Wheels Car of the Year 2023: 'The moose test' – swerve & avoid

We ran each contender through a challenging swerve & avoid test. The results were surprising…

2023 Range Rover P 530 First Edition SUV COTY E Dewar 230131 COTY Wheels 8668

You’re aware of the Moose Test, I gather? Even if you aren’t, it’s an easy one to wrap your head around.

Basically it’s an exercise designed to replicate an emergency ‘swerve and avoid’ scenario where a driver is required to change direction suddenly, as if to dodge an animal, and then quickly regain control and swerve back safely into their lane.

It’s a test championed by the Northern Europeans (hence ‘moose test’) but one that also has huge implications for Aussie drivers, too, who often have to dodge kangaroos, wombats, emus and all sorts of other wildlife.

Chances are you’ll have seen a clip of a car (or usually an SUV) failing the Moose Test on YouTube – it makes for pretty dramatic vision.

But creating exciting video wasn’t why we wanted to run each of our 2023 Car of the Year contenders through the Moose Test. The main reason was it’s an excellent test of a car’s body control and the efficacy of its electronic stability system.


As the 2023 COTY story evolves, the list of stories below will grow. Keep an eye on this page for more, or find it all at our COTY page.

2023 Nissan Z Coupe COTY E Dewar 230131 COTY Wheels 7987 5

The results, as you can see from the below table, are surprising…

Our objective was to run each contender through the exercise at steadily increasing speeds until they clobbered a cone. Speeds were increased in 5km/h increments, and the table below includes a speed range between which each car failed to make it through the exercise.

The Audi RS3 Sportback, for example, made it through at 105km/h but failed at 110km/h.

Generally speaking, the logic of physics applies to the finishing order. Low-slung performance cars with grippy tyres finished at the pointy end while heavy, high-riding off-roaders with all-terrain rubber are at the bottom. But there are a few notable results.

2023 Nissan Qashqai SUV COTY E Dewar 230131 COTY Wheels 8239

The pair of Nissan Qashqais, for example, finished considerably higher than their humble mainstream small-SUV credentials suggested they would. And the Toyota 86’s finishing position of 9th was also a surprise, especially considering it was trumped by the Qashqai, Cupra Formentor and Toyota Corolla Cross. Blame the 86’s tyres and its propensity to oversteer for that one.

The Range Rover P530 also deserves a mention for having the hardest hitting ESC system. Where most contenders grab and release brakes rapidly to try and rein in big weight transfers, the Rangie simply locked the front outside wheel which sent a huge plume of smoke pouring down the side of the car. In fairness to the system, that is a lot of softly sprung weight to contain.

Check out the finishing order below and tell us what you found surprising in the comments.

2023 Range Rover P 530 First Edition SUV COTY BRU LOW RES 399

Swerve and avoid test

Contender finishing orderSpeed range in km/h
1Audi RS3 Sportback105-110
2Audi E-tron GT RS100-105
3Cupra Formentor VZe95-100
4Nissan Qashqai ST+95-100
5Nissan Qashqai Ti95-100
6Nissan Z manual95-100
7Tesla Model Y RWD95-100
8Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos hybrid AWD95-100
9Toyota GR 86 GT manual95-100
10Audi A3 35 TFSI sedan90-95
11Cupra Formentor VZ FWD90-95
12Cupra Formentor VZx90-95
13Genesis GV60 PErformance AWD Luxury90-95
14Nissan X-Trail ST-L 7-seat90-95
15Peugeot 308 GT Premium wagon90-95
16Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo90-95
17Toyota Corolla Cross GX FWD90-95
18BYD Atto 3 Long Range85-90
19Ford Ranger Raptor85-90
20Nissan X-Trail ePower 5-seat85-90
21Peugeot 308 GT hatch85-90
22Volvo C40 Twin Motor85-90
23Ford Everest Sport V6 AWD80-85
24Range Rover P530 First Edition80-85
25Ford Everest Trend 2.0 Bi-turbo 4X475-80
26Ford Ranger XLT V675-80
2023 Ford Ranger XLT Dual Cab COTY E Dewar 230131 COTY Wheels 6941


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