The QX50 always provided strong performance and a nicely finished interior, at least comparative to its peers in its earlier years, but its outward design never stirred my senses. Not so for the completely…

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory Road Test Review

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
The all-new 2019 Infiniti QX50 is one great looking compact luxury SUV, especially in near top-tier Sensory trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The QX50 always provided strong performance and a nicely finished interior, at least comparative to its peers in its earlier years, but its outward design never stirred my senses. Not so for the completely redesigned 2019 QX50, however, as styling is now its number one asset, critical for making a good first impression. 

It seems like I’m not alone in my thinking, because year-over-year Canadian QX50 sales growth is already up 59 percent as of December 31, and it only arrived partway through 2018, while during the first two months of 2019 the new Infiniti found 113.7-percent more buyers than the previous generation lured in for January and February last year. 

Most should find this ground-up second-generation redesign pleasant to the eyes, thanks to a particularly eye-catching version of Infiniti’s double-arch grille situated under a long, elegantly shaped hood, and bookended by sharp, animal-like LED headlamps. It all hovers over a clean and sporty lower fascia that nicely ties the frontal design together for an overall design that should cause many more would-be buyers to pay attention. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
All of Infiniti’s now trademark design details are rolled up into one stylish crossover. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Likewise, there’s plenty of muscular sculpting to the side panels, these passing by a handsome chromed engine vent garnish on each upper front fender, plenty of additional chrome trim around the side windows, the rearmost of which curves with the brand’s distinctive reverse kink, while at back it’s equally attractive, particularly at the LED taillights, while, depending on trim, a variety of 19- to 20-inch alloys finish off the look. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Front or back? Which side looks best to you? (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As visually appealing as the new QX50 is, Canadian SUV buyers need a generous cargo hold of practicality to keep their attention, not to mention premium levels of interior build quality, the latest electronic interfaces, and, of course, performance that matches or exceeds the best in this class. To that end, the new QX50 mostly delivers. 

As noted a moment ago, performance made the previous QX50 stand out, particularly its rear-wheel drive-biased handling, although the compact luxury crossover’s standard 3.7-litre V6, advanced seven-speed automatic, and Intelligent all-wheel drive were nothing to sneeze at either. And just how the new model’s exterior styling changes everything about the way the new QX50 looks, it is now powered by a comparatively tiny 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to send torque to all four wheels, and rolls on a new front-wheel drive-based chassis, or in other words the new SUV is completely different than the outgoing model, down to its very core. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Infiniti has found an attractive and distinctive grille design, while many of its contemporaries are struggling to stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The move from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive platform architectures is nothing new in this class due to interior packaging improvements with the latter, especially when it comes to rear seating and cargo capacity, but how does it impact the way the QX50 drives? On the positive, the new QX50 now provides a more comfortable ride. It floats smoothly over rough patches of pavement, bridge expansions, and other types of road irregularities, while it also benefits from a quieter cabin, partially due to using active engine mounts ahead of the seemingly better insulated firewall and an acoustic windshield plus acoustic side glass. The result is a more refined experience overall, which should bode well for meeting the wants and needs of most premium buyers, but then again those who previously chose the QX50 for its road-holding prowess may be a tad disappointed. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Full LED headlights are standard, but the Sensory gets even nicer signature LEDs with cornering capability. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Let’s face it. The old 2008–2017 QX50 (and prior EX35) was based on the old G35/G37 (Q50) sport sedan, and it felt like it, whereas the latest version rides on the Nissan Altima and Murano’s front-wheel drive-biased platform architecture, which while sporting a fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension design, plus standard Active Trace Control which autonomously increases brake pressure mid-corner to maintain a given lane, doesn’t provide enough help to turn this comfortable family hauler into a canyon carver. 

In a nutshell the new QX50 is a bit less planted to the road at highway speeds, especially when pushing hard through corners with broken pavement, and doesn’t achieve the same level of confidence on the open freeway either. This is the trade-off when choosing a front-biased layout, and while Infiniti has gone far to exorcise as many understeering demons from within, there was no way they could’ve make it feel as hooked up as the outgoing version. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
The QX50 Sensory’s styling details really catch the eye. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

This said the new variable compression turbo engine is brilliant. It provides more immediate power from its small displacement than the majority of rivals’ base engines, despite measuring an identical 2.0 litres. How much more? Try 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque delivered to all four wheels, resulting in quite a bit more output than its entry-level compact luxury SUV market segment’s peers. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
These gorgeous deep-tinted 20-inch alloys come standard on Sensory and Autograph trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The top seller is now Mercedes-Benz’ GLC, which only provides 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, while the second-place Audi Q5 is good for just 248 hp and 273 lb-ft (which are identical numbers to the Porsche Macan that uses the same engine). Likewise, the third-place BMW X3 is capable of 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while the QX50’s mill is considerably more potent than Lexus’ latest base NX that can only achieve 238 hp and 258 lb-ft, while Cadillac’s fresh new XT4 is rated at a comparatively wimpy 237 hp and 258 lb-ft. All said the new QX50 isn’t the quickest in the segment, with the recently revitalized Acura RDX capable of 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio leading the segment’s base engine output with 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque (both are more fun to drive, too). Still, the Infiniti CUV’s output is more than respectable. 

In fact, WardsAuto just included the VC-Turbo as on of this year’s 10 Best Engines. The new engine design took Infiniti’s engineering department a full four years to develop, and features special connecting rods between its pistons and crankshaft that vary the compression of the fuel and air mixture, with less increasing power output when called upon, and more improving fuel-efficiency under lighter loads such as when cruising and coasting. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
These front fender vents add a touch of class to an already well executed design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I know all this tech talk can be a bit dry, but I’m more concerned that I lost your interest earlier in this review when mentioning that Infiniti swapped out its seven-speed auto for a CVT, being that CVT is usual a three-letter acronym that correctly describes an economical and smooth yet dull and boring technology. Fortunately, however, along with tackling the problem of ever-increasing carbon tax-induced gasoline prices the new transmission is actually a strong performer. It utilizes a completely new shift-by-wire design that features manual shift mode, steering wheel paddles, Downshift Rev Matching (that blips the throttle to match a given gear ratio with engine revs), plus dual transmission fluid coolers, resulting in a fairly conventional feeling transmission. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Of course, LED taillights are standard across the line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The CVT responds better than expected when flicking through its paddles too, and is plenty of fun to drive with Sport mode engaged. The VC-Turbo’s power comes on quickly, but this is where the faux stepped-gear CVT doesn’t quite measure up to its multi-speed automatic rivals, as it allows engine revs to remain too high for too long, thus interfering with performance, adding to noise, vibration and harshness levels, and ironically impinging on fuel-efficiency. 

If driven like most of us do when behind the wheel of a compact crossover SUV, however, it’s a wonderfully smooth and refined transmission that combines a high level of day-in and day-out performance with claimed fuel economy that’s 30 percent better than the outgoing model, now rated at 10.0 L/100km city, 7.8 highway and 9.0 combined, compared to 13.7 city, 9.8 highway and 11.9 combined. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Climb into one of the nicer interiors in the compact luxury crossover SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

If you were to ask me for one key complaint, it’s Infiniti’s Eco Pedal that pushes rearward on the gas pedal (and therefore your right foot) in order to try and influence you not to press too hard. I find it terribly annoying, and therefore never turn Eco mode on when using an Infiniti vehicle, so therefore I end up losing out on all the other benefits that the brand’s Eco mode provides, like the best possible fuel economy just noted. I’m guessing that I’m not alone, so Infiniti would do well to allow its owners to turn off the Eco Pedal when Eco mode is engaged. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Quality materials set the QX50 Sensory’s cabin apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Those who don’t mind its interference can choose that Eco mode, as well as all of the QX50’s other drive settings from a “D-MODE” inscribed, metal-adorned rocker switch atop the lower console, just behind a totally new electronic shift lever design. Smaller and shorter, although well crafted from satin-silver aluminum and contrast-stitched leather, the new shifter provides a more normal gear selection process than some others in this class, particularly Acura and Lincoln that are obsessed with buttons. The only button Infiniti uses is a small black one with a “P” label for selecting park. 

Just above the shift lever on a separate lower console section is an elegantly stylish knurled metal infotainment controller surrounded by high-quality buttons, while a volume knob on the centre stack provides nearly the same level of luxury detailing. There’s no shortage of aluminized metal trim throughout the rest of the cabin either, albeit tastefully applied so it’s not overbearing, with personal favourites being the edges of each power window switch and the gorgeous geometrically drilled Bose speaker grilles. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Where are the fully programmable digital gauges? So far, only traditional analog dials and a large TFT MID are available. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

This brings up the quality and fitment of all buttons, knobs and switches, which are well damped, tightly fitted, and made from dense composites when not covered in metal, allowing the QX50 to meet the level of refinement delivered by the majority of its rivals, and exceed some. 

Additional niceties include beautiful open-pore natural maple hardwood inlays (a Sensory trim exclusive) and lush black ultrasuede (also exclusive to the Sensory), both used on the instrument panel, centre stack, lower console, front seat bolsters and door uppers front to back, while the two front and second set of roof pillars, plus the roofliner itself, were covered in the charcoal ultrasuede alone. Lastly, classy contrast-stitched leather was also generously applied throughout the interior, the QX50 Sensory’s cabin truly a cut above. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
The dual-display infotainment system is a step in the right direction, with high quality screens and good functionality. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be clear, the QX50 provides high-grade premium surfaces, along with nice metal and wood accents above the waist, even coating its glove box lid with soft-touch paint, but like many in this class Infiniti stops pampering at this mid-point, instead applying hard plastics to the lower dash, sides of the centre console, and lower door panels. It’s a cost cutting measure for sure, but some will say the harder composite provides durability, weight savings and even recyclability, yet this is the luxury class, so therefore I think Infiniti should be doing more to measure up to leaders like the aforementioned BMW X3, which applies soft-touch to more surfaces. Still, the QX50 interior is much nicer than some other peers, and should impress most who step inside. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
A best of both world’s scenario, the Sensory’s Around View parking monitor provides multiple views. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course, it’s best in near top-line $56,490 Sensory trim, or when equipped with the more bespoke $57,990 Autograph model’s upgrades. These two trims are mostly the same when it comes to features, but differ in the application of some interior colours and materials. For instance, both use luxury-grade semi-aniline leather upholstery, those sumptuous ultrasuede accents just noted, and real hardwood inlays, but the Sensory’s colour theme is charcoal black and the Autograph is a two-tone blue and white motif, while its leather seats get a rich diamond-quilted pattern (in white) and its side bolsters are highlighted with blue piping. It’s a look you’ll adore, and therefore need to acquire, or not, and fortunately Infiniti makes it optional so it’s only a dealmaker, not a deal-breaker. 

