Acura is in an enviable position with respect to SUVs. Its compact RDX has managed to maintain first or second place in popularity since it arrived on the scene in 2009, and its MDX has been the top-selling…

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite Road Test

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
The impressive MDX was made more stylish thanks to a mid-cycle upgrade last year, which was carried over to this 2018 model. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Acura is in an enviable position with respect to SUVs. Its compact RDX has managed to maintain first or second place in popularity since it arrived on the scene in 2009, and its MDX has been the top-selling dedicated three-row model in its mid-size luxury class since 2005. How have they done it? Value. 

When I say value, I’m not just talking price. In fact, according to CarCostCanada.com, Canada’s best resource for new vehicle pricing, invoice pricing, rebate information and more, the MDX is not the least expensive three-row SUV in its segment, that attribute (if being cheapest is even considered appealing amongst premium buyers) achieved by the $48,000 Buick Enclave, which is followed closely by the $48,195 Infiniti QX60. The MDX sits third in three-row, mid-size, premium-branded affordability, its 2018 pricing starting at $54,090 plus freight and fees. So why did 20 percent fewer Canadians choose a QX60 and 40 percent less opt for the even cheaper Enclave? 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Our MDX SH-AWD Elite tester featured unique 20-inch alloys, painted out front and rear fascias, and more. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Value is never solely about price, especially in the luxury sector. Overall build quality and refinement are often more important, as well as mechanical sophistication and performance, digital interfaces and other convenience features, advanced driver assistance and safety features, practicality and functionality (these last points particularly true amongst sport utilities), plus reliability, styling and brand cachet that impact residual/resale values. The MDX gets high marks for most of the above, and therefore gets rewarded with consistently strong sales. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Full LED headlamps come standard across the entire MDX line. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Acura addressed styling last year, when a mid-cycle update transformed the frontal design with its new trademark “Diamond Pentagon” grille. The MDX was already ahead of its peers with respect to lighting, its advanced “Jewel-Eye” LED headlamps and LED taillights standard across the line, but many of the SUV’s other design details were enhanced as part of the redo as well. 

The refreshed MDX’ interior remained mostly carryover, but for 2018 Acura has added some user-friendlier tech. Specifically, the standard 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a bonus for iPhone users due to Apple’s much better interface, plus useful to Android phone owners that can make it work. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
This is one sweet set of machine-finished 20-inch alloys. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

To be clear, while I like Android-based phones and have owned many from Samsung, Sony, Asus and Huawei, I’m not a fan of Android Auto. It normally hooks up quickly enough, but its capability is limited and graphic interface dismal. My problem in this case came down to the MDX infotainment system’s inability to recognize that my phone was connected to the correct USB (the one with the smartphone graphic), so there was no Android Auto for me. This could have something to do with the 2016 Huawei GR5 I was using, but it’s a relatively common phone in my parts (up until recently providers were giving it away for free with a two-year contract) and therefore shouldn’t be a problem, plus it hasn’t posed a problem when connecting to other brands’ infotainment systems. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Along with standard LED headlamps, the MDX gets LED taillights as well. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As for Acura’s other 2018 MDX promise, which includes more logically organized functions and an operating system that’s 30-percent faster when responding to inputs, I can attest to both. It’s certainly a better laid out interface than the previous one, but that’s not saying a lot. Unfortunately it remains one of my least favourite infotainment systems to use, and that’s despite being noticeably quicker as well. Somehow Acura has created a system that uses twice as many displays to perform half as many functions, or at least that’s how it seems when trying to perform various tasks. My advice? Acura should study the latest iPad and Samsung tablets, and then do their best to mimic their various functions, such as pinch or swipe capability, without infringing on copyright laws. That’s what Tesla, Volvo, and others have done, and consumers have responded well, while pundits, like me, have given them multiple awards. Acura won’t win any awards for this infotainment system, even with the upgrades. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
All MDX trims are nice, but Acura goes all out with its Elite model, including real hardwood inlays, contrast stitching and piping for the Milano leather upholstery, and much more. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s a shame because the rest of the interior is superb. My tester was finished in top of the line Elite trim, which meant its Black Limba or Olive Ash Burl wood inlays, found across the instrument panel, door panels and lower console bin lid, were real, its perforated Milano leather seat upholstery featured contrast stitching and accent piping, and its feature set was upgraded to include a really useful surround view parking camera, a great sounding 546-watt ELS Studio audio upgrade with Dolby Pro Logic II, 12 speakers and a sub plus more, rear DVD entertainment with an “Ultrawide” 16.2-inch display, a remote, two wireless headphones, and an HDMI input jack, four USB charge points, a 10-way powered front passenger seat, ventilated front cushions, and that’s just on the inside. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Each new MDX generation gets better, with the 2018 model receiving an updated infotainment system. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Outside, the Elite gets attractively painted front and rear lower skid garnishes, nice looking vertically stacked LED fog lamps, a sharp looking set of 20-inch alloys, always helpful front and rear parking sensors, plus roof rails up top, while a fuel-saving, emissions reducing engine idle start/stop system gets added under the hood. 

I should also point out the Milano leather upholstery was pulled up from mid-range Tech trim, as were the auto-leveling headlamps, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, rear door proximity keyless access, a 115-volt household-style AC power outlet, and a set of heatable rear outboard seats. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Acura hasn’t introduced a fully digital gauge cluster in the MDX yet, but the current system gets a sizeable, functional TFT multi-info display. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Notable MDX Elite features not yet mentioned that get pulled up from Navi trim include perimeter/approach puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, an upgraded HVAC system with sun position detection, navigation, voice activation, hard drive media storage, AcuraLink connectivity, blindspot monitoring, rear cross traffic assist, and more. 

On the subject of safety, all MDX trims get standard AcuraWatch auto-sensing and driver-assist technologies such as road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, and collision mitigation braking with pedestrian detection resulting in an IIHS best Top Safety Pick rating and five-star NHTSA status, once again driving home the MDX’ value proposition. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Acura is doing its best to hobble together updates for this antiquated infotainment system, but it remains far behind competitors. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Lastly, items pulled up to Elite trim from the base MDX include automatic high beams, remote engine start, proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a powered steering column, ambient lighting, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, a colour TFT multi-info display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, tri-zone auto climate control, a multi-angle backup camera with dynamic guidelines, text message and email reading capability, Siri Eyes Free, satellite radio, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar and two-position memory, heated front seats, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a garage door opener, a powered moonroof, a powered liftgate, and much more. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
Most of the MDX’ switchgear is superb, this knurled metal one for controlling the infotainment system. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

When you combine other standard items that aren’t included in upper trims, like 18-inch alloy wheels, the base 432-watt eight-speaker audio system, a slightly lower grade of leather upholstery (but genuine leather nonetheless), a less adjustable eight-way powered front passenger’s seat, etcetera, with the comprehensive list above, it’s easy to appreciate how much bang you get for just $53k, while the near top-line Elite shown here starts at $65,360. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
The long strip of gear selector buttons to the left takes a lot of getting used to. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

