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 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How’s this for a sporty looking subcompact hatch? Toyota spiffed up its Yaris for 2017, although this grey-painted version isn’t anywhere near as racy looking as the two-tone red and black one. The…
I have no idea why I still call this little car the Tercel. I worked for a Toyota dealer way back in '87 and the Tercel was one of the most popular cars we sold at the time.
That was already the third-generation Tercel, which was replaced by the Echo in 1999. This oddly styled yet undeniably practical subcompact was one of my first-ever manufacturer-supplied weeklong test cars (thank you F. David Stone) when I entered the professional journalist fray in 2000, and one I'd still love to get my hands on in five-speed manual Hatchback RS guise. I first drove that little number at a press launch in Niagara, Ontario during the fall of 2003, but it was another such launch program in autumn of 2005 that saw a redesigned version of the same car debut, and with it the odd yet catchy Yaris name.
Interestingly, the Echo was actually a rebadged Yaris, but most of us don't pay attention to European nameplates here in North America. I didn't even realize both cars were also shared Read Full Story
Volvo has fully redesigned its popular XC60 for 2018, and it’s now a stunning compact luxury SUV. What’s more, its ultra-efficient 2.0L turbo four gains 10-hp for a total of 250-hp and AWD now comes…
Now that Volvo has rejuvenated its mid-size XC90 SUV and followed up that winning formula with the S90 luxury sedan, V90 sport wagon and V90 Cross Country crossover wagon, it's time for the all-new 2018 XC60 compact SUV to pay for it all.
Seriously. Does anyone question which new model will be Volvo's perennial bestseller? All we have to do is look at sales before Volvo initiated its brand-wide revitalization, and the XC60 was by far the automaker's top seller. In fact, it represents 30 percent of Volvo's worldwide volume. The larger XC90 is still extremely important, especially when it comes to profits, but this is the one Volvo needed to get absolutely right.
At first glance the 2018 XC60 looks like a smaller, sportier variation on the XC90 theme, with a little V90 Cross Country thrown into the mix for good measure. I really like the design, particularly its wide rectangular waterfall grille, the Thor's hammer LED headlights, chiseled lower front fascia sporting LED Read Full Story
Will tomorrow’s consumers be matching their next car purchase to their smartphones? It’s entirely possible. Some automakers have already drawn their respective lines in the sand, with Porsche choosing…
Will tomorrow’s consumers be matching their next car purchase to their smartphones?
It’s entirely possible. Some automakers have already drawn their respective lines in the sand, with Porsche choosing Apple CarPlay over Android Auto due to their own market research that reportedly shows a better brand alignment with the Cupertino company, whereas Toyota and its Lexus division are opting to go their own route entirely, which might make their proprietary infotainment systems the modern-day automotive equivalent of Sony’s Beta VCR, which was a better format than VHS but not backed by the industry.
It’s a fact that many more smartphones are now sold with Google’s Android operating system than Apple’s iOS, let alone Microsoft’s Windows Phone and, ahem, RIM’s Blackberry, and in certain markets, like China and the rest of Asia, the smartphone market is skewed even more towards the larger Seattle-based tech firm’s OS technology.
Volvo’s latest award-winning tablet-style Sensus infotainment and connectivity system already incorporates Google’s Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay, and has been praised for the slick way the two interfaces integrate within, but it appears the Chinese-owned Swedish brand has chosen to delve deeper into Pacific Northwest waters by contracting Google to develop the entire backend of its future Sensus system.
According to Volvo, its next-generation infotainment and connectivity systems will arrive within two years, and offer access to a wide selection of apps plus connected and predictive services developed by Google, Volvo, and third parties, for use in and around the vehicle.
“We are making an important strategic step with the Google partnership,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo Car Group. “Google’s platform and services will enhance the user experience by enabling more personalization possibilities, while Android will offer increased flexibility from a development perspective.”
This is just another sign that the automotive and tech worlds are converging, something we’ve all been witnessing via newscasts of Google’s odd little self-driving prototype car tooling around city streets, plus the plethora of new ride hailing and sharing startups. Some of these newcomers have been founded by or snapped up by major automakers, so it only makes sense that Volvo also believes “smart partnerships are the future for the car industry.”
So how will Volvo and its legions of loyal customers benefit? The Android OS promises faster speeds and greater development flexibility, plus the ability for customer personalization.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Volvo to bring Android into their next generation connected cars,” said Patrick Brady, Vice President of Android Engineering at Google. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to deliver a more seamless experience to Volvo drivers through a full-featured infotainment platform and rich ecosystem of Android applications and Google services.”
