Buick now has a more affordable way to get into a compact luxury SUV, but does the Envision really measure up to its more established rivals? That’s the question we pose in today’s review. On paper…

2017 Buick Envision Premium II Road Test

Most automakers have voids in their lineups that eventually need to be filled in order to take advantage of market developments. Even major luxury brands like Audi and Lexus are missing key models that would dramatically boost sales if available. For instance, Audi could use a smaller, sportier mid-size five-passenger crossover SUV to take on Lexus' segment-leading RX, and Lexus needs a seven-passenger car-based sport ute to fight the Q7.

This issue is even more pronounced amongst entry-level luxury brands like Acura and Buick, with Honda's premium division requiring a subcompact SUV to battle the popular Encore, and GM's near-premium subsidiary having long needed a compact crossover to go up against the RDX. Thanks to the new 2017 Envision this latter problem is now resolved, but is it good enough to unseat the mighty RDX.

Mighty yes, but Acura isn't number one in the segment. That position has long belonged to Audi's Q5, but the RDX has almost always maintained a respectable Read Full Story
If you could choose one sport luxury coupe, Bentley’s Continental GT would be high on many peoples’ list. Of course its considerable price of entry limits its clientele, but that doesn’t mean the…

2017 Bentley Continental GT V8 Road Test

Go ahead. Don't be shy. Nobody's watching. Indulge yourself, even for a moment. After all, it's just a car. But what a car! Feast your eyes upon one of the most beautiful luxury sporty coupes to come along this millennium.

I know. Bentley's Continental GT is nothing new. In my part of the country you're bound to see one drive by daily, yet I never tire of its lines. Its 2011 redesign refined the curvaceous theme, and the 2016 update added fresh new elements, although in both cases Crewe made sure not to mess with the formula that's allowed this car unprecedented success.

Personal time well spent with two-door Bentley hardtops began before the modern-day Continental GT transformed the entire ultra-luxury sector in 2004, yet the thought of getting behind the wheel of yet another reignites the senses. Bentley calls the bronzy grey-brown metallic coating this particular Continental GT V8, Spectre. It's stunning. The closer you get the more dazzling it becomes. There's a three-dimensional Read Full Story
Toyota’s Prius may be the world’s most notable hybrid and Tesla’s Model 3 currently hottest on the news cycle, but with nearly 300,000 units delivered, Nissan’s Leaf is easily the world’s bestselling…

