Automotive

Automotive, Car Reviews

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Reacts to Corporate Welfare Announcement for Ford Canada

OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) Federal Director Aaron Wudrick released the following statement in response to today’s joint Federal-Ontario announcement regarding Ford Canada:

“The federal and Ontario governments continue to double down on the failed strategy of taxpayer subsidies to private businesses. It is ludicrous to suggest that Ford ‘needed’ a $200 million handout from Ontario and Canadian taxpayers, as the company earned a global pre-tax profit of more than US$10 billion in 2015. If the federal and Ontario governments are concerned about business competitiveness, they should eliminate misguided policies that drive up costs (such as the Green Energy Act and carbon cap-and-trade) and lower business taxes.

Corporate welfare is an unsustainable, wasteful and unfair approach to economic development that creates perverse incentives and teaches businesses that the key to success is to cozy up to governments for free taxpayer money.”

By Canadian Taxpayers Federation -- Aaron Wudrick, CTF Federal Director- Thursday, March 30, 2017 - Full Story

Kia Sorento a fine ride that outdoes some higher end SUV’s

Though there’s only been some minor tweaking done to the Kia Sorento for 2017, that isn’t cause for any concern.

In fact, the undoubted rationale for maintaining the status quo is that the SUV/Crossover was already a darn fine vehicle, with lots of equipment stuffed into it, and even without a major overhaul it’s still highly competitive in the crowded market niche of mid-sized utility vehicles.

This is the vehicle, after all, that drove away with the Best SUV/CUV ($35K - $60K) award after competing at the 2016 Canadian Car of the Year TestFest. It beat out the BMW X1, Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Tucson (conventional and Fuel Cell Electric), and the exquisite Lexus NX 200t (F SPORT) for the honours so, unless the collected auto journalists that voted on the category were collectively delusional - and I would never accuse them of that! - it’s quite the vehicle.

By Jim Bray - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - Full Story

Honda adds an ugly but kind of fun hatchback to its Civic line

You could look at it as a return to form, an extra reason to give Honda’s classic Civic a look if you’re in the market for a mainstream car.  And it is, somewhat, because Honda offered hatchback Civics in Canada for many years.

Alas, this isn’t Civics of old and, as great as it is in so many ways, it’s still a current Honda and that means it may drive you nuts as you drive.

Full disclosure: I once owned a Honda Civic hatchback, a silver 1976 model I adored and drove happily for three years, at which time it was pretty well rusted out and went from being wonderfully dependable to woefully undependable. But those were a great three years of cheap and fun driving.

I traded straight across a six month old 1975.5 MGB (which sold for appreciably more than the Civic and which kept leaving me on the side of the road) moving in the process to something that would hold the family we were planning to build at the time. And even though I only got three years out of that Civic before it informed me non-verbally that it was retiring, I never questioned that swap.

By Jim Bray - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - Full Story

Canadians want reliability in their cars - so how does 2017’s crop stack up?

Forget fine Corinthian leather, ultimate connectivity and high horsepower. It appears that Canadians are more interested in buying a vehicle that doesn’t leave them stranded on the side of the road than they are in creature comforts or high technology.

That’s according to a survey of Canadian men and women (or, to be inclusive "memen"), as reported by a GfK survey of over 22,000 Internet users in 17 countries, though only 1,002 of them were from the Once Great White North. It appears to be a "yuge" majority,  too: more than eight in 10 women (83 per cent) and 77 per cent of men named reliability as the number one feature they seek out when they put down their hard-earned after-tax cash for a new set of wheels.

That’s a pretty hefty margin! On the other hand, only 23 per cent of guys and 17 per cent of gals seek out the latest technology in a vehicle they purchase. I can see that to a certain extent: some of the current safety nannies, like lane departure warnings, can be very obtrusive and annoying, and the first time one experiences them can be a bit of a freak-out.

By Jim Bray - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - Full Story

Mitsubishi winter driving event helps teach control on snow

Winter may be on its way outsoon, but there’s still enough of the “old person” around to ensure that snowy Canadian roads will be challenging for at least a few more weeks. That means there’s still ample opportunity for more skid-related fender benders before spring springs and the grass starts rizzing.

And to that end, Mitsubishi Canada has been on the road as well, bringing some professional drivers and some of their Outlander SUV/Crossovers to Alberta to not only showcase the “crummy weather capabilities” of their vehicles but to give some handy tips to attendees who find themselves oot and aboot when the white stuff sticks.

I love these events; they’re not only fun but they can help you “navigate the neige” with more confidence and skill. I did a similar type of thing a couple of years back when Ford came through and will always show up for such events because you can never have too much practice - and it’s a real hoot sliding around a snowy open area in someone else’s vehicle (and they treat you really nicely, too).

So it was that Mitsubishi and their folk, armed with a squadron of Outlanders, came through Calgary last Saturday on the last leg of their three stop tour to Wild Rose Country. They were accompanied as well by representatives from Morrisport Advanced Driving, a group of personable driving experts with whom I’ve worked before as well.