“With the advent of Android we will embrace a rich ecosystem while keeping our iconic Volvo user interface,” added Green. “We will offer hundreds of popular apps and the best integrated experience in this broad, connected environment.”
Rather than wait until the fully integrated system is available, Volvo and Google are already collaborating on a location based service app dubbed Google Local Search, which will be installed through a regular update to current Volvo customers who anted up for the Sensus Navigation system.
To see more, check out the following video:
Audi has made a very good car much better with the intro of its 2018 A5 Coupe, a redesign that adds more angles, more luxury, more size, plus loads of standard and optional features. Base A5s get a 252-hp…
Confirm with any European car enthusiast, the outgoing A5 was one of the most beautiful two-door sports models available during its almost decade-long first generation. Certainly, this would've made the development of its second-gen redesign a rather daunting task, but fortunately its near ten-year tenure ended exactly when Audi was introducing its current sharply edged, more industrial-inspired design language brand-wide, allowing the all-new 2018 A5 an ideal entry point.
Feast your eyes upon a car with few equals despite having many competitors. Being A4-based and therefore fitting directly into the compact D-segment, the A5 technically goes up against BMW's 4 Series, Mercedes' C-Class Coupe, Infiniti's Q60, Lexus' RC, and Cadillac's ATS Coupe, but it really stands out amongst this bunch thanks to an arguably more elegant approach to styling. How Audi managed to do this, while simultaneously making it one of the more modern looking two-door hardtops available is beyond me, Read Full Story
Buick has recently been making an earnest play into the premium sector with models like the new Envision compact SUV and this much-improved LaCrosse full-size sedan, so we tested it in top-line Premium…
Ask the majority of car shoppers to name the top three most reliable brands in the industry and Lexus would likely earn the popular vote, as it's been touted most dependable for decades. Once again it sits on top of J.D. Power and Associate's 2017 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, as well as first place with Consumer Reports' most reliable car brands in America report.
Considering Toyota is Lexus' parent automaker and therefore shares many of its components and some platform architectures, at least when it comes to the premium marque's lower end product, choosing it for second place makes sense too, but this is only true for Consumer Reports. Instead, J.D. Power gives the runner up position to Porsche, leaving Toyota in third. I'm guessing you can figure out which brand slots into CR's second rung. Buick, of course. The General Motors division manages a solid fourth in J.D. Power's ranking, which is still mighty impressive considering 31 brands are in contention.
The ultra-practical Honda Fit subcompact hatchback gets a thorough mid-cycle refresh for 2018, with edgier styling, a new Sport trim line, and the availability of Honda Sensing advanced driver-assistance…
The ultra-practical Honda Fit subcompact hatchback gets a thorough mid-cycle refresh for 2018, with edgier styling, a new Sport trim line, and the availability of Honda Sensing advanced driver-assistance systems.
In a press release, Honda claims this 2018 update adds “youthful, sporty and emotional character” to a model already moving into the fourth year of its third generation, the new 2018 Fit’s styling enhancements including “a horizontally layered, two-piece chrome and piano black grille with a larger, more prominent “H” mark,” plus “more integrated and sophisticated” headlamp clusters that “blend into the side edges of the upper fascia’s wing creating a unified yet more aggressive design.” Additionally, Honda has added new chrome accents to the front bumper plus a full-width splitter below, as well as “more angular fog lights pods” to the frontal design.
The 2018 Fit gets updated combination taillights in the rear and a reworked back bumper too, the latter feature now incorporating a “full-width character line in piano black” plus a “splitter-shaped” lower apron. Lastly, new Orange Fury paint is kept exclusively for an entirely new Sport trim level.
The 2018 Honda Fit is available in the same DX, LX, EX and EX-L Navi trims as last year’s version, now priced at $15,190, $18,590, 21,890 and $23,990 respectively, but new this year is a $19,590 Sport trim that slots in between LX and EX models.
A standard aero kit adds muscle to the new Fit Sport’s front, side and rear body panels for a more aggressive look, with bright orange pin-striping highlighting the deeper front splitter and tri-strake rear diffuser, no matter the exterior colour chosen. Additionally, gloss-black painted 16-inch alloys fill out each corner while a chromed exhaust finisher and “SPORT” liftgate badge complete the Fit Sport’s exterior design enhancements. Finally, the Fit Sport boasts an all-black cabin with unique orange contrast stitching.
