Nissan has taken a cue from Toyota’s best-selling RAV4 by toughening up the look of its Rogue for 2021, and if recent sales trends are indicative of things to come, most would-be buyers should find…

Nissan redesigns its popular Rogue compact SUV for 2021

2021 Nissan Rogue
Nissan has squared off some of the Rogue’s curves for 2021, and by so doing has produced a more assertive looking compact SUV.

Nissan has taken a cue from Toyota’s best-selling RAV4 by toughening up the look of its Rogue for 2021, and if recent sales trends are indicative of things to come, most would-be buyers should find its sharper angles and more rugged appearance appealing.

Like Toyota, Nissan has built decades worth of respect for its 4×4-capable SUVs and pickup trucks, so pulling a number of styling cues from its full-size Armada down to the more affordable, economical and car-like compact class certainly doesn’t hurt the new Rogue’s image.

To a lesser extent Honda did likewise with its CR-V, but other than ATVs and motorcycles the second-most popular compact sport utility’s maker doesn’t have any serious off-road heritage to pull from, giving Nissan and Toyota, not to mention Chevrolet, Dodge/Ram, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Kia and Mitsubishi, which also currently produce or have produced off-road-oriented trucks and SUVs, a unique advantage while the SUV sector continues to take over the entire automotive landscape.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The more rugged looking 2021 Rogue should be appealing to compact SUV buyers.

While the word aggressive is probably not applicable, the new 2021 Rogue looks more assertive than its predecessor. Nissan is quick to point this out in its press release, using words such as “edgy” and “adventurous” to describe the overall “spirit of the vehicle,” and expanding on that theme with phrases like “commanding presence,” “athletic strength,” and “adventure-ready exterior.”

While we all love creative marketing-speak, the expected Nissan design cues are clearly evident, including its new squared off V-motion grille up front and blackened D pillars at back, the latter creating the appearance of a “floating roof,” this now enhanced when choosing new two-tone exterior colour combos that allow for an all-black roof. Rugged looking lower body cladding beefs up appearances further, accentuated via a new “U-shape” bodyside design, while the attractive set of LED taillights don’t depart quite as much from their forebears as the new multi-level LED headlights do up front.

2021 Nissan Rogue
New two-tone colour combos help accentuate the Rogue’s blackened D-pillar design.

In a market that always seems to expand outer dimensions, a compact SUV that shrinks 1.5 inches from nose to tail and shaves 0.2 inches from its height is a welcome addition. While its shortened and lowered stance won’t be felt inside, these slight dimensional changes contribute to the crossover’s blunter more traditional SUV-like appearance without making it look too tall and boxy.

Unlike the RAV4, Nissan has yet to offer the new 2021 Rogue with an off-road trim line, the competitive Toyota having provided a more rugged looking and somewhat more 4×4-capable Trail version since its 2019 redesign, which can be upgraded with an even more empowering TRD Off Road Package for 2020, but that’s not to say the Rogue’s hardy new image is only skin deep.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Nissan seems to have really upped the Rogue’s interior design and materials quality for 2021.

In models equipped with Nissan’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, it starts with a centre console-mounted Drive Mode Selector that incorporates an “Off-road” setting for tackling more treacherous terrain, or at least it can help overcome unruly rocks and other reasonably sized obstacles poking up from the dirt on the way to the summer cottage. A “Snow” mode does likewise for slippery conditions, while the Drive Mode Selector also incorporates Standard, Eco and Sport settings when weather patterns are less extreme, these final three the sole settings available in front-wheel drive trims.

Enhancing traction further, the new Rogue gets an entirely new Vehicle Motion Control System that Chris Reed, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at the Nissan Technical Centre North America, claims to do “what a human can’t.”

2021 Nissan Rogue
An available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster lends the new Rogue premium appeal.

“The all-new Vehicle Motion Control predicts what the driver is trying to do by monitoring steering, acceleration and braking,” adds Reed. “It can then step in and help to smooth things out.”

Basically, Vehicle Motion Control joins the all-wheel drive system and Drive Mode Selector to provide individual four-wheel control, improving line traceability in order to smooth out corners via the braking system, and even applying an individual brake pad to do so. The system, which features a chassis control module that “monitors and adjusts engine, transmission, Vehicle Dynamic Control, all-wheel drive and steering functions” is especially helpful when “driving on snowy slopes, deep snow, snow flat turning and off-road driving (such as beach or dirt trails),” said Nissan in its press release, although it’s always on and therefore assists in all situations.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The optional 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is one-inch larger than the already sizeable 8.0-inch base unit.

As for the Rogue’s all-wheel drive system, it now incorporates a new electro-hydraulic controlled clutch that distributes torque quicker and more accurately thanks to an ability to predict front-wheel slippage, thus allowing for better rear torque distribution along with greater traction and responsiveness overall.

Speaking of responsiveness, a new quicker-ratio rack-electric power steering setup should result in more immediate turn-in, while a rigid six-position front suspension mounting and redesigned multi-link rear suspension will no doubt help to flatten out the curves.

This is important, as the new Rogue with be quicker thanks to an updated direct-injection 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 11 more horsepower and 6 additional lb-ft of torque, the new total being a nice even (or odd) 181 units apiece. In order to achieve this gain in performance, Nissan uses its GT-R-proven mirror bore coating technique to reduce friction and therefore enhance efficiency, while also adding a variable displacement oil pump, an integrated exhaust manifold and an e-VTC intake valve along with other improvements.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Wireless charging is available.

Yes, Nissan has been a technology leader as of late, so prepare yourself for some serious digital wizardry along with a bigger safety kit filled with new gear like Intelligent Driver Alertness that monitors steering patterns and if detecting drowsiness warns to take a break with a chime and coffee cup icon, Rear Door Alert that signals if you’ve left something or someone in the back seat when exiting, and Easy Fill Tire Alert that lets you know when a tire needs more air.

The brand’s Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driver assistive systems is included as standard too, with features like Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and High Beam Assist, while an unusual yet welcome addition is standard Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, which will automatically stop the Rogue if backing into an obstacle or worse, out into oncoming traffic.

2021 Nissan Rogue
An electronic shifter allows for a taller “floating” centre console with storage space below.

Of note, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Intervention and Intelligent Cruise Control with improved stop-and-go are optional, the latter integrated with an even more advanced version of Nissan’s semi-self-driving ProPilot Assist system. Safety improvements continue with 10 standard airbags instead of the six found in the outgoing Rogue, and extended crumple zones in case of impact. Additional options include a new four-door Intelligent Key system that allows the driver and passengers to open all four doors, this part of the Rogue’s new “Family Hub” combination that also includes tri-zone automatic climate control with two independent temperature zones up front and one in the rear.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue’s NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats are said to provide comfortable support along with standard front heaters.

Even more noticeable, the Rogue’s upper-crust trim gets a fully customizable 12.3-inch “Digital Dashboard” gauge cluster that completely replaces the conventional instruments with a colourful TFT display, although the base model’s regular primary gauge package is still advanced thanks to a 2.0-inch larger 7.0-inch multi-information display at centre, which is also capable of full personalization.