To put this price in perspective, that’s less than where the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE start out, once again driving home the MDX value proposition. What’s more, the MDX comes standard with a direct-injected 3.5-litre V6 that’s good for 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, a sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission with standard steering wheel paddles, and Acura’s much-respected torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which was recently upgraded to include a twin-clutch rear differential that directs torque between front and rear wheels, as well as side to side, for faster, smoother cornering and ultimately better traction. When combined with its amplitude reactive dampers and Agile Handling Assist brake torque-vectoring technology, SH-AWD helps the MDX’ rigid body structure and nicely sorted front strut and multi-link rear suspension to manage fast-paced curves well, while providing a comfortable, compliant ride. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
The MDX driver’s seat is inherently comfortable, yet it nevertheless gets a lot of adjustment. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Making matters better still, Acura includes something it calls an Integrated Dynamic System (IDS), which includes a Sport mode that quickens throttle response, allows for higher engine revs between shifts, adds steering weight, and sends more torque to the outside rear wheels amid corners to improve turn-in, while it also enhances engine sound. Of course I employed Sport mode often, although I also made sure to leave it in Comfort mode when traveling at regular speeds, especially when managing rough patches of tarmac. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
The second row is roomy and comfortable, while it slides out of the way easily when the third row is needed. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with its impressive ride and handling, the MDX remains wonderfully quiet, even when the outside world seems loud and chaotic, and when driven modestly the big SUV proves quite efficient with a claimed combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 10.7 L/100km when fitted with the Elite’s auto start/stop system, or 11.0 L/100km without. It should also be noted the top-line MDX Sport Hybrid receives an even more agreeable 9.0 L/100km combined city/highway rating, while boosting output to 321 net horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque—something to consider if you want a best-of-both-worlds alternative. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
The third-row seats are reasonable comfortable for smaller adults, but best relegated to kids. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

In other good news, after multiple weeklong MDX test drives I’m finally fully acclimatized to its unorthodox gear selector, which is basically a row of buttons plus a single pull-tab-like reverse switch, culminating at the just-noted IDS button. It remains unnecessarily complicated, and could potentially turn off as many uninitiated prospects as it turns on tech geeks, but suffice to say it works well enough once you get used to it, and it looks pretty cool. 

2018 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite
The cargo compartment is large and accommodating, although when all seats are folded down it’s downright cavernous inside. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

That it doesn’t do anything to minimize space usage which would otherwise be taken up by a shift lever, and arguably adds to the level of visual clutter a driver needs to deal with are separate issues altogether. At least it provides some sense of occasion to a cabin that could also benefit from a modernized primary gauge cluster, the latter having yet to be upgraded to a fully configurable digital TFT display, plus, of course, the as yet imperfect dual-display infotainment system chastised earlier. 

Other than these few quibbles, the 2018 Acura MDX is a fine SUV deserving of its ardent following. Its inherently well engineered mechanicals provide stronger than average performance, a high level of refinement, reasonably good fuel economy and dependable reliability, while its solid construction makes it feel bulletproof, its superb standard safety set adds to its confidence-inspiring demeanor, and its comfortable and accommodating interior makes it easy to live with no matter the size of occupants or load. Now all you need to decide on is which MDX trim level and colour you want.

Infiniti has been electrifying its luxury car lineup since 2011, but so far it hasn’t gone so far as to bring a full EV to market, instead relying on hybrids to fill the bill.  This said its mid-size…

Upcoming electric vehicle platform promises big changes ahead for Infiniti

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
The Q Inspiration Concept, introduced earlier this year, has inspired a new electrified vehicle platform. (Photo: Infiniti)

Infiniti has been electrifying its luxury car lineup since 2011, but so far it hasn’t gone so far as to bring a full EV to market, instead relying on hybrids to fill the bill. 

This said its mid-size E-segment Q70 Hybrid is no longer available in Canada and appears to have disappeared from its U.S. division’s website for 2019 as well, but the smaller Q50 Hybrid remains a formidable challenger in the D-segment thanks to a brand-wide focus that’s always been as much about efficiency as performance— seven years ago the original M35h set an official Guinness world record for fastest acceleration from a production hybrid. Still, while a strong effort so far, these two models only represent the beginnings of Infiniti’s road to electrification. 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Infiniti plans to produce five new models in China, including an EV. (Photo: Infiniti)

Such was made clear by Nissan chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa who, as part of his address at the Automotive News World Congress in January, told the audience that the Infiniti brand would almost entirely be comprised of electrified vehicles after 2021, and furthermore he predicted that half of the luxury division’s sales would either feature a hybrid or a pure electric powertrain by 2025. 

Based on calendar year 2017 sales of 153,415 units globally (which was an increase of 11 percent over 2016), this means about 75,000 new Infiniti vehicles will be rolling off of Infiniti production lines with electrified powertrains in just seven years. 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said that Infiniti will almost entirely be comprised of electrified vehicles after 2021. (Photo: Infiniti)

According to Saikawa, Infiniti will rely on parent company Nissan’s new range-extending electric motor-powered technology dubbed ePower for future hybrid powertrains, a system that applies a unique EV strategy. 

First off, unlike plug-in hybrids that are gaining popularity today, the ePower system can’t be plugged in. What’s more, it doesn’t use its gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) for propulsion, but rather it merely recharges the battery, which in turn powers an electric motor that drives the wheels. 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
A dedicated electrified vehicle platform can allow for optimized battery storage, resulting in better use of available interior space. (Photo: Infiniti)

Infiniti’s future electrified vehicle platform architecture, announced in April during a special Auto China preview event at the Infiniti Brand Experience Center in Beijing, has been heavily inspired by the recent Q Inspiration concept first shown at January’s Detroit show. Infiniti plans to produce an electrified vehicle on this new platform as one of five upcoming models to be built in China. 

“Infiniti is developing a new platform for electrified vehicles inspired by the Q Inspiration concept car, which shows the new design language for the age of autonomy and electrification,” said Infiniti chairman and global president Roland Krueger. “We very much had China in mind when designing the Q Inspiration, which shows a very sporty, performance-oriented electric concept, with a much bigger interior space.” 

2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
Expect driving controls to change dramatically in coming years, due to different needs from electrified powertrains as well as automated driving systems. (Photo: Infiniti)

While China has become a global leader in automotive powertrain electrification in recent years, new trade disputes between the second-largest global economy and the current U.S. administration governing the world’s largest economy, may result in strategies changing for Infiniti and other manufacturers already importing vehicles across the Pacific or considering doing so. 

Of note, the Q Inspiration concept is not only being touted as inspiration for future Infiniti electrified vehicles’ platform architectures and powertrains, but is also said to be reflective of future Infiniti styling. 

“The Q Inspiration concept car takes the traditional sedan architecture to its next stage of evolution,” said Karim Habib, Infiniti executive design director. “A shift towards smarter, more compact and less intrusive powertrains; We were able to create an alternative form with flowing gestures, more engaging in character and more enriching in experience. With its long cabin, balanced proportions and muscular stance, the concept heralds in a new era for Infiniti models.”

Considering that Honda was one of the first automakers to arrive on the market with a modern-day hybrid, all the way back in 1999 with the first-generation Insight, it’s had spotty success in its quest…

Honda opts for conventional good taste with new 2019 Insight hybrid design

2019 Honda Insight
The new 2019 Honda Insight has honest good looks on its side, which should give it a leg up as it tries to pull HEV buyers’ attention away from the longstanding best-selling Toyota Prius. (Photo: Honda)

Considering that Honda was one of the first automakers to arrive on the market with a modern-day hybrid, all the way back in 1999 with the first-generation Insight, it’s had spotty success in its quest to electrify the world’s highways and byways. 

The original Insight actually beat the Toyota Prius to North American markets, but Honda’s unusual choice of equipping that early model with just two seats meant that it didn’t meet the needs of most buyers. Its lack of an automatic transmission during the first year didn’t help matters either, both shortcomings allowing the four-door CVT-equipped Prius that arrived here the following year to steal the hybrid show. The rest, as they say, is history. 

