The new Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 harks back to an era when personal luxury coupes were elegantly beautiful and more than adequately powered, this particular model tastefully understated yet motivated…

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 Road Test

The original G35 Coupe goes down as one of my all-time favourite two-door hardtops, not only because it was and still is a particularly beautiful car, especially from its rear three-quarter angle, but it was wonderfully quick and fabulous fun through the corners too. This said, next to the entirely new Q60 Red Sport 400 the now classic G35 looks respectfully sedate, and its performance, while always a thoroughly engaging handler, is some 120 horsepower shy.

I know it's unfair to put a 14-year old classic up against a completely new car, but there's a reason I choose to. The light and lively nature of the original was somewhat dampened by the considerably more potent and dynamically superior second-generation G37 Coupe, which morphed into the Q60 as part of Infiniti's brand-wide renaming scheme in the summer of 2013. Yet despite its performance gains and much-improved interior design, fit, finish, materials quality and features set, it never captured my heart as persuasively as Read Full Story
You could go back to your usual truck resource or take a detour over to Nissan to check out its superb new Titan. We’re thinking you’ll be glad you did, especially if you opt for a Crew Cab PRO-4X.…

2017 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X Road Test

These days there's a lot of talk about big SUVs and trucks selling much better thanks to cheaper gasoline. To be fair there were some pretty deep discounts at the pump right after the big oil crash two years ago that initially helped spur on large vehicle sales, but from where I'm standing the price of petrol is no better now than it was before the downward plunge that's devalued our dollar along the way. As a result all the watercooler gossip is no longer rooted in reality, at least as shown by 2016 Canadian auto 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 Read Full Story
What can I say about Lexus ES’ that hasn’t already been said countless times before, other than it’s a front-wheel drive, mid-size, premium-branded anomaly that’s managed to weather regular storms…

