Automotive

WhatFinger

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

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

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

Mazda’s little bundle of joy powers up for 2019

Mazda's little bundle of joy powers up for 2019
It’s amazing how the simple shot of oomph Mazda has added to its wonderful little MX-5 gives its driver an even bigger shot of adrenaline.

Yet there it is:  a car that has always been a joy to drive, yet has never been accused of being over powered, still isn’t overpowered - but it’s powered enough, and for this reviewer that’s the best news since the demise of the turbocharged Mazdaspeed Miata of years gone by.

By Jim Bray - Monday, October 1, 2018

Goodwood Festival of Speed July 2018

Goodwood Festival of Speed July 2018
Photo by Brian Smith @bms_photo

Since 1993, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has drawn thousands of motorsport and automotive fans from around the world. Quite unlike any other motoring event, the Festival of Speed is spread across thousands of acres of the country manor Goodwood estate under the guidance of the Duke of Richmond. This 3-day festival is the quintessential celebration of all things two and four-wheeled and showcases the past, present, and future of motoring. Auto manufacturers represent their brands with huge mobile structures in which visitors can see and touch their current and future vehicle offerings.

By Brian Smith - Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV puts in a plug for green driving

Outlander PHEV leads the plug-in hybrid segment with more plug-in hybrids
Mitsubishi has unleashed its plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander and I have to admit it’s the nicest Mitsubishi SUV I’ve driven to date.

Not that a plug-in hybrid is near the top of my list of things to look for in a new vehicle, but judging by the number of plug-in hybrids available these days it seems clear that a) people either want such a vehicle or b) car makers are being pressured to add such vehicles to their offerings whether they sell or not (otherwise, why would we need government incentives that force your neighbours to help you pay for your purchase through their taxes?).

By Jim Bray - Thursday, August 30, 2018

Armor All collection can help keep cars fresh with no sweat

Armor All collection
I’ve just washed my car from top to bottom without using water, a pail, or a hose. Or by using someone else’s efforts on my behalf, or someone else’s washing facility.  It was really cool!

And while I think I’ll still use the touchless wash down the street a lot of the time, I’ve learned that you really can get your car clean just by wiping it with a cloth. If it’s the right cloth.

By Jim Bray - Monday, August 13, 2018

Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers

Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers
Lexus’ top selling SUV, the RX series, has received a boost for the 2018 model year in a move that instantly makes it competitive with three row luxury people haulers.

It, as you probably guessed, is the RX 350 L, the L indicating that the vehicle has been stretched a few inches (about four, in fact) to allow for the installation of a third-row bench. It isn’t a third row like you’ll find in a minivan, but it’s in line with some of the competitors whose Steerage class seating is more of the “emergency-public-transit-alternative-type” of vehicle.

By Jim Bray - Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Synthetic suede gives high-end cars that luxury feel

Synthetic suede gives high-end cars that luxury feel
Leather car seats were once synonymous with luxury, but these days, synthetic suede is becoming the material of choice for high-end automobiles. With increased affluence worldwide, and the growing popularity of car-sharing and luxury-driving services, business is booming for manufacturers of synthetic suede. Among these companies, Japanese firms sit snugly in the driver’s seat, reports an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Harleycans—(on the vroom side)

Harleycans
In my (much) younger years and on another continent, I was interested in motorbikes, like any other young male then. I even got my biking-license, requiring an actual “field test” (in the city) with all kinds of turns, etc. Of course, that was entirely separate from getting my car-driving license.

Somehow though, I never acquired a motorcycle myself. Instead, I rode my brother’s ~20 HP bike a few times, never far, except as “passenger” or via a tow-line to my (pedal-powered) bicycle.

By Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser - Monday, July 30, 2018

Mazda CX-3 AWD: an entry level SUV that’s fun

Mazda CX-3 AWDCompact SUV’s are a dime a dozen, but if you’re looking for one that’s not only capable, roomy and efficient, but is fun to drive as well,  the list gets decidedly shorter.

Small and fun SUV’s are available, but most of the lower end ones I’ve driven – the mainstream stuff from mainstream companies such as Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai and the like – seem to focus more on the “UV” (Utility Vehicle) than the “S” (Sport), which is perhaps why the term “crossover” has become so popular.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, July 22, 2018

Acura’s 2019 RDX an interesting and fun compact luxury SUV

Acura's 2019 RDX an interesting and fun compact luxury SUV
It’s being touted as Acura’s new direction and, as such, it’s an interesting case study in how a company responds to the ever-evolving competition.

I was on Acura’s junket to San Francisco when the original RDX came out. It was Acura’s first turbo four, and it was a wonderful SUV that featured what at the time was probably the best audio system I’d experienced in a vehicle.

That ELS audio system is still around, kind of, but it has also marched along with the marketplace—which to me is a double-edged sword.

By Jim Bray - Friday, July 13, 2018

When the heck is the flying car going to get here?

When the heck is the flying car going to get here?
We’ve been promised them for years, and periodically we get to see an interesting new supposed prototype appear in the media, or as a “character” on TV or in movies. But the real, consumer-friendly flying family car never seems to actually come to market. Why is that?

Well, it’s a pretty tough nut to crack, and there are questions of what infrastructure would be required (if any) and of course there’s also the question of whether or not we want to inflict a bunch of bad drivers onto the sky as well as the roads. I mean, if you think automated cars are a challenge, expand that to three dimensions!

By Jim Bray - Saturday, June 30, 2018

Missing the Matrix? The Corolla iM might fit the bill

Missing the Matrix? The Corolla iM might fit the bill
What do you do if you loved your little Toyota Matrix hatchback and want to get a new one, only to sally forth to your local Toyota store and find that, like the Pontiac Vibe with which it shared its DNA, it’s no longer available?

Well, you could check out the Corolla iM, which right now is the closest thing Toyota offers to that great little wagon. It started life as the Scion iM, but once Toyota decided to say sayonara to the Scion era (sorry…) it dumped all that line except for this little hatch and the wonderful little FR-S sports coupe that’s now known as the 86.

By Jim Bray - Monday, June 25, 2018

Toyota’s Sequoia may have been treemendous once – but it’s time for an upgrade

Toyota's Sequoia may have been treemendous once – but it's time for an upgrade
Maybe it’s Toyota’s way of ensuring the long-term viability of “old growth” forests, but the Tundra-based Sequoia SUV seems more like a blast from the past than a state-of-the-art “people and stuff hauler.”

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a great vehicle – it’s a Toyota, after all, and so if nothing else the thing’ll probably serve its owners forever – but it’s a vehicle that, to make a Sequoia analogy, seems to have a few more rings in its trunk than some of the “new growth” gigantic SUV’s with which it competes.

By Jim Bray - Friday, June 15, 2018