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…

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X Road Test

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Despite its good looks and impressive capability, the Titan will be discontinued for 2022.

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/GMC Silverado/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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
This Crew Cab body style is the only way you can still get a new Titan in Canada.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Done up in Pro-4X trim, the Titan looks as rugged as it is.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Off-roading comes naturally to this big 4×4 pickup.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Ground clearance is not a problem.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Nice details, such as LED headlamps and driving lights, give the Titan a uniquely upscale look.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
This beefy wheel and tire combo is standard in Pro-4X trim.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
These side steps were designed to slide over and not hang up on rocks, roots or other off-road obstacles.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
This is one sweet looking roll bar.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
A powered rear window is a nice touch.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The Titan Pro-4X cabin is impressively refined, other than those door uppers that are hard plastic.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The well organized cockpit provides plenty of room to get comfortable.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Mostly analogue, but the multi-info display is large and colourful.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The overhead parking camera was a big help.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The Pro-4X’s wide seats should fit most every body type.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
Rear seat spaciousness is generous.

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.

2021 Nissan Titan Crew Cab Pro-4X
The Titan’s bed gets a grippy surface for safety in wet weather.

Nissan is currently offering up to $6,500 in additional incentives when purchasing a new 2021 Titan or Titan XD, with CarCostCanada members saving an average of $8,500 thanks to dealer invoice pricing, which gives them an edge when negotiating. Find out how this advantage will benefit you when buying your next new vehicle, and also be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store now, so you can have all of this vital information at your fingertips when you need it most.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, BMW created a twitterstorm of its own with the online launch of its most iconic performance model. The Munich, Germany-based automaker took the wraps…

BMW reveals dramatic new M3 and M4 with optional AWD

2021 BMW M3 and M4
The new 2021 BMW M3 and M4, shown here in top-tier Competition trim, offer up a radical new design and strong performance gains.

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, BMW created a twitterstorm of its own with the online launch of its most iconic performance model. The Munich, Germany-based automaker took the wraps off an entirely new 2021 M3 sport sedan and M4 coupe on Tuesday, September 22, with the resultant global buzz near palpable.

To merely call them “bold” or “dramatic” would be understating the truth bomb they represent, as the unconventional new designs are at the very least polarizing. Stylistically, the all-new M3 (G80) and M4 (G82) seem to be reaching far back into BMW’s history, pulling frontal design cues from the mid-‘60s 2000 C and 2000 CS sport coupes that rode on the back of the brand’s then New Class architecture, which also included the 1500 and 1600 sedans with similar, albeit smaller grilles. While beautiful from their hood lines and front fenders rearward, plus in fact introducing the beloved Hofmeister kink to the rear quarter windows and eventually resulting in the now iconic and highly collectable E9 range of coupes produced from ‘68 to ‘75, the 3.0 CSi being most notable and the CSL most sought after, earlier examples suffered from a deep, rounded bucktooth-like kidney grille that was never as palatable to the majority of collectors as coupe models that followed or came before.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M3 appears easier on the eyes in this subdued dark green colour, but the bright yellow-green really grabs the eyeballs.

That latter point in mind, the brand’s head of design, Domagoj Dukec (and company), may have been looking further back to BMW’s 309, 319, 320, 321, 328 and 329 models of the mid-to-late ‘30s and early ‘40s, whose tall radiators come closer to matching the size of the new M offerings. Either way, their choices for historical inspiration may cause some would-be M car buyers to take pause.

After all, previous fifth- and first-generation M3/M4 (F80/F82/F83) and original E30-based M3 aside (the former more aggressively penned than its predecessors and the latter whose coke-bottle hips made it stand out from its slab-sided 318i donor), M3s have always been subtle in their approach to styling, preferring moderate visual cues only enthusiasts would notice over the types of radical lower body cladding, ducts and wings found on pumped up versions of some rivals. Not so anymore.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Will the new M cars’ inventive front fascia grow on would-be buyers? BMW no doubt believes so.

