Toyota’s 86 hasn’t changed much since being refreshed for 2017 as part of its Scion FR-S transformation, but it hardly needs any modification. In fact, when its many diehard fans caught wind that…

2019 Toyota 86 GT

2019 Toyota 86 GT
Toyota’s 86 is still one of the best performance car value’s around. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Toyota’s 86 hasn’t changed much since being refreshed for 2017 as part of its Scion FR-S transformation, but it hardly needs any modification. In fact, when its many diehard fans caught wind that it might be getting axed due to ever-slowing sales, the deafening outcry caused a U.S.-market Toyota spokesperson to declare that it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

“As [Toyota president] Akio Toyoda said at the reveal of the 2020 Supra, Toyota is committed to building exciting vehicles, including sports cars. The 86 has been in the Toyota family since 2013 and the plan is that it will continue to be a part of Toyota’s sports car line-up.” 

2019 Toyota 86 GT
The 86 still has beautiful lines, despite getting on in years. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

A quick look at sale numbers makes it easy to understand why many were in doubt of its future, with 2017 to 2018 calendar year-over-year deliveries down 40.2 percent in Canada, which was only outdone—to the negative—by Fiat’s 124 Spider that saw a decline of 52.7 percent, while the 86’ near identical Subaru BRZ saw its sales drop by 23.3 percent, but then again it didn’t have as far to fall. Those two models actually switched places for the first time at the close of 2018, with more Canadians choosing the BRZ than 86, the final tally being 604 for Subaru and 550 for Toyota. This last number might not seem like much when compared to the 1,825 FR-S coupes Scion sold in its first full year of 2013, but once again considering that it hasn’t changed all that much since it debuted just prior, and then factoring in that all car sales have taken a beating against the growth of crossover SUVs, the 86 is actually holding up quite well. 

2019 Toyota 86 GT
Toyota added these standard LED headlamps for its 2017 refresh. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Incidentally, the entire front fascia was modified for 2017, and its nicely detailed LED headlamps added for a more sophisticated look. Another change saw the front fender vent elongated and the “86” insignia redesigned and placed lower on the side panel, while revised taillight lenses filled with LEDs modernized the seven-year-old model’s look. 

The interior has always been pretty nice, but the 2013, 2014 and 2015 model year FR-S examples I drove never let me inside with proximity-sensing keyless access, started via pushbutton, kept me warm via dual-zone automatic climate control, skinned their seats in leather trimmed with microsuede, or covered their primary instrument hoods and passenger-side dash sections in padded and stitched microsuede like this 2019 86, while this new model boasts other improvements as well. 

2019 Toyota 86 GT
Make sure to return for our full road test review, but until then check the photo gallery above for loads of detailed images… (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Certainly there are some that petition Toyota for more power, but this lightweight 1,252-kilo (2,760-lb) rear-drive sports coupe makes the most of its 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque with one of the nimblest chassis’ in its price range. 

Make sure to come back for our full road test review to be reminded of why sports car enthusiasts the world over keep the Toyota 86 close to their hearts, even if fewer are anteing up with $30k of their own to take one home. We’d certainly love to keep ours for as long as Toyota would let us.

If you feel like we do, check out CarCostCanada to learn about exact pricing for each trim, package and option, plus don’t forget to check if there are any rebates, and make sure to find out about the 86’s dealer invoice pricing that will help you get the best price when negotiating with your local Toyota dealer…

Toyota will give its ever-popular Corolla compact sedan a fresh new face for 2020, but thanks to the all-new 2019 Corolla Hatchback there’s no need to wait.  This sporty new five-door variant carries…

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The great looking new Corolla Hatchback won’t be turning away any potential buyers due to styling. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Toyota will give its ever-popular Corolla compact sedan a fresh new face for 2020, but thanks to the all-new 2019 Corolla Hatchback there’s no need to wait. 

This sporty new five-door variant carries on where the Corolla iM left off, the latter model a superb little car that deserved a lot more attention that it received due to impressive interior quality and adept handling, but alas it struggled from anonymity because it wore a Scion badge. 

