Toyota’s RAV4 is Canada’s most popular compact SUV, but does that mean it’s best in its class? Check out today’s review of new top-line Limited Platinum AWD trim to find out what we think and…

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD Road Test

The RAV4 is number one! At the close of 2016, Toyota's fourth-generation RAV4 became the bestselling compact SUV in Canada, and by a significant margin. What's more, its 49,103 total sales surpassed the mighty Corolla (by 908 units) for the first time ever, yet another sign of shifting consumer tastes from cars to crossover sport utilities. This also means the RAV4 is now the most popular Toyota in Canada.

Sales aren't slowing for 2017 either. In fact, if the RAV4 continues at its current pace it'll easily surpass 50,000 units for another record year. At the close of Q3 2017 the RAV was still in first place with 39,895 sales, beating the runner-up CR-V by 2,181 units and the third-place Ford Escape by 2,718, let alone Nissan's Rogue that's a sizeable 6,715 deliveries behind or Hyundai's Tucson that trails by a whopping 15,650 units. The best of the rest aren't even half as popular, which goes to show how much Canadians like their Toyota SUVs.

Helping boost sales was a Read Full Story
Toyota’s Sienna will get a big grille refresh for 2018, so if you like a more conservative approach to styling we recommend you snag a 2017 model, like this XLE AWD Limited, while you can. Updated with…

2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD Limited Road Test

I remember when this third-generation 2011 Sienna was brand new, and in sporty SE trim it was the coolest minivan to ever hit the road.

I was on the press launch and specifically chose to focus on the SE after driving the majority of trims during the national launch program in early 2010, and soon after I tested a four-cylinder LE model at home (that engine since discontinued in the Sienna), another four-cylinder the following year in 2012 trim while visiting my daughter at her university in Sackville, New Brunswick (a comfortable and economical trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Moncton, where I stayed), and after that a well-equipped 2012 XLE model at home, a 2013 LE V6 likewise, a 2014 XLE Limited, the mid-cycle updated 2015 in LE AWD guise, and finally an XLE AWD version of the same vintage, so it felt good to get back in the Sienna saddle once again, this time in an XLE AWD with the Limited package (we'll just call it the Limited AWD).

You may have noticed something Read Full Story
Toyota might be falling behind in the Canadian PHEV and EV arena, with its lone Prius Prime plug-in hybrid only available in Quebec and not a hint of anything fully electric on the foreseeable horizon…