This said, we do love our beavers in Canada, so the new M3 and M4’s aggressive overbite could become very popular north of the 49th. Along with the largest twin kidney grille design ever offered on a modern-day BMW product (it might even be larger than the aforementioned ‘30s-era models), the two new performance cars provide similarly sleek lines to their predecessors from headlamps to taillights, plus key M design elements elsewhere, such as the front fender engine vents, double-post side mirror housings, carbon fibre roof tops, and aggressive rear diffusers.

If it looks fast it better be fast, right? Fortunately, BMW fans have considerably more straight-line performance to celebrate with these sixth- and second-generation M cars, the respective base, or rather “core” M3 and M4 capable of rocketing from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds before attaining a top speed of 250 km/h, or 290 km/h when the M Driver’s Package is chosen. Even more importantly the core models can blast from 80 to 120 km/h in a mere 4.1 seconds when their standard six-speed manual transmissions are placed in fourth gear.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Rear styling should be easily accepted by all, and this is the vantage point most people will be looking at anyway.

If that’s not enough, buck up for one of the even more potent M3 and M4 Competition models to see that zero to 100 km/h time drop by 0.3 seconds to a sub-four 3.9-second sprint, while an unfathomable 1.5 seconds gets axed off the two quicker cars’ 80 to 120 km/h passing maneuverability, the feat accomplished in a surprising 2.6 seconds according to BMWblog.com.

All of this speed comes via two versions of a new 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo S58 inline six-cylinder powerplant, both receiving mono-scroll turbochargers featuring quick-reacting electronically-controlled wastegates as well as highly efficient air-to-water intercooling. Like the outgoing S55 twin-turbo I-6, these are built upon BMW’s well-proven B58 engine architecture introduced in 2015. The base engine used in M3 and M4 core models makes 48 horsepower more than their previous generation for a total of 473 horsepower at 6,250 rpm, while faster Competition versions put out an additional 59 ponies for a total of 503 horsepower, also at 6,250 rpm (redline is 7,200 rpm, which is lofty unless you’re stepping out of a 2007 to 2013 E90/E92/E93 M3 whose glorious V8 spun up to a stratospheric 8,400 rpm).

2021 BMW M3 Competition
A longer wheelbase and wider track enhance style and performance.

No doubt, the two M models’ four 100-millimetre tailpipes will be exhilarating to the ears, but BMW has included electrically controlled flaps via an M Sound button in order to reduce sound levels when wanting more comfort than speed, while choosing SPORT or SPORT+ modes results in the opposite effect.

Allowing the engine to rev freely, wire-arc sprayed cylinder liners reduce friction and weight, while a lightweight forged crankshaft lowers rotating mass, both of which are set into a rigid closed-deck engine block. In the inline-six engine’s cylinder head incorporates a 3D-printed core that provides improved coolant flow-through as well as reduced weight.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
What do you think of the M4’s massive twin-kidney grille? Cool or meh?

Torque in core models is the same as with the last iteration at 406 lb-ft between 2,650 and 6,130 rpm (which is a bit higher than the previous model’s minimum max torque range of 1,850 to 5,500 rpm), incidentally, but Competition cars get an increase of 73 lb-ft for a new max of 479 between 2,750 and 5,500 rpm, hence the impressive performance mentioned a moment ago.

As usual the aforementioned six-speed manual gearbox comes standard, complete with a rev-matching Gear Shift Assistant to make any driver seem as if they’re blipping the throttle like a pro while downshifting, but the move up to Competition trim necessitates the brand’s eight-speed M Steptronic automated transmission with Drivelogic. Drivelogic consists of a trio of driving modes including “ROAD”, “SPORT” and “TRACK”, the latter available after also choosing the cars’ M Drive Professional setting. The M Steptronic transmission can be shifted via paddles, of course, while a true manual mode won’t allow any automatic upshifts at all.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
No doubt these pipes sound amazing!

As has always been the case, the M3 and M4 come standard with rear-wheel drive, but for the first time ever new Competition models will also be available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The rear-wheel biased AWD design transfers torque to the rear wheels under normal conditions, but the system’s Active M Differential will apportion some of that power to the front tires when wheel slip occurs, thus allowing optimal traction while maintaining BMW’s acclaimed RWD feel.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Better in white with classic M decals and plenty of M Performance parts?