Past brand identity problems aside, the real reason the iM was so good had to do with its European roots. The iM, and now the new Corolla Hatchback, are in fact second- and third-generation Toyota Auris models, their more demanding Euro-target audience making them feel more upscale inside than any previous North American-market Corolla, and causing them to drive with greater focus on performance. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Toyota calls the Hatchback the Corolla Sport in Japan, a much more suitable name. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Corolla Hatchback offers one engine and two transmission choices. The engine, a direct-injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder, incorporates the usual VVT-i as well as VVT-iE, the former electrically powering the variable valve timing system via the intake cam, and the latter via the exhaust cam, resulting in 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, whereas the transmissions include the usual six-speed manual in lower trims and a rather elaborately named alternative dubbed Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (Direct Shift-CVT), which is an automatic CVT boasting a manual mode with 10 forward speeds via Simulated Shift Control. Agreed, it doesn’t sound like an ordinary continuously variable transmission, but does the Direct Shift-CVT live up to the hype of its complex nomenclature? 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
We’ll see a version of these LED headlamps in the next-gen 2020 Corolla sedan too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, we’ll tell all in our upcoming road test review, including commentary on ride and handling that should continue to be a highlight with the Corolla Hatchback thanks to a variation of the iM’s independent multi-link rear suspension, the sedan outfitted with a less capable rear twist-beam design. 

All of this high-end kit doesn’t come cheap, although the 2019 Corolla Hatchback’s $20,980 starting only seems steep when comparing it to the entry-level Corolla sedan’s $16,790. The new Hatchback comes well equipped for just under $21k, including full LED headlamps with automatic high beams, LED taillights, proximity-sensing access, pushbutton ignition, automatic climate control, a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display, an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with a backup camera, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Toyota’s proprietary Entune smartphone integration that also comes with Entune App Suite Connect featuring traffic, weather, sports, stocks, a fuel station locator, Slacker, Yelp, and NPR One, while additional standard kit includes six-speaker audio, power windows with auto up/down all around, all the segment’s usual active and passive safety features plus an airbag for the driver’s knees, pre-collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure alert and road departure warning with steering assist, and adaptive cruise control. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
These 19-inch alloys come standard with the top-line XSE. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Move up to the CVT for a reasonable $1,000 and the list includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane tracing assist, and Scout GPS Link navigation/route guidance added to Entune App Suite Connect, while my tester was also outfitted in top-line XSE trim that substitutes Scout GPS Link with its own embedded navigation and otherwise fills the centre touchscreen with Entune 3.0 Premium Audio that includes traffic and weather info, Entune Destination Assist, Entune Safety Connect featuring automatic collision notification, a stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance (SOS) button, and enhanced roadside assistance, and otherwise updates infotainment with satellite radio and wireless charging. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
These LED taillights add a new level of sophistication to the Corolla nameplate. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

What’s more, the base model’s 15-inch steel wheels get replaced by a sweet looking set of machine-finished 18-inch rims on grippy 225/40 all-seasons, while LED fog lamps enhance the front fascia, chrome gets added to the rear bumper, and the interior gets updated with an eight-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, front seat heaters, special Sport fabric upholstery with leatherette trim, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel (with paddle shifters when upgraded to the CVT), a 7.0-inch digital driver’s display, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and an anti-theft system, all for $26,980 with the manual or $27,980 with the CVT. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The outgoing Corolla iM benefited by a much more upscale interior than the Corolla sedan, and so does the new Corolla Hatchback. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Notably, some of that kit gets pulled up from lesser SE and SE Upgrade trims, which are available for $22,580 and $23,980 respectively, but that’s it with respect to factory options except for $225 Blizzard Pearl paint that’s only offered in top-line XSE trim. This means my tester’s Smoked Paprika Metallic is one of six available no-cost standard colours in XSE guise, the seventh a shade dubbed Super White that’s only offered in base and SE trims. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
This semi-digital gauge cluster modernizes the Corolla’s driving experience. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Some dealer added accessories worth noting include a dash camera for $650, which really should be on everyone’s must-have list, a $155 cargo liner, an $80 cargo net, and $250 worth of door sill plates, while the exterior can be dressed up with a seriously sporty extended rear rooftop spoiler for $535. 