On top of this, literally, a supersized 10.8-inch head-up display unit projects key information onto the windshield where it’s easiest to see, while the standard 8.0-inch centre touchscreen display (already large for the class) gets increased to 9.0 inches for those willing to spend a bit more. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard across the line, with Google Maps and Waze (with voice recognition) integration available.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue is hardly short on standard or available features.

It all comes in a cabin that looks wholly improved over its predecessor, with many more soft-touch surfaces plus richer optional Prima-Tex leatherette or quilted semi-aniline leather upholsteries in Graphite, Grey or Tan, as well as nicer wood grains and metallic trims, while Nissan’s NASA-influenced Zero Gravity seats offer comfortable support along with standard front warming. The steering wheel rim is heatable in base trim too, a smart nod of respect to Rogue owners of all means, while rear outboard seat heaters are optional, as is two-way driver’s memory. Other options include a surround parking camera system Nissan calls Intelligent Around View Monitor, this combined with the aforementioned rear driver assistive systems.

A smart electronic shift lever is shorter and positioned closer to the driver, and due to not needing any mechanical hardware underneath, allows for a raised centre console with plenty of what-have-you space on a shelf below.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Cargo space appears generous, while new auto-folding rear seats add convenience.

The Rogue still doesn’t provide a centre pass-through in the second row or better yet, the 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks provided by some competitors, which allow owners to lay longer items like skis down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable, optionally heated rear window seats, but Nissan does include a one-touch automated folding mechanism with “an available remote fold feature” for convenience. The Japanese brand’s useful Divide-n-Hide cargo system is once again available too, plus a powered and Motion Activated Liftgate that lets you open the rear hatch by kicking your foot under the back bumper.

Once again available in S, SV and Platinum trim levels, the 2021 Rogue will be available this fall, with pricing expected closer to its launch date. If all this sounds like it’s worth waiting for, stay tuned for more updates, but if you’d rather take advantage of some pretty incredible savings available on the current model, check out CarCostCanada’s 2020 Nissan Rogue Canada Prices page that was showing up to $5,000 in additional incentives at the time of writing. All you’ll need in order to learn about available manufacturer rebates, financing and leasing deals, plus otherwise hard to find dealer invoice pricing is an inexpensive CarCostCanada membership. Find out how it works now and while you’re at it, download the free CarCostCanada mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

The Cayenne GTS is back, and much has changed since the model was last offered for 2018. First, the Cayenne was totally redesigned the following year in 2019, while in addition to that completely rejuvenated…

Porsche Cayenne GTS gets twin-turbo V8 power for 2021

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe
The new 2021 Cayenne GTS can be had in the regular body style or as this new Cayenne Coupe.

The Cayenne GTS is back, and much has changed since the model was last offered for 2018.

First, the Cayenne was totally redesigned the following year in 2019, while in addition to that completely rejuvenated third-generation SUV arriving on the scene, the outgoing Cayenne GTS was only offered in one single body style, whereas this new 2021 version can now be purchased in Porsche’s sportier fastback Cayenne GTS Coupe design.

What’s more, the old Cayenne GTS made its power from a twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 good for 440 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, but the new version boasts a much more enticing twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 capable of 453 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS
The more upright Cayenne GTS still looks very sporty when compared to most premium competitors.

The addition of 13 horsepower and 14 lb-ft of torque, combined with the new Cayenne design, makes for a quicker 4.5-second run from standstill to 100 km/h when the Sport Chrono Package is included, which is a 0.6-second improvement when compared to the outgoing model, while the base Cayenne GTS is good for a 4.8-second sprint from zero to 100 km/h. On top of this, the new Cayenne GTS can achieve a top track speed of 270 km/h, which is an increase of 8 km/h over its predecessor.

The revised direct-injection V8 incorporates a new intelligently designed thermal management system plus adaptive cylinder control to meet its performance requirements, while the Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic transmission is once again employed for shifting gears. Standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive is also carried over into the new model.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe
The Cayenne GTS Coupe can be had with a special high-frequency sport exhaust upgrade featuring two tailpipes centred in the middle of its more aggressive rear diffuser.

The new Cayenne GTS’ rear bumper features a standard sports exhaust system with two circular tailpipes per side, which Porsche claims to make “a rich, sporty sound with a unique character” in a press release. What’s more, when the Cayenne GTS Coupe is upgraded with the optional Lightweight Sports Package it can also be had with a special high frequency-tuned sports exhaust system. This model is easy to point out thanks to two large oval tailpipes at the centre of its more aggressively shaped rear diffuser.

Together with the new V8 powertrain, the updated Cayenne GTS incorporates some suspension improvements as well, including redesigned Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers that, combined with the standard three-chamber Air Suspension, drop the SUV’s ride height by 30 mm compared to the Cayenne S. Additionally, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) is included as standard.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe
The new GTS gets all of the upgrades seen since the 2019 Cayenne arrived, plus Alcantara and dark aluminum trim.

Both Cayenne GTS models roll on unique black-silk gloss 21-inch RS Spyder Design alloy wheels that encircle grey cast iron 390 by 38 mm front and 358 by 28 mm rear brake discs, clamped down upon via red-painted calipers. The GTS can also be enhanced with the tungsten carbide-coated Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) system, or even better, the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, while additional upgrades can include rear-axle steering and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilization system.

The new 2021 Cayenne GTS and Cayenne GTS Coupe would hardly be complete without a host of styling updates from the outside in, of course, so therefore together with the previously noted alloys the SUV’s exterior design features a standard Sport Design package including the usual black accents on the front air intakes, side window surrounds, tailpipes and rear Porsche logos plus model designation. Even the LED headlamps, which include the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS), are tinted in black, as is the new LED taillight bar in back.

2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe
Suede-like Alcantara seat inserts make for a soft, luxurious finish as well as a grippy surface that holds backside in place during hard cornering.

Porsche wraps the interior door and centre console armrests in plush suede-like Alcantara too, as well as the seat centre panels, the roof liner and more, plus dark-brushed aluminum cabin accents add to the SUV’s sporty yet premium ambiance. On this note, the front sport seats get more robust side bolstering and eight-way power as standard features, not to mention “GTS” embroidery on the headrests, while the GTS insignia is also found on the primary instrument cluster’s rev counter dial, the door entry sills, and the front outer door panels. Optionally, a GTS interior package comes with Carmine Red or Chalk colour accents, including decorative stitching.

The all-new 2021 Cayenne GTS and 2021 Cayenne GTS Coupe can now be ordered from your local Porsche retailer before arriving in the fourth quarter of 2020, with pricing starting at $120,400 and $126,500 respectively.

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

Ahead of the 2021 Arteon four-door coupe virtual world première set for June 24th, Volkswagen has released one image containing two artist’s renderings of the forthcoming model, one of which clearly…

Volkswagen reveals rendering of refreshed 2021 Arteon four-door coupe

2021 Volkswagen Arteon
Volkswagen will update the Arteon for model year 2021, but if we were to bring this artist’s rendering back to reality would it look a lot like the already sleek 2020 model?

Ahead of the 2021 Arteon four-door coupe virtual world première set for June 24th, Volkswagen has released one image containing two artist’s renderings of the forthcoming model, one of which clearly shows an elongated wagon-like body style similar in concept to Porsche’s Panamera Sport Turismo (see a full road test review of all Panamera models here).

