In case you were hoping the new seventh-generation 2019 Jetta would be doing direct battle with the $16,790 base Honda Civic, the identically priced Toyota Corolla, the $15,999 Hyundai Elantra, or any…

Volkswagen to price 2019 Jetta at $20,995

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
VW has completely redesigned its compact Jetta for 2019, and it certainly is more eye-catching. (Photo: Volkswagen)

In case you were hoping the new seventh-generation 2019 Jetta would be doing direct battle with the $16,790 base Honda Civic, the identically priced Toyota Corolla, the $15,999 Hyundai Elantra, or any other sub-$17k compact sedan, think again. In fact, it won’t even undercut the $19,995 Subaru Impreza that comes standard with all-wheel drive. Instead, Volkswagen’s second-most affordable car will enter the Canadian market at $20,995, which represents a significant $4,600 bump up from the outgoing 2017 Jetta.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The rear design is more conservative, although its clean, uncluttered lines should age well. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Of course, for that money you can expect more standard features than the older car as well as its peers. For starters the new 2019 Jetta won’t be available in base Trendline trim, so say goodbye to 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. Instead, all 2019 Jettas will receive alloy wheels starting at 16 inches, as well as auto on/off LED headlights with a coming and leaving home function, plus LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, an electromechanical parking brake, a multifunction trip computer, cruise control, a proximity-sensing infotainment display measuring 6.5 inches in base trim, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity with audio streaming, an SD card slot, a USB input, four-speaker audio, a static backup camera, a front centre armrest with a storage tray, heated front seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, tire pressure monitoring, all the usual active and passive safety features, and more.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
VW provides a larger panoramic sunroof starting in mid-grade Highline trim. (Photo: Volkswagen)

As impressive as some of its base features are, some of the 2019 Jetta’s less expensive competitors are now coming standard with auto on/off LED headlights too, plus similarly large infotainment displays with backup cameras, etcetera, while even more impressive, some competitors are now being shipped with standard advanced driver assistance systems that cost extra with the Jetta. For instance, all Corolla trims include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with automatic steering assist, adaptive cruise control and LED headlights with automatic high beams.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Power remains reasonably strong at 147-hp and an optional 8-speed auto is impressive, but its torsion-beam rear suspension means the Jetta will likely lag behind key rivals with respect to handling, especially Honda’s Civic. (Photo: Volkswagen)

While these features will be optional on the mid-range Jetta Highline, as will blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert that’s also available with most rivals, VW will step up its safety offering with a new class-exclusive automatic post-collision braking system designed to automatically apply the brakes after an impact, which would stop the vehicle even if the driver were incapacitated.

While much is new some things stay the same, starting with the Jetta’s sole 1.4-litre turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder engine. It puts out three fewer horsepower resulting in 147 instead of 150, plus an identical 184 lb-ft of torque, while it once again drives the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual gearbox, which no doubt to the delight of performance fans everywhere continues to be offered in all trim levels.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Standard LED headlamps mean that VW joins others in the class that now offer such premium-like details as standard equipment. (Photo: Volkswagen)

The available Tiptronic automatic transmission remains a very reasonable $1,400 option yet sports two more forward speeds for a total of eight, while it also boasts a new auto start/stop system that temporarily shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling to save fuel and reduce emissions. The new Jetta will also come standard with an Eco mode to reduce fuel consumption even further, but unlike the outgoing Jetta no engine upgrade option is yet available.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Standard LED taillights is nothing new in the compact segment, yet VW delivers sharp looking Audi-like lenses. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Better news has the 2019 Jetta riding on Volkswagen’s more advanced Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform architecture, which currently underpins the award-winning Golf. This said the latest Jetta won’t be on the receiving end of the MQB platform’s most-lauded component, its fully independent rear suspension that unfortunately makes way for a cheaper torsion-beam setup. This may change for a future Jetta GLI, however, so VeeDub’s legions of performance fans will want to keep their collective fingers crossed, but then again Volkswagen has already lost many of these one-time loyalists to Civic Nation which has long offered an independent rear suspension in its least expensive base trim, let alone the mighty Civic Si and Type R variants. Hyundai offers an independent rear suspension in the Elantra Sport as well, as do some others in this class.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The Jetta offers some impressive digital displays in its upper trim range, including a configurable gauge cluster in the Execline and 8.0-inch touchscreen with Highline trim and above. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Just the same, the majority of Canada’s compact sedan buyers will find the new Jetta’s 32-millimetre (1.3-inch) longer wheelbase, now spanning 2,685 mm (105.7 inches), greater width, taller roofline and resultant increased interior room more appealing, while its shorter front and rear overhangs, combined with a more gradually sloping four-door coupe-like rear pillar, provide a sportier visual profile.

Still, while the new Jetta’s design is slightly sleeker and somewhat more shapely than the car it replaces, featuring a larger, bolder grille that integrates nicely into LED headlamps, its stately lines lean more toward the current model’s conservatism than the initial design sketches’ (see the gallery) low-slung drama, which puts it on a safe route that should help it appeal to the auto market’s large base of low-key consumers, while enjoying a longer shelf life than something more radical otherwise would, which may earn it a stronger resale value too.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
This Jetta Execline appears to produce a virtual light show at night. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Along with more space inside, Volkswagen promises a more upscale, premium-like passenger compartment, at least up front. More soft-touch synthetic surfaces will provide improved refinement, while the overall interior design has been modernized with the infotainment display more prominently mounted higher up on the instrument panel’s centre stack for easier access with less distraction away from the road ahead. What’s more, the top-tier Execline model includes a fully configurable colour TFT gauge cluster dubbed Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, similar to the Audi Virtual Cockpit.

Upper trims in mind, the mid-range Highline model starts at $24,095 and features standard proximity access, pushbutton ignition, a larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, voice recognition, two additional audio speakers for a total of six, satellite radio, a larger powered panoramic sunroof, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, standard with Execline trim, sets new standards in the mainstream compact segment. (Photo: Volkswagen)

As noted earlier, Highline trim allows the addition of an optional $995 Driver Assistance Package with auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and lane keeping assist. Also available with Highline trim, the $1,700 R-Line Package adds 17-inch alloys, fog lamps with integrated cornering lights, special R-Line exterior design details including glossy black painted exterior mirrors, plus R-Line badging, remote start (with the automatic transmission only), 10-colour ambient cabin lighting, a black headliner, an R-Line steering wheel, a sport suspension, and Volkswagen’s Cross Differential System (XDS) that applies braking to the inside front wheel in mid-turn to enhance cornering capability.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
As usual, the new Jetta’s seats look above par, and the general layout of the cabin is attractive while appearing well made. (Photo: Volkswagen)

The top-tier Jetta Execline, which starts at $27,695, makes the XDS system, 17-inch alloys, and ambient interior lighting standard, while upgrading the headlights to lens-type full LEDs featuring unique LED signature daytime running lights, chromed window surrounds, side mirrors with integrated turn signals and memory, the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim and shift knob, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar and memory, front seat ventilation, perforated leather upholstery, a 400-watt eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, and more. The Jetta Execline is also available with the Driver Assistance Package.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The new 2019 Jetta looks like a solid step forward, but its low-rent suspension could turn off diehard VW fans, and its lack of standard advanced safety gear belies its lofty base price. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Today’s outgoing Jetta has been steadily losing sales since its highpoint of 31,042 units in 2014, its 2017 sales of 17,483 units showing a decline of 43.7 percent over four years and a year-over-year downturn of 16.5 percent since 2016 alone. This is partially due to greater consumer interest in compact SUVs like Volkswagen’s Tiguan, but it can’t be overlooked that the aforementioned Civic and Corolla have gained market share over the same duration, as has the Kia Forte and Volkswagen’s own Golf.

