I promised myself not to harp on Ford for giving up on the midsize pickup truck market segment eight or so years ago, because they know how much that decision has cost them better than any critic, so…

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4×4 Road Test

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The Ranger is a great looking truck, even without some of the more rugged trims offered in foreign markets.

I promised myself not to harp on Ford for giving up on the midsize pickup truck market segment eight or so years ago, because they know how much that decision has cost them better than any critic, so let’s just say it’s great to have them back as a key competitor to Toyota’s Tacoma, Chevy’s Colorado, GMC’s Canyon, Jeep’s new Gladiator (the latter of which more than makes up for the loss of the Dakota that Dodge/Ram should nevertheless bring back as well), Honda’s Ridgeline, and (speaking of not investing in this market for the past decade) Nissan’s Frontier.

2020 Ford Ranger Wildtrak
This Wildtrak has been the sportiest Ranger trim available in some global markets over the past five or so years (more photos of the Wildtrak in the gallery).

This said, when first laying eyes on it in the Philippines about five years ago, I quickly understood why Ford chose not to initially import this Australian-designed and Thailand/South Africa/Argentina/Nigeria/Vietnam-built third-generation (fourth-gen to us) Ranger T6 to its North American markets. The mid-size truck is big. Instead of completely retooling the previous Ranger’s St. Paul, Minnesota and Edison, New Jersey assembly plants to accept the entirely new design, Ford felt it could fill the outgoing Ranger’s void with a lower priced F-150. This was true to a point, but the lack of a small truck to suit differing tastes also opened up a hole in Ford’s lineup that was quickly filled by the trucks mentioned above.

2020 Ford Ranger Raptor
For obvious reasons, plenty of North American blue-oval fans are trying to persuade Ford to sell its global-market Ranger Raptor here (more photos of the Raptor in the gallery).

To be clear, the new mid-size Ranger, while considerably larger than the old compact one, is nevertheless dwarfed by even the smallest 13th-generation F-150, a truck that will soon be replaced by the 2021 14th-gen version that grows a bit larger in some dimensions. As it currently is, the 2020 F-150 SuperCab 4×4 with its 6.5-foot box measures 536 mm (21.1 in) lengthier with a 462-mm (18.2-in) longer wheelbase, 167 mm (6.6 in) wider, and about 155 mm (6.1 in) taller than a similarly configured 2020 Ranger SuperCab 4×4, while the F-150 SuperCrew takes up even more real estate comparably.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The Canadian-spec Ranger, showing here in mid-range XLT SuperCrew 4×4 trim, provides a rugged appearance and a lot of value.

Our Canadian-spec Ranger T6 measures 5,354 mm (210.8 in) long with a 3,221-mm (126.8-in) wheelbase, 1,862 mm (73.3 in) wide without mirrors, and a respective 1,806/1,816 mm (71.1/71.5 in) tall for the SuperCab/SuperCrew, by the way, which is actually a smidge shorter than the best-selling Tacoma (and a lot shorter than the long-wheelbase Toyota pickup), plus its narrower albeit a hair’s height taller, so it’s not like the Ranger T6 isn’t an ideal fit for the North American mid-size pickup truck market, now or back in 2011 when it debuted throughout the rest of the world.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The tough mid-size pickup can haul heavier loads than some competitors.

The Ranger is Ford’s primary pickup in most global markets, unlike here in North America where F-Series trucks dominate all blue-oval deliveries, not to mention the production of all competitive pickups. The current third-gen global Ranger, that’s now built in Wayne, Michigan, and available to us as of model year 2019, is actually a nicely facelifted version of a Ranger T6 introduced back in 2015, so even this refreshed truck is no spring chicken.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The Sport Appearance package darkens some exterior trim for more performance-oriented styling.

Still, the current third-gen Tacoma has been around a while too (it arrived in 2015), so it’s not like the Ranger, updated the same year, feels in any way outdated, while its powertrain was totally revamped for its 2019 debut in North America. Looking back, the first version that caught my eye was the particularly attractive Ranger Wildtrak found in Asian markets (check out the Wildtrak in the gallery above), but most will probably see the newer Ranger Raptor as the model’s most desirable trim. So far Ford of Canada hasn’t announced this smaller Raptor for our market (we’ve got more Ranger Raptor photos in the gallery), leaving us with base XL, mid-range as-tested XLT, and top-tier Lariat trims.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
Only the top-line Ranger Lariat gets LED headlamps, these XLT lights composed of halogen bulbs.

My test truck was an XLT SuperCrew 4×4 in eye-catching Lightning Blue paint, which when optioned up with an available Sport Appearance package and FX4 Off-Road package, looked mighty good, if not as aggressive as the two foreign models. The Sport Appearance package adds a darkened grille surround and Magnetic-Painted (dark-grey) 17-inch alloy wheels to the exterior, plus a leather-clad steering wheel and shifter to the interior, plus power-folding side mirrors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror inside. These are both included in the 302A package, incidentally, while a Bed Utility package added the drop-in bedliner and 12-volt in-bed power adaptor, and an FX4 package added those sweet looking red and grey/black decals on the rear sides of the box.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The FX4 package adds rugged skid plates to key areas, necessary for protection when off-roading.

Of course, there’s a great deal more to the FX4 package than a couple of cool stickers, such as specially tuned off-road monotube shocks, a set of rugged 265/56 Hankook Dynapro AT-M tires, an electronically locking rear differential, Trail Control, that lets you set a given speed between 1 and 30 km/h to crawl over rugged terrain via throttle and braking management, and a Terrain Management System that, via Grass, Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, or Sand modes, utilizes all of the Ranger’s off-road technologies to overcome light to extreme trail surfaces. Additionally, the FX4 package includes a steel front bash plate below the front bumper, plus skid plates cover the electric power steering system, the transfer case, and the fuel tank. Lastly, the FX4 package lets the Ranger’s driver monitor pitch, roll and steering angle info from inside.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
These darkened 17-inch rims come as part of the Sport Appearance package.

Setting the Ranger 4×4’s high and/or low gearing ratios is ultra-easy thanks to a rotating dial on the lower console next to the standard SelectShift 10-speed automatic’s shift lever. Yes, we counted correctly. The Ranger comes standard with 10 forward gears, which is the most offered in its class. This, along with standard auto start-stop that turns the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, provides the Ranger with segment-leading 11.8 city, 9.8 highway and 10.9 L/100km fuel economy too, which is mighty impressive.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
A stylish front fender plate denotes the Ranger’s trim levels.

We shouldn’t expect this kind of economy when off-road, but it should still allow you to go deeper into the woods (or desert) than its non-diesel competitors, which is saying something. What’s more, its 226 mm (8.9 inches) of ground clearance, while not as lofty as the Tacoma’s 239-mm (9.4-in) capability, should get you over most rocks and roots, while its 28.7/25.4-degree approach/departure angles will likely do the same through deep ruts and muddy swamps (the Tacoma’s approach/departure are a respective 29 or 32 to 23 degrees front to rear, depending on trim).

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
4×4 fans will want to order the FX4 package, which adds a lot more than just these stylish decals.

All of this suspension travel results in a comfortable ride, at least as far as body-on-frame trucks go. It feels pretty tight through fast-paced corners too, again as far as pickups are concerned, not exactly the best for snaking quickly through the slalom. Still, the Ranger’s standard 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder is a blast off the line and anywhere else you step on it, thanks to 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, the former a bit less than the Tacoma’s power output yet the latter substantially more.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The Ranger XLT’s interior is nicely put together.

The aforementioned 10-speed autobox runs through its gears quickly enough, allowing for good performance all-round, and I have to say it was smoother in this Ranger than in a turbo-four Mustang I previously tested, while the rocker switch integrated onto the shift knob was once again a good way to manually swap cogs.