All new 2018 Nissan Leaf balances more EV range with affordable pricing

2018 Nissan Leaf
The stylish new 2018 Leaf will arrive in Canada early next year. (Photo: Nissan)
Toyota’s Prius may be the world’s most notable hybrid and Tesla’s Model 3 currently hottest on the news cycle, but with nearly 300,000 units delivered, Nissan’s Leaf is easily the world’s bestselling electric car. This is especially important considering most global jurisdictions are now eschewing internal combustion engines, especially diesels, and embracing electric vehicles. To be clear, EV adoption remains miniscule at far less than a single percent of global production, and the Leaf hasn’t been able to hold onto the top EV sales position in North American markets, but it can honestly claim first mass production status as part of its legacy, and enjoys a multitude of Leaf loyalists to draw upon when the completely redesigned model launches worldwide next year.
2018 Nissan Leaf
The new Leaf is about the same size as the old one, with similar interior room. (Photo: Nissan)
The 2018 Nissan Leaf says goodbye to the original car’s funky styling and instead adopts a more mainstream approach that should appeal to a larger portion of the market. This tact only makes sense being that EVs appear to be entering a new phase of acceptability, even if their upcoming popularity is being forced upon many consumers through government mandate. China and some other markets aside, we the people vote such governments into power, so depending on ones point of view we can either take credit or accept blame for the new green agenda, and there are certainly worse ways to spend taxpayer money than on electric car rebates, a comprehensive supercharging infrastructure, massive hydroelectric dams, fields of solar panels, new wind and tidal farms, etcetera to create the required power.
2018 Nissan Leaf
The new Leaf offers a dramatically styled rear end design. (Photo: Nissan)
Most should like the 2018 Leaf’s sporty hatchback lines, with highlights being a frontal design incorporating Nissan’s now trademark V-motion grille, a floating rear D-pillar inspired by the brand’s Maxima flagship and Murano mid-size SUV (which bears a resemblance to a similar design used for BMW’s i3), and unique taillights that look like they could’ve been pulled from a slightly softened next-generation Juke (which will never be). Where the outgoing Leaf was upright, roundish and somewhat unusual in shape, the new model appears long, low, lean and much more in keeping with Nissan’s overall brand identity. The new car’s profile is not only aesthetically appealing, but no doubt its 0.28-coefficient of drag gave Nissan’s aerodynamicists reason to smile too.
2018 Nissan Leaf
The Leaf continues to provide a refuelling door up front where it’s easily accessible. (Photo: Nissan)
The original Leaf made news for its 160-kilometre range when introduced in 2010, and while the outgoing 2017 model is now capable of 172 kilometres from a single charge, even that improved number has been overshadowed by newer entries like Chevy’s Bolt that can achieve 383 kilometres between charges, and the Tesla Model 3, which, depending on trim, will reportedly allow for 350 to 540 kilometres of ultimate range when it arrives here sometime next year. What about the new 2018 Leaf? The U.S. EPA is estimating the equivalent of 241 kilometers of range, which isn’t as headline grabbing as the original for its time or its most formidable peers now, but with an MSRP of $35,998 plus freight and fees the Leaf makes up for that with much lower pricing than both the $43,195 Bolt and $45k-plus Tesla 3.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Nissan promises greater interior refinement thanks to higher-grade materials. (Photo: Nissan)
The Leaf also provides more useable passenger and cargo space than either, the former remaining “essentially unchanged” and therefore comfortable for “five people”, stated Nissan in a press release, and the latter measuring 668 litres (23.6 cubic feet). The Leaf’s toughest competitor may be Volkswagen’s new $35,995 e-Golf, although its 201-kilometre range is less appealing unless compared to BMW’s $50,965 i3 that can only manage 183 kilometres per charge, or for that matter Ford’s $31,498 Focus Electric with just 172 kilometres of total range at its disposal, or Kia’s $35,395 Soul EV that can only muster 150 kilometres. At least the blue oval badged hatchback delivers good pragmatic value and the red and white oval crossover (or in the case black) offers fun-loving styling and even more practicality, but sales of the blue and white roundel badged i Series cars have driven off the proverbial cliff in recent years. Speaking of living life on the edge, there’s always the $27,998 Mitsubishi i-MiEV with a range of 160 kilometres.
2018 Nissan Leaf
A standard 7.0-inch colour TFT display replaces traditional analogue gauges. (Photo: Nissan)
At least we need to give Mitsubishi credit for having the courage to publish its i-MiEV sales numbers, these resulting in 61 down Canadian roads as of August 31, 2017 and 86 last year, whereas Ford, Kia and Volkswagen hide their EV deliveries behind total Focus, Soul and Golf nameplate volume respectively. I’m sure if their electrics were outselling the Bolt or Leaf we’d hear about it, so for now we will report the Bolt as first amongst pure electrics with 1,065 deliveries during the same eight months of 2017, and the Leaf a very close second with 909. Contemplate for a moment, the Bolt is a brand new car introduced for the 2017 model year, and in comparison today’s Leaf has only been mildly updated over its seven-year lifecycle. It’s easy to guess which car may soon assume the lead.
2018 Nissan Leaf
A 7.0-inch touchscreen display fills the centre stack of all trims. (Photo: Nissan)