Volkswagen is banking on this redesigned 2019 Jetta finding similar upward momentum to that stylish Golf, and likewise it’s hoping to pull from the Jetta’s 600,000-plus previous Canadian owners to achieve that. Still, with much higher than average base pricing, a deficit in standard advanced safety technology, and a low-rent rear suspension design it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Aston Martin has been revising its entire model range in recent years, with a dynamic new take on its quintessentially British design language and a completely new V8 and V12 engine lineup. Maintaining…

New DB11 Volante to arrive in Aston Martin dealerships next month

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
The all-new 2018 DB11 Volante convertible arrives at Aston Martin retailers across Canada next month. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Aston Martin has been revising its entire model range in recent years, with a dynamic new take on its quintessentially British design language and a completely new V8 and V12 engine lineup.

Maintaining its forward momentum, the DB11 Coupe, universally praised after its 2017 introduction, gets a soft-top convertible Volante model for 2018, due to arrive across the country next month.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
The new Volante combines all that’s good about the DB11 Coupe with an open-air experience. (Photo: Aston Martin)

“For many of our customers, indeed many generations of Aston Martin customer, the Volante has always offered something very special: a unique combination of elegant style, innate sporting ability and sensory engagement that lifts it above other open-top cars,” said Dr. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer. “The new DB11 Volante captures those qualities perfectly and promises the kind of pleasure and enjoyment that can only come from driving an open-top Aston Martin.”

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
A beautiful design front to back, most of the DB11 Volante changes affect the top half of the car. (Photo: Aston Martin)

The DB11 Volante replaces the outgoing DB9 Volante, a model that’s served Aston faithfully for more than a dozen years. Where the old Marek Reichman and Henrik Fisker designed model has become a modern-day classic, revered by industry professionals and owners alike, not to mention car enthusiasts the world over, the new DB11, once again penned by Reichman, merges all that’s good from the past with an edgy new sophistication.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
The retractable fabric roof melds perfectly into the DB11’s sleek profile. (Photo: Aston Martin)

The DB11 Volante doesn’t deviate from the DB11 Coupe’s successful design below the shoulder-line, a good thing as the model’s new take on the trademark A-M grille, striking LED headlamps, elegant single-piece aluminum hood, dramatic front fender vents, muscular rear fender swells, sharply cut trunk lid, ultra-slim ‘light blade’ LED tail lamps, and diffuser-infused rear apron nears visual perfection. While new forged alloy wheels round out the lower design, the new open-top model gets even better as eyes climb upward. Perched atop a similarly raked windshield and A-pillars to the DB11 Coupe up front, and an artistically reformed deck lid in back, sits a classic retractable fabric roof that melds perfectly into the car’s sweptback profile.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
These new wheels are exclusive to the DB11 Volante. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Available in Black Silver, Grey Silver or Bordeaux Red, the all-new eight-layer convertible top utilizes the latest acoustic sound deadening and climate isolating insulation materials, providing four-season comfort and NVH levels, while it powers down to a class-leading stack height in just 14 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h with a 50 km/h headwind, plus back up again in only 16 seconds.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
Revised LED taillights blend effortlessly into a reshaped rear deck lid. (Photo: Aston Martin)

The DB11 Volante offers most of the same standard and optional features as the new DB11 Coupe, including an entirely new configurable digital gauge cluster with superb graphics, clear, crisp resolution, and wonderful depth of colour, plus an equally impressive centre stack-mounted infotainment display controlled by a knurled metal-edged rotating dial and gesture-sensing palm rest on the lower console. Both Daimler-sourced electronic interfaces are filled with the latest features and apps, including full smartphone integration, while the rest of the interior comes finished in the auto industry’s best quality materials and most exacting artisanship. Upping its game, the front seatbacks of the DB11 Volante even feature hardwood or carbon fibre veneer panels that easily pull eyeballs when the top is dropped.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
This bird’s-eye view provides a unique angle on the stunning new design. (Photo: Aston Martin)

While the standard and optional features list is long and full, Aston makes a special point of noting the DB11 Volante’s new heatable steering wheel as an encouragement for all-season open-air motoring (which we wholly support), and also states that new Volante-first rear seat ISOFIX attachment points bring a new level of practicality to owners with small children.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
The DB11’s amazing interior gets new hardwood or carbon fibre appliqués on the backsides of the front seats. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Regarding performance, the DB11 Coupe first arrived with Aston’s new V12, which was engineered by a team from the company’s UK division yet continues to be produced in the automaker’s dedicated Cologne, Germany engine facility, but take note the DB11 Volante won’t be available with the V12 at all, at least not at first, but instead will utilize the brand’s new 4.0-litre V8, sourced from AMG-Mercedes ahead of fine-tuning by A-M’s engine team. The new V8, which makes 503 horsepower, 498 lb-ft of torque, and comes mated to a new paddle shifter-enhanced ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission with incredibly quick yet especially smooth shift intervals, was a new arrival for the 2018 DB11 Coupe late last year, and is an ideal fit for the new convertible.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
Shown here with top-line brogue leather upholstery, the DB11 Volante’s interior is amongst the most luxurious anywhere. (Photo: Aston Martin)

The lighter weight V8 fits further rearward in the car’s chassis to aid overall balance, plus performance is also helped by a new DB11 Volante that’s considerably lighter and more rigid than the model it replaces, its bonded aluminum body structure carried forward from the DB11 Coupe yet stiffened in key areas to compensate for losing its roof.

“The challenge of creating a convertible car is retaining structural and dynamic integrity,” said Max Szwaj, Aston Martin Chief Technical Officer. “To protect the former you need strength and rigidity, but to preserve the latter you need to keep weight to a minimum. With the DB11 Volante we have maximized the advantages of the DB11’s all-new bonded structure to underpin our new Volante with a structure that’s 26 kg lighter and five percent stiffer than its predecessor. The result is a truly magnificent car. One that combines greater performance and agility with increased comfort, refinement and interior space for occupants and their luggage.”