This said, the previously noted sport mode will send more power to the rear wheels more often in order to liven up the driving experience, even allowing for some rear-wheel drift or oversteer, while those who really know what they’re doing can turn off traction control to enjoy full rear-wheel drive. All can be controlled via the two M cars’ M Traction Control system, which provides 10 different settings from almost total intervention to completely unchecked.

If the new cars look longer, lower and leaner than their immediately outgoing predecessors, take note they receive a 45-millimetre longer wheelbase and a slightly wider track, while the standard carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof panel helps to lower their centre of gravity and achieve 50/50 front to rear weight distribution.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Black might be the optimal shade for those wanting a more discreet look.

Like the transmission, the M3 and M4’s chassis receives three preset settings for optimizing road conditions via an electronically-controlled Adaptive M suspension that includes Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings. Along with a progressively stiffer setup, BMW’s M Servotronic steering system improves its sharpness for better response, aided by 275/40ZR18 front and 285/35 ZR19 rear performance tires on Core and rear-wheel drive Competition trims, and 275/35ZR19 front and 285/30ZR20 rear rubber on the xDrive Competition model.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The new M3’s cabin looks impressive.

Of course, braking performance has been improved to match the cars’ engine and suspension upgrades, with six-piston fixed-caliper binders clamping down on 380 mm discs up front, and single-piston floating calipers with 370 mm disks in the rear. Alternatively, M Carbon ceramic brakes with larger 400 mm front and 380 mm rear discs can be had for optimal stopping power. These reduce fade, improve thermal stability and take a lot longer to wear out, not to mention come with gold-painted calipers instead of the usual stock blue, or optional black or red. Either way, an electric “integrated braking” actuator helps improve braking response.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M4’s controls look ready for the track.

The just noted M Carbon ceramic brakes can reportedly be had as part of an M Race Track Package as well, which also includes light-alloy wheels and lightweight M Carbon front seats. Also mentioned before, the M Drive Professional upgrade, standard with Competition models and optional with Core models, incorporates an M Drift Analyzer that records oversteer and opposite lock incidents, including timed duration, line and drift angle. A driver’s personal results are rated from one star to five, with the latter number meaning you need to keep trying.

The new 2021 M3 and M4 will arrive in Canada this coming spring at $84,300 for the sedan and $85,100 for the coupe, with pricing and details for the upcoming M4 Cabriolet arriving sometime in between. A move up to Competition trim appears to be a surprisingly good deal at just $4,000, and for that reason will likely be the most popular choice.

2021 BMW M4 Competition
Have you ever seen a better OEM sport seat?

As for how BMW’s faithful will accept the M3 and M4’s new design direction, it’s a mixed bag. All out praise is rare, but some potential buyers seem to love the new models’ eye-catching styling. Either way, there’s much to be said about standing out from the crowd, and BMW certainly achieves this with their new frontal designs.

Those wanting the performance of a new M3 or M4 yet preferring a subtler look should take note of the sport sedan version wearing all-black (including extra carbon fibre) in a number of images provided for the simultaneous introduction of the two cars’ M Performance Parts catalogue. A red and black M3 is shown too, as well as a white and traditionally M-striped M4 with many of the catalogue’s new OEM parts shown, the massive rear wing and triangular cluster of diffuser-mounted exhaust ports enough to make a Honda Civic R owner blush from inadequacy.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M3 and M4’s gigantic grille feeds air into this fabulous inline-6.