In the 2018 Leaf’s corner is a new 40-kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, which is a gain of 10 kWh over the outgoing version, but thanks to 67-percent greater density it occupies the same physical space within a vehicle that’s about the same size as the outgoing model. Also notable, despite benefiting from 25 percent more capacity the battery only takes 10 minutes longer to replenish from “alert” mode to 80-percent when hooked up to a quick charger, the total process now requiring 40 minutes. Those charging from home or another conventional 120-volt socket will need 16 hours to replenish from totally empty to completely full, whereas a 240-volt Level2 charger requires eight hours. Of note, Nissan Canada will provide a Level 1/Level 2 (120v/240v) charging cable as standard equipment.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is part of the package when upgraded with navigation. (Photo: Nissan)
Motive power comes from a new 110-kW AC synchronous motor making 147 horsepower from 3,283 to 9,795 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque from zero to 3,283 rpm. That’s a gain of 107 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque over the old motor, by the way, so the new Leaf, which at 1,557 to 1,591 kilograms (3,433 to 3,508 lbs) depending on trim is actually lighter than the 1,624-kg (3,580-lb) Bolt and 1,610- to 1,723-kg (3,550- to 3,800-lb) Model 3, should scoot along quickly. As good as all this sounds, Nissan has already announced a more potent 60-kWh Leaf for next year, but hasn’t estimated its range and also isn’t saying whether it will be an option, a la Tesla, or the new standard power unit.
2018 Nissan Leaf
The toggle switch at centre is for engaging the new e-Pedal. (Photo: Nissan)
Right from day one the new Leaf will include a standard “e-Pedal” that provides both traditional acceleration and automatic braking. In other words, you’ll be able to ease into the pedal (or put your foot to the floor) to get going and then simply let go to slow down and eventually come to a stop, the system said to be good for 90-percent of driving requirements, with the traditional brakes only needed for the other 10 percent. That won’t only reduce driver effort, but it should minimize brake wear as well. If you’d rather apply more personal control you can defeat the e-Pedal by pressing a button.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Top-tier SL trim will provide a luxurious interior. (Photo: Nissan)
Nissan’s ProPilot Assist single-lane driving assistance technology will make its North American debut in the new Leaf too, the system offering a higher level of semi-autonomous driving than previously available. Along with dynamic cruise control at speeds ranging from 29 and 100 km/h, ProPilot Assist will automatically steer and even centre the car within its lane, while it will also automatically brake all the way down to a full stop when prompted by forward traffic. Additionally, it holds the car in place without requiring the driver to press the brake pedal when stopped, and then restarts with the flow of traffic, as long as first prompted by the driver via a switch or lightly pressing the throttle. Nissan has purposely incorporated such driver involvement for safety’s sake, but the technology for full autonomous driving is embedded within.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Blue is the Leaf’s recurring interior theme, this SL model featuring solid and perforated leather upholstery with rich microsuede detailing. (Photo: Nissan)
Additional advanced safety systems available with the new Leaf will include Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and an Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection. Like most other Nissan products, the 2018 Leaf will be available in three trim levels including S, SV and SL, all of which are said to feature higher-grade cabins with better materials quality than the outgoing model. In the same aforementioned press release the brand promised its “signature vibrant blue stitching” for the seats, door trim, armrests and steering wheel, the latter wrapped in “genuine leather”, plus more blue used for the illuminated ignition button and shift knob finisher, while matte chrome along with matte and glossy black surfacing treatments will be added elsewhere.
2018 Nissan Leaf
The new Leaf will continue to provide spacious seating for five and a lot of cargo capacity. (Photo: Nissan)
Instead of tradition analogue gauges the 2018 Leaf will get a 7.0-inch colour TFT primary cluster overtop the steering wheel, while Nissan will replace the outgoing model’s 5.0-inch infotainment display and dated graphics with a bright, colourful, contrast-rich centre dash-mounted 7.0-inch touchscreen across the line. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity will be on the menu, albeit only when the system is upgraded to also include navigation.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Available in three trim levels, there will be a 2018 Leaf for most peoples’ budgets. (Photo: Nissan)
Nissan has not announced the availability of the unique Leaf-to-Home power system available in other markets, however, which reportedly lets you use the car’s stored energy to power your home, cabin, trailer, or most anything else. Leaf-to-Home would be an ideal backup battery for an emergency outage, but nonetheless it likely isn’t part of the Leaf’s Canadian specification. The new 2018 Nissan Leaf went on sale in Japan on October 2, and is forecast to arrive in Europe and North American markets in early 2018. It will be sold into more than 60 global markets when fully available, which should bode well for maintaining its leading EV sales status for the foreseeable future.
This is no ordinary subcompact SUV. In fact, we’re feeling ultra bullish about the aggressively priced, value-packed Nissan Qashqai. Will it soon be a bestseller? Check out our review and decide for…