Activating the Sport setting is the best way to improve performance, this allowing higher engine revs between shifts for stronger acceleration, while the transmission even held onto its chosen gear when hitting redline, very unusual yet a welcome feature when pushing the limit on pavement, not to mention holding a given gear when off-road.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
Nice silver trim and attractive cloth seats add some sporty class to the XLT interior.

In order to maintain its sporty feel and ultimate safety through fast-paced corners, Ford employs Curve Control that detects when a driver enters a turn too quickly, and then adjusts the Ranger’s speed by reducing engine torque, adding braking and increasing stability control automatically. This feature might make you feel a bit more comfortable when lending your truck to a teenage child or employee.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
Hardly a new design for Ford, the Ranger XLT’s instrument cluster is nevertheless advanced for the mid-size pickup truck segment.

Together with that nice ride mentioned a moment ago, the Ranger XLT 4×4 I tested provided impressive comfort and plenty of interior room front to back. The model in question came with Ford’s largest SuperCrew cab, which includes regular full-size doors in the rear, as well as more second-row legroom. A smaller SuperCab body is standard Ranger fare, with both configurations available in XL and XLT trims, and the top-line Lariat only offered with as a SuperCrew.

The smaller SuperCab has a longer six-foot bed, incidentally, while my as-tested SuperCrew uses a five-foot bed. Also important is the Ranger’s 707-kilogram (1,560-lb) payload, which is much better than the Tacoma’s 425- to 520-kg (937- to 1,146-lb) payload rating, as is the Ranger’s 7,500 lbs (3,402 kg) of towing capacity, which beats the Toyota by 502 kg (1,107 lbs). Trailer sway control is standard, by the way.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
Ford’s Sync3 touchscreen interface is still advanced compared to many competitors, despite being around for a long time as far as infotainment systems go.

Speaking of standard, the base Ranger XL SuperCab starts at $32,159 plus freight and fees, which is an increase of $1,090 from the same model in 2019, while an XLT SuperCab can now be had for $36,529 or $38,329 for the as-tested XLT SuperCrew, but seeing a price increase of $890 since last year. Lastly, the Lariat SuperCrew is now available from $42,619, which is only an increase of $230.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The display gets inverted for nighttime operation.

Incidentally, CarCostCanada is showing factory leasing and financing rates from 0.99 percent on their 2020 Ford Ranger Canada Prices page, plus up to $4,000 in additional incentives on 2019 models. Before speaking with your local Ford retailer, make sure to check CarCostCanada to learn more about available rates from all brands, plus manufacturer rebates and even dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Also, make sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from Google Play Store or the Apple Store so you can access all of their valuable information anytime and anywhere you need it.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The infotainment system’s graphics look great and its functions are ultra-easy to use.

The Ranger’s pricing structure compares very well to this year’s Tacoma, incidentally, which has rocketed up in price by $5,625 from $31,825 last year to a new base of $37,450 for the 2020 Access Cab and $38,450 for the 2020 Double Cab, due to losing its 4×2 drivetrain in Canada, while its top-line Limited trim starts at $50,750. Yes, the Japanese truck is in an entirely different pricing league, but give the Ranger a little more time (plus King Ranch, Platinum, Limited and/or Raptor versions) and it will likely catch up.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The shifter gets a manual-mode button on its knob, while choosing 4H or 4L is as easy as twisting a console-mounted dial.

As it is, the current Lariat model adds exterior chrome detailing, LED headlights, and front parking sensors to the XLT’s rear ones, as well as passive keyless access with a pushbutton ignition system, illuminated vanity mirrors, a universal garage door opener, three-way heated front seats with eight-way power, leather upholstery, etcetera.

Features as yet unmentioned on the XLT include 17-inch alloy wheels (in place of 16-inch steel rims from the base model), fog lights, carpeting with carpeted floor mats (the base XL truck’s flooring is rubber), six-speaker audio, auto high beams, lane keeping assist, and more, while a Technology package adds navigation and adaptive cruise control.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The Ranger XLT’s driver’s seat is comfortable and supportive, while its driver positioning is excellent.

As for the base XL, notable features include auto on/off headlamps, a four-speaker stereo, a USB charge port, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, a capless fuel filler, plus a pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert.

While only a mid-range truck, my Ranger XLT tester offered up a well put together interior with comparably good fit and finish. If you’re wondering whether this praise includes pampering padded leatherette or even soft-touch synthetic surface treatments, don’t look any further than the armrests and seat upholstery, the latter finished in a woven black fabric dressed up with sporty cream-coloured contrast stitching.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The SuperCrew’s rear passenger compartment is roomy and comfortable for average sized adults.

The driver’s seat featured two-way powered lumbar support that actually fit the small of my back ideally, a rare occasion for sure, while the Ranger XLT’s overall driving position was very good thanks to more than ample reach from the tilt and telescopic steering column. It includes a comfortably cushy leather-clad rim, while all controls fell easily to hand.

As is the case with all competitors, the Ranger utilizes a cluster of backlit analogue gauges for optimal visibility no matter the exterior light. The differentiator are its aqua-blue pointers that look particularly refreshing, while a high-resolution, full-colour 4.2-inch multi-information display beats most rivals when it comes to wow factor and functionality.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The rear lower seat cushion flips up to make room for cargo.

Speaking of dash flash, a strip of pewter-tone trim brightens up the dash on each side of those primary instruments and ahead of the front passenger, not to mention the upper door panels, while the just-mentioned gauge pointers nicely match the soft blue background of Ford’s 8.0-inch Sync 3 infotainment touchscreen atop the centre stack of this XLT and Lariat models. Even after all the years Ford has offered this system, I still find it graphically attractive and quite advanced due to tablet-like tap, swipe and pinch gesture capability, the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and myriad audio features such as satellite radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, etcetera, while my test model included a navigation system that got me where I was going more than once, plus XM travel link, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a reverse parking camera with dynamic guidelines.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
An available drop-in cargo liner will keep the bed’s paint scratch free.

Now that we’re looking rearward, the Ranger SuperCrew’s second row of seats is certainly roomier than in the SuperCab, and therefore quite comfortable, especially in the window seats, but this mid-range model isn’t as well featured as some rival trucks. I’m not talking about a lack of rear seat warmers, these normally only offered in top-line trims, but Ford doesn’t even provide rear air vents. At least XLT and Lariat owners receive a pair of USB-A charge points on the rear panel of the front centre console, plus a handy 110-volt household-style power outlet.

2020 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4
The Ranger’s standard 2.3-litre turbo-four simultaneously makes this truck the sportiest and most fuel-efficient in the mid-size class.

Then again, my Ranger XLT didn’t come standard with integrated bumper steps for climbing up on the bed, such as those provided on GM’s trucks, but you can pay extra for a really nice kick-down step from the blue-oval accessories catalogue, an item high on my list of extras for sure.

Although a long time coming, I think the wait was worth it. Yes, that means I have no problem recommending the Ranger to anyone looking for a mid-size pickup truck, as it looks and feels well made, has excellent electronic interfaces, is roomy and comfortable, and is plenty of fun to drive. I think Ford would be wise to bring the sportier Ranger Raptor to our market too, plus other more luxurious models in order to price it higher and attract more premium buyers, but they’ve got a relative hit on their hands as it is, so we’ll need to wait to see how they want to play our market. I’m betting they’ll quickly expand the Ranger range and give sport truck and luxury buyers what they want, instead of potentially losing profits to mid-size truck competitors.

