2022 ProductReview.com.au Car of the Year Awards
Car of the Year - 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5
This is our first-ever ProductReview.com.au Car of the Year awards, and it seemed only fitting to award this title to a car that’s at the forefront of the next generation of EV development.
Tesla impressed us in the year prior, but with more competitors emerging, the IONIQ 5 seems to understand what sort of car appeals to Australian buyers the most.
I was most impressed with Hyundai’s execution of the IONIQ 5’s design from inception through to production. It’s a showstopper both inside and out. It’s a pleasant, light filled, minimalist interior that appears to primarily be focused on keeping you calm and relaxed while driving.
Technology was the second most impressive thing here. Whether it’s the exterior lighting, impressive safety features or 800V battery architecture - the IONIQ 5 feels like a next-generation EV.
It’s a car from the future that’s easy to live with.
Although, to be competitive next year, these cars need a major boost in charging infrastructure, otherwise the Tesla Model Y might just take this title.
The Kia EV6 became available to us just before I awarded Car of the Year to the IONIQ 5. However, at a near $10,000 difference between the Hyundai IONIQ 5 AWD and the more expensive Kia EV6 AWD I didn’t feel like that price difference was completely justified.
It’s a matter of preference between the two cars' designs and features. If you opt for the IONIQ 5, you can put that extra cash saved towards upgrading your home charging set-up and for additional charging cables.
Having heard feedback from our audience, that $10,000 difference does cement my decision to award the IONIQ 5 with ProductReview.com.au’s Car of the Year.
Best Ute - Isuzu Ute D-MAX
Isuzu turned up the heat with their latest range of D-MAXs and MU-Xs. A revised engine, interior, chassis and styling all have contributed to the sales success seen by Isuzu Utes over the past year.
I was impressed with the X-Terrain trim of the D-MAX when I first tested the range. And, after sampling the rest of the models Isuzu has to offer, it’s easy to see why the new D-MAX deserves ProductReview.com.au’s Ute of the Year.
The D-MAX’s reliable and powerful turbocharged diesel motor establishes a strong base for this ute to make a case for itself to win this award. You can have the best of both worlds too, for work you have a capable payload and towing capacity, and off-road manners to match.
The interior design makes the D-MAX feel like it belongs in 2022, with a larger centre display with wireless Apple CarPlay and genius storage solutions splashed throughout the cabin.
If the D-MAX is your only car, safety features like rear cross traffic alerts, reversing camera, radar cruise control and active lane keep assist make driving a larger car like this just that much easier.
In addition, Isuzu released the LS-U+ trim of the D-MAX as a direct response to introduce a ute model based on customer and media feedback. A trait we’d love to see more of from other manufacturers. For it’s many talents as a work ute and an off-road focused 4x4, the D-MAX takes home ProductReview.com.au’s Ute of the Year award.
Best Family Car - Kia Sportage
Affordable family cars usually are the butt of the mid-life crisis joke. You have to hand in the keys to your exciting car, for a mundane and practical vehicle.
That’s until Kia decided to take a leap over the snail paced design innovations being made by its competitors.
The Kia Sportage GT-Line impressed me with its human-centric interior design, generous storage capacity and punchy diesel engine.
Instantly you’re drawn to the dual 12.3-inch displays angled towards the driver. And once you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, there isn’t a button or control out of place. It feels as if this interior has been made for a human being, and not just designed to look good. Mix in some premium materials, and it’ll be hard to pick this over other similarly priced cars.
We get the long-wheel base version of the Sportage in Australia, so that means more room in the second row. Making it a logical choice for growing families.
Pair all of this with a 7-year/Unlimited kilometre warranty, and you can see why the Sportage is a popular choice amongst reviewers and Australian families.
And for those reasons, that’s why the Kia Sportage is ProductReview.com.au’s Family Car of the Year.
Best Performance Car - Hyundai Kona N
I had my fair share of fast cars over the past year, but what impressed me the most was the Hyundai Kona N. It's a controversial choice amongst strong contenders like the Subaru BRZ and the Hyundai i20N, but hear me out.
A lot of Aussie buyers gravitate towards fast-SUVs. Albeit this is technically a large hatchback thanks to it having less boot space than the i30N.
It’s a performance SUV that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, packed with performance technology from Hyundai’s N division. There are meaningful structural upgrades, proper go-fast bits like larger brakes, stickier tyres and an angry 206kW turbocharged four cylinder under the bonnet.
Not to mention the ridiculous sound and pace this thing has. Add in creature comforts like heated seats for four, a heads up display and radar cruise control and you have the hot hatch for people who don’t like hot hatches. Not to mention, the adjustable suspension and drive-modes allow you to set-up the Kona N for track days and be comfortable and quiet for the school run.
If you ever wanted the hottest of hatches, but also need a higher-riding car for the family. The Kona N offers one of the most unique solutions to this age-old conundrum.
That’s why the Hyundai Kona N is ProductReview.com.au’s Performance Car of the Year.
Best Off-road Car - Land Rover Defender
To top off our awards, is the award for best Off-Roader. It only seems right to have this award go to the brand that’s been doing this the best for its entire existence.
Land Rover’s latest generation of Defender did cause some arguments over its design. However, once proven to be even more capable than its predecessor, critics were quickly silenced.
The Defender 110 is a lovely luxury off-roader that a lot of Australians have now called their new family car. It proved that you can have an SUV built for a growing family that doesn’t have to be focused on plush materials that aren’t exactly family friendly.
Rather, the Defender’s interior was certainly luxurious, but with off-road flair. It's designed to withstand encounters with the elements.
The interior design here was a knock out the park. Not just a copy and paste from other Land Rovers, but a complete redesign and one of the best fit-for-purpose interiors of 2022.
Capability off-road is almost unmatched, especially if you opt for the stubbier Defender 90. I’ve grown to appreciate and tolerate off-roading, but the new Defender taught me how to love leaving the tarmac.
For its ludacris ease of use in tough sections of dirt, and its broadened appeal as a luxurious family car, the Land Rover Defender wins ProductReview.com.au’s Off-Road Car of the Year.