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
The 2018 DB11 Volante shown here at its Geneva motor show launch. (Photo: Aston Martin)

DB11 Volante trunk volume has grown by 20 percent over the outgoing DB9 Volante, while the car’s increased cabin space, comfort, plus its reported ride quality and driving ease seem diametrically opposed to its overall improved performance. To this end the new model incorporates three-stage powertrain and chassis modes that are engineered to suit most any driver’s mood or road/weather condition, while new electric power steering plus a limited-slip differential with dynamic torque vectoring provide levels of all-season control not possible before.

The new 2018 DB11 Volante arrives at Aston Martin dealerships across Canada next month, although orders are being taken now. Contact your local retailer for details.

Many concept cars deserve to be built, but few actually see the light of day. Apparently the Honda Urban EV concept, the biggest little hit of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, has beaten the odds. The Urban…

Honda Urban EV concept is heading for production in 2019

Honda Urban EV Concept
Honda’s Urban EV Concept, which was a hit in Frankfurt and continues to light up the internet, is heading for production. (Photo: Honda)

Many concept cars deserve to be built, but few actually see the light of day. Apparently the Honda Urban EV concept, the biggest little hit of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, has beaten the odds.

The Urban EV, or whatever Honda finally calls it, will enter production in 2019, as per an announcement at the Geneva motor show earlier this month. It will be part of a new range of plug-in vehicles from the Japanese automaker, which already includes the much larger mid-size Clarity five-door hatchback, currently available in North American markets and Japan.

Honda Urban EV Concept
Any resemblance to the original first-generation ’70s-era Honda Civic hatchback was purely planned from onset. (Photo: Honda)

One look at the oddball Clarity and another at the cute-as-a-button Urban EV is all you’ll need to speculate on sales leadership, the former only capable of purveying 2,455 units across the entire U.S.A. in all of 2016 and another 2,087 in 2017, and the latter immediately becoming the star of the Frankfurt show and an internet sensation since.

The retrospective city car pulls fond memories from Honda Nation’s formative members, its general shape and unique details more than just reminiscent of the brand’s first-generation 1972–1979 Civic hatchback. While we can’t be sure the production model will replicate this Urban EV concept’s design when it debuts later this year or early next, Honda would be smart to keep it as close to a match as possible.

Honda Urban EV Concept
The Urban EV’s diminutive size should make it a serious performer, both dynamically and with respect to range. (Photo: Honda)

Unfortunately, Honda hasn’t revealed anything about the new car’s power unit, but we can expect range in the vicinity of Nissan’s new Leaf that manages 240 km on a single charge, while charging times should be similar as well (about eight hours on a 6-kW charger or 80-percent in just 40 minutes when hooked up to a fast charger).

While most North American consumers consider small cars as nothing more than inexpensive commuters, the production Urban EV will be priced closer to premium models. This is nothing new in the plug-in electric world, with the just noted Leaf starting in the mid-$30k range before topping out in the low-$40s, and Chevrolet’s smaller subcompact Bolt starting in the low-$40k range and escalating from there (less government rebates in BC, Ontario and Quebec).

Honda Urban EV Concept
Seen here in its design stage, the Urban EV has a great looking backside as well. (Photo: Honda)

Along with its puppy dog allure, Urban EV customers will likely be treated to an upscale cabin that lives up to its lofty price point. The concept includes a massive one-piece tablet-style digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen combination that spans the entire dash top, smaller secondary displays integrated into each door allowing enhanced sideview monitoring, beautiful wood inlays across the dash and doors, and even unusual loveseat-style front and rear bench seats with throw pillows and wooden side tables. No doubt the production version will bring things back down to earth with regular front bucket seats and a simpler rear bench, but it’s possible something similar to the prototype’s digital displays will stay.

Honda Urban EV Concept
For such a little car, it certainly has a large display screen. (Photo: Honda)

Conceptual features we hope make the grade are exterior message boards integrated into the front grille and rear deck lid, which light up to say whatever you want to adjacent motorists or passersby, such as “hello” up front or “back off” in behind, while some sort of graphical hand gesture might be useful too.

We also like the circular LED headlight surrounds that mimic the original Civic’s incandescent headlamps, while the LEDs in the rear also look good, but we certainly wouldn’t want to clean the myriad white spokes on the alloy wheels, and would probably find the rear-hinged side doors difficult to live with too.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
The Clarity, shown here in its fuel cell setup, is an unusual design that hasn’t sold in high numbers. (Photo: Honda)

Conceptually we like the idea of the Urban EV’s Honda Automated Network Assistant (HANA), a concierge-type service introduced early last year as part of the brand’s NeuV autonomous vehicle, that can store personal data for paying parking fees, charging credit cards at drive-thrus, and much more, while it also incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) for detecting the emotions behind a driver’s judgments after which, based on that driver’s previous choices, it can make new recommendations and potentially even take over when necessary. The Urban EV includes the Honda Power Manager concept as well, which is a smart system for home energy.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
Which would you rather have, this Clarity or the Urban EV? (Photo: Honda)

By 2030 Honda plans to have two-thirds of its vehicles fully or partially powered by electricity. This would include gasoline-electric hybrids like the Accord Hybrid, plug-in hybrids such as the Clarity, battery-electric vehicles like the Oregon- and California-market Clarity Electric, and fuel cell vehicles like the California-only Clarity FCV (the latter two only available via lease). Additionally, the third-generation 2019 Honda Insight Prototype was introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, with Accord-like styling in a slightly downsized plug-in package that should prove very popular for more reasons than just its good looks—it’s also expected to be available throughout the U.S. and Canada.

2019 Honda Insight Prototype
By 2030 Honda plans to have two-thirds of its vehicles fully or partially powered by electricity, with the new Insight playing a key role. (Photo: Honda)

Markets in mind, the production Urban EV isn’t expected to be heading to North America due to its diminutive size, with Honda still believing that buyers in this part of the world prefer larger cars. A good argument could be made for the Urban EV when comparing Clarity deliveries to those of the subcompact Bolt, the little Chevy selling more cars in Canada last year (2,122 units) than the big Honda did in the entire U.S. market (see above), not to mention more than 10 times the number of Clarity examples delivered south of the 49th (23,297 units). Adding insult to injury, hybrids normally outsell full EVs by a considerable margin, while making matters worse (for Honda) the Bolt ($43,095 CAD and $37,495 USD) is much more expensive than the Clarity ($39,900 CAD and $33,400 USD). This in mind, we think a production Urban EV would sell at least 10 times better than the Clarity.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed for clearer minds at Honda Canada and American Honda to prevail, and look forward to seeing the production Urban EV when it arrives.