2019 Honda Insight
Honda promises the Insight will deliver premium compact sedan refinement and performance. (Photo: Honda)

On that note I won’t go into too much detail about Honda’s unenviable HEV past, all of which was covered in my otherwise positive Accord Hybrid review last year, but despite its hit and (mostly) miss two-decade electrification strategy we’ve all got to give the Japanese brand big points for courage. 

Such steely nerve is especially true of its recent decision to once again dust off the aforementioned Insight nameplate for the upcoming 2019 model. After all, Honda’s Insight not only failed from a commercial standpoint from 1999 to 2006, but also suffered a second unceremonious death after a short-lived attempt at resurrection from 2009 through 2014. Still, the upcoming 2019 Insight looks like a winner. 

2019 Honda Insight
If you think the new Insight’s four-door coupe-like roofline looks familiar, check out a 10th-generation Honda Civic the next time it drives by. (Photo: Honda)

The Insight prototype was introduced at Detroit’s 2018 North American International Auto Show in January, followed by simultaneous introductions of the production version in March at the 2018 New York International Auto Show and 2018 Vancouver International Auto Show, with most pundits giving it two thumbs up for styling. 

“The Honda Insight shows consumers that the efficiency of a hybrid car doesn’t mean sacrificing style, refinement or performance,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice President of Honda Canada Inc. “The Insight is another symbol of a new era in the evolution of Honda electrified vehicles, where customers can have everything they want with no compromises.” 

2019 Honda Insight
The new Insight doesn’t look like a wild and wacky hybrid, but rather a tastefully designed premium sedan. (Photo: Honda)

The Insight doesn’t stray too far away from the new 2018 Accord when it comes to styling, but it shares some design elements with the compact Civic as well, while it’s also sized much closer to Canada’s best-selling car. In fact, the new Insight shares its platform architecture with the current 10th-generation Civic, not to mention many of that car’s hard points like the entire roof section, so all of Honda’s HEV fans who are still patiently waiting for an update of the previous-generation Civic Hybrid can now rejoice—this is it. 

2019 Honda Insight
Honda promises soft-touch premium materials and a high-tech albeit user-friendly experience. (Photo: Honda)

In a press release that came out as part of its Vancouver launch, Honda called the new Insight a “premium compact sedan,” and while the term premium is normally reserved for luxury branded models like Acura’s ILX, such could just as easily be said for the current Civic in top-line Touring trim. Still, Honda promises “premium cabin appointments” such as “a soft-touch instrument panel with real stitching, ergonomically sculpted seats,” and more. 

Honda also touts a number of premium-level Insight engineering enhancements such as better ride quality, a quieter cabin, and, of course, gains in efficiency. 

2019 Honda Insight
This configurable colour TFT instrument cluster comes standard across the entire Insight line. (Photo: Honda)

Aiding overall lightness, the Insight’s Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure gets an exclusive aluminum hood, while extra sound insulation in the engine bay, behind the front firewall, inside the fenders, and under the front and rear floor improves noise, vibration and harshness levels. 

Like the Civic, the new Insight benefits from a fully-independent suspension system with Macpherson struts up front and a multi-link design in the rear, improving ride quality and control during performance driving or accidence avoidance, while the top-tier Insight Touring will benefit from liquid-sealing compliance bushings front and back to further refine the ride. 

2019 Honda Insight
Both Insight trims come standard with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and much more. (Photo: Honda)

The Insight also utilizes the Civic’s variable-ratio dual-pinion electric power steering system, causing less drag on the powertrain than hydraulic designs, yet still providing direct response to input to satisfy performance fans. 

Unlike the Civic, the new Insight will adapt regenerative braking to a mechanical (friction) electro-servo braking system, harnessing some of the kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost, and repurposing it to the ancillary electrical system. 

2019 Honda Insight
Honda includes its pushbutton gear selector as standard equipment. (Photo: Honda)

The new Insight is powered by Honda’s third-generation two-motor hybrid system, consisting of a 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (ICE), an electric propulsion motor, plus a 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack, resulting in 151 net horsepower and 197 lb-ft of electric motor torque. 

Honda says the Insight mostly operates like a regular series hybrid, which means that its gasoline-powered ICE connects to the generator motor to produce electricity that’s not only directly used to energize the electric propulsion motor, but also stored in the battery pack, after which such stored energy can be used as needed to assist the ICE for powering the wheels. Additionally, the Insight is capable of driving on 100-percent electric power for short distances at slow speeds. 

2019 Honda Insight
Expect a higher level of premium finishing inside the Insight, including soft-touch surfaces with real stitching. (Photo: Honda)

While nothing said so far is particularly new or unique, the Insight also features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter-style deceleration selectors that let you choose among three levels of regenerative braking performance, depending on driving conditions, while the new model also gets three selectable driving modes, including normal hybrid mode that defaults upon startup, plus “ECON” and “SPORT” modes that require the press of a console-mounted button. There’s also an available “EV” mode button that lets you to drive about 1.5 km (1 mile) at low speeds under electric-only power. This wide variety of settings allows the ability to personalize a driver’s experience to maximize efficiency or performance. 

2019 Honda Insight
Top-line Touring trim includes perforated leather upholstery, and much more. (Photo: Honda)

On that note, Honda promises the Insight will deliver the “best power-to-weight ratio in its class,” this partially due to its aforementioned lightweight body structure. 

Interestingly, while some competitors place a transmission between the ICE/electric propulsion motor and the drive wheels in order to regulate speed, Honda’s two-motor hybrid system doesn’t require one, but instead the drive axles are powered directly from the electric propulsion motor. At higher speeds the engine and drive axles are connected by a lock-up clutch, which Honda says is most efficient during highway and freeway operation. Also notable, Honda incorporates its unique pushbutton gear selector for getting underway. 

2019 Honda Insight
The Insight gets the same 2,700-mm wheelbase as the Civic, so rear seat roominess should be excellent for the class. (Photo: Honda)

Of course, Transport Canada hasn’t provided any official fuel economy estimates yet, and neither has the U.S. EPA, but Toyota’s U.S. division is claiming mileage of “up to 55 mpg” in the city and “50 mpg or better” combined, which when converted to metric equals 4.3 L/100km city and 4.7 or better combined. As expected these are similar fuel economy numbers to official 2018 Prius ratings, so the new Insight is in good company. 

Being that Honda is now a leader in advanced driver assistance systems and active safety, the new Insight will come standard with a full suite of Honda Sensing equipment, including forward collision warning, autonomous collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and traffic sign recognition. For this reason and more, Honda expects the Insight will achieve best-possible safety ratings from the IIHS, NHTSA, and Euro NCAP. 

2019 Honda Insight
Just like the Civic Sedan, the new Insight can stow 427 litres of cargo in its sizeable trunk, plus it also benefits from 60/40 split rear seatbacks. (Photo: Honda)

Standard features in mind, the Canadian-spec Insight will be available in two trims dubbed Hybrid and Touring, with the former including full LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, LED taillights, 17-inch alloys, pushbutton ignition, a 7.0-inch TFT digital primary instrument panel, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Honda’s exclusive LaneWatch Blind Spot Display that projects a rearward image of the blindspot onto the centre touchscreen when selecting the right-side turn signal, dual-zone automatic climate control, heatable front seats, eight-speaker audio, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, and more. 

Additionally, the top-line Insight Touring will include rain-sensing wipers, perforated leather seating, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, heatable rear seats, navigation with detailed mapping, 4G LTE Wi-Fi with mobile hotspot capability and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates, next-generation HondaLink subscription services, 10-speaker premium audio, a HomeLink garage door opener, a powered moonroof, and more.