While exciting news for five-door sport wagon fans in Europe, take note the new Arteon Shooting Brake, as it’s called, won’t be available in North American markets. Instead, Canada and the U.S. will only get the refreshed first-generation Arteon in its four-door fastback body style, which means the German automaker will have less opportunity to pull this model up from its sales doldrums.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon
It would be hard to imagine that 2021 Arteon getting any lower, longer or wider than the already slick 2019-2020 model.

Yes, as attractive as today’s Arteon is, the sleek sport sedan has been relegated to niche status in Canada. Sales during calendar year 2019 totalled just 456 units (although deliveries started partway through the year in March), which left it dead last in the volume-branded mainstream mid-size sedan segment. The Passat, its more conventional and much less expensive four-door sedan stable mate, finished one step ahead with 672 examples sold, and take note this happened well before 2020’s tumultuous health, economic and social woes shook up the market.

This last point in mind, over the first three months of 2020 (all that’s been reported so far, and mostly before we were hit by hard times) the Arteon’s numbers were even worse with just 81 Canadian buyers (which if extrapolated over four quarters would equal 324 sales), although the new 2020 Passat found 523 new owners during the first three months of the year (theoretically equaling 2,092 unit sales over four quarters), a clear sign that Canadians like the new 2020 model’s ground up redesign.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon
The current Arteon’s rear design is almost as alluring as its dramatic front fascia.

At first glance, the Passat’s positive initial 2020 sales results could bode well for the upcoming Arteon mid-cycle makeover, health, social and especially economic issues aside, but the current 2020 Arteon is already a stunner, and while the artist’s rendering appears longer, lower and wider with much larger wheels, typical of such cartoonish drawings, if one were to squeeze it back into reality the update should actually look much like the current car other than a slightly modified grille and lower front fascia, plus similarly mild modifications most likely applied to the rear.

The Arteon’s interior is currently the best Volkswagen has on offer, and while we shouldn’t expect wholesale changes, VW is promising to integrate its latest modular infotainment matrix 3 (MIB3) system for faster application processing, improved connectivity, greater overall functionality, and better entertainment.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon
Today’s Arteon offers the most luxurious cabin in VW’s current lineup, but nevertheless the German automaker promises improvements inside.

Volkswagen will also introduce more intelligent assist systems, such as “Travel Assist” semi-autonomous or “highly assisted driving.” Like other hands-on-the-wheel self-correcting driver assist systems currently offered by other manufacturers, Travel Assist has been designed specifically for long-distance highway use, with the Arteon capable of “steering, acceleration and braking up to speeds of 130 mph [210 km/h],” said Volkswagen in a press release, albeit “under the control of the driver.”

All of this could push the cost of the already pricey Arteon higher, however, the current version of this low-slung sport sedan hitting the road just a hair’s breadth under $50k ($49,960 plus fees to be exact), which is without doubt a key reason its sales are slow.

Kia’s Stinger, the only other four-door coupe in the mainstream volume-branded mid-size sedan segment, found 1,569 Canadian buyers last year, however, while walking away with 2019 Canadian Car of the Year honours, but this similarly sleek alternative is a considerable $5,000 less expensive and comes equipped with stronger base and optional performance as well as more features.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake
We shouldn’t expect this sweptback 2021 Arteon Shooting Brake here in Canada.

Right now it’s possible to lower a new 2019 Arteon’s base price to match the Stinger’s window sticker, mind you, with up to $5,000 in additional incentives available from Volkswagen, while the German automaker is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent for the 2020 Arteon. Not to be outdone, Kia is offering the same $5,000 in additional incentives on any 2019 Stingers still in stock or up to $4,000 in additional incentives for the 2020 Stinger, so take you pick. Learn more about these deals as well as available manufacturer rebates and otherwise difficult to source dealer invoice pricing at CarCostCanada. Also, make sure to download the new free CarCostCanada app from Google Play Store or the Apple iTunes store.

More detailed information about the 2021 Arteon, and the Euro-market Arteon Shooting Brake, will follow the upcoming world première later this month.

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Volkswagen

Have you ever wanted something so bad that your credit card just magically pops out of your wallet, all your personal info auto-fills the various fields, “accept charges” buttons unconsciously get…

New 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition a blast from Porsche’s storied past

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
Absolutely gorgeous! The new 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition will be limited to just 992 examples.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that your credit card just magically pops out of your wallet, all your personal info auto-fills the various fields, “accept charges” buttons unconsciously get pressed and confirmation emails immediately arrive? That’s what Porsche hopes will happen with its new very limited 2021 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition, and while most of us don’t have American Express Centurion cards that allow us to nonchalantly plop $205,900 plus fees for a frivolous sports car when such desires strike, enough high-rolling, Fed-infused Wall Street hedge managers do to make special projects like this happen.

The new 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition fits the phrase “modern-day classic” better than anything we’ve seen for quite some time. It’s based on the new 2021 911 Targa we shared here last month, and we have to say the car’s classic silver roll hoop body style suits this special edition’s retro design perfectly.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
Yes of course we want one, complete with its motorsport-inspired livery.

Unless you detest such memory lane recreations, or more specifically in this case, homages paying tribute to the glory days of Porsche’s beginnings, the 911 Targa 4S Heritage probably had you at hello. From its gorgeous Cherry Metallic paintwork (it’s also available in four alternative exterior colours), motorsport-inspired spear-shaped front fender stripes and circular decal-style number livery, and historically true 1963 Porsche Crest badges, rear mounted Porsche Heritage badge, and gold-tone nameplates, to its two-tone Bordeaux Red or Black leather and Atacama Beige OLEA club leather and corduroy-lined cabin, this is one stunning head-turner.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
The gold emblems are period-correct and oh-so cool.

Porsche goes even further with details like green backlighting on the tachometer and centre dash top-mounted “stopwatch”, which being typical of ‘50s and ‘60s cars, plus the microfibre roofliner gets perforations similar to past Porsches (and VWs). And those just-mentioned period-correct Porsche crests? You’ll find them on the key fob, hood, steering wheel and wheel hub covers, those latter items capping off wheels resembling the “five-leaf” Fuchsfelge alloys brought to market for the 1966 911S. Of course the new Carrera Exclusive Design alloys are staggered and much larger than those from Porsche’s past, now measuring 20 inches up front and 21 inches at the back, while framing a set of classic black brake calipers.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
For anyone that grew up in the ’60s or ’70s, there’s corduroy in this car! We’re half expecting to see geometric velour patterns in Porsche’s follow-up Heritage Design Edition.

This is the first example of four collector’s models from Porsche’s Heritage Design strategy, incidentally, and as was shown in this article’s first paragraph, it doesn’t come cheap. There’s always a price paid for exclusivity, and with just 992 of these special Heritage 911 Targas available (the number referencing the latest 911’s internal code name), its lofty window sticker will make sense to those capable of taking advantage. Porsche commemorates the example purchased with a beautiful gold metal “911 Heritage Design Edition XXX/992” dash plaque, with the number “000” shown likely kept for Porsche’s own collection.

The 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition pays obvious tribute to late ‘60s and early ‘70s 911 Targas, but Porsche makes the point of claiming this car represents four decades of classic 911s.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
Porsche pulls the green background lighting in the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition’s gauge cluster from ’50s and ’60s-era 356 and 911 models.