After achieving its best sales results ever in 2017, Nissan Canada has yet another sales milestone to celebrate, albeit this one is a global affair. The Leaf, which was the first mass-produced plug-in…

Best-selling Nissan Leaf passes 300,000-unit benchmark

2018 Nissan Leaf
The all-new redesigned 2018 Nissan Leaf should increase its sales growth even further. (Photo: Nissan)

After achieving its best sales results ever in 2017, Nissan Canada has yet another sales milestone to celebrate, albeit this one is a global affair.

The Leaf, which was the first mass-produced plug-in electric vehicle when it went on sale in 2010 and has since become the world’s best-selling EV as well, surpassed the 300,000-unit delivery benchmark.

This is an impressive feat for a dedicated EV that’s only been on the market for eight years, no doubt most recently spurred on by the totally redesigned second-generation 2018 model that launched in Japan and some other markets in September of last year.

2018 Nissan Leaf
The new 2018 Leaf’s sportier design should be more appealing to a larger consumer base than the quirkier first-generation model. (Photo: Nissan)

“These numbers prove that the Nissan LEAF remains the most advanced car in the world, with the widest reach and the greatest availability,” said Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci. “The new Nissan LEAF is the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility because it delivers an even more exciting drive and enhanced ownership experience and contributes to a better world. It will take Nissan’s EV leadership even further.”

2018 Nissan Leaf
Increased performance and considerably more EV range will make the new Leaf an easier decision for those still sitting on the plug-in fence. (Photo: Nissan)

The “Intelligent Mobility” Schillaci speaks of is the Leaf’s ProPILOT Assist and ProPILOT Park technologies, a suite of semi-autonomous advanced driving assistance systems that would have the ability completely take control of the Leaf’s steering wheel and other driving functions if our laws allowed for fully autonomous driving.

The new 2018 Leaf, boasting styling that’s arguably more appealing to the masses than its predecessor, is also a more powerful car with much greater EV range of 241 kilometers from a single charge, while its $35,998 MSRP makes it thousands more affordable than competitors with similar capability.

2018 Nissan Leaf
The 2018 Leaf improves on every aspect of the already impressive outgoing model, especially inside. (Photo: Nissan)

What’s more, the new Leaf’s five-passenger compact volume continues to be more accommodating than key rivals, while its increased cargo capacity, now measuring 668 litres, improves its load hauling capability over the outgoing model as well as EV challengers.

2018 Nissan Leaf
This configurable digital instrument cluster comes standard in the redesigned Leaf. (Photo: Nissan)

Standard features with base S trim include auto on/off LED headlights with LED signature daytime running lights, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, a 7.0-inch colour TFT configurable gauge cluster, automatic climate control, a 5.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, a rearview parking monitor, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, hands-free text message assist, satellite radio, a USB port, a heatable steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, a quick charging port, a portable charging cable, automatic emergency braking, Nissan’s e-Pedal that pushes back on your right foot as a reminder to drive more conscientiously, and more.

2018 Nissan Leaf
Interior roominess and comfort was already good in the first-generation Leaf, and continues to be a strong selling point in the new model. (Photo: Nissan)

Mid-range SV trim, which starts at $39,598 plus freight and fees, adds fog lamps, 17-inch machine-finished alloy wheels, a larger 7.0-inch touchscreen with NissanConnect, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, NissanConnect EV telematics allowing for remote connection from your smartphone, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, ProPILOT Assist, upgraded intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning, lane departure warning and intervention, rear cross traffic alert, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way powered driver’s seat with two-way lumbar support, a cargo cover, and more.

2018 Nissan Leaf
Rear seat roominess is generous, and cargo capacity is amongst the best in class. (Photo: Nissan)

Lastly, top-line SL trim that starts at $41,998, includes standard leather upholstery, an Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection, a driver alert system, a seven-speaker Bose audio upgrade, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and more.

The new Leaf, which will be sold in more than 60 markets worldwide, is now available throughout Nissan’s Canadian dealership network.

Jaguar fans that liked the I-Pace Concept and kept fingers crossed that the production version wouldn’t stray too far from its inspirational design can breathe a collective sigh of relief now that the…

Production Jaguar I-Pace crossover EV remains true to stylish concept

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The production Jaguar I-Pace EV was introduced TV show-style, in front of a live and online audience on March 1st. (Photo: Jaguar)

Jaguar fans that liked the I-Pace Concept and kept fingers crossed that the production version wouldn’t stray too far from its inspirational design can breathe a collective sigh of relief now that the real deal has been revealed, because it’s nearly identical to the prototype launched in Geneva a year ago.

Jaguar introduced the 2019 I-Pace EV to the world on Thursday, March 1 in Graz, Austria, at Magna Steyr’s production facility where it will be built alongside the new E-Pace subcompact luxury SUV. The introduction, which was hosted by British comedian Jack Whitehall (Fresh Meat, Bad Education, panellist on the game show A League of Their Own, host of the 2018 Brit Awards) in a similar format to the BBC’s Top Gear, took place in front of a live audience and simultaneously online, a video of which we’ve included in its entirety at the end of this story (plus loads of event photos within the gallery).

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The all-new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV will become the world’s first electrically-powered compact luxury SUV when it arrives this summer. (Photo: Jaguar)

Still scheduled to go on sale during the second half of this year as reported here before, the new I-Pace is admittedly attractive, benefiting from trademark design cues currently in use by the just noted E-Pace, its larger F-Pace SUV sibling, as well as every other Jaguar within the iconic luxury brand’s lineup, including the beautiful F-Type sports car. Production details that differ from the I-Pace Concept include slightly reworked front and rear fascias, larger side mirrors, remoulded side window surrounds, a slightly smaller maximum wheel size of 22 inches (the concept wore 23-inch rims), and other changes both outside and within.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The I-Pace’ crossover SUV styling and five-door body style should appeal to environmentally minded motorists that still need something practical. (Photo: Jaguar)

At least as importantly, of all the EVs that have come before, the I-Pace will be one of only two fully electric crossovers available when it hits the market, and the sole compact luxury SUV to be sold without an internal combustion engine (ICE). It’s in good company with respect to the former statistic, its slightly larger competitor being Tesla’s Model X that sold 1,800 units in Canada last year (if their perfectly regular 150 per month totals are to be believed). In case you were wondering, SUV-based electric vehicles are rare amongst mainstream volume brands too, with Kia’s near four-year old Soul EV finally being joined by sister brand Hyundai’s all-new Kona Electric, but that’s it.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Could the new I-Pace become the ideal long-range plug-in electric? With 386 km of potential distance between charges, it certainly leaves range anxiety in the dust. (Photo: Jaguar)

Considering the success of crossover SUVs in today’s market and newfound challenge of selling traditional cars, the new I-Pace will have a clear advantage over competitive car-based EVs, such as BMW’s i3 and Mercedes-Benz’ B-Class Electric Drive (the latter not available in Canada). Still, it will soon be forced to face off against SUV EV rivals from Audi and Mercedes that are on the way, so it had better make haste while it can.

