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Family Choice Challenge Winners Announced

  • The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is the toast of Atlanta
  • Winner of GAAMA’s Top Family Choice
  • Other winners chosen for value, green, tech and luxury

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan has just won the Family Choice Challenge. This vehicle model is an all-new generation, evolving from what was already a good car into something with “handsome styling, a comfortable and spacious cabin, technology-rich features and strong overall value.”

So says the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association (GAAMA), the people who instigated this challenge and gave the new Genesis 31.2 out of a possible 35 points, outperforming 19 other candidates to take the title of Top Family Choice. GAAMA president, Nick Palermo, said the 2015 Genesis exceeded expectations and is attractive to families “looking for accessible luxury” and drivers who “want a family car but don’t want to sacrifice style and performance.”

“Finding a great family car is easy,” says GAAMA. Finding one that’s affordable is tougher, but the panel offers its Value Choice — the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta — as a vehicle answering to both descriptions. This compact sedan is made especially for American drivers in Chattanooga, Tenn. It’s larger than most of the competition and “neither looks nor feels cheap.” With “commendable” fuel consumption from its turbocharged engines, the 2014 Jetta landed 28 points, narrowly beating the 2014 Nissan Altima midsize sedan, which probably deserves an honorable mention.

The Green Choice is the 2015 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. While battery-only electric vehicles still induce range anxiety, the Fusion Energi midsize sedan can cover a total of 620 miles with a full tank of gas and a full charge of watts. And 21 of those miles can be accomplished in electric-vehicle mode, without exhaling a single emission. That’s good for families everywhere and especially so for owners of a Fusion Energi. Those numbers were enough to earn an overall best score of 27.1 points.

The 2015 Mazda6 i Grand Touring took the Technology Choice. It’s easy to see why: It brings advanced safety features such as intelligent cruise control and forward-collision warning down from the lofty heights of luxury cars to an affordable yet desirable midsize sedan. Factor in a regenerative braking system that converts deceleration energy into a way of saving two miles per gallon (the same way that hybrids do), and a score of 28.1 is a slam dunk.

Not every family is fortunate enough to buy a lovely big Audi, but some may be able to taste that famed 4-ringed ambiance in a smaller, cheaper package: the 2015 Audi A3 premium compact sedan. This is an all-new generation that replaces the outgoing hatchback model, and it’s already snagged GAAMA’s Luxury Choice for this year.

The A3 is much more upmarket. A superb optional navigation system uses Google Earth and Google Street View, just like its big A8 brother. The standard A3 offers leather seating, a 6-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharged engine that balances power with economy, all for a starting price of under $30,000. The GAAMA gang also likes the A3’s “exceptional interior build quality.”

In the second year of the Family Choice Challenge, this collection of Georgia-based automotive and lifestyle journalists shined their GAAMA rays on the 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan, naming it their Adventure Choice. The Odyssey swept up a total of 30 points in a field that contained many sport utility vehicles and crossovers.

Praising the minivan’s low floor — making it “easy for passengers young and old” to get in and out — plus the “comfortable and flexible seating,” the judges declared that the Odyssey “has everything families need to make their next trip an adventure.” They even found the driving dynamics to be “excellent.”

What it means to you: What works in Atlanta will probably work where you live, as well. These are all smart choices. Incidentally, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis has also just been named “Car of Texas” by the Texas Auto Writers Association.

Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More about Colin Ryan

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