2017 Lexus ES 300h

2017 Lexus ES 300h
The Lexus ES 300h is one fine looking car, but is it too provocative for its traditionally conservative clientele? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
What can I say about Lexus ES’ that hasn’t already been said countless times before, other than it’s a front-wheel drive, mid-size, premium-branded anomaly that’s managed to weather regular storms of negative driving dynamics criticism and come out shining as a top seller in its field? Of course, there really isn’t much else directly in its field to compare it to other than Lincoln’s MKZ or the front-drive Acura RLX that’s no longer available in Canada. Alternatively we could look down market into mainstream volume brands in order to face it off against its own platform-sharing Toyota Avalon or others like Buick’s LaCrosse, Chevrolet’s Impala, Chrysler’s 300, Dodge’s Charger, Ford’s Taurus, Kia’s Cadenza, or Nissan’s Maxima.
2017 Lexus ES 300h
No one should be offended by the ES 300h’ attractive rear end design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The major differentiator in this class is this electrified 300h that brought Toyota’s storied Hybrid Synergy Drive to the mid-size luxury class in 2012 (a year after the MKZ Hybrid), but even this is now old news in the premium sector thanks to much more advanced plug-in hybrids from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and the like. And after all is said and done, most luxury buyers will look for their hybrid (or non-hybrid) fix in the SUV segment where Lexus’ own NX 300h utilizes the identical drivetrain in a more popular and more utile body style. To get a clearer understanding of all this, let’s take a look at sales. Unfortunately Lexus doesn’t report hybrid numbers separately, other than the dedicated CT 200h, but lumps them in with their conventionally powered equivalents, so we’re left to guess that hybrids sell at similar percentages of total sales from model to model. Lexus sold 2,153 ES models in Canada last year, a far cry from the 4,251 purveyed in 2007 yet better than the 1,892 delivered in 2011. The NX hasn’t been around that long, but its sales have steadily grown from 6,127 in 2015 to 6,295 last year. What’s more, after five months of 2017 the NX has found 2,766 new owners, so it looks like it’s on schedule for another record year, whereas the ES’ has only managed to lure in 775 buyers, which could result in a new low. Then again, compared to the 432 MKZs sold over the same five months, the ES is all roses.
2017 Lexus ES 300h
Lexus mixes some very good and some very average ingredients into the ES 300h interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
As for which vehicle matters more in the market, the numbers speak for themselves. To be clear, these sales totals in no way reflect which model is better or worse, but rather have everything to do with a near universal shunning of four-door sedans and adoption of crossover SUVs, other than a few exceptions like BMW’s 3 Series and Mercedes’ C-, E- and S-Classes in the premium sector and Honda’s Civic, Toyota’s Corolla, and Hyundai’s Elantra amongst mainstream brands. The sad reality is this 2017 ES is the best ever, and while halfway through the second year of its sixth-generation facelift, it’s still worthy of much higher sales than it’s getting, that is if there was anyone under 70 interested. We’ll likely never know if its traditionally conservative clientele has been rubbed the wrong way by the model’s adoption of Lexus’ avant-garde styling or if its drop in popularity is just a sign of the times, but a quick rundown of those “competitors” mentioned earlier shows a similar downward trajectory for the Taurus, Avalon and Cadenza, plus the MKZ mentioned earlier, although sales of Charger are surging (it had one of its best months ever in May) and 300 strong, while the Impala, LaCrosse and Maxima are on track to make small gains as well.
2017 Lexus ES 300h
The hardwood is a bit old-school glossy, but it’s real. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
As far as mid-size front-wheel drive sedans go, I find the ES 300h attractive from front to back. Its spindle grille, Nike swoosh driving lights and chromed apostrophe-squiggle fog lamp bezels are big bonuses in my opinion, giving the car a more daring façade than its inner personality deserves, while its rear end design, with its subtle deck lid spoiler overtop gracefully understated LED taillights and lovely lower body diffuser/undertray, is as pretty as its backside has ever been. Inside, the ES 300h combines high-grade furnishings with low-rung hard shell plastics, some top-tier switchgear with others pulled up from the Toyota parts bin, some old-school glossy albeit real woodgrain trim next to nice looking metallic surfaces albeit often hollow and plasticky, and one decent electronic interface with another that shouldn’t show its face in the premium class, making my comparison to the many mainstream volume-branded players earlier quite fair. The ES raises its game over these in some respects, but falls below some of them in others.
2017 Lexus ES 300h
The ES 300h doesn’t shortchange its customers on interior space. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Under the “What’s new for 2017” column, all ES 300h trims get standard rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, and Lexus Safety System Plus, the latter package adding auto high beams, dynamic cruise control with emergency autonomous braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist. You’ll need to spend more for blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, but this is hardly uncommon in any class. I’ll go into more detail in my upcoming road test review, in which I’ll also dispel myths about comfort-focused, melted butter driving dynamics, or not, and praise its fuel economy—maybe (of course I’ll nee to compare it to the MKZ Hybrid). You’ll have to come back to find out, but either way Lexus won’t be selling anywhere near as many of its ES 300h models as it will the NX 300h, so I might as well skip this one and go straight to writing my review of the hybridized SUV, right? I suppose not. Instead I’ll get both finished as soon as possible. Stay tuned…
Few cars exemplify class and good taste as well as Jaguar’s F-Type Convertible, while even with its base 340-hp 3.0L supercharged V6 under hood it delivers superb performance off the line and through…

2017 Jaguar F-Type Convertible Road Test

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to own a real E-Type back in the day? Your imagination, or possibly your memory may send you back to the early '60s behind the wooden rim and metal-spoked wheel of a 3.8-litre Series 1, cycling through its four-speed Moss "crash box" while tackling the hairpins of the glorious Furka Pass, just like JB did in Goldfinger, although he was piloting a different British classic at the time.

Maybe he should've been in an E-Type. After all, Enzo Ferrari never called the DB5 "the most beautiful car ever made." He wasn't alone of course, the E still revered with the same awe today that the great Il Commendatore showed at its unveiling in March of 1961.