Make haste it should. We reported on the I-Pace drivetrain in a previous story, but Jaguar provided some more exact details with its March 1 announcement. For starters, range increases from the previous maximum estimate of 355 km (220 miles) to 386 km (240 miles), which will allow most users multiple days without the need to charge, as well as the ability to head out of town on short trips. The new number is also strategic, as it stretches 5 km (3 miles) farther down the road than the base Tesla Model X 75D.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Fancy a trip to Blue Mountain or Whistler? Charge it fully and you should be able to get there and back without worry. (Photo: Jaguar)

Providing you’re easy on the throttle, maximize use of the regenerative braking system when coasting downhill, and spend as little time as possible at highway speeds (we recommend leaving during rush hour), such range would allow someone living in Toronto to drive all the way to Blue Mountain and back again with enough battery storage left over for a few side jaunts, while a wine tasting tour to Niagara on the Lake and back shouldn’t require any extra charging at all. A trip to Muskoka, on the other hand, will require a top up in Barrie or somewhere else along the way.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The I-Pace promises to be very quick off the line, even faster than the Tesla Model X in 75D and 100D trim (see the video below). (Photo: Jaguar)

If you’re reading this from the West Coast, Vancouver to Whistler takes less time to travel than Toronto to Blue Mountain (and traffic is often so backed up you’ll have no problem keeping speeds down), so it should be no problem to go there, tour around a bit, and then come back in the I-Pace, while wine tasting in Kelowna is almost reachable from a single charge, theoretically at least (you’ll probably need to top up in Merritt or at best West Kelowna).

The I-Pace uses a 90-kWh liquid-cooled battery that’s housed in an aluminum casing within the floor’s structure, and requires just 40 minutes to fill from a fully drained state to 80-percent capacity when hooked up to a 100-kW DC quick charger. On a regular 240-volt Level 2 home charger you’ll need about 10 hours to achieve the same results, or slightly less than 13 hours (12.9) to fully top it up. Still, considering the range available, a single night of charging, or alternatively multiple nights during off-peak hours makes the I-Pace easy to live with.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
You’ll need to spend more than $200k to find a Tesla Model X capable of beating the I-Pace in a drag race. (Photo: Jaguar)

If access to a charger isn’t an issue, you might appreciate I-Pace performance more than its range. The British brand calls its newest creation an “all-electric performance SUV,” thanks in part to its balance of power. It uses an electric motor at each axle for standard all-wheel drive, the combination good for 394 horsepower and 512 pound-feet of torque, which means it can sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds. This said, eco-enthusiasts looking for I-Pace Concept performance might be a bit disappointed.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Well that’s embarrassing! Then again, it was only a matter of time before a brand bred on motorsport beat the electric elite at their own game. (Photo: Jaguar)

The new numbers make it the quickest of all Jaguar’s “Pace” models nonetheless, the fastest new E-Pace R-Dynamic good for 6.4 seconds from zero to 100km/h, and the F-Pace S capable of the same feat in 5.5 seconds. In fact, you’ll need to step up to the 550 horsepower F-Type R Coupe in order to beat the new I-Pace off the line, although with 0.7 seconds to spare (or a full second in SVR trim) the iconic sports car doesn’t have to worry about losing its title just yet.

Likewise for top-speed bragging rights, the I-Pace maxing out at 200 km/h (124 mph), which is 30 km/h (18.6 mph) down on the slowest E-Pace, let alone the 322 km/h (201 mph) terminal velocity of the F-Type SVR Coupe. Still, unless we’re talking Tesla Model X, 200 km/h is mighty fast for any EV.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The I-Pace builds on Jaguar’s trademark styling cues, and like most other models from the British brand, bases it on a lightweight aluminum framework. (Photo: Jaguar)

The Model X can manage 210 km/h (130 mph) in base 75D trim, by the way, but the I-Pace beats it from standstill to 100km/h by half a second. What’s more, the I-Pace is 0.2 seconds quicker than the mid-range Model X 100D, but keep in mind that few production cars can match the Model X P100D that can sprint from zero to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Like the F-Type and most other models in the Jaguar lineup, the I-Pace utilizes the automaker’s expertise in lightweight engineering, its monocoque body shell comprised mostly of aluminum. This said it rides on a totally unique EV architecture, the aforementioned battery actually part of the floor’s structure, which allows for much greater flexibility in designing the cabin.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
I-Pace production wheels measure up to 22 inches in diameter, for a sporty look and strong performance. (Photo: Jaguar)

“The I-Pace’s electric powertrain offered us unprecedented design freedom,” said JLR head of design Ian Callum. “Starting with a clean sheet enabled the dramatic cab-forward profile, unique proportions, and exceptional interior space—yet it is unmistakably a Jaguar. We wanted to design the world’s most desirable EV, and I’m confident we’ve met that challenge.”

First of all, the I-Pace starts out considerably longer than the E-Pace and slightly shorter than the F-Pace, slotting between Jaguar’s two conventionally powered SUVs in outward dimensions. By the numbers it’s 287 millimetres (11.3 inches) longer than the E-Pace and 49 mm (2.0 inches) shorter than the F-Pace, the latter of which is already a large compact SUV, but the I-Pace’ wheelbase is 309 mm (12.2 inches) and 116 mm (4.6 inches) longer respectively, for much greater front and rear legroom than either. What’s more, the I-Pace Concept’s roof is 84 mm (3.3 inches) lower than the E-Pace’s and nearly 86 mm (3.4 inches) down on the F-Pace, resulting in a sleeker, sportier profile. Added to this is much greater width for a sportier stance and greater side-to-side spaciousness, the I-Pace measuring 155 mm (6.1 inches) wider than the E-Pace and 69 mm (2.7 inches) more so than the F-Pace.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The battery is sandwiched into the base of the chassis, providing a low centre of gravity for improved performance and a solid base to build the rest of the car upon. (Photo: Jaguar)

The unique layout allows for a cab-forward design featuring a windshield that reaches far over the front wheels, as well as a shorter more steeply raked hood, plus shorter front and rear overhangs, with each wheel pushed out as far to its corner as possible, resulting in much greater interior volume and a strong, athletic stance.

