With 6,856 Fortes down the road as of May 31, 2017 and 12,296 units sold during the entire 12 months of 2016, Kia seems to be on track for a record year. Of course, we’re only talking five months so…

2017 Kia Forte5 SX

2017 Kia Forte5 SX
For 2017, Kia has given its Forte a brand new look, and it arguably looks best in top-line 2017 Kia Forte5 SX trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

With 6,856 Fortes down the road as of May 31, 2017 and 12,296 units sold during the entire 12 months of 2016, Kia seems to be on track for a record year. Of course, we’re only talking five months so far, with seven more that may not prove as profitable, but things are definitely moving up.

It’s difficult for we outsiders to surmise where the sales growth is coming from. VW’s Jetta, Ford’s Focus, Dodge’s Dart, and Kia’s own Soul are having particularly bad years, so some of those who’ve previously bought these competitors may be switching rides, or more likely the Forte is finding a combination of many such conquest sales as well as managing to upsell would-be Rio buyers that haven’t been too keen on little subcompact lately. Now matter how we try to dissect it, Forte sales are up by a considerable margin.

2017 Kia Forte5 SX
The practical hatch gets wrapped in an attractive design to go along with its sporty character. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

From personal experience of driving and reviewing five Fortes since introduced for 2010, I can honestly say it’s about time the market caught on to how good this compact model is. I can speak similarly for most of the brand’s current offerings, Kia a mainstream volume brand that delivers much more than its value-oriented pricing suggests, and backs up its entire line with one of the better warranties in the industry at five years or 100,000 kilometres.

Even more brag-worthy, Kia landed on top of the entire auto industry in J.D. Power and Associates’ most recent 2017 Initial Quality Study, while its 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study score placed it in the top five of all mainstream volume brands. What’s more, a new top-five standing in Consumer Reports’ latest Annual Reliability Survey is news worth sharing too. In other words, anyone still having qualms about driving a Kia had better give their head a shake.

2017 Kia Forte5 SX
The SX offers an upscale ambiance thanks to soft-touch cabin surfaces, leather, and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

With respect to the car in our garage specifically, it’s a thoroughly refreshed second-generation Forte5 that somehow manages to look better than the already stylish outgoing version. I’ve long found the Forte an attractive compact, whether in 5-Door hatchback, four-door sedan, or two-door coupe guise. As you may have heard, the coupe, or rather Koup was discontinued at the end of 2016 in the U.S. and continues unchanged here in Canada, so you’ll need to step up to this Forte5 or the sedan in order to enjoy all the improvements.

At my beck and call this week is the 2017 Forte5 in top-tier SX trim, which is exactly how I’d option this car out if my name were going on the ownership papers. The only issue I’m a bit stumped about is whether to leave its standard six-speed manual as is or upgrade to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox with paddles. I’m testing it in the latter trim and without giving too much away ahead of my full road test review, it’s damn good. Then again the manual is, well, a manual, which inherently provides more driver engagement. A tough choice, but of note one that most automakers don’t provide at all. Move up into the topmost trim levels of the Forte’s key rivals and you’ll be stuck with an autobox or worse, a CVT, but kudos to Kia, this sportiest Forte5 gets a true performance aficionado’s alternative, which has to warm the heart of anyone with petrol in the veins.

2017 Kia Forte5 SX
A leather-wrapped flat-bottomed sport steering wheel with paddles plus aluminum foot pedals provide a performance-oriented cockpit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If that wasn’t already the best part, take heed this sportiest Forte5 gets fitted with a zesty 201 horsepower 1.6-litre turbo four with 195 lb-ft of torque, which is a solid 37 horses and 35 lb-ft more than the already sufficiently potent base 2.0-litre four. I’ll go into more detail about how this little mill reacts to input in my review, not to mention explain how its driver selectable Normal, Eco or Sport modes work while delving into how its 18-inch alloys on 225/40s and sport-tuned MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension manages aggressive behaviour, plus explain how its 0.8-inch larger 11.8-inch front discs and 10.3-inch rears perform under pressure.

The Forte5 SX comes swathed in some pretty upscale duds too, such as proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic multifunction sport steering wheel, a leather shift knob, alloy pedals, 7.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment with a rearview camera, UVO eServices, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, AM/FM/MP3/USB/aux and satellite audio, a soft-touch synthetic dash top and door uppers, leather upholstery, three-way heatable front seats, and much more.

2017 Kia Forte5 SX
Heated and cooled 10-way powered leather sport seats with memory make the Forte5 SX pretty luxe as well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another quandary would be whether or not to add on the $3,600 SX Premium Tech package, but if it were my money and the prospect of spending many a commute for three or so years lay ahead I’d probably take the plunge as the upgrade includes HID headlamps, a Supervision gauge cluster with a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone auto climate control, three-way ventilated front seats, navigation with detailed mapping, voice activation, HD radio, a powered glass sunroof, unique red-accented sport seats (with the manual), a 10-way powered driver’s seat with two-way memory, plus blindspot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. As it is, Kia added this package and it’s making my weeklong test drive a lot more comfortable.

Of course, this will give me more to talk about in my upcoming review, so stay tuned to find out why I think this little Kia is gaining such traction in the compact class while many of its peers are sliding backwards…

What can I say about Lexus ES’ that hasn’t already been said countless times before, other than it’s a front-wheel drive, mid-size, premium-branded anomaly that’s managed to weather regular storms…

2017 Lexus ES 300h

2017 Lexus ES 300h
The Lexus ES 300h is one fine looking car, but is it too provocative for its traditionally conservative clientele? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

What can I say about Lexus ES’ that hasn’t already been said countless times before, other than it’s a front-wheel drive, mid-size, premium-branded anomaly that’s managed to weather regular storms of negative driving dynamics criticism and come out shining as a top seller in its field?

