Drive Car of the Year, class of 2022: Where are they now?

With the announcement of the 2023 Drive Car of the Year winners imminent, we look back on how our 2022 winners are tracking 12 months on. 

The Drive Car of the Year awards are an extensive and exhaustive search for the best of the automotive world that occupies the brains of the Drive team for the better part of six months each year.

We don't stop at the announcement of the winners, as planning for the next year kicks off almost immediately. New models and an ever-changing automotive landscape mean there's plenty to consider – and keep on top of – for the year ahead.

As we prepare to announce the 2023 Drive Car of the Year winners, we thought it was timely to look back at the Class of 2022 to see how they’ve performed since taking their titles. 

They grow up so fast. 


After winning both the Medium SUV category and the overall 2022 Drive Car of the Year title for its benchmark-setting safety, practicality, plush cabins and efficient powertrains, the new-generation Kia Sportage continued to climb the sales ladder. 

From 2021 to 2022, the Sportage saw a 136 per cent increase in overall sales. 

Incidentally, shortly after its Drive Car of the Year win was announced, there was an 18 per cent rise in monthly Sportage sales. You’re welcome, Kia. 

The model had a few more wins in September 2022 when Drive revealed the results of its Medium SUV Megatest, in which the Sportage jointly claimed first place with the Hyundai Tucson in the ownership, safety, and driving categories! 

While it was a winner in our eyes, the Sportage didn’t quite top the 2022 sales stakes – outpaced by the freshly updated Mitsubishi Outlander, the Mazda CX-5 and the perpetual category leader, the Toyota RAV4. 

However, its fortunes are likely to continue to improve with reports Kia Australia is likely to greenlight a Sportage hybrid for a local launch in late 2023. 


Last year was a rough time to be a hot hatch, with several noteworthy exits from the segment, including both the Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST.

The i30 was Hyundai’s best-selling model for 2022 and its hot hatch iteration – complete with rapid-fire eight-speed auto and addictive exhaust note – beat out both the latest version of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Hyundai i20 N to claim the title of best hot hatch for 2022.

In facelifted form, it delivered next-level performance on and off the testing track. 

Sadly, it seems possible the i30 N hatch could meet a similar end to its axed rivals, with reports the hatchback range may not be replaced once its current generation reaches the end of the road, although the sedan range will likely live on. 

That's clearly not because of its abilities – the i30N has been a huge critical success for Hyundai – but more a reflection of the world's bottomless appetite for SUVs and growing hunger for EVs. Evolution can be cruel sometimes...

BEST SMALL CAR: Volkswagen Golf

In a market dominated by SUVs, the Volkswagen Golf managed to maintain a foothold despite its diminutive size, winning our Best Small Car title for 2022. 

The all-new Golf Mk8 generation ushered in some substantial price hikes, but that did little to dull buyer demand for the hatch, which ranked as Volkswagen’s fifth best-selling car in 2022. 

Unfortunately, Volkswagen Golf deliveries are due to drop dramatically in the early part of 2023 as factory problems in Germany impact the long-time hatchback favourite.

In 2023, the Golf celebrates 49 years on sale around the world, no doubt setting up for a big celebration next year as a landmark car and well-loved icon for the Volkswagen brand. 


The electric car market is expanding rapidly – even at the top end. When we awarded the Taycan RWD top prize for electric cars over the $100,000 mark, it had only a handful of rivals.

In the ensuing year, however, we saw the arrival of models like the BMW iX and i7, Audi E-Tron GT, Mercedes-AMG EQS53 and Genesis Electrified GV70 and G80, to name a few.

For what it’s worth, the Taycan range has also expanded with the addition of both the mid-spec GTS grade and entry-level RWD variant, bringing the total number of Taycan options available to eight when you include the wagon-styled Cross Turismo variants. 

What’s more, an even faster, track-focused Taycan GT variant has been spotted testing on the Nurburgring. Have mercy. 


During Drive Car of the Year testing, the distinctive Ioniq 5 medium SUV wowed the judges and well and truly shook off Hyundai’s reputation as a budget brand. 

Unfortunately, its success among Australian buyers was potentially limited by the launch of a daunting rival in June 2022 – the Tesla Model Y.