Other features found with both trims include two-way front passenger powered lumbar support, three-way cooled front seats, advanced climate control (with auto-recirculation, a Plasmacluster air purifier and a Grape Polyphenol Filter), extended interior ambient lighting, rear side window sunshades, a gesture-activated hands-free liftgate, and metal cargo area trim, while exterior upgrades include a sweet looking set of 20-inch dark tinted alloys on 255/45 all-season run-flat tires, plus really nice looking cube design LED high/low beam headlamps with adaptive cornering capability. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
The QX50’s new electronic shifter is a really upscale bit of advanced kit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The two top-line models utilize many of the features found in lesser trims too, such as the $52,990 ProActive model’s auto high beams, dynamic cruise control (with full speed range and hold), distance control assist, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, blindspot intervention, rear cross-traffic warning, backup collision intervention, steering assist, the ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous self-driving system (which gets very close to full autonomy while traveling on the highway), Infiniti’s exclusive steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system (a first for an Infiniti SUV) that’s very reactive to steering input (other trims use vehicle-speed-sensitive power steering), a head-up display unit, and a superb sounding 16-speaker Bose Premium Series audio system. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Check the previous photo to see this infotainment controller’s knurled metal sides. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, a bevy of items get pulled up from $48,990 Essential trim, such as rain-sensing windshield wipers, front/rear parking sonar, reverse-tilt side mirrors, Infiniti’s excellent 360-degree Around View parking camera with moving object detection, very accurate navigation routing with a superbly detailed mapping system, three-zone auto climate control with controls for the rear passengers (upgraded from the two-zone automatic HVAC system found in lesser trims), a power tilt and telescoping steering column, and memory for that steering wheel column, plus the front seats and side mirrors. 

Lastly, $44,490 base Luxe trim provides LED fog lights, LED turn signal repeaters integrated within the side mirrors, LED tail lamps (the Luxe is also standard with LED low/high beam headlamps), chromed outer door handles, chromed tailpipe finishers, a remote engine starter, proximity keyless entry, pushbutton start/stop, the previously noted drive mode selector featuring standard, eco, sport, and personal settings, a panoramic glass sunroof with a powered sunshade, a power liftgate (without hands-free), predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning, plus plenty more. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
These comfortable seats provide plenty of support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of note, all 2019 QX50 pricing for trims, packages, and standalone options were sourced from CarCostCanada, which also provides money-saving manufacturer rebate info and otherwise difficult to find dealer invoice pricing that could help save you thousands. 

For many, the new QX50’s advanced electronic interfaces will be most important, and I must admit they certainly help modernize the look of the interior and the SUV’s overall functionality. First and foremost is the new InTouch twin-display infotainment setup on the centre stack, boasting a bright, clear and colourful high-resolution 8.0-inch monitor on the upper position, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen underneath, plus InTouch safety, security and convenience services, etcetera. I found this system mostly easy to use, with the top display, which provides navigation info, various views from the backup/surround camera system and more, controlled by the beautifully made rotating dial on the lower console mentioned earlier, and the lower one by tablet-like tap, swipe and pinch finger gestures. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Rich semi-aniline leather and soft ultrasuede can be found all over the Sensory model’s cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As for the primary gauge package ahead of the driver, I was somewhat dismayed that Infiniti didn’t take this opportunity to introduce a fully digital cluster, as this is now expected in top-tier trims (VW is even doing so with its latest Tiguan), but the mostly analogue dials the automaker provided worked well enough, and the large colour multi-information display certainly wasn’t short on functionality, all of which were easily controlled by a nicely organized set of steering wheel switches. 

Looking upward, a new overhead console includes the usual reading lights, buttons for the sunroof, plus a wholly redesigned sunglasses holder that, surprise, surprise comes without an intrusive nosepiece so that all of my sunglasses fit inside without issue. Just why previous versions were made with a nosepiece that was too big to hold regular glasses in place is beyond my scope of understanding, but fortunately Infiniti has remedied this problem once and for all. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
This big panoramic sunroof is standard across the QX50 line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The sunglasses holder isn’t the only improvement made to passenger and cargo roominess, with rear passengers now benefiting from significantly more legroom and headspace. Infiniti actually claims that the QX50’s rear seating area is larger than both Audi’s Q5 and BMW’s X3, while rear passengers can now slide their seats forward and rearward in order to increase legroom or alternatively add to available cargo space. 

Unsurprisingly the rear outboard positions were very comfortable, while I had about eight inches of space for my knees when the driver’s seat was preset for my five-foot-eight long-legged, short-torso, medium-build body. Additionally, there was plenty of room for my winter boots, albeit not much for tucking them under the driver’s seat. Speaking of narrow spaces, the compact QX50’s compromised width was made evident by the lack of inches to the door panel, but the outer armrest was comfortable and my shoulder never felt hemmed in. Adults in back might find the flip-down centre armrest on the low side, but it’s perfect for children, and it includes a slot for storing your smartphone plus a pair of cupholders. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
Rear seat roominess and comfort is excellent, but where are the heated rear onboard seats? (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The previously noted rear climate controls are about as minimalist as such items go, only combining a digital watch-sized black and white LCD display with single red and blue buttons for adjusting the temperature. Infiniti adds a USB device charger and 12-volt socket too, but oddly rear seat warmers aren’t even on the QX50 menu. 

On the positive, cargo capacity has generously increased by 368 litres (13.0 cubic feet) to 895 (31.6 cu ft) behind the standard 60/40-split rear seats, but remember you can slide them forward for another 153 litres (5.5 cu ft), increasing total capacity behind the rear seatbacks to 1,048 litres (37.0 cu ft). A helpful lever on each sidewall folds the respective rear seat flat, opening up a maximum of 1,822 litres (64.3 cu ft) when both sides are lowered. The weakness to the QX50’s 60/40-configured seatback design becomes apparent when wanting to stow longer items such as skis down the middle when family or friends are coming along for the ride, because there’s no centre pass-through or best-possible 40/20/40-division for optimizing passengers and cargo flexibility. If a higher level of real-life practicality matters to you, the Europeans tend to do a better job. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
This handy lever drops the right-side rear seatback down. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As is now expected in this class, the standard powered liftgate is programmable for height, a very important feature if your parking garage is lower than average, and even more so if pipes hang down further (been there done that). This said I kept bumping my forehead into the open hatch until finding time to reprogram it, not a fault of Infiniti, but something new owners may want to watch out for. All should be happy with the cargo area’s finishings, mind you, thanks to attractive aluminum sill guards and carpeting most everywhere, while the cargo floor can be removed to store smaller items in two shallow stowage bins, the most forward one also housing the Bose amplifier and subwoofer. 

2019 Infiniti QX50 Sensory
The cargo compartment is nicely finished, but the 60/40-split rear seatbacks don’t measure up to others that offer a centre pass-through or an even more convenient 40/20/40 configuration. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

After a week with Infiniti’s new QX50 I’d say the pros more than outweigh the cons, but you’ll need to decide this for yourself when testing. Its styling should be universally positive, and most will probably praise its upgraded interior and much improved electronics too, while its host of advanced driver assistance systems will no doubt be lauded as well. I found it roomy and comfortable, plus its driving position is excellent, important for extracting all of its straight-line performance and maximizing support when pushing it through the corners, but this new QX50 is built more for comfort than speed when compared to the outgoing one, which will probably be just fine for the majority of its buyers. 

I won’t go out on a limb to say it’s best in class, and honestly would truly be hard pressed to claim this about any rivals either, but you really should spend some quality time with this new model before purchasing anything else. In other words, the new QX50 is worthy of your close attention, because it just might fit your wants and needs ideally, and save you a few thousand in the process.

In classic Honda fashion, the update from third-generation 2016-2018 Pilot 1.0 to 2019 Pilot 2.0 is ultimately subtle, but somehow the changes made have resulted in a wholly better looking crossover SUV. …

2019 Honda Pilot Touring Road Test Review

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Honda has toughened up the look of the 2019 Pilot, and we like what we see. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In classic Honda fashion, the update from third-generation 2016-2018 Pilot 1.0 to 2019 Pilot 2.0 is ultimately subtle, but somehow the changes made have resulted in a wholly better looking crossover SUV. 

The new Pilot’s mid-cycle makeover adds a more assertive looking truck-like grille above a stronger front bumper and fascia design, which tie in better to other models throughout Honda’s lineup. The new look is further improved by a wonderfully complex set of full LED headlamps in top-line Touring trim, sporting Honda’s signature vertical elements for a whole new level of sophistication when compared to lesser trims. 

Incidentally, trims below Touring get standard low-beam-only LED headlights that feature a less distinctive projector-style design, while an attractive set of updated LED tail lamps are the same with all trims, these positioned above a new rear bumper. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The Pilot is long and accommodating, seating three row of 7 or 8, plus loads of cargo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Additionally, silver skid plates below both front and rear bumpers toughen up the look of most trims, while matte and glossy black versions of the same garnishes adorn base and Canadian-exclusive Black Edition versions respectively, while Honda adds a little bit of extra exterior chrome to Touring trim, including bright metal door handles, and new 20-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets that result in a more upscale look from front to back. All of these small details have really added up to a handsome mid-size crossover SUV, and while it remains a large three-row family hauler that can actually fit real adults in its rearmost seats, the Pilot somehow appears light and lithe, as if it’s actually fun to drive. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Honda has tweaked rear end styling as well, but more subtly. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Rather than just refreshing the styling and leaving at that, Honda went further by improving the auto start-stop system in top-tier Touring and Black Edition trims, so that it shuts off and restarts the engine quicker and with less fanfare, a fix that should cause more owners to leave it engaged and therefore do a better job of minimizing fuel consumption and emissions. I’m a big fan of that, and never had a problem with this feature throughout my test week. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The vertical LED elements in the top-line Touring model’s headlamps are really eye-catching. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Likewise, my top-line Pilot Touring tester’s updated nine-speed automatic transmission performed flawlessly, delivering what seemed to be smoother more effortless shifts when tooling around town or cruising along the highway, and feeling more precise when flicking through the gears on the highway. This said I never had a problem with the outgoing nine-speed when testing it in a 2017 model, but some have complained about refinement and therefore Honda made improvements that should appease such disgruntled owners. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Big 20-inch machine-finished alloys add a sporty touch to the otherwise elegantly shaped SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Base LX, plus mid-range EX and EX-L Navi owners would have had no such issues due to their Pilots incorporating Honda’s time-tested six-speed autobox, while the one-size-fits-all 24-valve, SOHC 3.5-litre V6 is about as seasoned as modern-day engines get, remaining quite potent for the class at 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and kitted out with direct-injection, i-VTEC, Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that shuts off a bank of cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy, plus an Active Control Engine Mount (ACM) system to help reduce noise, vibration and harshness levels, which it seems to do effectively. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Honda updated these LED taillights as part of the 2019 redesign. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Thanks in part to standard Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) AWD, supported by Honda’s Intelligent Traction Management System, the latest Pilot felt as sporty off the line as its new look lets on, while it carried that newfound nimbleness through fast-paced corners with an easy, composed nonchalance that defied its near full-size proportions, combining this agile handling with a thoroughly comfortable, compliant ride that only became unsettled when pushed beyond what’s reasonable on a particularly poorly paved section of curving roadway. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Comfort is king in the driver’s seat of the 2019 Pilot Touring. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Driven at calmer speeds my Pilot Touring tester was not only ideally stable and thoroughly comfortable, but came very close to achieving its claimed Transport Canada five-cycle rating of 12.4 L/100km in the city, 9.3 on the highway and 11.0 combined, with my weeklong average being 11.7 L/100km of mostly city driving on flat roadways. Of note, six-speed models are estimated to achieve 13.0 city, 9.3 highway and 11.3 combined. Factoring in new carbon tax-infused pump prices, these numbers are quite good for such a large utility. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The Pilot Touring provides a modern, well-made cockpit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I didn’t have opportunity to tow a trailer during my test week, but take note there’s no difference in ability with either transmission, the Pilot’s rating set to 1,588 kilograms (3,500 lbs) in base form or 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) when fitted with its available towing package. 