Of course, there really isn’t much else directly in its field to compare it to other than Lincoln’s MKZ or the front-drive Acura RLX that’s no longer available in Canada. Alternatively we could look down market into mainstream volume brands in order to face it off against its own platform-sharing Toyota Avalon or others like Buick’s LaCrosse, Chevrolet’s Impala, Chrysler’s 300, Dodge’s Charger, Ford’s Taurus, Kia’s Cadenza, or Nissan’s Maxima.

2017 Lexus ES 300h
No one should be offended by the ES 300h’ attractive rear end design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The major differentiator in this class is this electrified 300h that brought Toyota’s storied Hybrid Synergy Drive to the mid-size luxury class in 2012 (a year after the MKZ Hybrid), but even this is now old news in the premium sector thanks to much more advanced plug-in hybrids from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and the like. And after all is said and done, most luxury buyers will look for their hybrid (or non-hybrid) fix in the SUV segment where Lexus’ own NX 300h utilizes the identical drivetrain in a more popular and more utile body style.

To get a clearer understanding of all this, let’s take a look at sales. Unfortunately Lexus doesn’t report hybrid numbers separately, other than the dedicated CT 200h, but lumps them in with their conventionally powered equivalents, so we’re left to guess that hybrids sell at similar percentages of total sales from model to model. Lexus sold 2,153 ES models in Canada last year, a far cry from the 4,251 purveyed in 2007 yet better than the 1,892 delivered in 2011. The NX hasn’t been around that long, but its sales have steadily grown from 6,127 in 2015 to 6,295 last year. What’s more, after five months of 2017 the NX has found 2,766 new owners, so it looks like it’s on schedule for another record year, whereas the ES’ has only managed to lure in 775 buyers, which could result in a new low. Then again, compared to the 432 MKZs sold over the same five months, the ES is all roses.

2017 Lexus ES 300h
Lexus mixes some very good and some very average ingredients into the ES 300h interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As for which vehicle matters more in the market, the numbers speak for themselves. To be clear, these sales totals in no way reflect which model is better or worse, but rather have everything to do with a near universal shunning of four-door sedans and adoption of crossover SUVs, other than a few exceptions like BMW’s 3 Series and Mercedes’ C-, E- and S-Classes in the premium sector and Honda’s Civic, Toyota’s Corolla, and Hyundai’s Elantra amongst mainstream brands.

The sad reality is this 2017 ES is the best ever, and while halfway through the second year of its sixth-generation facelift, it’s still worthy of much higher sales than it’s getting, that is if there was anyone under 70 interested. We’ll likely never know if its traditionally conservative clientele has been rubbed the wrong way by the model’s adoption of Lexus’ avant-garde styling or if its drop in popularity is just a sign of the times, but a quick rundown of those “competitors” mentioned earlier shows a similar downward trajectory for the Taurus, Avalon and Cadenza, plus the MKZ mentioned earlier, although sales of Charger are surging (it had one of its best months ever in May) and 300 strong, while the Impala, LaCrosse and Maxima are on track to make small gains as well.

2017 Lexus ES 300h
The hardwood is a bit old-school glossy, but it’s real. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As far as mid-size front-wheel drive sedans go, I find the ES 300h attractive from front to back. Its spindle grille, Nike swoosh driving lights and chromed apostrophe-squiggle fog lamp bezels are big bonuses in my opinion, giving the car a more daring façade than its inner personality deserves, while its rear end design, with its subtle deck lid spoiler overtop gracefully understated LED taillights and lovely lower body diffuser/undertray, is as pretty as its backside has ever been.

Inside, the ES 300h combines high-grade furnishings with low-rung hard shell plastics, some top-tier switchgear with others pulled up from the Toyota parts bin, some old-school glossy albeit real woodgrain trim next to nice looking metallic surfaces albeit often hollow and plasticky, and one decent electronic interface with another that shouldn’t show its face in the premium class, making my comparison to the many mainstream volume-branded players earlier quite fair. The ES raises its game over these in some respects, but falls below some of them in others.

2017 Lexus ES 300h
The ES 300h doesn’t shortchange its customers on interior space. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Under the “What’s new for 2017” column, all ES 300h trims get standard rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, and Lexus Safety System Plus, the latter package adding auto high beams, dynamic cruise control with emergency autonomous braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist. You’ll need to spend more for blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, but this is hardly uncommon in any class.

I’ll go into more detail in my upcoming road test review, in which I’ll also dispel myths about comfort-focused, melted butter driving dynamics, or not, and praise its fuel economy—maybe (of course I’ll nee to compare it to the MKZ Hybrid). You’ll have to come back to find out, but either way Lexus won’t be selling anywhere near as many of its ES 300h models as it will the NX 300h, so I might as well skip this one and go straight to writing my review of the hybridized SUV, right? I suppose not. Instead I’ll get both finished as soon as possible. Stay tuned…

Since arriving on the subcompact crossover scene halfway through 2015, Mazda’s CX-3 has been a class favourite. It’s good looking, sporty, fairly upscale, nicely equipped and plenty practical, all…

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The subcompact 2017 Mazda CX-3 looks best in top-line GT trim, which is how we’re testing it this week. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Since arriving on the subcompact crossover scene halfway through 2015, Mazda’s CX-3 has been a class favourite. It’s good looking, sporty, fairly upscale, nicely equipped and plenty practical, all good reasons for its rise in popularity.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if the folks at Mazda Canada’s Richmond Hill headquarters are starting to look over their shoulders at new competition now that Toyota’s equally sporty CH-R has shown up, just like Honda is hoping its HR-V’s lead doesn’t get consumed by the new Nissan Qashqai, a mini-Roque that looks like it’ll put up a good fight in this once fringe segment.

