Energi is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, and this important future-looking model continues with the 2017 Fusion’s mid-cycle makeover. The changes to the entire Fusion line are subtle but effective,…

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum

Energi is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, and this important future-looking model continues with the 2017 Fusion’s mid-cycle makeover.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
Ford has refreshed its popular Fusion for 2017, with this plug-in Energi Platinum being top of the line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The changes to the entire Fusion line are subtle but effective, the grille now appearing less Aston Martin-like and therefore more acceptable to those of us who’d rather not see a favourite sports car brand plagiarized, the headlamp clusters scalloped slightly on their lower edges, a new more horizontal lower fascia providing a cleaner yet sportier look, redesigned taillights that now feature a chromed strikethrough stretching across the trailing edge of the deck lid to visually connect the two, and other small details modernizing the popular mid-size sedan.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
All 2017 Fusions get redesigned taillights with chromed trim spanning the taillights and trunk lid. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Also new for 2017 is top-tier Platinum trim level that sits above the previous-best Titanium model. That’s what we drove in our recent weeklong test, a $44,588 near-luxury sedan that adds a unique Sport grille, stunning diamond-quilted perforated leather upholstery, a leather-adorned dash and armrests, tasteful woodgrain trim, a heatable steering wheel, ventilated front seats, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, a universal garage door opener, a powered glass sunroof, and a number of active convenience and safety features such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, autonomous pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning, lane keeping assist, enhanced semi-autonomous park assist, and more.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
Platinum trim adds a new level of luxury to the Fusion, placing it very near Lincoln levels of pampering. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Only Hyundai’s Sonata joins the Fusion Energi in offering plug-in hybrid technology to the popular mid-size sedan segment, this allowing owners to recharge a larger battery capable of driving longer distances on 100-percent electric power, not to mention at higher speeds than conventional hybrids can do in EV mode. While the Fusion Energi is only good for about 30 kilometers of pure EV propulsion before its 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine joins in for assistance and regular hybrid usage ensues, a full charge can be achieved in just 2.5 hours which makes it possible for commuters to recharge at work or those who use their cars throughout the day, for business or running personal errands, to recharge their cars at shopping malls or other facilities that offer fast charging stations.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
The Energi Platinum gets every available Fusion option including cooled seats, navigation and self-parking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The 2.0-litre engine makes a mere 141 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque alone, but when combined with its electrical assistant raises output to 188 horsepower. Ford doesn’t provide total torque as it’s a difficult figure to estimate, but strong performance off the line has caused auto experts to estimate it between 180 and 190 lb-ft.

The Fusion Energi drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), par for the course amongst hybrid drivetrains, while fuel economy is estimated to be 5.8 L/100km in the city and 6.5 on the highway when in regular hybrid mode, or 2.7 Le/100km when factoring in regular usage of its EV mode.

Stay tuned for a full road test review of this impressive new 2017 Fusion, not only covering its plug-in characteristics and unique driving dynamics, but also detailing its upscale Platinum trim…

After thirteen months of service and over 22,000 kilometres our Kona Blue 2016 Ford Focus Electric continues to provide very quiet, trouble free, and emissions-less service. Life with the Focus has been…

2016 Ford Focus Electric | Long-term update

After thirteen months of service and over 22,000 kilometres our Kona Blue 2016 Ford Focus Electric continues to provide very quiet, trouble free, and emissions-less service. Life with the Focus has been extremely pleasant, almost without compromise.

2016 Ford Focus Electric Range Meter
Our long-term Focus test vehicle has covered over 22,000 in about 11 months. (Photo: Eli Oszlak, TheCarMagazine.com) 

Typical days involve about 80 kilometres of mixed city traffic and high-speed travel. Here in Ontario, the High Occupancy Vehicle lane allows electric vehicles to utilize these lanes, which tends to save about 15 minutes of commuting time each way to the office.

On some days the Focus has been pressed into service to carry hockey bags and sticks as far as 65 kilometers each way. During the winter months, when the use of the heater cuts into the available range, these trips need to be carefully planned. Such is life with a generation-one electric car.

2016 Ford Focus Electric - Long term test vehicle
Our 2016 Ford Focus Electric, all shiny and clean after a visit to Petro Canada’s SuperWash. (Photo: Eli Oszlak, TheCarMagazine.com)

As you can imagine, the driver of a gasoline-powered Focus would not have to plan quite so carefully. But with the cost of regular no-lead fuel approaching $1.20 per litre, the economic benefit of an electric vehicle is becoming more evident each month.