Hauling in mind, the Pilot provides plenty of cargo space for all your load carrying needs, with 524 litres (18.5 cubic feet) behind the third row, or 510 litres (18.0 cubic feet) with the Touring and Black Edition; 1,583 litres (55.9 cubic feet) when that 60/40-split third row is folded flat; plus a range from 3,072 to 3,092 litres (108.5 to 109.2 cubic feet) when both rear rows lowered, but take note that models with second-row captain’s chairs are missing a centre section that may need to be gapped when trying to fill it fully with gear. Some others with this problem attach a carpeted extension to the backside of one seatback that can be flipped over the open section of load floor when filling with cargo, but no such innovation was shown here. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The Pilot’s mostly digital dash is much more advanced than most rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

These sliding and reclining captain’s chairs, which straddle a slightly raised floor-mounted console with cupholders and shallow bin, don’t come standard in Touring trim, but instead replace a regular bench seat that’s good enough for three adults abreast. The model tested, therefore, only provided for seven occupants, whereas the base version is one of the more capable family haulers thanks to eight available seatbelts. I’ve tried both, and the captain’s chairs are certainly more comfortable, thanks in part to fold-down armrests and seat heaters. I also appreciated the much more open and visually airy interior provided by the big panoramic sunroof included with Touring and Black Edition upgrades—all other trims but the base model include a regular powered moonroof up front. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The Pilot gets a nicely sorted centre stack, wth one of the best infotainment systems in the market. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Features in mind, top-tier $52,690 Touring trim comes well stocked, with items not yet mentioned including a more advanced set of LED high beam-infused headlamps, power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors, blue ambient lighting inside, front window acoustic glass to subdue NVH levels, rain-sensing wipers, an electronic gear selector, ventilated front seats, a premium 600-watt audio system with 11 speakers including a subwoofer plus 5.1 Surround Sound, wireless device charging, Honda’s ultra-useful new CabinTalk in-car PA system (it really works well), HondaLink Subscription Services, a Wi-Fi hotspot, the “How much Farther?” app, a rear entertainment system, HDMI input jack, a 115-volt rear power outlet, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, plus more. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
This nice big reverse camera, with standard multiple views, makes backing up much safer. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Additionally, features pulled up from EX-L Navi trim to the Touring model including an acoustic windshield, memory-linked side mirrors with reverse tilt, a heatable steering wheel rim, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, navigation, satellite and HD radio, front and rear parking sensors, the heated outboard second-row seats noted earlier, one-touch third-row access buttons that make getting in and out of the rearmost seating area ultra-easy, second-row sunshades, a powered tailgate and more, while items pulled up from EX trim include LED fog lights, LED turn signals within the side mirrors, roof rails, illuminated vanity mirrors, a Homelink garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with memory, and the just noted power moonroof. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
And now for something completely different… The Pilot Touring’s digital gear selector takes some time to get used to. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Lastly, I should also mention a number of standard $41,290 Pilot LX features that are also part of the Touring trim package, such as a remote engine starter, keyless proximity access, pushbutton ignition, a windshield wiper de-icer, an overhead console-mounted conversation mirror that doubles as a sunglasses holder, tri-zone automatic climate control, three-way heatable front seats, the HondaLink Assist Automatic Emergency Response System, and the list goes on (all prices are sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can also get all the latest rebate info as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Nice big and comfortable front seats make day in and day out especially enjoyable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Particularly notable, all Pilot trims feature a large 7.0-inch TFT multi-information display (MID) within a mostly digital gauge cluster, the former featuring bright and clear high-resolution colour graphics, plus easy operation via steering wheel-mounted controls, while the 8.0-inch tablet-style infotainment touchscreen atop the centre stack is even more fully featured, starting with a wonderfully colourful array of tile-like graphics that appear to be inspired by the iPhone and iPad. The inclusion of standard Apple CarPlay is therefore fitting, although take note that Android Auto is also standard, plus Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with streaming audio, a superb multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, and more. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Big dual sunroofs provide plenty of overhead light. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Part of that ongoing features list includes a whole host of standard Honda Sensing advanced driver assistance systems such as automatic high beams, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Road Departure Mitigation, which means that together with the Touring model’s cornering-capable full LED headlights the 2019 Pilot now achieves a best-possible Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS (last year’s versions didn’t achieve the “Plus” or “+” rating), while it also received a five star safety rating from the NHTSA. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
No issues getting comfortable in these optional second-row captain’s chairs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

While most everything I’ve said thus far has been positive, I was somewhat surprised that the Pilot only provides soft touch synthetic surfacing across its dash top, as well as a piece on the instrument panel just ahead of its front passenger that wraps overtop the centre display, and the front door uppers, plus of course the usual door inserts and armrests. This means the rear door uppers were hard plastic, which is strangely low-rent for this class, while some rivals even go so far to provide the pliable synthetic treatment to the lower dash including the glove box lid, while also wrapping the A pillars in fabric to improve refinement further. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
Let’s get this show on the road… literally! (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

On the positive, the driver’s seat was very comfortable, but this said its two-way powered lumbar support didn’t meet up with the small of my back, so I didn’t use it the way I would if it also adjusted for height. Speaking of seats, I should say more about the third row that actually was quite comfortable, with plenty of legroom for a five-foot-eight adult (with long legs and a shorter torso), about three to four inches available for the knees when the second row was pushed back to its rearmost position, and loads of headroom. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The third row is surprisingly roomy and comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My last and final complaint won’t be an issue for many Pilot owners, but I found it odd that Honda expended so much energy (and money) creating the Touring (and Black Edition) model’s electronic gear selector yet didn’t replace the foot-operated parking brake with an electromechanical unit. It’s not like lifting the foot and pressing down on a parking brake is a big negative, but it certainly ties what is otherwise a modern and advanced vehicle to the past. I’m guessing Honda will replace it for the next generation Pilot, so I, like some others, will look forward to this upgrade. 

2019 Honda Pilot Touring
The Pilot is one of the most cargo friendly SUVs in its mid-size class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

And yes this is where I need to say, if a foot-operated parking brake, two-way lumbar support, and a little more hard plastic than I’d like to see is all I can find to complain about after a weeklong test, Honda is doing pretty well with the new Pilot. All in all this is easily the best Pilot I’ve ever driven, and one of the more competitive crossover SUVs in its three-row mainstream volume class. I like its new styling, appreciate the amount of effort Honda’s engineers put into refining the new model’s drivetrain and suspension, and therefore enjoyed my time behind the wheel. It’s certainly an easy SUV to live with thanks to ample passenger and cargo space, while its fuel economy didn’t put me in the poorhouse. For these reasons and more the 2019 Pilot is easy to recommend.

An explanation for the uninitiated: “Polestar Engineered” is like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M brands, but for Volvo.  Yes, once staid and conservative Volvo has not only become a lot more dynamic…

415 horsepower Polestar Engineered Volvo V60 and XC60 arriving in summer

2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
Volvo will add two new models to the T8 Polestar Engineered lineup for 2020, with this XC60 crossover SUV likely to be most popular. (Photo: Volvo)

An explanation for the uninitiated: “Polestar Engineered” is like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M brands, but for Volvo. 

Yes, once staid and conservative Volvo has not only become a lot more dynamic in recent years, but also has a performance division. Polestar was born and bread in motorsport, just like its German counterparts, and having already provided an assortment of go-fast models in previous generation S60 and V60 models, is now doing the same with Volvo’s updated lineup. 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
The 2019 S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sold out very quickly. (Photo: Volvo)

“At Volvo Car Canada, we are very excited about the addition of the new Polestar Engineered products in our portfolio,” said Alexander Lvovich, Managing Director, Volvo Car Canada Ltd. “Polestar always played a special role in the Volvo business in Canada, as in the last 2 years we achieved one of the highest levels of Polestar optimized product sales in the world. We plan to fully capitalize on this upcoming opportunity to strengthen both Volvo and Polestar brands in Canada.” 

2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
The Polestar Engineered models receive special glossy black grilles and unique lower front fascia designs. (Photo: Volvo)

Its most recent project was based on the 2019 Volvo S60, but the S60 T8 Polestar Engineered (as it was called) sold out before most of us even knew it existed. Now we have word from Volvo Canada’s Richmond Hill, Ontario office that new Polestar Engineered variants of the V60 sport wagon and XC60 compact crossover SUV are on the way for the 2020 model year, which should cause those in the know to get pretty excited. 

2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered
Flared wheel arches, gold six-pot Brembo calipers, and unique 19-inch forged alloys come as part of the upgrade. (Photo: Volvo)

For starters, the new Polestar Engineered duo are once again based on Volvo’s turbocharged, supercharged and electrified T8 Twin-Engine Plug-in Hybrid AWD powertrain, which is sport-tuned to make 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque, 15 horsepower and 22 lb-ft of torque more than the regular T8 powertrain. 

Thanks to software updates, torque arrives earlier making throttle response quicker for more immediate response to input, while more of that twist targets the rear wheels for greater performance feel. To be clear, along with the boosted 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the T8 drivetrain combines an electric motor at each end of the vehicle for a total of two, while its battery pack is fed in both traditional hybrid form and via plug. 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
A specially designed Öhlins strut bar helps to increase body rigidity. (Photo: Volvo)

Along with the handling benefits of a rear-wheel bias, performance will be further enhanced via an Öhlins-produced strut bar under the hood to aid body rigidity and allow for “more precise and responsive control,” says Volvo in a press release, while the Swedish-based suspension technology brand also designed adjustable dampers for the new models, featuring dual flow valves that respond “quickly to road imperfections.” 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
A special leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob enhance the cockpit. (Photo: Volvo)

Additionally, traditional Polestar gold-coloured six-piston Brembo calipers add stopping power, while lightweight 19-inch forged alloy wheels, unique on all three Polestar Engineered S60, V60 and XC60 models, have been designed to provide freer cooling to those upgraded brakes. 

Polestar Engineered models don’t receive the same level of visual stimulation as their aforementioned German competitors, which may help them slide under the radar both figuratively and literally, with styling enhancements including a high-gloss black grille, extended wheel arches, black chrome tailpipes, plus “discreet” Polestar badges front and back. 

2019 Volvo S60 T8 Polestar Engineered
All Polestar Engineered models, this being the S60, sport unique gold-coloured seatbelts. (Photo: Volvo)

Following a similar theme inside, the two Polestar models will get a special leather-clad sport steering wheel and shifter, metal mesh aluminum inlays, plus signature gold seatbelts over unique charcoal-coloured Nappa leather and “open-grid” textile upholstered seats. 

The V60 T8 Polestar Engineered and XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered will arrive as early 2020 models this summer, so if interested make sure to let your local Volvo retailer know.

What would you do? Despite having long since closed off my 2018 model year reviews thanks to most manufacturers’ 2019 models having been available since fall of last year, I was staring at the keys…

2018 Porsche Macan Road Test Review

2018 Porsche Macan
Still a great looking compact luxury SUV, the 2018 Macan remains available brand spanking new from a Porsche dealer near you. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

What would you do? Despite having long since closed off my 2018 model year reviews thanks to most manufacturers’ 2019 models having been available since fall of last year, I was staring at the keys of a nicely outfitted 2018 Porsche Macan, and it only made sense to drive it. Then again, if I drove it I’d need to review it, and here we are. 

