It’s true, Nissan is walking away from the full-size pickup truck segment in Canada. The Titan before you, as impressive as it is, will no longer be available north of the 49th, aside from Anchorage or Fairbanks.
As with most cancellations, it came down to a lack of sales. Nissan sold a mere 1,218 units last year and just 2,807 in 2019, while even at its peak of 2017 the Japanese automaker found just 5,692 Canadian buyers. This is actually bad news for Toyota, because its Tundra will now inherit lowest sales status, despite managing to push out a respectable 11,053 units last year (it’s high of 11,738 was in 2018). Although the Tundra’s numbers may appear lofty when shown next to the Titan’s, even mighty Toyota’s full-size offering hardly matches Ram’s 83,673 full-size pickup truck sales in 2020, or GM’s collective Chevy/GMCSilverado/Sierra deliveries of 104,279 units during the same 12 months, while Ford once again topped them all last year with 128,650 F-Series down the road.
The sad reality is, Nissan’s failure to launch the Titan as a serious full-size pickup truck contender has nothing to do with the vehicle’s quality and capability. It’s one rugged, well-built half-ton, or rather two tough trucks when factoring in its larger Titan XD heavy-half sibling, with its only serious weaknesses being fewer cab/bed options and just one, lone V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission combination.
Currently, the Titan is just available as a Crew Cab in Canada, having dropped its smaller King Cab variant for 2020. Both cabs remain in the US, although American buyers can no longer purchase the Single Cab work truck.
The Titan’s sole V8 displaces 5.6 litres and makes 400 horsepower plus 413 lb-ft of torque; the XD’s turbo-diesel was discontinued for 2020. Part-time four-wheel drive is standard in Canada, with no lower priced rear-drive alternative, but it must be said the Titan’s nine-speed automatic transmission certainly gives it an edge compared to some competitors, Toyota’s Tundra only offering six forward speeds. Still, Ford uses a 10-speed automatic in all of its full-size trucks, while GM offers the same transmission (literally) in some of its large pickups.
Notably, Nissan Canada’s retail site never bothered updating its Titan page with a 2021 model (clearly displaying the 2020 truck instead), even though the brand’s dealers continue to advertise the newer model year, plus third-party car sites, such as CarCostCanada, have integrated all 2021 specs along with the elimination of base S trim, which was $50,498 before, and addition of a new base 2021 SV trim for $63,698. Now (June 30, 2021), Nissan isn’t even showing trucks as an option on its side pull-down menu, strangely hoping would-be 2022 Frontier customers manage find the redesigned model in its “Future & Concept” section.
The just-mentioned 2021 base price doesn’t come anywhere near to matching the entry prices of the Titan’s domestic rivals, by the way, with the class-dominating F-150 starting at just $34,079, which isn’t even as affordable as the base Chevy Silverado 1500’s $32,048 entry point, or for that matter the Sierra 1500’s lowest window sticker of $33,248. The least expensive Ram 1500 Classic is priced just a bit higher at $36,890, and the aforementioned Tundra significantly more at $47,010. Compare those numbers to the Titan’s $63,698 base price, and it’s easy to understand how it might be difficult to get someone’s attention, unless they clearly understood that similar equipment and trim levels sold by all of the above cost around the same.
Unfortunately, that’s not how we tend to buy vehicles. There’s a reason that dealers advertise a vehicle’s base price, after all. We might initially become interested in a Silverado because it’s the lowest priced truck on the market, but after we get sold on one with more features, we quickly forget about the initial “loss leader” that motivated us to come down to that particular dealer in the first place. Soon it’s all about how much you can afford each month, and the sales team turns you over to the finance department.
To be clear, the domestic trucks’ lower prices are mostly due to their inclusion of regular cab body styles, multiple engine choices, and a whole lot of additional trims, with the cheapest of each U.S. brand’s truck focused more on attracting high-volume commercial fleet buyers. The sheer volume of such trucks sold actually allows for the seemingly endless cab, bed, engine, drivetrain and trim combinations to exist, making it possible for a buyer to configure a truck exactly the way they want. Most pickup truck consumers, however, would rather buy a well-equipped four-door pickup, which is the key reason Nissan and Toyota only offer such variants.
The Titan I most recently tested was a Crew Cab Pro-4X optimized for off-road work and pleasure. So equipped, it’s priced at $66,998, which is right in the realm of pricing acceptability for this class of truck. As stated earlier, the sales leads enjoyed by Nissan’s rivals have nothing to do with any specific competencies over the Titan. It’s a tough, capable on- and off-roader with better than average expected reliability, beefy towing and payload capacities of 9,270 lbs and 1,580 lbs respectively, plus no shortage of style. I think the Titan’s recently refreshed design, and particularly my Pro-4X-trimmed test model’s upgrades, look great, while Nissan’s interior finishing was even a bit more refined than some of its competitors.
In detail, the Pro-4X’s dash top was completely covered in a padded soft leather-like synthetic with cool orange contrast stitching, while others only apply hard plastic to this area. This said, Nissan only uses hard-shell composites for the Titan’s door uppers, which makes them uncomfortable for those who like to rest their elbow next to the side window. The Titan does provide nicely padded leatherette door inserts above even more comfortable armrests, also featuring contrasting thread work, while the Japanese model gets even more pampering with a soft, padded bolster ahead of the front passenger.
The Titan Pro-4X’ seats also include contrast stitching, complete with the model’s “PRO-4X” logo embroidered into their backsides, but their wide, flat shape didn’t allow much side support for my smaller body type. The driver’s seat was multi-adjustable, however, providing good positioning, but its two-way powered lumbar support never met up with the small of my back as well as others do in this class. At least it was roomy and accommodating.
Rear occupants get limousine-like legroom, while seat comfort in back is decent enough. An airy panoramic sunroof made my tester feel even more spacious, while rear outboard passengers get the comfort of a warmer behind thanks a set of seat heaters.
Back up front, the Titan Pro-4X’ steering wheel is leather-wrapped with sporty thumb indentations for optimizing comfort and control, plus yet more contrast stitching gave it plenty of style to go along with its heatable rim (not available with every rival), while Nissan’s multi-information display is also larger and filled with more features than some others in the class, but is missing some useful ancillary dials within a primary gauge cluster that’s otherwise analogue.
The Titan’s centre touchscreen is fairly large and plenty colourful too (the permanent blemishes to my test model’s display were due to a previous journalist’s ammonia-infused wipe down), with no shortage of functions either. High-quality switchgear could be found through the cabin as well.
I learned how to drive using column-shifters, so naturally didn’t mind swapping cogs next to the Titan’s steering wheel. The arrangement (also used by Mercedes for most of its cars) frees space up on the lower console as well. The aforementioned nine-speed auto was updated by two forward gears for 2020, and delivers smooth, positive shifts via fast kickdowns when needing to take off quickly. And yes, the Titan sprints away from stoplights with little hesitation, blasts past slower moving highway traffic with only a hint of provocation, and provides a soul-stirring V8 snarl while doing so.
