Jim Bray


Jim publishes TechnoFile Magazine. Jim is an affiliate with the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and his careers have included journalist, technology retailer, video store pioneer, and syndicated columnist; he does a biweekly column on CBC Radio One's The Business Network.

Jim can be reached at: [email protected]Older articles by Jim Bray

Most Recent Articles by Jim Bray:

Subaru Climbs back into the three-row market with Ascent

Dec 16, 2018 — Jim Bray

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


Mission Impossible: Fallout – a wild 4K ride with inconsistent video

Dec 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Mission Impossible: Fallout
Tom Cruise’ Mission Impossible movies are kind of like cotton candy.

Huh, you say? Well, the MI movies are a bit like the kind of empty but fun calories (fun, unless you have a beard!) you get from an order of cotton candy – fun while it lasts but not particularly nourishing.

That isn’t really being completely fair to Mission Impossible: Fallout, however, because, while we’re here for the stunts and the action scenes (stuff that’s traditionally top shelf in this franchise), there’s actually a modern, believable plot on hand as well. It just kind of gets lost in the action.


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

Nov 30, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


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

Nov 25, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Lexus gives its venerable ES 350 a terrific update for 2019

Nov 18, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Acura RLX soldiers on bravely and quite nicely

Nov 10, 2018 — Jim Bray

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?”


Mazda enhances its big CX-9 for 2019

Nov 3, 2018 — Jim Bray

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!


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

Oct 21, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Mitsubishi’s small SUV tries to Eclipse its many competitors

Oct 12, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Kia’s sporty Stinger is definitely no stinker

Oct 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Roku’s streaming stick gets upgraded with 4K and more

Oct 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Roku's streaming stick gets upgraded with 4K and more
It’s getting hard to ignore Roku’s effect on the home electronics market. Not only does the company make a wide variety of devices that can turn your dumb TV into a smart TV, but the technology is showing up built right into many TV’s these days.

Clearly, the company must be doing something right – or at least something that consumers like – with its products.


Mazda’s little bundle of joy powers up for 2019

Oct 1, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Solo Blu-ray looks and sounds great – but there’s more to Star Wars than that

Oct 1, 2018 — Jim Bray

The second Star Wars spin-off movie since Disney bought the universe from George Lucas – not to be confused with the two “Episode” movies that have come out as well – is a flawed attempt with a troubled gestation. Yet it’s still well worth watching.

If only the filmmakers hadn’t bitten off so much that they didn’t need to chew (no Wookiee joke intended).

Yet even with its issues, and in its final form as found on this otherwise great Disney Blu-ray (alas, no 4K disc was sent for review), it’s better than the last “official” Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. It isn’t nearly as good as Rogue One, however, which in my never humble opinion is the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy.


IKEA Swedens its product line with a Bluetooth speaker

Sep 2, 2018 — Jim Bray

IKEA Swedens its product line with a Bluetooth speaker
One may not think of IKEA as a place to shop for audio equipment, but the Swedish company best known for its furniture is throwing caution to the wind and introducing a new Bluetooth speaker system anyway.

It’s the ENEBY line of speakers which, as of the August 1 kick off in Canada, consists of two models, both of which are available for under $100 CAD. The smaller of the two (called the 20x20) includes the capability for wireless power as well as wireless tunes – as long as you buy the optional ($20) battery pack for it.


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

Aug 30, 2018 — Jim Bray

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?).


LG channels Professor Harold Hill with its ‘ThinQ system’

Aug 16, 2018 — Jim Bray

LG channels Professor Harold Hill with its 'ThinQ system'
Music lovers who use their cell phones as a source for their tunes have a nifty new tool at their disposal in LG’s newest smart phone, the G7 ThinQ.

That’s because its innards are also designed kind of like a transmission line speaker, enhancing the bass output from what you might expect from tiny little phone speakers. LG says "the G7 ThinQ uses its inner space as a resonance chamber to amp up the bass and deliver a premium, loud, and room-filling audio experience."


Armor All collection can help keep cars fresh with no sweat

Aug 13, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Roku ups its content offering with its own channel

Aug 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

Roku ups its content offering with its own channel
Roku customers who can’t find enough stuff to watch and/or listen to on the platform have a new weapon in their search for stuff: the Roku Channel.

The Canadian version of the channel went live on the morning of July 23 (the U.S. version has been available for a while) and offers a selection of movies, TV shows and the like in one location – kind of like about a thousand other channels you can put onto the Roku, such as Shout! Factory TV and ,many, many others. And the content is all free!


Long Lexus RX lets you add passengers

Aug 7, 2018 — Jim Bray

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.


Rampage 4K disc a monster movie-lover’s delight

Jul 22, 2018 — Jim Bray

Rampage 4K disc a monster movie-lover's delight
Ray Harryhausen would undoubtedly be smiling.

Rampage, the 2018 Warner Brothers release starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is an old time, rock ‘em sock ‘em monster flick that hearkens back to such glorious titles as King Kong, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Godzilla and many others.

I loved it!