Fortunately for me the refreshed 2019 version is a late arrival, starting to show up at Porsche Canada dealers as I stare at another set of keys while hammering out this last-minute review. It’s also good the Stuttgart-based brand made sure that its retailers were well stocked with 2018 Macans, a fact that still makes this somewhat late arrival of a road test review relevant. I’m ok with that if you are, and besides, it’s not like the 2019 model is a radical departure from this 2018 version anyway. 

2018 Porsche Macan
The biggest styling difference between 2018 and 2019 Macans can be seen from this rear vantage point. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

That said, toward the end of this 2018 Macan review I’ll make sure to point out a few notable changes made to the new 2019, so you can decide what matters most when choosing your new Porsche SUV, because it’s probably safe to say you’ll be able to get a better deal on the outgoing model than the refreshed version, not to mention that it’s even more ok than usual to purchase a one model-year older vehicle when factoring in Porsche’s much better than average resale values. 

2018 Porsche Macan
The base 2018 Macan incorporates Porsche’s four-point LED signature lights and offers full LED headlamps optionally, but those LED headlights come standard with the new 2019. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

First off, both 2018 and 2019 Macans qualify for sportiest compact luxury SUV status, and saying that I’m not forgetting about some pretty impressive iron currently available, or should I say aluminum when referring to some of its challengers, particularly the Jaguar F-Pace and Range Rover Velar (the Macan utilizes an aluminum hood and liftgate, plus elsewhere it uses an assortment of high-strength micro-alloyed steel, multi-phase steel, deep-drawn steel, and boron-alloyed steel). 

2018 Porsche Macan
The 2018 Macan gets a sporty front fascia with powerful fog lamps in standard trim, but take note these details are updated for 2019. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Yet there’s also the new steel-bodied Alfa Romeo Stelvio (I drove the Ti Sport AWD and it was loads of fun, and on that note the 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio might even impress more than the Macan Turbo, but I’ll reserve judgment until after I’ve spent time behind the wheel), plus the recently renewed Audi SQ5, BMW’s X3 M, and Mercedes-AMG’s dynamic duo, the GLC 43 and 63 S, while I should also give honourable mentions to the new Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50 that do an admirable job of performing off the line and through the curves when sidled up beside the base Macan I’m reviewing here. 

2018 Porsche Macan
These 19-inch Turbo alloys aren’t standard, as the base model gets 18-inch rims and rubber. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Still, even this entry-level Macan delivers a higher level of performance feel than these very worthy rivals, the sound of rasping exhaust and the quick-shifting response of its seven-speed dual-clutch automated PDK transmission, which comes complete with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a far cry more engaging than most anything it’s put up against. 

2018 Porsche Macan
Say goodbye to these discrete rear lamps, which make way for a much larger single-unit taillight that spans the 2019 Macan’s entire backside. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

This most basic of Macans receives a direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine endowed with VarioCam technology and kinetic energy recovery that’s capable of 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, the former number about average for the class yet the latter more than most rivals provide. This results in a spirited 6.7-second sprint from standstill to 100km/h, or 6.5 seconds when upgraded with the $1,500 Sport Chrono Package that incorporates a set of Sport and Off-Road buttons within the drive mode selector, plus launch control and a special performance display within the infotainment touchscreen. The Macan’s standard Active all-wheel drive made the most of the road surface below, feeling especially controlled when accelerating around corners. 

2018 Porsche Macan
Our 2018 Macan tester’s interior was impeccably finished in Garnet Red leather. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

My tester wasn’t upgraded with the Sport Chrono Package, however, nor did it have the $1,560 Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system that boasts an electronically variable active damping system with Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes, or the even more advanced $3,140 Air Suspension that also includes PASM, or a number of other performance upgrades, but nevertheless it drove brilliantly, with good jump off the line and superb stability when flung through corners, its standard aluminum double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear setup fully living up to the legendary crest on its hood and scripted name on its backside. 

2018 Porsche Macan
We dare you to find any cheap, hard plastic in this well made 2018 Macan interior. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

My test model did include $790 Lane Change Assist, however, one of many advanced driver assistance systems that are less about hands-on performance and point more toward a future of hands-off relaxation, albeit this one merely provides warning if the Macan wanders from a chosen lane, veers off the road, or if a vehicle comes up to its side when a turn signal is engaged. Another $790 buys Lane Keeping Assist, which momentarily takes control at speeds of 65 km/h and higher when such circumstances occur, while my tester also included $1,650 adaptive cruise control, a must for those who travel long distances. 

2018 Porsche Macan
Porsche’s classic three-dial gauge cluster fits a colour multi-info display into its rightmost position. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Other extras included a $2,230 Garnet Red leather package that also adds $1,960 14-way powered front seats with memory, although it should be noted those upgraded buckets (sans the rosy colour treatment) are included with the $7,250 Premium Package Plus (and can be further upgraded to 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats for just $430) that also adds proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, auto-dimming side mirrors, a panoramic glass sunroof, three-way ventilated front seats, three-way heatable rear outboard seats, terrific sounding Bose surround audio (or you can spend $5,370 more for the same package with the sensational 1,000-watt 16-speaker Burmester surround upgrade), Bi-Xenon headlights with the corner-bending Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) (alternatively you can spend $1,340 more for the same package with full LED headlamps), while some standalone items included $1,890 worth of 19-inch Macan Turbo wheels wrapped in 235/55R19 Pirelli tires, and lastly a set of black roof rails for $440, with all the additions totaling $14,250 for a final price of $68,350, not including one of the least expensive freight charges in the industry at $1,250. 

2018 Porsche Macan
Choosing navigation mode within the multi-info display allows easy-to-follow directions without much need to remove eyes from the road. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I haven’t even scratched the surface as to all you can get with the Macan if you’d like to load one up, nor for that matter all that comes standard for its base $54,100 entry price, this number making it the most affordable Porsche model in Canada, but suffice to say it’s nicely outfitted with 18-inch alloy rims, fog lights, LED tail lamps with adaptive brake lights, an electromechanical parking brake, one of the nicest heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheels in the industry (I love the thin spokes and superb switchgear), a colour multi-information display that shows a map when set to navigation plus plenty of other functions, rain-sensing wipers, a HomeLink garage door opener, power-adjustable and three-way heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control with active carbon and pollen filtration, a 7.2-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment touchscreen featuring standard navigation and a backup camera with active guidelines (the latter even including an overhead graphic of the Macan showing how close you’re getting to objects when parking via standard front and rear parking sensors), HD and satellite radio, and much more. 

2018 Porsche Macan
The base Macan comes with an attractive clock atop the dash, which gets exchanged for a more functional tachometer version when opting for the Sport Chrono Package. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The standard Macan’s liftgate powers open automatically too, with the spacious cargo area good for 500 litres (17.6 cubic feet) of gear behind its ultimately utile 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks. I love this configuration compared to the more common 60/40 divide, even if the asymmetrical arrangement includes a centre pass-through, because you can load more skis and/or other long cargo down the middle when four are aboard. Porsche also includes a sturdy standard cargo cover to hide valuables, which can be removed when laying the rear seats flat, a process that opens up 1,500 litres (53.0 cubic feet) for serious cargo hauling capability. I know I’m getting all practical while talking about a Porsche, but while it’s true the Macan is amongst the sportiest in its class, at least in its highest trims, it’s also a perfectly useful tool for hauling family and gear. 

2018 Porsche Macan
While the 2019 Macan grows its centre display to 10.9 inches, the outgoing 7.2-inch system is still fully up to task. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Then again, calling something a tool that’s finished so impeccably inside doesn’t seem right either. The dash top was covered in red contrast-stitched leather, while a high-grade soft-touch composite material surfaces the bottom half of the instrument panel plus everything below the dash including the glove box lid and lower console sides. Likewise, the door panels are a mix of leather and pliable synthetic from top to bottom, while interior accents are mostly detailed out in satin-silver metal. Such hard trim elements aside, you’ll have a hard time finding any insubstantial plastic in this luxury SUV. 

2018 Porsche Macan
The standard reverse camera gets dynamic guidelines and a really helpful graphic that highlights standard front and rear parking sensor info. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Of course, it’s wonderfully comfortable too. My tester’s 14-way seats provided plenty of power adjustments including four-way lumbar and extendable seat squabs. Porsche offers a lot of steering wheel reach and rake too, allowing me to get completely comfortable with the driver setup, which instilled a sense of controlled confidence even before setting out. 

Likewise rear seating is roomy and accommodating, with the outboard positions both fully supportive to provide the comfort needed on long trips, and carved out nicely for holding backside in place when the driver lets off a little steam. 

2018 Porsche Macan
The lower centre console is a sophisticated bit of button-infused kit, which moves into 2019 unchanged. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Speaking of going quickly, those wanting more straight-line speed can choose the Macan S that stuffs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 under its hood good for 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque, which results in zero to 100km/h in only 5.4 seconds, or 5.2 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, plus a new terminal velocity of 254 km/h compared to the base model’s already lofty 229 km/h. Alternatively the Macan GTS adds an extra 20 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque for a total of 360 and 369 respectively, plus sprint time of 5.2 seconds to 100km/h, or 5.0 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, and a higher top speed of 256 km/h. 

2018 Porsche Macan
These upgraded 14-way powered leather seats were wonderfully comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Turbo (Turbo referring to a model name despite all Macan trims using turbocharged engines) is top of the Macan heap thanks to a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 that makes 400 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, plus standstill to 100km/h achieved in just 4.8 seconds, or 4.6 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, and an even faster final speed of 266 km/h. If you still crave more, a Performance Edition, which makes the Sport Chrono Package standard, adds 40 horsepower and 36 lb-ft of torque for 440 of the former and 442 lb-ft of the latter, resulting in a 4.4-second sprint to 100km/h. 

2018 Porsche Macan
The panoramic sunroof is a nice option that makes the cabin feel more open and airy. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It’s likely that fuel economy will matter to those in the more conservative trims, especially now that a new carbon tax is upping pump prices in four Canadian provinces, and others, such as BC, are reeling from an even bigger carbon tax bump, so be satisfied that a fuel-saving and emissions reducing auto start/stop system, with coasting capability, shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, helping the Macan to deliver a claimed rating of 11.6 L/100km in the city, 9.3 on the highway and 10.5 combined. I certainly could live with this, especially considering how sporty it feels when pushed, and how responsive it is even when lightly applying the throttle. 

2018 Porsche Macan
There’s no shortage of passenger space in back, plus it’s finished beautifully and can be upgraded with as-tested heatable outboard seats. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

If you opt for a 2019 Macan fuel economy shouldn’t change noticeably, but take note the base powertrain is down some 4 ponies while the next-in-line Macan S gains 8 horsepower. Neither issue should sway Macan buyers either way, but Porsche promises an improved ride and with better handling, the latter hard to believe considering how deft the current model is, so I’ll reserve judgment until I get behind the wheel. 

2018 Porsche Macan
Despite being one of the sportiest performers in its class, the Macan’s 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks make it ultimately practical. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

A greater draw is the new SUV’s styling that’s highlighted by standard LED headlamps on a slightly revised front end design, plus a more dramatic statement made from behind thanks to a single three-dimensional LED taillight that spans the entire width of its backside. I think the 2019 Macan’s biggest draw is inside, thanks to a new standard 10.9-inch high-resolution centre touchscreen, which receives most of the same standard features as with the current version, but gets more up-to-date graphics on a larger display, a quicker operating speed, and Porsche Connect Plus, an app suite filled with functions, like a Wi-Fi hotspot, and services. 