In total, the subcompact SUV category has 11 entrants, including the bestselling HR-V with 12,371 sales last year, runner up CX-3 with 9,354 deliveries, third-place Chevrolet Trax with 9,072, Mitsubishi RVR with 6,196, Buick Encore with 5,533, Nissan Juke with 4,442, Jeep Renegade with 3,962, Fiat 500X with 766, and Mini Countryman with 694. I can’t decide if the Mini and Buick should be counted in the subcompact luxury SUV segment because they’re priced higher, but in reality they’re somewhere in the middle. Neither has much effect on the CX-3, however, so it’s a moot point.

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The CX-3 has sporty styling that it lives up to when behind the wheel. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new CH-R is relevant, however, having sold 690 units in its first month of May. This won’t cause too much concern at Honda where the HR-V found 1,687 new buyers, and I suppose the CX-3’s 1,089 May deliveries were strong too, in fact that was the model’s best monthly sales results ever, but it’s just the beginning for the Toyota subcompact and this initial jump out of the gate (a time in a vehicle’s lifecycle when availability is compromised and therefore real sales may have been better) is better than two of the CX-3’s poorer months this year, and stronger than many others it’s competing against, like the Trax that only found 464 buyers, plus the Juke and Renegade that attracted just 270 apiece. Even Fiat’s 500X did better than these two thanks to a best-ever tally of 305 sales, while I believe we’ll see a lot more than May’s 191 units from the new Qashqai.

Other than mention of the upcoming Ford EcoSport (due to arrive later this year) and just announced Hyundai Kona (a Kia version can’t be too far away), that’s the state of the subcompact SUV segment, and the CX-3 remains near the very top for all the reasons just stated as well as Canada’s adoration of its independent Japanese parent.

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The CX-3 provides a more upscale environment than most rivals in GT trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t go into U.S. numbers, but suffice to say they’re not pretty with respect to anything Mazda sells, save the MX-5 “Miata”. Their number one seller in this class is the Renegade, a model far down the pecking order here. With all due respect, every one of the above noted SUVs is worthy of your attention and would likely provide an enjoyable ownership experience, some of my favourites being lower on the popularity poll, but in the case of the CX-3 I can wholly agree with its success.

I’ve read others knock its styling on social media, but I love every inch of the little Mazda sport ute, especially in as-tested top-line GT trim. Moving up from the $20,695 base GX model or $22,695 mid-range GS to the $28,995 GT allows for more sophisticated looking and much brighter LED headlights with stylish signature detailing, plus the world’s tiniest LED fog lamps inserted within the upgraded metallic bezels of its sporty front fascia, not to mention stunning twinned V-spoke 18-inch gunmetal-finish alloys around each side. Move inside and its well laid out cabin gets leather and Lux Suede upholstery, plus loads of exclusive features.

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
That’s leather in a mainstream-branded subcompact SUV. Mazda does it right! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ll go on in more detail in my upcoming review, plus relate how the CX-3’s sole Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder responds to aggressive input, its 146 horsepower and identical 146 lb-ft of torque plenty for an SUV that weighs just 1,339 kilos. This said Mazda joins many other manufacturers in unforgivably making their normally standard six-speed manual transmission unavailable in the CX-3’s sportiest trim, but at least the six-speed automatic has manual mode with an engaging set of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and best of all it’s not a CVT.

If you want AWD you’ll need to accept the autobox anyway, so therefore the CX-3 GT drives all four wheels, which aids traction and doesn’t detract much from efficiencies thanks to a five-cycle rating of 8.8 L/100km in the city and 7.5 on the highway compared to 8.2 city and 6.9 highway in the manual-equipped front-drive model.

I don’t think I’m going to worry too much about fuel economy this week, because the CX-3 GT is way too much fun to let such concerns ruin the moment. Come back soon and check out my road test review to get all the details…

If you’d asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market’s most and least entertaining cars, I’d have put Nissan’s subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective…

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The 2017 Sentra carries forward last year’s styling upgrades while adding a more potent 188-hp SR Turbo trim level. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you’d asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market’s most and least entertaining cars, I’d have put Nissan’s subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective lists. For 2017 the Micra remains a personal favourite cheap performer in the entry-level categories, and much to my delight Nissan has elevated the Sentra’s fun factor times ten.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Sentra SE-R was a highly respected sport compact, and while this once revered model is no more, the Sentra four-door can now be had in as-tested SR Turbo guise as well as top-line Nismo trim. I’ll leave the Nismo for a future garage entry and road test review, because the SR Turbo is what currently occupies my driveway.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The SR Turbo gets a rear spoiler and sportier bumper cap. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Before delving into this all-new 2017 trim, Nissan gave its Sentra a thorough mid-cycle refresh for the 2016 model year that pulls its much more agreeable styling cues from other models within the Japanese brand’s lineup, particularly the Altima mid-size sedan. The most prominent change was the addition of Nissan’s now trademark V-motion grille in chrome and black mesh, extending upward into a new hood and downward into a revised lower fascia, while new complex headlamps included LED low beam projectors in SL and SR trims. Around the sides new 17-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets were added to the latter two trims as well, while all Sentras received new taillight lenses and a reworked rear bumper in typical mid-cycle makeover fashion.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
A new 370Z-inspired steering wheel makes the SR Turbo look and feel better, as does the much improved Sentra interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All of this remains the same except for the elimination of SR trim and adoption of this SR Turbo nameplate for 2017, plus the engine and other performance tweaks that make it so fun to drive. The new 1.6-litre direct-injected four-cylinder gets borrowed from the already impressive Juke crossover, complete with 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque (up a sizeable 58 horsepower and 49 lb-ft of torque over the base 1.8-litre four). Even better, it can be paired with the as-tested six-speed manual gearbox or an available continuously variable automatic (CVT), both boasting unique tuning specific to SR Turbo trim.