I've driven that road, albeit at the controls of a late '80s Fiat Uno-not quite the same experience. I've tested much more alluring cars on California's Big Sur, mind you, and I can certainly transport myself back to the early '70s, a time when I actually have lucid memories. Read Full Story
Since arriving on the subcompact crossover scene halfway through 2015, Mazda’s CX-3 has been a class favourite. It’s good looking, sporty, fairly upscale, nicely equipped and plenty practical, all…

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The subcompact 2017 Mazda CX-3 looks best in top-line GT trim, which is how we’re testing it this week. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Since arriving on the subcompact crossover scene halfway through 2015, Mazda’s CX-3 has been a class favourite. It’s good looking, sporty, fairly upscale, nicely equipped and plenty practical, all good reasons for its rise in popularity. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the folks at Mazda Canada’s Richmond Hill headquarters are starting to look over their shoulders at new competition now that Toyota’s equally sporty CH-R has shown up, just like Honda is hoping its HR-V’s lead doesn’t get consumed by the new Nissan Qashqai, a mini-Roque that looks like it’ll put up a good fight in this once fringe segment. In total, the subcompact SUV category has 11 entrants, including the bestselling HR-V with 12,371 sales last year, runner up CX-3 with 9,354 deliveries, third-place Chevrolet Trax with 9,072, Mitsubishi RVR with 6,196, Buick Encore with 5,533, Nissan Juke with 4,442, Jeep Renegade with 3,962, Fiat 500X with 766, and Mini Countryman with 694. I can’t decide if the Mini and Buick should be counted in the subcompact luxury SUV segment because they’re priced higher, but in reality they’re somewhere in the middle. Neither has much effect on the CX-3, however, so it’s a moot point.
2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The CX-3 has sporty styling that it lives up to when behind the wheel. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The new CH-R is relevant, however, having sold 690 units in its first month of May. This won’t cause too much concern at Honda where the HR-V found 1,687 new buyers, and I suppose the CX-3’s 1,089 May deliveries were strong too, in fact that was the model’s best monthly sales results ever, but it’s just the beginning for the Toyota subcompact and this initial jump out of the gate (a time in a vehicle’s lifecycle when availability is compromised and therefore real sales may have been better) is better than two of the CX-3’s poorer months this year, and stronger than many others it’s competing against, like the Trax that only found 464 buyers, plus the Juke and Renegade that attracted just 270 apiece. Even Fiat’s 500X did better than these two thanks to a best-ever tally of 305 sales, while I believe we’ll see a lot more than May’s 191 units from the new Qashqai. Other than mention of the upcoming Ford EcoSport (due to arrive later this year) and just announced Hyundai Kona (a Kia version can’t be too far away), that’s the state of the subcompact SUV segment, and the CX-3 remains near the very top for all the reasons just stated as well as Canada’s adoration of its independent Japanese parent.
2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The CX-3 provides a more upscale environment than most rivals in GT trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I won’t go into U.S. numbers, but suffice to say they’re not pretty with respect to anything Mazda sells, save the MX-5 “Miata”. Their number one seller in this class is the Renegade, a model far down the pecking order here. With all due respect, every one of the above noted SUVs is worthy of your attention and would likely provide an enjoyable ownership experience, some of my favourites being lower on the popularity poll, but in the case of the CX-3 I can wholly agree with its success. I’ve read others knock its styling on social media, but I love every inch of the little Mazda sport ute, especially in as-tested top-line GT trim. Moving up from the $20,695 base GX model or $22,695 mid-range GS to the $28,995 GT allows for more sophisticated looking and much brighter LED headlights with stylish signature detailing, plus the world’s tiniest LED fog lamps inserted within the upgraded metallic bezels of its sporty front fascia, not to mention stunning twinned V-spoke 18-inch gunmetal-finish alloys around each side. Move inside and its well laid out cabin gets leather and Lux Suede upholstery, plus loads of exclusive features.
2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
That’s leather in a mainstream-branded subcompact SUV. Mazda does it right! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I’ll go on in more detail in my upcoming review, plus relate how the CX-3’s sole Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder responds to aggressive input, its 146 horsepower and identical 146 lb-ft of torque plenty for an SUV that weighs just 1,339 kilos. This said Mazda joins many other manufacturers in unforgivably making their normally standard six-speed manual transmission unavailable in the CX-3’s sportiest trim, but at least the six-speed automatic has manual mode with an engaging set of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and best of all it’s not a CVT. If you want AWD you’ll need to accept the autobox anyway, so therefore the CX-3 GT drives all four wheels, which aids traction and doesn’t detract much from efficiencies thanks to a five-cycle rating of 8.8 L/100km in the city and 7.5 on the highway compared to 8.2 city and 6.9 highway in the manual-equipped front-drive model. I don’t think I’m going to worry too much about fuel economy this week, because the CX-3 GT is way too much fun to let such concerns ruin the moment. Come back soon and check out my road test review to get all the details…
If you’d asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market’s most and least entertaining cars, I’d have put Nissan’s subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective…