Like most trucks in this segment, the Titan rides on a fully-boxed frame and uses an independent suspension up front plus traditional leaf springs in back, which provide good composure over the majority of surfaces. The Ram 1500 is the only large truck that utilizes coil springs all-round, while all trucks in this class use steel for their cabs and boxes, other than the F-150 that’s significantly lighter due to an aluminum out shell.
Nissan has an enviable 4×4 heritage, which left me with no concerns about going off-road with the Titan. It features a dial for engaging two- and four-wheel drive high, plus four-low when the going got tough, while its electronic and mechanical driving aids not only aid handling during slippery condition on pavement, but help overcome challenges on the trail as well. Therefore, it was easy to crawl over rocks and logs before swamping through ruts and mud-soaked pits, not to mention plenty of deep sandy spits, while generous suspension travel helped make the Titan’s ride comfortable at all times.
When it comes to reliability, plus resale value, the Titan should fare well over time. Yes, I know it’s being discontinued, which never helps when trying to predict the latter, but Nissan has a great reputation for holding values overall, and trucks tend to do better than cars in today’s market. There are even some models that start going up in value, something we’ve seen with well-cared-for examples of the Xterra and earlier off-road capable versions of the Pathfinder in recent years. The Armada may experience similar depreciation resilience if the overland trend continues, so it makes sense that trucks like this Titan will also hold onto their value in the used market.
After everything is done and said, the Titan isn’t perfect, but it scores high in all the categories it needs to, particularly its better than average expected reliability, impressive refinement, well-stocked features, thoughtful design, solid construction, and potent powertrain. It’s not even that bad on fuel with a claimed combined city/highway rating of 13.3 L/100km, so you might just want to snatch one up before all the new ones are forever gone from this country.
If you want the purist of 911s, look no further than the fabulous GT3 coupe (we covered in detail here). While not as ultimately fast as the previous-generation GT2 RS, that turbocharged super-coupe once…
If you want the purist of 911s, look no further than the fabulous GT3 coupe (we covered in detail here). While not as ultimately fast as the previous-generation GT2 RS, that turbocharged super-coupe once again winning bragging rights at the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife just a week ago, this time chopping a sizeable 4.747 seconds from the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series lap time on its way to claiming fastest production car status, the naturally aspirated GT3 nevertheless churns out 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque from its 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine, and makes beautiful 9,000-rpm music while doing so.
How does the GT3 stack up on the track? Of the top-10 fastest production cars to ever course through the old 20.8-km portion of the Nürburgring track, which incidentally is known affectionately as “The Green Hell” due to its forested, mountainside surroundings, 300 metres of elevation, 73 turns, and legendarily challenging nature (racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart originally coined the phrase), five are Porsches and two are GT3s. Sitting in eighth is the current-generation (992) GT3 RS, with a lap time of just 6:55.34 minutes, while the ninth-placed car is a previous-generation (991.2) GT3 RS.
While the GT3’s track exploits are praiseworthy to say the least, it’s a race-ready supercar that can be easily seen as such by passersby (including the constabulary) while also purposely lacking a few modern-day 911 refinements, with an obvious leaning toward sport, rather than luxury. Porsche hopes its new Touring Package, available at no additional cost to 2022 GT3 buyers, will help those wanting to fly under the radar escape scrutiny, without being forced to give up on owning one of the most sought-after 911 models available.
Visually separating the regular GT3 from the new Touring Package-equipped variant is a switch to the more conventional deployable rear wing used on most other 911 models, which pops up out of rear deck lid when needed and otherwise hides away. This provides a more classic 911 coupe profile that attracts a lot less attention than the super-sized carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) one found on the original, but of course doesn’t deliver the same level of ultimate downforce, therefore reducing high-speed stability through corners. It’s a trade-off that some buyers won’t mind, however, especially when laying eyes on the specially designed rear grille. Additionally, the front fascia on Touring Package cars is body-colour, while high-gloss anodized silver-tone aluminum trim surrounds the side windows and polished metal highlights the tailpipes (Satin Black is an option for both).
The Touring Package doesn’t swap out the regular GT3’s CFRP hood and front spoiler for lesser variants of each, fortunately, and doesn’t mess with anything under that just-noted rear wing either, although a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission can now be had with either GT3 model, and like the Touring Package itself, is a no-cost option.
Silver-painted versions of the same 20-inch front and 21-inch rear forged alloy rims come shod in respective 255/35 and 315/30 ZR performance rubber with the new Touring Package, once again encircling Satin Black centre locking caps with regular Porsche crests rather than “GT3” logos.
If you choose a subtler exterior colour when for your Touring Package-equipped GT3, like Agate Grey Metallic or GT Silver Metallic, rest assured GT3 badging will still be part of the ownership experience. Still, along with the new rear engine grille, Porsche revised its designation to read “GT3 touring”. Of note, this wide-body 911 is still available with every exterior colour and shade offered for the regular GT3, including Chalk and more outlandish hues like Lava Orange, Python Green and Shark Blue.
The Touring Package interior gets upgrades too, including an extended black leather upholstery package that enhances the steering wheel rim, gear lever, centre console lid, door panel armrests, and door grips, while edging the dash and both door uppers with a special embossed surface treatment.
This said, quick glance at the racing-style seats in the Touring Package might make you believe they’re unchanged, but closer inspection shows a unique fabric used for their centre panels, plus embossed Porsche crests in place of the usual GT3 logos on the headrests. Finally, Touring Package door sill guards receive a brushed black aluminum treatment that’s also applied to some dash and centre console components.
It should be noted that GT3 Touring Package buyers can also opt for multiple two-tone cabins that add coloured leather to the interior’s lower half.
Those wanting to upgrade their GT3 Touring Package-equipped car even further will be happy to know that most regular GT3 options can still be had, including all wheel colours, the Porsche Dynamic Light System and Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus, every driver assistance system, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Smart Front Axle Lift, and all the same alternative seats, while an available Bose Surround Sound System is on the menu too, plus, of course, the Sport Chrono package.
Any added weight (which is not accounted for on Porsche’s retail site or in any press releases) hasn’t impeded performance, with both regular GT3 and Touring Package-equipped models sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in only 3.9 seconds when fitted with the six-speed manual GT Sport transmission, or 3.4 seconds with the standard paddle-shift-operated seven-speed PDK transmission. Likewise, terminal track speeds remain identical at a respective 320 km/h (199 mph) and (318 km/h (198 mph), but it’s possible that removing of the larger rear wing could allow Touring Package-equipped cars a slightly higher top speed, possibly even 322 km/h (200 mph).