By Jim Bray - Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Full Story

Motoring: Fiat 500x

Teenagers standing by the roadside clapping and cheering.

Not something that I expect as I drive past in the Fiat 500x and at first I am oblivious but then slowly realise it’s the bright Amalfi yellow exterior - costing in excess of £1,000 - that’s really brought us to their attention.

Few vehicles on Britain’s roads have this effect and that alone makes you stand back and admire this characterful Italian.

Fiat has really achieved something special with this sports utility vehicle. It’s a difficult thing to do when considering the competition from the likes of the eye-catching Nissan Juke and Qashqai etc. etc.

By Tim Saunders -- Zainab Calcuttawala- Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Full Story

Toyota’s 2017 Highlander a handsome and comfortable SUV

The popular Highlander SUV/Crossover is about mid-way through its current generation and Toyota has enhanced and upgraded it for the 2017 model year, making it an even more pleasant vehicle to be in.

In fact, I’d reckon that, after my week in Toyota Canada’s sample Highlander XLE AWD model that it’s an even nicer vehicle than its up market cousin, the Lexus RX 350. That’s because, while it isn’t as luxurious or, ahem, prestigious as the Lexus (which rides on the same basic platform), the sample was plenty luxurious enough, more handsome inside and out (with the usual "eye of the beholder" caveat)  and easier to operate.

The ease of use comes mostly from Toyota’s decision to put a touch screen in the centre stack and mount it within reach of even short people. And it’s easy to fathom and to use. The Lexus has its screen mounted high and out of reach, forcing the company to put one of those damn mouse-like Remote Touch devices on the centre console, and as nifty as that sounds it’s actually counterproductive if you’re just trying to get stuff done because you’re fiddling with the knob and menus all the time instead of just poking and choosing.

By Jim Bray - Friday, February 24, 2017 - Full Story

Volkswagen and Subaru drive off with Canadian Car of the Year honours

The best new car and utility vehicles in Canada for 2017 come from Germany and Japan and, while one is considered a car, both could be considered utility vehicles as well.

That’s because the Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) overall winner, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, is not only a great car in its own right,  it’s also what once would have been known in these parts as a station wagon, a family-and-hauling-friendly vehicle that blends the best of both worlds while never forgetting that at heart, it’s a Golf - which is a very good thing indeed.

The other side of the Car of the Year coin is Utility Vehicle of the Year, which for 2017 has gone to the Subaru Forester, which just happens to be my favourite Subaru year after year (though I must admit liked earlier ones better).

By Jim Bray - Monday, February 20, 2017 - Full Story

Honda moves in the right direction with the new CR-V

Maybe Honda is listening to its critics because this new CR-V is a nice step back toward Hondas of old, Hondas that weren’t just great vehicles, but which didn’t really annoy their owners at the same time.

I’ve been one of those critics over the past few years,  though I can’t imagine a small potatoes guy like me being responsible for Honda moving back toward the light - but it’s sure good to see.  

By Jim Bray - Saturday, February 11, 2017 - Full Story

Lexus GS sport sedan a ‘Lexurious’ and fun drive

Lexus has been relentlessly, and passionately, pursuing automotive perfection since the brand first upset the luxury car market back in 1989. Does that mean its current line has reached that pinnacle of automotive excellence for which it has advertised its intent for so long?

Of course not. The only perfection in this world is my wife - followed closely by my grandson (and, yes, they made me write that) - and it isn’t realistic to expect flawlessness in any mere product, especially since your idea of perfection is undoubtedly quite a bit different from mine (which,  of course, means yours is wrong…).

But they keep plugging away, redefining and refining their line and building some of the most reliable vehicles on the planet year after year.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, February 5, 2017 - Full Story

Acura’s biggest SUV gets rhinoplasty for 2017

The Acura MDX has traditionally been a very nice luxury SUV and this might explain why the 2017 version hasn’t changed a lot from the previous year.

Probably the biggest change is to its front end, which now sports a new grille the company calls "diamond pentagon." I had no issues with the last schnozzola on the MDX - my issues with the vehicle stem more from an interior treatment that hasn’t been changed significantly, and that’s a shame.

By Jim Bray - Friday, January 27, 2017 - Full Story

Hyundai’s popular big ute gets a 2017 freshening

It may not be particularly sporting when stacked up against the likes of the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace, but Hyundai’s 2017 Santa Fe Sport costs a lot less and still manages to offer a lot of good stuff -  including some fun - to its potential buyers.

The Sport - a moniker that distinguishes the two row, five seat Santa Fe from the three row XL version - is said to have "over 350 all-new parts with new features" as well as 11 per cent better fuel mileage and, of course, new standard equipment.

By Jim Bray - Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - Full Story

Toyota Camry hybrid a surprisingly nice drive

It’s been called an appliance, a vanilla vehicle, boring, whatever. But the fact remains that Toyota’s Camry is a model of greatness in its own right - a car that’ll deliver comfortable and efficient driving for many years without fuss or hassle.