2019 Honda Insight
The Insight’s 1.5L four-cylinder and two-motor hybrid combination results in a spirited 151 hp and 197 lb-ft of torque, while its fuel economy should be similar to the current Toyota Prius. (Photo: Honda)

While the new Insight appears long, lean and sleek like a four-door coupe, Honda says the rear seating area is generous with “best-in-class rear legroom of 949 mm” thanks in part to a considerable 2,700-mm (106.3-inch) wheelbase, which incidentally is identical to its Civic Sedan donor platform. Likewise its wide track should result in good side-to-side roominess, just like the Civic, making the new Insight comfortably and easy to live with. 

On this note, Honda places the Insight’s lithium-ion hybrid battery pack below the rear seats, which still allows for standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks to increase its passenger/cargo flexibility, while trunk space behind those rear seats measures the same sizeable 427 litres (15.1 cubic feet) as the conventionally powered Civic Sedan. 

2019 Honda Insight
The sharp looking 2019 Honda Insight will be available this summer. (Photo: Honda)

As would make sense, the new Insight is being manufactured next to the Civic, as well as the CR-V, at American Honda’s assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana, which will no doubt please President Donald J. Trump. Improving its chance of U.S. success yet further, its hybrid battery unit is made in the automaker’s Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio, while the ICE gets produced in Honda’s Anna, Ohio engine plant, which also builds the engine for the Ohio-made 2018 Accord Hybrid. 

The new 2019 Insight will arrive at Canadian retailers this summer, at which point it will become the most affordable HEV amongst Honda’s three-strong electrified lineup that currently includes the $39,900 mid-size 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and more recently launched $33,090 2018 Accord Hybrid. Expect pricing to start below the Accord Hybrid.

Some want the best price they can get, some want luxury above all, and others want something sporty to spice up their daily commutes. It just so happens that Volvo answers all of the above with its base…

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design Road Test

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The good looking XC90 gets sportier with R-Design trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Some want the best price they can get, some want luxury above all, and others want something sporty to spice up their daily commutes. It just so happens that Volvo answers all of the above with its base Momentum, sporty R-Design, and ritziest Inscription trims, while still providing plenty of value, performance and luxury in each. 

When Volvo first introduced its completely overhauled XC90 mid-size luxury SUV for the 2016 model year I tested and reviewed a T6 AWD R-Design, which was such an improvement over its predecessor and so much more competitive against key rivals that it was easy to recommend. I followed this experience up with a 2017 XC90 T8 eAWD Inscription, which increased straight-line performance while replacing some of the R-Design’s sporty detailing for a classier, richer look and feel. For 2018, I was once again given the chance to test the faster T8 eAWD powertrain, albeit in R-Design trim with a sportier wheel and tire upgrade, and I must say it was a match made in heaven. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The XC90’s distinctive rear styling makes it stand out in a crowd. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

R-Design trim gives a sporting twist to the inherently elegant XC90, complete with a black mesh grille insert, less chrome and metallic trim, an edgier body-colour and glossy black lower front fascia, satin-silver mirror caps, machine-finish twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels with black painted pockets (that were upgraded to 22s on my tester), and a body-colour bumper filled with a unique gloss black diffuser-style grille. Together with the XC90’s dramatically penned standard features that include Volvo trademark Thor’s hammer LED headlights and an eye-grabbing set of vertical LED taillights, all set within a gracefully shaped body shell that’s easy on the eyes no matter the angle, the XC90 R-Design is one compelling package. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
R-Design trim provides a sportier body-colour and glossy black lower fascia. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with its outwardly pleasing character the XC90 provides one of the more visually appealing and best executed interiors in the mid-size luxury SUV class, this particular model finished in classic black with satin-silver and optional carbon-fibre detailing, the leather-covered dash, door uppers, armrests and seat upholstery featuring sporty white contrast stitching, the light coloured thread coming standard, but all the fanciful leather made available due to a $3,000 Leather package that also includes rear side sunshades. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
All XC90s come standard with Volvo’s trademark Thor’s Hammer full LED headlamps. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Those seats look absolutely stunning, and their standard 10-way adjustability, upgraded to special sport seats with power-extendable lower cushions and expanded side bolstering in the R-Design, made them even nicer on the back than they are to the eyes, with all around good inherent design and no shortage of calibration. Additional interior highlights include gorgeous perforated aluminum speaker grilles for the sensational sounding $3,250 1,400-watt 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio upgrade, plus a jewel-like Orrefors crystal and polished metal shifter, because hey, we all need one of those. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
These gorgeous 22-inch alloys are optional, with the R-Design normally riding on 20s. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, the XC90’s finer detailing is more of a wants over needs issue, the beautifully detailed diamond-pattern bright metal rotating start-stop knob making a luxury statement all on its own, although it’s backed up by a cylindrical drive mode selector shod in the same dazzling full metal jacket. These last three items are totally unique details that separate Volvo from any other brand, giving its cabin an upscale ambience that wouldn’t feel out of place to a Bentley or Rolls-Royce owner. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
R-Design trim includes this exclusive body-colour and black diffuser-style rear bumper. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Luxury snobs might find that last statement laughable, but truth be told that’s only because we’re all conditioned to believe such highfalutin ultra-premium brands are better in every way then lesser nameplates, yet such is not always the case. The quality of leather, metal and composite workmanship around the XC90’s cabin proves this point, with hard plastic difficult to find and the design, density, fitment, and damping of Volvo’s switchgear second to none. 

Likewise, the 8.0-inch digital instrument display is mighty impressive for a standard primary gauge package, not to mention filled with useful functions like navigation directions, phone details, road sign info and more, but the standard 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster in my R-Design is even more cutting-edge and gets all the same features plus four configurable graphic modes. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
XC90 interior quality and refinement is second to none in its mid-size luxury SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Over on the centre stack the XC90’s vertically positioned 9.0-inch tablet-style Sensus touchscreen is better yet thanks to its multi-award-winning infotainment interface with ultra-familiar tap, pinch and swipe gesture controls. Truly, it’s best of the best when it comes to user-friendliness and overall functionality, while its standard feature set, including a backup camera, four-zone climate control, navigation, real-time traffic info, voice activation, Volvo On Call app (with remote start, vehicle tracking, and more), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, audio/radio functions, car settings, etcetera, leaves nothing to the imagination. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo is superb, and the perforated aluminum speaker grilles are stunning. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another area of Volvo technology leadership is powertrains. Its singular engine approach is unique in the industry, and I must say quite brilliant. Rather than wasting resources on myriad engine configurations and displacements, the Swedish brand makes one direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder Drive-E engine and sources one eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission before implementing this combination in a variety of ways throughout its entire lineup. A model’s trim level doesn’t denote the powertrain provided, although only the base Momentum is available with the least potent T5 AWD combination, good for 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
This is one of the most ergonomically friendly cockpits in the segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims can all be had with either T6 AWD or T8 eAWD drivetrains, both of which feature a turbocharger and a supercharger. This twin charging process allows for a maximum of 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque in the T6 AWD, and thanks to a complementary Twin Engine plug-in hybrid electric motor/battery combo, a monstrous 400 net horsepower and 472 net lb-ft of torque in the T8 eAWD. 