Additionally, the 2019 Macan will offer a driver assist system that, via the adaptive cruise control, provides semi-autonomous driving for acceleration, braking and lane keeping assist at speeds of 60 km/h and below during congested traffic conditions. 

So the choice is yours. Work your best deal on an already discounted 2018 Macan now or choose the updated 2019 version as it starts arriving this month, knowing either option results in a premium crossover SUV that delivers a higher level of style, performance, refinement and luxury than the majority of challengers, while fulfilling all the practical concerns of a life well lived.

Mercedes’ CLA has been a strong seller in its subcompact luxury segment since being introduced to Canadians in 2013, dueling it out with Audi’s A3 for top spot while up against its own B-Class, Acura’s…

Mercedes improves 2020 CLA in every way

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The all-new 2020 CLA 250 Coupe shows an altogether more aggressive face, and plenty of other upgrades too. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Mercedes’ CLA has been a strong seller in its subcompact luxury segment since being introduced to Canadians in 2013, dueling it out with Audi’s A3 for top spot while up against its own B-Class, Acura’s ILX, BMW’s 2 Series, and others in a traditional car category that’s now under threat by an ever-burgeoning class of subcompact luxury SUVs. 

Still, while Mercedes-Benz has always offered a bevy of industry segment stalwarts, it’s also become the brand of micro-niches, having invented the four-door coupe body style, so it would be highly unusual behaviour for its leadership to say so long to its plentiful car lineup just because its utilities are currently experiencing more growth. After all, Mercedes has been around longer than most of its competitors, and therefore has endured all the trends the automotive industry has ever weathered. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
With a longer hood and a greenhouse pushed further back in more classic GT style, the new CLA looks plenty potent. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Speaking of endurance, or lack therefore, Lexus said goodbye to the entry-level luxury car market by cancelling its CT, Acura hasn’t bothered to update its ILX in too long to remember, everyone’s still wondering if BMW will ever offer North Americans anything in this class with four doors, and all other premium brands haven’t even bothered showing up at all, but take note that Mercedes has been selling its brand new A-Class Hatchback for two months already, and plans to add the completely new A-Class Sedan that more specifically targets the most popular four-door version of the segment-leading A3 (and will become the most affordable Mercedes model) later this year, while the fall of 2019 will also see the arrival of a fully redesigned CLA-Class four-door coupe that promises a serious move up the desirability ladder, not that the current model is particularly lacking. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA should be an even better performer than its capable predecessor. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“With the first CLA we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles and created a totally new segment with a four-door coupe in the compact class,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales. 

Of those new CLA buyers in Canada, more than two thirds were new to Mercedes-Benz at the height of the model’s popularity, while also important, these new Mercedes owners averaged seven years younger than the brand’s typical customer at the time. Starting this fall, Mercedes will offer Canadian entry-level luxury consumers the choice of three recently redesigned or all-new subcompact car and SUV models (four if you split the A-Class into its hatchback and sedan body styles, and five if you count any potentially remaining stock of B-Class models still around when Mercedes wraps up its tenure at the close of this model year), the CLA being the sportiest, most expressive of the bunch, and many of these customers will likely move up to pricier more profitable models within the automaker’s lineup as their careers and personal finances progress. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Its striking new rear design adds visual width for a more planted look. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“The new CLA is even more emotional and sportier than its predecessor,” added Seeger. “Coupled with new operating systems, it sets a new benchmark for the entire class.” 

First shown at Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, an apropos venue considering the ultra-advanced MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment interface that together with the integrated digital instrument cluster covers more than half the dash top, the new CLA looks a bit more grown up thanks to a more serious, almost frowning and forward-slanting M-B sport grille which, in its release, Mercedes claims is “reminiscent of a shark’s nose.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA’s forward-sloping grille actually reminds us of classic BMWs, but sophisticated LED headlamps and an intricate latticework of F1-inspired front aero enhancements make it thoroughly modern. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

The new grille, found ahead of a longer hood topped with classic Mercedes “powerdomes”, is flanked by sharper, narrower and more complex LED Multibeam headlamps featuring 18 individually-controllable LEDs, all of which is underscored by additional complexity in the lower front fascia, while the updated model sees more muscular lower haunches and its greenhouse moved rearward for a more traditional GT profile. It continues this grand touring tradition with squarer more conventional trunk cutout as part of a revised rear end design featuring narrower, more horizontal LED taillights that sit higher up above the back bumper and therefore add more visual width to the design, its slipperier sheet metal registering a wind-cheating 0.23 coefficient of drag. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
There’s no shortage of LED elements in the new CLA’s front or rear lights. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“As a four-door coupe, the new CLA intrigues with its puristic, seductive design and sets new standards in the design DNA of ‘sensual purity’. It impresses with its perfect proportions reflecting the first design sketch: a long, stretched hood, a compact greenhouse, a wide track with exposed wheel arches and our typical GT rear with a strong distinctive ‘Coke-bottle shoulder’,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. “In short, the CLA Coupe has the potential to become a modern design icon.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The outgoing CLA offered up one of the more intriguing interiors for its time, but this new interior immediately makes everything in the class look tired and dated. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Inside, it’s easy to see that Mercedes is targeting the younger market mentioned earlier, thanks to an edgy, sporty look including bright colours, plus those all-in-one digital displays that are large enough to cause screen envy amongst owners of the latest Apple, Microsoft and Samsung tablets. That fixed freestanding gauge cluster and central widescreen display unit eliminates the need for a cowl to shield instruments, with the rest of the completely dash panel including a sporty paddle-shifter-infused leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel ahead of the driver, a very narrow, near retro HVAC interface at centre, and an uncluttered floating-style lower console featuring Mercedes’ exclusive palm rest and new infotainment touchpad controller within easy reach. Only the circular dash-mounted air vents appear carryover, but of course their “avant-garde” turbine-like jet-engine design is entirely new and particularly striking. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new MBUX digital gauge cluster and infotainment combination is as advanced as anything in the industry. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

That MBUX infotainment system, which debuted in the new A-Class a year ago, after a similar system was first integrated into the E-Class, is more than just a very large pretty interface with impressive high-resolution graphics capable of Augmented Reality navigation and fully customizable displays, it also provides serious computing power with integrated software that can even “learn and respond to natural speech,” says Mercedes. 

This will be good news to anyone who has ever been frustrated by the majority of voice recognition systems past and current, which need very precise and often not intuitively thought out commands. Instead, Mercedes’ voice assistant reportedly communicates similarly to Amazon’s Alexa system, only needing an occupant to say “Hey Mercedes” in order to prompt any number of functions via less direct questions, plus it’s smart enough to recognize the person asking the question, rather than others in the car that might be having a separate conversation. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Beautiful high-resolution graphics come standard, but there’s a lot more that the MBUX system offers. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“The latest version of voice control for MBUX – the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – can be experienced in the new CLA. For example, the voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ is able to recognize and answer considerably more complex queries,” said Sajjad Khan, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars for CASE and Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility. “What’s more, the voice assistance no longer gets confused by other passenger’s conversations. Instead it only responds to the commands of the person who last said ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate the system.” 

According to Mercedes, the updated voice assistant is now capable of recognizing and responding to more complicated questions than previous voice recognition systems offered, citing the example, “Find Italian restaurants with at least four stars that are open for lunch but exclude pizza shops.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The fully customizable MBUX infotainment system includes Augmented Reality navigation, and we can’t wait to try it out. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

MBUX can also cover a broader range of topics than previous hands-free voice systems, with an example of a sports query being, “Hey Mercedes, How did the Toronto Raptors play?” The question, “How has the Apple share price performed compared to Microsoft?” may be more concerning to Mercedes drivers these days however, stock market information being one of the subjects MBUX is well versed in. Alternatively, maybe you need a simple calculation performed while driving. Mercedes’ example might be a bit rudimentary for anyone old enough to be behind the wheel of the CLA, but possibly a child in the back seat might ask, “What is the square roof of 9?” or for that matter “How big is Texas?” when it comes to a general knowledge question, but it’s fair to expect that plenty of health-conscious Mercedes owners may want to ask, “What is the fat content of avocados?” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
A new touchpad replaces the old rotating dial, modernizing the MBUX user interface experience. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Also designed make life with a new CLA easier and more accommodating, the upcoming model grows by 48 millimetres (1.9 inches) to 4,688 mm (184.5 in) from nose to tail, and rides on a 30-mm (1.2-in) longer wheelbase that now measures 2,729 mm (107.4 in), while it’s also 53 mm (2.1 in) wider at 1,830 mm (72.0 in), not including the side mirrors, and fractionally (2 mm/0.1 in) lower overall at 1,439 mm (56.6 in). 

According to yet more measurements provided, the result of its mostly increased exterior dimensions is a roomier and therefore more comfortable cabin, with front occupants getting 17 mm (0.6 in) more headroom, rear occupants benefiting from a hair’s-width (+3 mm/0.1 in) of additional head space, and width measurements experiencing the greatest improvement thanks to shoulder room up 9 and 22 mm (0.3 and 0.8 in) respectively front to back, and front to rear elbow room increasing by 35 and 44 mm (1.4 and 1.7 in) apiece. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
An elegantly minimalist HVAC interface is only upstaged by the CLA’s fabulous turbine-look air vents. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Despite the new CLA’s longer wheelbase and greater overall length, front legroom is actually down by a millimetre while rear legroom grows by the same nominal measurement, plus the trunk is also surprisingly smaller, albeit by just 10 litres (0.3 cubic feet) to a nevertheless still commodious 460 litres (16.2 cu ft), but this said the load compartment opening’s width expands by a considerable 262 mm (10.3 in), while the load floor is now 113 mm (4.4 in) wider and 24 mm (0.9 in) deeper. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA is larger in most dimensions, especially from side-to-side. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Under the opposing deck lid, the updated CLA will once again come standard with Mercedes’ 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, currently featuring 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque yet making the same twist and 13 horsepower of additional thrust in the new A-Class, which will more than likely be the go-to powerplant for this future CLA. It will come mated to the premium brand’s in-house developed and produced 7G-DCT twin-clutch automated transmission, while both front- and 4MATIC all-wheel drivetrains will be available. An AMG-powered version is expected after the base CLA 250 debuts, with performance that will likely match or exceed the current model’s 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The sporty seats certainly look comfortable and supportive, making us want to jump inside to test it as soon as possible. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

The new CLA’s increased width makes a difference to the chassis’ track too, widening it by a substantive 63-mm (2.5-in) up front and 55-mm (2.1-in) in back, while it also receives a reduced centre of gravity for what should be especially sporty driving dynamics. Suspension specifications include Mercedes’ Direct-Steer system and front hydromounts, plus a decoupled multi-link rear axle that minimizes noise, vibration and harshness levels, while larger stabilizer bars help reduce body lean when pushed hard. The standard tires should measure 225/45R18, with 225/40R19s being optional. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Is this the Mercedes-Benz that will cause you to step up from mainstream and buy from a luxury brand? If so, you certainly won’t be first to do so. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

As with all new Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, plus most luxury competitors, advanced driver assistance systems play a big part in enhancing ease-of-use and safety, so the CLA will include standard Active Brake Assist automatic braking, and included in the optional Intelligent Drive Package is Active Lane Keep Assist that helps drivers remain centered in their chosen lane while also keeping them from wandering off the road, plus additionally it will include Pre-Safe Plus with rear traffic warning and automatic reverse braking. 