Having much of its weight down low, thus reducing its centre of gravity, plus endowed with the advantages of the lower roof height, increased wheelbase and the more substantive track that comes from the greater width mentioned a moment ago, handling should be another I-Pace strongpoint. The standard chassis appears to use unequal-length control arms and a stabilizer bar up front, plus an Integral Link setup with a stabilizer bar in the rear, while it all floats upon a standard Active Air Suspension featuring auto-leveling as well as the ability to reduce the I-Pace’ drag by automatically lowering a half inch at highway speeds, which should combine for an exceptionally good ride quality and handling compromise. Additionally, Jaguar says the I-Pace achieves ideal 50:50 weight distribution, so we should prepare ourselves for a particularly well-balanced EV.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar’s head-of-design Ian Callum goes in-depth about the I-Pace design (see the video below). (Photo: Jaguar)

Jaguar’s driver-configurable continuously variable Adaptive Dynamics system is optional, which analyzes vertical wheel positions, vehicle acceleration, steering inputs, plus throttle and braking actuation before it automatically adjusts the suspension damping settings depending on your personal drive mode choice (Dynamic being the sportiest setting), while Adaptive Surface Response is also available, this system harvesting info from myriad sensors in order to calculate approximate adhesion levels on low-grip surfaces, such as ice, before you even apply steering input, and then after making your turn it minimizes understeer and oversteer levels by controlling throttle and braking inputs.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The I-Pace cabin is ultra-spacious thanks to a completely unique EV-specific chassis design. (Photo: Jaguar)

Speaking of those binders, two levels of regenerative braking are part of the I-Pace’s standard package, with either its high or low settings providing different degrees of “engine braking” when lifting off the throttle. It’s in the nature of EVs to slow down when lifting off the accelerator pedal, but providing firmer automatic powertrain braking makes using the brake pedal less necessary, easing everyday driving and saving on brake maintenance plus otherwise expensive repair costs.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Sporty, luxurious, and filled with digital interfaces, the I-Pace will be a high-tech tour-de-force. (Photo: Jaguar)

As anyone familiar with modern-day Jaguars will appreciate, the I-Pace will combine contemporary design with rich traditional materials, not to mention state-of-the-art digital interfaces. The overall interior design is very similar to the I-Pace Concept, featuring available contrast stitched padded leather over most surfaces that aren’t finished in standard metals or hardwoods. To be specific, Jaguar will include its best Windsor leather as standard unless opting for a sport interior that features a premium textile in Dapple Grey. The four leather-covered cabin motifs will include Ebony (black), Light Oyster (light grey), Mars Red (crimson), and Siena Tan (caramel/saddle), while light beige and black headliners will be available in woven cloth or Suedecloth. Even the steering wheel rim will be available in Suedecloth or traditional leather, while decorative inlays, which highlight key areas on the instrument panel and doors, include Gloss Charcoal Ash veneer, a piano black lacquer Gloss Black, a patterned Monogram Aluminum, and Aluminum Weave Carbon Fibre.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The HVAC interface gets its own 5.5-inch display, while the gear selector and drive mode switchgear is placed down each side of the centre console buttresses. (Photo: Jaguar)

Like with other Jaguar models a head-up display system will be optional, but take note that a fully configurable 12.3-inch primary gauge cluster will be standard fare, as will two infotainment touchscreen displays that Jaguar dubs InControl Touch Pro Duo, the main top screen measuring 10 inches diagonally and a 5.5-inch secondary display, used primarily for the climate controls, sitting lower on the sloped centre console. All displays feature voice activation via Amazon’s Alexa, which should promote the use of hands-free interaction.

Speaking of the latest tech, the I-Pace’ climate control system makes use of an artificial intelligence (AI) system that senses the number of occupants on board before adjusting the temperature, while the AI system is also capable of calculating the I-Pace’ remaining range based on climate control usage, weather conditions, topography, driving style, and traffic conditions.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
Rear seating room appears spacious, and by the numbers should be especially wide for good side-to-side comfort. (Photo: Jaguar)

The HVAC controls sit atop a centre console that slants up toward the main display upon two flying buttress-style supports that house controls for the gear selector and driving mode switchgear, this at least partially paying homage to a design theme used by Jaguar in its F-Type sports car and new E-Pace utility, although the overall look of the new climate control interface, which incorporates large dials that appear as if they’re floating on top of a digital background, is more reminiscent of the new Range Rover Velar.

Interestingly, a total of 12.2 litres (0.43 cubic feet) of storage space can be found under the centre armrest, its impressive size due to the absence of a transmission tunnel, whereas the rear seating area incorporates trays for tablets and laptops, not unlike what Jaguar offers in its top-line XJ.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The I-Pace sits between the subcompact E-Pace and compact F-Pace, but overall interior room is larger than both. (Photo: Jaguar)

A large panoramic sunroof will shed light over both rows of occupants, while rear passengers will have the option of another two automatic climate control zones for a total of four. Rear passengers will also be able to enjoy Jaguar’s “Click and Go” front seatback attachment system, which will allow features such as display screens to be mounted quickly and easily, while plenty of cargo area add-ons will help enhance load space functionality.

That cargo area measures 656 litres (23.1 cubic feet), incidentally, which makes it considerably larger than the E-Pace’s 577-litre (20.4 cubic-foot) rearmost compartment and similar to the F-Pace’s 685 kilos (1,510 lbs) of usable luggage space when the rear seats are upright. Jaguar hasn’t included a photo of the cargo area, but it’s likely finished nicely with high-grade carpets, chromed tie-down hooks, and split-folding rear seatbacks, hopefully in the most useful 40/20/40 configuration, or at least with a centre pass-through.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
LED headlamps are just some of the standard features we can expect. (Photo: Jaguar)

Jaguar Canada is currently touting S, SE, and HSE trims on its website (yes, you can configure everything but pricing already), but so far there’s no sign of a First Edition. Jaguar normally offers special First Edition trim in a new model’s initial year, and has already announced it will do so in the U.S., but we’ll need to wait and see if a First Edition gets added to the Canadian offering.

Of course, the I-Pace will also qualify for any provincial rebates, which are currently set to a maximum of $14,000 in Ontario, $8,000 in Quebec (which also offers a $4,000 rebate for purchasing a pre-owned EV), and $5,000 in BC, although West Coast buyers should be aware that new rules don’t allow for rebates for vehicles costing more than $77,000, and it’s likely the new I-Pace will exceed this number.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace
The new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace appears ready to transform the luxury EV sector when it arrives later this year. (Photo: Jaguar)

While you can place an order immediately, we won’t know exact pricing until closer to launch, but take note the automaker’s U.S. division has already confirmed it’s targeting an MSRP below $100,000 USD ($128,940 CAD at the time of writing). Jaguar will probably undercut the larger 2018 Tesla Model X that starts at $111,950 in Canada, goes up to $135, 250 for the mid-range 100D, and tops off at $199,800 for the most powerful P100D, but we can’t expect something this stylish, luxurious, well made, high-tech, performance-oriented and prestigious to be fighting it out with the $45k Chevy Bolts of the world.

