Every time I book a Buick Encore for testing I don’t give it much thought. It’s a subcompact SUV that needs to be covered because of its reasonably good sales, but it’s not the type of vehicle…

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
The Encore gets a refresh for 2017, and we like it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Every time I book a Buick Encore for testing I don’t give it much thought. It’s a subcompact SUV that needs to be covered because of its reasonably good sales, but it’s not the type of vehicle that elicits a lot of passion. And then once inside I’m reminded of how nice it is, and on the way home how easy it is to drive.

I must say it’s even better for 2017, in every respect. GM just gave it a thorough mid-cycle update that I’ll be reviewing in detail soon, but for now let’s just say it’s frontal styling has seen significant improvement (the grille is modernized, headlights filled with LEDs and silly hood-mounted “ventiports” are gone), its interior gets a number of styling and technical enhancements (keep reading for the latter), and it still drives very well.

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
Rear styling isn’t as dramatically updated, but it still looks sportier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester was in base Sport Touring trim so it featured the slightly less potent 138 horsepower version of the 1.4-litre turbo four, and it was only configured to drive the front wheels as tested (AWD is optional). I’ll go over its driving dynamics more thoroughly in my review, not to mention its comfort level, roominess, and more.

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
A new interior design includes a colour TFT multi-info display and a large 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of note, all 2017 Encores receive standard proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, a feature that’s optional with most competitors, while great sounding Bose audio is also standard, as is electronic noise cancellation that helps keep Buick’s renowned “Quiet Tuning” as hushed as ever. Another feature worth noting is integrated Wi-Fi via 4G LTE internet connectivity, capable of turning this little subcompact SUV into a rolling hotspot.

2017 Buick Encore Sport Touring FWD
Our tester features sporty cloth and leather seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, a new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-info display rests within the redesigned primary gauge cluster, and an even more intriguing 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring an updated Buick IntelliLink digital interface now includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for enhanced smartphone connectivity.

Will all these changes be enough to push the little Encore back up Canadian sales charts? You’ll get an up-to-date sales comparison along with all the usual road test details and a comprehensive photo gallery when the upcoming review is published, so keep your eyes on these pages…

Mitsubishi is so massive everywhere else in the world that its miniscule Canadian sales seem bizarre, but such is the case and even its 2nd-most popular model is now just a small player in the subcompact…

2017 Mitsubishi RVR 2.4L SE LTD AWC Road Test

The subcompact SUV category is booming, with sales growing exponentially and new models being added regularly. A shocking four upstarts arrived on Canadian roads in 2015, almost doubling competitors to a total of nine, while two newcomers will arrive before the close of 2017. All I can say is it's a shame Suzuki isn't here to take part. Many who remember the fun little Samurai will point to Suzuki as the subcompact SUV initiator, and while the tiny little off-roader deserves credit for reigniting North America's love affair with subcompact 4x4s back in the '80s, going so far back might cause us to continue the trek through history in order to include the similarly sized original Willys Jeep that became popular after WWII. Yes, we've long been fans of small SUVs, the 1991-1999 Dodge Colt Wagon, Eagle Summit Wagon and Plymouth Colt Vista Wagon also worthy of mention if only because they offered optional 4WD and were all based on the Mitsubishi Expo LRV, a global and U.S.-compact MPV that Read Full Story
Have you seen the new CR-V yet? Honda’s compact SUV is so popular it would be difficult to miss. Our top-tier Touring tester shows significant progress over its predecessor, but not just because of…