Review and photos: Trevor Hofmann

Photo editing: Karen Tuggay

It’s official, a new Guinness World Record for fastest slalom time has been set by 16-year old Chloe Chambers who managed to slice through 50 evenly placed cones in just 47.45 seconds. Chambers, with…

Talented teenager smashes Guinness world slalom record in Porsche 718 Spyder

Chloe Chambers driving Porsche 718 Spyder for Guinness World Record in slalom
Talented 16-year old kart racer Chloe Chambers just set a Guinness World slalom Record while driving a new 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder.

It’s official, a new Guinness World Record for fastest slalom time has been set by 16-year old Chloe Chambers who managed to slice through 50 evenly placed cones in just 47.45 seconds.

Chambers, with five years of kart racing under her belt, joined up with Porsche to achieve the feat, and did so at the wheel of a 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder, smashing the previous record of 48.11 seconds set in 2018 by Jia Qiang, who was driving a Chevrolet Camaro.

“It looks easy, but it’s really not – to weave between 50 cones as fast as possible, trying to beat a record time and knowing I couldn’t touch a single one for the run to count – I definitely felt the pressure,” said Chambers. “Everything came together on my final run; the car worked beautifully and I found the grip I needed. Thank you to my family and to Porsche for supporting and believing in me.”

Chloe Chambers driving Porsche 718 Spyder for Guinness World Record in slalom
Chambers looking confident at the wheel of Porsche’s 414-hp 718 Spyder.

The 718 Spyder is powered by a special naturally-aspirated 414 horsepower 4.0-litre “boxer” six-cylinder engine that comes complete with a lofty 8,000-rpm capability (and 7,600-rpm redline), while it’s exclusively mated up to a six-speed manual transmission. Like the 718 Boxster roadster and 718 Cayman coupe, the 718 Spyder mounts its motor just ahead of the rear wheels for an optimal mid-engine layout, making it particularly adept at high-speed handling.

The 718 Spyder, which shares mechanicals with the 718 Cayman GT4, also incorporates a “track-bred” Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system including adaptive dampers, helper springs at the rear axle, plus a 30-mm (1.18-inch) ride height reduction when compared to the standard 718 Boxster or 718 Cayman.

Chloe Chambers driving Porsche 718 Spyder for Guinness World Record in slalom
Chambers signed this Guinness World Records hat with a record-setting slalom time of 47.45 seconds.

“We couldn’t be more proud that Chloe set the record,” said Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America. “From the whole Porsche family, we send our heartfelt congratulations – we’re pleased to have been able to support Chloe with her ambitious record attempt and share her relief that it was successful.”

Porsche is now offering the 2020 718 Spyder, 2020 718 Boxster and 2020 718 Cayman (including the GT4) with factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent according to CarCostCanada. Make sure to visit CarCostCanada to learn more, and remember that a CarCostCanada membership will also provide any available rebate information, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on your next purchase. You can now download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Store, which provides all this critical information exactly when you need it.

 

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

If you’re the adventurous type and therefore require something to get you as far into (and out of) the wilderness as possible, there might be more options than you think amongst mainstream volume brands.…

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition Road Test

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Toyota’s new Venture Edition is one of the most 4×4-focused versions of its 2020 4Runner.

If you’re the adventurous type and therefore require something to get you as far into (and out of) the wilderness as possible, there might be more options than you think amongst mainstream volume brands.

Jeep is the go-to-choice for many, its regular-wheelbase Wrangler, four-door Wrangler Unlimited and new Gladiator pickup truck being favourites within the go-anywhere crowd, while Ford has finally anted up with the long-awaited Bronco in regular and lite Sport flavours. Toyota and Nissan have opted out of this compact segment, however, so their respective FJ Cruiser and Xterra SUVs can only be purchased on the pre-owned market.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The 4Runner is long and therefore fully capable of hauling loads of cargo and passengers.

Jeep’s much more refined Grand Cherokee is also respected off the beaten path, but it’s larger, more upscale and therefore pricier than the SUVs just mentioned, while Dodge and Ford provide their Durango and Explorer utilities in this upper class respectively, albeit with limited 4×4 capability.

If you’re willing to move up to something larger, heavier and even more expensive, the full-size Nissan Armada is certainly trail-ready thanks to being nearly identical to the legendary world-market Patrol. Speaking of legendary and large, Toyota’s Land Cruiser is thought by many to be the ultimate 4×4, but it’s not directly available in Canada and quite pricey as well, causing some in the super-sized SUV segment to opt for the Japanese brand’s Tundra-based Sequoia instead.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The 4Runner still looks good after all these years.

Alternatively, more full-size utility buyers will choose a Ford Expedition or one of the General’s Chevy Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon/Yukon XL twins, all of which are as good for transporting a sizeable family with all their gear across town, as they’re capable of seeking out remote campsites at the ends of unmaintained logging roads.

Then there’s the Toyota 4Runner, a good compromise between full-size and compact utilities. As for its 4×4 prowess, those not already familiar with the 4Runner’s superb off-road capability can gain confidence by learning it’s based off of the global-market Land Cruiser Prado (redesigned and sold as the Lexus GX here), so it comes by its rock-crawling tenacity naturally.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The Venture Edition includes some nice 4×4-read features.

Of course, every time I get a 4Runner I put it to the test. This is when I’m glad that Toyota hasn’t made it the most technologically advanced 4×4 on the market, but rather stayed with tried and true (some would say archaic) components. Instead of utilizing a modern eight-speed automatic transmission, its gearbox incorporates just five forward speeds, which according to all the mechanics I’ve ever spoken to means there are three fewer things to go wrong. The first use of this ECT-i five-speed automatic with overdrive in a light truck application was for the 2004 4Runner model year when it came mated to Toyota’s fabulous 4.7-litre V8 (that’s a version I’d love to pick up), Toyota having replaced its old four-speed auto with this five-speed across the line the following year.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Sharp looking 17-inch TRD alloys combine with 265/70 Bridgestone Dueller H/T mud-and-snow tires, a good road/trail compromise.

The 4.0-litre “1GR” V6 under the hood is even more experienced, dating back to 2002 in its old GRN210/215 VVT-I phase. That model only made 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, with Toyota introducing the current Dual VVT-I version boasting 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque in 2010 (which actually added 10 horsepower over the old V8 that was discontinued after 2009, albeit 28 fewer lb-ft of torque).

Heaving this hefty 2,155-kilo (4,750-lb) body-on-frame SUV down the road makes a guy wish that Toyota once again offered it with a V8, but the 4.6-litre mill in the aforementioned GX 460 is even thirstier than the 4Runner’s V6, at least on paper. The Toyota SUV’s powertrain sucks back 14.8 L/100km in the city, 12.5 on the highway and 13.8 combined compared to Lexus’ 16.2 city, 12.3 highway and 14.5 combined, and the GX gets an additional forward gear. Yes, fuel economy is the bane of both Toyota/Lexus off-roaders, but before you start worrying about all the regular unleaded you’ll be pumping into your new ride, I’ll refer you back to those mechanics that say you’ll get it all back in a lack of repairs if you keep either past warranty.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
While you should watch your shins, these side steps are really helpful in urban situations, but could get you hung up off-road.

I should probably insert something about the 4Runner’s especially good resale and/or residual values here, the current model expected to depreciate slowest in the “Mid-size Crossover/SUV” class according to The Canadian Black Book 2019 study, with the GX 460 taking top-spot in its “Mid-size Luxury Crossover/SUV” segment. The Toyota brand holds its value best overall too, adds The Canadian Black Book, and has zero vehicles in the fastest depreciating category. A special mention should go out to Jeep that leads its “Compact Crossover/SUV” class with the Wrangler, nothing new here, but only fair to mention.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
This handy cargo basket comes standard with the Venture Edition, but watch your height when parking under cover.