The two GT3 models incorporate identical suspension setups as well, including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with ride-height lowering (by approximately 20mm). Therefore, both should provide near identical handling, although once again, elimination of the fixed rear wing will make a difference at high speeds, not to mention when scrubbing off speed via both GT3s’ sizeable 408 mm front and 380 mm rear brakes.
For a bit of history regarding the “Touring Package” name, it first came in use for a version of the 1973 911 Carrera RS, likewise providing a more luxurious trim upgrade for a model that could be seen as the GT3 of its generation. The Touring Package name was also revived for the sixth-gen 991-based GT3 in 2017.
If you’d like to bring your GT3 Touring Package experience into the office or back home, a special Porsche Design chronograph watch can be had as well. It boasts a sophisticated mechanical movement with a flyback second hand function, plus its winding rotor, seen through a caseback window, shares styling cues with the car’s wheel design. The rotor is even available in six different versions to correspond with your car’s personal configuration.
Each dial bezel is finished in Agate Grey Metallic, however, plus all dials receive a matte black surface, but each chronograph hand matches the bright luminous yellow colour of the GT3’s tachometer needle for another nice tie-in to the actual car. Attaching the beautiful watch head to your wrist is a strap made from the same embossed leather as that used in the Touring Package-equipped GT3, along with some black decorative stitching. This new chronograph is made in Porsche Design’s own Swiss watchmaking factory, and is only available to GT3 customers.
The New Porsche 911 GT3 with Touring Package (2:13):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
With five-passenger crossovers regularly at the top of the mid-size SUV sales charts in North America, Honda simply had to be in on the game. Therefore, in another attempt to replicate its small utility…
With five-passenger crossovers regularly at the top of the mid-size SUV sales charts in North America, Honda simply had to be in on the game. Therefore, in another attempt to replicate its small utility success in the large SUV categories, the two-row, five-passenger Passport joined up with the three-row Pilot for 2019.
Most automotive industry followers saw the initial news stories along with the usual follow-up pieces about pricing, trims, standard and optional features, etcetera, and then plumb forgot about the new SUV soon after. A smattering of ads that accompanied the SUV when introduced might have initially put it on some consumers’ radars, but it could’ve just as likely flown under yours, as they’re not exactly easy to spot on the road.
Honda delivered just 3,017 Passports in Canada throughout 2020, its first year of availability, and a mere 559 during Q1 of this year, which incidentally makes it the slowest selling mid-size SUV in Canada, other than Toyota’s new Venza that only arrived in September last year, yet still found 1,403 buyers (and at the end of March 2021 another 798 new owners), and Dodge’s 150-year-old Journey (ok, in reality it’s just 13 years old) that’s been discontinued for two years, yet still managed to lure in 420 bargain shoppers. This means by Q1 2021’s close, the Venza was already outselling the Passport by 143 percent, while by May’s end its lead had grown to 175 percent.
The larger Pilot, on the other hand, has enjoyed a fairly steady rise in sales over the past decade, with 2020 being its best year yet thanks to 9,340 new owners. This has allowed it to move up through the ranks, now sitting fifth amongst three-row SUVs, with 11 contenders trailing behind, which once again has me wondering why the Passport hasn’t caught on.
After all, being dead last in any SUV category makes absolutely no sense for a brand that, until recently, had been swapping the lead baton back and forth in the compact SUV segment as if the CR-V and Toyota RAV4 were part of the same relay team. The RAV4 has since rode off into the sunset with 67,977 units down the road last year, much thanks to conventional gasoline, plus hybrid and plug-in Prime variants, but the single-engine-powered CR-V still held an extremely strong second place with 50,135 deliveries in 2020, the next brightest star being Mazda’s CX-5 with 30,583 down the road during the same 12 months. Just why Honda hasn’t been able to graduate a reasonable number of these CR-V owners into its mid-size Passport is hard to fathom, but, amongst other issues, it may come down to the larger SUV targeting an intrinsically different type of buyer.
The CR-V does well because it’s reasonably priced and fuel-efficient, plus nice enough looking, comfortable, amply spacious, technically advanced, historically dependable, capable of holding its resale/residual value, etcetera. I can say much the same about the Passport (the Canadian Black Book shows its larger Pilot sibling tied as runners-up with the Toyota 4Runner in mid-size SUV retained value, so one would think the Passport would fair similarly), although few people have even heard of this newcomer, plus its entry price is higher than the majority of its five-seat rivals, and it’s hardly as fuel-efficient as most of those too.
The CR-V occupies this same position on CCB’s compact SUV retained value list, incidentally, right beside the now defunct Nissan Xterra (a BIG mistake for Nissan to have dropped this model) and just below Jeep’s Wrangler, which makes me feel all the better about the countless times I’ve recommended Honda’s little runabout to new and pre-owned buyers, both here in reviews and personally to friends and colleagues.
The Passport (and its larger Pilot sibling) on the other hand, never came to mind when offering up my sage wisdom (ahem), but considering the CCB’s rating of the latter, I should probably start adding it to my list of large SUV recommendations. I’ll need to see whether or not the Passport catches on before it gets a full thumbs up, however, because a vehicle needs to have garnered a large enough group of waiting pre-owned buyers in order to maintain its value.
As happenstance is, halfway through writing this review I received a call from a friend who was surprisingly considering a lease takeover of a Honda Passport. He’s waiting for the next-generation Toyota 4Runner to launch, which he’ll probably buy far in advance, but until then he needs something to drive, because the lease of his previous 4Runner came due and he chose not to buy it out. Being that he’s already ok with driving a relatively thirsty V6, and that he won’t actually be purchasing, but effectively renting instead, I couldn’t argue against it, but I didn’t get behind the decision like I would’ve done so for a CR-V.
Instead, I recommended he check out LeaseBusters, a service that specializes in lease takeovers (and in full disclosure is affiliated with this site), in order to see what else might be available for $600 per month, the charge being asked for that specific 2019 Passport. It’s not that a Passport wouldn’t work for him, as it probably would, but I’d rather he suss out all available options before making what will probably be a two-year commitment.
To be fair, the Passport is much more fuel-efficient than any V6-powered 4Runner to date. While the next-gen 4Runner will probably ship with a hybrid, the current long-in-tooth model is rated at a dismal 14.8 L/100km city, 12.5 highway and 13.8 combined, compared to a relative 12.5, 9.8 and 11.3 for the Passport. The Pilot, incidentally, is good for a claimed 12.4, 9.3 and 11.0. Yes, you read that right. The larger, heavier three-row Honda gets better fuel economy than the shorter, lighter two-row variant. Go figure. It must come down to aerodynamics on the highway.