Toyota’s Prius C hybrid gets styling updates and advanced safety kit for 2018

2018 Toyota Prius C
The Toyota Prius C gets styling updates for 2018, helping keep it fresh. (Photo: Toyota)
Toyota might be falling behind in the Canadian PHEV and EV arena, with its lone Prius Prime plug-in hybrid only available in Quebec and not a hint of anything fully electric on the foreseeable horizon despite the recent announcement of an EV partnership with Mazda, but its Prius lineup still holds title to the world’s bestselling electrified vehicle. The compact Prius was redesigned for the 2016 model year, but Toyota Canada’s slightly stronger selling subcompact Prius C has been patiently waiting since the year prior for its update, and now a refreshed 2018 model is upon us.
2018 Toyota Prius C
It might not be a plug-in, but the Prius C’s strong value proposition makes it a popular option in Canada. (Photo: Toyota)
“Prius is the world’s most recognized name for advanced and efficient motoring, and the Prius c combines Toyota’s proven hybrid technology with a small footprint to produce a nimble compact hatch, perfect for life in a modern city,” said Cyril Dimitris, Vice President, Toyota Canada Inc. “For 2018, we’ve made Prius c even more stylish and safe – giving Canadians even more reasons to welcome this forward-thinking hybrid into their lives.”
2018 Toyota Prius C
The 2018 Prius C’s attractive styling certainly helps its cause. (Photo: Toyota)
Compared to the radical styling departure that its elder, bigger sibling adopted two years ago, the reworked 2018 Prius C should appeal to those with more conservative leanings, just like the outgoing one did. In fact, the smaller car shows a polar shift in design that hardly seems as if it came from the same company. Where the larger Prius went from safe and arguably bland wind tunnel-inspired curves to outrageous origami folds and creases, truly pushing Toyota’s new modern-edge design envelope, the 2018 Prius C actually smooths over some of last year’s sharper edges.
2018 Toyota Prius C
Toyota has updated the 2018 model’s wheels too. (Photo: Toyota)
Specifically, the exterior changes include redesigned front and rear fascias plus new LED headlamps, LED taillights, as well as updated wheel covers and optional alloys, while the cabin gets changed up a bit too, with a new steering wheel, gauge cluster, and centre stack. Additionally, the updated infotainment system features a new standard backup camera, but that’s hardly the end of the 2018 Prius C’s standard safety advantages.
2018 Toyota Prius C
A renewed interior sports nicer materials in Technology trim. (Photo: Toyota)
Just like the Yaris that shares the Prius C’s platform architecture, this refreshed hybrid now includes the Toyota Safety Sense C suite of advanced driver-assistance systems as standard equipment, including automatic high beams, pre-collision warning, and lane departure alert. What’s more, the standard Prius C airbag count is nine instead of the usual six, whereas a direct tire pressure monitoring system is also part of the base package.
2018 Toyota Prius C
A new steering wheel boasts updated switchgear. (Photo: Toyota)
Additional 2018 Prius C standard features include 15-inch steel wheels with covers, power-adjustable heatable side mirrors, a tilt and telescopic steering column, steering wheel controls for the audio and HVAC systems, a 4.2-inch in-cluster multi-information display, single-zone automatic climate control, a 6.1-inch colour touchscreen infotainment interface, four-speaker audio, Bluetooth connectivity, an outside temperature gauge, and more for just $21,990 plus freight and dealer fees.
2018 Toyota Prius C
The Prius C’s digital gauge cluster gets improvements for 2018 too. (Photo: Toyota)
Toyota also offers a $900 Upgrade package for the base model featuring a synthetic leather instrument panel, premium upholstery, additional driver seat adjustments, cruise control, two more stereo speakers, a rear centre console box, and a cargo cover, pushing the price up to $22,890.
2018 Toyota Prius C
A backup camera is now standard. (Photo: Toyota)
Lastly, the Prius C Technology starts at $26,950 and adds everything from the Upgrade package except the premium cloth seats, as these are replaced by Toyota’s Softex breathable leatherette upholstery, while other Technology features include 15-inch alloys, LED fog lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, Touch Tracer controls on the upgraded synthetic leather-clad steering wheel, a navigation system with detailed mapping, advanced voice recognition, Gracenote connectivity, satellite radio, heatable front seats, a powered moonroof, and more.
2018 Toyota Prius C
A $900 Upgrade package adds these attractive cloth seats amongst other items. (Photo: Toyota)
The 2018 Prius C carries forward with Toyota’s well-proven Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain consisting of a 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder internal combustion engine (ICE) with variable valve timing and an exhaust heat recovery system, mated up to a 19-kWh nickel metal-hydride battery, 45kW electric motor, continuously variable transmission, and auto start/stop system, resulting in 99 net horsepower and estimated 5.1 L/100km city/highway combined fuel economy, which, along with its very attractive pricing, is the key reason it sells so well. While plug-in hybrids and EVs are currently the industry rage, the Prius C’s strong value proposition makes it very popular in Canada and these new 2018 updates should help keep it that way.
How’s this for a sporty looking subcompact hatch? Toyota spiffed up its Yaris for 2017, although this grey-painted version isn’t anywhere near as racy looking as the two-tone red and black one. The…

2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback Road Test

I have no idea why I still call this little car the Tercel. I worked for a Toyota dealer way back in '87 and the Tercel was one of the most popular cars we sold at the time.

That was already the third-generation Tercel, which was replaced by the Echo in 1999. This oddly styled yet undeniably practical subcompact was one of my first-ever manufacturer-supplied weeklong test cars (thank you F. David Stone) when I entered the professional journalist fray in 2000, and one I'd still love to get my hands on in five-speed manual Hatchback RS guise. I first drove that little number at a press launch in Niagara, Ontario during the fall of 2003, but it was another such launch program in autumn of 2005 that saw a redesigned version of the same car debut, and with it the odd yet catchy Yaris name.

Interestingly, the Echo was actually a rebadged Yaris, but most of us don't pay attention to European nameplates here in North America. I didn't even realize both cars were also shared with Read Full Story
I don’t know why I still call this little car the Tercel. I worked for a Toyota dealer way back in ‘87 and the Tercel was one of the most popular cars we sold at the time. That was already the third-generation…