“We are evoking memories of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in customers and fans with the Heritage Design models,” stated Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG in a press release. “No brand can translate these elements into the modern day as well as Porsche. In this way, we are fulfilling the wishes of our customers. With the exclusive special editions, we are also establishing a new product line which stands for the ‘lifestyle’ dimension in our product strategy.”

As noted before, this first example of the four Heritage Design models is based on the all-new 2021 911 Targa 4S, and therefore is as modern as the new the new 992-generation gets under the skin, including all of Porsche’s latest chassis tech, driver assistance systems, infotainment advancements, and more. Below its automatically deployable rear wing is 443 horsepower worth of horizontally opposed, twin-turbocharged, six-cylinder greatness combined with a paddle-shift prompted eight-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission. It’s capable of shooting from standstill to 100 km/h in less than 3.6 seconds (when Launch Control is engaged) and maxes out at a track speed of 304 km/h.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
Each of the 992 examples get this beautiful numbered plaque on the dash shelf.

Classic car aficionados have long appreciated how horology has played an important role in the automotive industry’s beginnings, in that early watchmakers provided the same types of instruments we now refer to as gauge clusters. Porsche remains true to its past with the beautiful analogue clocks found on the centre dash tops of all models, which can usually be upgraded to a complex chronometer stopwatch and lap counter by adding its Sport Chrono Package. Exclusive to 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design owners, Porsche Design, a majority-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, although a credible luxury watchmaker on its own, has created the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design edition chronograph wristwatch.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
Of course, it goes without saying that you must have the matching Porsche Design wristwatch too.

Once again just 992 examples will be manufactured, and come complete with a face featuring a white seconds hand and “Phosphorus Green” rings around its perimeter like the primary instruments in both the 356 and original 911 Targa. Additionally, its Arabic hour indices are styled in typical Porsche block lettering, while the leather strap is produced from the same hides as those found in Porsche interiors.

This watch and the new 2021 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition are available to order now before arriving in Canada this fall. And yes, if you’ve read this far you definitely don’t have an American Express Centurion card, or you would’ve already placed your order. 

Those that end up missing out on the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition, yet still have some room left over on their platinum cards, should take a look at our recent overview of the 2021 911 Targa 4 and 4S (it only starts at $136,000), and then click on one of CarCostCanada’s 2019, 2020 or 2021 Porsche 911 Canada Prices pages to find out about available manufacturer rebates, financing and/or leasing deals, and otherwise hard to get dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Right now factory leasing and financing rates can be had from zero percent on all of the above model years. Knowledge is everything, and in this case a CarCostCanada membership is a small price to pay for all the savings coming your way. Also, make sure to download the new CarCostCanada app from Google Play Store or the Apple iTunes store.

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

Now that the entirely new 2020 Palisade is garnering positive reviews and gaining plenty of new owners, the time was right for Hyundai to give its top-selling Santa Fe a bold new face as well. This said…

Hyundai updates the Santa Fe with a bold new look for 2021

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
The 2021 Santa Fe shows a bold new face for this popular model, and a possible styling risk for Hyundai.

Now that the entirely new 2020 Palisade is garnering positive reviews and gaining plenty of new owners, the time was right for Hyundai to give its top-selling Santa Fe a bold new face as well.

This said not all onlookers are pleased with the design direction the South Korean brand is taking its popular mid-size five-passenger crossover SUV, with a quick CarCostCanada poll showing 100-percent of respondents preferring the outgoing model to the new one. Still, playing it safe can often result in more criticism while sticking your neck out with something daring might only cause initial pushback, so time will tell how buyers respond to the new model when it arrives later this year.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
The current 2019-2020 Santa Fe offers a more conservative styling approach, yet still provides a distinctive design.

One thing is for sure. There won’t be many mistaking the 2021 Santa Fe from its competitors, thanks to a distinctive new widened grille that looks one part Hyundai and another part Fisker thanks to extending right out to each corner of the frontal fascia. It’s nevertheless mostly unique, and according to Hyundai’s press release accentuates the SUV’s “wide and well-balanced stance.”

“We modernized the New Santa Fe with premium features and appealing aesthetics that are sure to add value,” said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and head of Global Design Centre. “The bold lines that extend from one side to the other and from front to back give Santa Fe a rugged yet refined look that SUV customers want. Besides, we’ve added numerous features and functions to create a truly family-focused SUV that is a pleasure to drive.”

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
This version of the 2021 Santa Fe shows a different grille design with octagonal insert openings, plus medium grey lower bodywork.

Hyundai didn’t explain why the new grille’s “signature geometric patterned inlay” is different depending on which photo is shown, however, the model with body-colour painted lower trim (most likely the new top-line Santa Fe Ultimate) receiving seven rows of isosceles trapezoids, and the model with dark grey lower bumpers and rocker panels getting better aeration via larger octagonal vent openings similar to those currently in use, resulting a sportier appearance. Are these actually different grilles or the result of active grille shutters? We’ll learn more as additional info gets introduced closer to launch.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Flat-planed wheel arches provide a solid looking stance.

As it is, not a lot has been revealed in Hyundai’s 2021 Santa Fe release, other than nine exterior photos of white-painted examples in the two trims just noted. Both receive all-new T-shaped signature LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), however, which distinctly flow from the lower grille extensions up to the headlamp clusters, where each T’s stem gets capped off by its glowing cross-member. The outer tip of each T visually continues rearward along the new Santa Fe’s beltline before meeting up with a crease in the model’s redesigned wraparound LED taillights, while thicker flat-planed wheel arches “accentuate the SUV’s rugged and powerful character,” adds Hyundai, which house large 20-inch alloy wheels featuring a seven-spoke geometric pattern in the two Santa Fe trim-line examples shown.

From the rear, the new 2021 Santa Fe receives more horizontal styling elements to bring attention to its wide stance, including a thin light bar connecting the new taillights just mentioned, and lower down on the bumper a narrow reflector strip spanning most of the model’s width, plus a wider, larger rear vent cutout and metallic skid plate below that, which Hyundai dubs “a unique three-layer look.”

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Unique 20-inch wheels provide a seven-spoke geometric design.

Although Hyundai provides no photos of the updated 2021 Santa Fe interior, it shares some info in the press release that sheds some light on what we can expect. Keep in mind the current 2019-2020 fourth-generation Santa Fe (read our road test review of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate here) is already one of the more luxuriously equipped two-row crossover SUVs available in the mainstream volume-branded auto sector, but according to Hyundai the new updated model provides “more space, comfort, and convenience,” and adds “a new level of luxury with every component finished in premium soft-touch materials.”

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
The new Santa Fe’s rear design includes a new light bar between the taillights and a horizontal reflector strip spanning most of the bumper.

Hyundai continues by saying the new Santa Fe’s centre console “sits high, giving the driver and front passenger the feeling of sitting in an armchair,” while all switchgear is “centered for intuitive and ergonomic use.” What’s more, like with the new three-row Palisade, the new Santa Fe’s reworked lower centre console receives a quad of buttons for gear selection, replacing the conventional shift lever. This is possible due to the new Santa Fe’s shift-by-wire transmission, and while no photo was provided for publication, we noticed one on the 2021 model’s press site page that’s most likely the real deal. It looks identical to the Palisade’s centre stack and lower console, so therefore, while we can’t be certain which model it comes from, it’s safe to say we’ll see something similar if not exactly the same in the updated Santa Fe. Either way, we’ve included it in our photo gallery above, so make sure to check it out. 

