Behind the scenes at AAA’s 2022 Car Guide

Behind the scenes at AAA's 2022 Car Guide

LOS ANGELES – Are you in the market for a new car? Then we have information to help you find the best car for your lifestyle.

AAA’s 2022 Car Guide comes out Tuesday online and in select AAA offices. The guide gives drivers an unbiased understanding of the latest automotive technology.

At the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, researchers test cars from the annual AAA Car Guide.

Megan McKernan, Group Manager Automotive Services for the Automobile Club of Southern California, explained what KPRC 2 cameras captured.

“That Mustang Mach E completed this course in just over nine seconds. We’re not just looking at that era, but we’re also looking at the ease of use of that vehicle and the perception of control,” said McKernan.

Researchers were testing the Mustang Mach E in the slalom, one of 12 categories in which each vehicle is judged.


“Fuel consumption, visibility, ease of entry and exit, payload, again, it’s looking at the everyday components of a vehicle. One of the studies we conducted here at this facility was our pedestrian survey. We looked at vehicles equipped with pedestrian detection systems that have to brake automatically when they detect that pedestrian. What we found from that study was that those systems don’t work 100% of the time,” explains McKernan.

For a vehicle to appear in the annual car guide, it must be a hybrid, all-electric, plug-in hybrid, or an all-new vehicle for the model year.

McKernan went on to explain that there is a difference between required and recommended when it comes to fuel for a vehicle.

“If you need it, you really have to use it. Consult your owner’s manual and find out if it is recommended or required. If you’re driving a pickup truck and towing a trailer and your vehicle says premium recommended, you should probably use premium,” said McKernan.


At AAA’s Automotive Research Center in downtown Los Angeles, researchers are testing several additional components of a car’s anatomy and impact.

“We were one of the very first emissions labs in California. We have a four-wheel drive chasey dynamometer. The dynamometer is essentially a treadmill for a vehicle, and that allows us to measure the vehicle’s emissions, say if it’s gasoline, or see the range if it’s an EV,” said McKernan.

In the controlled room, researchers can manipulate the temperature, which can range from 20 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It really has a dramatic decrease in range when you get it that cold or extremely hot,” McKernan said.

In addition to vehicle reviews, the Car Guide covers the latest car topics for the times we travel.

“Nobody bought vehicles when the pandemic started, so they waited a year, and everyone wanted to buy them at the same time and there just isn’t the supply,” McKernan reiterated.


As for the person looking for a car right now, McKernan said, “If you don’t have to buy a car now, it’s probably best to wait for prices to drop.”

She added that she believes the chip shortage that has made headlines in recent years will continue to be a problem for car production.

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