Monstrous probably isn’t the right word to describe T8 eAWD performance, as it’s the most progressively linear 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque you’ll likely ever experience. I’ve enjoyed the T8 around town, on long high-speed freeway trips and most every other type of roadway in between, and have grown to appreciate its relentless forward thrust as much as its smooth, refined demeanor. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
An 8.0-inch digital gauge package comes standard, although the R-Design gets upgraded to this even nicer 12.3-inch configurable cluster. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To be clear, it’s fast, but it’s no Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S or BMW X5 M beater, and it’s not even trying to be. Instead, Volvo has its sights on the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e 4Matic and BMW X5 xDrive40e, its mid-five second sprint to 100km/h coming milliseconds from matching the former and annihilating the latter by more than a second, while its claimed fuel economy rating is 10.1 L/100km in the city, 8.8 on the highway and 9.5 combined compared to 11.1 L/100km combined for the Merc and 9.9 combined for the Bimmer. Volvo’s small-displacement four-cylinder, twin power and plug-in hybrid combination certainly pays off in performance and at the pump. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The R-Design gets exclusive paddle-shifters behind its sport steering wheel to improve driver engagement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, all of the aforementioned SUVs were designed to drive on electric power only for about 30 kilometres before automatically starting up their respective internal combustion engines and continuing on as hybrids—the T8’s battery was upsized this year for an estimated 30.5-km of range from its two electric motors. While 30 km doesn’t sound like a lot, if your commute is short it’s possible to get to and from work without using any gasoline at all, but Volvo more realistically estimates the result of regular charging (which takes about three hours from a 240-volt charger) will reward you with an Le/100km (gasoline litres equivalent per 100 kilometres) rating of 4.7 combined city/highway. That would make a welcome improvement to my fuel budget, considering pump prices for regular in my area are now averaging above $1.50/litre after hitting record highs of $1.65 in May, let alone premium unleaded that shot up to $1.87 last month. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
Volvo’s award-winning Sensus infotainment system is excellent, and the optional overhead parking monitor is one of the industry’s best too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Similar to the formidable yet linear power delivery, the XC90’s ride and handling compromise is wonderfully agile without any harshness. Even with my tester’s optional Pirelli Scorpion 275/35R22s it remained comfortably compliant no matter the road surface, yet pushed hard through a serpentine set of switchbacks it lived up to its European performance pedigree. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
Of course the shift knob is made from Orrefors crystal. Doesn’t every manufacturer go so far to pamper its clientele? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Adapting to your mood and/or surrounding conditions, Volvo allows for adjustable steering and Drive-Mode settings, the former modulating between low, medium and high steering assistance, and the latter featuring Comfort, Eco, Dynamic (sport) or Off-Road modes. It’s a quick and easy system to set up, and makes a big difference to how the XC90 drives. 

Volvo backs up the XC90’s confidence inspiring performance with a plentiful supply of advanced driver assistance systems, safety having always been core to the Swedish brand’s ethos. It starts with auto on/off LED headlights with active cornering, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (that even includes its own head-up display), lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and rear parking sensors. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
Got to love the diamond-pattern metal detailing on the standard rotating ignition switch. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester was upgraded with a $2,000 Vision package that adds blindspot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, one of the clearest, most helpful 360-degree surround-view parking monitors in the business, and power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors to go along with the standard auto-dimming rearview mirror inside, while a $2,200 Convenience package included front parking sensors, semi-autonomous Park Assist self-parking, semi-autonomous Pilot Assist self-driving with adaptive cruise control, a Homelink garage door opener and a few other handy items. Lastly, my loaner came with a $1,250 Climate package adding a heatable steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, and heated wiper blades, making it perfectly suited up for winter ski trips with the entire family. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The R-Design’s upgraded sport seats are truly superb, while these were improved further with leather upholstery. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, Volvo offers plenty of standalone options, such as a graphical head-up display, a dual-monitor 7.0-inch rear entertainment system, an integrated second-row booster seat, an active air suspension, and more. 

I’d be remiss not to jot down some key standard features too. Momentum trim starts at $59,150 for the T5, $63,350 for the T6, and $74,950 for the T8, these prices easily sourced on CarCostCanada.com, along with invoice pricing, rebate information and much more, with standard items not yet mentioned including fog lamps, proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition and a hands-free powered tailgate, metal treadplates, aluminum interior inlays, rain-sensing wipers, satellite radio, a powered panoramic moonroof, a cooled glove box, rear climate controls, heatable powered front seats with four-way powered lumbar, driver’s memory, mechanical releasing second-row seats, power-folding rear headrests, a semi-automatic load cover, a cargo opening metal scuff plate, active noise control (with engine enhancement), roof rails, and more. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
Second-row roominess and comfort is generous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Features not yet mentioned on the R-Design, which starts at $67,900 for the T6 and $80,050 for the as-tested T8, include more sporty styling and trim modifications, a perforated leather steering wheel, exclusive steering wheel paddle shifters that really make a difference to driver engagement, metal pedals, a black roofliner, etcetera, while the Inscription, priced at $69,550 for the T6 and $81,650 for the T8, features a more luxurious exterior and interior design motif including genuine walnut inlays and standard perforated Nappa leather upholstery, plus ventilated front seats with power-adjustable side bolsters, front passenger seat memory, rear sunshades, and more. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
This massive powered panoramic sunroof comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

No matter the trim, it all comes in an interior that’s extremely comfortable and very roomy. Even the third row was spacious enough for my medium-build five-foot-eight frame to fit in without feeling cramped, leaving about an inch ahead of my knees when the second-row was pushed as far rearwards as possible. I had a couple of inches remaining over my head too, plus ample elbowroom thanks to armrest cutouts. Volvo also provides pillar-mounted air vents for superb third-row ventilation, these identical to those found on the backside of the B-pillars for second-row passengers, while roof-mounted LED reading lights benefit both rear rows. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The third-row is spacious enough for medium sized adults. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I wouldn’t expect anyone to gripe about cargo capacity either, with 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) available aft of the rearmost seatbacks, 1,183 litres (41.8 cubic feet) behind the second-row, and 2,427 litres (85.6 cubic feet) when both rear rows are flattened. What’s more, Volvo adds to XC90 versatility by dividing the second row into thirds in order to fit loads of long cargo like skis down the middle while the two outboard rear passengers enjoy the comfort of window seats (and those aforementioned rear heaters). Additionally, the load floor is almost totally flat when lowered, plus Volvo includes a convenient flip-up divider in the very back for stopping smaller items from shifting forward. 

2018 Volvo XC90 T8 eAWD R-Design
The XC90 swallows up loads of cargo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s tempting to go on and on describing the exceptionally good build quality of those seats, their folding mechanisms, the solid sound made when each door shuts, the beautiful finishing and fine materials used throughout, etcetera, etcetera, but I’d better leave it there in order to let you enjoy a few surprises for yourself. The XC90 is a superb luxury SUV that you should experience firsthand, after which I’m willing to bet you’ll be hard pressed to leave behind when it comes time to go home.

Porsche is now a septuagenarian, with Ferry Porsche, the well-schooled son of the already acclaimed engineer, peoples’ car creator and past Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Porsche, having put the brand’s…

Porsche 911 Speedster Concept combines open-top fun with 500 horsepower

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
Porsche decided to celebrate its 70th anniversary with this gorgeous 911 Speedster Concept. Will it see production? (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche is now a septuagenarian, with Ferry Porsche, the well-schooled son of the already acclaimed engineer, peoples’ car creator and past Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Porsche, having put the brand’s first car on the road in 1948. 