Check out our detailed story after the Focus achieves her one year anniversary next month.

Ask any auto scribe to name their top 10 cars and Volkswagen’s GTI will likely show up somewhere on the list, or at least it did before this Golf R arrived. At first glance it doesn’t look all that…

2017 Volkswagen Golf R

Ask any auto scribe to name their top 10 cars and Volkswagen’s GTI will likely show up somewhere on the list, or at least it did before this Golf R arrived.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
Sporty Golf R is still a subtler design than the more youth-targeted GTI. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At first glance it doesn’t look all that different, other than a few unique aero aids, 19-inch alloys, a quad of chrome-tipped tailpipes poking through a rear diffuser, and a big “R” badge on the liftgate, but VW’s usual subtly (compared to Subaru’s dinner table-sized WRX STI wing) masks a seemingly rally capable drivetrain boasting a 292 horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 280 lb-ft of torque (the same mill as used in the Audi S3 and TTS Coupe), a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automated transmission, and a sport-tuned version of Volkswagen’s already capable 4Motion all-wheel-drive.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
The R’s quad of chromed tailpipes is an intimidating sight. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

We test this quickest-ever Golf and fastest VW overall with the autobox, complete with standard paddles, and without giving much away ahead of a forthcoming review, its powertrain provides a more mature and refined delivery than, say, the immediate punch of the aforementioned WRX STI. Likewise its fully independent suspension is made for aging buttocks, pampering with standard adaptive dampers that offer three levels of comfort-oriented firmness.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
Sport steering wheel and metal pedals look brilliant. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The R arrived for model year 2016 and therefore the 2017 model carries forward mostly unchanged except for standard blindspot monitoring, and standard Driver Alert, which pays attention to a variety of parameters and then recommends you take a break when you may be getting tired. The 2017 model also includes a Sport HMI display that provides performance details within the base 6.3-inch colour infotainment touchscreen (that also features a rearview camera), while the exterior paint palette has grown to include Limestone Grey Metallic.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
This big 8-inch infotainment display is optional, but worth the upgrade to the Technology package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You’d think this most potent Golf would be racier looking than the GTI inside, but in fact it’s cabin focuses more on delivering a more mature (there’s that word again) premium experience than luring in those easily swayed by flashy styling and glitzy gizmos. Its high (for a mainstream volume-branded compact hatchback) $40,695 base price might have something to do with its more luxury-oriented approach, the GTI with its more provocative interior and eye-grabbing exterior, replete with front fascia styling strakes, targeting a younger demographic with its more attainable $29,495 starting price.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
Comfortable and fabulously supportive sport seats are a cut above. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Therefore, leather upholstered sport seats with light grey contrast stitching come standard with the R, as do piano black lacquered inlays with beautiful blue accent lighting on the doors. Additional sporting elements include a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, also with light grey stitching, a leather- and metal-adorned shift knob and leather boot (also contrast stitched), plus metal foot pedals with rubber grips.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
Rear seat passengers have plenty of room. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The only way to make the Golf R more practical would be to add a wagon variant, but so far VW hasn’t responded to the ultimate wishes of its ardent niche five-door fans. Still, standard 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks maximize utility.

An optional Technology package adds a proximity-sensing 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s one of the best in the biz thanks to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, superb graphics, and quick operation, while dynamic cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and parking sensors are also part of the upgrade.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
A thoroughly practical sports car. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

High demand makes sure the Golf R sells out long before any 2018s arrive, so it’s good news that Volkswagen Canada managed to get their hands on more for the 2017 model year.

Make sure you come back soon to read the entire 2017 Volkswagen Golf R review…

Is the new Continental a game changer for Lincoln? Ford’s luxury brand is hardly the first choice for most of today’s high-flying execs, but its new 2017 Continental could change market perceptions…

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve 3.0L AWD

Is the new Continental a game changer for Lincoln? Ford’s luxury brand is hardly the first choice for most of today’s high-flying execs, but its new 2017 Continental could change market perceptions as well as Lincoln’s fortunes.

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
The Continental’s rear styling is even more distinctive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

How do we know? We’ve got a near top-line 400 horsepower 3.0-litre turbo V6 Reserve trimmed model in our garage this week and so far so good… or rather, so far so great!

