Automotive Industry and Car Reviews

Old automotive pages from 2007 and Before

Toyota 4Runner and Tundra: a focus more on utility than fun

Toyota 4Runner and Tundra: a focus more on utility than funIn the world of sport utility vehicles there’s something for practically everyone, whether you want to focus on the sport or the utility.

Toyota aims to fill both those niches with its wide variety of vehicles, and I got to spend some quality time during our last bitterly cold spell in one of the first SUV’s I can remember, as well as a follow up week with one of their big pickup trucks. Neither is particularly sporty, but if you’re looking for a vehicle that’ll probably outlive you while taking you up the sides of a mountain, you may want to give them a look.

Motoring: Seat Leon Cupra

Motoring: Seat Leon CupraSpeed comes at a cost.

That’s my first thought when I drive the Seat Leon Cupra. It’s a fast five-door hatchback and the price paid is modest economy of around 38mpg.

In these days of high insurance premiums and costly fuel is this a price worth paying for what is arguably a very stylish, well-made car?

Well, let’s see.

By Tim Saunders - Friday, March 1, 2019 - Full Story

New Dodge Ram is a truck even truckophobes can love

New Dodge Ram is a truck even truckophobes can loveWarning: Regular readers of my stuff may want to stand back from the screen a bit because I’m about to risk a lightning strike by writing a positive review of a pick-up truck and I wouldn’t want you to become collateral damage.

The Ram 1500 is new for 2019 and, at least in the Limited Crew Cab 4x5 suit of clothes Fiat Chrysler Canada sent for review, it’s a real tour de force – a utility vehicle that’s also so nice to drive it’s easy to forget it’s a big-butted truck. Oh, I still wouldn’t run out and buy a truck after my week with the Ram (it’s still to big for my needs and taste), but I came away mightily impressed with its comfort, up to date features, and – the most surprising thing to me – its driveability.

It seems that I’m not the only car guy impressed with the new Ram 1500. It was also named as North American Truck of the Year at last month’s big car show in Detroit, it made Car & Driver magazine’s list of the 10 Best Trucks and SUV’s, and the Rebel version was named Four Wheeler magazine’s Pickup Truck of the Year. I probably missed a few, and it wouldn’t surprise me if more honours are coming for this great truck.

By Jim Bray - Thursday, February 7, 2019 - Full Story

Subaru Forester gets a nice upgrade for 2019

Subaru Forester gets a nice upgrade for 2019My favourite Subaru is back with a new set of clothes, and it’s a nice new wardrobe for a vehicle that was pretty nice already.

That said, Subaru continues to inflict a continuously variable transmission on its non-manual transmission vehicles and even though it’s better than many it’s still as whiny and annoying as I am when faced with honest work.

According to the company, the Forester has been re-engineered from the ground up for 2019, including a new BOXER engine, where (like many Porsches) the cylinders are mounted “flat” rather than in a “V” or a line, so the pistons face off against each other, like boxers duking it out. There’s also a new CVT Subaru says works with the new PUGILIST engine to create more power while also increasing efficiency.

By Jim Bray - Monday, February 4, 2019 - Full Story

Angry-looking big Mini is a fun drive

Angry-looking big Mini is a fun drive, 2019 Mini Countryman
Is calling a Mini big an oxymoron?

After all, among other things, the name Mini means – according to my Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary –“of a small or reduced size in comparison with others of its kind.” Not only that, but the original Mini of classic car fame was a truly small car – a very small car. Heck, when I was in school, we used to marvel at how our music teacher (who seemed at the time to be about nine feet tall) managed to fold himself into his Mini.

By Jim Bray - Monday, January 21, 2019 - Full Story

Mitsubishi Eclipse Crossover

Mitsubishi Eclipse Crossover
Like your favourite coat, a Mitsubishi always has a particular smell and feel, I find. And that’s very reassuring because you know what you’re getting. Always good build quality and a robust practical vehicle that’s satisfying to drive.