It all started with the original Porsche 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster, which received its operating permit 70 years ago on June 8. Speed ahead seven decades and we now have the stunning 911 Speedster Concept that was created to commemorate the momentous occasion. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
The “double bubble” engine cover pays homage to 911 Speedster models from Porsche’s past. (Photo: Porsche)

The 356 was highly advanced for its time, yet by today’s standards it’s as pure as sports cars get. The 911 Speedster Concept is a modern interpretation of that same undefiled spirit, created to provide a purely visceral driving experience, even eschewing a convertible top for a lightweight tonneau cover. 

Unveiled at the ‘70 years Porsche sportscar’ anniversary celebrations in Zuffenhausen, Germany, the 911 Speedster Concept’s sheet metal wears a classic two-tone racing livery design that was often multi-coloured yet looked handsome in white on traditional German silver. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
Do a search for “356 racing cars” and you’ll find many colourful examples of the 911 Speedster’s unique two-tone paint scheme. (Photo: Porsche)

The paintwork and everything else came care of the Porsche Motorsport Centre, which is more notably responsible for the 911 GT2 RS, and more recently the GT3 RS. Good company for this 911 Speedster Concept to be rubbing shoulders with, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if Porsche decided to give us a series-production version of this new roadster. 

Porsche says the “decision on whether to move ahead will be made in the coming months,” with any result of such choice not materializing until 2019. No doubt it’ll be worth the wait. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
Check out a larger version of this photo in the gallery, where it’s easier to see the “X” etched into the headlamp glass. (Photo: Porsche)

Like production 911 Speedsters that came before, the first modern interpretation arriving in 1988 and the most recent example based on the 997 from 2010, the 2018 version gets a set of abbreviated A-pillars set on more of a rearward incline than the current production model, resulting in a shorter more sweptback windscreen frame. The side windows are correspondingly shorter as well, the combination giving the Speedster a “stockier profile with a very low fly line,” says Porsche. 

Of course, this is not only reminiscent of both 1988 and 2010 911 Speedster homage models, but more so the original 356 1500 Speedster. That model actually came along in late 1954, after U.S. importer Max Hoffman advised the powers that be in Stuttgart that a lower-cost, decontented open-top model could become a sales success in the American market. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
The 911 Speedster Concept shows off a classic racing style gas cap on top of its hood. (Photo: Porsche)

While that original 1955 model had a fabric tonneau cover snapped onto its back, the new 2018 version receives a special one-off carbon fibre ‘double bubble’ cover in similitude of the 1988 and 2010 cars’ designs. The new version covers the area behind the front row where the rear jump seats normally reside, and also masks the rollover protection structure that was never part of the 1988 or 1955 model, while a glossy black backing wraps overtop the front portion of the cover to create a shortened Targa-like look. Just behind, the set of contrasting black slats straddling the buttresses are in fact aerodynamic elements, while a Plexiglas wind deflector is set in the middle, highlighted by an engraved ‘70 years of Porsche’ plaque. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
We love the 911 Speedster’s Talbot-style side mirrors. (Photo: Porsche)

Just in case a downpour threatens to ruin the prototype’s beautiful cognac coloured Aniline leather hides, the Porsche Motorsport Centre team has provided a lightweight tonneau cover that, when attached via eight Tenax fasteners, can protect the 911 Speedster Concept’s cabin from inclement weather, but only when parked. When on the road you’d better keep moving. 

The interior in mind, Porsche has kept the true spirit of the 911 Speedster intact by removing weighty features like the navigation, radio and air conditioning systems. Even the steering wheel is purely minimalist thanks to the elimination of ancillary switchgear, while the full bucket sport seats are framed in lightweight carbon. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
From the classic “Speedster” nameplate lettering to the Targa-style buttresses, the 911 Speedster will become a future collectible if it gets the nod for production. (Photo: Porsche)

If you’re wondering what the Porsche Motorsport Centre used for a donor car, look no further than the brand’s 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, although the concept’s hood, rear cover and aerodynamic components are made from carbon fibre reinforced composite. 

Some stylistic links to Porsche’s motorsport past include headlamp lenses imprinted with “X” markings to denote tape that was often used to preemptively prevent broken glass from littering the racetrack and puncturing tires, while the 911 Speedster Concept also features a 1950s-style gas cap placed in the middle of the hood for quick refueling directly above the tank. Additionally, the side mirrors pay homage to the classic Talbot design that was popular when the 356 was created, while the milled, gold-plated “Speedster” lettering on the thick B-pillars and rear engine cover direct their tribute to the original ‘50s-era 356 Speedster. 

2018 Porsche 911 Speedster Concept
Porsche has gone minimalist inside, removing heavy luxuries in order to save weight. (Photo: Porsche)

Of course, everything is cutting-edge modern under the 911 Speedster Concept’s retrospective skin, its chassis actually pulled from the new 911 GT3, while the low-slung drop-top rides on a set of 21-inch Fuchs alloys featuring “contrasting high gloss polished clover-leaf details,” says Porsche, plus centre locks. 

The flat six hidden under the handcrafted rear bodywork spins to 9,000 rpm on its way to making 500 horsepower, while a set of custom titanium tailpipes are put in charge of freeing exhaust gases. And as would only be appropriate, the Porsche Motorsport Centre team made sure a six-speed manual transmission took care of shifting duties. 

We’ll soon know if Porsche plans to remove the word “Concept” from the 911 Speedster’s moniker, and thereby provide its legions of sports car fans with a modern-day production version of the storied nameplate. Until then we’ll just have to cross our collective fingers and hope for the best.

There is no striving industry that is not on the web nowadays. Just take a look at giants like Amazon and Alibaba. Wouldn’t you agree that they have profoundly transformed shopping? As people are turning…

Shopping for tires online is the “smart” move

There is no striving industry that is not on the web nowadays. Just take a look at giants like Amazon and Alibaba. Wouldn’t you agree that they have profoundly transformed shopping? As people are turning in masses to online shopping for buying even the most ordinary items. It is somewhat surprising that when it comes to buying tires, a lot of people don’t think of online shopping.

In fact, shopping online for tires has so many advantages that once you purchase online, you’ll never buy again from a tire shop!

Online is cheaper

The first thing that jumps out when it comes to online shopping is that it is simply cheaper. In fact, depending on the type of tires you are looking for, you could save between 50$ and 200$. How is that possible, you may ask? Essentially because of two factors: volume and fixed costs.

So, what do we mean by volume? Websites that offer tires sell a lot of them, sometimes even more than car dealerships or specialized shops. The bigger the volume of tires sold on that website, the bigger the discount they can negotiate with the tire manufacturers. Of course, if the website pays less for its tires, so does the customer!

Fixed costs are a bit trickier to understand. In business, a fixed cost is a cost that stays the same, regardless of the quantity of a product you sell. Fixed costs include electricity, rent, water fees, etc. Basically, everything that has nothing to do with tires! Since online stores don’t have to receive clients, and other types of goods, their buildings don’t have to be pretty or welcoming to customers, or capable of receiving a huge variety of stuff. Therefore, they save a lot of money on fixed costs, which means the customer is saving money, in the end.

Online, there are more options!

You like to shop and compare tire models? Shopping online is for you! Online tire shops order their tires directly from the suppliers. If you are looking for a particular tire model, the website can order it in for you. And yes, some traditional shops will do it as well.

However, since most traditional shops have to share their warehouse space between a lot of different products, they can’t keep a big or diverse inventory. Tires websites on the other hand, have the capacity and will have a much bigger inventory. Why? Because 100% of their space is dedicated to storing tires. So, if you are looking for a particular model, chances are that the website will have it in inventory, since it can store so much more.

Online, there is no pressure!

If you go to a car dealership or a traditional store for your tires, there are good chances that the salesman will try to push a particular product on you. Why? Because they have special promotional incentives with certain manufacturers, and in the end, you might not even get the right tire model for your car.