Tesla’s electric SUV went on to absolutely dominate electric car sales in Australia for 2022, second only to its sedan sibling, the Model 3. 

That doesn’t mean the Ioniq 5 wasn’t a smash hit with Australians – all eight limited allocations quickly snapped up by local buyers. With Ioniq 5 supply heavily constrained, we have no doubt Hyundai could have easily tallied more sales without those restrictions.

Happily, Hyundai announced a new batch of 250 Ioniq 5s would land in mid-January – the largest allocation since its launch. 

Better still, all Ioniq 5 variants gained a bigger battery in late 2022, plus a new flagship Epiq variant joined the range. 


One of the original ‘super utes’, the Ford Ranger Raptor felt like it was in a “class of its own” during 2022 Drive Car of the Year testing. 

Then, of course, a new-generation Ranger landed in showrooms, with a new Raptor variant following shortly after in July 2022.

Naturally, we did the only logical thing you can do with a new-gen Raptor: send our Off-Road Editor Sam Purcell to jump it on an off-road track and report back.

His verdict was definitive: “I can say without equivocation that this new Raptor lands even better than the old one.”

Almost immediately after its launch, buyers lined up to get their hands on the twin-turbocharged, V6-powered Raptor and wait times blew out to a year – just in time for Ford to announce a price rise


Not only was the Skoda Kamiq our top pick for the Best Small SUV category in the 2022 Drive Car of the Year awards, it was Skoda’s best-selling model in 2022.

The Kamiq outperformed Skoda’s other SUV models – the Kodiaq and Karoq, recording 1633 sales in 2022, which actually represented a 25 per cent fall on the year prior, an unfortunate side-effect of industry-wide supply shortages last year. 

During 2022, the Kamiq recovered from supply constraints and the entry-level 85TSI model returned to showrooms after a lengthy hiatus, albeit with a higher price – up $7000 on its previous sticker price. 

A manual transmission option was axed across the range "in response to overwhelming customer preference", leaving a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in its place. 

BEST LARGE SUV: Toyota Kluger

We didn’t envy Toyota when it came to revising the ever-popular Kluger, but somehow the all-new model took a great product and made it even better.

One major change was the addition of a hybrid powertrain, giving shoppers yet another way to enjoy Toyota’s proven hybrid technology. 

In its sales category – Large SUVs under $70,000 – the Kluger was only bested by one other car: its top-selling sibling, the Toyota Prado. 

In January 2023, an updated Kluger landed in showrooms, with a new turbocharged petrol engine replacing the 3.5-litre V6 offering, alongside the continuing hybrid range. 


When awarding the Jaguar F-Pace the title of Best Medium Luxury SUV, judges were impressed by its blend of “comfort and practicality, sporting performance, impressive technology and even solid value”.

Despite only selling 316 units in 2022, it was still Jaguar’s best-performing nameplate.

The range will be revised again for the 2023 model year, gaining wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa voice assistant technology and a new, blacked-out 400 Sport model. 

Of course, prices have risen to match – and the cost of entry is now $82,200 before on-road costs. 


Despite being the oldest of the four Large Off-Road SUV finalists, the Ford Everest won favour with judges for providing “a near-perfect blend of on- and off-road performance”.

Shortly after Drive Car of the Year winners were announced, Ford debuted the next-gen Everest to great fanfare – adding new safety equipment, more technology and an available V6 diesel powertrain. 

In 2022 sales, the Everest fell short of equalling the success of its ute counterpart, the Ranger, but still shifted more than 10,000 units. 

In November 2022, Drive reported wait times for the Ford Everest V6 had blown out to about 12 months, with dealer deliveries now expected in the fourth quarter of 2023. 

Thankfully, more affordable variants fitted with a 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder engine remain readily available. 

BEST UPPER LARGE SUV: Land Rover Defender

The hotly anticipated new Defender managed to beat rivals – and long-running mainstays – the Toyota LandCruiser and the Nissan Patrol to claim the Best Upper Large SUV title.

Drive Car of the Year judges deemed the Defender “the quintessential Land Rover” and buyers agreed, snapping up the all-new off-roader in droves.