If the new M3 and M4 are too radical for your personal tastes, be sure to check out CarCostCanada that is showing up to $2,000 in additional manufacturer incentives on 2020 models. The 2020 Ms are still incredibly quick and plenty attractive, plus CarCostCanada also provides manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Learn more about CarCostCanada’s many ways to save money on a new vehicle, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

BMW Today – Episode 25: World premiere BMW M3 & M4 (13:15):

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: BMW

The RVR was early into the subcompact crossover SUV market, arriving way back in 2010 when its only competitors were the Honda Element, Jeep Compass and Patriot, Kia Soul, Nissan’s Cube and Juke, plus…

Mitsubishi gives dramatic refresh to 2020 RVR

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
The new 2020 RVR certainly looks fresh, with its four-lens LED DRLs providing unique appeal. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

The RVR was early into the subcompact crossover SUV market, arriving way back in 2010 when its only competitors were the Honda Element, Jeep Compass and Patriot, Kia Soul, Nissan’s Cube and Juke, plus the Scion xB. It initially did very well, managing third in segment sales in its first full year and reaching top spot in 2013, but nine years of mild updates, other than a redesigned grille and lower front fascia for 2016, have caused middling results since. 

Enter the 2020 RVR, a much more thorough refresh that not only revises the front end design to a near copy of the larger Eclipse Cross, but adds new standard LED headlamps and some really distinctive standard four-lens LED daytime running lamps, plus a stylish chrome front fender “vent” butting up against the front doors at each side, while modified rear end styling includes a fresh set of standard LED taillights over a fancier bumper treatment in back. All said, the highlight of the upgrades include a refreshed interior featuring an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
New standard LED headlamps and taillights make the 2020 RVR stand out. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

The new RVR, dubbed Outlander Sport in the US and ASX in Europe as well as some other global markets, was first introduced at the Geneva motor show last March before arriving in Canada now, and along with the more eye-catching design is actually a better value than last year’s model. 

First off, the base ES FWD model’s price of $22,998 plus freight and fees is identical to last year’s entry-level RVR, yet the just-noted 8.0-inch Smartphone Link Display Audio infotainment interface comes standard and includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration plus a large backup camera. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
The 2020 RVR gets a refreshed cabin as well. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

What’s more, all 2020 RVRs come equipped with heated power-adjustable side mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, heatable front seats, Bluetooth, an anti-theft security system, a rear rooftop spoiler, hill start assist, traction control, active stability control, a brake override system, and more. 

Additionally, Mitsubishi now makes its advanced All Wheel Control (AWC) all-wheel drive system easier to afford by including it as part of a new ES AWC trim starting at just $25,498. 

In total, Mitsubishi offers seven trim levels for 2020, with the $25,298 second-rung SE FWD adding blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, this combination previously only offered on pricier trims. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
This new 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, and includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a large backup camera. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

The SE AWC, which starts at $27,998, swaps out Mitsubishi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine for a larger 2.4-litre mill, upping output from 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque to a formidable 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, while also including LED fog lamps. Of note, all RVR trims include a standard fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). 

Next in line is SEL AWC trim at $29,798, which ups the wheels from 16-inch alloys to new 18-inch aluminum rims while adding soft, plush microsuede to the upholstery. Alternatively, the $30,798 Limited Edition AWC (previously called Black Edition) adds a black headliner, a heatable steering wheel, and a centre console kneepad with red stitching. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
The 2020 RVR will come standard with a 148-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and offer an optional 168-hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, while a CVT is standard. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

The black headliner and heated steering wheel are also included with the top-tier $33,998 GT AWC (the “GT Premium” name has been discontinued), plus a new chrome beltline moulding. 

Lastly, new standard colour choices include Oak Brown and Sunshine Orange, joining carryover colours Sterling Silver and Titanium Grey, while new Red Diamond paint becomes a $450 option along with $300 Labrador Black, Octane Blue, and Pearl White. 

“RVR is our number one selling nameplate,” commented Juyu Jeon, president and CEO, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc. “As an entry-level SUV, RVR has done the important job of introducing new customers to the brand and these customers are staying and growing with Mitsubishi Motors. We believe with its new bold, rugged look, Canadians will want to revisit why RVR has become a Canadian favourite for Mitsubishi.”