Additionally, the SR Turbo gets reworked electric power steering for more direct response and feel, aided by stiffer springs and dampers plus extra bracing for greater rigidity overall. I’ll fill in all the driving dynamic blanks in my upcoming review, but suffice to say it’s worthy of contention with Honda’s new turbocharged Civic powerplant, and can mix it up with the new Elantra Sport as well.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
A backup camera is always appreciated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to the changes that came with last year’s car, the 2017 Sentra carries forward all interior updates such as its more refined surface treatments that now make generous use of soft-touch synthetics and metallic accents, while the SR Turbo gets a sporty new 370Z-inspired three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s a lot better looking due to a reshaped centre hub and side spokes (it’s no longer a big ugly blob) and less crowded multifunction controls. Additionally, new trims were added to the centre stack and doors, the one in my SR Turbo particularly nice.

On the digital front, all 2016 Sentras received a 5.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge package, with higher end trims getting better screen resolution, while Siri Eyes Free was also added to the mix.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
These powered and heated leather seats are part of the SR Premium upgrade package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’m not going to go into every trim level being that this overview is for the SR Turbo, a very different type of car targeting a more performance-oriented buyer, but take note that S and SV trims offer a little more enjoyment from the base engine thanks to their standard six-speed manual gearbox, whereas the more efficient CVT is available with these trims as well, and comes standard on the luxury-focused SL.

Diving right into the SR Turbo, which starts $5,800 higher than the base $15,898 S at $21,598 plus freight and fees, the equipment list includes all items mentioned thus far as well as fog lamps, 205/50VR17 all-season tires, larger 11.7-inch front ventilated sport brakes with upgraded pads (the base car gets 11s), 11.5-inch solid rear discs (base gets drums), active understeer control (when you “upgrade” to the CVT), LED turn signals integrated within the side mirror housings, side rocker extensions, a rear deck lid spoiler with an LED centre mounted brake light (CHMSL), a sport rear fascia with a matte black diffuser-style centre insert, a chromed exhaust tip, and more on the outside.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The Sentra has long been praised for its accommodating passenger compartment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Proximity-sensing keyless access gets you inside and pushbutton ignition gets the motor percolating, while interior upgrades include the leather-wrapped sport steering mentioned earlier, a leather and metal shift knob, exclusive sport inlays, microfiltered air conditioning, a 5.0-inch colour infotainment display with a backup camera, SMS- and email-reading capability, Siri Eyes Free, AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone with streaming audio and more, with additional SR Turbo features including premium sport cloth upholstery, heatable front seats, a sliding front armrest, a flip-down rear seat centre armrest with cupholders, tire pressure monitoring with Easy-Fill alert, etcetera.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The Sentra’s trunk is massive, with 428 litres of space plus expandability via standard 60/40-split rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester came with $300 Aspen White paint, the only other available option being the $3,400 SR Premium package that adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, upgraded sunvisors with extensions and dual illuminated vanity mirrors, an auto-dimming LED centre dome light, a powered moonroof, an upgraded NissanConnect infotainment interface with a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, navigation, eight-speaker (including two subs) Bose premium audio with satellite radio, leather upholstery, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. All the extras pumped the price up to $25,298 before freight and fees, which seems pretty reasonable, especially considering Nissan’s current (at the time of writing) $3,500 cash discount.

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
Meet the new SR Turbo’s 188-hp 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder with 177 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course this all gets added to myriad features available in lesser trims, of which I’ll go into in more detail as part of my upcoming road test review, although take note if you’d like your Sentra with enough active safety gear to qualify for IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status, which it does, such as emergency autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, you’ll need to step into a less powerful CVT-only model.

To its credit that seemingly anemic base Sentra powerplant gets the segment’s best fuel economy at 8.1 L/100km in the city and 6.3 on the highway with its optional CVT, or 9.0 city and 6.8 highway with the standard six-speed manual, while the turbo increases consumption to a claimed 9.1 city and 8.9 highway.

Before signing off I’ll mention one of the Sentra’s greatest attributes, its accommodating passenger compartment and massive 428-litre trunk. I’ll run over more dimensional details and comment on the car’s overall comfort in my review, but its standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks are a bonus no matter how it measures up.

Until next time, sport compact fans might want to consider testing out this new Sentra SR Turbo or its even quicker Nismo sibling. I’ll be back with my road test results and more soon…

Well Scion was certainly an interesting project. It was more successful for longer in the U.S., particularly California where it was initiated and headquartered in 2003. Compared to Ford Motor’s Merkur…

2017 Toyota 86

2017 Toyota 86
The new Toyota 86′ revised lower fascia makes quite a significant change to the car’s frontal appearance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Well Scion was certainly an interesting project. It was more successful for longer in the U.S., particularly California where it was initiated and headquartered in 2003. Compared to Ford Motor’s Merkur (1985–1989) brand and GM’s Geo (1989–1997)—the General did better with Saturn (1985–2010), a fourteen-year run is pretty good as far as marketing projects go, the cars it sold only rebranded versions of global Toyota models.