The Intelligent Drive Package, pulled from the ultra-advanced Mercedes S-Class, does more than that, mind you, thanks to its ability to drive the CLA autonomously for short distances. This is a semi-autonomous system requiring “cooperative driver support,” says Mercedes, but in certain situations it can drive itself. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new 2020 CLA should do very well. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

The redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA, which will be built at the Kecskemét assembly plant in Hungary, will arrive this coming fall, at which time it just might reclaim top spot in the subcompact luxury car hierarchy, although Mercedes’ more traditionally sedan-style A-Class will more than likely assume that position. After all, the more upright four-door will start at just $34,990 (see all new A-Class Hatchback and Sedan prices and features on CarCostCanada), about $4k less than the current CLA, so it has a significant advantage in the sales department. Still, with all the big upgrades made to the new CLA it should easily reclaim its loyal following while attracting a fresh set of adventurous newcomers to the Mercedes-Benz brand. 

Until the new model arrives, be sure to check out our comprehensive photo gallery above and these six Mercedes-Benz-supplied videos below: 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): World Premiere | Trailer (1:21):

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) World Premiere at CES in Las Vegas | Re-Live (18:40):

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) World Premiere at CES | Highlights (1:50):

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): The Design (1:06):

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) and Jan Frodeno: In the Wind Tunnel (1:41):

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) (1:03):

The compact luxury sedan market segment is a tough nut to crack. It’s more or less owned by three German makes, including Mercedes-Benz with its C-Class sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible, Audi with…

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design Road Test

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The new 2019 Volvo S60 delivers big on style, especially when upgraded to T6 AWD R-Design trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The compact luxury sedan market segment is a tough nut to crack. It’s more or less owned by three German makes, including Mercedes-Benz with its C-Class sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible, Audi with its A4 sedan and tall wagon, plus its A5 coupe, convertible and four-door coupe, and BMW with its 3 series sedan and wagon, plus its 4 Series coupe, convertible, and four-door coupe, leaving a bevy of smaller players fighting over scraps. 

To be clear, most in this class are suffering from the success of their own compact luxury crossover SUV making, which means that while year over year sales of the BMW X3, for example, were up by 48.6 percent from calendar year 2017 to 2018, deliveries of the iconic 3 Series were off by 19.5 percent, and much lower volume 4 Series sales down by 5.4 percent. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
While its optional Fusion Red Metallic paint looks great, the S60’s new C-shaped LED taillights are easier to make out in a contrast hue. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Not every car in the D-segment lost ground, mind you, with the aforementioned C-Class gaining 6.5 percent, the Infiniti Q50 up 6.8 percent, and the Audi A5’s take-rate growing by an amazing 25 percent after a long-awaited redesign, but some saw significantly more shrinkage than BMW’s 3, such as Lexus’ RC coupe that dropped a staggering 37.9 percentage points, Jaguar’s XE sedan that lost 27.8 percent, Cadillac’s ATS sedan and coupe collectively down 25.4 percent, Acura’s TLX sedan off by 25.2 percent, Infiniti’s Q60 coupe down by 24.2 percent, and the Audi A4 sedan and tall crossover wagon’s popularity curtailed by a considerable 20.3 percent. 

Such steep sales declines make the Volvo 60-series’ loss of 5.1 percent seem easier to stomach, and to be yet farer to the Swedish automaker, those 60-series cars’ incredible 99.7 percent year over year increase from calendar year 2016 to 2017 made the slight downturn inevitable, the former upsurge directly resulting from years of pent-up demand for this all-new S60 sport sedan and its V60 sport wagon counterpart. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The R-Design gets a unique take on the S60’s new hexagonal grille. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The aforementioned tough nut to crack comment has less to do with sales volatility and more about actual sales numbers, however, with both 60-series Volvos only managing 1,245 units collectively through 2018, compared to 11,556 for the bevy of C-Class models, 10,173 for the various Audis, and 9,733 for BMW’s offerings—yes, the 3 Series/4Series was once number one in this segment. 

Everything else is much farther down the pecking order, with Infiniti’s sedan and coupe ringing up 3,424 orders, Lexus non-ES offerings (the IS and RC) tallying up to 3,163 deliveries, Acura’s previously noted TLX finding 2,397 buyers, and even Cadillac’s ATS scooping up 1,615 new owners (before it gets axed), while a fair ways below Volvo’s 60-series total was Genesis’ G70 at 967 units, Jaguar’s XE at 571, and Alfa Romeo’s Giulia at 510 deliveries. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Signature “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps continue to give Volvo’s latest offerings a totally unique look, and this new design looks particularly good. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Now, before you scurry off to your local Merc, Bimmer or Audi store to sign up for one of their arguably worthy offerings, take note that earning a place in the top three doesn’t necessarily mean the car in question is better than something else on this list, or more specifically, doesn’t mean that something less popular won’t suite your personal style and requirements more agreeably. 

Case in point, this all-new 2019 Volvo S60. Volvo was once most notably known for safety above all, followed closely by bulletproof build quality. The good news here is safety is still high on the marque’s priority list, with its most recent offerings receiving Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus ratings from the IIHS, plus its bevy of standard active safety and advanced driver assistance features amongst the most comprehensive in the industry, some including automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, plus a Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation as part of its standard City Safety package, while Volvo also goes over the top by adding an airbag for the driver’s knees, front seat whiplash protection, and pyrotechnical seatbelt pretensioners in all positions front to rear. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Sportier front fascia detailing, including fog lamps that bend around each corner, is exclusive to the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Also noteworthy, if the S60’s sensors detect an imminent head-on collision, the new oncoming braking system will automatically activate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. Volvo says this feature reduces vehicle speed by 10 km/h before that impact occurs, which could potentially be a lifesaver, and should certainly help to minimize injury. 

While tempted to do a deep dive into all of the additional standard features found on this 2019 S60, let alone our sporty R-Design trimmed example, I’d better go over some of its other highlights first. Most of the S60’s design details, like its “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights have been covered in previous Volvo reviews, as have its C- or hook-shaped LED taillights that are similar, at least, to those found on the larger S90. I have to admit to liking the overall shape and design of the S60 best, but this may only be due to its newness, plus the sportiness of this R-Design trim level. In truth, I find both new sedans very attractive, at the very least matching and in many ways surpassing some of their key competitors. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
These 19-inch alloys on Pirelli rubber will add $1,000 to your bill. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I won’t go into detail as to the size difference between these two cars, this S60 clearly fitting into the most popular compact luxury D-segment, and the S90 within the larger luxury mid-size E-segment (going up against the E-Class, 5 Series, A6, et al), but take note this S60 has grown considerably when compared to its 2010–2018 predecessor, now stretching 133 millimetres (5.2 inches) longer from nose to tail at 4,761 mm (187.4 in), with a 96-mm (3.8-in) longer wheelbase measuring 2,872 mm (113.1 in), but strangely it’s 15 mm (0.6 in) narrower at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), while sporting a 53-mm (2.1-in) lower roofline than the outgoing model. 

The longer wheelbase improves rear legroom, which critics charged as a shortcoming on the old S60, and I must say the rear seating area is now much more accommodating with plenty of space to stretch out and get comfortable, plus it provides superbly comfortable outboard positions with excellent lower back support. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Upon closer inspection, it’s easier to see the nice detailing and sharp edges added to the new S60’s taillights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Such is even truer for the driver’s position, which in R-Design trim receives a six-way powered and wonderfully contoured sport seat with four-way powered lumbar support that allows ideal adjustment for the exact lower back pressure point, providing relief on long trips, or for that matter after a long day’s work, while a power-extendable lower cushion nicely cups below the knees for additional comfort and support. Two-way memory sets a favourite position for instant recall, this standard across the entire S60 line, while R-Design exclusive Fine Nappa leather upholstery with contrast stitching covers all seats from front to back, making for a luxurious look and feel. 

As attractive as they look I highly doubt your eyes will rest upon the seats at first entry, however, as the rest of the S60 R-Design’s interior is so spectacular you’ll likely be swept away by the elegant horizontal dash design and beautifully sculpted details everywhere else, let alone its three-spoke R-design leather-wrapped steering wheel, R-Design metal pedals, R-Design carpeted floor mats, R-Design metal sill mouldings, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, impressive vertical infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, four-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, etcetera, while the black headliner is a nice touch too. Still, the S60 R-Design’s special Metal Mesh decor inlays are particularly eye-catching, as is all of the S60’s jewellery-like switchgear, the rotating instrument panel knobs, glittering ignition switch, and equally dazzling drive mode selector appearing as if provided by one of the auto sector’s ultra-luxe brands, such as Bentley. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Slide inside one of the best interiors in the compact luxury D-segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Much of this glitz and glamour was initially introduced in the dramatically redesigned 2015 XC90 that formed the basis for most everything we’ve seen from Volvo since, so while the S60’s take on the Swedish automaker’s brand-wide interior design theme is nothing new to me or others familiar with the all things Volvo, the lavish luxury infused into each new 2019 model will likely produce eye-bulging levels of shock and awe amongst those trading up from their second-generation S60s. 

Expanding further on this line of thought, I previously spent three wonderful weeks in the V60 sport wagon, upgraded to top-line Inscription trim, which while slightly more expensive than the R-Design, in either V60 or S60 guise, is hardly more replete with features. Think of the Inscription as a more elegant take on luxury and the R-Design offering up a sportier edge, while the base Momentum is plenty impressive as well. Volvo should soon be offering the S60 in T8 AWD Polestar trims too, this model boasting the brand’s hybridized plug-in powertrain that ups performance to 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque via the same turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder as offered with T6 powered models. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The cabin detailing is superb, especially when uplifted with the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

That thought segues into currently available powertrains, with both T5 FWD and T6 AWD combinations under the S60’s hood and at its wheels. The T5 FWD is solely available in Momentum trim, featuring the same 2.0-litre four without the supercharger for a healthy 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels, while the T6 AWD is optional with Momentum trim and standard on the R-Design and Inscription, and thanks to the aforementioned supercharger joining the turbo, it makes a much more satisfying 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque while powering all four wheels. 

As is normally the case in this class, both engines come standard with auto engine start/stop that reduces emissions while improving fuel economy by shutting down the engine when it would otherwise be idling, this helping the base T5 FWD to achieve a claimed 9.9 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 8.4 combined rating, whereas the as-tested T6 AWD is good for an estimated 11.1 city, 7.3 highway and 9.4 combined. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The S60 R-Design’s cockpit is as comfortable as it’s impressively finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Possibly more important to you is how the S60 R-Design drives, and to that end it’s even more dynamic than the V60 Inscription I enjoyed over the holiday season. It’s plenty quick off the line, with all four of its optional 235/40R19 Pirellis immediately locking onto asphalt and its formidable little powerplant whipping through its conjoined eight forward gears with effortless ease, both quickly when set to its sportiest Dynamic drive mode, and smoothly no matter which selection is chosen, Comfort and Eco also on the menu, while the R-Design model’s standard paddle shifters thoroughly enhance the hands-on experience. The engine and exhaust makes a nice snarly combination of notes at full throttle as well, but otherwise is as hushed as the car’s ultimately refined interior, the S60 R-Design balancing performance and pleasantries on an equal scale. 

