Big flagship luxury sedans don’t change up as quickly as more volume-oriented premium models, such as BMW’s ultra-popular D-segment 3 Series in comparison to its full-size F-segment 7. And for those…

2017 BMW 750Li Executive

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
Stylish new BMW 7 Series is best experienced in top-line extended wheelbase 750Li guise. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Big flagship luxury sedans don’t change up as quickly as more volume-oriented premium models, such as BMW’s ultra-popular D-segment 3 Series in comparison to its full-size F-segment 7. And for those customers at the top, this reality seems to be okay. The previous fifth-generation F01/F02/F03 body style lasted eight years before it saw the current G11/G12 arriving in 2015 as a 2016 model, so as you probably can ascertain this 2017 7 Series in our garage is not all that different from last year’s version.

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
The 750Li is long although nicely proportioned, while its details are exceptionally well finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s difficult to imagine a luxury car being any better than the 750Li Executive parked there. Along with its Li moniker comes a 140-millimeter (5.5-inch) longer wheelbase for extended rear legroom, and BMW has taken full advantage of that extra length (as have we) by adding an available Executive Lounge package that provides one of the best first-class airliner-style reclining passenger seats that’s ever been integrated into a car.

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
LED headlamps and fog lights, plus big multi-spoke alloys set top-tier trims apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The simple press of a digitized button integrated into the removable rear iDrive tablet that sits atop the fixed centre console powers the front passenger seat forward while automatically lowering an ottoman and positioning a fairly large TV screen in just the right position for easy viewing, while various massage features do wonders with your tired aching back, seat heating or cooling keeps you at the right temperature, and of course powered memory functions get the seatback into the ideal position and keep it there.

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
The only thing that might lure you away from the beautifully finished driver’s seat… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional rear controls are added for the four-zone auto HVAC system, again adjustable via the tablet or iDrive tablet, while that aforementioned console includes a gorgeous pullout table, device chargers, and more, plus your surroundings include a beautiful dual-pane panoramic moonroof overhead, powered sunshades all-round, thicker glass for better sound insulation, the best quality quilted perforated leathers, satin-finish metals, lacquered woods, vertical parlour-style lights, and the list goes on.

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
… is the even more amazing rear quarters when the Executive package is added. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The 750Li Executive isn’t only about the rear seating area, mind you, although I could go on ad infinitum about its lengthy menu of features, its incredible materials quality, and the superb craftsmanship throughout, but such can also be said for the driver’s experience that starts with the smartest smart key ever created, even capable of autonomous remote control parking and then rolling down an LED light carpet upon approach. It’ll put itself back too, or self-park if you don’t feel up to it, including self-braking if you don’t notice something in the way. What’s more, the new 7 can drive in full autonomous mode for up to 15 seconds (it could do more, but BMW is much more conservative than Tesla).

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
Stretch out and relax like you’ve never been able to do in a car before. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Self-synching soft-closing doors gently pull themselves shut while a fully configurable colour TFT primary gauges greets you once inside, as does a state-of-the-art 10.2-inch widescreen iDrive infotainment system that allows hand gestures in the air for controlling features. You’ll be seated in one of the best driver’s seats in the industry replete with ventilation and massage functions (why should the rear passenger get all the goodies?), while a fragrance dispenser in the glove box wafts nice perfumes (or aromatherapy scents) through the air, and then you’ve got to factor in that it’s a BMW, so the overall driving environment might make you want to take over the wheel more often than relaxing in back anyway.

2017 BMW 750Li Executive
The new 750Li is a truly special kind of executive limo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As usual with the In Our Garage segment I’ll leave any experiential info until later, but suffice to say its adjustable air suspension does what it’s supposed to and more, even adjusting itself ahead of otherwise pesky pavement imperfections such as bumps, potholes, manhole covers, bridge expansion joints, etcetera. Rear wheel steering is available, all of which is designed to make the most of the 750i’s 450 horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8, eight-speed automatic, and standard all-wheel drivetrain. It’s even fuel-efficient with a rating of just 14.3 L/100km in the city and 9.3 on the highway.