Like that Jeep, the 4Runner uses a part-time four-wheel drive system to power all four wheels. This means only the rear wheels get torque unless the front axle is manually engaged into either four-high or four-low via the second shift lever on the lower console, the latter requiring a bit of muscle. It all has a nice mechanical feel to it that brings back memories of decades past, something I happen to like in an SUV.

That’s probably why I like and collect mechanical tool watches, particularly Seikos and Citizens. Yes, there’s a Japanese theme here, but it’s hard to argue against these brands’ similarly simple, straight-forward, dependable values. The 4Runner is the SKX007 diver of the automotive world, a watch that doesn’t even hack or manually wind. Still, like that forever-stylish timepiece, the ruggedly handsome 4Runner is fully capable of taking a beating, and plenty comfortable too.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
This is where the 4Runner Venture Edition feels most at home (sadly this off-road area has been bulldozed flat in the name of progress).

Those unfamiliar with body-on-frame SUVs tend to believe they ride like trucks (to coin a phrase, as the Tacoma and Tundra ride pretty well too), but due to greater curb weight than their car-based crossover counterparts, and generous suspension travel required for off-road use, the 4Runner is actually quite smooth over rough pavement and easy to drive around town thanks to its tall vantage point and reasonable dimensions. It’s decent through fast-paced curves too, due to an independent double-wishbone front suspension design up front and a four-link setup in the back, plus stabilizer bars at each end, not to mention Toyota’s impressive (and standard) Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that limits body lean by up to 50 percent at higher speeds, but let’s be real, it’s not going to out-hustle a RAV4 or Highlander when the road starts to twist.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Few mid-size SUVs can keep up with the 4Runner on the trail.

On that note, it’s comfortable in all five seats too. And yes, I’m aware it also comes with three rows for up to seven occupants, but I won’t go so far as to say its third row is good for anyone but small kids. Being that my children are grown and grandkids are probably still a long way away, I’d personally opt for the as-tested two-row variant. Rear seat legroom should be more than adequate for all heights, by the way, plus there’s ample side-to-side room for larger folk too.

This two-row version provides 1,336 litres (47.2 cubic feet) of cargo space below its standard retractable cargo cover, aft of its second row, which should be ample for most. Of course, Toyota offers the Sequoia for 4×4 fans that need more, but sales to 543 last year clearly say the 4Runner’s space is enough. I particularly like that its rear seatbacks fold in the most convenient 40/20/40 configuration, which allows longer items like skis to fit down the middle while rear occupants enjoy the optimal window seats. Folding them flat offers up 2,540 litres (89.7 cu ft) of total stowage space, including up to 737 kg (1,625 lbs) of payload. Not enough? The 4Runner can trailer up to 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) in standard trim thanks to an included receiver hitch and wiring harness with 4- and 7-pin connectors, plus this awesome looking Venture Edition gives you the option of loading gear in the full-metal basket on top of the roof.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Overcoming these types of obstacles is an easy feat for any 4Runner.

This last point makes clear that the Venture Edition was mostly focused on life in the wild instead of navigating the urban jungle, as the just-noted Yakima MegaWarrior Rooftop Basket, measuring 1,321 millimetres (52 inches) in length, 1,219 mm (48 in) in width, and 165 mm (6.5 in) tall, increases the 4Runner’s overall height by 193 mm (7.6 in) for a total road to parkade ceiling-mounted pipe-collision height of 2,009 mm (79.09 in)—the Venture Edition’s 17-inch TRD alloys on 265/70 Bridgestone Dueller H/T mud-and-snow rubber means that it measures in at 1,816 mm (71.5 in) tall, sans basket. Sure, you can remove the rooftop carrier to make it more practical during everyday use, but this limits some of the Venture’s visual appeal while touring around town.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The 4Runner can even give novice off-roaders confidence when tackling rough terrain.

Additional Venture Edition extras not yet mentioned include blackened side mirrors, door handles (featuring proximity entry buttons), roof spoiler and badges, Predator side steps for an easier step up when climbing inside, all-weather floor mats, a windshield wiper de-icer, mudguards, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, dual front- and twin second-row USB ports, a household-style 120-volt power outlet in the cargo compartment, active front headrests, eight total airbags, and Toyota’s Safety Sense P suite of advanced driver assistance features, which include automatic Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Options not already mentioned include a sliding rear cargo deck with an under-floor storage compartment.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The Venture Edition’s interior is more refined than previous iterations of non-Limited 4Runners.

Take note, the very helpful side steps just mentioned will most definitely get in the way during extreme off-roading, potentially hanging up on rocks, roots and sharp crests, so while you’re fastening the basket back onto the roof rails you may want to unbolt these before entering the backcountry. As for the 4Runner’s ability when such low-hanging hooks are removed, it’s one of few iconic 4x4s available today as noted above.

Having headed straight over to my local watery mess of a sand, mud and rock infested off-road area I was saddened to find out there wasn’t much of it left, the riverside land being redeveloped for petroleum storage and thus, no longer available to off-road enthusiasts. Normally this little spit of dirt is filled with every sort of 4×4, ATV, dirt bike and the like, but alas it shall no longer enjoy the company of us crazies that it’s allocated to more productive work, and I will no longer have this conveniently close location for my own sandbox playtime and photographic exploits.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Toyota has had plenty of time to get the 4Runner’s cockpit right, and thus it’s well organized and filled with useful features.

I did manage to trek over a few last remaining trails that are now bulldozed flat, showing this 4Runner Venture Edition in its element, so make sure to enjoy our photo gallery above. With “L4” engaged and deep ruts of dried mud below, I engaged the overhead console-mounted Active Trac (A-TRAC) brake lock differential (it’s right next to the standard moonroof’s controls). A-TRAC stops a given wheel from spinning before redirecting torque to the wheel with traction, and locks the electronic rear differential. I also dialled in some Crawl Control to maintain a steady speed while lifting myself up with both feet to more easily see over the hood for any obstacles that might be in my way. Crawl Control provides up to five throttle speeds for this purpose. This reminds me of my dad using the old-school dash-mounted hand throttle/choke to do much the same in his now classic Land Cruiser FJ, but it incorporated a manual gearbox and therefore relied on its low gear ratio to automatically apply engine braking when going downhill, while the wholly modernized 4Runner system in fact applies brake pressure electronically in order to maintain a chosen speed when trekking downhill. The 4Runner’s Hill Start Assist Control system also helps in such situations, albeit going uphill.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The 4Runner’s gauge cluster is simple and straightforward, but it more than does the job.

The dial next to this one is for engaging the automated Multi-Terrain Select system. This sets the drivetrain and electronic driving aids up for the majority of conditions you might face when off-road, from light- to heavy-duty trails, the system’s most capable auto-setting being rock mode. Other settings include its second-most capable mogul setting, which is followed by loose rock. All of the above are only operable when the secondary set of low (L4) gears are in use, incidentally, whereas the least capable mud and sand mode can be utilized when both L4 and H4 are engaged.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The centre stack is well designed and new infotainment touchscreen excellent.

The 4Runner’s 244 mm (9.6 in) of ground clearance and 33/26-degree approach/departure angles mean that it shouldn’t drag over obstacles, but if rocks hit the undercarriage rest assured that rugged skid plates are in place to protect the engine, front suspension and transfer case. Again, those standard side steps could interfere with your forward momentum.

These steps can also be damaging to shins if you’re not paying close attention when climbing inside, something I experienced a couple of times (followed by expletives), but some of that pain will ease once seated in the model’s comfortable driver’s perch. I found the primary seat ideal for my five-foot-eight, long-legged, short-torso body type, with the rake and reach of the steering column ample for comfortable yet controlled operation, which is probably the most important issue I have with any new vehicle I test drive (and have had with many Toyotas in the past—they’re improving).

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The second lever in behind is for engaging 4WD.