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
The current 2019-2020 Santa Fe gets a more upright design and an arguably more rugged looking rear bumper.

The new button-type gear selector receives a right-side extension housing a new Terrain Mode dial selector with stylish knurled metal edges that optimizes the performance of Hyundai’s HTRAC All-Wheel-Drive system, including Sand, Snow and Mud settings, plus Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart modes (the latter intuitively recognizing and automatically responding to personal driving style). Additionally, five more buttons provide quick adjustment to various driving and parking camera controls.

The new drive controls sit below two redesigned rows of centre stack switchgear, the top silver-painted row mostly for adjusting the larger, wider 10.25-inch AVN (audio, video, navigation) high-definition infotainment touchscreen atop the dash, this interface featuring power/volume and tuning/scrolling/enter knobs with the same knurled metal-look grips as the Terrain Mode selector, and the middle row also including LCD readouts for the dual-zone automatic climate control system, plus the same knurled metal edging on its “Auto” and “Sync” dials. The upscale detailing most likely continues into other areas of the cabin, but we’ll need to wait for more interior photos to know how far Hyundai has gone with such improvements.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Despite photos of the 2021 Santa Fe interior not being provided yet, a single photo of its centre stack and lower console appears on the automaker’s website.

The Santa Fe is Hyundai Canada’s longest running SUV nameplate, having originally arrived for the 2001 model year as a larger than average compact car-based crossover SUV. Now, four generations later it was the second best-selling five-passenger SUV in Canada during 2019 behind the Ford Edge, with 18,929 sales compared to the blue oval brand’s 19,965. This said, it was number one in the entire mid-size segment in 2018 with 24,040 units sold compared to 19,156 for the Edge, and that was after nearly a decade of class dominance with a peak of 28,402 deliveries in calendar year 2017.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
The new design feature T-shaped signature DRLs that strike upwards through the extended grille and into the LED headlamp clusters.

While Canadians clearly like the Santa Fe, Hyundai’s more recently introduced models are gaining traction in their various SUV segments too. The aforementioned Palisade was only introduced last year as a 2020 model yet 3,845 units were sold before the close of 2019. Sales were down for the first part of 2020 for obvious reasons, but from January through April the Palisade’s 1,285 units were nearly half of the Santa Fe’s 2,665 deliveries (the latter representing a 56-percent plunge), boding well for the larger utility when stronger sales resume, whereas the Kona (also available as an electric-powered EV) leads its subcompact SUV segment with 4,858 sales, the Tucson is close behind and third after the mighty Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in the larger compact SUV class with 4,733 units, and the all-new Venue has been selling strongly amongst city car-sized utilities with 1,577 down the road.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai promises the 2021 Santa Fe will provide a roomier, more accommodating cabin.

Once again we’ll need to see how Hyundai’s faithful respond to the new 2021 Santa Fe’s unorthodox styling before we predict a return to the top of the mid-size SUV sales charts, but improvements to its already impressive interior won’t hurt. This said, those that prefer the outgoing 2020 model’s styling may want to purchase one now and by doing so take advantage of up to $3,000 in additional incentives. To learn more go to CarCostCanada’s 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Canada Prices page, and just in case you can find a 2019 version still available, CarCostCanada’s 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Canada Prices page shows factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
If you like the look of the 2019-2020 Santa Fe more, check CarCostCanada for up to $3,000 in additional incentives.

Hyundai Canada is also offering zero-percent leasing and financing rates for the 2020 Venue, 2020 Kona Electric, the 2019 Kona Electric and the conventionally powered 2019 Kona, the 2019 Tucson, and 2019 Nexo (a hydrogen-powered EV), while you can access up to $1,000 in additional incentives when opting for a 2020 Kona or Palisade, and like the 2020 Santa Fe up to $3,000 in additional incentives when choosing a 2020 Tucson. Find out more about a CarCostCanada membership that provides all of this info and more, including available manufacturer rebates and otherwise hard to get dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on your next purchase, by linking to their “How It Works” page, plus download the new CarCostCanada mobile app in the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Hyundai

When Buick first started delivering its Chinese-made Envision to Canadian consumers in April of 2016 it was nice, but arguably a bit dated. As it was, the Jeasoo Kim-designed compact SUV had already been…

Buick gives compact Envision SUV sharp new styling

2021 Buick Envision
The great looking new 2021 Buick Envision strikes a dramatic pose in its highly competitive compact luxury SUV segment.

When Buick first started delivering its Chinese-made Envision to Canadian consumers in April of 2016 it was nice, but arguably a bit dated.

As it was, the Jeasoo Kim-designed compact SUV had already been in production at SAIC GM’s Dong Yue Foundry in Yantai, Shandong for two years, and it never really broke much visual ground when new, so sales over the past three years in a highly competitive market segment that usually includes top-sellers from every luxury carmaker’s lineup, haven’t exactly been overwhelming, with the larger, pricier Enclave actually doing better and the smaller, entry-level Encore totally cleaning up.

2020 Buick Envision
The 2020 Envision is pleasant to look at, but probably won’t pull a lot of eyeballs when it drives by.

One glance at the new 2021 Envision and no one should question whether sales will pick up or not, as this is one very attractive new compact luxury crossover, pulling some cues from the old Envision’s headlamps and taillights and its grille partially from the current model’s 2019 mid-cycle makeover as well as more recently updated Buick models, yet appearing to have much in common with today’s sharply creased new Cadillac XT crossover luxury SUV lineup.

So far 2021 Envision details are limited, Buick not even showing any interior photos, but we do know the old 197 horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder base engine will give way to a new standard 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, which was optional in the outgoing Envision and made 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Also changing is the current model’s six-speed automatic transmission, which will reportedly be replaced by a new advanced nine-speed automatic. Like the current Envision, the new one will likely come to Canada with standard all-wheel drive.

2021 Buick Envision
The new Envision will likely come standard with GM’s 2.0-litre turbo-four and a 9-speed automatic.

The outgoing Envision shares underpinnings with the second-generation Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, and therefore this new follow-up will probably get an update to the current fully independent front strut and four-link rear setup, one of the SUV’s most endearing attributes.

What’s more, the new Envision will ship with standard forward collision alert, autonomous emergency braking for both vehicles and pedestrians, plus lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, rear parking assist and more. Reportedly, much of the new Envision’s advanced driver assistive systems were developed at GM’s Canadian Technical Centre.

2020 Buick Envision
The old Envision comes standard with a 197-hp 2.5-litre four and a six-speed autobox.

Options are said to include front parking assist, semi-autonomous parking assist, a 360-degree surround parking camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a head-up display, a rearview mirror camera, plus more.

A 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen display with an HD backup camera will be available, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration as well as Amazon Alexa compatibility, while Buick will also make its top-tier Avenir trim available for the first time in the Envision.

The all-new 2021 Buick Envision will go on sale in early 2021, but we can expect more details in the coming months. 