It therefore made perfect sense to give the outgoing FR-S a version of its global GT86/FT-86 moniker, the “86” portion of the name paying homage to the now classic rear-drive Corolla GTS/AE86 that’s still tearing up racetracks around the world. This said I’d rather have seen Toyota combine old and new by coining FR-86, being that they don’t have the rights to use the GT86 name here (exclusive to Europe and New Zealand), and FT-86 (only available in Jamaica and Nicaragua) makes little more sense, but I wasn’t on that marketing panel so I can only wonder what went down within Toyota’s inner circle. As it is, 86 is the name given to the car in Asia, Australia and South America, and we being part of the Americas, get the simpler nameplate.

2017 Toyota 86
Always a sleek profile, a new front fender vent and new wheels are the most noticeable updates. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Enough about renaming misnomers, most FR-S/86 fans won’t care all that much for what it’s called, and those purists who do have long been replacing Scion logos with Toyota crests along with chromed FR-S lettering for stylized GT86 badges. They’re already doing the same here in North America, so Toyota continues to inadvertently help online aftermarket vendors trying to make a little extra coin servicing this ultra-niche market.

What matters more is the 2017 model’s mid-cycle refresh, a subtle but effective update of a model that had become slightly stale despite still being one of the prettier sports cars on the market. The big differences to styling come up front, its headlights now incorporating de rigueur full LED elements with LED turn signals, and its lower fascia integrating a more organically stylized centre intake with a black mesh insert, plus new triangular-shaped black straked corner “vents” to each side, which are really bezels for fog lamps available from the accessories catalogue or Special Edition upgrade.

2017 Toyota 86
New LED taillights and no model insignia are the only clues to the update from the rear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Toyota has ironically removed the circular 86 badge from each of the FR-S’ rather complex front fender engine vents and replaced them with a sleeker more minimal design, while at the back it’s all about new LED taillights. Lastly, new standard 17-inch alloys round out the package.

Toyota has upgraded the new 86’ interior over the outgoing FR-S with more soft synthetic surfaces across the dash top and instrument panel, plus fancy ultra-psuede door uppers, as well as attractive new fabric upholstery featuring black side bolsters with white contrast stitching and grey inserts. There are plenty of satin-silver accents throughout the cabin too, while the old Pioneer-sourced 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen gets new Toyota-branded graphics and integrates a backup camera, USB integration, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, plus more.

2017 Toyota 86
Toyota has improved the new cabin for a more refined experience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Call it a 2+2, but the rearmost seats are designed more for two 0.5-sized adults or kids, which is par for the course in the compact coupe class. Rather than look at the glass half full, it’s best to appreciate the additional passenger and cargo possibilities offered by the 86’ rear quarters over convertible competitors like Mazda’s MX-5 or Fiat’s 124 Spider, which are solely two-place prospects. I once had a friend show me how he was able to store four racing wheels on slicks with the rear seats of his FR-S folded, which simultaneously told me as much as I needed to know about the car’s practical aspects and performance prowess. The 86, incidentally, gets the same 196-litre trunk as the FR-S, plus its non-split folding rear seatback.

At the heart of that performance-focused ideal, which is really the 86’ raison d’être, the updated model gets a mildly revised version of the FR-S’ Subaru-sourced 2.0-litre horizontally opposed “boxer” four-cylinder. A tweak here and mod there has allowed for a minor bump from 200 horsepower to 205 and 151 lb-ft of torque to 156, but only six-speed manual-equipped cars get the upgrade. Those fitted with the paddle-actuated six-speed automatic featuring rev-matched downshifting via Toyota’s “Dynamic Rev Management” system, as was the case with my Hot Lava painted tester, carry forward with the unmodified engine. Being that I already drove (and reviewed) a new 2017 Subaru BRZ with the manual and therefore experienced the same performance boost, I’ll relate my comments as well as the benefits (if any) of the autobox.

2017 Toyota 86
Higher quality materials and nicer design details improve the look and feel inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Either way both 86 models receive a reworked suspension with retuned damping, whereas the manual gets a revised rear differential for a quicker launch from standstill up to speed. Getting off the line in mind, both manual and automatic equipped trims incorporate hill start assist.

Now that we’re talking features, Toyota continues to follow Scion’s lead by keeping the new model’s trims to a minimum, simply offering the 86 6M (for six-speed manual) and 86 6A (for… sigh… I don’t really need to explain this, do I?), while as noted an 86 Special Edition is also on the menu.

2017 Toyota 86
The standard sport seats get an upholstery upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Standard features not yet mentioned include a limited slip differential, 215/45R17 tires, auto on/off LED headlamps, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, remote keyless entry, a tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped multifunction three-spoke sport steering wheel, a leather-clad shift knob and handbrake handle, aluminum sport pedals, a trip computer/multi-info display, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, air conditioning, eight-speaker AM/FM audio with aux and USB inputs plus an Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL), Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, power windows with auto up/down all-round, dual vanity mirrors, all the usual active and passive safety equipment, and more.

On top of this the $32,555 Special Edition, which solely comes with the manual gearbox, adds fog lamps, a rear spoiler featuring black-painted accents, black side mirror housings, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display with vehicle performance data, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, heatable front seats, and an alarm. That’s certainly the one I’d want to live with every day, but that’s not the one I was given to test.

