The RAV4 is number one! At the close of 2016, Toyota’s fourth-generation RAV4 became the bestselling compact SUV in Canada, and by a significant margin. What’s more, its 49,103 total sales surpassed…

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
Last year’s redesign gave the RAV4 a totally modern new look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

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

Helping boost sales was a significant mid-cycle update for the 2016 model year, which dramatically changed frontal styling and added a new hybrid version. This said the 2017 model is mostly unchanged, albeit for some new standard features and a totally new top-line trim level.

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
There’s less visual drama from the rear view, but new Platinum trim paints out the bumpers and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As part of the Japanese brand’s plan to outfit every new model with the latest active safety features, all new 2017 RAV4s come with the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) P package. The “P” references “person”, which means its autonomous braking tech will stop for pedestrians as well as other vehicles, while TSS-C (“C” being for “cars”) is the simpler of the two systems.

TSS-C, which comes standard with the Yaris Hatchback, Prius C, and the Corolla iM five-door hatchback (previously Scion iM), includes auto high beams for dimming your headlights when surrounding vehicles come into your line of sight, a Pre-Collision System that immediately slows/stops your car if it detects an imminent crash, and Lane Departure Alert that notifies you if a car is just behind you in the adjacent lane.

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
The new Platinum package builds on already luxurious Limited trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

TSS-P, which gets fitted to the Corolla sedan, the Prius, this RAV4, the RAV4 Hybrid, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, and Avalon, incorporates all of the above while adding Pedestrian detection for the Pre-Collision System, active steering assist that will turn your front wheels back towards your current lane if it detects a car in the adjacent lane when you attempt to change lanes, and dynamic cruise control that maintains a safe distance behind a given vehicle even if that vehicle slows.

The inclusion of TSS-P results in a best possible IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating, the RAV4 being the only SUV in its compact class to achieve such a high standard safety rating.

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
The seats get covered in Toyota’s exclusive breathable SofTex synthetic leatherette. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While these features improve safety, it’s also important to note that making them standard across its entire lineup as old models get replaced with new ones will make Toyota one of the best-prepared brands for full autonomous driving capability, something many industry players are betting is in the cards for the not-too-distant future.

The other big news item for the 2017 RAV4 is on the other side of the pricing spectrum, a new top-tier Platinum package added on top of Limited trim. Features include fully painted bumpers, wheel arches and rocker panels, plus proximity keyless access for all four doors as well as the liftgate, with hands-free access to the latter, ambient footwell lighting, more upscale interior detailing, Platinum-embossed metal scuff plates, and special Platinum-branded floor mats.

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
Does it look generously proportioned? Find out in an upcoming review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

To be clear, the Platinum model isn’t a separate trim, but rather a $1,460 package that can be added to $38,205 Limited trim, the latter already filled with a bevy of high-grade features such as unique 18-inch alloy wheels, a less comprehensive smart key system, pushbutton ignition, driver’s seat and mirror memory, a 360-degree surround parking camera, an 11-speaker JBL Synthesis Audio System, a powered glass sunroof, a cargo net, plus front and rear parking sensors.

The RAV4 is available in four trims, including the $27,445 LE (with standard FWD and $2,265 optional AWD), $30,800 XLE (also with optional AWD), $36,270 SE (the sportiest version with standard AWD), and Limited (with standard AWD), all of which are motivated by a 176 horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode.

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
The Platinum gets a useful cargo net along with the standard retractable tonneau. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Other notable Limited features that get pulled up from lesser SE trim include LED headlights, LED DLRs, LED taillights, a heatable steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a Homelink universal garage door opener, a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, navigation, SMS- and email-to-speech capability, advanced voice recognition, soft-touch instrument panel surfacing with stitching, pleather door trim, SofTex leatherette upholstery, and a sliding front centre console.

2017 Toyota RAV4 Limited Platinum AWD
It looks roomy, doesn’t it? Check out our upcoming review for all the details. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

XLE features that get added to Limited Platinum trim include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone auto climate control, front sport seats, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, while items pulled up from the base LE include auto on/off headlamps, power-adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, variable intermittent wipers, a windshield wiper de-icer, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, sunglasses storage in the overhead console, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, SIRI Eyes Free, heatable front seats, a retractable and removable cargo cover, plus all the usual active and passive safety features including an airbag for the driver’s knees.