By the way, all of the 2019 Corolla Hatchback’s pricing information can be found at CarCostCanada, including trims, packages, and standalone options, plus you can also find out about any available rebates, as well as dealer invoice pricing that could help you save thousands when negotiating the purchase of your new car.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The Corolla Hatchback delivers big on features, especially in XSE trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Corolla Hatchback, which gets the more exciting Corolla Sport nameplate in Japan, rolls on the compact GA-C version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular unibody platform that also underpins current versions of the Corolla sedan and Touring Sports (the latter wagon sadly only available in other markets), Prius/Prius Plug-in/Prime, C-HR compact crossover, and upcoming Lexus UX compact luxury crossover, making it one of the more ubiquitous platforms in existence. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Are these sporty looking seats comfortable and supportive? Check out our upcoming review to find out. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I know that most readers will be unfamiliar with the outgoing Corolla iM, but for the interest of the few that are this new Corolla Hatchback measures a full 100 millimetres (3.9 inches) longer than its predecessor at 4,375 mm (172.2 in), while its wheelbase spans 40 mm (1.6 in) farther between the axles at 2,640 mm (103.9 in). The new model has also grown from side-to-side, expanded by 30 mm (1.2 in) to 1,790 mm (70.5 in), while its overall height has decreased by 25 mm (1.0 in) to 1,435 mm (56.5 in). What about mass? The Corolla Hatchback’s curb weight is actually up by a substantive 118 kilograms (260 lbs) to 1,388 kg (3,060 lbs), but this extra girth is more than offset by the aforementioned engine’s increase of 31 horsepower and 25 lb-ft of torque, at least on paper. 

Come back for our review to find out how it feels by the seat of the pants, and whether or not its supercalifragilisticexpialidocious CVT lives up to its longwinded name. Until then, scroll back up to enjoy our comprehensive photo gallery…

Lovers of big full-size four-door cars aught to be giving Toyota a collective slap on the back, not to mention anteing up for its completely redesigned 2019 Avalon luxury sedan.  That said they should…

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The redesigned 2019 Toyota Avalon has taken on a much bolder new face, made sportier in base XSE trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Lovers of big full-size four-door cars aught to be giving Toyota a collective slap on the back, not to mention anteing up for its completely redesigned 2019 Avalon luxury sedan. 

That said they should also be lovers of off-the-charts mechanical aeration and otherwise eccentric styling cues front to back, because the new Avalon lays to rest any preconceived notions of conservatism initiated by the yawn-inducing 1995–1999 first-generation model, or for that matter the oddly proportioned yet still boring 2000–2004 version, the much improved yet nevertheless forgettable 2005–2012 third-gen car, and (IMHO) the quite elegant and therefore best-yet 2005–2012 fourth-generation model. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The new Avalon gets completely new rear styling too, with a more dramatic taillight treatment and a sporty deck lid spoiler in XSE guise. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

While I opined against the oversized grille that visually weighed down the outgoing model, this new 2019 Avalon breaks the mould that previously cast the world’s largest engine vents, now staking claim on the ultimate gaping maw award, if there ever were such an accolade. My goodness what were they thinking? This design must be targeting a different market than North America, or possibly Toyota knows something about its aging Avalon demographic that we don’t, but boy-oh-boy this is one mind-bogglingly bizarre front fascia. At least it’s not boring, our tester’s base XSE trim line (a new designation for this model) making matters more unusual by substituting the top-line Limited model’s chrome for loads of glossy black detailing most everywhere that wasn’t tastefully painted in an earthy metallic dubbed Brownstone. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The shy need not apply, due to one of the largest, most aggressive looking grilles in the auto industry. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Avalon’s previously elegant rear quarters have been radicalized too, from a design I could have easily called beautiful to one that’s been hit with the Prius stick. Ok, it’s not quite as whacky as the world’s best-selling hybrid, but it’s revolutionary to the eyes thanks to a multi-angled taillight cluster featuring a body-wide light bar at centre, this branded with “AVALON” block lettering in the middle. A tastefully small “XSE” badge lets passersby know you didn’t spend as much as Avalon Limited owners, or alternatively that you’re an Av buyer that likes your ride on the sportier side. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
These LED-enhanced headlights come standard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Ok, you’ve got to know that last comment was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Despite the outgoing model being a decent handler, better even than some direct competitors, one of which is professed to be a “four-door sports car” yet when the road gets bumpy has trouble maintaining contact with pavement due to an overly rigid chassis, Avalon customers wouldn’t normally be associated with those seeking performance first and foremost. 