2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum Road Test

Let me stick my neck out and make a prediction. Nissan's new Qashqai will consistently be the best-selling subcompact SUV per month before this year comes to an end, and when next year wraps up it'll be number one in the class. I know that's a bold forecast and my credibility is at risk, but at nearly 20 years in this business I'm getting better at choosing winners.

Here's why I think so. First, Nissan's SUV lineup is on a roll. From the Armada, Murano and Pathfinder all the way down to the Rogue, sales are strong and in most cases gaining on competitors. Next and most importantly, the Qashqai targets the core crossover SUV market where most people shop. What do I mean? It looks good, not weird. It's sized perfectly, not too big and not too small. And it's priced right.

At just $19,998 the new Qashqai is one of Canada's lowest priced SUVs. Just four competitors start below $20k, although the $19,998 Mitsubishi RVR, $19,995 Chevrolet Trax, and $19,995 Mazda CX-3 are getting Read Full Story
Is Kia’s Forte5 SX the hot hatch for you? With 201-hp and a 7-speed dual-clutch auto with paddles it has plenty of scoot, while it’s also stocked full of luxury equipment like LED-infused HID headlamps,…

2017 Kia Forte5 SX Road Test

Kia has thoroughly refreshed its second-generation Forte5 for 2017, and it even looks better than the already stylish outgoing version. I've long found the Forte an attractive compact, whether in five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, or two-door coupe guise. The coupe, or rather Koup, was discontinued at the end of 2016 in the U.S. and continues unchanged here in Canada, so you'll need to step up to this Forte5 or the Forte sedan in order to enjoy all the improvements.

The 2017 Forte5 featured here is in top-tier SX trim, which is exactly how I'd option this car out if my name were on the ownership papers. Last year I would've been stumped about whether to stick with its standard six-speed manual or upgrade to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox with paddles, but now if you want the top-line engine with the manual you'll either need to buy one from the U.S. or walk across the street to your local Hyundai dealer and ask for the Forte SX' brother from another mother, otherwise Read Full Story
The Colorado Z71 has become a perennial favourite with our team, thanks to its standard auto-locking rear diff, hill descent control, twin-tube shock infused off-road suspension, transfer case shield,…

2017 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Crew Cab 4WD Road Test

I'm officially on the bandwagon. OK, more specifically I'm standing on the cargo bed of General Motors' superb new Chevy Colorado because its segment-exclusive CornerStep bumper makes it so easy to climb up to. Seriously though, this mid-size truck and its GMC Canyon counterpart are now best in class by a large margin.

They've got styling, performance, efficiency, interior design and execution, infotainment excellence, and yes those brilliant rear bumper steps going for them. And I haven't even mentioned the all-new 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel yet.

Behind my 2017 Chevy Colorado Z71 Crew Cab 4WD tester's smiling grille is GM's 3.6-litre DOHC, direct-injection V6 with a variable intake manifold and variable valve timing making 308 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 275 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, which is three horsepower and six lb-ft of torque more than last year. Suffice to say it moves along quickly enough, but it's also quite efficient due in part to cylinder deactivation Read Full Story
Lexus refreshed its smallest sport sedan for 2017, so we reviewed the top-line IS 350 AWD F Sport to see how it stacks up. Let’s not forget its competition is fierce, but that doesn’t mean we should…

2017 Lexus IS 350 AWD F Sport Road Test

Sometimes, in a moment of mind wandering reverie brought about by writing yet another car review, I realize I've been doing this auto journo gig for a long time. In fact, I drove the original IS 300 soon after its 1998 launch, and was on the press launch for the second-generation 2006 model in Toronto, where we put it through its paces on a makeshift autocross course at the old Downsview Airport, owned by the Liberal party's unofficial crown corporation Bombardier, incidentally. That was a breakthrough car for Lexus, but other than the sensational 416 horsepower IS F I tested in the spring of 2008, that second-gen car doesn't come close to measuring up to this third-generation model.

This latest IS was introduced in 2013 as a 2014 model, and thanks to dramatic styling and dynamic performance has garnered more fans than ever before. This year marks the current third-gen's mid-cycle update, which includes subtly reworked styling from front to rear. Following a pattern already set Read Full Story
Toyota might be falling behind in the Canadian PHEV and EV arena, with its lone Prius Prime plug-in hybrid only available in Quebec and not a hint of anything fully electric on the foreseeable horizon…

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

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