I’ve said too much already, so come back for all my experiential thoughts in an upcoming review where you’ll find out how well everything is put together, what the infotainment system is like to use, how all the premium-level features work, what it’s like to drive, and generally how is it to live with…

The Civic has been the best-selling passenger car in Canada for as long as most can remember, although Honda Canada clarified the car’s record tenure on top at 19 consecutive years in a press release…

Honda Canada sells two-millionth Civic

The Civic has been the best-selling passenger car in Canada for as long as most can remember, although Honda Canada clarified the car's record tenure on top at 19 consecutive years in a press release yesterday. The reason for the press release almost equals that feat, the sale of its two-millionth Civic in Canada since the nameplate arrived on the flower power scene in 1973. That was the same year that Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced they would restrict the flow of crude oil to countries supporting Israel on October 17th, causing the price of oil to increase by 200-percent and the concurrent success of fuel-efficient economy cars like the Civic. Talk about having the right product for the times. Of course, the fact that a compact model remains number one in the Canadian passenger car industry shows the more things change the more they stay the same. On that note, 1973 was also known for massive inflation (back when our governments Read Full Story
A plug-in hybrid minivan? That gets a claimed 2.6 Le/100km? That makes 287-hp? And as luxurious as most premium buyers could hope for with standard and optional features like proximity access, pushbutton…

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Platinum Road Test

In the mainstream volume auto sector only Daimler's Smart brand has fewer models than FCA's Chrysler. Chrysler has three. And next year it'll be down to two. Just how FCA allowed this to happen is anyone's guess outside of Auburn Hills, but at least the two models that will carry the Pentastar flag into 2018 are very good at what they do.

Case in point, the 300 is the perennial Canadian bestseller in both the mainstream full-size luxury sedan class and the mid-size premium E-segment (it arguably fits into either depending how you load it up). It obviously targets its audience very well. The Pacifica minivan hasn't been so fortunate thus far, and due to the slow take-rate of electrified vehicles this new plug-in variety even less so, but to Chrysler's credit the conventionally-powered model's sales have been growing since a new entry-level trim was introduced, and base pricing concurrently came down.

Pricing is especially critical in the minivan segment that almost always Read Full Story
Want a cheap car? Mitsubishi’s Mirage just might fit the bill. Want a nicer cheap car? Ante up for the Mirage G4 SEL. We tested this fully loaded sedan and came away surprised at its standard features…

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 SEL Sedan Road Test

Remember when Mitsubishi had a full lineup of exciting sports models? When first arriving on the Canadian market in late 2002 for the 2003 model year I attended their all-model launch in Montebello, Quebec and was impressed by much of what they had on offer. In fact, I reviewed every single car and SUV available that year, which included compact, mid-size and full-size sedans, compact, mid-size and full-size SUVs, plus a sports coupe and convertible.

Mitsubishi continued adding models to most every mainstream market niche possible in the years that followed, and I attended nearly every launch program they put on, including the fabulous 2005 Lancer Evolution VIII MR rally-bred sport sedan that wasn't offered in Canada, the '06 Lancer Evolution IX (also not offered here), the ill-fated Dodge Dakota-based '06 Raider pickup truck (at which point I was asked if they should bring it to Canada, and I recommended not as I didn't think they'd sell enough), the much-improved '06 Eclipse Read Full Story
The Fusion has long been a fashionable car and it’s even more appealing after its most recent 2017 mid-cycle refresh, while this top-line Energi Platinum receives even more style along with zero-emissions…

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum Road Test

We certainly have a lot of engine alternatives these days. While oil burners are becoming less prevalent amongst cars due to Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal, various types of hybrid and full electrics are available from most manufacturers.

"Energi" is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, a technology that straddles the middle ground between an HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and EV (Electric Vehicle) by providing pure electric capability for short commutes as well as the ability to continue driving without recharging at all, a best of both worlds scenario that seems to have found common ground amongst environmentally conscious buyers.

The Fusion Energi was one of the earlier plug-in adopters, arriving on the scene in February of 2013. It was by no means first in North America, Chevy's Volt starting things off on a mass scale in 2010, which beat Fisker's Karma and a small run of Ram 1500 PHEVs to market by a year or so. Toyota's Prius Plug-in Hybrid arrived in early 2012, Read Full Story
Stories about unprecedented pickup truck sales growth aren’t fully founded in reality, as shown by 2016 Canadian sales stats. Only Ford’s F-150 saw a big improvement last year, with 145,409 units…

