and places for clamps to hold down the wood. Add in class-leading infotainment, interior quality unmatched in a ute, and a boisterous V6 turbodiesel engine that makes towing and hauling a breeze.
Why you didn’t win: The Ford Ranger is a powerful machine, but utility vehicles are now masquerading as dual work/play vehicles, and ultimately its shortcomings as an off-roader and high price tag let it down.
The back seat is cramped and the tray means there’s no convenient space for groceries and luggage. With no weight on the tray, the Ranger’s ride is wonky: great for a ute, but not quite up to the often-used family car.
TESLA MODEL Y
Why he won: The Tesla Model Y shows the benefits of electric cars more than any other EV. It’s fun to drive, combining spirited acceleration and precise steering.
It has a very practical driving range of more than 450km and a more spacious cabin than larger petrol and diesel vehicles.
Add amazing technology like Netflix and Disney+ for when you’re stationary, the most comprehensive fast-charging network in the country, and one of the best stereos in any car on sale.
But not everything was perfect. The ride is a bit rough compared to the Kia and the cabin can be rumbling. It also has the shortest warranty of the bunch at just four years, but the service is by far the cheapest.
Overall, while it’s a very impressive vehicle, it’s made more appealing by new laws passed this week that exempt EV FBT for people who lease a car at the sacrifice of wages. It’s easy to see why they’ve sold over 6,500 in just a few months since launch.
Originally published as 2022 Car of the Year Named