2017 Toyota 86
Space is limited in back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also important, like the FR-S and Scion in general, the new Toyota gets plenty of accessories to spice up the look and add to the experience overall, including the usual block heater, exterior protection film wraps, hood and side window deflectors, rear spoiler, and cargo liner, plus the less expected Bongiovi Acoustics DPS sound system upgrade; the Extension Box premium display audio system with navigation, Push-to-Talk voice recognition, various apps such as Aha, Harman on iTunes, and Google Play, etcetera; gorgeous 18-inch TRD lightweight alloys; TRD sport exhaust; TRD 1 1/8th-inch lowering spring kit; TRD performance air intake; TRD performance front and rear brake pads; and stiffer gloss red powder coated TRD sway bars.

As is understandable due to new standard features, the 86 adds $2,090 to last year’s base FR-S price tag, the new tally still below $30k at $29,580 plus freight and fees. One thing to consider is the aforementioned BRZ, however, which was previously pricier but can now be had for just $27,995. The two cars were developed side-by-side and use many of the same components, especially at the core, so keep both the Subie in mind when shopping, and for that matter throw in a visit to your local Nissan dealer for a look at the repositioned 370Z that starts at just $29,998 with its 332 horsepower V6 included.

2017 Toyota 86
Cargo volume is typically small, but the rear seatback folds to expand its usefulness. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, the Z’s big 3.7-litre V6 won’t provide anywhere near the 86’ superb fuel economy, its five-cycle estimate being 11.3 L/100km in the city and 8.3 on the highway for the manual, or 9.9 city and 7.3 highway for the auto, both aided by D4-S direct and port fuel injection.

As for me, despite the autobox, I’m going to enjoy every minute behind the wheel of this new 86, which since arriving on the sports car scene as the FR-S has been one of the more entertaining cars available for the reasonable sum asked. Come back to read my assessment of that automatic transmission, the retuned suspension, its many improvements inside, a little look at how it’s being received by you, the people that matter (sales data), etcetera. As always, I won’t hold back my true thoughts and feelings.

True to my predictions when reviewing the all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition, it’s selling reasonably well during its honeymoon period, albeit with 2,096 year-to-date Canadian sales (as of April…

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring
The all new Honda Ridgeline is better than ever before and currently in our garage. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

True to my predictions when reviewing the all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition, it’s selling reasonably well during its honeymoon period, albeit with 2,096 year-to-date Canadian sales (as of April 30, 2017) it probably won’t exceed the previous model’s 2006 calendar year high of 4,988 units. The question remains whether Honda will be able to build upon this growth let alone hang on to it moving forward.

To be clear, after peaking in 2006 the model’s sales numbers steadily dropped to a low of 1,713 units in 2011, after which it climbed just above the 2k mark for a couple of years before falling to 1,803 deliveries in 2014, its last full year of availability before Honda started winding down production of the first-generation model to prepare for this second-gen version (2015 saw just 229 sales).

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring
Lo and behold, a traditional pickup box that can accept a regular canopy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new 2017 Ridgeline is better than the outgoing version in most respects, so it makes sense that it should find more buyers, but as most people are very aware the pickup truck sector is a fickle beast that’s filled with enviably loyal clientele (you need to completely forget that you even have a pickup truck like Nissan has done with its long-in-tooth Frontier in order to push owners over to another brand, or even worse cancel a once bestselling model like Dodge did with its Dakota or Ford with its Ranger), so the Ridgeline’s continued success is anyone’s guess.

Honda is trying to sell a very refined truck to a market that normally buys rough and tough manliness over intelligently thought-out sophistication, with the former most often touting over-the-top styling, performance, off-road capability, load hauling and towing specs, etcetera.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring
The Ridgeline offers the most refinement and sophistication you’ll find in the mid-size pickup segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Ridgeline is the alternative pickup truck, totally unlike anything else on the market. It starts with unibody construction formed off the back of Japanese brand’s Pilot SUV, and even pulls many of that model’s styling elements into the mix, for a design that takes a softer and smoother approach to Honda’s current creased and angled origami-inspired styling. This was purposeful, as Honda isn’t trying to market to those wowed by the long-time bestselling Toyota Tacoma’s new military-spec style TRD Pro 4×4, or the rejuvenated Chevy Colorado’s latest ZR2 off-road replica racing truck.

I must admit the two performance trucks appeal to the weekend warrior side of my personality, having been raised by an outdoorsy dad who oftentimes had something rugged in the garage, a favourite being our ‘70s era Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40. Yet at the same time we took 2WD pickup trucks, camperized vans, and even the family’s ’61 Pontiac Strato Chief wagon and go-anywhere ’66 VW Beetle into areas that no sane motorist would dare to go (no offence dad), and came away mostly unscathed and a true believer in the power of “Come-A-Long” hand winches. In other words, just because a truck might ride lower to the ground and only offer all-wheel drive instead of part-time four-wheel drive with a bull low range doesn’t mean you’re forced to remain solely on paved roads and light-duty gravel surfaces.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring
That’s leather upholstery and a powered driver’s seat with memory. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Honda proved this during the introduction of the original Ridgeline, in which we scaled some fairly steep and untoward off-road terrain (but nothing that caused a pit in the stomach like a few hair-raising Jeep, Land Rover and Hummer launch programs). Opportunity to show how easy it is to load a Honda ATV via attachable ramps were part of that past event too, plus back-to-back 5,000-pound trailering sessions against the competition. The Ridgeline was better than its rivals at these tasks, and its other innovations left a gaggle of auto scribes mostly impressed.