The Continental offers a brand new face in the luxury segment, which is nothing new for Lincoln that’s been changing up its design language every half decade in a seemingly never-ending quest for a new trademark look since the classic Rolls-Royce-like waterfall radiator went out of style back in the ‘90s, along with the last car to wear the Continental nameplate. Still, Lincoln may just be onto something that sticks with the new Continental.

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Lincoln takes its interior refinement to a whole new level with the Continental. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

We weren’t first to question the new model’s familiarity to Jaguar, a brand Ford Motor used to own along with Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo within its now defunct Premiere Auto Group division. Ford has come under fire for unabashedly borrowing key design cues from these brands in past and current models, Land Rover styling purged for the Explorer, Aston Martin for the Fiesta, Focus and Fusion, and the Jaguar E-Type’s muse previously called upon for the big oval grilles in ‘90s Taurus and Contour models. Now that the Continental is parked in our driveway, however, it takes on a look all its own.

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Check out these 30-way powered seats, the closest that car seats get to first-class airline perches. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Our Burgundy Velvet painted 3.0 GTDI AWD Reserve tester gets a Cappuccino luxury leather interior with (get this) 30-way powered multi-contour front seats! They look like they’re right out of a concept car, and are some of the most comfortable perches in the industry. Additional features include full LED headlamps with auto high beams, proximity keyless access, pushbutton start, a heatable steering wheel, a fully configurable TFT colour gauge cluster, Sync3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree surround parking monitor, sensational sounding 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio, heated rear outboard seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, plus a host of autonomous driving technologies like adaptive cruise control, self-parking, pre-collision assist, and more.

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve
Rear seat legroom is Town Car like, but the seats are much more comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

We’ll leave the driving dynamics details for our upcoming road test review, but suffice to say that standard torque-vectoring AWD and electronically controlled damping makes sure this big sedan handles like Lincoln’s old LS without the ride harshness. Considering the new Continental sits on a stretched and otherwise modified version of the current mid-size MKZ platform architecture, that’s a sound bit of automotive engineering.

Come back soon for a thorough road test review, when we’ll go over the Continental’s trim lines, standard and optional features, as well as the functionality and ease of use of those features, plus a whole lot more…

Did the changes to Ford’s fourth-generation 2017 Escape go far enough to keep it in the upper echelon of the hotly contested compact SUV mix? We’ll answer this question and many others in our upcoming…

2017 Ford Escape Titanium

Did the changes to Ford’s fourth-generation 2017 Escape go far enough to keep it in the upper echelon of the hotly contested compact SUV mix? We’ll answer this question and many others in our upcoming review of the 2017 Escape Titanium.

2017 Ford Escape
A new hexagonal grille aligns the Escape with its bigger Edge brother. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Ford gave its popular Escape a redesign for 2017, with the most prominent differentiator being a new grille, while behind that six-sided aperture is a new 180 horsepower 1.5-litre turbo-four in select trims, replacing last year’s 1.6-litre four. Base models continue with the 2.5-litre four, and top trims like this Titanium feature Ford’s 2.0-litre turbo.

2017 Ford Escape
It’s easy to see the old Escape’s design in this “all new” one. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Do you want a few review teasers? The Escape now includes auto stop/start that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, helping to save fuel and reduce emissions, while inside there’s a new electromechanical parking brake, as well as Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment system in upper trims, which is one of the key reasons buyers should consider the Escape over its competitors.

There’s a lot more to the 2017 update, with available features including loads of active convenience and safety kit such as auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, and an

2017 Ford Escape
The Escape has long been a leader in electronic interfaces and Sync3 is a big step up. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

updated semi-autonomous self-parking system that can steer the Escape into perpendicular slots as well as parallel spots, while available Sync Connect let’s Escape owners check fuel level, unlock the doors, or start the engine remotely from their smartphone.

2017 Ford Escape
Spacious cabin provides plenty of comfort and luxury. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Come back soon to get all the details about Ford’s 2017 Escape Titanium. We’ll let you know how it drives, how its features work, and how popular it is with Canadian compact SUV buyers.

With fuel prices once again soaring in most Canadian cities, the long-in-tooth Lexus CT 200h just might be one of the most relevant entry-level luxury models available today. Only Audi’s A3 e-tron can…

2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport

With fuel prices once again soaring in most Canadian cities, the long-in-tooth Lexus CT 200h just might be one of the most relevant entry-level luxury models available today. Only Audi’s A3 e-tron can give it a run for its money regarding fuel economy, although the German is initially much more expensive than the $32,750 CT.