Jaguar has promised that half of its vehicles will incorporate some sort of electrified drivetrain by 2025, so it’s quite possible plug-in models will eventually appear both above and below the new I-Pace.

While you’re waiting for the new I-Pace to arrive, make sure to check out this entertaining video introducing the new 2019 I-Pace at its Graz, Austria production facility (1:00:04):

Or if you don’t have an hour to dedicate to a video right now, check out this shorter 12-minute video on its features and benefits (12:21):

Or how about an even shorter 4-minute video showing the new I-Pace going head-to-head with the Tesla Model X SUV? (3:47):

In case you missed it, the 2018 Fit, 2018 Accord, and 2018 Odyssey received Residual Value Awards from ALG, which means that all three are predicted to lead their segments in retained value after three…

Honda earns three 2018 ALG Residual Value awards

2018 Honda Fit Sport
The 2018 Honda Fit, showing here in its new Sport trim, has earned an ALG Residual Value Award in its subcompact class. (Photo: Honda)

In case you missed it, the 2018 Fit, 2018 Accord, and 2018 Odyssey received Residual Value Awards from ALG, which means that all three are predicted to lead their segments in retained value after three years of ownership.

Key to retaining value is class leading quality, leading-edge technologies and market acceptance, all descriptors of the three winning Hondas, with the redesigned 2018 Fit adding more style, soft-touch premium surfaces, digital interfaces and available equipment to its subcompact category, while maintaining its class-leading passenger and cargo versatility, allowing it to take top honours in ALG’s “Subcompact Car” category for four consecutive years.

2018 Honda Accord Touring 1.5T
The new 2018 Honda Accord seems to be winning everything lately, so earning ALG’s best in class Residual Value Award only makes sense. (Photo: Honda)

The 2018 Accord’s redesign has even been more comprehensive, and delivers an even more compelling argument for ownership in its mid-size sedan segment. ALG particularly noted above-average technology, safety and driving dynamics, all of which combined to earn it highest marks in ALG’s “Midsize Car” category.

Lastly, the redesigned 2018 Odyssey has addressed the minivan segment with some innovative ideas, including totally unique multi-configurable Magic Slide second-row seats, plus CabinWatch and CabinTalk technologies that take the old conversation mirror to new levels, helping it win ALG’s “Minivan” category.

2018 Honda Odyssey
The 2018 Honda Odyssey has some unique innovations that set it apart within the minivan segment. (Photo: Honda)

Annual ALG Residual Value Awards are given to vehicles based on their predicted ability to retain their original price after three years of purchase. Awards are meted out in 26 categories.

2018 Honda Odyssey
Leading-edge technology is a key ingredient to a car’s longevity in the marketplace, and the three Hondas chosen by ALG show a lot of leadership in this respect. (Photo: Honda)

“Strong residual values are the bedrock of successful brands. A vehicle’s ability to retain its value over time is an important consideration for consumers looking to purchase or lease a vehicle,” said Jim Nguyen, president of ALG. “With vehicle leasing at near-record levels and headwinds for used vehicle values on the horizon, consumers can have confidence in their choice of a Residual Value Award winner for their next vehicle.”

ALG award winners are chosen after carefully studying all the competitors in each category, including their historical performance and industry trends. Other deciding factors include model and brand quality, production levels relative to market demand, plus pricing and marketing strategies.

Earning three ALG Residual Value awards puts Honda into rare company amongst mainstream volume brands, with only Subaru and Toyota winning more. Subaru split its earnings amongst cars and crossover SUVs, whereas Toyota received all of its honours within the SUV and truck segments. Honda, on the other hand, was strongest in the car sector.

Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018…

New Volvo XC60 wins 2018 North American Utility of the Year

2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
The stylish new Volvo XC60 has just won the 2018 North American Utility of the Year award. (Photo: Volvo)

Volvo has become the darling of the North American Utility of the Year award program in recent years, having just won last year with its then new XC90 mid-size SUV, but now it’s the redesigned 2018 XC60 compact SUV’s turn to be honoured with the prestigious title.

Like the previous winner, the sharp looking 2nd-generation XC60 represents a completely fresh approach for Volvo and a much more competitive entry within the compact luxury SUV segment.

“The Volvo XC60 raises the bar for safety and driver assistance systems in compact utility vehicles, and does it in a package that exudes Scandinavian design,” said Mark Phelan, president of the North American Car of the Year Awards organization.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
A factor benefiting the new XC60 is a strong engine lineup that includes this T8 model’s 400-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Photo: Volvo)

It’s true, Volvo is one of few models in the compact luxury SUV segment to include autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist as standard equipment, while additional standard safety gear include full LED headlamps, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, a driver’s knee airbag, and more. On top of these advanced features, the new 2018 XC60 can be upfitted with automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, and new Pilot Assist, which is Volvo’s highly advanced semi-autonomous driver assistance system that manages steering, acceleration, and braking on well-marked roads up to 130 km/h (80 mph).

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
Few XC60 rivals offer standard LED headlamps, this just one of many advanced safety features that set the compact luxury SUV apart from its peers. (Photo: Volvo)

Like in previous years, the 2018 North American Utility of the Year was chosen by a jury of 60 professional automotive journalists from the US and Canada who provide content for independent print newspapers and magazines, TV and radio stations, plus websites. The results of their findings were presented at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month. The award, which also includes a Car and Truck of the Year, honours “excellence in innovation, design, safety features, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value,” stated a press release.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s standard infotainment system is large at 9.0 inches, plus it’s an award-winning system that’s been lauded by customers and industry professionals alike. (Photo: Volvo)

“We are so proud the XC60 has won this prestigious award,” said Anders Gustafsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars USA. “It is a very tough competition and we thank all the judges for recognizing the great style, technology, and engineering in the XC60. All car shoppers should take a test drive to see for themselves how great it really is.”

It appears a lot of Canadian consumers have done just that since the new 2018 XC60 was introduced in August last year. Prior to that XC60 annual deliveries had been hovering between 1,500 to 1,700 unit sales for years, but despite only being on the market for five months the new redesign helped push XC60 sales up to 2,315 deliveries for 2017. More specifically, year-over-year XC60 sales were up 41 percent in August, 140 percent in September, 290 percent in October, 264 percent in November, and 251 percent in December. The importance of this growth can’t be underestimated, as the XC60 represented 30 percent of the Swedish brand’s worldwide sales before the redesigned version arrived, so therefore the new model’s uptick in popularity will be a boon to the Volvo brand overall.