Fortunately, a byproduct inherent in the new 2019 Avalon is a much-improved chassis architecture shared with the equally improved Camry, albeit lengthened to the same proportions as the recently redesigned Lexus ES 350/300h, which is also a much better performer than its forebears. It’s a bit large and soft to be considered a sport sedan, but the Av can now credibly zig and zag alongside its comparative rival from Nissan, not to mention other full-size front-drivers like the Kia Cadenza, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Taurus. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The new Avalon provides plenty of swoopy curves, sharp angles, and duct-like orifices. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

This said it’s no challenger to now premium mid-size models like the Genesis G80, a model that previously wore the Genesis nameplate under the Hyundai brand, while it’s also no match for a fully equipped Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger, which are also the sales leaders in this class. 

This brings up what may be an interesting question: With sales of large sedans falling off the proverbial cliff, and various models within this segment being accordingly axed to make way for crossover SUV replacements, or so we’re told, why has Toyota, with some of the lowest sales in this class, chosen to completely redesign the Avalon? The answer may have little to do with the Av itself, and more to do with the aforementioned Lexus ES 350 it shares production space with. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The base XSE gets these gorgeous 19-inch alloys, while the top-line Limited makes do with smaller 18s. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The ES is one of Lexus’ more popular cars with U.S. sales of 48,482 units last year and 1,808 sold over the same 12 months in Canada, which when added to 33,580 Avalons purchased south of the 49th and 626 bought here (the latter number representing year-over-year growth of 41.0 percent), combines for 84,496 units. While a reasonable argument can be made for keeping the ES within Lexus’ lineup, especially when considering it’s also sold elsewhere, but the Avalon hardly seems like a worthwhile venture. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Here’s a closer look at the anything but subtle rear deck lid and taillight. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

To put it in perspective, Ford just cancelled its full-size Taurus that found 40,341 U.S. and 2,812 Canadian buyers last year, a car that shares underpinnings with the Lincoln Continental that will also be discontinued despite 8,758 U.S. and 438 Canadian sales (which is nowhere near least popular in either market), while General Motors just announced the cancelation of its fraternally twinned Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse, the former growing its numbers by a shocking 26.8 percent to 3,903 units in Canada, thus beating the aforementioned Chrysler 300 to second place behind the Dodge Charger (LaCrosse sales were down 27.9 percent). The Impala was already in second in the U.S. with 56,557 deliveries in calendar year 2018, making it a much bigger seller than the Avalon, yet it’ll soon go the way of the dodo while Toyota’s large car entry soldiers on. Even the afterthought Buick sells stronger than the Avalon in Canada, managing 664 units last year, although its 15,527 U.S. total will mean that few will miss it south of the border. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Does the new Avalon’s interior measure up to its near-premium peers? Come back for our full review to find out what we think. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Other large mid-size models will soon be sent to the chopping block too, including Chevy’s Malibu (with 6,822 unit sales in 2018), Ford’s Fusion (with 6,350 units) and Lincoln’s MKZ (833 units) (somehow Buick’s Regal, that sold just 799 examples last year, was saved), whereas near full-size mainstream models that (like the Avalon) find fewer buyers, such as the Maxima that saw a sales decline of 38.6-percent for 1,357 units last year, or the Kia Cadenza that lost 33.1 percent for a near nonexistent 83 deliveries throughout all of 2018, are continuing on. It seems nonsensical to those on the outside of such decision-making boardrooms, but each automaker has its reasoning and, to make a short story long, the renewed Avalon will continue to exist in a market segment that’s saying goodbye to the Impala, LaCrosse and Taurus. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The new Avalon’s interior design is tastefully eye-catching. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As it is the redesigned Avalon offers a lot to traditional mid-size sedan buyers that want to step up into a larger, more luxuriously appointed car. Upwardly mobile Camry buyers seem like the obvious target market, the larger Toyota measuring 100 millimetres (4.0 inches) more from nose to tail, with a 50-mm (2.0-in) longer wheelbase, while it’s also 10 mm (0.4 in) wider than the more affordable sedan, albeit fractionally lower by the same 10 mm (0.4 in) measure. 