I didn’t take part in this current Ridgeline’s press event, but I’m guessing it’s at least as capable of roughing it now as it was then, but this new iteration is substantially more refined, with a more SUV-like cabin filled featuring soft-touch surfaces, fancier trims, top-tier electronics, and more; plus it plays well to families due to the highest safety rating ever given to a pickup truck; it has a much more utile box on its backside that’s even capable of accepting a regular off-the-rack canopy; and it keeps its innovative cargo bed trunk as well as its ultra-useful dual-purpose swing-out and drop-down tailgate intact.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring
How does rear seat roominess stack up? I’ll explain in my upcoming review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

A shortlist of standard features includes a 280 horsepower V6, AWD, a fully independent suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, remote start, proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a tilt and telescopic multifunction steering wheel, a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display, heatable front seats, a multi-angle backup camera, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, SMS- and email-reading capability, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a 225-watt seven-speaker stereo, front collision warning with autonomous braking, lane departure alert with lane keeping assist, emergency responding telematics, and more for the Ridgeline’s base price of $36,790 plus freight and fees.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Touring
A trunk and a side-swinging tailgate. Try that in a Tacoma or Colorado. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, available features in upper trims include more chromed exterior trim, LED headlights with auto high beams, fog lamps, power-folding side mirrors with memory and reverse tilt down, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a heatable steering wheel, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with memory, leather upholstery, cooled front and heated rear seats, a tri-zone auto climate control system, navigation, voice recognition, Wi-Fi, 540-watt eight-speaker audio, satellite and HD radio, an exclusive truck-bed audio system, front and rear parking sensors, dynamic cruise control, Honda LaneWatch that projects a camera view of the blindspot on the infotainment screen when applying the right turn signal, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and more, with all of the active safety features adding up to a class-exclusive IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.

Of course, I’ll go into much more detail when I review the new Ridgeline for a second time, the occasion being a Touring trimmed version that Honda kindly loaned me (which I think looks much better in silver than my previous tester’s black), so stay tuned for a fair and impartial look at Honda’s evermore impressive pickup truck…

The Dune arrived last year and caused quite a stir amongst the VW Beetle faithful. I’m not talking about those who adhere to the wonderful little air-cooled rear-engine “Bug” that put Volkswagen…

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
Ready for something altogether different? Meet VW’s Beetle Dune, a crossover “Bug” that pulls inspiration from classic dune buggies. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Dune arrived last year and caused quite a stir amongst the VW Beetle faithful.

I’m not talking about those who adhere to the wonderful little air-cooled rear-engine “Bug” that put Volkswagen on the global map more than half a century ago, but more so those weaned on the modern-day front-engine, front-drive version that wowed the world as the Concept One when it hit VW’s Detroit auto show stage in 1994 and eventually arrived as the New Beetle in 1997.

It was thoroughly and effectively redesigned in 2010 for the 2011 model year, the “New” internally named A4 version then old, resulting in the simpler “Beetle” nameplate getting the nod for this A5-based third-generation. It remains less frou-frou and therefore appeals to brawnier types, which has inevitably led to some very eye-catching special editions.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
You’ll stand out in a crowd with this pseudo-SUV, and get farther off-road than with any other modern-day Beetle. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The best of these, in my opinion, is the Classic that arrived for 2015, which now seems to be a permanent fixture within the Beetle lineup, whereas the crossover-styled Dune is on its second year, with a convertible version added for 2017, so it appears this wonderfully unorthodox new addition will become a perennial regular too.

The Dune does a pretty good job of toughening up the Beetle’s less than masculine image, as seen here at its photo shoot next to a local river about five kilometers from my home. The gritty dirt underneath and natural background seems fitting, this being the “dune buggy” of the family, although a Golf Alltrack might be the more capable compact VW to take up and over unpaved hills.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
The 2017 Beetle Dune comes one way, fully loaded with a surprising allotment of features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The expected SUV-like matte black plastic cladding is tastefully applied as a lower body wraparound, adding a little more beef around the wheel cutouts, while VW spiffs up the design with aluminum-look grille trim and undertrays front and rear. A 10-mm raised “Rough road” suspension adds to the crossover look, allowing more room for a decidedly non-4×4-like set of 18-inch machine-finished Canyon alloys, while wider front and rear tracks and a thicker 23-mm front stabilizer bar make sure that any additional top-heaviness is offset by added stability and extra rigidity in the suspension.

Exclusive Sandstorm Yellow Metallic paint (it’s also available in Deep Black Pearl and Pure White) gets carried over to the dash and door uppers inside, where it’s joined by Curry Yellow piping and stitching on the otherwise black leatherette bolstered seats with Dark Ceramique cloth inserts (no matter the exterior colour chosen), while the Curry Yellow stitching is also found on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter boot, handbrake handle, and centre armrest.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
No matter the exterior colour choice, you get this unique Yellow Curry accented interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The $28,890 Dune hardtop is not only a style icon taken to the next level, but it’s a well-equipped daily driver filled with the types of features today’s buyers want, such as auto on/off HID headlights with delayed shut-off, LED daytime running lights, fog lamps, LED taillights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, heatable front seats, a 6.3-inch colour infotainment touchscreen with proximity-sensing digital buttons, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, a backup camera, navigation, two SD card slots, a USB port, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, eight-speaker 400-watt Fender audio, a large power moonroof, front and rear parking sensors, an alarm, and more.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
Beetles are more practical than you might think. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Front-wheel motivation comes via VW’s 1.8-litre turbocharged and direct-injected 1.8-litre four-cylinder that’s capable of 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and partially due to its six-speed auto with Tiptronic manual mode is rated at 9.7 L/100km in the city and 7.2 on the highway. While it looks like an off-road warrior the Dune isn’t available with 4Motion all-wheel drive, but its electronic traction and stability control, amongst other driving aids, reportedly help it go farther into the wilderness than most would think possible, but unfortunately we won’t be bushwhacking this week.