New 2018 Fit Sport trim may get the exclusive option of Orange Fury paint, but the rest of its colour palette is limited to Crystal Black Pearl and White Orchid Pearl, with Modern Steel Metallic (medium grey), available with the base DX and other trims, taken off the menu. Likewise, Milano Red, available on LX trims and above, plus Aegean Blue Metallic, optional on the EX and EX-L Navi, are unavailable with the Sport.
“With sporty new styling and additional feature content, the 2018 Honda Fit ups the ante with new styling and sophistication not typically found in the subcompact segment,” said Jean Marc Leclerc, Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing, Honda Canada Inc. “Fit has always represented a great value for subcompact customers and the addition of available Honda Sensing to its fun-to-drive performance and unmatched versatility will keep the Honda Fit as the industry’s benchmark subcompact.”
Benchmarks in mind, archrival Toyota was first to offer advanced driver-assistance systems to the subcompact category with its 2017 Yaris hatchback, its Safety Sense C suite of driver-assistance systems adding automatic high beams, a pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking capability, and lane departure alert to its $15,475 base trim level, but the 2018 Fit’s available Honda Sensing system is a more technologically advanced package thanks to autonomous emergency braking joining lane/road departure warning with mitigating assist, as well as adaptive cruise control, although it doesn’t include auto high beams.
Nevertheless, Honda is confident enough to rightly claim the new 2018 Fit with Honda Sensing offers, “the most robust suite of available advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies in its class in Canada.” Choosing Honda Sensing adds $1,300 to the Fit LX and Sport trims, while it comes standard with the Fit EX and EX-L Navi.
The 2018 Fit’s direct-injection 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC-enhanced 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine is carryover albeit slightly downgraded from 130 to 128 horsepower and 114 to 113 lb-ft of torque, although the car’s claimed curb weight has now been reduced from 1,177 to 1,133 kilos (2,595 to 2,498 lbs) in base form, which should allow for similar if not better performance. Of note, Sport trim with the CVT, plus EX and EX-L Navi models receive standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to improve performance and driver engagement.
Honda claims an impressive five-cycle fuel economy rating of 8.1 L/100km in the city, 6.6 on the highway and 7.4 combined with the base six-speed manual, 7.0 L/100km city, 5.9 highway and 6.5 combined with the CVT in LX trim, or alternatively 7.6 L/100km city, 6.5 highway and 7.0 combined in EX trim and above, which only come with the CVT. This represents a marginal improvement when compared to last year’s claimed fuel economy.
The Fit has always delivered excellent driving dynamics for its class, but nevertheless Honda has added retuned suspension dampers to the 2018 model, while also making its electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system more rigid, and providing a stiffer structure overall thanks to more body reinforcements. This helps to improve crash resistance, ride quality and handling prowess, as well as interior refinement, the new Fit said to be quieter than the outgoing model. Along with the stiffer structure, Honda achieved the 2018 Fit’s refinement goals by revising its transmission and steering system mounting hardware, while acoustic-laminated glass and more insulation has been added throughout.
Standard features for the base 2018 Fit DX include auto-off multi-reflector halogen headlights, heatable powered side mirrors, LED brake lights, power locks with remote access, power windows, intermittent windshield wipers, an intermittent rear wiper/washer, tilt and telescopic steering, a 5.0-inch colour LCD infotainment display, a multi-angle rearview camera, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with streaming audio, four-speaker 160-watt AM/FM/MP3/WMA audio, a USB port, a 12-volt power outlet, the Fit’s unique 60/40-split second-row Magic Seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, cargo area tie-down hooks, 15-inch steel wheels with covers on 185/6 all-season tires, front disc and rear drum brakes with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction and stability control, hill start assist, and the usual assortment of advanced airbags.
Additionally, the LX adds a rear rooftop spoiler, illuminated steering wheel-mounted switchgear including cruise control, filtered air conditioning, a new 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Siri Eyes Free, text message functionality, Wi-Fi tethering, a second USB port, the HondaLink Assist automatic emergency response system, a front centre console with an armrest and storage bin, heatable front seats, another 12-volt power outlet, a cargo cover, and more.
On top of everything already mentioned, new Sport trim adds auto-on/off headlights, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, two more stereo speakers and 20 additional watts of power to the audio system, plus more.
EX trim builds on these features with proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, Honda’s impressive LaneWatch blindspot display that projects a rearward view of the passenger’s side lane, a powered moonroof, extendable sunvisors, etcetera.
Lastly, top-line EX-L Navi trim includes LED turn signals integrated into the side mirror housings, automatic climate control, navigation with detailed mapping and voice recognition, satellite and HD radio, leather upholstery, and more.