Remember the Hyundai Equus? No? If I hadn’t borrowed one from a local dealer to use for a 2014 test I probably would’ve forgotten about it by now too. In fact, I don’t believe Hyundai even put one…

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T Road Test

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Even the snow geese agree, this G90 is one good looking, great performing target. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Remember the Hyundai Equus? No? If I hadn’t borrowed one from a local dealer to use for a 2014 test I probably would’ve forgotten about it by now too. In fact, I don’t believe Hyundai even put one on their weekly rotation fleet in my area. It was a good luxury car, better in fact than any mainstream volume-branded rival, all of which merely offered stretched versions of their front-wheel drive mid-size family sedans, like Hyundai’s own Azera, instead of a V6- and V8-powered, rear-drive Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series type full-size luxury sedan, but just the same its premium-level interior, long list of features, impressive performance, and superb value proposition didn’t result in many sales. 

The problem? No premium branding. Mighty Volkswagen learned this the hard way too, with its ill-fated Phaeton, but Toyota, Nissan and to some extent Honda figured out the importance of premium branding decades ago, resulting in Lexus, Infiniti and Acura, while GM’s Cadillac and Ford’s Lincoln brands have been trying to break back into the luxury sector since they lost ground to the Germans in the ‘80s. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
It’s no smalltime mid-size front-driver, the AWD G90 as solid and stable as a big S-Class or 7 Series. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Canada was first introduced to South Korean luxury in 2010 when the second-generation 2011 Equus was introduced, and while an impressive luxury car it was a bit bland and nondescript from a styling standpoint, much like the first-gen Hyundai Genesis Sedan. It was almost as if the designers of these two cars didn’t want us to know they were Hyundai products. We all expected the third-generation Equus to take on styling details from the second-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan, which was and still is a very handsome mid-size sport-luxury sedan, and then the Korean automaker one-upped us and discontinued both, instead rebadging the Genesis sedan as the G80 and making its next Equus into this G90, while simultaneously launching the Genesis luxury brand in Canada, the U.S., China, the Middle East, Russia, Australia, and of course its home market of South Korea. Hyundai is planning to launch Genesis in other Asian markets as well as Europe within the next couple of years, but might just be waiting until they have a full lineup of models (read: SUVs) to do so. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
The Genesis’ grille is big, bold and attractive, while the rest of the G90 is well proportioned. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It could be said Hyundai jumped the gun by introducing this sedan-only brand without having at least one SUV in its lineup, but Genesis Sedan (the G80’s predecessor) sales were relatively strong when it made the decision in 2015 and the rest is history. All I can say is, if Genesis’ upcoming SUVs are as impressive as its three sedans (they introduced the smaller C-Class/3 Series fighting G70 last year), and better than the fabulous new Hyundai Palisade that just arrived for 2020, we’re in for a real treat. 

As I write this review the totally redesigned 2020 Genesis G90 is being advertised, sporting a completely new version of its “diamond” grille that comes complete with a unique downward pointing lower section and “G-MATRIX” crosshatch patterned insert in place of the current 2019 model’s seven horizontal ribs. It gets LED “Quad Lamp” headlights, Bentley-esque front fender grillettes, massive mesh-pattern wheels, and three ultra-distinctive horizontal LED taillights, the lower element spanning the entire width of the car, while the interior is more up-to-date from a design and digital standpoint, plus even more luxurious than this outgoing model. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Full LED headlamps come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As good as the new model looks (and that will be up to your personal preferences of course), I still find this 2019 G90 very attractive. Its extremely low sales volumes have helped keep it fresh, familiarity even causing great designs to seem commonplace and therefore lose their exclusivity. The current G90’s approach to design is more discreet than the new model and much more conservative than, say, the Lexus LS’ spindle grille design, the G90 working well for those of us who’d rather fly under the radar than attract unneeded attention. Audi’s A8 once had this appeal too, but the horseshoe grille has grown to encompass most of its frontal fascia, and while still attractive it’s a more intimidating beast than it used to be. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
These LED fog lamps look fabulous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Like most new brands Genesis is still forming its identity, evidenced by the just-noted lower point on the new 2020 model’s diamond-shaped grille, with this search for a trademark look made even more critical after factoring in that the brand’s general design language started off wearing Hyundai badging. To be fair, Lexus took decades before choosing its spindle grille and sharp origami-angled body sculpting, as did Infiniti and Acura with their more recently distinctive grille treatments, the latter of which is the oldest upstart luxury marque of all, yet the its dramatic new grille was just adopted a couple of years ago. This said it’s important to find a memorable look and stick with it, Lincoln a prime example of the never-ending identity quest often gone wrong (hopefully they’ll stick with their latest design as it’s quite nice). 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Standard 19-inch alloys wear 245/45 front and 275/40 rear rubber. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As for this G90, the grille has been criticized for its obvious Audi influence (the Hyundai-Kia design head is ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer after all), while there’s a little bit of 7 Series in the sweeping line over the front fender and along the sculpted rocker panel, plus the thick chrome strip down the side and around the back, but the taillights are pure Genesis, and hardly original winged badge uncomfortably Bentley-esque. The build quality is good though, with nice tight panel gaps and excellent paintwork. 

As for the interior, the design is attractive and detailing exquisite. From the microfibre roofliner and pillars to the French-stitched padded leather across the dash top and door uppers front to back, plus the planks of glossy hardwood all around, it fully measures up to its German peers. I shouldn’t stop there of course, as the aluminum trim is brilliant, especially the Lexicon-badged speaker grilles and aluminized buttons across the centre stack, while all of the switchgear is superbly crafted with ideal fitment and damping; it’s easily in the league of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
The LED taillights have some nice detailing inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In fact, the analogue clock at dash central is one of the best I’ve seen, with a beautiful white guilloche dial, Arabic numerals at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions, and chromed indices marking the hours between. The perforated seat leather is incredibly supple and soft, and the seats themselves are superb, with myriad adjustments to fit most any body type. What’s more, you’ll be hard pressed to find any hard plastic in this sedan, the only corners cut being the shell surrounding the steering column and the very lowest sides of the center console, but even these surfaces are made from dense composite and then soft painted for a high-quality feel. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
If you appreciate maximum luxury and fine attention to detail you’ll like the G90’s interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I’m not going to try and say this G90 is better than its competitors, because everything in this class is mind-blowingly good. Really, you could put a fully loaded 7 Series up against a Bentley Flying Spur or even a Rolls-Royce Ghost and you probably wouldn’t notice much lacking if anything, and while I wouldn’t go so far with respect to this particular G90, its front and rear quarters are still very impressive. 

