The Tesla Model Y is the 2022 News Corp Car of the Year.
Tesla’s all-electric SUV beat a highly competitive field led by Ford’s new Ranger ute.
Our team of experts road tested every new arrival this year, finding the eight best models to hit Aussie roads.
Award coincides with new government incentives for EV buyers
Full details of Car of the Year judging
The eight models were then tested on a mix of urban and country roads and then compared based on our criteria of value-for-money, performance, technology, safety and design.
Here’s why the Tesla won and the others didn’t.
Why it was here: The Nissan X-Trail has been a favourite of Australian families for years and the latest generation is sure to be no different. It brings excellent build quality, a top-notch cabin that is covered with high-quality materials and the flexibility to opt for a five or seven-seat layout. All this for less than $50,000 made it a worthy addition.
Why it didn’t win: The X-Trail’s sharp value is let down by an uninspiring drive. Its old school 2.5-litre petrol engine is off the pace for 2022, with fuel use of 7.4L/100km, more than most rivals.
Why it was here: There are few cars that can deliver the driving thrills 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 of a 2.4-litre making 174kW and 250Nm, rear-wheel drive layout and sub-1300kg weight delivers smiles for days.
Why it didn’t win: The best driving BRZ is arguably fitted with a manual transmission but that model goes without vital safety features such as auto emergency braking, which is unacceptable in 2022. It’s also thirsty, drinking 8.8L/100km.
Why it was here: Big, burly and rugged, the Ford Everest is equally adept at handling the daily school run as it is heading off road on family adventures.
Designed and engineered in Australia, the Everest shares its mechanical elements with the new Ford Ranger ute, but brings a touch more class to the drive experience and cabin feel to separate it from its utilitarian brethren.
Why it didn’t win: It’s expensive. We brought along the four-wheel drive Trend variant that is priced at about $71,000 drive-away. It uses a carry-over bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine that can feel unresponsive at times. It also has shortcomings in ride and handling. It’s the best family-focused seven-seat 4WD on sale but not the best car this year.
TOYOTA COROLLA CROSS
Why it was here: The Corolla Cross is the right size, shape and from a brand who’s name is synonymous with reliability in this country. The new compact SUV also brings fuel sipping hybrid tech that drops fuel use to an outstanding 4.3L/100km. It’s packed with active safety gear and its petrol-electric combo has a surprising amount of zip.
Why it didn’t win: The cheapest GX Hybrid we brought along had an enticing price tag of less than $40,000 drive-away, but it came with a spartan interior that felt underwhelming for a new car. An unexplained shuddering in the brake pedal at low speeds counted against it.
Why it was here: Kia hit it out of the park with its flagship electric car. It is good looking, is rammed with luxury features and hi-tech items. We tested the fully-loaded all-wheel drive GT-Line version that uses two potent electric motors to make a combined 239Nm and 605Nm. It can go from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds. A big battery provides 484km of range and its ride and handling are easily the best of the three electric car finalists.
Why it didn’t win: The top-spec version is the most desirable but its price at 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 it was here: This cheap and cheerful electric car is the surprise packet of 2022.
The Atto 3 is cheap by EV standards, priced at about $47,000 drive-away before state government incentives are included.
It has plenty of hi-tech features and the long-range version we had is good for 420km of driving. It’s pleasant to steer and has a roomy interior compared to its small exterior dimensions.
Why it didn’t win: Build quality is still not quite where it needs to be and an overly busy interior design might be too much for some.
The warranty causes some concern. The multimedia system is only covered for three years and 60,000km, while there are shorter warranties for shock absorbers, wheel bearings, bushings and vehicle lights.
A great first effort by BYD and one to look out for in the future.
Why it was here: Easily the best dual-cab ute on sale in Australia. It is packed with clever design elements such as an in-built side step to access the tray, a tailgate that doubles as a work bench with ruler measurements inscribed on it and spots for clamps to hold your timber. Throw in class-leading infotainment, interior quality unheard of in a ute and a bustling V6 turbodiesel engine that makes towing and load lugging a breeze.
Why it didn’t win: The Ford Ranger is a mighty machine, but utes are now masquerading as dual work and play vehicles and ultimately its shortcomings as a jack-of-all-trades and high price let it down.
The back seat is cramped and the tray means there is no convenient space for shopping and luggage. Without weight in the tray the Ranger’s ride is unsettled – great for a ute, but not up to scratch as the family car it is often used as.
TESLA MODEL Y
Why it won: The Tesla Model Y shows the benefits of electric cars more than any other EV. It’s fun to drive, combining brisk acceleration and sharp steering.
It has a very handy driving range of more than 450km and a cabin roomier than bigger petrol and diesel vehicles.
Throw in amazing tech such as 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 it wasn’t all perfect. The ride is a bit sharp compared to the Kia and the cabin can be boomy. It also has the shortest warranty of the bunch at just four years, but servicing is by far the cheapest.
Overall, though it is a highly impressive vehicle, it’s made more attractive by new laws passed this week that waive the FBT on electric vehicles for people leasing a car through salary sacrificing. It’s easy to see why they’ve sold more than 6500 in just a handful of months since launch.