How does the Passport fare against immediate competitors? Toyota’s Venza comes standard with a hybrid power unit and therefore walks away with the mid-size two-row efficiency prize, its rating being 5.9 L/100km in the city, 6.4 on the highway and 6.1 combined. Ouch! No wonder it’s selling better. The Toyota’s $38,490 starting sticker doesn’t hurt either, especially next to this Honda’s near premium-level $43,670 entry price. That’s a $5,000-plus deterrent, combined with nearly twice the ongoing fuel costs. I’m not a big fan of the Venza’s styling, and I quite like the Passport’s looks front to back, but it’s hard to argue against such night and day savings.
As a useful comparo, let’s see how the Passport rates against all five-seat competitors when it comes to pricing and fuel economy with AWD (city/highway/combined) in the order of sales numbers:
Toyota Venza: $38,490; 5.9/6.4/6.1; 798 in Q1 2021; 1,403 from Sep-Dec 2020
While price and fuel economy doesn’t seem to affect the sales of cult-like 4x4s, such as Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner, it really does appear to impact car-based family haulers, such as Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Subaru’s Outback, the latter of which enjoys some built-in cult status of its own. Ford’s Edge has long been at or near the top of this pack, so it has earned its fair share of repeat buyers, even if it doesn’t quite measure up empirically, while Kia’s Sorento does well by delivering a whole host of positives including value. Chevy’s new Blazer should be doing well, but its lofty price no doubt causes pause from savvy shoppers, whereas the Passport’s highest starting price amongst car-based crossovers is no doubt pushing it down the pecking order.
Of course, what this interesting data dump doesn’t tell us is how these vehicles drive or how easy they are to live with. That’s where I come in, and while it would be outrageous to try and squeeze a segment-wide comparison into one review, I’ve covered many of these models earlier, or at least have driven most and will review as quickly as possible.
I commented earlier that you may not have even seen a new Passport on the road, but it’s more likely that you have and just didn’t realize you weren’t looking at a Pilot. While the Passport is a bit tougher looking, thanks to a blackened grille that appears bigger due to a deeper mesh insert, plus some additional matte-black lower body cladding, a revised liftgate that doesn’t include the Pilot’s additional blade-shaped taillight reflectors, and gloss-black wheels, it’s basically a shortened Pilot from the outside in. That’s not a bad thing since Honda toughened up the look of the Pilot for 2019, with both models now appearing rugged and SUV-like.
My tester wore a gorgeous Deep Scarlet Pearl paint job, one of four $300 optional colours available in Touring trim, including Obsidian Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, and Platinum White Pearl, with the only standard colour being Modern Steel Metallic. Once again, I admit to liking the way the Passport looks, especially in this rich colour. Due to its abbreviated length, the Passport appears more upright than its longer sibling too, resulting in even more of a traditional SUV stance, which is not unlike the original Pilot.
Classic SUV in mind, when Honda launched the Passport back in 2019, they made a point of showing photos of it doing some pretty severe off-roading manoeuvres, not to mention hauling camping gear such as canoes, kayaks and even a sizeable trailer, while a complementary video combined some energetic music with clips of it hustling up a mountainside dirt road, plus one close-up of a wheel in the air as part of a staged articulation exercise (check out my previous news story with photos and video). It was all in an effort to give the Passport a more rough and ready image than the Pilot, something its shorter wheelbase would allow for inherently, but there’s more to Honda’s two-row alternative than that.
Most notably, the Passport adds 28 mm (1.1 inches) of ground clearance over its Pilot sibling (with its standard all-wheel drive layout, or 13 mm/0.5 inches with US-exclusive FWD), allowing greater ease over obstacles such as rocks and roots or through deep potholes and ruts that can be found on any ungraded road or trail. What’s more, Honda’s enhanced i-VTM4 all-wheel drive system, which uses active torque vectoring to send up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear axle and 100 percent to either the left or right rear wheels, provides good traction when things get slippery, whether the surface below is cold and snowy or hot and sandy.
Honda’s Intelligent Traction Management (ITM) system adds another element to the Passport’s off-road capabilities, due to four driving modes that work together with its all-wheel drive system, including normal, snow, mud and sand selections.
Of course, most owners will never venture off pavement, which to be fair is true for ultra-capable 4x4s made by Land Rover and Mercedes too, so the fact that Honda’s AWD system also overdrives the Passport’s outside rear wheels while cornering in order to maintain grip is probably even more important to would-be buyers.
I can’t say that I’d be willing to torture a new Passport in “the world’s harshest environments” such as “the sands of Dubai, muddy country roads of Russia, and snowbound trails in Minnesota,” as Honda claimed was done during the Passport’s development, but I’d certainly be comfortable taking on the types of dirt roads shown in its launch video. I’d also be more than happy to test its mettle on the rougher sections shown in the photos, as long as it was part of a launch event and Honda’s PR team had ok’d it. I’ve done so previously with the brand during such programs, with especially good memories of getting down and dirty with the original Ridgeline.
As for towing, the Passport’s standard 2,268-kg (5,000-lb) rating (1,588 kg or 3,500 lbs for U.S.-spec front-wheel drive models) should be good enough for mid-size camp trailers and average-sized fishing and ski boats, while an “overhead” feature found in the standard multi-view camera makes connecting a hitch and trailer easier than ever before.
One of the reasons it provides such impressive trailering capability is the 3.5-litre V6 that so negatively impacts fuel economy. With 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, it’s the most potent base engine in its two-row class, which will either be a boon or a bane depending on your priorities. Honda has equipped it with an i-VTEC valvetrain and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) in order to enhance power while minimizing consumption, while its nine-speed automatic transmission with standard idle-stop that shuts off the engine when it would otherwise be idling, tries to maintain the fewest revs possible in its normal driving mode. Still, step into the throttle and the Pilot moves off the line quite nicely, while providing strong passing power on the highway.
Thanks to weight savings of 16 to 55 kilograms (35 to 121 lbs) depending on trim, the 1,890- to 1,914-kg (4,167- to 4,219-lb) Passport feels a bit more energetic off the line than the Pilot, with the just-noted transmission providing ultra-smooth, yet positively shifting performance throughout its range, via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters no less, this needed for manual mode, being that the gear selector is Honda’s array of electronic buttons and pull-tabs on the lower console (it gets easier to use with familiarity).
Likewise, for the suspension, which combines an excellent ride with more engagement through the curves than the larger Pilot, despite using the same fully independent front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link setup, featuring amplitude reactive dampers and Agile Handle Assist.
Combine its better handling and more capable off-road chops, with stronger straight-line acceleration and fractionally worse fuel economy, and the only negative left is cost. Of course, its near $44k starting point (which in fact is pricier than the larger Pilot’s $42,605 MSRP) is a big hurdle to overcome when compared to most rivals. Granted the Passport comes standard with AWD, which compares well to the majority of competitors that make it optional, but adding AWD to the aforementioned Santa Fe will only set you back $2,000 more at $33,399, although doing so with a V6-powered Murano pushes its price up by $6,000 to $40,098, because that model automatically includes mid-grade SV trim, featuring navigation, an overhead 360-degree surround parking monitor, a panoramic glass sunroof, and more.