Believe it or not there’s a lot more to cover, so come back soon for a full review including more detail about the drive, the comfort, the technology, the insanely powerful Bowers & Wilkins audio upgrade, and just how much all of this costs…

Is that a Honda Civic with four doors and a hatch? You saw that right. Odd that Honda took so long to re-enter the compact hatchback market it helped create way back in the late ‘60s and made popular…

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX
The Civic Hatchback is back, and we’ll review it here soon. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Is that a Honda Civic with four doors and a hatch? You saw that right. Odd that Honda took so long to re-enter the compact hatchback market it helped create way back in the late ‘60s and made popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but the Honda Civic Hatchback is back and better than ever, if somewhat controversial looking.

Yes, the new Civic Hatchback is a love-it-or-hate-it design that at the very least will turn heads. Its frontal styling pulls equal cues from the four-door Civic Sedan and two-door Civic Coupe, while its rear design melds some of both models’ key elements into one totally unique shape.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX
Not everyone likes the Civic Hatchback’s rear design. What do you think? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Honda gave us a base LX model to play with for our weeklong test, but for some reason they chose not to include its entry-level six-speed manual gearbox and instead gave us its continuously variable transmission (CVT). Unlike the Civic Sedan, all trims can be had with both transmissions, except those with the Japanese brand’s impressive suite of Honda Sensing active safety features, but then again all trims can be had with or without these upgrades so you’ll have the choice of optimizing performance or accessing the latest in semi-autonomous driving capability.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX
No compact competitor comes close to delivering as much modern style and high-tech digital wizardry in a base package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also unlike the Civic Sedan, the Hatchback gets one single turbocharged and direct-injected 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine as standard. It makes 174 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque in the LX, although in the CVT model we tested the torque drops to 162 lb-ft, while second-rung Sport and top-line Touring trims get a 180 horsepower version of the engine that puts out 177 lb-ft of torque. Once again, CVT equipped models utilizing this loftier engine are detuned to achieve just 162 lb-ft of torque, but the engine is lively either way so no one should complain. An easy way to tell the zestier engine from the Hatchback’s exterior is a dual centre-mounted exhaust pipe at back, and its owners filling up with pricier premium fuel to extract all its potential.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX
Rear seat roominess is very good, but what about comfort? Come back to find out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even base LX models should impress compact buyers thanks to a colour multi-information display within the advanced primary gauge cluster, and a large 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack filled with high-grade graphics plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A multi-angle backup camera is included standard too, as is Wi-Fi tethering and other high-tech features, while additional conveniences include auto on/off headlights, single-zone automatic climate control, heatable front seats, and more.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX
Short of a wagon, nothing comes close to hatchback convenience in the compact class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those upgrading to Honda Sensing get dynamic cruise control with low-speed follow, emergency autonomous braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and more.

I’ll fill you in on Sport and Sport Touring trims in my upcoming road test review too, and let you know my real world experience with interior roominess front and back, and how well the seats fold to maximize the car’s impressive 1,308-litre maximum cargo capacity.

At $21,390 the Civic Hatchback offers a lot for the money, but a number of new hatchback challengers now join the full assortment of competitors already vying for your hard earned cash, so stay tuned to find out if this newcomer deserves your full attention…

We drove the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t AWD Coupe last fall, and while a wonderfully quick, impressively refined and beautifully sculpted two-door hardtop it was nowhere near the car this Q60 Red Sport 400…

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
The gorgeous 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 turns heads wherever it goes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

We drove the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t AWD Coupe last fall, and while a wonderfully quick, impressively refined and beautifully sculpted two-door hardtop it was nowhere near the car this Q60 Red Sport 400 is.

The Red Sport 400 is a BMW M4 for those who prefer subtler styling and less aggressive dynamics. It’s plenty quick with 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque driving both axles, and its seven-speed automatic rows through the gears fast enough for all but adrenaline addicted track stars, and while it’ll carve up a canyon as well as most super coupes it does so without punishing occupants from a harsh ride.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
Aggressive yes, but totally classy too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The $60,990 model is one of three Q60 Coupe trims, the base car sporting a Mercedes-sourced 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.0t we tested previously equipped with Infiniti’s new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 capable of 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.