2018 Volvo XC60
This panoramic sunroof is standard across the entire XC60 line, just one of many examples of the XC60’s value proposition. (Photo: Volvo)

Part of the 2018 XC60’s appeal is its highly efficient yet powerful engine lineup. All utilize Volvo’s direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-litre “Drive-E” four-cylinder, with the base T5 version making 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The same turbo-four in T6 trim adds a supercharger for a boost to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, whereas the XC60 T8 includes the supercharger as well as identical Twin Power plug-in hybrid technology to the XC90 T8, resulting in 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. This allows the XC60 T8 to sprint from zero to 100km/h in only 5.3 seconds.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
This top-line XC60 T8 Inscription model shows how far upmarket Volvo has taken its luxury image. (Photo: Volvo)

All powertrains are made even more efficient thanks to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission featuring automated engine start/stop functionality to reduce emissions and save fuel, the technology helping the new 2018 XC60 achieve a five-cycle Transport Canada claimed rating of 10.7 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway, and 9.8 combined for the XC60 T5 AWD powertrain, or 11.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.2 combined for the XC60 T6 AWD, albeit no estimate yet for the XC60 T8 eAWD.

This won’t stop us from guessing that the smaller, lighter XC60 T8 eAWD will be slightly thriftier on fuel than larger, heavier mid-size XC90 T8 eAWD, an SUV already rated at 10.1 L/100km city, 8.8 highway and 9.5 combined. This said, when factoring in regular charging an owner could potentially drive the XC90 T8 eAWD every day without ever needing to fill the gas tank, although its official Le/100km (gasoline litres equivalent per 100 kilometres) rating is more conservatively estimated at 4.7 combined city/highway. A slightly better rating should be achievable with the new XC60 T8 eAWD.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60’s rear legroom is best-in-class. (Photo: Volvo)

While the new 2018 XC60’s powertrain lineup might be reason enough to earn it North American Utility of the Year status, its many other attributes combine for a truly special compact SUV. Its styling, which combines key design cues from its larger XC90 sibling as well as other recently redesigned Volvo models, also has some completely new elements of its own, while its uniquely rich interior design and execution raises the bar in the compact luxury SUV segment.

Its 965 millimetres (38 inches) of rear legroom is best in class as well, while its 731 litres (25.8 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind its 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 1,792 litres (63.3 cubic feet) of maximum luggage space make it one of the easiest to live with in its segment. Additionally, the XC60 comes standard with a convenient rear centre pass-through that lets rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable outboard seats while longer cargo, such as skis, get stowed down the middle.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription
The XC60 delivers one of the roomiest cargo compartments in its class, plus the convenience of a centre pass-through as well as optional power-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Volvo)

The 2018 XC60 represents strong value as well, with additional standard features not yet mentioned including an electromechanical parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a high-resolution colour multi-information display, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, heatable powered front seats with driver’s memory, one of the largest infotainment touchscreen’s in the class at 9.0 inches, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, voice activation, SMS/text message reading and response capability, 10-speaker premium audio, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear liftgate, roof rails, and much more.

The base 2018 Volvo XC60 Momentum is available now from just $46,350 before freight and fees, while the sportiest R-Design model can be had for $56,000 and top-tier Inscription trim starts at $57,600.

Audi and Subaru have been named best Mainstream Brand and best Premium Brand respectively in ALG’s 2018 Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), an important benchmark used for forecasting future vehicle…

Audi and Subaru earn top honours in 2018 ALG Canadian Residual Value Awards

2018 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza achieved best residual value in its “Compact” class. (Photo: Subaru)

Audi and Subaru have been named best Mainstream Brand and best Premium Brand respectively in ALG’s 2018 Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), an important benchmark used for forecasting future vehicle values by auto industry professions.

Now in its 10th year, ALG’s RVA projects future values of new models from 26 separate market segments, ranging from “Alt-fuel” to “Fullsize Commercial Van” and everything in between. There are many ways to measure value, although within the car industry the difference between the initial price paid for a new vehicle and its resale value after three or four years is a key parameter. ALG uses the average ownership duration of four years to determine mainstream volume brand values and three years for premium brands, with the results showing both Subaru and Audi are tops in their respective sectors.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek earned best resale value in the “Subcompact Utility” category. (Photo: Subaru)

“Depreciation is the single biggest cost of vehicle ownership, and informed consumers understand the importance of resale value when making their purchase decision,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of ALG. “The ALG Residual Value Award is a meaningful achievement in the hyper-competitive automotive landscape. Residual values are a key indicator for the market success of a vehicle, factoring in quality, product execution and brand desirability as primary drivers of ALG’s forecast.”

This is Subaru’s fourth consecutive RVA mainstream brand win, showing an impressive consistency in quality, execution and desirability. This year the brand earned four segment awards, including the Impreza in the “Compact” class, the Crosstrek in the “Subcompact Utility” segment, the Outback in the “Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” segment, and the WRX in the “Sportscar” segment.

2018 Subaru Outback
Subaru’s Outback has the highest residual value in the “Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” segment. (Photo: Subaru)

Other notable mainstream brands include Toyota that dominated SUV and truck segments with five RVAs including the Tundra achieving its eighth consecutive year topping the “Fullsize Pickup” category, the Tacoma at five RVA “Midsize Pickup” class awards in a row, the Highlander winning the “Midsize Utility 3rd Row Seating” segment, the 4Runner in the “Off-Road Utility” class, and the Sequoia earning top marks in the “Fullsize Utility” category. Honda received three RVA segment awards including the Fit in the “Subcompact” class, Accord in the “Midsize” category, and Odyssey in the “Minivan” segment.

Nissan managed two winners including the Rogue in the “Compact Utility” class and Maxima in the “Fullsize” segment, while the only one-off deserving mention is Kia’s Niro in the “Alt-fuel” category.

2018 Audi A5 Coupe
Audi’s A5 has the best residual value amongst “Premium Midsize” models. (Photo: Audi)

Audi, which has experienced a dramatic upsurge in new vehicle sales in recent years, achieved four category wins including the A5 in the “Premium Midsize” class, A7 in the “Premium Fullsize” segment, Q5 in the “Premium Compact Utility” segment, and Q7 in the “Premium Midsize Utility 3rd Row Seating” category.

“Audi has emerged in recent years as a contender in the luxury space against top European rivals, finding success with new product entries in the utility space and emphasizing innovative technologies that have resonated well with luxury consumers,” stated an ALG press release.

2018 Audi Q5
The new Q5 is rated highest for resale value in the “Premium Compact Utility” segment. (Photo: Audi)

Mercedes also took home four awards, albeit with two in the commercial sector. The winners included the Metris in the “Midsize Commercial” segment and the Sprinter in the “Fullsize Commercial” category, while its CLA Class took home top marks amongst “Premium Compact” models, and the G-Class achieved the highest score in the “Premium Fullsize Utility” segment.

No other premium brand earned multiple RVAs, but notable mentioned include the Maserati Quattroporte in the “Premium Executive” class, the Porsche 718 Boxster in the “Premium Sportscar” segment, and the Land Rover Range Rover Velar in the “Premium Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” category.