The Passport comes in three trims, including Sport, EX-L and Touring, the latter two starting at $47,270 and $50,670 respectively. Colours and dealer-added accessories aside, none of the trims offer any options, with the only new feature since its inaugural year being a 2021 upgrade from a rather sad little 5.0-inch infotainment display in its most basic trim, to the much more respectable 8.0-inch display found in second- and third-tier trims last year, which incidentally comes complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, the aforementioned Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with dynamic guidelines, Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot display that provides a rear visual of your blind spot when flicking the turn signal, Siri Eyes Free, wi-fi tethering, control of a six-speaker 115-watt seven-speaker audio with a subwoofer, and more.
Some additional standard Sport features worth noting include 20-inch alloy wheels, LED (low beam) headlights with auto high-beam assist, LED DRLs, LED fog lamps, LED side mirror repeaters, and LED taillights, a front wiper de-icer, proximity-sensing keyless Smart Entry and Smart Start, remote engine start, a configurable 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display within the primary instrument cluster that features audio, trip and phone info (plus turn-by-turn route guidance on models with navigation), adaptive cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, two USB device connectors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink universal remote, a powered moonroof, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat including two-way powered lumbar support (that nicely met up with the small of my back), and more.
On the “more” list is the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistive and safety systems, which include Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) including Lane Departure Warning (LDW), plus Lane Keeping Assistance System (LKAS) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). These are joined by the industry’s usual assortment of active and passive safety items, plus Honda’s proprietary Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which unfortunately isn’t enough to even warrant a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, let alone revered Plus status.
The Passport does appear safe, however, thanks to best-possible “G” (for good) ratings in its “Small overlap front: driver-side”, “Moderate overlap front”, “Side”, “Roof strength”, and “Head restraints & seats” crash tests, but only an “A” (acceptable) rating for its important “Small overlap front: passenger-side” and “Headlights” tests, not to mention merely an acceptable rating for the its child seat LATCH system’s “ease of use” test (the latter item having nothing to do with safety).
It’s certainly easy to fold those rear seats down, however, which, by pressing electronic release buttons on the cargo wall, expands the dedicated cargo area behind the second row from 1,166 litres (41.2 cu ft) to 2,206 litres (77.9 cu ft). Interestingly, the first number is only 56 litres (2.0 cu ft) more accommodating than a CR-V, which might be another reason that owners of the smaller and more efficient Honda aren’t moving up.
Just like the CR-V, the Passport’s second-row seats split in the usual 60/40 configuration, which while not optimally divided in my favourite 40/20/40 split, which allows for longer items like skis to be placed down the middle, is the norm in this mainstream volume-branded class, while a reversible cargo floor swaps out carpeting for a washable hard plastic surface when needing to haul dirtier loads. Underfloor storage is segment-leading, by the way, measuring 71 litres (2.5 cu ft).
While cargo capacity might not be enough of a differentiator for CR-V owners to move up to the Passport, the larger SUV’s roomy passenger compartment might cause some to reconsider their allegiance. It gains 368 litres (13.0 cubic feet) over the smaller Honda, thanks to 3,282 litres (115.9 cu ft) ahead of the rear seatbacks for segment-leading spaciousness, while the Passport’s 4,448 litres (157.1 cu ft) of overall interior volume is best-in-class as well.
As importantly, the Passport is finished well inside, or at least my Touring trimmed example was. Before I get ahead of myself, some notable EX-L features include a quieter acoustic windshield to enhance refinement, a memory-linked driver’s seat and side mirrors with reverse gear tilt-down, rear parking sensors, HD and satellite radio, two more USB charging ports, leather upholstery for the seating surfaces, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, heated rear outboard seats, and a powered liftgate.
Lastly, my Touring model came with some special gloss black bumper skid garnishes, auto-levelling LED (low and high beam) headlamps, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, quieter front door acoustic glass, Blind Spot Information (BSI) with Rear Cross Traffic monitoring, additional ambient lighting in the cupholders, door panels and footwells, ventilated front seats, a superb sounding 550-watt 10-speaker audio upgrade, accurate navigation, a navi-based compass, 4G LTE in-vehicle Wi-Fi that can support up to seven devices, wireless device charging, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, and hands-free access for the powered liftgate.
As I mentioned a moment ago, my tester’s cabin was finished nicely, but Honda was careful that it wouldn’t compete with Acura’s MDX. The front door uppers and dash top receive a soft composite surface treatment, the latter down to the midpoint of the instrument panel, around the gauge cluster and surrounding the centre display, while the lower dash and door uppers are hard shell plastic. Likewise, for the glove box lid, while the rear door panels, save for the door inserts and armrests, are entirely made from hard plastic too. Hard plastic rear door uppers are unusually substandard for the mid-size class, with some compact SUVs, like Mazda’s CX-5, offering soft-touch door uppers and even real hardwood trim to go along with supple Nappa-leather upholstery. Like I said, the Passport isn’t trying to be premium in execution.
More impressive is the decently sized high-resolution touchscreen atop the mid-stack, this being one of the more attractive and easier infotainment system interfaces to use in the industry, and I’m not just saying this to leave on a positive note. The nicely coloured tiles are easy to navigate through, the graphics are large and clear, and the parking camera is superb.
So, after this epic, novel-length review is done, what’s the final verdict? I think the most important takeaway is the Passport’s overall goodness as an accommodating mid-size SUV that’s ideal for five adults and plenty of gear. Its on-road handling and off-road prowess should make for a good compromise when comparing it to less well-rounded alternatives, while its good forecasted reliability, and strong expected retained value might make up for its higher initial price.
This said, the Passport’s base price includes a lot of standard goodies, which if tacked onto some rivals would pull their dollar-for-dollar evaluations much closer this Honda. Still, it lacks some options mid-size SUV buyers like, such as the panoramic sunroof included in the much more affordable Murano. In the end, you’ll need to weigh each SUV’s advantages once getting closer to your final choice.
Whether on the road or track, history tends to repeat itself with Porsche. After attaining the highest podium position in the Canadian Black Book (CBB) “2021 Overall Brand Award – Luxury” for three years in a row, the German performance brand once again secured top spot in the 2021 study.
While Porsche scores strongly within all the categories it competes in, the Panamera retained the highest percentage of any rival in the Prestige Luxury Car class, and has done so for eight years running. Likewise, the Macan, which took first in its Compact Luxury Crossover category once again, has held the position for three consecutive years, while the 911, dominating the Premium Sporty Car class, is enjoying its second year on top.
“We are honoured and delighted to accept the Overall Brand Award – Luxury as well as three model accolades from Canadian Black Book this year,” stated Marc Ouayoun, President and CEO, Porsche Cars Canada, Ltd. “Consumers have many available choices in the market and we welcome these recognitions, which provide an additional reason to consider the brand. These outstanding acknowledgments by the leading authority highlight strong value retentions which ultimately benefit the customer.”