This said the new 2019 Avalon is larger than the already sizeable outgoing version, its overall length having grown by 20 millimetres (0.8 inches) to 4,980 mm (196.0 in) and wheelbase by 50 mm (2.0 in) to 2,870 mm (113.0 in), while it’s now 15 mm (0.6 inches) wider at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), but following a trend is now 20 mm (0.8 inches) lower overall at just 1,440 mm (56.5 in), resulting in a leaner more athletic look. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Could anything possibly be missing from this $40k-plus Avalon? Come back and we’ll tell you why were were a bit miffed. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Av backs up its sportier styling with more oomph under the hood, its massaged 3.5-litre V6 now outputting 10 more horsepower and 17 additional lb-ft of torque for 278 of the former and 265 of the latter, while in XSE trim this newfound performance is complemented by an “Engine Sound Generator” enhanced exhaust note that gets artificially amped up when Sport mode is switched on. What’s more, the entirely new eight-speed automatic transmission (not a CVT like one of the Avalon’s supposedly sportier competitors) that replaces the old six-speed unit even comes standard with (wait for it) paddle shifters. Yes, Toyota truly is trying to upset the mainstream volume-brand luxury car applecart, but it gets better still. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The 7-inch colour TFT multi-info display comes standard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Underpinning the new Avalon is an extended version of the stiffer, more agile chassis that improved the most recent Camry, and likewise makes the new Lexus ES 350/300h more enjoyable to live with, the XSE’s front struts and rear multi-link setup even sport tuned and matched up to one-inch larger 19-inch alloy wheels on 235/40 all-seasons, my tester’s produced by Continental. 

The Avalon smartly picks up where the Camry leaves off, the latter retailing for $41,090 plus freight and fees in top-tier XLE V6 trim and the base Avalon XSE starting at $42,790 (see all 2019 Avalon trims, packages and option pricing, plus rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands at CarCostCanada), but don’t expect to get all of the fully loaded Camry’s features in base Avalon form. I won’t detail out my disappointments in this abbreviated garage preview, but will instead go over a few highlights starting with a standard gauge cluster featuring a 7.0-inch digital multi-information display wedged between two analogue dials, which intelligently doubles up route guidance instructions in this easier to view location when the navigation system is in play, amongst numerous other functions. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The floating centre stack and 9-inch infotainment touchscreen is mostly impressive. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Atop the redesigned centre stack is a large 9.0-inch touchscreen featuring Toyota’s Entune infotainment interface as standard equipment that, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, lets you connect to functions, music and info such as traffic conditions, fuel stations, weather forecasts, stocks and more via a variety of apps such as Scout GPS Link, Yelp, Slacker, NPR One and more through your smartphone. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
A new 8-speed auto? We’ll let you know how it performs in our upcoming road test review. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

iPhone users will appreciate that Apple CarPlay also comes standard (but there’s no Android Auto), as does a wireless smartphone charger, SMS/text- and email-to-speech functions, advanced voice recognition, a 14-speaker 1,200-watt JBL surround sound audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, four USB charging ports, and more, while Entune Safety Connect provides automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance (SOS) button, and enhanced roadside assistance. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Is that ultrasuede on the leather seats? The Avalon is certainly sportier than it used to be. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Some other noteworthy standard features include LED headlamps, LED taillights, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, six-way powered front passenger’s seat, heatable front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, and dual-zone automatic climate control, while standard advanced driver assistance and safety systems include automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and more. 

As noted, I won’t mention any negatives in this garage preview, and of course I won’t be going into any detail about the new Avalon XSE’s driving characteristics, interior refinements, creature comforts, etcetera, so make sure to come back to find out why I had reason to grumble when climbing into my test model each and every morning during my cold January test week…

Toyota redesigned the Highlander for the 2014 model year, giving it much more character and impressive refinement inside, while upping the maximum seat count from seven to eight, and then after just three…

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Except for new LED fog lamps, Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid Limited remains unchanged for 2019. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Toyota redesigned the Highlander for the 2014 model year, giving it much more character and impressive refinement inside, while upping the maximum seat count from seven to eight, and then after just three years they replaced the simpler truck-inspired front grille and fascia for a ritzier chromed up look that certainly hasn’t hurt sales. 

Its popularity within its mid-size crossover SUV segment grew from eighth in the 2016 calendar year, when the updated model was introduced, to seventh the following year, while after three quarters of 2018 it’s risen to fifth overall and just third amongst its dedicated three-row peers. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The Highlander is still one of the better looking mid-size crossover SUVs from the rear.