2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback

2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
The 2017 Yaris Hatchback looks pretty sporty in SE trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I don’t know why I still call this little car the Tercel. I worked for a Toyota dealer way back in ‘87 and the Tercel was one of the most popular cars we sold at the time. That was already the third-generation Tercel, which was replaced by the Echo in 1999. This oddly styled yet undeniably practical subcompact was one of my first-ever manufacturer-supplied weeklong test cars (thank you F. David Stone) when I entered the professional journalist fray in 2000, and one I’d still love to get my hands on in five-speed manual Hatchback RS guise. I first drove that little number at a press launch in Niagara, Ontario during the fall of 2003, but it was another such launch program in autumn of 2005 that saw a redesigned version of the same car debut, and with it the odd yet catchy Yaris name.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
The machine-finished 16-inch alloy wheels with black painted pockets and rooftop spoiler are part of the SE upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Interestingly, the Echo was actually a rebadged Yaris, but most of us don’t pay attention to European nameplates here in North America. I didn’t even realize both cars were also shared with the Vitz, Platz and Vios in Asian markets, four-door sedans of which are my regular rides while taxiing around my second home of greater Manila (there are millions of these things throughout the Philippines). I had already experienced just how much fun the Yaris was to drive with that aforementioned Echo Hatch RS, but it was during the second launch event that I first autocrossed one. The car has only improved over time, although I must say this latest version isn’t as capable of sneaking past the constabulary is it once was. At least this top-line Yaris SE looks a lot subtler in Magnetic Grey Metallic than Absolutely Red, or even more jaw-dropping Ruby Flare Pearl with Black Sand pillars and rooftop, the latter two hues making the car’s massive black maw pull eyeballs as if one of Gazoo Racing’s WRC rally cars was nonchalantly passing by (ok, that race-only car has a lot more white in its livery, but you get my point).
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
Toyota improves the SE’s interior with soft-touch surfaces and sportier trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I only wish Toyota had shaved $1,000 off my tester’s bottom line by forgoing the rather pedestrian four-speed automatic, the much more engaging standard five-speed manual a lot more in keeping with the Yaris SE’s hot hatch styling. Yes, the Yaris is one of the only cars still sold in North America with a four-speed autobox, most of its peers having gravitated over to a continuously variable transmission or a much more fun to drive dual-clutch sequential gearbox. The Yaris’ automatic doesn’t even include a sequential manual mode, but rather a gated shifter that lets you manually select all of its lower gears—I suppose that’s better than nothing. I love that Toyota raises the excitement bar by calling it a four-speed “Super ECT with Overdrive,” as if its SLAM overdrive-equipped Class 0.5 jerry-rigged Isu-Sim SSP05 hyperdrive-enhanced Girodyne SRB42 sublight engines can whisk the little YT-1300 to 1,050 km/h in atmosphere or 3,000 G in space.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
Not a bad looking little economy car, don’t you think? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Before you start thinking that I’m ripping too hard on this cheap little hatch (it’s less than $20k as tested), appreciate that its four-speed auto drives better than many newer CVTs, but I’ve already said too much as this is seat-of-the-pants info for my upcoming road test review—stay tuned. I’ll mention a thing or two about the Yaris’ sole 106-horsepower 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 103 lb-ft of torque in the review as well (which is actually two horsepower and two pound-feet less formidable than the Echo hatch noted earlier), along with the usual comments regarding drivability, overall comfort, interior quality, refinement and equipment usability, but I might as well cover its base and optional features now.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
This leather-clad gated shifter hides a four-speed automatic, but don’t worry performance fans as a five-speed manual comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
For just $18,510 plus freight and fees, the 2017 Yaris Hatchback SE hits the road running with machine-finished 16-inch alloy wheels on 195/50 all-seasons, signature LED driving lights within the halogen projector headlamp clusters, fog lights, a unique black mesh grille (the base car’s is horizontally ribbed), blackened front trim (normally chrome), a body-colour rear rooftop spoiler, powered locks with remote access, powered windows, a contrast stitched leather-wrapped tilt (non-telescopic) multifunctional sport steering wheel, a leather-clad shift knob, a soft-touch synthetic instrument panel, soft door inserts, power-adjustable heated side mirrors, a trip computer, cruise control, air conditioning, a 6.1-inch colour infotainment touchscreen incorporating a backup camera, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with aux and USB ports, Bluetooth, front sport seats with contrast-stitched ribbed premium cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear bench seat that expands on the already sizeable 433-litre (15.3 cubic foot) cargo area, and most impressive of all (especially because it’s even standard with the $15,475 base Yaris), Toyota’s Safety Sense C combo that boasts auto high beams (seriously!), a pre-collision system, and lane departure alert.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
These ribbed and contrast stitched grey cloth sport seats are part of the SE upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Of course, the Yaris also comes standard with the usual active and passive safety gear like ABS-enhanced four-wheel disc brakes (the SE is upgraded over the usual rear drums) with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction and stability control, all the usual airbags including one for the driver’s knees, etcetera. People normally buy into this class because they’re not required to spend much initially or ongoing, with even this sportier Yaris capable of a claimed 7.8 L/100km city, 6.5 highway and 7.2 combined fuel economy rating. The Yaris is renowned for its reliability, just like the Echo, Tercel, and Starlet before.
2017 Toyota Yaris SE Hatchback
The rear seats aren’t as fancy, but plenty serviceable. Come back to find out if they’re comfortable and roomy too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
My tester was pretty well loaded, although a person could spend extra for paint, the aforementioned two-tone colours costing an extra $540. The cargo liner in back was an add-on too, this from the accessories catalogue at a mere $90 and change. Ask nicely and your dealer might even throw in all-season floor mats, these only setting them back $165, while a cargo net is just over $130. You can get a block heater for just under $210, and the usual paint protection, hood deflector, and body side mouldings too, but the coolest dealer-added accessories include the $465 Bongiovi Acoustics DPS radio upgrade that really improves audio quality, and the (rather pricey) $1,123 navigation system that adds detailed mapping and real-time routing to the stock display, plus SMS text message/email read and reply, “one shot” voice commands, “Playmore Like This” and Gracenotes apps, plus more. The Yaris is about to be updated with an even more aggressive look for 2018, so if you like what you see you may want to grab a 2017 while you can. I’ll be back soon with my full review and a considerably larger, much more detailed photo gallery, so until then enjoy the small batch of photos supplied…