To be clear, the CBB study ranks vehicles on the retained percentage of their manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) after four years. Retaining the highest value means ownership costs less when it comes time for resale or trade-in.
Find out how a CarCostCanada membership can keep money in your wallet when you purchase your next new car, and be sure to download their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, so you can have all of this critical info at your fingertips when you need it most.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Kia has gone from a lineup of smooth, sleek cars and utilities, to embracing an edgier, sportier design language that’s all about forward thought and has little to do with hanging onto the past. Just…
At first glance, the 2023 Sportage appears like Kia’s most aggressive attempt to push that design envelope yet. If the current Sportage seemed to pull inspiration from Porsche’s Cayenne when introduced in 2016, the creators of this fifth-generation SUV were tapping into the genes of Lamborghini’s Urus, or at least Audi’s RS Q8.
This makes sense considering the president and chief design officer of the entire Hyundai Motor Group is one Peter Schreyer, previously responsible for Audi’s TT (and A3, A4, A6, etc.), Volkswagen’s New Beetle (and Golf, Eos, etc.), a slew of Hyundai and Genesis models, plus everything Kia has put to market since 2008 when he took over the design department. No wonder Kia has been producing such great looking models over the past decade.
The new Sportage is designed to turn heads, with a futuristic front fascia that’ll have you searching to find the headlights. They’re tiny LEDs in complex clusters set within two boomerang-shaped LED driving lights, both of which bookend the wide gloss-black grille positioned below a set of narrow, horizontal nostril-like openings. It’s a radical design that nevertheless should be pleasing to a large swath of SUV buyers that are currently wanting something sporty yet practical to trade up to from their less-appealing cars.
From profile, the new Sportage features a lot of side sculpting on the door panels, with a narrow greenhouse up top, for added visual length, and some really attractive detail around the lower rocker panels, giving the SUV an exposed structural look that lightens its overall presence.
While the new Sportage looks more conventional from the rear, its body-wide taillight cluster lends to a feeling of width, with a thinness at its mid-section that almost makes it seem like it was stretched into place. All of that delicate detail is supported by a meaty rear bumper section that’s a visual extension from the just-noted blackened rockers, continuing upward to encompass two-thirds the SUV’s backside, and capped off by angular metal-look trim that mirrors a similar treatment on the aforementioned rockers and lower front fascia, the latter surrounding a set of LED fog lamps. The edgy treatment continues over to the sizeable alloy wheels, which are machine-finished with glossy black pockets in order to make them an intrinsic part of the design.
“Reinventing the Sportage gave our talented design teams a tremendous opportunity to do something new; to take inspiration from the recent brand relaunch and introduction of EV6 to inspire customers through modern and innovative SUV design,” said Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Design Center. “With the all-new Sportage, we didn’t simply want to take one step forward but instead move on to a different level in the SUV class.”
Kia’s new design language, which they call “Opposites United”, continues into the cabin where the uniquely shaped air vents and horizontal instrument panel trim combine like parentheses to highlight the massive dual-display primary gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen within.
The single-screen layout follows a driver display design that both Kia and the namesake brand of its parent company Hyundai have been utilizing in their most recent models, which incorporates some of the most advanced tech in the industry, particularly rear-facing camera monitors that automatically provide a rearward view down either side of the vehicle when using the turn signal.
A row of switchgear follows the horizontal theme just below, integrating a nicely organized dual-zone automatic climate control panel at the mid-point, while a gently sloping piano black lacquered centre console is filled with an engine start/stop button, a rotating gear selection controller, a drive mode selector, and various other driving related buttons to the left, plus switches for the heated and cooled front seats and heatable steering wheel rim to the right. A wireless charging pad is likely fitted under the lidded compartment just ahead of this cluster of controls, along with USB ports and other connectivity/charging interfaces for personal devices.
“When you see the all-new Sportage in person, with its sleek but powerfully dynamic stance, and when you sit inside the detailed-oriented cabin with its beautifully detailed interior and first-class materials, you’ll see we have achieved those goals and set new benchmarks,” added Habib. “In the all-new Sportage, we believe you can see the future of our brand and our products.”
Kia hasn’t shown any other details, such as its front and rear seating or the cargo compartment, but capacities should be similar to the new Hyundai Tucson that shares its underpinnings, and that compact crossover SUV has grown in size from its predecessor, now measuring 4,605 mm (181.3 inches) from nose to tail, which makes it 155 mm (6.1 in) longer than before, with a 2,751 mm (108.3 in) wheelbase that’s grown by 86 mm (3.4 in), plus it’s around half an inch (12-13 mm) wider and taller than the SUV it replaces.
The Sportage has long shared mechanical components with the Tucson as well, so we can expect a version of the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which makes 190 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque in the compact Hyundai. The Tucson utilizes an eight-speed automatic transmission across its entire trim line too, which should be the only gearbox used in the Sportage as well, while Hyundai’s compact SUV provides a front-wheel drive train in lower priced models, plus optional all-wheel drive.
We can expect more details closer to the new Sportage launch, which should take place sometime next year. All the usual trims should be available, as well as an off-road oriented X-Line version, plus a new hybrid-electric based on the latest 2022 Tucson Hybrid.
I’ve rarely heard anyone say anything negative about Buick’s styling, at least not during the most recent decade. The brand combines a conservatively classy look with some elegantly sporty elements, resulting in clean, classic and mature design that mostly stands the test of time.
The recently discontinued Regal, a car I covered in its sportiest GS trim in 2019, is a good case in point. Few four-door sedans in its mid-size segment looked anywhere near as good, not to mention drove as well, but alas it’s gone the way of the dodo due to cars in this class falling out of favour with consumers. Ditto for the arguably better looking Regal TourX that was never offered in Canada, yet made five-door fanboys like me a tad jealous of my American friends. I should probably mention the 2016-2019 Cascada as well, a sharp looking Opel-designed four-seat convertible that remained south of the 49th as well.
The Regal ended its official tour of duty last year, although anyone interested can probably still find new 2020 models kicking around. That won’t be so easy if you’re looking to buy a new full-size Lacrosse, which ended production the same year as the just-noted Cascada, in 2019. It was another great looking four-door that drove well, especially on the wide-open highway, while the 2012–2017 Verano was Buick’s quiet, comfortable and reasonably quick answer to an entry-level compact luxury conundrum nobody had asked anything about since its forgettable Skylark predecessor drove off into the sunset back in last century.
I just finished a weeklong test of that model today, and it left such an impression that I came straight back to write a news story about the refreshed 2022 Enclave that will soon replace the very model you’re looking at here. Don’t worry, as plenty of 2021 Enclaves are still available, and without doubt Buick will tempt you with a deal that’s too good to pass up if you like what the current model has to offer.