Obviously Toyota sees no reason to change much for 2019, so the full-load Limited model in our garage this week only gets a nice new set of LED fog lamps. This is true for both the conventionally powered model and our Highlander Hybrid tester, the latter being the only mid-size SUV within the mainstream volume sector to be offered with a hybrid-electric powertrain. 

Think about that for a moment. SUVs are taking over the entire automotive market, and electrification is supposedly our future, but only Toyota offers a hybridized mid-size SUV. Like so many things in life, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Kudos to Toyota, mind you, that’s been leading the way for more than a dozen years. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Here’s a slightly closer look at the new LED fog lights, plus the Limited model’s dark chrome five-spoke alloy wheels.

Hybridization means Toyota swaps out its standard 295-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 for the same engine running on a more efficient Atkinson cycle, which when mated to two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors, one for driving the front wheels and the other for those in the rear, plus a sealed nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) traction battery, results in 306 horsepower and an undisclosed amount of torque that’s no doubt more than the 263 lb-ft provided by the gasoline-only variant. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The Highlander Hybrid offers up a nicely finished interior in top-line Limited trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, the regular Highlander’s advanced eight-speed automatic is replaced by an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) with stepped ratios to mimic the feel of a traditional gearbox, plus a sequential shift mode for getting sporty or merely downshifting while engine-braking, and as sure as rain (or should I say snow this time of year) its aforementioned all-wheel drivetrain takes care of slippery situations. 

At $50,950 plus freight and fees the 2019 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t come cheap in base XLE trim, while this upgraded full-load Limited model hits the road for a whopping $57,260, but then again a similarly optioned 2019 Chevrolet Traverse High Country comes in at an even loftier $60,100, and the only slightly nicer 2019 Buick Enclave Avenir will set you back a stratospheric $62,100, and they don’t even offer hybrid drivetrains, so maybe the Highlander Hybrid Limited isn’t so pricy after all. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Put yourself in the driver’s seat in our upcoming road test review…

By the way, check out CarCostCanada for detailed pricing of trims, packages and options, plus money saving rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, whether purchasing the new 2019 Highlander, 2019 Chevy Traverse, 2019 Buick Enclave, or any other mid-size crossover SUV. 

I’ll go into much more detail in my upcoming 2019 Highlander Hybrid Limited review, so for now enjoy our comprehensive photo gallery above and be sure to come back soon for my full road test…

Most everyone expected Toyota to enter the subcompact SUV segment at some point, but showing up with a sportier, smaller than average entry, and therefore putting styling ahead of practicality was surprising…

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Toyota has added a new top-line Limited trim to its sporty looking C-HR subcompact crossover SUV for 2019. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Most everyone expected Toyota to enter the subcompact SUV segment at some point, but showing up with a sportier, smaller than average entry, and therefore putting styling ahead of practicality was surprising to all. 

After all, the segment sales leaders make it clear that passenger/cargo roominess and flexibility is king, with models like the Honda HR-V, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3 and Subaru Crosstrek dominating up until this year, and newcomers like the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Kona finding strong sales due to their pragmatic approach and more. It’s as if the new C-HR picked up where the now discontinued Nissan Juke left off (that latter SUV replaced by the new Kicks), albeit without the Juke’s stellar performance. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Rich looking $225 Ruby Flare Pearl paint can only be had with XLE or Limited trims, while the $795 Ruby Flare Pearl / Black Roof option is exclusive to the upgraded XLE Premium and Limited. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

C-HR sales haven’t exactly been abysmal, that dejected title belonging to the Fiat 500X that only managed 69 sales over the first nine months of 2018 (with 548 Canadian sales for the entire brand so far this year, Fiat’s days are likely numbered in the North American markets), while Jeep’s Renegade hasn’t been tearing up the sales charts either with just 1,000 units down the road, but the C-HR’s 5,188 deliveries (placing it eighth out of 13 models that have been available all year) are nowhere near as strong as the new Hyundai Kona’s 10,852 units (and it’s only been available since March), while the aforementioned Qashqai has been killing it with 14,755 sold as of the close of Q3 2018. Crosstrek deliveries remain strong at 11,147 units over the same nine months, while the CX-3 was at 10,207 sales, the Soul at 9,226, and the long-in-tooth HR-V at 8,155 deliveries (a refreshed 2019 HR-V should help matters moving forward). Should we call the C-HR a rare sales dud from Toyota? The Japanese brand certainly appears to have missed the mark, but that doesn’t mean it’s a poor choice for those who don’t need as much interior space. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
These stylish 18-inch alloys come standard with XLE Premium and Limited trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In fact the new C-HR, now in its second model year after arriving on the scene in May of 2017, is quite a nice subcompact SUV. I won’t go into just how nice in this garage segment of this 2019 C-HR Limited version, but suffice to say it combines mostly comfortable cruising with the majority of its peers’ high-level features, reasonably good performance and excellent fuel economy. 