Looking around and tapping everything like I always do (so annoying to past significant others), all the 4Runner’s knobs, buttons and rocker switches look and feel heavy-duty, as if Toyota pulled inspiration from Casio’s nearly indestructible G-Shock (the Mudmaster seems fitting, although I prefer my more classic looking and smaller DW-5600BB-1CR). Tolerances are tight, their quality good, and finishing quite impressive overall, at least compared to previous 4Runner models.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Plenty of sophisticated off-road controls can be found in the overhead console.

I can’t remember Toyota using carbon fibre-like trim inside a 4Runner before either. The big, new, glossy 8.0-inch centre touchscreen on the centre stack is impressive too, this coming packed full of the latest technologies such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa, not to mention very accurate Dynamic Navigation featuring detailed mapping. The audio system was pretty good too, thanks in part to standard satellite radio, while the rear camera (incorporating stationary “projected path” graphics combined with rear parking sonar) was much better than previous iterations. Other functions include a weather page, traffic condition information, apps, etcetera, while the primary instruments are less forward thinking yet still do a good job delivering key driving info, with easily legible backlit Optitron dials and a useful multi-info display at centre.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
The power-adjustable driver’s perch is comfortable with a good seating position.

Like that G-Shock mentioned a moment ago, the cabin styling theme is mostly rectangular in shape, and thus purposefully utilitarian. Nevertheless, it was refined enough for me, with the rear two-thirds of the front and rear door uppers covered in contrast-stitched and padded faux leather. The door inserts and armrests were wrapped similarly below, the latter softly padded all the up way to the front portion of each door panel, thus protecting outer knees from chafing on what would otherwise be hard plastic. The centre armrest received the identical black and red application, as did the SofTex-upholstered seats’ side bolsters, while both front headrests featured “TRD” embroidered in red for a sporty look. As for the dash top, it was coated in a textured synthetic that reduced glare nicely, therefore, together with the previously-noted glossed carbon-look surface treatment on the lower console, and the metallic glossy black background used for the centre stack surround surfacing and the door pulls trim, the 4Runner Venture Edition looked quite fancy for a non-Limited 4Runner.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
Rear seating is roomy and comfortable for three abreast.

What’s new for 2021? Not a heck of a lot, although standard LED headlights are a nice addition for a model expected to be totally revamped for 2022 (I have no verification of a redesign, but that’s the word on the street… or, er, trail). LED fog lamps also join the frontal update, while new Lunar Rock paint will make the entire SUV look at least as good as the one used for this review. Also new, new black TRD alloys will soon be encircled by Nitto Terra Grappler A/T tires, while Toyota is said to have retuned the dampers to enhance isolation off the beaten path.

2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition
40/20/40-split rear seatbacks make the 4Runner ultimately versatile.

At $55,390 (plus freight and fees), the 4Runner Venture Edition isn’t exactly an off-roader for bargain hunters, although it has few mid-size, 4×4-capable competitors, all of which will cost about the same or more if outfitted similarly. Once again, when factoring in resale (or residual) values, and then adding expected long-term reliability, the 4Runner makes the best investment.

Right now, Toyota is offering factory leasing and financing rates on this 2020 model from 3.99 percent according to CarCostCanada, or zero percent on 2019 models (if you can find one). Check out CarCostCanada’s 2020 Toyota 4Runner Canada Prices page or their 2019 Toyota 4Runner Canada Prices page to learn more, and while you’re there, find out how a CarCostCanada membership can help you before entering the negotiation phase of any new car, truck or SUV purchase. Along with any available financing and leasing information, you’ll also receive possible rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that will tell any new buyer the actual cost your local retailer paid for the vehicle you’re attempting to buy, potentially saving you thousands off your next purchase. Also, make sure to download the new CarCostCanada app to your smartphone via the Apple Store or Google Store, so you can be ready whenever, and wherever this critical information is needed.

Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo editing: Karen Tuggay

What’s the world’s best sport-luxury sedan? Many would point to Porsche’s Panamera on performance alone, despite not technically being a sedan due to its practical rear hatch and sloping rear deck…

Porsche updates 2021 Panamera with greater performance and sportier look

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
The new 2021 Panamera Turbo S looks fabulous in its more practical Sport Turismo body style.

What’s the world’s best sport-luxury sedan? Many would point to Porsche’s Panamera on performance alone, despite not technically being a sedan due to its practical rear hatch and sloping rear deck lid to match. There’s even a more useful wagon-like Sport Turismo version that’s responsible for many of the Panamera’s sales since being introduced for the 2018 model year, so therefore the car more appropriately fits within the alternative four-door coupe category. Still, no matter how you look at it, the Panamera is one impressive sport-luxury offering.

As it is, the Panamera will cruise into 2021 with some modest styling updates and yet bolder drivetrain enhancements, particularly at the top of the range where the new Panamera Turbo S replaces the Turbo, with power moving up from 550 horsepower to 620, a 70-horsepower bump in just one, single refresh. This results in a sprint from standstill to 100 km/h of just 3.1 seconds when Sport Plus mode is selected, all before attaining a top track speed of 315 km/h.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
Porsche was smart to offer three body styles for its Panamera, the Sport Turismo really upping the style ante.

Of note, last year’s most potent Panamera was the electrified Turbo S E-Hybrid, good for 677 net horsepower, albeit a zero to 100km/h run of “just” 3.4 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the outgoing Panamera Turbo, but 0.3 seconds off the new Turbo S. That hyper-quick hybrid is at least temporarily gone for 2021, but don’t fear hybrid fans as it’ll be back soon with even more power.

According to plenty of interweb reports, Thomas Friemuth, who heads the Panamera line at Porsche, has confirmed the electric portion of the car’s drive system will produce some 134 horsepower, which means the new Turbo S E-Hybrid, when mated to the new 620-horsepower twin-turbo V8, should put out somewhere in the neighbourhood of 750 horsepower. If you think this lofty number sounds insane, consider for a moment that a key Panamera rival, Mercedes-AMG’s fabulous GT 4-Door Coupe, is expected to hit the tarmac soon with more than 800 horsepower.

2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid
The new Panamera 4S E-Hybrid adds considerable power over the previous 4 E-Hybrid, and is a significant step up over the base Panamera.

Those satisfied with mere blistering pace rather than ultimate scorching speed, yet still wanting hybrid economy, can opt for the all-new 4S E-Hybrid that comes fitted with 552 net horsepower that propels the big luxury car from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds ahead of topping out at 298 km/h. The entry-level 4 E-Hybrid, which only made 462 net horsepower and needed 4.6 seconds to arrive at the 100 km/h mark, is no longer available for 2021.

Benefiting both new 4S E-Hybrid and Turbo S E-Hybrid trims is 30-percent more EV range than their predecessors, all thanks to an upgraded 17.9 kWh battery, an improvement of 3.8 kWh. The hybrid models’ control systems and chassis components have been modified too, with next-generation steering control as well as new tires, enhancing comfort and performance.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
New frontal design elements beef up the Panamera’s look.

This said, the hybrid isn’t the only 2021 Panamera to receive steering and suspension improvements. In fact, the new Turbo S gets a custom tuned three-chamber air suspension, while the top-tier model’s Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system and roll stabilization system, the latter called Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport), have also been modified to perform at more extreme levels. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) was updated to improve at-the-limit handling as well, all resulting in the best performing Panamera yet, and one of the best performing passenger cars available period.

Proving that point, the automaker took its new Panamera Turbo S to the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife race course in Germany on July 24, 2020, resulting in Porsche works driver Lars Kern setting a new “executive cars” class record of 7:29.81 minutes over the 20.832-kilometre track. We can hardly wait to see how the new Turbo S E-Hybrid will fare.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
The updated horizontal light strip gets new contours around the outer taillights.