Its new Eclipse Cross is available in three options: 2, 3 or 4 and as either 2WD or 4WD. Prices start from just over £21,000 and rise to over £28,000 for the Cross 4 4WD. It is the latter that I test, complete with its twin glass roofs and helpful parking camera. It’s an attractive offering, with hardwearing leather seats and a plethora of luxury features including heated and powered front seats, power folding wing mirrors and air conditioning. Not to mention the touchpad and touchscreen. The children particularly enjoy locking and unlocking the car, which can be done via a small black button on the driver’s or front passenger’s door handle as long as the keyfob is present.

By Tim Saunders - Thursday, January 3, 2019 - Full Story

Skoda Karoq

Skoda Karoq SE L 1.5 TSI 150PS
I don’t usually pay much attention to the weather but during my test of the Skoda Karoq I cannot help but notice it. I decide to take it on a trek to Hertfordshire and before long spitting rain turns into a torrential and persistent downpour that sees many motorists stranded. But not us and I am grateful because the Karoq, being an SUV, stands taller than those smaller run of the mill cars, like the usual Fiesta I drive. And I thank my lucky stars that I’m in the Karoq as I have to make my way through what seems to be a lake covering a country lane as we head towards Shaw’s Corner, playwright George Bernard Shaw’s retreat. Although the water level’s high it doesn’t pose a problem for the Skoda. Thank goodness. And as this downpour continues for a good hour my new friend has many similar challenges thrown at him. My only criticism during this time is that I could do with a faster speed for the windscreen wipers.

By Tim Saunders - Wednesday, December 26, 2018 - Full Story

Subaru Climbs back into the three-row market with Ascent

Subaru Climbs back into the three-row market with Ascent
Consumers looking for a three row SUV/Crossover have a new choice in Subaru’s latest new model.

The Ascent, new for 2019 and, according to Subaru, their largest vehicle ever, is aimed straight at such vehicles as Mazda’s terrific CX-9, the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, VW Atlas, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Yep, it’s a pretty crowded niche

By Jim Bray - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - Full Story

The new Porsche 911: more powerful, faster, digital

The new Porsche 911: more powerful, faster, digital
Toronto. Sensation in Los Angeles: the Porsche 911 is now entering the eighth generation. The new 911 celebrated its world premiere on the eve of the L.A. Auto Show. It continues to set the standard when it comes to exclusive sportiness. Unmistakably committed to the Porsche design DNA, a much more muscular look, and an interior featuring a 10.9-inch touchscreen monitor, the new 911 is timeless – and modern. Intelligent control and chassis elements as well as innovative assistance systems combine the masterfully uncompromising dynamism that the classic rear- engine sports car is famed for, with the demands of the digital world.

By News on the Net -- Porsche Cars Canada- Monday, December 10, 2018 - Full Story

Paving the way for more efficient hydrogen cars

Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only water vapor from their tailpipes, offering a cleaner alternative to fossil-fuel-based transportation. But for hydrogen cars to become mainstream, scientists need to develop more efficient hydrogen-storage systems. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Chemistry of Materials have used metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) to set a new record for hydrogen storage capacity under normal operating conditions.

By American Chemical Society - Friday, December 7, 2018 - Full Story

Buying a used car? Here’s Part Two of some tips on how to negotiate

Buying a used car? Here's Part Two of some tips on how to negotiate
Last week, I wrote part one of this series on buying a vehicle, outlining some of the things you can and should do before going to the dealer or private seller. This week, I’ll outline a few dickering/haggling tips that I’ve used successfully for vehicle purchases (and other things) that might help you in your quest for new wheels.

Remember, these comments are based on my personal experience and may not work for everyone – haggling does require a bit of nerve, after all, and you also need to be willing to stand up and walk away from a deal with which you aren’t comfortable.

By Jim Bray - Friday, November 30, 2018 - Full Story

Buying a used car? Here are some buying and negotiating tips that might help you

Buying a used car? Here are some buying and negotiating tips that might help you
Buying a vehicle can be an intimidating and frustrating experience, but if you keep your wits about you and refuse to be frustrated and/or intimidated you can negotiate a deal that could save you thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, the actual negotiating process can be fun – and it’s cool to see the look on the other party’s face when you have the audacity to offer less than the asking price.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, November 25, 2018 - Full Story

Lexus gives its venerable ES 350 a terrific update for 2019

Lexus gives its venerable ES 350 a terrific update for 2019
It was one of the two original Lexus models first introduced at the end of the 1980’s, when Toyota and Nissan both had the audacity to take on the European luxury marques head to head. Now, it’s just one of many Lexus offerings but, as it has always been, the ES 350 is a really nice car – and it’s even quite affordable in this niche.