The 2019 C-HR gets some significant changes that should help it find more buyers, starting with a new base LE trim level that chops over a $1,000 from the 2018 model’s base price. Still, $23,675 is hardly as affordable as some of the sales leaders mentioned earlier, the Qashqai still only available in 2018 trim yet its 2019 counterpart shouldn’t sell for much more than its current $19,998 base price despite the new Nissan Kicks arriving as the segment’s best bargain at just $17,998. Another factor against the C-HR’s success is the fact you can get into the much larger and more accommodating Nissan Rogue for about $3k more than the base C-HR, while the all-new 2019 RAV4 starts at just $27,790 (find new vehicle pricing for all makes and models including the C-HR and RAV4 at CarCostCanada, with detailed info on trims, packages and options, plus otherwise hard to get rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Limited trim adds rain-sensing wipers, a windshield de-icer, ambient lighting, and leather upholstery in black or brown. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That base C-HR LE gets Toyota’s new Entune 3.0 infotainment system, which now utilizes a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen and supports Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em). Even better, the new display now incorporates the C-HR’s backup camera, which instead was fitted within the rearview mirror in last year’s model and therefore ruddy useless. 

Entune also includes the ability to link a Scout GPS smartphone app to the centre display for navigation purposes, plus Entune App Suite Connect that features separate apps for traffic, weather, Slacker, Yelp, sports, stocks, fuel and NPR One, although I don’t know how the latter U.S.-specific National Public Radio station will do anyone in Canada much good.  

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
This impressive 8-inch touchscreen is standard, as is Toyota’s superb new Entune 3.0 smartphone integration and Apple CarPlay. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional base features worth noting include automatic high beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, remote access, an acoustic glass windshield, auto up/down powered windows all around, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display within the gauge cluster, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, dual-zone auto climate control, six-speaker audio, piano black lacquered instrument panel trim, fabric upholstery, front sport seats, 60/40-split rear seatbacks, a cargo cover, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, all the usual active and passive safety features including a driver’s knee airbag and rear side thorax airbags, plus more. 

Last year’s sole XLE trim level is mostly carryover for 2019 other than its higher $25,725 price and new Entune 3.0 Audio Plus that features the larger touchscreen while including automatic collision notification, a stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance SOS button, and enhanced roadside assistance, with additional features including 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, upgraded cloth upholstery, heatable front seats, and two-way powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
These leather-covered front bucket seats look like they’re from a sports car, not an entry-level SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The $27,325 XLE Premium package adds 18-inch alloys, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, heated power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. 

Also new for 2019 is as-tested $28,775 top-line Limited trim that adds rain-sensing wipers, a handy windshield wiper de-icer, ambient interior lighting, and leather upholstery in black or brown. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Enough cargo room for you? Come back for our full review to find out what we think… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While two new trim levels and upgraded infotainment are improvements over last year’s C-HR, the sole 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine might leave some potential buyers (especially those coming out of the aforementioned Juke) feeling like its performance doesn’t measure up to its sporty exterior design due to just 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a focus on fuel economy, and no all-wheel drive option, front-drive being the only driveline configuration available. 

Then again, if you’re looking for a sporty looking SUV with good fuel economy the C-HR’s claimed 8.7 L/100km city, 7.5 highway and 8.2 combined rating might be just what your inflation deflated personal budget requires. 

I’ll talk more about real-world fuel economy and seat-of-the-pants driving dynamics in my upcoming road test review, and of course ramble on ad nauseum about driver’s seat ergonomics, rear seat spaciousness and comfort, storage space, and new Entune 3.0 infotainment, plus I’ll go on at length regarding the touchy-feely points of this Limited model’s interior quality, so make sure to come back for the full 2019 Toyota C-HR Limited review…