2021 Buick Envision
This second-gen Envision should attract many more compact luxury SUV buyers to the Buick brand.

If you like the softer curves of the current 2020 Buick Envision design, and want to benefit from available discounts of this still current yet outgoing model, such as manufacturer rebates, financing and leasing offers and the savings that come from learning about otherwise hard to find dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, take note that one inexpensive CarCostCanada membership can provide you with all of the above and more, arming you with everything you need before even talking with someone at your local GM dealership.

Right now CarCostCanada is showing up to $1,000 in additional incentives for the 2020 Envision or 2020 Encore (the 2021 Encore can be had for zero-percent financing), while you can also receive up to $1,500 in incentives on a 2020 Enclave or 2020 Regal Sportback. Check out CarCostCanada to find out more.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Buick

Remember the Venza? Toyota was fairly early to the mid-size crossover utility party with its 2009–2015 Venza, a tall five-door wagon-like family hauler that was a lot more like a CUV (Crossover Utility…

Toyota revises Venza nameplate for new mid-size hybrid SUV

2021 Toyota Venza
Toyota will soon bring its Venza back from the dead, and it’s one slick looking mid-size crossover SUV.

Remember the Venza? Toyota was fairly early to the mid-size crossover utility party with its 2009–2015 Venza, a tall five-door wagon-like family hauler that was a lot more like a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) or tall wagon than an SUV. Despite decent sales for its first four years, and Toyota’s need for a mid-size five-passenger crossover SUV, the Japanese brand discontinued it without a replacement after six years on the market.

Fortunately for Toyota and all who appreciate the brand for its excellent reliability and better than average resale values, the Toyota Venza will make its return to the Canadian market for the 2021 model year as a new mid-size utility, with standard all-wheel drive and an even more unexpected standard hybrid drivetrain.

2021 Toyota Venza
The Venza’s mid-size two-row SUV segment is even more important to do well in than the larger three-row class.

With the Venza, Toyota is following through on its commitment to electrify its entire lineup by 2025, this new hybrid joined by a completely redesigned Sienna for 2021, which will also be available exclusively with a hybrid electric drivetrain. Other Toyota vehicles sold with the brand’s full hybrid drive system include the iconic Prius, now with available with AWD-e four-season control, the Corolla Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid, the RAV4 Hybrid, and the Highlander Hybrid, while the Prius Prime offers plug-in capability and 100-percent electric mobility for short commuting distances at city and highway speeds, plus last but hardly least is the Mirai fuel-cell electric that’s powered by hydrogen.

2021 Toyota Harrier
Look familiar? This is the 2021 Toyota Harrier (check the gallery for more past photos of this model).

Since the original Venza’s departure, Toyota has lacked a two-row crossover SUV in the mid-size segment (the 4Runner is an off-road capable 4×4 that competes more directly against Jeep’s Wrangler Unlimited), which means that it’s been missing out on one of the more lucrative categories in the industry. Arch-rival Ford, for instance, sells its Edge in this class, along with the ultra-popular three-row Explorer that goes up against Toyota’s Highlander. The Edge was number one in Canada’s mid-size SUV class last year with 19,965 deliveries compared to the Highlander’s 13,811 new buyers. Collectively the Edge and Explorer were good for 29,632 sales during 2019, which is an impressive sales lead yet, but this doesn’t factor in that 2019 was a particularly bad year for the larger Ford due to the slow rollout of its redesigned 2020 model. Ford claimed the problem had to do with production issues, but either way the result was a disastrous 47-percent plunge in year-over-year Canadian deliveries.

1999 Toyota Harrier
The 1999 Toyota Harrier was nearly identical to the first-gen Lexus RX.

As it is there are five two-row mid-size SUVs that regularly sell better than the Highlander in Canada’s mid-size segment, with Ford’s Edge joined by the Hyundai Santa Fe (now only available with two rows due to the new Palisade) that sold 18,929 units in 2019, the Jeep Grand Cherokee that pulled in 18,659 new buyers last year, the Kia Sorento (now only sold with two rows due to the new Telluride) that was good for 16,054 sales during the same 12 months, and the entirely new Chevrolet Blazer that found 15,210 Canadian owners in 2019. When Nissan finally redesigns its Murano it’ll probably attract more buyers than the larger Highlander too, being that its 12,000 deliveries aren’t all that far behind the bigger Toyota and five-seat crossover SUVs mostly do better than seven- and eight-seat variants, so the new 2021 Venza will soon fill a sizeable void in the brand’s SUV lineup.

2009 Toyota Venza
The original Venza offered premium-like interior quality when it arrived for 2009.

Choosing to only offer a hybrid drivetrain is a bold move for Toyota, but as long as pricing is competitive it should be well received. After all, Toyota initiated the modern-day hybrid market segment with its original 1998 Prius (2001 in Canada), and its various hybrid-electric drivetrains have garnered bulletproof reputations for reliability along with plenty of praise for their fuel economy.

While official Transport Canada five-cycle fuel economy figures have yet to be announced, the new 2021 Venza has been estimated by Toyota to achieve 5.9 L/100km in combined city and highway driving. Active grille shutters, which automatically open and close electronically to provide system cooling or enhanced aerodynamics as needed, help Toyota achieve this impressive number. All said it should become the most fuel-efficient mid-size SUV in Canada when available, and if pump prices continue to rise across the country, as they have been recently, it could very well be a strong selling point.

2021 Toyota Venza
The new Venza incorporates active vent shutters in order to reduce aerodynamic drag.

For a bit more background, the original Venza shared its underpinnings with the Japanese domestic market Toyota Harrier (amongst other Toyota/Lexus products like the Camry and Highlander), which was even more closely aligned with our Lexus RX (the first-gen Harrier was sold here as the barely disguised 1999–2003 Lexus RX 300). The five-plus years without the Venza in this country, spanning from 2016 until now, saw a third-generation Harrier come and go in Japan, while the fourth-gen Harrier is now nearly identical to the new 2021 Venza.

2021 Toyota Venza
The Venza will only be offered with a hybrid drivetrain including electric all-wheel drive.

Those familiar with Toyota’s 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder hybrid powertrain used in the Camry Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid (plus the Avalon Hybrid in the U.S.) will be happy to hear the new Venza hybrid will utilize the same well-proven powertrain, as will the redesigned 2021 Sienna mentioned earlier. In Venza form the powertrain’s combined system output equals 219 horsepower, which makes it identical to the RAV4 Hybrid while more potent than the Camry Hybrid (208 hp) and not quite as formidable as the Highlander Hybrid (240 hp).

2021 Toyota Venza
The new Venza’s narrow horizontal light bar takes full advantage of the packaging benefits of LED technology.

The updated Toyota Hybrid System II uses a new lighter lithium-ion battery that also improves performance, while the Venza’s two electric motors deliver strong near-immediate torque as well as advanced Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive, the rear-mounted motor powering the back wheels when slippage occurs during takeoff or on slippery road surfaces. The drive system can divert up to 80 percent of motive force to the rear wheels, in fact, although take note the system is designed to utilize the front wheels most often in order to limit fuel usage.

To this end Toyota includes an Eco mode that “changes the throttle and environmental logic” to maximize efficiencies says Toyota, but both Normal and Sport modes, the former “ideal for everyday driving” and the latter sharpening “throttle response,” are also part of the package, while an EV mode will allow limited use of all-electric battery power at “low speeds for short distances,” just like with other non-plug-in Toyota hybrid models.