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
The 2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X gets less chrome than its siblings for a sportier look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Stories about unprecedented pickup truck sales growth aren’t fully founded in reality, as shown by 2016 Canadian sales stats. Only Ford’s F-150 saw a big improvement last year, with 145,409 units out the door compared to just 118,837 in calendar year 2015, but it suffered from production issues that year. Toyota’s Tundra grew its numbers too, from 10,829 deliveries in 2015 to 11,364 in 2016, but compared to the blue oval, Toyota is clearly in the minor leagues when it comes to full-size pickups. Last year’s losers include the Ram pickup that had its best year ever with 91,195 units in 2015 but fell to 89,666 sales in 2016 (nevertheless that’s its second-best-ever tally), whereas GMC Sierra deliveries dipped from 53,727 units in 2015 to 51,091 last year, Chevy’s Silverado sales dropped from 46,407 in 2015 to 44,932 in 2016, and believe it or not Nissan’s new Titan, which had 3,226 buyers in 2015 found only 2,715 last year, despite an entirely new model.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
Its rugged exterior can be had in a much brighter array of available colours if you want it to really stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
This dramatic downward drop wasn’t necessarily due to any reduction in interest, but more so a changeover to the new model (which required phasing out the old one) and the lack of a gasoline-powered version (only the new heavy-half “Extra Duty” Cummins diesel was available for 2016). Incidentally, the full-size pickup truck sales scenario played out similarly in the U.S. last year, with all models south of the 49th moving up and down the sales chart just like here in Canada, except for the Ram pickup and Titan that gained in numbers and the Tundra that lost out.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
LED lighting elements, body-colour and black trim, and these 18-inch machine-finished alloys add to the PRO-4X look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The Titan’s lack of gasoline power has been remedied for model year 2017, and the first four months of the New Year has improved for Japan’s alternative full-size truck brand here in Canada with 1,566 deliveries so far. If extrapolated throughout the year this number would grow to almost 4,700, resulting in the Titan’s best year ever (it’s previous high was 3,499 units in 2012), but we’d better not count these chickens before they’re hatched, as we know how that can turn out in the auto industry. Still, there are a lot of reasons to be bullish about the new 2017 Titan, especially in standard trim. Those who like the look of the rugged new Titan XD will be happy Nissan kept its façade mostly unchanged with the standard truck, including its bold three-part rectangular grille, massive headlamp clusters, muscularly flared fenders, sporty side engine vents, and acres of chrome (depending on trim).
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
This is a sign of its new base V8 engine, now good for 390 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Actually, the $57,600 Crew Cab PRO-4X in our garage is the sportiest Titan variant, meaning much of its chrome has been swapped out for body-colour, matte black and satin aluminum, resulting in a look that’s much more sophisticated and (to these eyes) much more appealing. Along with the subdued glitter it gets a fabulous looking set of 18-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets and (partial) spokes, these wrapped in 275/65 Toyo Open Country winters on my tester (although the standard 275/70 all-terrains would no doubt prove more capable off the beaten path). Adding to the PRO-4X model’s trail trekking prowess are Bilstein off-road shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, hill descent control, transfer case and lower radiator skid plates, etcetera, while the interior gets metallic-tone interior accents, carpeted floor mats with PRO-4X logos, front bucket seats with special PRO-4X embroidery and a centre console in place of the standard bench, plus more.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
This upscale cabin comes as part of both PRO-4X and Luxury package upgrades. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The standard Titan loses no size to the XD, with both near identical in length, width and height, depending on trim. The Regular Cab body style gets an eight-foot bed, whereas Crew Cab models utilize a five-and-a-half-foot bed. Nissan promises an extended cab model at a later date, but for now only the two cab and bed configurations are available. I won’t go into detail about our tester’s cabin other than to say the $6,400 Luxury package makes for an impressive off-roader thanks to leather upholstery with white contrast stitching, front seat ventilation, a heatable steering wheel, heatable rear seats, a 360-degree Around View monitor, and remote start. Our Crew Cab tester was outfitted with Nissan’s Utili-track Channel System with four load-securing tie-down cleats, standard with the PRO-4X, while integrated in-bed lockable boxes are also available. Even more important (depending on your height) is a new retractable Rear Bumper Step Assist system that aids access to the bed for only $399 (although standard with the PRO-4X), while available $1,029 step rails or $1,159 running boards would’ve been helpful too.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
A 360-degree camera helps with a truck this large. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Standard PRO-4X exterior features not already mentioned include auto on/off headlights with signature LEDs, “Follow Me Home” functionality and integrated LED DRLs, plus fog lamps, LED under-rail bed and tailgate area lighting, heatable power-adjustable manually-extendable tow mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a power-sliding rear window with a defroster, a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, a 110-volt power outlet in the bed, an electronic locking tailgate, rear utility bed steps, a Class IV tow hitch receiver with a four-pin/seven-pin wiring harness, trailer brake controller and trailer light check, and more.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
That’s leather with white contrast stitching, part of the PRO-4X Luxury package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition gets you inside, where you’ll be met by everything already noted as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect infotainment with a 7.0-inch touchscreen featuring a rearview camera, navigation, mobile apps, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Siri Eyes Free, Rockford Fosgate audio with 12 speakers and a sub, a centre console-mounted household-style 110-volt AC outlet, an eight-way powered driver’s seat with powered lumbar, heatable front seats, a lockable rear-seat cargo organizer, and much more. The lighter weight regular Titan is an able ranch hand yet not quite the beast of burden of the XD, its maximum payload just 730 kilos (1,610 lbs) compared to the XD’s best 907-kilogram (2,000-lb) rating, and its top tow rating is 4,259 kg (9,390 lbs) instead of 5,443 kg (12,000 lbs). This comes down to a lighter duty chassis with unique spring rates, hubs, brakes, and more.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
A roomy interior? We’ll tell all in an upcoming review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The only engine on offer in the regular Titan is Nissan’s Endurance 5.6-litre V8 capable of a generous 390 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, which adds up to 73 more horsepower and 16 lb-ft of extra torque over the outgoing V8. This new engine is also found in Nissan’s 2017 Armada SUV (and its Infiniti QX80 counterpart), while all variations on the theme are partnered to the same seven-speed automatic transmission. For comparison purposes, the Endurance 5.6-litre V8 matches up well against the Ram 1500’s 5.7-litre Hemi V8 and Toyota’s 5.7-litre Tundra V8, while it’s stronger than Ford’s 5.0-litre V8 and GM’s 5.3-litre V8.
2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
That’s a helpful retractable step under the Titan bumper. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Four-wheel drive is standard on all but the base Titan Regular Cab S model, which incidentally starts at just $35,498. That price will likely go down when a V6 model is introduced, but so far we only have a promise from Nissan, with no release date. As for fuel economy, the Titan Crew Cab achieves a claimed 15.2 L/100km in the city and 11.1 on the highway, whereas my PRO-4X tester is less frugal at the pump with a rating of 16.0 L/100km city and 12.0 highway. I’ll include much more info as well as my driving impressions in an upcoming road test review, so stay tuned for more…  
The new 2017 Honda Civic Si goes on sale throughout Canada today, in both two-door Coupe and four-door Sedan body styles. To sport compact fans, the Honda Civic Si is the stuff of legend. In North America…

