Nissan has been delivering shocking new designs lately, the completely remade Maxima just the latest to go under the scalpel. New for 2016 it gets shapely new styling, a luxurious interior, loads of standard…

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum Road Test Review

With the plethora of large luxury sedans from mainstream volume brands you'd think they were popular, but the majority merely boost their respective automaker's rep than reap profits. Really though, after reviewing some of the numbers from last year's sales chart I'm starting to wonder if they're even doing much to enhance brand image.

The list of mainstream volume branded full-size luxury sedan winners and losers vary considerably from Canada to the U.S., with our friends to the south enjoying a large car renaissance with the big Chevrolet Impala topping the list with 116,825 sales during 2015, the Dodge Charger coming second with 94,725, Toyota Avalon third with 60,063, Chrysler 300 fourth with 53,109, Ford Taurus fifth with 48,816, Buick LaCrosse sixth with 42,035 and the Nissan Maxima I'm reviewing here placing seventh with 40,359 sales. To its credit the totally redesigned Maxima beat out the Hyundai Genesis at 31,374 deliveries, although that one is priced a bit higher Read Full Story
If you want to buy a compact luxury wagon these days you’ve only got two alternatives, one of which is BMW’s 3 Series Touring. Today on CarCostCanada we review the base BMW 328i xDrive Touring with…

2016 BMW 328i xDrive Touring Road Test Review

BMW's 3 Series Touring is a bit of an anomaly. It's a compact D-segment premium station wagon, a rare breed of four-wheel beast these days. Audi offers something similar in its A4 Allroad, but they've given it a crossover twist so it doesn't really compete directly, whereas Mercedes currently only offers a wagon under its mid-size E Class designation. Word has it a new C-Class Wagon will be heading across the Atlantic soon, although for reasons unknown our U.S. friends won't be partaking. Volvo has long stayed true to its faithful North American wagon devotees by offering more five-door variants than any luxury rival, however, the V60 going up against BMW's otherwise lone entry, unlike the Audi A4 Avant and similarly revered Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, less loved Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon and now nearly classic Lexus IS SportCross models that are all long gone.

Now our North American markets are mostly about crossover SUVs, which are little more than raised wagons that inherently Read Full Story
Could Mazda make it as a premium brand? It once had aspirations of producing a Lexus fighting luxury division, the result of which was the mid-size Millenia sold from 1992–2003, but since its cars and…

2016 Mazda3 GT Road Test Review

If you asked me to name an auto brand that might best be able to transition from the mainstream volume sector to premium status I'd have to put Mazda on top of the list. Certainly Volkswagen would be up there too, but VW already owns Audi, not to mention Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti, amongst others, so moving the brand much further upmarket would hardly make sense. Mazda is already a niche seller in most segments, however, and therefore wouldn't be losing much ground if it decided to shoot for profits instead of overall market share. What's more it wouldn't have to do much to qualify its model lineup for the luxury class.

As a bit of a luxury brand 101 overview, premium auto brands need a highly identifiable image, good performance chops, higher than average refinement, high tech mechanicals and electronics, plus of course luxurious appointments, and Mazda has all of the above covered as well as all-important standalone dealerships renowned for excellent service. The Japanese Read Full Story
The Tiguan is the oldest compact SUV in its class yet it’s still quite competitive with a 200-hp direct-injection turbo 2.0L four, a 6-speed auto, AWD and a well priced Special Edition model that includes…

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI Special Edition Road Test Review

The Volkswagen Tiguan is now four years into a mid-cycle refresh of its first generation with a complete overhaul expected in early 2017, so therefore after nine years on the North American market and yet more time spent in Europe, where I first drove it way back in September of 2007 at its Budapest, Hungary press introduction, yet another Special Edition bids this version of VW's classy little crossover farewell.