When the Lacrosse left the scene back in 2019, the Enclave became Buick’s de facto flagship. I know, the thought of a large family hauler as a luxury brand’s most coveted model probably sounds a bit strange to those of us that have followed the automotive industry for decades, but we might as well get used to the idea, because big luxury sedans aren’t exactly flying off showroom floors these days.
Joining Buick, Cadillac also said goodbye to its largest CT6 sedan last year, while Lincoln dropped its near full-size Continental as well as its mid-size MKZ in 2020. Acura also dumped its mid-size RLX at the end of the same year, while Infiniti finally halted Q70 and Q70L production at the close of 2019, and Jaguar sadly said so long to its beloved XJ during last decade’s penultimate year too, and followed that up by discontinuing its compact XE last year.
Sorry to stir the tears, but most readers of this review won’t likely be crying about a shortage of low-slung sedans anyway. Today’s low interest rates are certainly keeping the wolves from entering through the front door, but be certain that automakers around the globe are preparing for survival of the fittest when those same rates are hiked upward to stave off inflation. Therefore, they might as well kill off the slow sellers and make better bets on more popular SUVs ahead of what would otherwise be certain carnage.
Until Buick arrives with a two-row mid-size crossover to fight it out against the regular-sized Lexus RX, as well as Lincoln’s two-row mid-size Nautilus, base versions of the new Genesis GV80, and the list goes on (such a model that should really be in their lineup to take the brand to the next level), the three-row Enclave is where sizeable enough profits can be found to keep Buick in the black.
At a starting point of $48,398 (plus freight and fees), the Enclave is clearly not going solely up against mainstream volume brands, especially when considering Infiniti’s QX60 is right alongside with a base price of $48,995. These numbers are only slightly less than where a conventionally-powered Highlander ends up when everything Toyota has to offer gets added on, or for that matter a Hyundai Palisade in its top-tier Ultimate Calligraphy trim. Honestly, those two would provide serious competition for this Enclave and others in its entry-level luxury class, if consumers chose to shop them against each other, but sometimes luxury is a mindset, and to that end Buick owns a bit more real estate in Banbury-Don Mills than Pickering, albeit certainly not much if any in Bridle Path.
The photos of this Enclave were fittingly taken in North Delta, by the way, a nicer suburb just west of Surrey, which for those not from the area is Vancouver’s version of Scarborough. Before getting lambasted for mentioning the latter two cities in what could be imagined as derogatory, there’s much good on offer from both, and a lot of visible wealth in nicely developed clusters. Still, everyone knows Surrey isn’t West Van or Southwest Marine Drive, just like Scarborough isn’t Rosedale or Forest Hill. Likewise, most everyone can appreciate that your new Enclave Avenir has more in common with the just-noted Toyota and Hyundai SUVs than a Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 or a Range Rover SV Autobiography.
Back to the here and now, changes to the 2022 Enclave only impact the front and rear fascias, wheels, and trim, with Buick combining design cues from the arguably more attractive Chinese version with the best of this 2021 model in order to arrive at another classically conservative luxury SUV option. To be clear, Buick has only shown photos of the top-tier 2022 Enclave Avenir so far, while the 2021 Enclave shown in this review wears the brand’s humblest Essence trim line. To be clearer still, this one is priced $3,000 dearer at $51,398 due to having all-wheel drive, and it also shows off a particularly attractive $1,495 Sport Touring upgrade package that adds a sportier black mesh grille, glossy Pitch Dark Night lower accent colouring, and upgraded 20-inch alloys.
Just the addition of AWD means a similarly equipped Enclave costs more than its Infiniti equivalent that comes standard with four-wheel propulsion, but I’m not going to even poke my head down any sort of comparison rabbit hole in this highly competitive class. Suffice to say the Enclave Essence is equipped with most features an entry-level luxury buyer should need, albeit not everything they’d want, hence the minimalist name, with key items including 18-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off LED headlights, heatable power-folding side mirrors, and more.
The more is found inside, where proximity-sensing entry will allow you to closer inspect its pushbutton ignition, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 4.2-inch colour multi-information display, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 10-speaker Bose audio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, universal home remote, power tilt and telescopic steering column, heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, Safety Alert driver’s seat that vibrates as a warning, perforated leather upholstery, three-way heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats with four-way powered lumbar, two-way driver memory, tri-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, heated second-row captain’s chairs for seven-person occupancy (a second-row bench for eight is available), power-folding 60/40-split third row, hands-free powered liftgate, 120-volt power outlet, remote start, and much more.
Standard as well, all Enclaves boast the Buick Driver Confidence Plus package of advanced driver assistive and safety tech that includes a Following Distance Indicator, Forward Collision Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking and Front Pedestrian Braking, plus Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, front and rear Park Assist, and IntelliBeam auto high beam assist headlamps.
As the Enclave’s long list of base features should let on, you won’t feel like you’re slumming it in this Buick. In fact, even this entry-level model provides fabric-wrapped A, B and C pillars, plus a higher quality of soft-touch synthetic on the dash top and front-to-rear door uppers than I can remember in previous iterations. It’s even nicer across the instrument panel facing, plus the lower section of the IP ahead of the front passenger that continues underneath the infotainment touchscreen and along the right side of the lower centre console. This surface treatment is beautifully stitched and finished in a supple leatherette up and down, while the left side of the centre console is padded nicely to protect one’s inner knee from chafing, plus it also extends down to the armrest. These areas were finished in a lovely caramel brown in my tester, in order to match the seats and door inserts that were also nicely stitched, with the former featuring perforated leather inserts.
The seat leather is softer than many at this price point too, while those previously noted warming front cushions heat to near therapeutic levels. Speaking of warmth, the climate control interface, while appearing somewhat rudimentary, did its job well, and besides, your eyes will more likely gravitate to the colour touchscreen overtop, which is one of the easiest to use in the industry.
I’ve been a big fan of General Motors’ infotainment systems for some time, and while I like Chevy’s more Apple-inspired jelly-drop interface even more than the classier Buick design, they both make ample use of a full colour palette and work identically. This version responded quickly to inputs, which was especially notable when moving the navigation map around with my fingertips (it didn’t skip a beat). GM navigation has never let me down either, so kudos to the tech department, while the backup camera was clear and complete with moving guidelines, plus the standard Bose audio system was excellent.
The Enclave’s primary gauges, on the other hand, are about as basic as such clusters get, and a bit of a letdown visually. Sure, the chrome trimmed analogue dials are nice, these to each side of chrome-edged gas and engine temp meters above, but the smallish multi-info display is housed in a square shape that makes it appear like an aftermarket add-on, while competitors have made things worse by showing up with entirely digital primary clusters that show virtual dials one minute, and then transform into giant maps when using the navigation system, or alternatively integrate rear-facing camera monitors that automatically show the SUV’s blind spot when flicking the turn signal. At least the Enclave’s steering wheel that frames it all is superb, with soft leather and a nice sporty feel, while the switchgear on each spoke is high in quality and works well.