Similar kudos can be attributed to the S60’s underpinnings, the R-Design’s exclusively lowered sport suspension boasting firmer dampers for tauter, flatter handling through fast-paced corners that results in stable, predictable manners even when flung carelessly into tight off-camber curves, while it doesn’t get unsettled when tossed back and forth through serpentine stretches either. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
This stunning 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard with the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It rides on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that Volvo uses for its larger S90 luxury sedan chassis, plus most everything else in the brand’s current lineup, with aluminum double wishbones in front and an exclusive integral link rear suspension design featuring a transverse lightweight composite leaf spring at back. Driver-selectable low, medium and high personal power steering settings combine with the aforementioned driving modes to make the most of any situation, whereas the brakes match handling and acceleration ideally as well, proving strong when called upon and always smoothly progressive, the entire car never forgetting that, while a capable sport sedan, refined luxury, supported by a compliant suspension setup and ultra-comfortable seats, is paramount in the class. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The Volvo Sensus centre touchscreen is all about big, attractive gesture controlled goodness, that’s easy to use and fully functional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To that end the $52,400 S60 R-Design, which normally rides on 18-inch alloys, pulls plenty of as-yet unmentioned features up from the $42,400 base Momentum T5 FWD model, such as Road Sign Information (RSI), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, a Clean Zone Air Quality system and a humidity sensor, rear parking sonar, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, voice activation, dual USB ports, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Volvo On-Call with remote start and vehicle tracking, 170-watt 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, heated front seats with driver’s memory, a 120-volt household-style power outlet in the rear console, power-folding rear seat headrests, and more inside, while standard dual chromed tailpipes are joined by a unique R-Design front grille, plus auto high beams and active bending for the aforementioned LED headlamps, fog lamps with active bending, high-gloss black exterior trim including the side mirror caps, door handle puddle lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access, and the list goes on. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Unique Metal Mesh inlays can be found throughout the cabin, including the scrolling lids atop the centre console. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I loved my tester’s $900 optional Fusion Red Metallic paint, one of five optional colours as well as no-cost standard Black Stone, while all R-Design models get Charcoal black for the interior. If you end up going for Momentum trim you can choose from seven exterior colours and a variety of interior motifs, while Inscription trim provides the choice of eight colours albeit fewer cabin combinations, although the Momentum’s upgradable upholsteries are optional at no cost with the Inscription. 

Those 19-inch alloy wheels mentioned before were a $1,000 upgrade, while additional options included a $1,150 graphical head-up display unit that projected useful information, like navigation directions, onto the windshield for an easy, safe overview, plus the 15-speaker, 1,100-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system was soundsational, and well worth the $3,750 required, even if you choose it for its gorgeous aluminum speaker grilles alone. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
No competitor does jewel-like metal-edged switchgear as well as Volvo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Volvo also added a $1,250 Climate Package that features heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; plus a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s really impressive Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass integrated into the rearview mirror; and finally an $1,800 Vision Package with very helpful 360-degree surround parking camera, easy to use Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, always welcome front parking sonar, even more appreciated auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert that could potentially save you from backing into oncoming traffic. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
These superb Nappa leather-covered sport seats are exclusive to the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In case you were wondering, the $53,900 S60 Inscription includes most everything from the R-Design, other than the sportier features mentioned earlier, while in their place it adds a classy chromed waterfall grille, chromed window trim, unique 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, beautiful matte Driftwood Décor interior inlays, a tailored instrument panel with stitched soft-touch detailing, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and more. 

I sourced all 2019 Volvo S60 pricing from CarCostCanada, incidentally, where you can find detailed prices on each trim level, all packages, and every standalone option for the S60 and every other Volvo, not to mention most other new vehicles sold in Canada, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and money-saving dealer invoice pricing. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Gotta love this massive standard glass sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My only S60 complaint is a missing overhead sunglasses holder, plus not enough space on the centre console to place my average-sized Samsung S9 smartphone within easy visibility while driving, which was probably planned from onset by this safety-conscious automaker so as to reduce distracted driving. The most forward of two large cupholders, otherwise hidden below a lovely scrolling console lid, solved that problem, with the latter big enough to hold my ever-present water bottle securely, no matter how aggressively I took to corners. 

The S60’s 391-litre (13.8 cubic-foot) trunk was also large enough for my needs and about average for the class, and while its 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks included a centre pass-through for skis and other long cargo, I would have preferred a larger opening via a 40/20/40 divided seat configuration instead, but this is still a lot better than no pass-through at all, which is how most Japanese offerings come. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Rear seating is comfortable and plenty accommodating. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In closing, anyone considering a car in the compact luxury D-segment should take a close look at this new 2019 Volvo S60, as it’s a serious contender that delivers at an extremely high level in every way, from styling to performance, leading technology to safety, and overall comfort to accommodating spaciousness. Also important, it’s wonderfully different than anything from Germany or Japan, and for that reason the S60 may very well strike a chord with those who especially appreciate uniqueness and exclusivity, let alone a level of opulence few in this class can measure up to.

The Cayenne has long been respected as one of the sportiest crossover SUVs in the entire automotive industry, both in performance and styling, but that hardly held Porsche back from joining the crossover…

Porsche reveals sporty new 2020 Cayenne Coupe

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
New for 2020, Porsche just revealed the Cayenne Coupe, ready to go up against the BMW X6, Mercedes GLE Coupe, Audi Q8, and even the Lamborghini Urus. (Photo: Porsche)

The Cayenne has long been respected as one of the sportiest crossover SUVs in the entire automotive industry, both in performance and styling, but that hardly held Porsche back from joining the crossover coupe fray, evidenced by the all-new 2020 Cayenne Coupe. 

Prior to the Cayenne’s arrival in 2002, BMW’s X5 firmly held the sportiest SUV mantle, but at least from a design perspective the Bavarian automaker arguably took that title back in 2007 with the introduction of the X6 Sports Activity Coupe, a model that ushered in an entirely new niche market segment. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
A more raked back windscreen, 20-mm lower roofline, and more radically sloped C/D pillars and rear glass make for a dramatically different Cayenne. (Photo: Porsche)

The brave albeit short-lived Acura ZDX quickly followed the X6 in 2009, after which came the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe in 2015, the Lamborghini Urus in 2017, and the Audi Q8 last year. 

Being that the latter two, along with Audi’s Q7, Bentley’s Bentayga, and Volkswagen’s own Touareg, share VW group’s MLBevo platform architecture, this Cayenne Coupe’s arrival was only a matter of time. More importantly, it could very well become the most successful of the three VW group luxury crossover coupes, let alone all others in this uniquely positioned slice of the luxury SUV market due to Porsche’s enormous brand power and seemingly forever rising star. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Despite its sleeker shape, Porsche has design the new Cayenne Coupe to accommodate four passengers in comfort, plus all of their cargo. (Photo: Porsche)

“The Coupé includes all the technical highlights of the current Cayenne, but has an even more dynamic design and new technical details that position it as more progressive, athletic, and emotional,” said Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG.

Whether you think of the new Coupe as a sportier Cayenne with less cargo space, or alternatively as a raised Panamera with a more rugged personality and better off-road prowess, the new model also provides Porsche with the opportunity to grow the size of its traditional Cayenne when the next generation arrives, if it so chooses, just like BMW has made its X5 more family friendly over the years, even adding a third row. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The new 2020 Cayenne Coupe makes a distinctive statement on the road. (Photo: Porsche)

“The significantly more steep roof line that falls away to the rear makes the Cayenne Coupé appear even more dynamic, and positions it as the sportiest-looking model in the segment,” added Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche. 

To be clear, everything below the new Coupe’s 20-millimetre lower roofline, which includes a new front windscreen and shallower A pillars, is pretty much 2020 Cayenne, other than its much more tapered rear side windows, reshaped second-row doors, new rear quarter panels, and a revised back bumper, the latter of which now includes an integrated license plate holder. The result is a slight 19-mm (0.7-inch) increase in overall width, which along with the lower ride height adds to its more aggressive stance. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The new Cayenne Coupe uses active aerodynamics to add rear downforce while simultaneously making the SUV slipperier through the air. (Photo: Porsche)

Additional Cayenne Coupe highlights include an adaptive rear deck lid spoiler, individual rear seats split by an open centre console bin, plus two different roof choices that include a standard 2.16-cubic-metre fixed glass panoramic sunroof with an integrated roller blind, or an optional carbon-fibre panel. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
A more common rooftop spoiler works in tandem with the adaptive rear deck lid spoiler. (Photo: Photo: Porsche)

Like with the regular Cayenne, the Cayenne Coupe will be first to its market segment with an adaptive rear spoiler, the former SUV using a roof-mounted version for its top-line Turbo model. The active aerodynamic aid comes standard with the new Coupe, extending by 135 mm (5.3 inches) when the SUV hits 90 km/h. In addition, a smaller rooftop spoiler joins the active rear deck lid spoiler to optimize airflow. The system, which is dubbed Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA), both increases downforce on the rear axle to improve handling, and improves high-speed aero efficiency for less wind noise and better fuel economy. 

Incidentally, if you want your Cayenne Coupe with a carbon roof you’ll need to opt for one of three lightweight sports packages, which also include various Sport Design features, special 22-inch GT Design wheels, classic hound’s-tooth Pepita checked fabric seat inserts, plus carbon and suede-like Alcantara interior accents. Additionally, the Cayenne Coupe Turbo gets a sport exhaust system. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
An optional carbon fibre roof panel comes as part of three available lightweight sports packages. (Photo: Porsche)

That upgraded exhaust manages waste gases for the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine as the regular Cayenne SUV, which is good for 541 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. With an official zero to 100km/h sprint time of 3.9 seconds the new Cayenne Coupe Turbo’s acceleration will only be bested by the aforementioned 650-horsepower Lamborghini Urus that manages the feat in just 3.6 seconds, leaving the 567-horsepower X6 M and 577-horsepower AMG-Mercedes GLE 63 S Coupe needing 4.2 seconds apiece to achieve the same feat. Of note, the smaller 503-horsepower AMG-Mercedes GLC 63 S Coupe zips from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, while the identically powerful BMW X4 M requires 4.1 seconds to hit the same mark. Incidentally, the Cayenne Coupe Turbo gets a claimed terminal velocity of 286 km/h. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Two powertrain options make for a dual-personality crossover coupe, one with sporty, spirited performance and another that dominates most rivals. (Photo: Porsche)

If you’re wondering where Audi’s new Q8 fits into the realm of slant-back SUVs, with one sole 335 horsepower turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 at its beck and call it’s clearly targeting the entry-level portion of the mid-size luxury sport utility coupe segment, and to that end the new base Cayenne Coupe comes fitted with identical output to the Audi, plus the same as found in the standard Cayenne. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The new Cayenne Coupe’s interior mirror’s the recently redesigned regular Cayenne’s in most respects, especially when it comes to the instrument panel. (Photo: Porsche)

The entry model’s turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 is therefore good for 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which allows for a 6.0-second run from naught to 100km/h in standard guise, or 5.9 seconds with one of its lightweight sports packages—the Sport Chrono Package comes standard across the entire Cayenne Coupe line. Interestingly, Porsche claims 5.9 seconds to 100km/h for the regular base Cayenne when fitted with its Sport Chrono Package, which actually makes it 0.1 seconds quicker than the new Coupe. Likewise, the base Cayenne has a top speed of 245 km/h, whereas the entry-level Coupe’s terminal velocity is a claimed 243-km/h. Splitting hairs? Of course, but that’s par for the course in this high-priced, high-performance game. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Special 8-way sport seats, with available hounds-tooth cloth centres, are unique to the Cayenne Coupe. (Photo: Porsche)

Additional standard equipment on the new Coupe includes speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), and 20-inch alloy wheels, all costing more with the regular Cayenne. 