Those wanting most of the Panamera Turbo S’ performance for a more approachable price point can opt for the Panamera GTS, which continues into 2021 with the same 473 horsepower 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and identical zero to 100 km/h rating of 3.9 seconds. This engine added 20 horsepower over its predecessor when introduced, helped along by a special standard sports exhaust that utilizes asymmetrically positioned rear silencers for an especially exhilarating exhaust note.

Lastly, or more accurately, the first rung on this model’s hierarchal ladder is the most basic Panamera, which is the only trim offering rear-wheel drive, all others incorporating Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive as standard. Both the base Panamera and the Panamera 4 include a 325-horsepower twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 capable of very a spirited 5.6-second zero to 100 km/h sprint with RWD, and an even better 5.3-second run off the line with all-wheel drive.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
Porsche updated the 2021 Panamera’s infotainment system with new features.

That base Panamera starts at just $99,300 plus freight and fees for 2021, which is unchanged despite its improvements, while a Panamera 4 can be had for $104,600. The rear-wheel drive Panamera only comes with the regular wheelbase and coupe-like liftback, but the base powertrain will all-wheel drive can be had in three body styles, starting with the regular wheelbase liftback before moving up to the longer wheelbase $112,200 Executive and finally the more wagon-like $111,700 Sport Turismo.

The 4S E-Hybrid is next on the financial pecking order at $128,500, or $141,400 for the Executive version and $133,100 for the Sport Turismo, while the 2021 GTS remains priced at $147,400 for 2021, and increases to $154,400 when its cargo compartment is expanded to Sport Turismo dimensions.

Finally, the Turbo S starts at $202,400 for the regular wheelbase model, $214,300 for the Executive, and $207,000 for the Sport Turismo.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
New advanced safety and convenience features help modernize the Panamera driving experience.

Of course, there’s more to any Panamera than mere performance, which means it was important for Porsche to keep the car looking fresh and up-to-date. Therefore, all 2021 Panameras will now come standard with the previously optional SportDesign front fascia design, which includes the brand’s new single-bar front lighting module, augmented air intakes, and bigger, more assertively styled corner vents.

The new Turbo S gets some exclusive frontal styling with even larger lower fascia corner vents that adds to its aggressiveness, while some unique exterior paint options help to set this model apart.

Three new 20- and 21-inch alloy wheel sets can personalize any Panamera model further, while the new car’s long, body-wide horizontal taillight gets new contours for 2021, while the lenses have been darkened on the GTS model.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
We love the updated Porsche Design clock face.

The Panamera’s interior remains mostly the same entering 2021, which is no bad thing. Just the same, improvements include new functions and services for the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system, such as enhanced Voice Pilot online voice control, Risk Radar for real-time road sign and hazard info, wireless Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, and more.

Also enhanced, the 2021 Panamera can be had with Lane Keeping Assist featuring road sign recognition, as well as with the Porsche InnoDrive suite of advanced safety and convenience systems, which includes Lane Change Assist, LED matrix headlights including PDLS Plus, Night Vision Assist, Park Assist with Surround View, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display unit that projects key info on the windshield ahead of the driver.

The 2021 Panamera is ready to order from your local Porsche retailer now, with deliveries starting in Q1 of 2021. After you make that call, make sure to check out our complete photo gallery above, and then be sure to enjoy the three videos below (which include the new 2021 Panamera Turbo S on the Nürburgring Nordschleife race track), plus remember to go to CarCostCanada’s 2020 Porsche Panamera Canada Prices page where you can learn more about the automaker’s zero-percent financing offer on all 2020 models, plus access info about manufacturer rebates when offered, and always available dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Find out how the CarCostCanada system can save you money, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google PlayStore so you can have access to all this important info whenever you need it.

New Panamera achieves lap record on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (3:09):

The new Panamera – digital world premiere (11:33):

The new Panamera: Highlights (2:13):

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

Nissan is giving its best-selling Rogue compact crossover SUV a complete redesign for 2021, and thus far it’s received very favourable reviews. We covered all the key details in an earlier story, but…

Nissan Canada prices new 2021 Rogue from $28,498

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at $28,498.

Nissan is giving its best-selling Rogue compact crossover SUV a complete redesign for 2021, and thus far it’s received very favourable reviews. We covered all the key details in an earlier story, but now Nissan has released pricing, standard features, trim specifics, and options information, so here’s what you need to know in order to compare it to upcoming 2021 versions of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and other key rivals.

As is often the case with a redesign, many features that were previously optional with the 2020 Rogue are now standard for 2021, such as LED headlights that replace the old halogen lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels instead of identically-sized steel wheels with covers, a new heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel rim joining heatable front seats that were already standard, new standard steering wheel paddle-shifters for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s once again the only transmission on offer, proximity-sensing Intelligent Key access, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat that now gets standard powered lumbar support, and much more for a new base price that’s a reasonable $1,000 higher than the outgoing 2020 model, at $28,498 plus freight and fees.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Bolder styling and many more standard features make the 2021 Rogue a more enticing buy.

A redesigned set of LED taillights continues Nissan’s focus on safety, with some of the advanced driver assistive systems carried forward on all trims including Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus a host of new ones that were previously optional as part of the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of technologies, such as Pedestrian Detection being added to the Intelligent Emergency Braking system, Lane Departure Warning included as part of the side alert system, High Beam Assist making nighttime travel easier, and Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking improving safety when backing up.

2021 Nissan Rogue
Top-level Platinum trim promises a much more luxurious compact SUV experience.

The new Rogue also keeps last year’s standard Rear Door Alert system that upon arriving at a destination informs the driver if something or someone was placed in the rear seating area prior to leaving, while a new Intelligent Driver Alertness system also gets added to the base model. Lastly, the new Rogue includes 10 standard airbags.

Once again, tech features like NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard in the 2021 Rogue, as does a backup camera and SiriusXM satellite radio, but the centre touchscreen that all these features get displayed on grows from 7.0 to 8.0 inches diagonally in the base model, with the upgrade adding another inch for a larger, more premium interface. Nissan adds another powered USB port to the standard mix too, the new total being two, while the new base model also gets Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity with streaming audio, a hands-free text messaging assistant, pushbutton ignition, and more.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue Platinum gets a fully digital gauge cluster, a head-up display, and a 9.0-inch centre touchscreen.

Along with the aforementioned CVT, the 2021 Rogue pushes forward with the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine making an identical 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft or torque, plus if the base model is enhanced with Nissan’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, a $2,300 upgrade to $30,798, it also boasts a drive mode selector with Terrain, Snow, Normal, Eco and Sport modes. With the Eco mode engaged, Nissan is claiming the AWD version will achieve an estimated fuel economy rating of 9.6 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 8.7 combined, while the base FWD model is rated at 9.1 L/100km city, 7.1 highway and 8.2 combined.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue features both USB-A and USB-C charge points, while a wireless charging pad is optional.

Nissan is once again offering the Rogue in three trim lines, albeit mid-range SV trim can be had with an SV Premium Package. Before delving into options, however, for $31,998 with FWD or $34,298 with AWD, the regular Rogue SV builds on S trim with 18-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles, roof rails, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless entry added to the rear doors, UV-reducing solar glass, an Intelligent AroundView Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Blind Spot intervention, Intelligent Lane Intervention, ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving technology, an eight-way powered driver seat, two additional stereo speakers for a total of six, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, two rear USB ports, a Wi-Fi Hotspot, and a security system. If you want more you can opt for the just-noted SV Premium Package that, while only available with the AWD model, adds Prima-Tex leatherette-appointed seats, rear door sunshades, heatable rear outboard seats, and a powered rear liftgate.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The mid-range Rogue SV can be upgraded to include side window sunshades.