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The 2017 Sentra carries forward last year’s styling upgrades while adding a more potent 188-hp SR Turbo trim level. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
If you’d asked me last year to name the Canadian small car market’s most and least entertaining cars, I’d have put Nissan’s subcompact Micra city car and compact Sentra sedan on the respective lists. For 2017 the Micra remains a personal favourite cheap performer in the entry-level categories, and much to my delight Nissan has elevated the Sentra’s fun factor times ten. It wasn’t too long ago that the Sentra SE-R was a highly respected sport compact, and while this once revered model is no more, the Sentra four-door can now be had in as-tested SR Turbo guise as well as top-line Nismo trim. I’ll leave the Nismo for a future garage entry and road test review, because the SR Turbo is what currently occupies my driveway.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The SR Turbo gets a rear spoiler and sportier bumper cap. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Before delving into this all-new 2017 trim, Nissan gave its Sentra a thorough mid-cycle refresh for the 2016 model year that pulls its much more agreeable styling cues from other models within the Japanese brand’s lineup, particularly the Altima mid-size sedan. The most prominent change was the addition of Nissan’s now trademark V-motion grille in chrome and black mesh, extending upward into a new hood and downward into a revised lower fascia, while new complex headlamps included LED low beam projectors in SL and SR trims. Around the sides new 17-inch machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets were added to the latter two trims as well, while all Sentras received new taillight lenses and a reworked rear bumper in typical mid-cycle makeover fashion.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
A new 370Z-inspired steering wheel makes the SR Turbo look and feel better, as does the much improved Sentra interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
All of this remains the same except for the elimination of SR trim and adoption of this SR Turbo nameplate for 2017, plus the engine and other performance tweaks that make it so fun to drive. The new 1.6-litre direct-injected four-cylinder gets borrowed from the already impressive Juke crossover, complete with 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque (up a sizeable 58 horsepower and 49 lb-ft of torque over the base 1.8-litre four). Even better, it can be paired with the as-tested six-speed manual gearbox or an available continuously variable automatic (CVT), both boasting unique tuning specific to SR Turbo trim. Additionally, the SR Turbo gets reworked electric power steering for more direct response and feel, aided by stiffer springs and dampers plus extra bracing for greater rigidity overall. I’ll fill in all the driving dynamic blanks in my upcoming review, but suffice to say it’s worthy of contention with Honda’s new turbocharged Civic powerplant, and can mix it up with the new Elantra Sport as well.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
A backup camera is always appreciated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Back to the changes that came with last year’s car, the 2017 Sentra carries forward all interior updates such as its more refined surface treatments that now make generous use of soft-touch synthetics and metallic accents, while the SR Turbo gets a sporty new 370Z-inspired three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s a lot better looking due to a reshaped centre hub and side spokes (it’s no longer a big ugly blob) and less crowded multifunction controls. Additionally, new trims were added to the centre stack and doors, the one in my SR Turbo particularly nice. On the digital front, all 2016 Sentras received a 5.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary gauge package, with higher end trims getting better screen resolution, while Siri Eyes Free was also added to the mix.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