2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport
Lexus’ trademark spindle grille makes current CT 200h look fresh and current, especially in F Sport trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Updated just a few years ago, the CT remains fresh looking thanks to Lexus’ new spindle grille and aggressive frontal body cladding, while its profile and sporty five-door body style has always been good looking.

A 134 horsepower 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while a proven (a.k.a. old-school) Ni-MH battery pack powers an electric motor that more often than not is used to assist the gasoline engine in true hybrid form, although the CT can drive under pure EV power for short distances at low speeds (bumper-to-bumper traffic, parking lots, etc). If the power unit sounds familiar, it’s identical to that used in the previous Toyota Prius, and like the Prius the CT delivers superb claimed fuel economy rated at 5.5 L/100km city and 5.9 highway.

2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport
A sporty yet plenty luxurious cabin lives up to Lexus’ lore. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While the drivetrain is pulled from the Prius, the platform architecture is sourced from Toyota’s global compact car line, which made sure a fully independent suspension lived up to Lexus’ handling and ride quality standards. Its handling is even more engaging in as-tested F Sport trim.

Stay tuned for a detailed review of the 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport shown here…

I just wrote a story about Canadian Black Book resale values and learned that Tundra retains its MSRP better than any other full-size truck (click “Toyota” under TCM Quick Links below to read the…

2017 Toyota Tundra Double Cab TRD Pro

I just wrote a story about Canadian Black Book resale values and learned that Tundra retains its MSRP better than any other full-size truck (click “Toyota” under TCM Quick Links below to read the entire story), but I’ve covered every recent model year of this pickup in multiple trims as well as generations past (scroll through that same link for previous reviews), plus my dad owned a fault-free first-gen version decades ago, so I don’t need to be sold on how good it is. Then again, the TRD Pro took me off guard.

2017 Toyota Tundra Double Cab TRD Pro
The TRD Pro’s rugged take no prisoners design grabs attention wherever it goes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This truck is bold, brazen, and just plain baddass! Chrome? Not. It’s matte black all the way, except for its superb “Cement” grey paint. I can’t tell you how many neck-snapping looks it’s received from passersby over the past few days, but suffice to say it’s pulled more eyeballs than most of the ultra-exotic hardware I’ve driven this year, and the sound of its big 5.7-litre V8 makes at full throttle is almost as intoxicating as the exhaust note of one of those supercars (the amount of gas it guzzles is almost as dizzying too). At 381-hp and 401 lb-ft of torque it’s quick for a 2,480-kilo (5,467-lb) behemoth too, but its ultimate capability is meant to be experienced off-road.

2017 Toyota Tundra Double Cab TRD Pro
Zero chrome makes the TRD Pro stand out, not to mention matte black detailing, glossy black wheels, and “TRD PRO” stamped onto each side of the box. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Without giving too much away ahead of the full review, initial criticisms include gluttonous fuel economy, poorer interior plastics quality than most rivals, and no integrated rear bumper steps (or anything likewise) for climbing up onto the bed when the tailgate is lowered, but before you think I’ve got nothing good to say, the Tundra TRD Pro’s attributes are way too lengthy to list (here at least) so stay tuned for all the details in my upcoming road test…

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press

The A3 E-tron marks the return of the previous five-door Sportback body style, making Audi’s most fuel-efficient model also one of the most practical in its compact lineup. Canadians have long loved…

2017 Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

The A3 E-tron marks the return of the previous five-door Sportback body style, making Audi’s most fuel-efficient model also one

2017 Audi A3 e-tron Sportback
Charge for free at many locations including this shopping mall. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

of the most practical in its compact lineup.

Canadians have long loved hatchbacks, even in the premium sector, and now that most of our large urban centers have increased the availability of quick charging stations our inner-city car buyers are adapting to the cleaner more eco-friendly way of life

2017 Audi A3 e-tron Sportback
The A3 e-tron Sportback interior is just as stylish and well made as the conventional A3. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

of plug-in hybrid electric mobility. This makes Audi’s A3 E-tron Sportback an ideal combination of do-all pragmatism and extreme thrift, many of these charging stations not charging a penny to plug-in, while home charging is also much less expensive than filling up with unleaded.

The all-new Audi A3 e-tron Sportback, seen here “filling up” for free at a local shopping mall, is currently in our garage and therefore will soon be featured as the topic of a full review. Could this be the plug-in hybrid you’ve been waiting for? Check back to find out.