In fact, the backsides of the front seats are so beautifully finished I might be inclined to claim industry-best, especially the wood that wraps around their upper edges. The backside of the front centre console is nothing special, however, with typical HVAC vents finished well, but that’s because the folding centre armrest is a smorgasbord of tech, not to mention beautifully finished leathers, woods and metals. It includes controls for the auto HVAC system’s third zone, as well as three-way heatable outboard seats, plus controls for the powered side and rear sunshades, while you can also extend right-side legroom by powering the front passenger seat forward and tipping the seatback as well. Full infotainment controls are also included, allowing rear passengers to have total control of the aforementioned Lexicon audio experience, which incidentally is amazing. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Great interior design and high-quality materials make for an upscale ambiance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Back in the driver’s seat, the primary gauge package isn’t fully configurable, but it does have a nice big colour multi-information display at centre, filled with the usual assortment of features. The infotainment system just to the right is more advanced, with simple yet attractive graphics, an especially clear backup camera with good realistic colour and contrast, this featuring dynamic guidelines albeit no overhead view, while the navigation system’s route guidance worked very well and offered excellent mapping detail. Those wanting more advanced tech, including a fully digital gauge cluster and higher resolution infotainment display, will want to pay a bit more for the 2020 G90, but others may choose to take advantage of year-end and model-ending 2019 G90 savings that should be quite attractive. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Not fully digital, but still an attractive well laid-out gauge cluster with a comprehensive multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As it is, this V6 turbo-powered 2019 G90 3.3T AWD starts at $84,000 plus freight and fees, while the V8-powered G90 5.0 AWD is available for $87,000, with its only upgrade being a $2,500 rear entertainment package. The much-improved 2020 model will be fully equipped for $89,750, just $250 more than the outgoing V8 model, and that more potent engine is now standard. You can still get the turbo-V6 for a $3k discount, but take note that it’s a special order model. All pricing, including trims and packages, can be found at CarCostCanada, where you can also source rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
The centre stack is well organized and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The G90 tested here was in base 3.3T AWD trim, which means that its standard feature set included a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged direct-injection V6 making 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission with manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, HTRAC torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/45 front and 275/40 rear all-seasons tires, an adaptive suspension system, full LED headlamps with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist and lane keeping assist, plus the multi-view parking camera with dynamic guidelines noted earlier, a 12.3-inch centre display with passable 720p resolution and the accurate navigation mentioned a moment ago, the wonderful Nappa leather upholstery and microfibre suede headliner also noted before, the aforementioned 17-speaker Lexicon AM/FM/XM/MP3 audio system with Quantum Logic surround sound and Clari-Fi, plus much more. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
The graphics are good, but 720p is hardly state-of-the-art anymore. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Those willing to spend a very reasonable $3,000 to upgrade to the 5.0 AWD will not only get a 420 horsepower direct-injection V8 with 383 lb-ft of torque, but also be able to pamper their rear passengers to a much higher degree (or themselves if they hire a driver) thanks to a 14-way power-adjustable right rear seat and 12-way powered left rear seat including powered head restraints with manual tilt, plus memory and cooling ventilation for those outboard rear seats, and rear illuminated vanity mirrors overhead. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Nice clock, right? It features a white guilloche dial, Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9, and chromed hour indices. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I’ve driven various Hyundai and Kia models with the 5.0-litre Tau V8 and found it as ideal for blasting away from stoplights as it was for highway passing and just plain cruising down the freeway, the engine nicely matching up to the smooth yet quick-shifting eight-speed automatic, and Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD superb through wet conditions and even adding performance in the dry. I can only imagine it would perform as well in this G90 as it did with the most recent 2017 Genesis G80 5.0 AWD Ultimate I tested a couple of years ago, but this said there’s a lot to like about Genesis’ smaller, more fuel-friendly 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
The electronically controlled 8-speed automatic is smooth yet quick-shifting. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Their claimed Transport Canada fuel economy ratings are notable, with the V6 achieving an estimated 13.7 L/100km in the city, 9.7 on the highway and 11.9 combined, and the V8 good for a potential 15.2 city, 10.2 highway and 13.0 combined, a difference that would certainly be noticeable to the pocketbook, while the V6’s performance is more than capable of whisking the big sedan and its occupants away in short order, not with quite as sensational an exhaust note, but nevertheless entertaining in its own way. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
These are wholly comfortable, fully adjustable seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The V6 also has less weight over the front wheels, allowing for greater agility through the corners, and was particularly enjoyable with Sport mode engaged. It just hunkers down and flings itself through fast-paced curves with hardly a squeak from the tires, portraying the kind of poise expected of a big German luxury sedan. Truly, this is one impressive driving car, with handling that borders on the mighty 7 Series. The adaptive suspension no doubt plays a part in its overall stability while keeping ride quality serene, the quiet cabin equaling the nicely sorted chassis in delivering the type of pampering experience luxury car aficionados appreciate. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
The rear seating area is at least as comfortable as the front, and almost as fully featured. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

With performance as good as this, one might think I’d keep it in Sport mode all the time, but Eco mode helped reduce consumption and minimized emissions, while an even more intelligent Smart mode chooses optimal responsiveness depending on the mood of the driver. Either way Genesis has all its bases covered, resulting in a very well rounded, highly refined luxury sedan that honestly deserves to be moved up to sports sedan status. 

2019 Genesis G90 3.3T
Rear occupants can control the climate, audio system, and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Still, sink your toes into the deep pile carpet floor mats and you’ll once again be reminded of the G90’s luxury sedan purpose, its trunk large amply sized for a couple of golf bags and easy to access thanks to powered actuation and an easy lift-over height, not to mention highly convenient due to a centre pass-through for longer items like skis, but the G90’s first priority is comfort, not utility. 

Those wanting a serious sport-luxury sedan that won’t cause the taxman to question how you achieved your good fortune should consider the G90, and now is a great time to get the best deal possible on remaining stock.