Despite its years the Tiguan has held up very well. VW finished its interior to a higher standard than most of its peers back in the day, while its straight-line performance has always put a smile on my face and its ride and handling compromise has long been less of a compromise than most in this class, the little Tiguan delivering segment-leading maneuverability despite a very comfortable, compliant chassis. It was one of the smallest compacts on the Canadian market when introduced and still is, even rubbing shoulders with some subcompact SUVs, which is reason enough Read Full Story
New this year is a sportier version of the Camry’s SE dubbed Special Edition. It features unique blue paint, auto projector headlamps with black bezels, DRLs, a rear spoiler, smoked taillights, special…

2016 Toyota Camry SE Special Edition Road Test Review

Introducing the new 2016 Toyota Camry SE SE. That's right. No, Toyota hasn't created a new department of redundancy department. And to be fair the original "Sport Edition" nomenclature that's been reduced to its abbreviated SE form for so long that most can't remember what it originally stood for is followed by Special Edition this time around. So in effect it's the Camry Sport Edition Special Edition, which is much less redundant.

While the name might be a bit awkward the car certainly isn't. In fact, this might just be the best handling Camry to ever zigzag its way out of the model's Georgetown, Kentucky plant (or Subaru's Lafayette, Indiana facility that also builds North America's best selling car). Its 2.5-litre four-cylinder hangs less weight over the front wheels for quicker turn-in with less oversteer, its stock fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension gets sport-tuned for reduced roll and a firmer, more planted feel, its 18-inch alloys Read Full Story
Ford’s Explorer combines the best of car-like crossovers with real 4WD capability and now for 2016 a new 2.3L Ecoboost 4-cylinder with 280-hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. As-tested Limited trim comes standard…

2016 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3L Ecoboost 4WD Road Test Review

The Ford Explorer is one of those SUVs that causes pause about paying more for a premium brand. We're seeing that more often lately, mainstream volume brands creating much more appealing high-end models than ever before, this one even taking on some similar styling characteristics to the revered Range Rover brand that Ford previously owned through its now defunct Premier Automotive Group. I happen to like the design a lot, its overall appearance combining a sophisticated inner-city look with a go anywhere ruggedness, this of course backed up with off-road prowess.

The grille is more truck-like than some in this class, but still endowed with a certain elegance that befits a luxury ute, while the new headlight design incorporates signature LED elements stretching across the top of each lens, down the outer edge and partway across the lower corner. Below that a new set of C-shaped (and reverse-C) fog lamps pull design cues from the latest F-150, again Ford giving this off-road capable Read Full Story
Once again we revisit the legendary Golf GTI, now better than ever thanks to a 220-hp upgrade for the 2.0L TSI, plus 18-inch rims, Comfort, Normal and Sport driving modes, a locking front diff, autonomous…

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance DSG Road Test Review

The Golf GTI is mostly carryover for 2016, but I don't think anyone will complain. The redesigned 2015 model was multi award-winning after all, delivering the type of go-fast VW experience that fans of the hot hatch have rallied around since it came into existence in the mid seventies. It's all about small, light, quick yet practical performance, and this new GTI represents one of the best interpretations of these core values in years.

The result has been more sales, with Volkswagen's Canadian division delivering 156 more GTI's in 2015 than the year prior, a difference of 6.3 percent, with the end result being 2,625 sales last year compared to 2,469 sold in 2014. The numbers are bigger and better south of the border where VW's U.S. division sold 23,669 GTI's throughout 2015 compared to just 17,362 the year before, representing 36.3-percent growth, and 2014 improved from just 13,310 sales in 2013.

From a styling perspective the new GTI is clean and crisp, yet it shows Read Full Story
The popular MDX gets subtle styling enhancements for 2016 as well as a new 9-speed auto with optional idle start-stop, while other key standard features include a multi-angle backup camera, adaptive cruise,…

2016 Acura MDX SH-AWD Elite Road Test Review

The MDX is a critically important model for Acura. It was the Japanese luxury brand's second best selling Canadian model last year at 5,814 units, a number that made up almost 28 percent of Acura's overall sales north of the 49th, while it's also the brand's real flagship model.

Sure Acura builds a near full-size sedan in the RLX as well as the mid-engine NSX supercar once again, but spotting either of these on the road is uncommon (impossible for the NSX as won't even be out until spring) and therefore they do little for building brand image amongst the non-auto enthusiast crowd, which is responsible for the majority of sales. The once Canadian-made and now Lincoln, Alabama-built MDX, on the other hand, has been Acura's brand-builder since it debuted way back in 2000.

At first glance the MDX appears unchanged for 2016, this third-generation version only arriving on the scene in 2013 as a 2014 model so it's still relatively fresh. It wears Acura's familial trapezoidal Read Full Story