Pricing in mind, the 2020 Cayenne Coupe will start at $86,400 plus freight and fees, whereas the Cayenne Coupe Turbo will be available from $148,000. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
This large fixed panoramic sunroof comes standard. (Photo: Porsche)

Other notable changes from regular Cayenne to Coupe form include a sportier set of eight-way power-adjustable performance seats with more pronounced side bolsters, while rear passengers will sit 30 mm (1.18 inches) lower to allow for extra headroom. 

As noted earlier, that tapered roofline also negatively impacts the Cayenne Coupe’s cargo capacity, but it’s only off by 145 litres (5.1 cubic feet) compared to the regular Cayenne, the base Coupe good for 625 litres (22.0 cu ft) behind its 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks and the larger model capable of 770 litres (27.2 cu ft). Lowering the second row opens up 1,540 litres (54.4 cu ft) of gear-toting space compared to 1,710 litres (60.4 cu ft) with the regular Cayenne, for a difference of just 170.0 litres (6.0 cu ft), which means the new Coupe is almost as practical as the regular Cayenne. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The rear cushions are positioned 30 mm lower to increase headroom, while a console bin divides passengers. (Photo: Porsche)

Of note, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s cargo capacity drops by 25 litres (0.9 litres) to 600 litres (21.2 cu ft) with the rear seats upright, and by 30 litres (1.0 cu-ft) to 1,510 litres (53.3 cu ft) when folded. Also notable, current Panamera owners tempted by the new Cayenne Coupe will find 125 litres (4.4 cu ft) of additional luggage space when comparing base models, while those with the Panamera Sport Turismo will gain 105 litres (3.7 cu ft) of extra cargo carrying capacity. 

The new 2020 Cayenne Coupe will be arriving in Porsche dealerships later this year, but preordering will make certain you’ll be first in line. 

And while you’re waiting, make sure to check out our comprehensive photo gallery above (we’ve got all the images and pictographs on offer) as well as all of the latest videos below: 

The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – Design Film (1:33):

 

The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – First Driving Footage (0:59):

 

The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – Shaped by Performance (1:44):

 

The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – Highlight Film (1:55):

 

The new Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe – First Driving Footage (1:00):

It’s déjà vu all over again, or at least that’s how I felt when picking up my 2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD tester. I’d spent a week with an identical model less than a year prior; even down…

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD Road Test

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The 2019 Rogue SL Platinum looks just like the 2018 Rogue SL Platinum, but Nissan has made some key features more affordable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s déjà vu all over again, or at least that’s how I felt when picking up my 2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD tester. I’d spent a week with an identical model less than a year prior; even down to its top-line trim level and most popular Pearl White paint. 

Then I got inside, however, and was reminded of a near identical model I test drove the year prior in lovely Scarlet Ember livery, and therefore also remembered that last year’s SL Platinum wasn’t fully loaded, missing this SUV’s $500 SL Platinum Reserve Interior Package that includes a stylish stitched leatherette dash pad and replaces the regular Charcoal black or Almond beige leather upholstery with special quilted leather in an even richer looking Premium Tan hue, which comes across more like caramel or saddle brown. Either way it looks great, and ideally complements the white exterior paint, although the upgrade package is no longer available with the special metallic red exterior paint, or for that matter Nissan’s beautiful Caspian Blue. A shame. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The Rogue’s rear design remains attractive, while SL Platinum trim’s 19-inch alloys enhance the look. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Not to start this review out on a negative, because there’s very little to fault this popular compact crossover SUV on. As noted, the Rogue is Nissan Canada’s most popular model, and one look should make it easy to understand why. It was refreshed for the 2017 model year with Nissan’s wider, more U-shaped Vmotion 2.0 grille that I happen to like a lot more than the original V, while its then-new quad-beam headlamps with LED daytime running lights, and its updated LED brake lights added premium-level sophistication to the design. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
Some of the Rogue SL Platinum’s key elements, including LED headlamps, fog lights and 19-inch alloys, make a big difference to its outward appearance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

That face-lifted 2017 model included additional styling tweaks on the outside plus updates within, a personal favourite being its flat-bottom steering wheel that still makes a sporty statement in the otherwise elegantly appointed top-line 2019 Rogue SL Platinum Reserve model. So equipped, that steering wheel is leather-wrapped with a heatable rim, a much appreciated mid-winter feature, as are the Quick Comfort heated front seats that come standard across the entire Rogue line, albeit the Platinum’s perforated leather upholstery is exclusive to this model. 

There’s actually more to the SL Platinum Reserve Interior’s seat design than quilting and the caramel colour change. The quilting is only used for the centre inserts, with perforated leather added to the inner bolsters and contrast-stitched black leather on top of those bolsters for a little more of a sport look mixed in with the luxury. The seats’ upholstery is complemented by the same Premium Tan on the door armrests, centre armrest, padded knee protectors on each side of the lower centre console, and even the aforementioned dash facing, which incorporates a similarly classy looking stitched leatherette pad ahead of the front passenger. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The $500 SL Platinum Reserve Interior Package includes this classy looking Premium Tan interior motif. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Icing on the proverbial cake comes in the form of Piano Black interior door inlays surrounding the usual chromed door handles, which match up nicely next to the same glossy black treatment rimming the dash vents, centre console, gear lever surround and otherwise leather-wrapped shift knob. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The Rogue SL Platinum’s nicely sorted cockpit includes a heatable leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As you may have guessed, the latest Rogue SL Platinum Reserve doesn’t just look like a premium crossover SUV, but in addition its standard feature set is replete with top-drawer gear that one-ups plenty of luxury brands. For instance, the official name given to this trim level is Rogue SL Platinum with ProPilot Assist, the latter technology standard with all SL Platinum models and really quite impressive. It’s a semi-autonomous “hands-on-wheel” driving system, which means it has the ability to completely drive itself, but due to safety concerns only lets you remove your hands from the steering wheel for about eight seconds at a time—it warns you to put your hands back on the wheel after that. Still, it’ll impress your friends and might be useful to those who find highway driving intimidating, as it helps keep the Rogue centered within its lane and, along with its Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Intelligent Lane Intervention systems, may even help avoid an accident. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
A traditional analogue gauge cluster includes a colour TFT multi-info display at centre. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

These latter two advanced driver assistance systems get pulled up to the SL Platinum from mid-range SV trim, as does Intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control, while high beam assist, rear parking sensors, Moving Object Detection (MOD), backup collision intervention and rear autonomous emergency braking join ProPilot Assist as options with the SV and standard equipment with the top-line SL Platinum model. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The centre touchscreen is filled with plenty of noteworthy features, but the dual-screen Around View parking monitor is the highlight. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with all the usual active and passive safety features, some advanced tech incorporated into upper trims from the base Rogue S include Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with a display showing individual tire pressures and an Easy-Fill Tire Alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), plus two features normally relegated to top-line trims, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), while Rear Door Alert is an oddly named albeit very welcome feature that actually warns against leaving something or someone in the back seat unattended after turning off the engine, by remembering that you opened a rear door before setting off on your drive. Now that’s smart. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The unique saddle/caramel coloured leather upholstery looks rich, and the seats provide good comfort and support. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As cool as some of this tech is, especially watching the Rogue drive itself, applying hands to said wheel while on the highway, and then winding through some twisting backroads after tooling through town is my usual course of action. As always the Rogue didn’t disappoint, but let me insert a caveat here, I’ve never set my performance expectations too high. This is an SUV built primarily for comfort rather than all-out speed, and to that end it delivers in spades, with a nice compliant ride, smooth, progressive acceleration, and an easy, controlled demeanor on the open freeway. It can manage curves too, and provides strong braking when needed, but if you’re looking for performance there are sportier SUVs in this class, yet few are smoother than the Rogue, such refinement its specialty. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
A large powered panoramic sunroof adds an open, airy ambience to an already spacious interior. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Behind that V-motion grille is the Nissan’s dependable 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which continues to make a totally acceptable if not breathtaking 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, while its standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) is one of the reasons behind that just noted smooth factor. It’s also partially responsible for the Rogue’s commendable Transport Canada fuel economy rating that comes in at 9.6 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 8.7 combined with its as-tested all-wheel drivetrain, or 9.1 city, 7.1 highway and 8.2 combined when opting for front-wheel drive. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The rear seating area is very accommodating. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As is mostly the case in this class, all-wheel drive is more about tackling slippery pavement than anything off-road, although traveling to campsites over logging roads or light-duty trails can benefit from AWD, as well as its various electronic all-weather features, such as Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS). This said others in the class are starting to broaden their appeal, with the latest RAV4 Trail featuring some real 4×4-like go-anywhere technologies, and the Subaru Forester long offering its X-Mode for extracting itself from rougher situations. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
Nissan provides handy storage for the retractable cargo cover under the load floor. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to earth, or rather asphalt, the Rogue is ideal for slogging through Canadian winters, hitting the slopes, or alternatively heading out on that summer camping vacation. It can tow a small camp trailer or lightweight boat weighing up to 500 kilos (1,100 lbs), plus it can carry plenty of gear in back, up to 1,112 litres (39.3 cubic feet) in the dedicated cargo area and 1,982 litres (70.0 cubic feet) when its 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded flat. That rear bench is made more passenger and cargo friendly via a centre pass-through that doubles as a centre armrest with cupholders, which allows longer items like skis to be stuffed down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the benefit of the window seats, although take note they might be grumbling on the way back from the ski hill due to a surprising lack of available rear seat heaters. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
A shelf-like removable load floor offers plenty of cargo space versatility. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with all of the features already mentioned, the $37,398 top-line SL Platinum gets a lot of premium-level upgrades that really make a difference when it comes to performance, safety, convenience and luxury, such as AWD, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, an electromechanical parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated leather steering wheel rim and leather-wrapped shift knob, memory for the six-way powered driver’s seat and side mirrors, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, a powered panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a surround parking monitor, great sounding Bose audio with nine speakers including two subs, Radio Data System (RDS) and speed-sensitive volume control, a gesture activated liftgate, and more. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The Rogue provides more larger cargo capacity than average. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t tire you by scrolling through lists of everything that gets pulled up to SL Platinum trim from the other two grades, but some highlights from both include remote engine start, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, auto on/off headlights, fog lamps, LED turn signals within the side mirror caps, roof rails, the aforementioned six-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar, a retractable cargo cover and more with the $29,098 SV, plus variable intermittent wipers, overhead LED map lights and sunglasses storage, a colour multi-information display, a 7.0-inch centre touchscreen, NissanConnect featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM Traffic, hands-free text messaging assistant, Bluetooth, mood lighting, and more with the $26,798 base Rogue S. By the way, all pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, where all the trims, packages and individual features are itemized, plus otherwise hard to find rebate info and dealer invoice pricing is provided. 

For the most part our 2019 Rogue SL Platinum Reserve was well equipped, especially when it came to advanced driver assistance systems, plus it provided more than enough performance, a smooth, quiet ride, great fuel economy, and a fairly luxurious and comfortable cabin, while it was extremely accommodating for driver, passengers and cargo. I like the way it looks, especially as my tester was kitted out, which, along with all of the above, is likely why it’s such a strong seller, and also why it’s easy to recommend.