All-new Honda Civic Si Coupe and Sedan on sale today

The new 2017 Honda Civic Si goes on sale throughout Canada today, in both two-door Coupe and four-door Sedan body styles. To sport compact fans, the Honda Civic Si is the stuff of legend. In North America the "Si" name dates all the way back to 1985 when first introduced as a range-topping CRX, that model now a very collectable two-seat Civic-based coupe. The Si most enthusiasts grew to love came along in 1986 as a special sport-tuned variant of the third-generation Civic Hatchback. Both models incorporated a 91 horsepower, 12-valve, SOHC, 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, which was a potent package for the era. The Civic Si has been available for most model years ever since, growing in power and handling prowess while developing a devoted cult-like following amongst sport-compact fans. The most recent ninth-generation 2012–2015 Civic Si was available in Coupe and Sedan forms and boasted 205 horsepower and 174 Read Full Story
The ultimate sleeper? Acura’s RLX Sport Hybrid might just fill the bill if you’re looking for a conservatively styled luxury sedan that flies under the radar like an executive jet. It’s light on…

2017 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Elite Road Test

You can be forgiven for not knowing much about Acura's flagship RLX luxury sedan. It's been around for a while, but its numbers haven't reached the critical mass necessary to put it on most luxury buyers' radar. Either that, or they've seen it and opted to shop elsewhere. Likely it's a bit of both, but I've personally met a number of RLX owners who chose it over everything else on the market. Before delving into why, here's a little background info about this little known Acura.

The car grew out of fertile Acura Legend roots, which was a four-door sedan created off the back of the Honda Accord for Acura's initial offering in 1986. It sold very well, reaching a peak of 70,770 units in the U.S. in 1988 (sorry I don't have Canadian sales info going that far back, but as a rule it's generally about 10 percent), and helped the brand earn early respect in the luxury sector.

The Legend was replaced by the larger and more upscale RL in 1995, but in an attempt to appeal to more Read Full Story