2017 Honda CR-V Touring

Have you seen the new CR-V yet? Honda’s compact SUV is so popular it would be difficult to miss. Our top-tier Touring tester shows significant progress over its predecessor, but not just because of its bold new styling.
2017 Honda CR-V Touring
The new 2017 Honda CR-V arrives with bold new styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
This fifth-generation CR-V rides on a totally new platform shared with the 10th-gen Civic, while its sole powertrain is also pulled from Honda’s bestselling model. The 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque in the CR-V, resulting in spirited yet fuel-efficient performance, a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) especially helpful in achieving the latter dynamic with an estimated five-cycle Transport Canada fuel economy rating of 8.4 L/100km city and 7.0 highway in FWD, or 8.7 and 7.2 respectively in as-tested AWD.
2017 Honda CR-V Touring
The new CR-V’s taillights are especially pronounced, giving it standout design from the rear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
While engine performance, road-holding and ride quality have all improved, the biggest changes come in interior refinement and roominess. We won’t go into detail right now, but suffice to say Honda has enhanced the CR-V’s interior design and quality to similar levels as its superb new Civic, while the more comfortable SUV will fit larger occupants and more cargo. Even base LX trims make the CR-V stand out from the ever more crowded compact SUV category, with standard 17-inch alloys, projector headlights featuring auto high beams on AWD trims, LED taillights, pushbutton ignition, 7.0-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus much more.
2017 Honda CR-V Touring
Touring trim offers thoroughly impressive premium-like interior detailing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Mid-range EX trim adds standard AWD, 18-inch alloy rims, fog lamps, turn signals on the side mirror housings, six-speaker audio, USB charge points in back, a powered glass moonroof, Honda’s fabulous and exclusive LaneWatch passenger-side blindspot monitoring camera, and more, while EX-L trim includes a better eight-speaker audio system, a powered liftgate, etcetera. Our top-line Touring trimmed tester upped the ante with full LED headlights, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, additional chrome trim, and dual exhaust pipes, while proximity-sensing access including a hands-free tailgate gets you inside where you’ll find convenient rain-sensing wipers, a navigation system with turn-by-turn directions, better sounding nine-speaker audio (thanks to a subwoofer), a larger panoramic sunroof, and more.
2017 Honda CR-V Touring
Larger and more accommodating passenger and cargo compartments make the CR-V more utile than ever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The new CR-V helped Honda claw back first place in the compact SUV segment from the Toyota RAV4 over the first two months of 2017, the RAV4 having earned the position during calendar year 2016, although last month saw Nissan’s new Rogue top the segment’s sales chart for the first time. This race is hardly over, with the competition as fierce as it gets and the new CR-V easily up to task. We’ll tell you how the new Honda rates in an upcoming review (not to mention how the new 2017 Rogue SL AWD Platinum and 2017 RAV4 Platinum compare in separate reviews), and let you in on any new developments in the sales race. Stay tuned for a whole lot more…
Energi is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, and this important future-looking model continues with the 2017 Fusion’s mid-cycle makeover. The changes to the entire Fusion line are subtle but effective,…

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum

Energi is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, and this important future-looking model continues with the 2017 Fusion’s mid-cycle makeover.
2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
Ford has refreshed its popular Fusion for 2017, with this plug-in Energi Platinum being top of the line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The changes to the entire Fusion line are subtle but effective, the grille now appearing less Aston Martin-like and therefore more acceptable to those of us who’d rather not see a favourite sports car brand plagiarized, the headlamp clusters scalloped slightly on their lower edges, a new more horizontal lower fascia providing a cleaner yet sportier look, redesigned taillights that now feature a chromed strikethrough stretching across the trailing edge of the deck lid to visually connect the two, and other small details modernizing the popular mid-size sedan.
2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
All 2017 Fusions get redesigned taillights with chromed trim spanning the taillights and trunk lid. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Also new for 2017 is top-tier Platinum trim level that sits above the previous-best Titanium model. That’s what we drove in our recent weeklong test, a $44,588 near-luxury sedan that adds a unique Sport grille, stunning diamond-quilted perforated leather upholstery, a leather-adorned dash and armrests, tasteful woodgrain trim, a heatable steering wheel, ventilated front seats, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, a universal garage door opener, a powered glass sunroof, and a number of active convenience and safety features such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, autonomous pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning, lane keeping assist, enhanced semi-autonomous park assist, and more.
2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
Platinum trim adds a new level of luxury to the Fusion, placing it very near Lincoln levels of pampering. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Only Hyundai’s Sonata joins the Fusion Energi in offering plug-in hybrid technology to the popular mid-size sedan segment, this allowing owners to recharge a larger battery capable of driving longer distances on 100-percent electric power, not to mention at higher speeds than conventional hybrids can do in EV mode. While the Fusion Energi is only good for about 30 kilometers of pure EV propulsion before its 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine joins in for assistance and regular hybrid usage ensues, a full charge can be achieved in just 2.5 hours which makes it possible for commuters to recharge at work or those who use their cars throughout the day, for business or running personal errands, to recharge their cars at shopping malls or other facilities that offer fast charging stations.
2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum
The Energi Platinum gets every available Fusion option including cooled seats, navigation and self-parking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The 2.0-litre engine makes a mere 141 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque alone, but when combined with its electrical assistant raises output to 188 horsepower. Ford doesn’t provide total torque as it’s a difficult figure to estimate, but strong performance off the line has caused auto experts to estimate it between 180 and 190 lb-ft. The Fusion Energi drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), par for the course amongst hybrid drivetrains, while fuel economy is estimated to be 5.8 L/100km in the city and 6.5 on the highway when in regular hybrid mode, or 2.7 Le/100km when factoring in regular usage of its EV mode. Stay tuned for a full road test review of this impressive new 2017 Fusion, not only covering its plug-in characteristics and unique driving dynamics, but also detailing its upscale Platinum trim…
Does the Prius finally have some serious competition? The new Hyundai Ioniq will soon deliver a three-punch blow to Toyota’s iconic super hybrid, thanks to three powertrains in the form of the Ioniq…

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Road Test

High technology is rapidly shaping the automobile industry's present and future. Where there were powerful V8 engines, some have been replaced with turbocharged six- and even four-cylinder powerplants. The result has been V8 horsepower numbers with smaller, fuel-saving engines. One automaker's bet that hydrogen will power future vehicles is hedged by another manufacturer's commitment to electric power. Be it smaller displacement engines or alternative propulsion, the Earth will run dry of fossil fuels someday, so manufacturers are prepping for the future.

For 2017, through the all-new Ioniq (rhymes with 'bionic'), Hyundai launches the world's first dedicated vehicle platform with three electrified low- and zero-emission powertrain choices.

"Ioniq will attract an entirely new group of eco- and efficiency-oriented buyers in the U.S. market," said Mike O'Brien, vice president of Corporate and Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "With outstanding powertrain flexibility, Read Full Story
You can buy a two-seat roadster if you want, but Mini’s Convertible gives you the option of taking a couple of smallish friends or family along for your sun-filled drive, plus its recent redesign means…

2017 Mini Cooper S Convertible Road Test

It's getting to be the time of year when we can expect sunshine to reign down on us more often than not, or at least most are hoping to see less rain as we near the mid-point of spring. Such thoughts cause some of us to dream of open-top motoring in a new convertible, and few carmakers offer as much sun-worshipping fun for as little cost as Mini.

Good news for entry-level cabrio fans came last year when Mini upgraded their diminutive Convertible to its third-generation design, and with the move it grew in size, comfort, and performance while adopting the new BMW UKL1 architecture. This is the same design that arrived as the Mini Hardtop for 2014, which was renamed 3 Door due to the introduction of the funky 2017 5 Door, and was expanded to include the new six-door Clubman last year; this new Mini Convertible completing the brand-wide transformation. To be clear, the Clubman uses a modified UKL1 platform appropriately dubbed UKL2, which also supports the Countryman subcompact Read Full Story
After thirteen months of service and over 22,000 kilometres our Kona Blue 2016 Ford Focus Electric continues to provide very quiet, trouble free, and emissions-less service. Life with the Focus has been…

2016 Ford Focus Electric | Long-term update

After thirteen months of service and over 22,000 kilometres our Kona Blue 2016 Ford Focus Electric continues to provide very quiet, trouble free, and emissions-less service. Life with the Focus has been extremely pleasant, almost without compromise.
2016 Ford Focus Electric Range Meter
Our long-term Focus test vehicle has covered over 22,000 in about 11 months. (Photo: Eli Oszlak, TheCarMagazine.com) 
Typical days involve about 80 kilometres of mixed city traffic and high-speed travel. Here in Ontario, the High Occupancy Vehicle lane allows electric vehicles to utilize these lanes, which tends to save about 15 minutes of commuting time each way to the office. On some days the Focus has been pressed into service to carry hockey bags and sticks as far as 65 kilometers each way. During the winter months, when the use of the heater cuts into the available range, these trips need to be carefully planned. Such is life with a generation-one electric car.
2016 Ford Focus Electric - Long term test vehicle
Our 2016 Ford Focus Electric, all shiny and clean after a visit to Petro Canada’s SuperWash. (Photo: Eli Oszlak, TheCarMagazine.com)
As you can imagine, the driver of a gasoline-powered Focus would not have to plan quite so carefully. But with the cost of regular no-lead fuel approaching $1.20 per litre, the economic benefit of an electric vehicle is becoming more evident each month. Check out our detailed story after the Focus achieves her one year anniversary next month.
Mazda’s new CX-9 is a lot of mid-size SUV for the money, and especially luxurious when upgraded to Signature trim. We tested both GS-L and Signature trims to get a good feel for this important Mazda…

2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature Road Test

Why oh why isn't Mazda number one in the market? Their entire lineup of cars and SUVs look great, boast better than average interiors filled with most of the latest features, perform well, are reliable and wonderfully efficient, but their sales never measure up.

If Subaru and Mitsubishi didn't exist right now (both not even offering full model lineups) Mazda would be the slowest selling Japanese brand in Canada, while they only outsold VW last year because the German manufacturer was gutted from its own scandalous undoing. If you think that's bad, the brand's success in the U.S. can only be described as abysmal, with the lowest sales of any full line brand.

Let me be clear that I'm not trying to bash Mazda at all. I truly don't understand why they're not popular. Their products are excellent and have been a cut above most competitors for decades, but for some reason they've become the car industry's version of Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect.

OK, in Read Full Story