The iconic nameplate also surged ahead of its Land Rover stablemates, including the Range Rover Sport, to be the brand’s best-seller for 2022. 

And just in case the existing 90 and 110 body styles weren’t enough to appease buyers of all tastes, an eight-seat 130 variant joined the expansive Defender range in mid-2022.


Volvo’s versatile small SUV claimed its category win for the second year running in 2022 thanks to its “ideal combination of style and substance”. 

In mid-2022, a facelifted XC40 made its debut, revising its styling and swapping its previous petrol engines for mild-hybrid powertrains. 

This shift completed Volvo Australia's transition to a hybrid and electric-only range. 

Unsurprisingly, the XC40 also dominated its VFACTS sales category with 5119 annual sales, although the Audi Q3 was hot on its tail with 5048 sales. 

BEST DUAL-CAB UTE: Isuzu D-Max/Mazda BT-50

For the first time in the history of Drive’s Car of the Year awards, we had joint winners in the Best Dual-Cab Ute category.

As twins under the skin, the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 were nearly impossible to separate and proved excellent all-rounders.

Unsurprisingly, they also went on to claim joint second place in our ensuing Dual-Cab Ute Megatest, just behind the new-generation Ford Ranger. 

However, the D-Max fell in the sales stakes for 2022, down 3.1 per cent, while restricted supply saw sales of the BT-50 fall by 17.4 per cent.

That put the D-Max and BT-50 in fourth and fifth place, respectively, in utes sales for 2022. 


Another back-to-back category winner, the Ford Puma continued its winning streak in 2022 thanks to its excellent equipment and entertaining drive characteristics.

Despite our fanfare, the Puma was beaten in 2022 light SUV sales by more affordable rivals like the Hyundai Venue, Toyota Yaris Cross, Kia Stonic and Mazda CX-3.

Unfortunately, it was dealt another blow in late 2022, when it faced stricter NCAP testing and subsequently dropped from a five to a four-star safety rating. 

In March 2022, Ford announced it would introduce a battery-electric version of the Puma by 2024 – but plans for a local launch are unknown. 


“Everything from the way it looks in your driveway to the way the 5.0-litre V8 barks hungrily when you fire it up makes the hairs on your arm tingle,” judges said of our Best Sports Coupe winner for 2022, the Ford Mustang. 

Even the arrival of the all-new Nissan Z couldn’t slow the Mustang’s roll – it easily topped sales in its VFACTS segment for 2022.

In late 2022, Ford revealed the next-generation Mustang, which will be powered by either a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder or a 5.0-litre V8.

Pony fans will also receive an early Christmas gift in late 2023, when the new Mustang is due to land in local showrooms – ahead of schedule.


Bigger and better equipped than ever before, the fourth-generation Skoda Octavia (the third generation to be sold in Australia) proved itself to be a failsafe family hauler.

While it can't outpace the dominant Toyota Camry and Mazda 6 when it comes to sales, it's a Drive Car of the Year favourite, having taken home the segment prize in 2021, 2020, and both the segment and overall award in 2019.

With a facelifted Octavia spied testing in the Austrian Alps in mid 2022, it's likely the versatile model will continue to go from strength to strength.


Space, comfort, safety and practicality – all things the Drive Car of the Year judges felt the Kia Carnival had in spades.

In June 2022 (not long after its Drive Car of the Year win was announced) the Carnival crossed 1000 monthly sales for the first time.

Kia reported 1101 Carnival sales in June 2022 – which is up 122.6 per cent on June 2021, and accounts for 83 per cent of all people movers sold.

What's more, a hybrid version of the Carnival is currently in development and Kia Australia has already expressed interest.


The BMW 3 Series enjoyed back-to-back wins in the Best Medium Luxury Car category.

In the judges' words it's, "the kind of car that’ll impress drivers and neighbours alike thanks to its enjoyable drive experience and upmarket presentation".

The range received an update for the 2023 model year, featuring subtle aesthetic tweaks and new technology – including an impressive new screen equipped with BMW's latest infotainment and vehicle control operating system, OS8.

You can read about all the other 2023 Drive Car of the Year categories and winners here:
Drive Car of the Year categories and winners

Other Award Categories

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