All of this equipment comes in a subcompact hatchback renowned for offering the most accommodating interior in its class. In fact, with its rear seats laid flat a total of 1,492 litres (52.7 cubic feet) is available. Even better, when the backrests of the Fit’s rear Magic Seats are upright it’s possible to flip their lower cushions upwards for yet more cargo capacity, especially helpful for loading in taller items like bicycles or plants, this combining for a collective 609 litres (21.5 cubic feet) of available cargo space when including the Fit’s dedicated luggage area in back. What’s more, the front passenger’s seat can be folded forward to allow ultra-long cargo inside, while both front seats can be laid completely flat when their headrests are removed, providing a large safe place for impromptu camping. No competitor comes close to the Fit when it comes to passenger and cargo flexibility.
Still, the question remains whether all of the Fit’s ongoing attributes, together with the 2018 improvements, will boost its sagging sales numbers, or more precisely whether Honda will be able to keep up to customer demand. To be clear, the roller coaster ride Honda’s smallest car has endured since being available in North America is unusual to say the least. For some background, the first-generation Honda Fit came in with a bang after arriving on Canadian soil in April of 2006 with 10,634 sales, which quickly escalated to 13,507 deliveries in 2007 and then an all-time high of 14,836 down the road in 2008, but since then it’s experienced sales chart mayhem.
With more in common with the highly volatile Bitcoin cryptocurrency than anything automotive, Fit sales ebbed to 9,553 units in 2009 despite seeing an all-new second-generation model arrive partway through the year, after which it dropped to 7,900 deliveries the following year, and then plummeted to just 2,835 in 2011. Calendar year 2012 saw improvement to 4,736 units before a strong 2013 with 9,512 buyers, whereas the advent of the current third-generation Fit in 2014 provided 11,732 deliveries for its best sales results so far this decade.
Since then it’s been on another downward spiral claimed to be due to production issues caused by the immensely popular HR-V subcompact SUV that’s built at the same plant in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, the result being 9,088 Fit deliveries in 2015, 8,622 in 2016, and after six months of 2017 a meager 2,191 units leaving Canadian dealerships. To ease pressure on its Mexican facility and support the car’s many North American advocates Honda started importing additional Fit models from its production facility in Japan, but evidently not enough.
To appreciate how much ground the Fit has lost since last year came to an end, its 8,622 unit total made it second most popular in the subcompact class when compared to the Accent’s 19,198 sales, but by the close of Q2 2017 it stood sixth out of 11 competitors, with two of the segment’s five slowest sellers including a dedicated hybrid and a full electric model. These would be the Toyota Prius C and new Chevrolet Bolt, with the competitors having past it for second, third, fourth and fifth place in the sales race being the Nissan Versa Note with 4,436 deliveries, the new Yaris Family (including the Yaris hatchback and Mazda-sourced Yaris iA sedan) with 3,053, the Mini Cooper with 2,762, and the Chevrolet Sonic with 2,712. Only the Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta, which also experienced dramatic declines in popularity this year, did worse with 2,122 and 1,052 sales respectively, other than also-ran Fiat 500L that only managed a paltry 32 sales during the same six months.
Along with the usual production issues, some of the Fit’s most recent difficulties can likely be blamed on a purposeful slowdown of production ahead of this 2018 model’s launch so that dealers don’t end up with excess stock, but not all. Either way, if you’re hoping to get your hands on a new 2018 Fit it’s probably a good idea to do so sooner than later.
Automotive icons are ripe for special editions, from Ford’s Mustang and Mini’s Cooper to this very VW, the car in question being the unusual crossover SUV-style Beetle Dune. Today we bring it to you…
The unorthodox Dune hit the market last year and caused quite a stir amongst the VW Beetle faithful. I'm not talking about those who adhere to the wonderful little air-cooled rear-engine "Bug" that put Volkswagen on the global map more than half a century ago, but more so those weaned on the modern-day front-engine, front-drive version that wowed the world as the Concept One when it landed on VW's Detroit auto show stage in 1994 and eventually arrived as the New Beetle in 1997.
It was thoroughly and effectively redesigned in 2010 for the 2011 model year, the "New" internally named A4 version then old, resulting in the simpler "Beetle" nameplate getting the nod for this A5-based third-generation. It remains less frou-frou and therefore appeals to brawnier types, which has inevitably led to some very eye-catching special editions.
The best of these, in my opinion, is the Classic that arrived for 2015, which now seems to be a permanent fixture within the Beetle lineup, Read Full Story