Most of the above items come standard in the $39,998 Rogue Platinum, except the 18-inch rims are upgraded to 19s, the dual-zone automatic climate control is expanded to a tri-zone system, the powered driver’s seat features memory, the leatherette upholstery has been swapped out for particularly rich looking quilted semi- aniline leather, the powered liftgate now includes motion activation, the centre touchscreen grows to 9.0 inches and includes Nissan’s “Door-to-Door” navigation system, ProPilot Assist includes Navi-link, and the audio system comes from Bose and gains four more speakers for a total of 10.

The Rogue Platinum also includes LED fog lamps, front parking sensors, an auto-dimming centre mirror, tilt-reversing side mirrors, an advanced 12.3-inch “Digital Dashboard” gauge cluster, a 10.8-inch head-up display, Traffic Sign Recognition, a wireless charging pad, a four-way powered passenger seat, a remote folding rear seat, interior ambient lighting, a driver seat-mounted front-centre supplemental airbag, and a redesigned Divide-n-Hide system in the cargo compartment.

2021 Nissan Rogue
The new Rogue Platinum gets an updated Hide-n-Divide cargo system.

For more detail about the 2021 Nissan Rogue, check out our comprehensive “Nissan redesigns its popular Rogue compact SUV for 2021” news story. Alternatively, by going to CarCostCanada’s 2020 Nissan Rogue Canada Prices page you can find out how to receive up to $5,000 in additional incentives on a new 2020 Rogue, which is already $1,000 more affordable than the 2021. Learn how a CarCostCanada membership can save you thousands on your next purchase, and make sure to download the free CarCostCanada mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all the most important car buying information at your fingertips when you need it most.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Nissan

Sports cars are unreliable, right? Not so, if it’s a Porsche. The German brand has ranked highly in independent dependability studies for years, once again placing near the top amongst premium brands…

Porsche number one overall in 2020 J.D. Power APEAL study

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera
The 911 Carrera is amongst the most reliable Porsche’s, and certainly one of the most dependable sports cars available today.

Sports cars are unreliable, right? Not so, if it’s a Porsche. The German brand has ranked highly in independent dependability studies for years, once again placing near the top amongst premium brands in the most recent 2020 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, so it only makes sense that the brand does well in customer satisfaction studies too.

For its second consecutive year, Porsche has achieved the top spot in J.D. Power and Associate’s 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which surveys customers on their ownership experience, including how their vehicles drive.

“I am gratified at how excited our customers are with their new dream cars,” stated Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. “Porsche believes in continuous improvement and winning the top spot again just encourages us to find new ways to delight our drivers.”

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera
Porsche is the most “APEALing” brand on the market.

The 2020 APEAL Study judges the “emotional attachment and level of excitement” with U.S. owners that purchased a new car, truck or SUV at least 90 days before. Covering 37 attributes, the study questions owners about the “sense of comfort and luxury” when stepping inside, the “power they feel when they step on the gas,” and more, states a Porsche North America press release.

The APEAL index score is measured on a 1,000-point scale, and Porsche earned 881 points for this year’s highest average of all brands. By comparison, most premium brands averaged 861 points, and it wasn’t as if J.D. Power’s participant sampling was low, thanks to more than 87,000 purchasers and lessees of 2020 model-year vehicles taking part. The study, now in its 25th year, queried respondents from February through May of 2020.

 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

When choosing a sports car, plenty of variables come into play. Is it all about styling or performance? How does luxury enter the picture? Of course, hard numbers aside, these are subjective questions…

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible Road Test

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
It’s easy to see why Jaguar’s F-Type SVR Convertible turns heads.

When choosing a sports car, plenty of variables come into play. Is it all about styling or performance? How does luxury enter the picture? Of course, hard numbers aside, these are subjective questions that can only be answered by an individual after contemplating personal preferences. We all have differing tastes, which is why so many competing brands and models exist.

While similarly powerful, a Porsche Turbo provides much quicker acceleration than the Jaguar F-Type SVR being reviewed here, and both are dramatically different through fast-paced curves, with the rear-engine German providing a wholly unique feel when raced side-by-side against the front-engine Brit, and most agreeing the former is more capable at the limit. Nevertheless, the Porsche Turbo is not necessarily more fun to drive.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
The F-Type Convertible sports a classic roadster profile, and its well-constructed triple-layer fabric roof looks fabulous.

I’ve enjoyed many Turbos over the years, not to mention a plethora of other 911 models, and all have provided thrills aplenty. Likewise, for F-Type SVRs, having spent a week with 2018, 2019 and 2020 models, the first two coupes and the most recent a convertible. I tend to lean toward coupes more often than open air, mostly because the aesthetics of a fixed roof appeal to my senses. Still, there are a number of reasons I’d be pulled in the direction of this Madagascar Orange-painted F-Type SVR Convertible, the sound emanating from its tailpipes certainly high on the list.

Sure, the coupe provided an identical rasping soundtrack from the same titanium Inconel exhaust system, it was just easier to hear with the triple-layer Thinsulate-insulated cloth top down. Likewise, the source of the noise, Jaguar’s 5.0-litre “AJ-8” V8, making 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, has been stuffed between the SVR’s front struts all along, but somehow it feels more visceral when accompanied by gusts of wind.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
If it’s all in the details, Jaguar certainly knows what it’s doing.

That’s how I drove it throughout most of my sun-drenched test week, and while I was never tempted to see how stormy its interior would become with the throttle pinned for a 314 km/h (195 mph) top track speed test (322 km/h or 200 mph with the coupe), I certainly dabbled with its zero to hero claim of 3.7 seconds from standstill to 100 km/h in either body style.

Yes, I know this is a very “well-proven” engine (auto code for old), having been offered by Jaguar since 1997 in one form or another, but I could care less because it sounds so fabulous and delivers such scintillating performance, fuel economy be damned.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
No shortage of carbon fibre trim throughout.

As for styling, the F-Type is eye-candy no matter which powertrain is chosen, Jaguar even offering an impressively spirited turbocharged four-cylinder in base trims. Of course, along with its sensational straight-line performance, the SVR provides more visual treats in the way of carbon fibre aero aids and trim.

The same goes for the interior, which offers a level of exoticism that sports cars in this class simply can’t match. It’s downright sensational, featuring perforated Windsor leather quilted into a ritzy diamond-style pattern on both the seat inserts and door panels, plus contrast-stitched solid leather on most other surfaces. Additionally, a rich psuede micro-fibre stretches across much of the dash-top, headliner and sun visors, while carbon-fibre and beautifully finished brushed and bright metalwork highlights key areas. The interior clearly appears British in look and feel, yet it’s more modernist than steeped in parlour club tradition (i.e. there’s no wood).

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
The F-Type SVR’s interior is impeccably crafted.

Jaguar infotainment has improved a lot with each new generation too, the F-Type not receiving a full digital cluster, but nevertheless boasting a big, colourful multi-information display between a gorgeous set of primary analogue gauges. It gets most of the functions found in the centre display, is easily legible and no problem to scroll through via steering wheel controls. Similarly, the just-mentioned centre display is a user-friendly touchscreen jam-packed with stylish high-resolution graphics plus plenty of useful features like a navigation interface with detailed mapping and simple directions settings, an audio/media page with satellite radio, a Bluetooth phone connectivity section, a graphically organized climate panel, an camera interface with many exterior views, an apps section with some pre-downloaded and available downloadable applications, and last but not least, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
An advanced multi-information display enhances classic analogue dials.