2021 Toyota Venza
The Venza will be available with a fully digital gauge cluster.

Toyota says the Venza’s regenerative brakes, which capture electricity caused by braking friction before rerouting it to the SUV’s electrical system, provide greater control than in previous iterations, and can actually be employed for a “downshifting” effect via the sequential gear lever’s manual mode. Each downward shift increases regenerative braking in steps, which “fosters greater control when driving in hilly areas,” adds Toyota, while the hybrid system also improves ride comfort by “finely controlling the drive torque to suppress pitch under acceleration and deceleration.” This is called differential torque pre-load, and is especially useful when starting off or cornering on normal or slippery roads. The feature also helps enhance steering performance at higher speeds, plus straight-line stability and controllability on rough roads. Toyota is also employing new Active Cornering Assist (ACA) electronic brake vectoring in order to minimize understeer and therefore enhance driving dynamics further.

2021 Toyota Venza
This 12.9-inch infotainment touchscreen upgrade incorporates all of the latest tech.

The new Venza rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture K (TNGA-K) platform architecture that also underpins the 2018–present Camry, 2019–present Avalon, 2019–present RAV4, 2020 Highlander, and new 2021 Sienna, plus the 2019–present Lexus ES and future Lexus NX and RX SUVs, which in a press release is promised to deliver an “intuitive driving experience” with “greater driving refinement” including “comfortable urban and highway performance” plus “predictable handling, and low noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH)” levels. The new platform incorporates extensive high-strength steel for a more rigid construction that improves the front strut and rear multi-link suspension’s ride comfort and handling, not to mention safety overall.

2021 Toyota Venza
Touch-sensitive capacitive centre-stack switchgear comes with the upgraded infotainment system.

The 2021 Venza LE rolls on 18-inch multi-spoke two-tone alloy wheels, while XLE and Limited come standard with 19-inch multi-spoke super chrome finished alloy wheels.

Take a peek inside a near loaded Venza XLE or top-tier Limited and along with sophisticated touch-sensitive capacitive controls that replace physical buttons on the centre stack you’ll likely first notice the premium-sized 12.3-inch centre infotainment touchscreen, but even the standard 8.0-inch centre display in the base LE is large for an entry-level head unit.

2021 Toyota Venza
Most new Toyotas offer handy wireless device charging, and the Venza will be no different.

The larger uprated system features a premium 12-channel, 1,200-watt, nine-speaker (with a sub) JBL audio system that Toyota describes as “sonically gorgeous,” as well as embedded navigation with Destination Assist and switchable driver or front passenger operation, while both systems include Android Auto (including Google Assistant) and Apple CarPlay (with Siri) smartphone integration, plus Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and the list goes on.

Speaking of cool tech, a fully digital instrument cluster is optional, as is a 10-inch colour head-up display unit that projects key info (such as vehicle speed, hybrid system details, and TSS 2.0 safety and driver assist functions) onto the windscreen, while an electronic rearview mirror with auto-dimming capability and an integrated HomeLink universal remote provides a more expansive view out the back, especially helpful if rear passengers or cargo is blocking the rearward view. The mirror can be switched between conventional and digital operation by the flick of a switch, while parking can be further enhanced by a move up to Limited trim that also incorporates an overhead camera system dubbed Panoramic View Monitor. The standard camera gets “projected path” active guidelines as well as an available “rear camera cleaning system [that] sprays washer fluid to clear away water droplets, mud, snow, and snow-melting road treatments from the lens,” says Toyota.

2021 Toyota Venza
The new Venza interior’s materials quality and refinement appears very good for the class.

Toyota is also leading most competitors by making wireless phone charging available on the majority of its models, so therefore this handy feature will be optional on the Venza, while additional upgrades include ventilated seats, a proximity-sensing Smart Key System that works on all four doors as well as the liftgate, the latter also providing hands-free powered operation, while plenty more features are available.

On the subject of more, an innovative new feature dubbed “Star Gaze” is a fixed electrochromic panoramic glass roof capable of switching between transparent and frosted modes within a single second via a switch on the overhead console. Toyota says the frosted mode “brightens the interior while reducing direct sunlight, giving the cabin an even more open, airy, and inviting feeling.”

2021 Toyota Venza
Toyota describes the optional JBL audio system as “sonically gorgeous.”

All Venza trims come standard with Toyota’s TSS 2.0 suite of advanced safety and driver assistive features including pre-collision system and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blindspot monitoring, lane departure assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane tracing assist, automatic high beam assist, and full-speed adaptive cruise control.

As far as interior roominess goes, expect a passenger compartment similarly sized to the first two rows in a Highlander, which makes it more accommodating than the RAV4. The Venza’s dedicated cargo compartment measures 1,027 litres (36.2 cubic feet) behind the rear seatbacks, which is in fact 32 litres (1.1 cu ft) less than the RAV4’s 1,059-litre (37.4 cu-ft) capacity behind the second row, and 1,010 litres (35.6 cu ft) less than the Highlander when its third-row is lowered.

The 2021 Venza will arrive in Toyota Canada dealerships this summer with pricing to be announced closer to its on-sale date.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Toyota

With the redesigned 992-generation Porsche 911 Coupe and Cabriolet body styles now widely available, and plenty of trims such as Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, and Turbo S already on offer,…

Porsche unveils its new 2021 911 Targa 4 and 4S

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S
Anyone familiar with Porsche’s iconic 911 will immediately know this is the new Targa, complete with a classic silver roll hoop and curved rear glass.

With the redesigned 992-generation Porsche 911 Coupe and Cabriolet body styles now widely available, and plenty of trims such as Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, and Turbo S already on offer, it was only a matter of time before a fresh new Targa appeared.

While originally sporting a silver roll hoop and large, curved rear window (although the first 1967 model, first introduced at the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show, had a removable rear window made from plastic that was replaced with fixed glass in 1968), its roof has gone through a variety of changes. The roll bar wasn’t always wrapped in silver stainless steel as on the first generation, and the initial removable roof panel morphed into a power-sliding glass roof that tucked under the rear window on 1996–1998 993 models, this resulting in new sweptback C-pillars and similarly angular rear quarter windows.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4
From side profile it’s easier to see the differences between the Carrera coupe and this new Targa.

Porsche revived that Targa design for the 2006–2012 997 version of this model, while adding hatchback access to the rear glass, but abandoned it for the 2016–2019 991.2 Targa which received a power-operated retractable hardtop-style roof mechanism that lifts the entire rear deck lid before hiding the roof panel below. This also allowed for a return to the original silver roll hoop Targa design, all of which carries forward into the all-new 2021 911 Targa. Lowering or raising the sophisticated roof takes a mere 19 seconds, incidentally, meaning that it’s easily accomplished while waiting for a red light.

Below the beltline the new Targa benefits from most of the new 992-generation Carrera Coupe and Convertible design cues, which means its hood and lower front fascia say goodbye to the outgoing 911’s combination of mostly body-colour oval shapes and hello to a nearly straight-cut, horizontal slit separating the former from the bodywork below, plus a broad, black rectangle on the latter becomes the first visual clue to its 992 designation that oncoming Porschephiles will take notice of.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S
This is the best angle to see the Targa’s main changes, all of which are above the beltline.