The overhead console just above looks a bit like yesteryear too, but it’s functional and includes a sunglasses holder, plus LED reading lights and switches for the garage door opener, OnStar, SOS, and more. There’s no power sunroof button, because this base model doesn’t have a sunroof, and I must admit it’s a strange omission in any new car these days, and especially odd looking when the roof is this long.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, the manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel offers plenty of reach, which worked well for my long-legged, short-torso body type, while the seats were quite comfortable, albeit with hardly any lateral side support, so if you’re planning to push hard through the corners, you’ll need to find something other than the steering wheel to hang on to. I only mention this because the Enclave handles very well, especially with the 20-inch wheel and 255/55 tire upgrade from the package mentioned earlier, so I recommend looking further up the trim line to find something with sportier, more sculpted seat bolsters.
Likewise, the backrests on the Enclave Essence model’s second-row captain’s chairs are nearly flat too, but if rear passengers fold down their centre armrests they should be just fine when you’re having some fun on the way to the cottage. They’re generally comfortable seats, with ample legroom when slid all the way back. Second-row amenities include the aforementioned rear climate control panel and seat warming switchgear on the backside of the front console, where you’ll also find a set of USB chargers, albeit no air vents. Those are smartly integrated within the roof, which is the case for third-row passengers as well, and likewise for the LED reading lights.
Those in the very back get USB charging points to each side as well, while reasonably large rear quarter windows provide good outward visibility for rear passengers. The rearmost seats are comfortable enough too, while the aft compartment is generously roomy overall. There’s reasonable space for legs and feet, at least if those sitting in the second-row seats pull them forward a bit, while it’s also easy to flip those seats up and out of the way for third-row ingress and egress, only requiring a simple tug on a handle atop the backrest, while another lever below flips them down for storage.
They fold fairly flat too, as does the third row, providing loads of cargo space for almost anything you could want to haul. I was able to carry a double-wide Ikea Pax wardrobe system for a friend, along with its glass sliding doors, and there was room to spare thanks to 2,764 available litres when both rows are lowered, 1,642 litres behind the second row, or 668 litres of dedicated cargo volume behind the third row.
Even fully loaded, the Enclave should be strong off the line, thanks to a potent 3.6-litre V6 good for 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a nine-speed automatic that not only helps to cheat the pump with a commendable fuel economy rating of 13.0 L/100km in the city, 9.1 on the highway and 11.2 combined with FWD, or 13.6, 9.6 and 11.8 respectively as tested with AWD thanks in part to standard idle start/stop, but it provides absolutely seamless, smooth shifts, but then again if you engage manual mode, which requires a shift into the “L” position (that really makes no sense at all), its steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters help transform this calm and sedate traveling companion into a much sportier SUV than initially expected. In fact, BMW doesn’t even go so far as to hold its utility’s engines at redline before upshifting, so kudos to Buick for giving the Enclave such enjoyable performance. The V6 makes a notable growl too, although don’t take that to mean it sounds particularly sporty.
Of course, being a Buick the Enclave’s ride is extremely good. The driver and passengers are also well isolated from the elements outside when traveling at slower city speeds, with very little notable road noise. This is why I was a bit surprised by all the wind buffeting at highway speeds, the auditory kerfuffle so evident that I even made sure to check if all the windows were closed tight. This was an unexpected sensation from a brand that prides itself in providing vehicles with tomblike silent interiors, making me guess that upper trims are given an extra dose of Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” technologies.
This brings us back to the Enclave’s sub-$50k starting price, which is very affordable for a three-row luxury crossover SUV. It actually measures up pretty well to many that cost thousands more, but simultaneously might find itself a bit lacking when put side-by-side with some of the top trims produced by more common volume brands (for more competitive pricing information, be sure to check out my news story on the 2022 Enclave, which links to information about all luxury competitors as well).
Buick just took the wraps off its refreshed 2022 Enclave, and fans of the brand should be pleased with what they see. There’s nothing revolutionary about the design, with most styling cues pulled from…
Buick just took the wraps off its refreshed 2022 Enclave, and fans of the brand should be pleased with what they see. There’s nothing revolutionary about the design, with most styling cues pulled from its second-generation predecessor that arrived in 2017 as a 2018 model, and from the Chinese version that launched two years later for the 2020 mode year.
Fortunately, the outgoing Enclave was already an attractive crossover SUV, and the Chinese version even more so. Therefore, this mid-cycle makeover only grows the Enclave’s grille to give it even more premium presence, updates the headlamps and taillights for more fluid integration into the design, and sharpens the front and rear bumpers to add some visual width, resulting in even more premium appeal that Buick no doubt hopes will lure prospective buyers away from other brands’ three-row luxury SUV offerings.
Back down to earth, the updated Enclave’s new standard suite of advanced driving assistance and safety technologies, dubbed Driver Confidence Plus, features forward collision warning plus automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and finally automatic high beam assistance.
The Enclave’s sole powertrain offering remains a 310 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 mated to an advanced nine-speed automatic transmission and optional all-wheel drive (the base Essence AWD starts $3,000 higher, at $51,398), while top-line Avenir trim features an adaptive suspension.
Porsche’s new Taycan is one of the most technologically advanced electric vehicles available today, but that doesn’t mean non-engineering folk need to stay in the dark about how it works. Fortunately,…
Porsche’s new Taycan is one of the most technologically advanced electric vehicles available today, but that doesn’t mean non-engineering folk need to stay in the dark about how it works.
Fortunately, Porsche hired Bill Nye The Science Guy, a popular TV personality, to explain the science behind the tech, resulting in a five-part short video series. The episodes, which run from just under one minute to a-minute-and-a-half long, focus in on those technologies that separate the Taycan from key competitors, such as the model’s 800-volt battery, innovative aerodynamics, regenerative braking, two-speed transmission, and repeatable performance.
Named “Bill Nye Explains The All-Electric Taycan,” the YouTube series is filmed at the Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, California. The zany host helps clarify subject matter that would likely be difficult to understand for most viewers. He uses simple terms and silly antics, resulting in an entertaining series that’s fun for all ages.
The Taycan only arrived on the electric scene last year, but it’s already available in two body unique styles and four separate trims, the latter including the 4, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S.
The low-slung Taycan four-door coupe is available in three of the four trims, including 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, whereas the new Taycan Cross Turismo can also be had as a base model. What’s more, the Cross Turismo can be optioned out with an Off-road Design package that increases its ride height, and adds beefier, more aggressive styling upgrades.
Top-tier Taycan Turbo S trim is capable of accelerating from standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 2.8 seconds, due to its 750-horsepower twin-electric-motor power unit, while standard all-wheel drive means that all four tires maintain adhesion to the road no matter the surface below or surrounding conditions.