Online, there is no such partnership. You go there, you enter the year, make and model of your vehicle, and you’ll see every type of tire available for your car! You’ll finally be able to shop peacefully, finding the right tire model for you, without any pressure from a salesman.

Still skeptical about online shopping for tires? Go take a look at the low prices we mention for yourself! See all the summer tires deal here at 4Tires.ca or visit other Canadian online website.

Few electric cars have caused as much excitement as the Porsche Mission E, but consider for a moment that one of the German brand’s current hybrids makes 680 horsepower and enthusiasm about an upcoming…

All-electric Porsche Mission E to be renamed Taycan in production trim

2015 Porsche Mission E Concept
Porsche just announced the upcoming all-electric sports car based on the 2015 Porsche Mission E Concept will be called the Taycan. (Photo: Porsche)

Few electric cars have caused as much excitement as the Porsche Mission E, but consider for a moment that one of the German brand’s current hybrids makes 680 horsepower and enthusiasm about an upcoming EV makes perfect sense. 

The hybrid in question is the plug-in Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid that puts 680 net horsepower and 626 combined lb-ft of torque through four wheels via an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox on its way from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds before a terminal velocity of 310 km/h (192.6 mph). It’s the most powerful production Panamera ever made, and is only 20 horsepower shy of the most formidable Porsche ever, the 911 GT2 RS. And you thought the 608-horsepower 918 Spyder was Porsche’s most potent hybrid? 

2015 Porsche Mission E Concept
We can only hope the 600-plus horsepower production Taycan will be as attractive as the Mission E Concept. (Photo: Porsche)

With such an electrified legacy to call upon, thoughts of an all-new fully electric Porsche sports car should cause Elon Musk and his leagues of Tesla faithful to quiver in fear, but first they’ll need to learn how to pronounce the new production model’s name: Taycan. 

In a recent release, Porsche clarifies that its “Mission E” concept study isn’t as much a car as it is a name designed to describe the brand’s complete electric offering. This was previously inferred in March of this year when Porsche introduced its Mission E Cross Concept, a crossover-style version of the original 2015 Mission E with a Panamera Sport Turismo style body that Porsche promises to bring to market as well. While we have yet to learn the name of this futuristic electrified SUV, the first of the real-world Mission E offerings will be the Taycan four-door coupe, with series production starting next year. 

2018 Porsche Mission E Cross Concept
The 2018 Mission E Cross Concept electric crossover SUV helps us to understand that “Mission E” refers to a family of EVs. (Photo: Porsche)

The rough translation of Taycan is “lively young horse” says Porsche, a theme chosen from the Porsche crest that has featured the image of a leaping horse since 1952. 

“Our new electric sports car is strong and dependable; it’s a vehicle that can consistently cover long distances and that epitomizes freedom”, explains Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. 

In sync with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, Porsche promises the Taycan will be capable of zero to 100km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, with 200 km/h arriving in less than twelve seconds. 

Such performance will be possible due to a pair of synchronous motors developing more than 600 combined horsepower, while its maximum range will be greater than 500 km in accordance with the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). 

2015 Porsche Mission E Concept
Taycan means “lively young horse” says Porsche, a theme chosen from the Porsche crest. (Photo: Porsche)

Reports are pegging the strongest Taycan closer to Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid’s net horsepower, while two additional power outputs will also be available starting at just over 400 horsepower and another in the mid-500 horsepower range. 

What’s more, the new Taycan will be built off of a unique EV platform architecture dubbed J1, with its lithium-ion battery built right into the floor. 

Additionally, a Mission E photo showing the charge port reveals an 800-volt capability, which if hooked up to corresponding supercharger would mean that 400 km (250 miles) of electricity could be pumped into the Taycan’s battery pack in a mere 15 minutes. 

Now we’ll just have to wait and see how closely the upcoming Taycan resembles the Mission E prototype. We certainly hope Porsche manages to keep true to the concept car’s design roots.

Larger, roomier, faster, more efficient, higher tech, more luxurious, more refined and arguably better looking, the 2019 Acura RDX hits the road this week at just $43,990 plus freight and fees, only adding…

All-new 2019 RDX arrives at Acura Canada retailers from $43,990

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The 2019 RDX, shown here in sporty A-Spec trim, goes on sale at Acura Canada retailers this week. (Photo: Acura)

Larger, roomier, faster, more efficient, higher tech, more luxurious, more refined and arguably better looking, the 2019 Acura RDX hits the road this week at just $43,990 plus freight and fees, only adding $1,000 to the price of the outgoing model that enjoyed a very long and successful run. 

“The 2019 Acura RDX is a pure expression of Precision Crafted Performance. This is a development philosophy that puts the driver at the centre of it all,” said Emile Korkor, Brand Leader, Acura Canada. “Our goal from the beginning has been to deliver a perfect balance of engineering, performance, design and luxury to create a truly uncompromising and joyful experience.” 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Top-line Platinum Elite trim shows a classier side of the new RDX’ personality. (Photo: Acura)

Acura brings the 2019 RDX to the Canadian market with five trim levels, including an unnamed base model, the $46,490 Technology, $49,990 Elite, $50,290 A-Spec, and finally the top-line $54,990 Platinum Elite. 

No matter the trim, the new 2019 RDX relieves the old 3.5-litre V6 in place of a much more efficient 16-valve, DOHC turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with direction injection and, of course, VTEC. Output is rated at 272 horsepower, which is down 7 horsepower from the old V6, but more importantly for an SUV torque is up 28 lb-ft to 280. The end result sees the new 2019 RDX with the strongest base horsepower and torque in the compact luxury SUV class. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
A-Spec trim replaces chrome details with glossy black, adds black 20-inch alloys, and fills out the rear bumper with a sporty diffuser. (Photo: Acura)

The RDX performance advantage is partially due to a low-inertia mono-scroll turbocharger that promotes a wider, fatter torque curve resulting in 40 percent more low-end torque than the outgoing engine, while dual variable timing cams do their part as well. 

Connecting the new engine to the standard torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system is an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission with performance-enhancing Grade Logic Control. The new transmission uses Acura’s unique pushbutton gear selector, which is now more fully integrated within the centre console than ever before. Shifting is automatic, or for a more hands-on experience you can shift its gears manually via standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The new RDX looks distinctive no matter the trim. (Photo: Acura)

Also standard, Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) lets you to choose between Snow, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes to enhance electric power steering feel and Drive-by-Wire throttle response. 

With a smaller displacement engine and four more forward gears it only makes sense that emissions and fuel economy have made gains too, the latter rated at 11.0 L/100km in the city, 8.6 on the highway and 9.9 combined for all trims but the A-Spec that gets an estimate of 11.3, 9.1 and 10.3 respectively, these numbers comparing favourably against last year’s claimed fuel economy rating of 12.4 city, 8.7 highway and 10.7 combined. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The new RDX gets Acura’s now trademark Diamond Pentagon grille, which first appeared on the refreshed MDX, then the updated TLX and RLX. (Photo: Acura)

The new drivetrain’s efficiency improvements are further aided by a new idle stop-start system that automatically shuts the engine down when it would otherwise be idling and then immediately reboots it when ready to go. 