These powered and heated leather seats are part of the SR Premium upgrade package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I’m not going to go into every trim level being that this overview is for the SR Turbo, a very different type of car targeting a more performance-oriented buyer, but take note that S and SV trims offer a little more enjoyment from the base engine thanks to their standard six-speed manual gearbox, whereas the more efficient CVT is available with these trims as well, and comes standard on the luxury-focused SL. Diving right into the SR Turbo, which starts $5,800 higher than the base $15,898 S at $21,598 plus freight and fees, the equipment list includes all items mentioned thus far as well as fog lamps, 205/50VR17 all-season tires, larger 11.7-inch front ventilated sport brakes with upgraded pads (the base car gets 11s), 11.5-inch solid rear discs (base gets drums), active understeer control (when you “upgrade” to the CVT), LED turn signals integrated within the side mirror housings, side rocker extensions, a rear deck lid spoiler with an LED centre mounted brake light (CHMSL), a sport rear fascia with a matte black diffuser-style centre insert, a chromed exhaust tip, and more on the outside.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The Sentra has long been praised for its accommodating passenger compartment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Proximity-sensing keyless access gets you inside and pushbutton ignition gets the motor percolating, while interior upgrades include the leather-wrapped sport steering mentioned earlier, a leather and metal shift knob, exclusive sport inlays, microfiltered air conditioning, a 5.0-inch colour infotainment display with a backup camera, SMS- and email-reading capability, Siri Eyes Free, AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone with streaming audio and more, with additional SR Turbo features including premium sport cloth upholstery, heatable front seats, a sliding front armrest, a flip-down rear seat centre armrest with cupholders, tire pressure monitoring with Easy-Fill alert, etcetera.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
The Sentra’s trunk is massive, with 428 litres of space plus expandability via standard 60/40-split rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
My tester came with $300 Aspen White paint, the only other available option being the $3,400 SR Premium package that adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, upgraded sunvisors with extensions and dual illuminated vanity mirrors, an auto-dimming LED centre dome light, a powered moonroof, an upgraded NissanConnect infotainment interface with a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, navigation, eight-speaker (including two subs) Bose premium audio with satellite radio, leather upholstery, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. All the extras pumped the price up to $25,298 before freight and fees, which seems pretty reasonable, especially considering Nissan’s current (at the time of writing) $3,500 cash discount.
2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
Meet the new SR Turbo’s 188-hp 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder with 177 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Of course this all gets added to myriad features available in lesser trims, of which I’ll go into in more detail as part of my upcoming road test review, although take note if you’d like your Sentra with enough active safety gear to qualify for IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status, which it does, such as emergency autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control, you’ll need to step into a less powerful CVT-only model. To its credit that seemingly anemic base Sentra powerplant gets the segment’s best fuel economy at 8.1 L/100km in the city and 6.3 on the highway with its optional CVT, or 9.0 city and 6.8 highway with the standard six-speed manual, while the turbo increases consumption to a claimed 9.1 city and 8.9 highway. Before signing off I’ll mention one of the Sentra’s greatest attributes, its accommodating passenger compartment and massive 428-litre trunk. I’ll run over more dimensional details and comment on the car’s overall comfort in my review, but its standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks are a bonus no matter how it measures up. Until next time, sport compact fans might want to consider testing out this new Sentra SR Turbo or its even quicker Nismo sibling. I’ll be back with my road test results and more soon…
Well Scion was certainly an interesting project. It was more successful for longer in the U.S., particularly California where it was initiated and headquartered in 2003. Compared to Ford Motor’s Merkur…

2017 Toyota 86

2017 Toyota 86
The new Toyota 86′ revised lower fascia makes quite a significant change to the car’s frontal appearance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Well Scion was certainly an interesting project. It was more successful for longer in the U.S., particularly California where it was initiated and headquartered in 2003. Compared to Ford Motor’s Merkur (1985–1989) brand and GM’s Geo (1989–1997)—the General did better with Saturn (1985–2010), a fourteen-year run is pretty good as far as marketing projects go, the cars it sold only rebranded versions of global Toyota models. It therefore made perfect sense to give the outgoing FR-S a version of its global GT86/FT-86 moniker, the “86” portion of the name paying homage to the now classic rear-drive Corolla GTS/AE86 that’s still tearing up racetracks around the world. This said I’d rather have seen Toyota combine old and new by coining FR-86, being that they don’t have the rights to use the GT86 name here (exclusive to Europe and New Zealand), and FT-86 (only available in Jamaica and Nicaragua) makes little more sense, but I wasn’t on that marketing panel so I can only wonder what went down within Toyota’s inner circle. As it is, 86 is the name given to the car in Asia, Australia and South America, and we being part of the Americas, get the simpler nameplate.
2017 Toyota 86
Always a sleek profile, a new front fender vent and new wheels are the most noticeable updates. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Enough about renaming misnomers, most FR-S/86 fans won’t care all that much for what it’s called, and those purists who do have long been replacing Scion logos with Toyota crests along with chromed FR-S lettering for stylized GT86 badges. They’re already doing the same here in North America, so Toyota continues to inadvertently help online aftermarket vendors trying to make a little extra coin servicing this ultra-niche market. What matters more is the 2017 model’s mid-cycle refresh, a subtle but effective update of a model that had become slightly stale despite still being one of the prettier sports cars on the market. The big differences to styling come up front, its headlights now incorporating de rigueur full LED elements with LED turn signals, and its lower fascia integrating a more organically stylized centre intake with a black mesh insert, plus new triangular-shaped black straked corner “vents” to each side, which are really bezels for fog lamps available from the accessories catalogue or Special Edition upgrade.
2017 Toyota 86
New LED taillights and no model insignia are the only clues to the update from the rear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Toyota has ironically removed the circular 86 badge from each of the FR-S’ rather complex front fender engine vents and replaced them with a sleeker more minimal design, while at the back it’s all about new LED taillights. Lastly, new standard 17-inch alloys round out the package. Toyota has upgraded the new 86’ interior over the outgoing FR-S with more soft synthetic surfaces across the dash top and instrument panel, plus fancy ultra-psuede door uppers, as well as attractive new fabric upholstery featuring black side bolsters with white contrast stitching and grey inserts. There are plenty of satin-silver accents throughout the cabin too, while the old Pioneer-sourced 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen gets new Toyota-branded graphics and integrates a backup camera, USB integration, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, plus more.
2017 Toyota 86
Toyota has improved the new cabin for a more refined experience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Call it a 2+2, but the rearmost seats are designed more for two 0.5-sized adults or kids, which is par for the course in the compact coupe class. Rather than look at the glass half full, it’s best to appreciate the additional passenger and cargo possibilities offered by the 86’ rear quarters over convertible competitors like Mazda’s MX-5 or Fiat’s 124 Spider, which are solely two-place prospects. I once had a friend show me how he was able to store four racing wheels on slicks with the rear seats of his FR-S folded, which simultaneously told me as much as I needed to know about the car’s practical aspects and performance prowess. The 86, incidentally, gets the same 196-litre trunk as the FR-S, plus its non-split folding rear seatback. At the heart of that performance-focused ideal, which is really the 86’ raison d’être, the updated model gets a mildly revised version of the FR-S’ Subaru-sourced 2.0-litre horizontally opposed “boxer” four-cylinder. A tweak here and mod there has allowed for a minor bump from 200 horsepower to 205 and 151 lb-ft of torque to 156, but only six-speed manual-equipped cars get the upgrade. Those fitted with the paddle-actuated six-speed automatic featuring rev-matched downshifting via Toyota’s “Dynamic Rev Management” system, as was the case with my Hot Lava painted tester, carry forward with the unmodified engine. Being that I already drove (and reviewed) a new 2017 Subaru BRZ with the manual and therefore experienced the same performance boost, I’ll relate my comments as well as the benefits (if any) of the autobox.
2017 Toyota 86