You can still get a normally aspirated V6 to power it, too! This is a wonderful thing in an era in which carmakers are downsizing and turbocharging their power plants.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, November 18, 2018 - Full Story

Cars could be powered by water with new Israeli technology

Cars could be powered by water with new Israeli technology
Could cars someday run on water, not oil? Australian-Israeli startup Electriq-Global is giving a wet thumbs-up to a new fuel technology that extracts hydrogen from water and turns that hydrogen into electricity to power the vehicle.

By ISRAEL21c - Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - Full Story

Acura RLX soldiers on bravely and quite nicely

Acura RLX soldiers on bravely and quite nicely
Acura’s biggest and most powerful sedan is a very nice ride.  I’m not sure that’s enough to make the car stand out in a niche full of really nice luxury sedans, though.

Still, you get a lot of niceness for your after-tax disposable income.

The RLX succeeded the RL a few years back, a luxury sedan I liked a lot, and this replacement has much to recommend. Oomph is plentiful, comfort and luxury abound, and the car will probably outlive its owners. So why do I come away from a week with it feeling kind of “meh?”

By Jim Bray - Saturday, November 10, 2018 - Full Story

Mazda enhances its big CX-9 for 2019

Mazda enhances its big CX-9 for 2019
Mazda’s largest bundle of joy goes into the 2019 model year with some new tweaks the company thinks will make this three row SUV/Crossover even more compelling than before.

Tough to do that with a minor upgrade, especially since the CX-9 was such a terrific beast already, but the purveyor of Japanese “Zoom-Zoom” pulled a few rabbits out of their design hats for the new model year and they combine to make this big, three row SUV even nicer.

It still needs paddle shifters, though. Zoom-zoom without paddles for the automatic transmission? Give me a break!

By Jim Bray - Saturday, November 3, 2018 - Full Story

Ford’s Explorer makes visiting Canada’s capital less unpleasant

Ford's Explorer makes visiting Canada's capital less unpleasant
Ford’s “fuller sized” SUV/Crossover, the Explorer, continues to be a compelling vehicle for people looking for a well-appointed ride that can handle up to seven people.

The Explorer, which was really one of the first so-called SUV’s, isn’t all-new for 2018, but it soldiers on as a solid and capable vehicle that also offers good off-road performance, as well as most, if not all, of today’s popular vehicle/connectivity/entertainment technology.

Ford of Canada was kind enough to lend me a Platinum trim level Explorer for the week and a half my wife and I were sentenced to spend in Ontario a few weeks ago. I’d driven the Explorer a few times before and liked it, though it’s a larger vehicle than I prefer, and this time helped cement its basic goodness into my psyche as we visited my elderly Dad and tooled around the area between Ottawa and Trenton, Ontario.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, October 21, 2018 - Full Story

Mitsubishi’s small SUV tries to Eclipse its many competitors

Mitsubishi's small SUV tries to Eclipse its many competitors
Mitsubishi’s new Eclipse Cross SUV is the Japanese automaker’s entry into the entry level compact SUV market, a niche currently occupied by such other Japanese models as the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Qashqai. How does it stack up compared to that competition?

Well, I haven’t driven a Qashqai, but I have driven the Honda, Mazda and Toyota and the Mitsubishi compares with them fairly well. And to sweeten the deal, owners get Mitsubishi’s extensive warranty policy: a 10-year, 160,000-kilometre limited warranty on the power train, a five-year 100,000-kilometre new vehicle limited warranty with five-year unlimited kilometre roadside assistance.

By Jim Bray - Friday, October 12, 2018 - Full Story

Kia’s sporty Stinger is definitely no stinker

Kia's sporty Stinger is definitely no stinker
Kia’s new sporty flagship is a nice four door hatchback – a sports sedan that isn’t quite a sedan but which looks, acts, and (even better!) drives like a sports sedan.

Move over BMW? Probably not, though there’s sure a lot to like about the Kia Stinger, including interfaces that are easy to figure out and to use – something to which a lot of the competition should take notice.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, October 7, 2018 - Full Story