No matter the powertrain every new Q60 drives all four wheels through a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic with rev-matched downshifts, the Red Sport 400 also receiving paddle shifters for greater control during performance driving. The AWD system defaults to rear-drive when no wheel slippage occurs, or can send up to 50 percent of its torque frontward when required.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
Infiniti’s stylish Q60 cabin gets upgraded with carbon trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you’ve driven a Q50 Red Sport 400 (the four-door model that we reviewed last year) you’ll be familiar with this two-door version thanks to beautiful blue-hued glossy carbon inlays throughout, and plenty of high grade contrast-stitched leather on the instrument panel, lower console, door skins, and of course the seat upholstery, the latter of which are fabulously contoured sport seats with plenty of adjustment, while the foot pedals are appropriately formed of metal.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
These sport seats are wonderfully comfortable and adequately supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The brand’s dual-display infotainment system resides on the centre stack too, the top monitor controlled by a knurled metal rotating knob on the lower console and the bottom display a touchscreen. The electroluminescent primary gauges feature a colour multi-information display at centre too.

We’ll go into detail about Infiniti’s digital displays as well as the Q60 Red Sport 400’s other features as part of a full road test review coming up soon, while also delving into its assortment of active safety gear that includes dynamic cruise control, lane keeping assist, and more, but most importantly we’ll give you a play-by-play account of this car’s extreme performance.

Check these pages soon for an upcoming review…

Make up your mind, Canada. For years you made Ford’s Escape number one in the compact SUV category, but that ended when 2016 closed and Toyota’s RAV4 took over top spot, and then after two months…

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD
The 2017 Rogue gets a mid-cycle update boasting bolder styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Make up your mind, Canada. For years you made Ford’s Escape number one in the compact SUV category, but that ended when 2016 closed and Toyota’s RAV4 took over top spot, and then after two months of 2017 Honda’s recently redesigned CR-V bumped the RAV4 off its pedestal, only to be knocked off by Nissan’s new Rogue last month.

As of Q1 2017, Nissan has sold 10,481 Rogues, Honda has purveyed 10,465 CR-Vs, Toyota has moved 9,979 RAV4s, and Ford’s Escape has dropped all the way down to fourth due to just 8,932 deliveries, although that’s still pretty impressive, as you’ll soon see. The rest of the compact SUV segment follows fairly far behind with the Jeep Cherokee at 6,594 units, Hyundai Tucson at 5,652, Chevrolet Equinox at 5,178, Mazda CX-5 at 5,108, GMC Terrain at 2,977, Subaru Forester at 2,911, Kia Sportage at 2,704, VW Tiguan at 1,764, Mitsubishi Outlander at 1,540, Subaru Crosstrek at 1,506, Jeep Patriot at 984, and finally the Jeep Compass at 242 sales.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD
The new Rogue’s rear end design is very similar to the outgoing model, but fans will notice the subtle differences. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Why does being number-one matter? If you remember the once-popular TV game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, the most accurate answers always came from the audience, and those who vote with their wallets are even more likely to be right.

Truth be told, any of the compact SUV segment’s top four (or even the top six) are good bets, but respect should be given to Nissan that’s pulled the Rogue up by its britches with this latest mid-cycle refresh, and by so doing raised its game from fourth overall last year to first last month. Whether it stays there is anyone’s guess, but what’s done is done and Nissan should be commended for creating a compact SUV that most consumers like.

Of note, the Rogue is also Nissan’s biggest seller and therefore its most important model, so expect the Japanese automaker to keep piling on the upgrades year after year, while it continues to pull out all the stops in marketing, pricing, and layering on incentives to keep it numero uno.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD
The top-line SL Platinum can be had with a unique brown interior and upscale premium finishings. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of critical importance to its rise in popularity is the refresh just mentioned, which updates styling, improves interior refinement, modernizes technologies, and adds a host of active safety features. Visually, the Rogue moves into 2017 with mostly the same flowing sheet metal as before, but its V-shaped grille has been flattened into more of a “U” and then trimmed out in more detail so as to simultaneously toughen up and sophisticate its image, plus its headlight clusters get more complexity along with quad beams and unique LED DRL signatures, and its lower front fascia is likewise given more intricate detailing along with horizontal LED fogs in uppers trims.

Changes down each side and in back are more subtly applied, the former including chrome mouldings adorning the otherwise matte black rocker extensions, and the latter including revised LED taillights and a reshaped bumper featuring a bolder black cap that protrudes outward and upward from below, once again giving the car-based crossover SUV a bit more rugged truck-like appeal.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD
Stylish seats make the Rogue look more like a luxury-lined Infiniti than a mainstream Nissan. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Lastly, all Rogue trims get new wheels that seem inspired by its larger mid-size Murano sibling, including 17-inch steel rims on the base S, 17-inch alloys on the SV, and 19-inch alloys with black painted pockets on the top-line SL. New colours often make just as dramatic a change without nearly as much expense, so therefore Nissan gives 2017 Rogue buyers the option of Caspian Blue, Monarch Orange, and our tester’s stunning Palatial Ruby, plus a bevy of hues carried forward from last year’s model.

Moving inside, Nissan has updated the Rogue with a new flat-bottomed steering wheel rim that provides greater space for the driver’s legs when sliding in and out and looks pretty sporty to boot, while it’s now heatable in upper trims. The shifter’s leather-clad shifter boot is new too, plus the new Rogue can also be had with remote engine start and memory for the driver’s seat and side mirrors.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD
The Rogue offers loads of cargo capacity. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Interior styling changes include new dash panels, door skins and armrests, while our tester’s new Platinum Reserve package adds a stitched leather dash pad and quilted leather upholstery in classy Premium Tan.

The Rogue isn’t the most energetic SUV in its class at 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, while a fuel economy-focused continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard, so therefore it’s quite clear that superior performance isn’t high on compact SUV buyers’ priority lists. Comfort is, but we’ll go into more detail about ride quality, handling, plus of course acceleration, braking and other experiential issues when our full road test review soon arrives in these pages. We’ll also tell you about its new active safety kit that includes emergency autonomous braking and much more, plus illuminate the pros and cons of its all-important digital interfaces.

Stay tuned for our upcoming road test review…

With Q1 behind us we probably shouldn’t forecast 2017 as the year of the car’s return, as SUV growth is still at unprecedented rates, but some models give the future of ground-hugging models hope.…

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
This good looking compact Hyundai sedan is one of the best performing cars in its class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

With Q1 behind us we probably shouldn’t forecast 2017 as the year of the car’s return, as SUV growth is still at unprecedented rates, but some models give the future of ground-hugging models hope.

After hovering around the 65k mark for the past half decade Honda’s Civic once again shows that the market for cars is ripe if you build something people want to buy (consider that thought for a moment Dodge), the ever-growing compact finding 7,251 buyers so far this year and 64,552 during calendar year 2016, while Toyota’s new Corolla family (it now includes the orphaned Scion iM in its ranks) was good for 5,996 deliveries over the first three months of 2017 and 48,195 last year.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
Hyundai backs up the racy looking Elantra Sport with a 201-hp turbo four and superb handling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

How about Hyundai and its Elantra? Thought you’d never ask. It’s running in third so far this year at 4,334 units despite being second in 2016 with 48,875, but 2017 is still young so we’ll just have to wait and see how things come out in the wash (we should really include Veloster sales in with the Elantra as it’s a sporty compact that effectively does battle with the Civic Coupe, although its miniscule 229 deliveries over Q1 2017 and 1,831 last year won’t help it measure up to the Corolla family second-place sales lead).

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
A well laid out and refined cabin makes the Elantra Sport easy to live with. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Just the same the Elantra has a lot going for it, including the five-door Elantra GT. We drove that car way back in September of 2015 as its ushered in a new grille design for the 2016 model year, and then in March of 2016 we reviewed the completely redesigned 2017 Elantra Sedan in Limited guise as well, but since then Hyundai released new Sport trim for the four-door model and it’s been a breath of fresh air.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
Leather seats, a superb infotainment system, and yes, that’s right, you’re looking at a 6-speed manual in an upscale Elantra. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t go into detail about its driving dynamics as that would give away the real meat of our upcoming road test review, but let’s just say the brand’s new engineering team is doing as much for chassis development as its design team has improved styling. In fact, I might go as far to say the new Elantra Sport, which is the only Elantra above the base LE to incorporate a manual transmission, is the spiritual successor to previous Civic Si models (not the outrageously quick Nürburgring trouncing 2018 five-door) due to its 201 horsepower 1.6-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder and wonderful balance, or maybe more accurately it’s the spiritual successor to Nissan’s long missing-in-action Sentra SE-R (I’ll probably get hate mail if I push the Si issue). Either way it’s a superb driving car that I’ll dissect in an upcoming review.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
Leather upholstered sport seats offer up plenty of side bolstering for excellent support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Much of its newfound goodness is the result of a new suspension appropriately named “Superstructure” by its creators. It utilizes more than 50-percent ultra-high tensile steels bonded together by aerospace-sourced adhesives (yes, we’re talking Hyundai here, not Audi), resulting in a much stiffer, lighter weight, and safer body structure that’s also a whole lot more exciting to drive. Hyundai has revised the suspension geometry too, while also isolating the body shell with a new subframe design, and made it quieter via increased sound deadening methods and materials including thicker glass all-round, making this the quietest and most refined Elantra yet.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
Rear seat roominess and comfort is just as good as the regular Elantra sedan. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The entire interior was improved with the 2017 update too, thanks to a new design and better materials including more soft-touch surfaces. What’s more, mid-range models equipped with backup cameras get a large 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen while top-line models receive an even grander 8.0-inch display with navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also part of the package, giving this fun-loving Hyundai more connectivity options than any new Porsche.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
All that performance and it’s practical too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At $24,999 the Sport is priced just higher than the mid-range Elantra SE and just below Limited trim, so it’s not top of the line (that position reserved for the $28,799 Limited Ultimate), but rather sits in its own performance category we hope Hyundai builds upon with yet more features and accessories.

Come back soon to read our detailed review of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport…

It’s too early to tell exactly why Porsche’s Macan has improved its sales so dramatically from its first full calendar year of 2015 when it sold 2,121 units to the close of 2016 when its final tally…

2017 Porsche Macan

2017 Porsche Macan
Even the near base Macan looks great, seen here with upgraded alloys and that’s about it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s too early to tell exactly why Porsche’s Macan has improved its sales so dramatically from its first full calendar year of 2015 when it sold 2,121 units to the close of 2016 when its final tally was an impressive 2,800, but the model’s ability to target an entirely new audience of entry-level luxury buyers as the 2017 model year began last fall likely had something to do with it.

2017 Porsche Macan
Dark colours seem to work best with the Macan, or at least that’s our opinion. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Enter the all-new 2017 Porsche Macan. No, I’m talking about the 2016 Macan S, which drove all four wheels through a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 with 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque, conjoined to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox. That reasonably priced $59,200 model continues forward into 2017 as one the compact luxury SUV segment’s fastest vehicles. Rather, the model that likely boosted sales at the close of last year is the new base four-cylinder Macan that starts at just $52,700.

2017 Porsche Macan
The Macan feels more like you’re riding in a sports car than an SUV, although its taller ride height is much better for visibility. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Yes, it’s for real. A Porsche you can potentially purchase for less than $50k if you negotiate a discount, and while powered by a seemingly mainstream VW-sourced 252-horsepower 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder with 273 lb-ft of torque it still pulls off a relatively quick 6.7-second sprint to 100km/h (or 6.5 with the as-tested Sport Chrono Package) before attaining a top track speed of 229 km/h. The new engine is actually based on Audi’s latest 2017 A4 2.0 TFSI powerplant, but anyone denying Volkswagen roots is either ill informed or more likely working from a Porsche-financed marketing/PR department.

2017 Porsche Macan
A new PCM infotainment system is better in every way, thanks to navigation that actually works. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’m going to quote fuel economy numbers of 11.6 L/100km city and 9.3 highway only because they matter to Porsche, as I can’t see many Porsche buyers caring all that much about saving money at the pump, or at least that’s not likely the reason they sprang for the base Macan. This is a dollars and cents option (or what I like to call a dollars and “sense” option), a way for someone considering an Audi Q5, or a similarly powered compact luxury SUV, to spring for a Porsche.

2017 Porsche Macan
Yes, you’re looking at suede-like Alcantara and leather upholstered sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Speaking of competitors (and now we can truly name these brands as Porsche rivals), the Macan managed to pass right on by Lincoln’s more affordably priced MKC and Infiniti’s (granted long-in-tooth) QX50 on the sales chart last year, the latter likely to claw its way back after its long awaited replacement debuts this coming fall. Still, the achievement is significant for an SUV that costs considerably more.

2017 Porsche Macan
Rear seat roominess is excellent and comfort supreme. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You get a lot for the extra coin, mind you, starting with one of the best balanced chassis in the compact SUV sector, no matter the trim level chosen, as well as arguably attractive Porsche styling (I think the Macan is Porsche’s most alluring SUV and one of the more attractive in its segment), and an extremely well made interior filled with soft-touch surfaces, high quality trims, and state-of-the-art digital interfaces.

2017 Porsche Macan
A roomy cargo compartment makes the Macan one of the most liveable Porsches available. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The primary gauge cluster remains a mostly analog affair, which is probably a good thing for Porsche purists (they pout a lot when Porsche messes with things like… anything), but the PCM infotainment touchscreen is larger at seven inches and includes features like proximity sensing (digital buttons pop up when your fingers get near), tablet style multi-touch gestures, and Apple CarPlay (sorry Android users, Porsche doesn’t believe you’re interested in its vehicles despite the fact you dominate pricey smartphone sales).

2017 Porsche Macan
Is that an inline four in there? You got it. 2017 is Porsche’s year of the “four”, thanks to four-cylinder power in its 718 Boxster and Cayman as well as the new 911. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Personally, I think Porsche will rethink this choice by next year, especially if it wants to make more headway in immerging markets like China that are leading global smartphone purchasing (Huawei, Oppo, and BBK are some of the fastest growing brands). According to American IT research and advisory firm Gartner.com, as of the fourth quarter of 2016 99.6 percent of all smartphone sales were Android and iPhone, but of the 432 million smartphones sold in the last quarter, 352 million ran Android (81.7 percent) and 77 million ran iOS (17.9 percent).

2017 Porsche Macan
Thanks to this new four-cylinder entry model and the new GTS that arrived earlier, expect sales of the Macan to continue in an upward trajectory. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On the positive the new PCM infotainment system is a marked improvement over the outgoing system that was riddled with problems, especially its navigation system that was downright comical, while Porsche also provides new placement for its powered USB port so its easier to plug in your smartphone (even if you’re still using a Windows phone or Blackberry), while Wi-Fi can now be had via on-board internet. Lastly, the new system allows for remote mobile device-to-vehicle connectivity via a downloadable app.

Another 2017 bonus is completely revised rear-seat entertainment including a set of monitors attached to the backside of the front headrests, multiple HDMI and USB ports, and an SD card reader, while music and video can be streamed into the system via Wi-Fi.

Our 2017 Macan tester included the Sport Chrono Package and a set of larger rims, but little else, which is a good thing as it lets us tell you all about a mostly base model. Make sure you come back to read all about it and peruse through our massive photo gallery…

Every time I book a Buick Encore for testing I don’t give it much thought. It’s a subcompact SUV that needs to be covered because of its reasonably good sales, but it’s not the type of vehicle…

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
The Encore gets a refresh for 2017, and we like it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Every time I book a Buick Encore for testing I don’t give it much thought. It’s a subcompact SUV that needs to be covered because of its reasonably good sales, but it’s not the type of vehicle that elicits a lot of passion. And then once inside I’m reminded of how nice it is, and on the way home how easy it is to drive.

I must say it’s even better for 2017, in every respect. GM just gave it a thorough mid-cycle update that I’ll be reviewing in detail soon, but for now let’s just say it’s frontal styling has seen significant improvement (the grille is modernized, headlights filled with LEDs and silly hood-mounted “ventiports” are gone), its interior gets a number of styling and technical enhancements (keep reading for the latter), and it still drives very well.

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
Rear styling isn’t as dramatically updated, but it still looks sportier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester was in Sport Touring trim so it featured the more robust 153 horsepower 1.4-litre turbo four, although it was only configured to drive the front wheels as tested (AWD is optional). I’ll go over its driving dynamics more thoroughly in my review, not to mention its comfort level, roominess, and more.

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
A new interior design includes a colour TFT multi-info display and a large 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of note, all 2017 Encores receive standard proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, a feature that’s optional with most competitors, while great sounding Bose audio is also standard, as is electronic noise cancellation that helps keep Buick’s renowned “Quiet Tuning” as hushed as ever. Another feature worth noting is integrated Wi-Fi via 4G LTE internet connectivity, capable of turning this little subcompact SUV into a rolling hotspot.

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
Our tester features sporty cloth and leather seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, a new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-info display rests within the redesigned primary gauge cluster, and an even more intriguing 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring an updated Buick IntelliLink digital interface now includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for enhanced smartphone connectivity.

Will all these changes be enough to push the little Encore back up Canadian sales charts? You’ll get an up-to-date sales comparison along with all the usual road test details and a comprehensive photo gallery when the upcoming review is published, so keep your eyes on these pages…

Have you seen the new CR-V yet? Honda’s compact SUV is so popular it would be difficult to miss. Our top-tier Touring tester shows significant progress over its predecessor, but not just because of…

2017 Honda CR-V Touring

Have you seen the new CR-V yet? Honda’s compact SUV is so popular it would be difficult to miss. Our top-tier Touring tester shows significant progress over its predecessor, but not just because of its bold new styling.

2017 Honda CR-V Touring
The new 2017 Honda CR-V arrives with bold new styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This fifth-generation CR-V rides on a totally new platform shared with the 10th-gen Civic, while its sole powertrain is also pulled from Honda’s bestselling model. The 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque in the CR-V, resulting in spirited yet fuel-efficient performance, a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) especially helpful in achieving the latter dynamic with an estimated five-cycle Transport Canada fuel economy rating of 8.4 L/100km city and 7.0 highway in FWD, or 8.7 and 7.2 respectively in as-tested AWD.

2017 Honda CR-V Touring
The new CR-V’s taillights are especially pronounced, giving it standout design from the rear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While engine performance, road-holding and ride quality have all improved, the biggest changes come in interior refinement and roominess. We won’t go into detail right now, but suffice to say Honda has enhanced the CR-V’s interior design and quality to similar levels as its superb new Civic, while the more comfortable SUV will fit larger occupants and more cargo.

Even base LX trims make the CR-V stand out from the ever more crowded compact SUV category, with standard 17-inch alloys, projector headlights featuring auto high beams on AWD trims, LED taillights, pushbutton ignition, 7.0-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus much more.

2017 Honda CR-V Touring
Touring trim offers thoroughly impressive premium-like interior detailing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Mid-range EX trim adds standard AWD, 18-inch alloy rims, fog lamps, turn signals on the side mirror housings, six-speaker audio, USB charge points in back, a powered glass moonroof, Honda’s fabulous and exclusive LaneWatch passenger-side blindspot monitoring camera, and more, while EX-L trim includes a better eight-speaker audio system, a powered liftgate, etcetera.

Our top-line Touring trimmed tester upped the ante with full LED headlights, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, additional chrome trim, and dual exhaust pipes, while proximity-sensing access including a hands-free tailgate gets you inside where you’ll find convenient rain-sensing wipers, a navigation system with turn-by-turn directions, better sounding nine-speaker audio (thanks to a subwoofer), a larger panoramic sunroof, and more.

2017 Honda CR-V Touring
Larger and more accommodating passenger and cargo compartments make the CR-V more utile than ever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The new CR-V helped Honda claw back first place in the compact SUV segment from the Toyota RAV4 over the first two months of 2017, the RAV4 having earned the position during calendar year 2016, although last month saw Nissan’s new Rogue top the segment’s sales chart for the first time. This race is hardly over, with the competition as fierce as it gets and the new CR-V easily up to task. We’ll tell you how the new Honda rates in an upcoming review (not to mention how the new 2017 Rogue SL AWD Platinum and 2017 RAV4 Platinum compare in separate reviews), and let you in on any new developments in the sales race.

Stay tuned for a whole lot more…