It’s also one of the top-selling vehicles in North America and, though it may never quicken the pulse of driving enthusiasts, it delivers a better driving experience than those same enthusiasts might expect.

Even in its hybrid form, the topic of this piece. Oh, as a hybrid it’s saddled with a noisy and whiny CVT and CVT’s also generally sap a lot of the enjoyment out of the driving process, but even that couldn’t kill my enjoyment during a recent week with the Camry hybrid SE.

By Jim Bray - Friday, January 13, 2017 - Full Story

Fiat Chrysler pumps $1 billion, 2000 jobs, into Michigan and Ohio

It feels like, every few days since November 8th, we get another happy story about the U.S. business outlook.  Whether it’s Carrier sticking around, Ford scrapping it’s Mexico plant, or SoftBank creating jobs for 50,000 Americans, it seems we’re just being inundated with good news. Now, we have some more.  Fiat Chrysler will be investing a billion dollars in Michigan and Ohio, creating 2,000 jobs in the process.

I’m not sure what happened on November 8th, but it sure looks like it’s working out.

By Robert Laurie - Monday, January 9, 2017 - Full Story

Honda’s new Ridgeline improves an already interesting pickup

Honda’s odd-looking pickup truck of old is gone, replaced by a new generation - its second - that brings a much more conventional demeanour to the marketplace.

And other than some "Honda-isms" that mar an otherwise great interior, it could be the perfect choice for people who need a pickup truck sometimes, but whose hauling needs aren’t heavy duty and who prefer the driving feel of a n SUV or crossover to that of a "regular" truck.

Part of the reason for that different feel from other pickups is because the Ridgeline isn’t a "regular" pickup truck at all. It features a unibody, er, body, which is more like today’s cars and SUV’s than the "body on frame" construction of the garden variety pickup. This makes the Ridgeline feel more like a Honda Pilot than, say, a Toyota Tacoma, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a "not a truck guy" kind of guy, I’d look to the Ridgeline before any other pickup truck on the market if I ever needed to buy a truck.

By Jim Bray - Saturday, January 7, 2017 - Full Story

Smallest Lexus SUV continues to be a winner

Take Lexus’ top selling vehicle, the RX 350, shrink it to the next market niche down, and resist the urge to add a bunch of over styled cues and the result is the NX 200t, a wonderful little crossover/SUV that Lexus has made even more wonderful for 2017.

Well, mostly. It still has that awful "spindle" grille that’s infecting all Lexi currently, and you have to use a trackpad to navigate its central stack’s LCD - but other than that the NX continues to be my favourite current Lexus, the nicest of a very nice line of luxury vehicles.

Think of it as kind of a Rav4 on steroids,  though that isn’t really fair to either vehicle. But they both operate in that basic size niche, though of course at different areas of the marketplace. And they’re both very good vehicles, the NX also having the honour of being the first Lexus to sport, a term used not to describe its driving experience, a turbocharged engine.

By Jim Bray - Friday, December 23, 2016 - Full Story

Lincoln MKZ offers a capable and luxurious drive

Remember Lincoln? Ford’s high end division used to be out front - whether as luxury limo-type vehicles such as the Continental, "hot rods" of song, and even the original 1960’s TV Batmobile, which was really a Lincoln under the skin.

Whatever happened? Lincoln is still around, but today their vehicles are basically gussied up Fords - not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. But it seems to me that the high end vehicles should be the state-of-the-art ones, with their stuff trickling down to their lesser brands.  This is how companies like Lexus have done it traditionally - stuff that began life on the top line vehicles, even such currently "pedestrian" features such as traction control, ABS and airbags, have made their way down the market and can now be found on the "lowly" Toyotas.

By Jim Bray - Friday, December 16, 2016 - Full Story

Hyundai scores a twofer in the 2017 Canadian Car of the Year competition

Hyundai’s Elantra copped a couple of category crowns in the 2017 Canadian Car of the Year Awards, announced on Tuesday, December 6 in Toronto.

The South Korean automaker’s compact sedan was named Best New Small Car and its new Sport version won Best New Sports/Performance Car.  The news comes in the wake of the Canadian Car of the Year TestFest held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during the last week of October.

Eight category winners were announced in all, the winners now competing head to head with each other for the overall bragging rights as Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, which will be announced next February. AJAC, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, under whose auspices the competition is held, will also name the Canadian Green Car of the Year awards next March.

By Jim Bray - Friday, December 9, 2016 - Full Story

Toyota Corolla: 50 years of a great small car

It’s been Toyota’s bread and butter car since before there was a Camry, and after a 50 year evolution in the automotive marketplace it continues to be a great little car for the 2017 model year.

Toyota must be doing something right because the Corolla has wriggled its way into a lot of people’s hearts over that half century, so much so that has become the top selling vehicle in the world, knocking the classic VW Beetle off that perch a while back. So while it may be a tad bland for some people, it’s obviously the perfect choice for many others.

And here’s something you might not expect: you can configure it with a six speed manual transmission!

By Jim Bray - Thursday, December 1, 2016 - Full Story