Such gives the entire car a wider, more assertive stance, while the more angular hood now integrates classically tapered creases at each side of its indented centre, much like the original 911’s hood, albeit without a vented end. As for Porsche’s ovoid multi-element four-point LED headlamp clusters, they appear very similar to the outgoing model.

Thanks to the same three vertical slats on the new Targa’s B pillars, which also wear the classic scripted “targa” nameplate, the old and new cars’ profiles look almost identical at first glance. Closer inspection shows front and rear fascias that wrap farther around the side bodywork, slightly more upright headlamps, taillights that extend forward similarly to the rear bumper vents, modified front side marker lights, new chiseled wheel cutouts, fresh mirror caps, more sharply angled flush-mounted door handles that extend outward when touched (replacing the old model’s more classic rounded door pulls), and a much smoother rear deck lid, resulting a modern take on classic 911 Targa styling.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S
The Targa top provides the benefits of a convertible, and then 19 seconds later is as tightly enclosed as the 911 Carrera Coupe.

Those taillights come into clearer view when seen from behind, with the new model building on the old 991’s narrow dagger-like LED-infused lenses and even slimmer body-wide light strip by extending the latter farther outward to each side, and then grafting in some 718-sourced 3D-like graphics at centre, these above seemingly open vent slats below, while chiseling out even more linear lines for the outer lamps. 

Like the Carrera, the Targa’s diffuser-infused lower rear bumper is bigger, bolder and blacker than before, plus it feeds exhaust tips from within rather than forcing them to exit underneath, while hidden beneath the new 911’s gently flowing rear deck lid, just above the aforementioned light strip and below a row of glossy black engine vent strakes, is a much wider and larger active spoiler featuring multiple positions for varying levels of rear downforce.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S
The new Targa gets all the same classic 911 design elements as the new Carrera.

Excluding the bumpers, all 911 Targa body panels are now made from lightweight aluminum, while the front fenders were significantly lightened and the underlying body structure more than halves its steel content from 63 to 30 percent, with the 70 percent remaining now fully constructed from aluminum. All this dieting helps to improve structural rigidity, handling, fuel efficiency, and more.

New 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels come standard with the Targa 4, the former on 235/40 ZR-rated rubber and the latter on a wider set of 295/35 ZRs, while the Targa 4S receives staggered 20s and 21s wrapped in 245/35 ZRs and 305/30 ZRs respectively.

Like the Carreras and Turbos that launched earlier, the new Targa boasts an interior inspired by 911 models from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and even the ‘90s, particularly the wide, horizontal dash design to the right of the traditionally arcing instrument hood, the former even incorporating a narrow shelf mimicking the lower edge of the original dashboard.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S
The new 911’s interior combines styling cues inspired by classic Porsches from the past with ultra-advanced tech.

The gauge cluster follows Porsche’s classic layout, or at least this mostly digital design appears to. As it is, there’s only one mechanical dial at centre, the tachometer as always, with the four surrounding instruments integrated within two large TFT/LCD displays that can also show route guidance, audio, trip, and cruise information, etcetera. Specifically, the right-side display is for multi-information use as with the outgoing 991, while the left side includes a conventional looking speedometer in default mode or alternatively a number of new advanced driver assistive systems such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, lane keeping assist, and more.

The aforementioned horizontal dash design houses a 3.9-inch larger 10.9-inch high-definition Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment touchscreen with much greater depth of colour than its predecessor, as well as updated graphics, enhanced performance, and more functions from fewer physical buttons, plus most everything else already included with more recently redesigned Porsche models.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4
If you want a 911 you won’t be seeing around every corner, the Targa is for you.

As far as trims go, the outgoing 911 Targa was available as a 4 and 4S throughout its tenure, plus as a Targa 4 GTS from 2017–2019, so it comes as no surprise that Porsche would choose to introduce the new 2021 Targa in 4 and 4S trims as well. While a more potent version will no doubt be on the way soon, for now the Targa 4 utilizes the 911’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo horizontally opposed six making 379 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, plus Porsche’s eight-speed Doppelkupplung (PDK) automated gearbox with steering wheel paddles as standard equipment (this new automatic improved by one forward gear over the previous Targa’s seven-speed PDK), resulting in 4.4 seconds from standstill to 100 km/h in base trim or 4.2 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package.

A seven-speed manual transmission is available as an option when choosing the Sport Chrono Package in the new 911 Targa 4S, which together with a more formidable 443 horsepower 3.0-litre six boasting 390 lb-ft of torque only manages to match the less powerful Targa 4’s 4.4-second sprint to 100 km/h due to the more efficient PDK transmission, but when the more powerful car is hooked up to its dual-clutch automated gearbox the Targa 4S is good for much more lively acceleration equaling 3.8 seconds in base trim and 3.6 with its Sport Chrono Package.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4
Just in case you missed the previous profile shot, here’s one of the other side.

Just like the new all-wheel drive Carrera 4 and 4S models introduced earlier this year, the new Targa 4 and 4S use an innovative water-cooled front differential that incorporates reinforced clutches to increase load capacities and overall durability. When combined with standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM), the updated front axle drive system enhances the two Targa models’ traction in slippery conditions, while also improving performance in the dry.

Additionally, all 2021 911 Targa owners benefit from a new standard Wet mode added to the updated steering wheel-mounted drive mode selector, the unique technology automatically maintaining better control over watery or snowy road surfaces when engaged.

All new 911s receive standard autonomous emergency braking with moving object detection as well, improving safety further, while a high-definition backup camera and rear parking sensors are also on the standard equipment list.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4
Feast your eyes, the new 911 Targa is one beautiful sports car.

Additionally standard, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) includes electronically variable dampers with both Normal and Sport settings, while Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), standard with the Targa 4S, is now optional with the Targa 4, and features an electronic rear differential lock with fully variable torque distribution.

The Targa 4’s standard brake discs measure 330 millimetres front and rear, and feature black-painted monobloc fixed calipers with four pistons up front, whereas the Targa 4S model’s 350-mm calipers get a coat of bright red paint and utilize six pistons at the front. The Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system is optional, as are staggered front to rear 20- and 21-inch alloy wheels.

The all-new 2021 Porsche Targa 4 starts at $136,000 plus freight and fees, while the 2021 Targa 4 S can be had for $154,100. Both can now be ordered at your local Porsche retailer.

To learn more about all the 2020 Carrera models and 2021 Turbos, check out CarCostCanada’s 2020 Porsche 911 Canada Prices page and 2021 Porsche 911 Canada Prices page (the 911 Targa and 2021 Carrera models will be added when Canadian-spec details are made available), where you can configure each model and trim with available options, plus find out about valuable rebate info, manufacturer financing and leasing rates (currently available from zero percent), and otherwise difficult to ascertain dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

Make sure to check out our gallery above, and the following four videos (Dreamcatcher filmed in Vancouver) that show the power-operated roof (and car) in action:

 

The new Porsche 911 Targa (1:07):

 

 

The new Porsche 911 Targa – Dreamcatcher (1:21):

 

 

Virtual world premiere: The new Porsche 911 Targa (3:53):

 

 

The 911 Targa – the timeline of a Porsche legend (2:15):