Standard with 19-inch alloy wheels and available with 20s as part of the sportiest A-Spec package just noted, the new 2019 RDX rides on a totally new Acura-exclusive platform architecture featuring electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension system with 30 mm front and 23 mm rear stabilizer bars. Additionally, the top-line Platinum Elite model receives an Active Damper System to further enhance performance and comfort. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Non-A-Spec trims get chrome detailing for a classy premium touch. (Photo: Acura)

As noted, the new RDX is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces, its dimensions measuring 4,744 mm (186.8 inches) in length, with a 2,750-mm (108.3-inch) wheelbase, 1,900 mm (74.8 inches) in width, with 1,631- and 1,643-mm (64.2- and 64.7-inch) front and rear tracks, and 1,668 mm (65.7 inches) in height. 

This makes the 2019 model 78 mm (3.1 inches) longer than the outgoing RDX, with a 65-mm (2.5-inch) gain in wheelbase that should make a big difference to rear seat roominess, while it’s also 46 mm (1.8 inches) wider for added shoulder and hip space, not to mention a wider track for improved handling, whereas it’s only 31 mm (1.2 inches) taller, improving headroom yet not upsetting manoeuvrability by increasing the centre of gravity. Despite the new SUV’s increased size it’s only gained 86 kilos (189 lbs) of curb weight, so the aforementioned performance gains should still be easy to feel. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
Like with the previous generation and all new Acura models, full LED headlamps come standard. (Acura)

More importantly the 2019 RDX’ increase in size makes for a more comfortable, more useful utility, with maximum cargo volume behind its 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks growing by 142 litres (5.0 cubic feet) to 881 litres (31.1 cubic feet), while the new model offers 82 additional litres (2.9 cubic feet) of luggage space when the second-row is folded flat, at 2,260 litres (79.8 cubic feet). 

That cabin is not only roomier and more comfortable, it’s also been upgraded with higher quality premium finishings, says Acura, with more high-grade soft-touch synthetics, particularly on the instrument panel, doors and centre console, plus hand-wrapped, stitched leather surfaces as well as real open-pore Olive Ash hardwood or genuine brushed aluminum inlays, depending on trim levels. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The standard taillights feature full LEDs too. (Photo: Acura)

Critical to the acceptance of any new vehicle are digital interfaces, the new RDX anteing up with a large standard 10.2-inch display featuring Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto, which is interesting being that the entire operating system is Android-based—evidently Android Auto is to be introduced later pending updates), Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email functionality, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Wi-Fi tethering, AcuraLink Subscription Services, HD and satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, connectivity via two front USB charging ports (plus two optional USB ports in the rear), AM/FM/MP3/WMA audio with nine speakers including a subwoofer, plus more. Acura has eschewed a more traditional tablet-style touchscreen for a lower console-mounted True Touchpad Interface, which Acura promises is very intuitive. 

2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The A-Spec interior can be had in this bright and sporty red and black theme. (Photo: Acura)

Along with the impressive load of standard equipment already mentioned, the base RDX continues Acura’s value theme by including standard full low and high beam LED “Jewel Eye” auto-on/off headlights with automatic high beam control, plus LED daytime running lights, LED brake lights and LED taillights, while additional standard highlights include a remote engine starter, proximity keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an acoustic windshield, active noise control, ambient lighting, a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge cluster, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, dual-zone automatic climate control, a HomeLink garage door opener, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, side mirrors with driver recognition, reverse gear tilt-down and integrated LED turn indicators, a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, 12-way powered front seats including powered lumbar support and four-way adjustable headrests, two-position memory for the driver’s seat and side mirrors, a large panoramic moonroof, a powered tailgate, a capless fueling system, and more. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
Or possibly something a little classier is more to your liking, the Platinum Elite featuring real hardwood trim. (Photo: Acura)

Also standard is an extensive suite of active and passive safety features including Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Lane Keeping Assist, while all the usual active and passive safety equipment are joined by front knee airbags, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring. 

Opting for Tech trim means that your RDX will receive yet more safety features including Blind Spot Information with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, and traffic sign recognition, while Tech trim also includes front and rear parking sensors, navigation, voice recognition, and a 12-speaker ELS Studio audio upgrade with the rear USB ports noted earlier. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The new RDX promises the latest technology no matter the trim. (Photo: Acura)

Upgrading to A-Spec trim includes the aforementioned styling and performance improvements as well as LED fog lights, power-folding side mirrors, a heatable steering wheel, metal sport pedals, unique Alcantara and leather-trimmed upholstery with contrast stitching and seat piping, ventilated front seats, and a 16-speaker ELS Studio 3D audio system. 

The move up to Elite trim means a step back to the 12-speaker audio system and the removal of ventilated front seats and LED fog lamps, but it adds headlamp washers, auto-dimming side mirrors, perimeter/approach puddle lights, perforated leather upholstery, and heated rear outboard seats. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
A 10.2-inch infotainment display comes standard, featuring Apple CarPlay and plenty of other features. (Photo: Acura)

Lastly, Platinum Elite trim adds back the LED fog lamps, ventilated front seats and 16-speaker 3D stereo, while also including adaptive cornering headlights, a colour head-up display that projects key information onto the windshield ahead of the driver, a surround view parking monitor, a rear camera washer, 16-way powered front seats including lumbar support, thigh extensions and side bolsters, the genuine Olive Ash hardwood trim mentioned earlier, complete with contrast stitching and seat piping, and metallic cargo area garnishes. 

Of course, exterior styling will be key to sales success, and to that end the 2019 RDX is the first model to fully incorporate the Acura Precision Concept design language. We’ve seen the new grille gracing the front of the larger MDX luxury SUV, the TLX sport sedan, and the brand’s flagship RLX luxury sedan, but these were dramatic mid-cycle updates, not wholesale redesigns. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
No matter the trim, this massive panoramic sunroof comes standard. (Photo: Acura)

The Diamond Pentagon grille appears identical in shape if not size to those already in use by the TLX and RLX, both of which were slightly bolder and more pronounced than the MDX variant, but the lower front fascia of the prototype pulls cues from the Japanese brand’s larger SUV, particularly the pointed body-colour strike-through found hovering above each corner vent. They’re much larger and point in the opposite direction, while these, along with the horizontal row of LED fog lamps just below, flow more naturally into the centre portion of the fascia than the MDX’ vertical stack. Overall, the new RDX lower fascia design works well, particularly how it wraps around the sides of the bumper. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
A longer wheelbase means rear seat roominess and comfort is increased over the previous generation. (Photo: Acura)

Likewise, a more expressive set of headlamps wrap more fully around the sides of the new model’s front fenders before following the curvature of the front wheel cutouts upward to where they finalize at the hood line. Those fenders are rounder and more organically shaped, flowing naturally into more fluidly sculpted door panels, with the arcing greenhouse culminating at the centre point of the rear quarter window instead of the base. 

The top corner of the new RDX rear design forms a visual “X” where extended chrome window trim butts up against body-colour rooftop and side panels plus glossy black rear window trim extensions, resulting in a unique take on current floating roof trends, while the multi-angled LED taillights look fresh, modern and harmonious with the rest of the design. 

2019 Acura RDX Platinum Elite
The RDX cargo compartment in larger too, both with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks upright and when they’re folded flat. (Photo: Acura)

Lastly, the front and rear bumpers differ depending on trim level, with base and luxury models getting splashes of chrome around the corner vents up front and a matte black apron in the back, and A-Spec trim receiving gloss-black for the former details and a diffuser-style design between the exhaust pipes. 

“The all-new RDX delivers a powerful statement about who we are and where we are headed as a brand,” commented Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of Acura, when the RDX Prototype was introduced at the North American International Auto Show earlier this year. “For our customers, the new RDX is a quantum leap forward in design, style and performance, with luxury features and technology that will elevate their ownership experience.” 

The 2019 RDX is now available at your local Acura retailer.