We will be enjoying the Beetle Dune on the streets of our fair city instead, although this week it’s particularly cool and cloudy, albeit mostly dry, so we probably won’t be taking it to the beach where it would fit in most ideally.

Either way, come back for a full review where we’ll give you the ins and outs of its passenger and cargo compartments, the pluses and minuses of its driving dynamics, the pros and cons of is various features, all the while wandering through various (hopefully entertaining) digressions…

Volvo has been very busy remaking its entire brand over the past few years. It started with a focus on powertrains, its various five-cylinders and V6s gradually replaced by a lineup of efficient direct-injection…

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
The 2017 Volvo S60 still looks good after all these years, especially in top-line T6 AWD trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Volvo has been very busy remaking its entire brand over the past few years. It started with a focus on powertrains, its various five-cylinders and V6s gradually replaced by a lineup of efficient direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinders. Pricier trims went a step further by integrating both turbocharging and supercharging into the same 2.0-litre four, while the all-new award-winning XC90 SUV even has a plug-in hybrid version of the latter.

That XC90 ushered in the second phase of Volvo’s metamorphosis, a wholesale brand-wide design that included an entirely new level of opulent luxury and future-tech feature sets. The XC90 was quickly followed by an entirely new mid-size luxury sedan dubbed S90 (replacing the S80), this model including a wagon variant named V90 (replacing the V70), plus an immediately more popular raised crossover model that—in Volvo tradition—goes by the name of V90 Cross Country (replacing the V70 Cross Country/XC70).

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
The design is sleek and elegant, while very aerodynamic. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While all of this is thoroughly exciting to anyone working for Volvo or supportive of the storied Swedish marque, the new 2018 XC60, which looks like a smaller interpretation of the XC90, will certainly become Volvo’s new sales leader when it goes on sale later this year.

This leaves the D-segment S60, currently in our garage, as well as its V60 and V60 Cross Country siblings, which I’ve reviewed previously, as the lone Volvo line yet to go under the surgeon’s knife, plus of course an entire line of subcompact cars and SUVs that have yet to surface.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
These wheels and some of the front fascia details are part of the T6 AWD upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While not as new in styling or features as the updated models mentioned, the S60 is still very worthy of attention, especially those who tend to hold onto their cars longer and therefore wouldn’t suffer from as much depreciation when the updated model arrives next year on a new modular chassis architecture that Volvo will use exclusively (the current S60 reaches back seven years to when Ford sold the brand to China’s Geely, while the Volvo V3/Ford EUCD chassis it rides upon is 11 years old—coming into use with the S80—and has been shared with many Ford and Land Rover models ever since).

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
S60 quality can’t be faulted. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The design is clean, uncluttered and especially aerodynamic, and I must admit still looks smart if not the newest kid on the block. Unfortunately it sells into a premium sector that thrives on latest and greatest, hence why newer Volvo designs have mostly seen big boosts in sales (especially the XC90) and why this one has seen its once strong market share slowly and steadily erode from a high of 3,227 units in 2002 to an initial bump of 1,519 in 2011 and then a slightly higher blip to 1,525 in 2012, both after the redesigned version hit the road, to just 657 examples last year. There’s a silver lining in all of this dreariness, however; the previous low before this second-gen car arrived in 2010 was 208 deliveries, meaning they’ve got a lot more to build upon this time around.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
A fully digital gauge package, just another surprise that continues to make the S60 special. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While it’s fair to say the exterior sheetmetal is still plenty attractive, the cabin is very high in quality and designed with one part minimalism and another button overkill, but being a fan of classic high-end audio equipment this works well for me. The majority of buttons are clustered atop the floating centre stack, still a lovely design element, and they’re positioned to make a lot of sense once acclimatized, especially the HVAC interface that’s basically a body pictograph (you don’t even need to speak Swedish to figure it out—or English).

Above that is a fully featured infotainment system with good graphics and nice contrast for good depth of colour, and while not as impressive as the best-in-class tablet-style touchscreen interface found in the XC90 and S90/V90 series, it’s quite serviceable and includes a backup camera with active guidelines as well as navigation in my top-tier T6 AWD tester.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
I still love this unique and very hands-on control interface. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even more impressive is the S60’s fully configurable primary gauge cluster. Volvo was early to adopt a feature that’s now becoming more prevalent in competitors’ higher trims, and they did a very good job on this one, plus its resolution quality is extremely good.

No matter the trim level the S60 delivers an upscale environment with superb attention to detail, very high quality padded soft synthetic surface treatments, tastefully applied satin-finished and brushed metals, and some of the best seats in the car industry.

2017 Volvo S60 T6 AWD
They’re even more comfortable than they look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ll leave my road test analysis to my upcoming review, and won’t comment too much further on the S60’s other attributes or detractors, but only add that my tester was equipped with the upgraded turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, plus AWD fed through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters.

That’s a cutting edge drivetrain considering its conservative styling, and one I’ll soon tell you all about. Come join me back here in a couple of weeks for the full review…