All around the world, there are several organizations of automotive journalists that hold their own version of COTY (Car of the Year) awards, but Japan's -without a doubt- is one of the most recognized.
Recently, the selection committee of Japan Car of the Year composed of the country's top automotive journalists announced the final results of their tally, and have awarded the fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 as their top automobile.
According to JCOTY, they awarded the RAV4 because the SUV “responded to all needs at a high level”. They liked the 3 types of all-wheel drive system being offered in the RAV4, and they also cited the advantages of the new platform used by Toyota, the TNGA, as being both enjoyable and comfortable. Pricing and luggage space were also highly rated, along with the Japan-exclusive data communication module.
The RAV4 is the 40th vehicle to take the title as Japan's Car of the Year, succeeding the Volvo XC60 from 2018-2019. This is Toyota's first top JCOTY win since JCOTY 2009-2010 with the Toyota Prius. Moreover, the RAV4 beat out the Mazda's new Axela (aka Mazda3), the second placer in the JCOTY rankings.
Many had expected the Mazda3 to take the win as their new generation vehicles have had a very successful history of wins at JCOTY in the last decade such as the Mazda CX-5 in 2012-2013, the Mazda2 in 2014-2015, as the MX-5 in 2015-2016. But in this year's selection, the RAV4 beat the new Mazda3 by a big margin.
It wasn't all about the RAV4 though, as JCOTY also awarded the top import, which in their assessment is the BMW 3 Series sedan. The committee liked how the new 7th generation model maintained the personality of the sports sedan, and improved on the driving feel both in terms of comfort and dynamics.
JCOTY also announced that the Nissan Skyline won their Innovation Category for its many technological advancements such as ProPilot 2.0, while the new generation Jeep Wrangler won the Emotional Category to cars with the best drive feel and design. The closely related Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi eK series of vehicles won the category for small mobility.