Higher quality materials and nicer design details improve the look and feel inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Either way both 86 models receive a reworked suspension with retuned damping, whereas the manual gets a revised rear differential for a quicker launch from standstill up to speed. Getting off the line in mind, both manual and automatic equipped trims incorporate hill start assist. Now that we’re talking features, Toyota continues to follow Scion’s lead by keeping the new model’s trims to a minimum, simply offering the 86 6M (for six-speed manual) and 86 6A (for… sigh… I don’t really need to explain this, do I?), while as noted an 86 Special Edition is also on the menu.
2017 Toyota 86
The standard sport seats get an upholstery upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Standard features not yet mentioned include a limited slip differential, 215/45R17 tires, auto on/off LED headlamps, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, remote keyless entry, a tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped multifunction three-spoke sport steering wheel, a leather-clad shift knob and handbrake handle, aluminum sport pedals, a trip computer/multi-info display, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, air conditioning, eight-speaker AM/FM audio with aux and USB inputs plus an Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL), Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, power windows with auto up/down all-round, dual vanity mirrors, all the usual active and passive safety equipment, and more. On top of this the $32,555 Special Edition, which solely comes with the manual gearbox, adds fog lamps, a rear spoiler featuring black-painted accents, black side mirror housings, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display with vehicle performance data, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, heatable front seats, and an alarm. That’s certainly the one I’d want to live with every day, but that’s not the one I was given to test.
2017 Toyota 86
Space is limited in back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Also important, like the FR-S and Scion in general, the new Toyota gets plenty of accessories to spice up the look and add to the experience overall, including the usual block heater, exterior protection film wraps, hood and side window deflectors, rear spoiler, and cargo liner, plus the less expected Bongiovi Acoustics DPS sound system upgrade; the Extension Box premium display audio system with navigation, Push-to-Talk voice recognition, various apps such as Aha, Harman on iTunes, and Google Play, etcetera; gorgeous 18-inch TRD lightweight alloys; TRD sport exhaust; TRD 1 1/8th-inch lowering spring kit; TRD performance air intake; TRD performance front and rear brake pads; and stiffer gloss red powder coated TRD sway bars. As is understandable due to new standard features, the 86 adds $2,090 to last year’s base FR-S price tag, the new tally still below $30k at $29,580 plus freight and fees. One thing to consider is the aforementioned BRZ, however, which was previously pricier but can now be had for just $27,995. The two cars were developed side-by-side and use many of the same components, especially at the core, so keep both the Subie in mind when shopping, and for that matter throw in a visit to your local Nissan dealer for a look at the repositioned 370Z that starts at just $29,998 with its 332 horsepower V6 included.
2017 Toyota 86
Cargo volume is typically small, but the rear seatback folds to expand its usefulness. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Of course, the Z’s big 3.7-litre V6 won’t provide anywhere near the 86’ superb fuel economy, its five-cycle estimate being 11.3 L/100km in the city and 8.3 on the highway for the manual, or 9.9 city and 7.3 highway for the auto, both aided by D4-S direct and port fuel injection. As for me, despite the autobox, I’m going to enjoy every minute behind the wheel of this new 86, which since arriving on the sports car scene as the FR-S has been one of the more entertaining cars available for the reasonable sum asked. Come back to read my assessment of that automatic transmission, the retuned suspension, its many improvements inside, a little look at how it’s being received by you, the people that matter (sales data), etcetera. As always, I won’t hold back my true thoughts and feelings.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced that it will be recalling 297,000 2011 and 2012 Dodge Grand Caravans in North America to repair wiring that may cause an inadvertent air bag deployment. “Wiring…

Fiat Chrysler Recall 297,000 Dodge Grand Caravans

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced that it will be recalling 297,000 2011 and 2012 Dodge Grand Caravans in North America to repair wiring that may cause an inadvertent air bag deployment. “Wiring may chafe against pieces of steering-wheel trim, potentially causing a short-circuit,” Fiat Chrysler said. “This may lead to a second short-circuit that is potentially capable of producing inadvertent deployment of the driver-side front air bag.” According to a statement by the company on Thursday June 15, the problem had caused eight minor injuries. A spokesman for FCA, Eric Mayne reiterated that this recall has no connection to the Japanese auto supplier Takata. Air bags produced by Takata are the root of the largest ever vehicle related recall in North America. The recall is expected to start in late July for 209,000 cars in the United States and 88,000 cars in Canada. According to the FCA, dealers will replace the wiring if needed and add a protective sheath. Consumers will not be charged for repairs.