One more page not yet mentioned is the My Dynamic Setup interface that lets you set up your own individual drive system calibrations. What I mean is, after fine-tuning the SVR’s engine, transmission, suspension and steering dynamics in order to suit outside conditions as best as possible, not to mention your mood, you can mix and match them as much as you like. For instance, you can go for snappier engine response and a quicker shifting transmission along with a more compliant suspension setup, which may be ideal for driving fast over the kind of rough pavement you might find in the types of rural settings that’ll allow you to really open up the car’s performance. For this reason, I’m not a fan of sport settings that automatically firm up the chassis, because a rock-solid suspension setup only works well when coursing over the kind of unblemished tarmac found on recently paved tracks, not real-world patchwork asphalt hack jobs.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
The infotainment display provides plenty of features plus a useful rearward view.

This is an apropos descriptor for the roads used when pushing my F-Type SVR Convertible tester near its limits, the car’s unbridled power ideally matched to a particularly stiff, light and well-sorted aluminum body structure, chassis and suspension design. Steering response is quick and the rear wheels follow ideally, no matter how much I applied the throttle. Certainly, it was important to remain smooth, other than applying slightly more than needed when wanting to induce oversteer. The massive yellow calipers signify that Jaguar’s available carbon ceramic brakes fill the SVR’s 20-inch alloys, these being brilliant when it comes to quick stops in succession with barely any fade. Yes, this is a wonderfully capable roadster if you’ve got the confidence to push its limits, but I wouldn’t say it provides the same level of high-speed control as a recent Porsche 911 Turbo. This means the Jag can be even more fun for those with performance driving experience.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
Carbon-fibre and suede-like Alcantara line the SVR’s cabin.

I should mention here that Jaguar’s 2020 F-Type SVR is a relative bargain compared to that just-noted 911 Turbo, the Brit starting at just $141,700 with its “head” fixed and $144,700 for the as-tested retractable fabric roof variety, compared to $194,400 and $209,000 respectively for the latest 2021 German variant. Granted, Porsche’s performance alternative is quite a bit quicker as noted earlier, knocking a full second off its zero to 100 km/h sprint time, with the brand’s Carrera S/4S models in the mid-three-second range. These start at $132,700, or in other words considerably less than Jag’s F-Type SVR, but this is where I must interject (myself) by once again saying there’s a lot more to a sports car than straight-line performance.

After all, a number of much more reasonably priced Ford Mustangs sprint into similar territory, while the new mid-engine Corvette dips into the high twos. I’m not comparing a 911 to a Mustang or even the ‘Vette (although the latter car may be embarrassingly comparable to a number of mid-engine Italians), but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m saying. The F-Type SVR delivers an immense amount of premium-level style crafted mostly from aluminum along with phenomenal attention to detail, much made from high-gloss carbon fibre, plus a beautifully crafted interior, superb musical and mechanical soundtracks, and more to go along with its respectable muscle.

2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible
As supportive and comfortable as they’re gorgeous, the F-Type SVR delivers a second-to-none interior for this class.

Better yet, a quick check of CarCostCanada’s 2020 Jaguar F-Type Canada Prices page is showing up to $8,950 in additional incentives, which is one of the more aggressive discounts I’ve ever seen on this highly useful site (CarCostCanada provides members with rebate info, details on manufacturer financing and leasing, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, via their website and the Apple Store and Google Android Store downloadable CarCostCanada app). The refreshed 2021 F-Type is already being discounted up to $6,000, incidentally, and while we’re on the subject of the new model, there’s no 2021 SVR yet. Instead, the updated 2021 F-Type R gets the same 575 horsepower V8 as the outgoing SVR, but don’t just think it’s a discounted SVR, as the significant $20,400 price reduction for the 2021 R Coupe and $20,800 savings for the 2021 R Convertible probably mean that much is missing from the top-tier package. No doubt Jaguar will introduce a more potent 2021 SVR soon, complete with all of its sensational upgrades, so we’ll have to keep our ears to the ground for this one.

All said, the current 2020 Jaguar F-Type SVR is a fabulous offering from a brand that’s steeped in sports car tradition, and well worth its very reasonable entry price. I’ve driven three in exactly the same amount of years, and have enjoyed every moment behind the wheel each time. For those with the means, I recommend it highly.

Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo editing: Karen Tuggay

Porsche wowed performance car fans with its shockingly quick 2021 911 Turbo S back in April, and we made a point of covering every one of its 640 horsepower. Now it’s time for the slightly less outrageous…

New 911 Turbo fills gap between Carrera S and Turbo S

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
The new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo boasts 572 horsepower!

Porsche wowed performance car fans with its shockingly quick 2021 911 Turbo S back in April, and we made a point of covering every one of its 640 horsepower. Now it’s time for the slightly less outrageous 911 Turbo to share the limelight, and we think that its 572 horsepower 3.8-litre flat-six will be enough to create a buzz of its own.

After all, the regular Turbo provides 32 additional horsepower over the previous 2019 911 Turbo, which is enough to shoot it from zero to 100km/h in a mere 2.8 seconds when upgraded with the Sport Chrono Package and mounted to the 911’s lighter Coupe body style. Then again, you can go al fresco and still manage 2.9 seconds from standstill to 100km/h, both times 0.2 seconds less than each models’ predecessor.

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
Zero to 100km/h takes only 2.8 seconds.

The 911’s acclaimed “boxer” engine makes a robust 553 lb-ft of torque in its newest generation, which is 30 lb-ft more than previously. That makes it more potent than the previous 911 Turbo S, upping torque, horsepower and acceleration times, due in part to new symmetrical variable turbine geometry (VTG) turbochargers that feature electrically controlled bypass valves, a redesigned charge air cooling system, and piezo fuel injectors. This results in faster throttle response, freer revving, better torque delivery, and sportier overall performance.

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
The regular 911 Turbo is just as wide as the even quicker Turbo S.

The new 911 Turbo incorporates the same standard eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox as the 911 Turbo S, while both cars also feature Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive as standard equipment too. It’s all about high-speed stability, necessary with a top track speed of 320 km/h (198 mph).

Additionally, the new 911 Turbo gets similarly muscular sheet metal as the Turbo S, its width greater than the regular Carrera by 46 mm (1.8 in) up front and 20 mm (0.8 in) between its rear fenders. This allows for wider, grippier performance tires that measure 10 mm (0.4 in) more at each end. The front brake rotors are 28 mm (1.1 in) wider than those on the previous 911 Turbo too, while the same 10-piston caliper-enhanced ceramic brakes offered with the Turbo S can also be had with the less potent 911 Turbo. Yet more options include the previously noted Sport Chrono Package, as well as a Sport suspension, Porsche Active Suspension Management, and rear-wheel steering.

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
Gorgeous styling comes standard.

Porsche has upgraded the 911 Turbo’s cabin over the Carrera with some performance goodies too, including standard 14-way powered Sport seats and standard Bose audio, while a Lightweight package removes the rear jump seats and swaps out the standard front Sport seats for a unique set of lightweight buckets, while also taking out some sound deadening material for a total weight-savings diet of 30 kilos (66 lbs).

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
Long, low and lean, the new 911 Turbo cheats the wind better than any predecessor.

Also available, the 911 Turbo Sport package includes a number of SportDesign enhancements such as black and carbon-fibre exterior trim as well as clear taillights, while a Sport exhaust system can also be had. The options menu continues with Lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, night vision assist, a 360-degree surround parking camera, Burmester audio, and more.

The 2021 Turbo Coupe and 2021 Turbo Cabriolet will arrive at Canadian Porsche dealers later this year for $194,400 and $209,000 respectively, but take note you can order from your local Porsche retailer now.

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
The new 911 Turbo gets all the same interior updates as the Carrera.

Before you make that call, however, check out the 2021 Porsche 911 Canada Prices page at CarCostCanada, because you’ll learn how to access factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent. You can also find out about possible rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. See how it works now, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Android Store, so you can access all the most important car shopping information from the convenience of your phone when at the dealership or anywhere else.

 

 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche