Porsche gave its Macan compact luxury utility such an extensive update last year that most in the industry consider it a completely new generation. The Stuttgart brand even went so far as to rejig its…

New 440 hp 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo faster than ever

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
New frontal styling refreshes the Macan’s look, while LED headlights are now standard. (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche gave its Macan compact luxury utility such an extensive update last year that most in the industry consider it a completely new generation. The Stuttgart brand even went so far as to rejig its suspension, along with doing the normal upgrades like refreshing its front and rear clips with new styling, including standard LED headlights and tail lamps, those in back circling all the way around the SUV’s rear quarters, not unlike other vehicles in the lineup such as the 718 Cayman and Boxster, Panamera, Cayenne, 911, and all-new Taycan. Its cabin has also been improved significantly, with a new high-definition 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) centre touchscreen display as standard equipment. 

This revised Macan Turbo follows the new base 2020 Macan and upgraded Macan S that showed up earlier this year, with a price of $94,200, compared to $56,100 for the entry-level Macan and $63,600 for the Macan S. 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
New 20-inch Macan Turbo alloy wheels come standard. (Photo: Porsche)

The former features a 2.0-litre turbo-four good for 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, which hightails it from standstill to 100km/h in just 6.7 seconds, or 6.5 seconds with its available Sport Chrono Package, while its terminal velocity is much more than any Canadian road allows at 227 km/h. 

All Macan trims come with an advanced seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automated transmission featuring paddle shifters on the steering wheel, plus standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM) active all-wheel drive that includes an electronically- and map-controlled multi-plate clutch, as well as an automatic brake differential (ABD) and anti-slip regulation (ASR). 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
The new three-in-one body-wide LED taillight cluster changes the look of the Macan from behind, yet aligns it with the rest of the Porsche lineup. (Photo: Porsche)

The mid-range Macan S gets a major bump in engine output thanks to a completely different mill under the hood, its 3.0-litre V6 turbo capable of 348 horsepower and 352 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a zero to 100km/h time of only 5.3 seconds, or 5.1 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, plus a new top speed of 254 km/h. 

The just-noted Macan S performance figures are improved for 2020, so it made sense for Porsche to upgrade its newest Turbo trim too, but adding a whopping 34 horsepower was probably unexpected by those outside of Porsche’s inner circle. The modified 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 now puts out a highly potent 434 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, which lops 0.3 seconds off of its acceleration time, resulting in 4.5 seconds from zero to 100km/h, or 4.3 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, while its top speed gains 5 km/h at 270 km/h. 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
The new 2020 Macan Turbo received a lot of praise after its introduction. (Photo: Porsche)

Some standard Macan Turbo performance items include a one-inch larger set of 20-inch Macan Turbo alloy wheels, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) that stop quicker than the model’s outgoing standard brakes, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers, a sport exhaust, plus more, while some available performance options include a height-adjustable air suspension with rolling pistons and new shock absorber hydraulics, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV +), and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB). 

As with last year’s Macan Turbo, the new 2020 version also adds to its standard equipment list inside, with luxurious suede-like Alcantara roof pillars and headliner, 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats with memory, 665 watts of Bose Surround Sound audio featuring 14 speakers, and more. 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
An updated interior gets a 10.9-inch touchscreen, Alcantara trim and 18-way front seats. (Photo: Porsche)

Convenience and luxury options are numerous, and include a multifunction GT Sport steering wheel, a wireless charging pad that comes together with a Smartphone Compartment, semi-autonomous parking and traffic assistance systems, etcetera. 

The 2020 Macan Turbo can now be ordered through your local Porsche retailer, and will arrive in Canada toward the end of 2019. As for the new 2020 Macan and Macan S, they’re already available for test drives.

I’m not sure how I feel about the name that Mitsubishi chose for its new compact crossover SUV. I mean, Eclipse Cross makes me think way back to better times when personal 2+2 sports coupes like the…

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC Road Test

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The new Eclipse Cross, shown here in top-line GT S-AWC trim, takes a striking pose. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I’m not sure how I feel about the name that Mitsubishi chose for its new compact crossover SUV. I mean, Eclipse Cross makes me think way back to better times when personal 2+2 sports coupes like the Japanese brand’s own Eclipse, Honda’s Prelude and Toyota’s Celica, amongst others, roamed city streets, highways and winding byways in wild abandon, but now all of these low-slung two-door fastbacks are gone and we’re left with a gaggle of two-box SUVs. 

Fortunately some of these car-based crossovers are oddly contorted, making this practical sector a bit more interesting than it might otherwise be, with the sporty new Eclipse Cross high on the list of unusual newcomers. It’s an especially good choice for those not needing all of the Outlander’s cargo space and wanting more performance than an RVR can muster, plus its edgy SUV-coupe styling pulls some of the premium flair down from luxury mega-brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz that offer similarly sized upper-crust variants in their respective X4 and GLC Coupe models. I’m not pretending for a minute the lowly Mitsu measures up to these pricey Germans, but it’s got a swagger all its own and therefore deserves a certain amount of respect for being boldly different in a compact SUV segment that all too often plays it safe. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Based on the larger Outlander, the Eclipse Cross provides a much shorter, coupe-like profile. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Most automakers choosing to get funky gravitate to the smaller subcompact SUV segment, where Mitsubishi offers its comparatively straightforward RVR against oddities like Kia’s Soul and Toyota’s C-HR (Nissan’s Juke, the strangest of them all, having finally departed a couple of years ago, replaced by the much more conservative Kicks), while (size aside) Mazda’s CX-3 is probably closest to the Eclipse Cross as far as mainstream acceptability combined with sportier than average styling and performance goes, but alas this considerably larger model is the lone coupe-like SUV in its larger compact class. 

The Eclipse Cross measures 4,405 mm (173.4 in) end to end with a 2,670 mm (105.1 in) long wheelbase, while it spans 1,805 mm (71.1 in) in width and sits 1,685 mm (66.3 in) tall, making its wheelbase identical to its 290 mm (11.4 in) longer Outlander sibling, yet its width just 5 mm (0.2 in) narrower and height 25 mm (1.0 in) shorter. In other words, it’s much the same size as the Outlander excepting length, which together with its sloped rear roofline makes for a much sportier looking ride. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Its very distinctive LED rear lighting splits dual-pane back glass. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As far as the Eclipse Cross design goes, Mitsubishi’s dramatic new “Dynamic Shield” frontal styling works much better on this new utility than with any other application it’s been used for, other than the latest 2020 RVR that I find quite attractive. The drama continues around each side where a deeply sculpted cutline emerges about a third of the way through the front door panels before slashing through each handle and meeting up with the bottom edge of an even more intriguing set of LED taillights, these tied together by a thin strip of lighting that divides two panes of rear glass a la Honda’s second-generation 1988-1991 CRX or more recent 2011–2016 CR-Z, not to mention the automaker’s also defunct Accord-based mid-size 2010–2015 Crosstour, although those three sporty coupes never incorporated the Eclipse Cross’ extra lighting element. More rocker panel body sculpting tapers upward before wrapping around the rear fenders, these mimicking the front fenders as they pay some subtle homage to the sporty 2004–2011 Endeavor (a previous long-term tester that I thoroughly enjoyed back in the day – RIP). 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
LED headlamps get added in top-line GT S-AWC trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Hidden behind a slick looking standard set of 18-inch alloy wheels on 225/55 all-season tires is a fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension setup featuring stabilizer bars at both ends, which all combines for more than enough grip to keep its turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine in control. The little mill makes just 152 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and puts that output through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s engineered to emulate an eight-speed automatic gearbox via some of the nicest magnesium column-mounted paddle shifters in the industry. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
These sharp looking machine-finish 18-inch alloys with black painted pockets come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Unlike most vehicles in the industry, these elongated paddles are actually fixed to the steering column instead of attached to the steering wheel, just like with the fabulous Evo X MR (RIP once again), making it easy to locate the correct paddle no matter how many times you’ve rotated the steering wheel. 

My Eclipse Cross GT tester really moved along nicely when pushed, feeling much more potent than its claimed horsepower rating, no doubt because of its substantive torque. Its steering was a bit firmer than most others I’ve tested in this class, albeit light enough for easy control, while its ride was slightly stiffer, but never uncomfortable or harsh. That firmness helped it handle well in corners, feeling really planted when pushed hard (Mitsubishi’s renowned chassis expertise pays off once again), but I wouldn’t have guessed it to be so good when tooling around town or otherwise driving normally, because the powertrain feels as if it’s in Eco Mode even when it’s not, meaning there’s plenty of Eco Mode still available by pressing the big green button on the centre stack. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
We love these LED taillights, that make an especially unique statement at night. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

This said there is no Sport button, your right foot being the only way to coax more out of the powertrain, and despite those lovely paddle shifters just noted, the CVT is not very sporty (I’m being kind). It’s smooth and linear, exactly how most compact SUV buyers like it, and it’s highly efficient, not only saving fuel, but also allowing more of the engine’s power to get down to the road. 

Some of its straight-line performance and handling prowess comes down to standard Super All-Wheel Control, this being Mitsubishi-speak for all-wheel drive, an advanced torque-vectoring system honed from years of Lancer Evolution rally car breeding. Yes, it’s hard to stomach the thought that this wannabe performance SUV is now the hottest model in Mitsubishi’s once proud lineup, which previously anted up the aforementioned Evo X, an all-wheel drive super sedan that easily outmaneuvered the Subaru WRX STI and most every other compact of the era, but Mitsubishi now has its limited funds (despite being part of Mitsubishi Group, which also owns a top-10 banking institution and so much more) focused on practical SUVs that more people will potentially purchase, not to mention plug-in electrics that give it a good green name if not many actual buyers, at least when comparing the Outlander PHEV’s sales to those of the conventionally powered and milder hybrid compact SUV rivals it’s up against. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The Eclipse Cross cabin’s refinement will surprise you in a good way. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

We can get glossy eyed over the loss of the Evo, but should commend Mitsubishi for the Eclipse Cross’ fuel economy that’s rated at just 9.6 L/100km in the city, 8.9 on the highway and 8.3 combined, which is quite good in comparison to the segment-sales-leading RAV4 that only manages 10.5 city, 8.3 highway and 9.5 combined, but then again it’s not quite as thrifty as the CR-V’s 8.7 city, 7.2 highway and 8.0 combined rating. 

The aforementioned powertrain is the same no matter which of its three trim levels is chosen. As usual, Mitsubishi supplied this Eclipse Cross tester in top-line form, this GT model going for $35,998 plus freight and fees (go to CarCostCanada for all pricing details, including dealer invoice pricing and rebate info that could save you thousands). This meant it came loaded up with LED headlamps, a head-up display, a multi-view backup camera with dynamic guidelines, a superb 710-watt Rockford Fosgate Punch audio system with nine speakers including a 10-inch subwoofer, a heatable steering wheel rim, two-way heated rear outboard seats, leather upholstery, a six-way powered driver’s seat, a dual-pane panoramic glass sunroof, and more. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
A nice modern design provides everything you’ll need in a logical layout. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The top-tier GT also features everything from the second-rung SE model’s optional Tech Package that includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian warning, lane departure warning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated Homelink garage door opener, roof rails, and a nice silver painted lower door garnish. 

Mid-range SE features pulled up to GT trim include the previously noted paddle shifters, proximity-sensing keyless access and ignition, an electromechanical parking brake (the base model gets a regular handbrake), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto on/off headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control (an upgrade from the base model’s single-zone auto HVAC system), blindspot warning, and more for $29,998, while features from the $27,998 base ES model that are still incorporated into the GT include LED DRLs, fog lamps, LED turn signals integrated within the side mirror caps, LED taillights, tilt and telescopic steering, a colour multi-information display within the gauge cluster, an “ECO” mode, micron filtered automatic climate control, two-way heated front seats, and more. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The attractive, easy to read instrument cluster gets a reasonably sized colour trip computer at centre. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I like the quality inside, thanks to a full soft-touch dash top that curves all the way down to the mid portion of the instrument panel, plus nice pliable synthetic front door uppers, even nicer door inserts, and contrast-stitched armrests side and centre. These match the seat bolsters that also boast contrast stitching in the same orange hue, and unlike the near overwhelming orange overload found in a Subaru Forester Sport I previously tested, Mitsubishi’s subtler colour treatment should appeal to more people. 

The primary instrument cluster is nicely organized and well laid out, with a decent size colour trip computer at centre, while the 7.0-inch tablet-style infotainment touchscreen display is especially good, sitting up high atop the centre stack and controlled by the usual tap, pinch and swipe finger prompts. Even better for those who don’t like reaching so far to input commands, Mitsubishi also included a brilliantly designed touchpad on the lower console. That this is all standard kit is most impressive, rivaling some premium brands and outdoing others, such as Lexus that only offers a joystick-like controller or similar touchpad depending on model, not the convenience of both. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
This powered head-up display is helpful if a bit distracting. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The infotainment system also includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, an excellent rearview camera with dynamic guidelines (although the multi-view one on my tester was even better), Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, satellite radio (that I listened to most often), and control of devices hooked up to two USB charging/connectivity ports, located right on the centre stack above a rubberized phone tray below. With all of this included as standard, it makes me wonder why Mitsubishi didn’t bother making the electromechanical parking brake standard as well. 

The driver’s seat is very comfortable, featuring ample powered adjustability for what I found to be an ideal driving position, thanks to enough rake and reach from the tilt and telescopic steering column, but unfortunately the seatback offered no lumbar support adjustment at all. Again, its good inherent design makes additional lower back support less critical, but as learned from many long road trips it’s always nice to make periodic adjustments in order to appease pressure pain points. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The tablet-style fixed touchscreen infotainment system is impressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Back to that steering wheel, it’s nicely shaped with a fairly thick leather rim and heatable, which came in handy as summer’s warmth dissipated and evening temperatures delved into single digits. The front seat heaters warmed up nicely too, but with only two temperatures my driver’s seat was often too hot or too cool. 

The rear passenger compartment is very roomy and comfortable too, with a folding centre armrest that includes the usual dual cupholders within. The seat heaters are easy to reach on the backside of the front console, and my tester’s rear sunroof complemented the Eclipse Cross’ good rear window visibility for an open and airy passenger experience. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
If you’d rather not reach too far, Mitsubishi provides a superb console-mounted infotainment touchpad controller. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

There’s no powered liftgate for accessing the cargo compartment, which would be fine by me, and it’s finished as nicely in back as most any other vehicle in this class too. I would’ve preferred more accommodating 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks than the 60/40 divide Mitsubishi provides, or at least a centre pass-through so I could load skis down the middle while rear passengers enjoyed those aforementioned derriere warmers on the way back from the hill, but as it is only a few mainstream volume-branded competitors offer such premium-like convenience anyway, so it’s not like the Eclipse Cross breaks rank with any compact SUV practicality norms. 

Pragmatism in mind, even this sportier SUV needs to measure up when it comes to load hauling capability in order to achieve market acceptance, so it’s good the Eclipse Cross delivers a reasonable amount of cargo space to go along with its generously proportioned passenger compartment. The hard numbers reveal 640 litres (22.6 cu ft) behind the rear seatbacks, and 1,385 litres (48.9 cu ft) aft of the front row when the rear seats are folded down, making it a mere 26 litres (0.9 cubic feet) more accommodating for cargo than the subcompact RVR with both SUVs’ seats upright and 17 litres (0.6 cubic feet) less so when said seats are laid flat. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The driver’s seat is inherently well designed, but adjustable lumbar would make it better. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Comparing it to the larger Outlander that it comes closer to measuring up to externally, the Eclipse Cross loses 328 litres (11.6 cubic feet) behind its rear row and 407 litres (14.4 cubic feet) when both models lower their rear seatbacks. Mitsubishi also includes a heavy-duty removable cargo floor with a hidden compartment below, which is handy for storing dirty items you may not want the nice carpeting above coming in contact with, or for keeping pricier belongings away from prying eyes. 

What’s more, when putting those rear seats back into use, their headrests were almost impossible to pull up from their lowered positions. It took all the strength I had, and while I’m no Ben Weider, the level of effort required was ridiculous. I’m guessing these would loosen over time, but that presupposes the owner has ample strength to muscle them up and down enough in order to ease the process. I recommend prospective buyers check this issue before signing on the dotted line, and also that dealers have their service departments add this test to each model’s pre-delivery inspection regimen. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Enough overhead light for you? The double sunroof’s powered sunshades can be opened and closed separately. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Now that I’m complaining, I heard a disconcerting number of creaks, groans and annoying squeaking sounds emanating from the rear seating area while driving. This might have something to do with the previously mentioned removable cargo floor, but it’s more likely fitment of the second sunroof in back or the rear seats themselves, because some of the creaking noises sounded like leather (or something similar) rubbing together. This said I’d like to test this SUV with cloth seats to find out if that sound disappears. 

On the positive, I appreciated having separate power-sliding sunshade controls for the front and rear portions of the panoramic moonroof. This can provide rear passengers with a more fully lit experience, while those up front can have shade drawn if wanted. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Rear seat roominess is generous and comfort very good, plus Mitsubishi added rear seat warmers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Another positive is a rear window wiper that turns on automatically when backing up if the wipers are on up front, and the aforementioned head-up display system was a nice touch too, providing vital information right in front of the driver where it can be seen easily. This is just like the head-up display used by Mazda, in that it powers up a small transparent plastic screen atop the instrument cowl instead of projecting images directly on the windshield, with the only problem in this case being that it’s a bit distracting in some ways, not really blocking the view, but certainly interrupting the mind’s eye. I eventually got used to it to the point that it didn’t bother me one bit, but I’d understand if some complained about it getting in the way. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Cargo space is merely ok, and we would’ve appreciated a centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To leave this review on a more uplifting note, I need to point out one of Mitsubishi’s best attributes, its industry-best five-year or 100,000-km basic (mostly bumper-to-bumper) warranty and 10-year or 160,000-km powertrain warranty. Nothing comes close to this, with most competitors coming up two years or 40,000 km short in their basic warranties, and five years or 60,000 km less generous for their powertrain coverage. Considering Mitsubishi is one of the most well respected brands in other markets around the world, thanks to exceptionally good engineering and better than average reliability, this impressive warranty is a major selling point that any new car buyer should factor in when making a decision. 

Overall, Mitsubishi should be commended for establishing the compact SUV-coupe niche within the mainstream volume-branded sector, and while year-to-date 2019 sales numbers of 4,159 units put the Eclipse Cross dead last in its class, when it’s combined with second-to-last Outlander deliveries of 8,568 units, the brand’s 12,727-unit compact SUV total puts it ahead of Subaru, GMC and Kia, which is quite a feat for one of the newest automotive brands in Canada (Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc. was established in 2002). This, together with the Outlander PHEV, the only plug-in hybrid in the segment, shows that innovation remains key to the company’s continued progress, and while some of us might lament the loss of sportier models like the Evo, as well as the Eclipse this SUV was named after, times have changed and only those that adapt survive.

Few premium models mimic their mainstream volume branded donor platforms so closely as the QX60 does with the Nissan Pathfinder, and by that I’m not talking about exterior styling. Actually, Infiniti…

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory Road Test

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Infiniti’s three-row mid-size QX60 moved into 2019 almost identical to its recent predecessors, except for a new trim naming convention. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Few premium models mimic their mainstream volume branded donor platforms so closely as the QX60 does with the Nissan Pathfinder, and by that I’m not talking about exterior styling. Actually, Infiniti does a pretty good job of separating the two at birth. The QX60 gets Infiniti’s trademark grille and snake eyes-like LED headlamps up front, plus its squiggly rear quarter window design, and its thinner, narrower wrap-around LED tail lamps, whereas the Pathfinder certainly looks more traditional SUV-like since its 2017 refresh. 

No, the most noticeable similarities are found inside, where the two SUVs are similar in design, layout, and general goodness. See how I did that? You probably thought I was going to say something negative, and while I’d like to see more differentiation between QX60 and Pathfinder cabins, they’re both very good at delivering what people want and need, the QX60 merely stepping things up when it comes to the quality and choice of materials, plus other refinements. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Stylish from all angles, the QX60 looks especially nice with its top-line Sensory package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

For instance, the QX60 dash top, instrument panel, glove box lid, lower console sides, and front door panels (from top to bottom) are made from high-quality soft-touch synthetics, whereas the Pathfinder leads its class for hard plastics, covering all of these areas except (strangely) for the front door panels that also get the pliable composite treatment all over. The QX60 takes these refinements into the back too, providing soft-touch rear door uppers, while hard shell plastic covers the Pathfinder’s inner doors. Infiniti even goes so far as to wrap all roof pillars in padded cloth, whereas Nissan doesn’t even cover the front pillars, like some close competitors do. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The LED headlights and fogs come standard, but the stunning 20-inch alloys are part of the Sensory upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course, Infiniti adds some more obvious upgrades to the QX60 as well, such as real maple hardwood replacing the fake stuff, a higher grade of leather with intricate hourglass quilting on the seat inserts and contrasting piping around the edges, at least in my top line Sensory trimmed example, but the dated electronics are pretty well the same except for some digital branding, the primary gauge clusters identical except for Infiniti’s classic purple colouring inside the dials, plus the serrated metallic rims around their edges, this colour treatment carried over to the centre display as well, which incidentally is devoid of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and while the buttons, knobs and switches that control these interfaces (and everything else) are mostly unique and nicer all-round, they’re laid out in more or less the same fashion. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Elegant LED taillights are standard across the line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Along with the rich hardwood and sumptuous leather upgrades, the $4,200 Sensory package adds three-way forced ventilation to the already heatable front seats, while the second-row outboard positions are now heated, and the third row gets a powered return to make loading cargo easier, while accessing the rear luggage area is more convenient thanks to a motion activated power liftgate. Back inside, everyone can enjoy the open airiness of a powered panoramic sunroof overhead, complete with powered sunshades, not to mention a 15-speaker surround-sound Bose audio system upgrade complete with 5.1-channel digital decoding, while they can also appreciate the Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) that includes auto-recirculation, a plasmacluster air purifier and grape polyphenol filter. Last but not least, the Sensory package improves the QX60’s styling and handling with unique 15-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels on 235/55 all-season tires. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The QX60’s interior is laid out similarly to its Nissan Pathfinder donor model, but it’s a lot more upscale inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Prerequisites for the new Sensory package are the equally new $5,000 Essential and $4,800 ProActive packages, the first including remote engine start, entry/exit assist for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, reverse tilt-down side mirrors, two-way power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, two-way driver’s memory with an Enhanced Intelligent Key, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, leather upholstery, Infiniti InTouch infotainment with navigation, lane guidance, and 3D building graphics, voice recognition, an Around View parking monitor with Moving Object Detection, front and rear parking sensors, SiriusXM Traffic, and more. 

The ProActive package adds auto-dimming side mirrors, high beam assist, full-speed range adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, active trace control, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Blind Spot Intervention, backup collision intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts, and Infiniti’s exclusive Eco Pedal. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
It’s high time for a QX60 update, but everything is still logically place and mostly well made. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All of this highfalutin gear gets added to a QX60 that’s already well equipped in renamed base Pure form, and competitively priced at $48,695, thanks to features such as auto on/off LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, LED taillights, roof rails, power-folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, an eight-way power driver’s seat, a six-way power front passenger’s seat, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, a (regular sized) powered moonroof, micro-filtered tri-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with a backup camera, SMS/email display, satellite radio, three USB charging ports, a powered rear liftgate, Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection (PFEB), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), and more (see all 2019 and 2020 Infiniti QX60 pricing at CarCostCanada, with breakdowns of trims, packages and individual options, plus make sure to look for special manufacturer rebate info as well as dealer invoice prices that could save you thousands). 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Classic analogue dials get filled with Infiniti’s hallmark purple/blue backlighting, while a sizeable multi-info display sits at centre. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Some of these features are available with the Pathfinder, incidentally, so it’s not like top-tier trims of the Nissan-badged utility are even remotely spartan, but Infiniti does go further as it should. Where it doesn’t seem to need much differentiation to remain popular is in mechanicals, where the two SUVs utilize the same 3.5-litre V6 and continuously variable transmission incorporating authentic feeling stepped gear ratios. It’s one of the best CVTs on the market, and perfectly suited to these models’ comfort-first focus, although all-wheel drive is standard with the QX60, unlike the Pathfinder that offers more basic front-wheel drive trims as well. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The centre stack is well organized and filled with features, but it mimics the Pathfinder too closely. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

At 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, the QX60’s direct-injection infused V6 also provides 11 more ponies and an identical 11 lb-ft of additional twist over the Pathfinder’s version of the engine, which makes for a bit more energy off the line and when passing on the highway, plus Infiniti massages the CVT with a manual mode in order to extract the most performance from those just-noted stepped gears, not to mention default (a best of all worlds compromise), Sport (that makes adjustments to the engine and transmission to enhance performance), Eco (that adjusts engine and transmission responses to improve fuel economy), and Snow (that controls engine output to reduce wheel spin) driving modes, whereas the Pathfinder pays respect to its more rugged styling by including an “i-4×4” selection on its rotating drive mode selector, this denoting Nissan’s Intelligent 4WD system lets you choose between 2WD, AUTO, and LOCK, the latter for getting out of deep snow, mud, sand, or other types of slippery situations. Nissan’s combination of drive settings is probably best off-road, not to mention its 7.0 inches of ground clearance versus 6.5, but Infiniti’s setup is automated more for slippery conditions and optimized further for pavement, which is where you’re more likely to be driving 99.9-percent of the time. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
While hardly the largest infotainment display in the class, its overhead camera is really helpful when parking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

How do these differences affect fuel economy? The QX60 does very well with a claimed Transport Canada rating of 12.5 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 10.9 combined, whereas a fully loaded AWD-equipped Pathfinder is good for an estimated 12.4 city, 9.2 highway and 11.0 combined; more or less the same. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Beautifully finished genuine maple hardwood inlays add a lot of glamour to the QX60 Sensory interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The QX60 also rides on an identical fully independent suspension made up of front struts and a multi-link design in the rear, plus stabilizer bars and coil springs at both ends, but sameness aside it feels more substantive than its lower-priced alternative. It probably comes down to some of the aforementioned soft-touch surfaces quelling noise, vibration, and harshness levels, not that the Pathfinder I recently tested was particularly harsh. Additional sound deadening materials used where the eyes can’t see no doubt play a part as well, but whatever Infiniti did, the QX60 feels more upscale, effectively shielding occupants from the world outside. 

This makes its ride feel smoother and more comfortable too, and it very well could be due to suspension tuning, but if there’s a difference it’s very minor. Both are excellent when it comes to coddling occupants in suspension nirvana, no matter the road conditions, while the two SUVs are pretty decent at managing high-speed corners too, as long as you don’t get overzealous in your need to travel from A to B quickly. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The special quilted leather Sensory upholstery is lovely, but the two-way lumbar support doesn’t cut it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

A feature I would’ve liked to see Infiniti address more completely is lumbar support, the QX60’s two-way powered system identical to the Pathfinder’s, and not good enough for the luxury sector. They should have at least made a four-way system optional, because as it is you’ll either get sufficient pressure exactly where you need it on your lower back or not, the latter being the case for my five-foot-eight frame and particular pain. A four-way system allows upward and downward movement in order to satisfy all body types and conditions. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The optional dual-pane rear panoramic sunroof adds a lot more light than just the standard one up front. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Other than this the driver’s seat is quite comfortable and should be large enough for most peoples’ requirements, while second-row seating is very accommodating thanks to plenty of room from side-to-side and the ability to slide each 60/40-split portion fore and aft as needed, plus a comfortable armrest with integrated cupholders in the middle. The third row isn’t the largest or smallest in the class, yet should be sufficient for all but large teens and adults. Better than size, access to that third row comes via Nissan/Infiniti’s innovative seat folding mechanism that lets you keep a child safety seat installed (without the child strapped in) while sliding it out of the way. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The rear seats are very accommodating. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Speaking of this, the QX60 could use more child seat latches, particularly in the third row, but on the positive Nissan/Infiniti’s Rear Door Alert system is brilliant. It uses door sequence logic along with an instrument-panel message alert, plus multiple horn honks to remind its driver to check the rear seating area after parking and turning off the ignition. This is an important step towards eliminating child and pet injuries/death after being left behind to suffer in the summer heat of parked cars. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The second row seats flip forward and slide out of the way for easy third-row access. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Cargo volume is good, with 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) available behind the third row, this space made yet more functional thanks to a hidden compartment below the load floor that also houses a removable Bose subwoofer, while up to 1,155 litres (40.8 cubic feet) of gear-toting space can be created by dropping that 50/50-split third row downward via powered switches mounted on each cargo wall. Finally, the 60/40-split second-row seatbacks flip down completely flat via manual levers on their sides, providing a sizeable 2,166 litres (76.5 cubic feet) of maximum cargo volume. Some rivals offer automated second-row seats too, but this setup works well enough and the space provided is very generous. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Not the largest in its class, but the QX60’s third row is still quite roomy. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In the end the QX60 is showing its age, but being a bit older doesn’t necessarily mean it’s outdated. Yes, its instrument panel electronics could use a refresher and I’d like to see more visual separation from the lesser Pathfinder, but it looks good inside and out, is finished in high-quality materials, drives well, and offers seven-passenger luxury SUV buyers a lot of practicality for a very good price. This 2019 model is no different than the 2020 version arriving now, other than its previously noted packages transforming into four trim levels, plus a number of new option packages. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
No shortage of cargo space here. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

A complete redesign isn’t far away, however, said to be arriving next year as a 2021 model, but if you can’t wait that long this 2019 model, or the new 2020 version, are good choices that drive a hard bargain in the mid-size luxury SUV class, although I expect the upcoming 2021 QX60 to be improved enough not to need a discount.

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.”

“Winter temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall will be above normal,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac in this year’s Annual Weather Summary for Southern Ontario, while those in Southern BC can…

Porsche introduces new 2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet is one of the most appealing all-weather sports cars available. (Photo: Porsche)

“Winter temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall will be above normal,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac in this year’s Annual Weather Summary for Southern Ontario, while those in Southern BC can expect the next six months to be “colder than normal.” 

Are you ready for another bone-chilling winter? Yes, Jack Frost has been a bit naughtier than usual over the past couple of years, and this stormy trend probably won’t end soon, but don’t worry because Porsche has your back. 

As any sports car fan knows, the quintessential German performance brand has been rolling out its all-new 2020 911 Carrera in stages throughout this year, and the latest edition is ideally timed to fight off the white fluffy stuff (or more often than not, brown mucky stuff) that makes our roads slippery and challenging to navigate unless you’ve got the right equipment. The gear in question is Porsche’s new 911 Carrera 4 Coupé or 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, with the number “4” designating all-wheel drive in Porsche-speak. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupé is now available to order. (Photo: Porsche)

The new Carrera 4 uses the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six as found in the Carrera 2, capable of 370 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. The Carrera 4 Coupe can launch from zero to 100 km/h, which at only 4.5 seconds is a hair (0.1 seconds) faster than the two-wheel drive version when set up with its base seven-speed manual gearbox; or 4.3 seconds with its paddle-shifter enhanced dual-clutch eight-speed PDK, or 4.1 seconds when the latter automated transmission is combined with the model’s Sport Chrono Package. 

Additionally, standstill to 160 km/h takes a mere 9.7 seconds with the manual and 9.3 seconds for the PDK, while the two cars top out at 292 and 290 km/h respectively. Alternatively, the Carrera 4 Cabriolet takes an additional 0.2 seconds to complete all sprint times, and achieves a terminal velocity of 289 km/h. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The new Carrera 4 boasts two rectangular tailpipes. (Photo: Porsche)

Just like the 2020 Carrera 4S introduced earlier this year, the new Carrera 4 uses an innovative water-cooled front differential, which incorporates reinforced clutches that increase load capacities and overall durability. When combined with Porsche Traction Management (PTM), the updated front axle drive system improves the Carrera 4’s traction in slippery conditions, while also enhancing performance in the dry. 

What’s more, all 2020 911 Carrera owners will get a new standard Wet mode added to the revised steering wheel-mounted drive mode selector, the unique technology automatically maintaining better control over watery or snowy road surfaces when engaged. Each new 911 also receives standard autonomous emergency braking with moving object detection to improve safety further, while a high-definition backup camera and rear parking sensors are also standard equipment. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The new Carrera boasts a stunning interior made from the best materials. (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) comes standard too, including electronically variable dampers with both Normal and Sport settings, while Porsche Torque Vectoring, standard on S and 4S models, is now optional with the Carrera 4 Coupe and Carrera 4 Cabriolet. 

Yet more available options include the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, as well as staggered front to rear 20- and 21-inch alloy wheels, while staggered 19- and 20-inch alloys are standard equipment. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
Both Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 models incorporate these redesigned sport seats in standard trim. (Photo: Porsche)

The italicized “4” on the rear deck lid aside, the only way to differentiate the two Carrera 4 models from the two Carrera 2 trims is a twin set of rectangular tailpipes in place of the base model’s dual oval exhaust tips; Carrera 2S and 4S trims featuring four rounded chrome pipes. This said, you can upgrade both Carrera 4 models with a pair of big oval exhaust ports, at which point you’d probably be best to rely on the written designation for classification purposes. 

There are no obvious 911 C2 and C4 differences inside, mind you, with both trims coming standard with Porsche’s mostly digital primary gauge package, the traditional analogue tachometer remaining at centre, plus the same 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen infotainment system featuring enhanced connectivity, as well as identically redesigned seats. 

The entirely new 2020 Porsche Carrera 4 Coupé starts at $111,900, while the Carrera 4 Cabriolet is available from $126,000. Both can now be ordered at your local Porsche retailer.

When I first heard Jeep was about to can the Patriot and keep the Compass I was a bit put off. It’s not like I particularly loved the Patriot, but it was a helluvalot more appealing than the first-generation…

2020 Jeep Compass North 4×4 Road and Trail Test

2020 Jeep Compass North
Jeep’s Compass compact SUV was all-new for 2018, while this North trimmed model moves into 2020 completely unchanged. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

When I first heard Jeep was about to can the Patriot and keep the Compass I was a bit put off. It’s not like I particularly loved the Patriot, but it was a helluvalot more appealing than the first-generation Compass, at least to my eyes, plus it offered some mild capability off-road. Despite my silent petition Jeep followed through on this rumour and the Patriot was discontinued in 2017, but fortunately Jeep gave the Compass a completely new life that same year for the 2018 model, transforming it from a slightly better looking version of the initial ugly duckling, into something really quite fetching. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
With no shortage of style, the Compass offers up great design from all angles. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Believe it or not, the first-gen Compass ran for 10 years, from 2006 to 2016, with only one significant facelift in 2011. That’s when Jeep turned it from a Liberty wannabe to a mini Grand Cherokee, at least from the front, while the totally new second-generation Compass pulls even more cues from the since-updated and much more handsome Grand Cherokee, resulting in a really smart looking compact crossover SUV front to back. On that note I can’t go without mentioning rear end styling similarities to the all-new Volvo XC40, but to be fair to Jeep this shapely domestic came on the scene a full year before the new entry-level Sino-Swede, so maybe it was Jeep that influenced Volvo. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The Compass’ wide, narrow grille is unique, other than sharing its design with the larger Grand Cherokee. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It wouldn’t be the first time Jeep made an impression on a luxury brand. Anyone who thinks the Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen (G-Class) merely landed on the scene in ‘79 without any homage paid to Jeep’s iconic CJ/Wrangler (plus Land Rover’s Series I/II/III/Defender and Toyota’s Land Cruiser J40/70) is dreaming, and let me tell you that this Compass not only offers premium styling, but does a pretty good job of aping a compact luxury utility as well. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
This near base model still gets fog lamps and a nice set of 17-inch alloy wheels. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

You’d need to step up from this second-rung North example to Trailhawk, Limited or High Altitude trim in order to feel truly pampered, although this just-over-base model is still very nicely finished inside. It gets a soft-touch dash that wraps all the way around the instrument panel and under the infotainment head unit before stretching across each front door upper. The door inserts are made from supple padded leatherette, similar to the armrests that also get nice cream and copper dual-tone contrast stitching to match the leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, shifter boot, and seat upholstery. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Wonderful little design details are everywhere, like this salamander hiding below the windshield wiper. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Those seats are bolstered in leatherette with attractive hexagonal-patterned black cloth inserts, and are very comfortable thanks to good inherent design as well as four-way powered lumbar support. Yes, four-way lumbar; a feature many premium brands don’t offer until moving up through their options lists. 

The Compass switchgear is all high in quality too, with the standard dual-zone automatic HVAC system’s main dials rimmed in chrome and rubber, while Jeep provides a separate climate control interface within the centre touchscreen that lets you swipe up and down to easily set the temperature, not to mention adjust temperatures of the two-way front seat heaters and ultra-hot heatable steering wheel. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Sharp looking taillights once again remind of Jeep’s flagship Grand Cherokee. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The infotainment system does much more, with really diverse entertainment choices from the usual radio selections to HD and satellite radio plus Bluetooth streaming audio, as well as navigation with accurate route guidance and really detailed mapping, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a nice big reverse camera with active guidelines, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The Compass is ideal for all types of off-road terrain. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Some additional $29,645 North model features include 17-inch alloy wheels on 225/60 all-seasons, auto on/off headlamps, cornering fog lights, body-colour side mirror housings and door handles, bright daylight opening mouldings, black roof rails, deep-tint sunscreen glass, proximity-sensing keyless access, LED ambient interior lighting, and illuminated vanity mirrors, while the $26,150 base Sport model just below features an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, heated and power-adjustable side mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering, cruise control, six-speaker audio, a media hub with an aux input and USB connectivity/charging port, a second-row USB charger, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, two 12-volt chargers, powered windows, a forward folding front passenger seat, a capless fuel filler, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, a block heater, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North2020 Jeep Compass North
Even without the raised ride height of Trailhawk trim, the Compass scales off-road obstacles well. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The aforementioned eight-way powered driver’s seat is optional, as are the heated front seats and steering wheel, and the 1.4-inch larger 8.4-inch infotainment system with navigation, while my tester also had a really impressive, fully featured, high-resolution 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster display, a windshield wiper de-icer, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, remote engine start, a nice set of all-weather floor mats, a full-size temporary spare tire, a Class III tow package, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
It really is a Jeep! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

You can also replace the standard quad-halogen headlamps with a set of bi-xenon HID headlamps featuring LED signatures and LED taillights, add a set of 18-inch alloys on 225/55 all-seasons, upgrade the audio system with Alpine speakers, add a dual-pane panoramic sunroof and powered liftgate, and finally improve convenience and safety with a host of advanced driver assist systems such as adaptive cruise control with stop and go, automatic high beams, forward collision warning with active braking, advanced brake assist, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist, and that’s just with North trim. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Too much fun, the Compass can get you in and out of some fairly serious predicaments. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Jeep also offers the Compass in $30,940 Altitude trim, which adds glossy black 18-inch alloys, additional gloss-black exterior trim including a black roof, automatic headlights, upgraded upholstery, dual exhaust tips and other changes, while $31,640 Upland trim adds the 17-inch off-road alloy wheels, a modified front fascia, a front skid plate, and tow hooks from the aforementioned Trailhawk model, plus some other styling changes. 

Full $34,145 Trailhawk trim includes an off-road package with a unique uprated suspension setup, plus off-road tires wrapping around those just-noted 17-inch alloys, while it also adds underbody skid plates, hill descent control, the previously mentioned 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster display, the 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, and rain-sensing wipers, as well as ambient-lit cupholders and leather upholstery. 

Trevor Hofmann
A nice reflection, even in mud. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Limited trim, at $36,145, builds on the more crossover-like Altitude model, by making the previously noted remote engine start, windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats, and heated steering wheel standard equipment, plus adding a 12-way power driver’s seat, while the topmost $38,340 High Altitude trim includes the HID headlights, LED taillights and navigation system standard, while adding 19-inch rims and rubber, plus perforated leather upholstery (check CarCostCanada for 2020 Jeep Compass pricing, including trims, packages and options, plus make sure to learn about available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The Compass North is surprisingly refined for a compact SUV in base trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

No matter the trim the Compass is roomy for what is effectively a subcompact SUV, with plenty of space up front, loads of driver’s seat adjustability, and excellent telescopic steering column reach resulting in an ideal driving position, plus there’s more headroom than you’ll likely ever need. After setting my driver’s seat up for my rather long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight frame, causing me to power it further rearward than most people my height need to, I still had about six inches ahead of my knees when seated directly behind in the second row, plus four inches over my head, and another four next to my hips and shoulders, while Jeep provides a nice wide armrest at centre. The outboard seats are comfortable with good lower back support, and the previously noted rear seat amenities, which also included good air circulation via vents on the backside of the front console, helped to make for a relaxing atmosphere. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The cockpit is nicely organized. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The cargo compartment gets the usual carpeting on the floor and seatbacks, four chromed tie-down hooks, and the usual standard 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks to expand it from an accommodating 770 litres (27.2 cubic feet) to a generous 1,693 litres (39.8 cu ft). These numbers show this new Compass to be 127 litres (4.5 cu ft) larger than old first-generation version with the seats upright, and 82 litres (2.9 cu ft) smaller when they’re folded flat, a nominal difference likely due to the previous model having more space behind the driver’s side rear wheel well, but usable space is about the same. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
A large 7.0-inch centre display provides loads of functions. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Comfortably positioned back up front in the driver’s seat, there are no Eco or Sport modes to get the most mileage or performance from the standard 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir four-cylinder engine, or its three drivetrains. The engine makes a healthy 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, good for the subcompact SUV class, while fuel economy depends on whether suited up with the base front-wheel drive, six-speed manual gearbox combination (10.4 L/100km city, 7.3 highway and 9.0 combined), front-wheel drive with the six-speed auto (10.6 city, 7.6 highway and 9.3 combined), which also comes with auto stop/start that automatically shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, or the four-wheel drive, nine-speed auto combo (10.8 city, 7.8 highway and 9.5 combined) that comes with idle stop/start too. Only Sport trim offers the manual, with Sport, North and Altitude trims providing the option of front-wheel drive with the six-speed auto, while all trims can be had with the 4WD, nine-speed configuration, which is standard on Upland models and above. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The big optional 8.4-inch display is ideal for checking details on this navigation map. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

My Compass tester was great fun to drive, much thanks to steering wheel-mounted paddles. It was quick at takeoff, the little turbo-four delivering plenty of torque for a good smack in the backside during takeoff and no shortage of energy to speedily eclipse highway cruising limits. High-speed stability and fast-paced handling are good too, while the Compass’ ride quality is hardly upset by road imperfections. The Compass’ suspension is fully independent, and interestingly it incorporates rear struts in place of this compact SUV segment’s usual trailing arm or multi-link setup in order to provide more travel to improve off-road capability. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Choose your drive mode and go. The Compass offers Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud selections. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

And yes, the Compass is fairly decent off-road. Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system is standard, which provides Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud modes, the latter one extremely useful when getting it dirty at a local off-road haunt. Certainly the Trailhawk’s lifted suspension and beefier tires would’ve made it even more confidence inspiring, but I was able to crawl over some reasonably difficult medium-duty terrain, wade through a few big mud puddles, and bring it back in one piece. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
The 8-way powered driver’s seat is especially comfortable thanks to 4-way powered lumbar support. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Compass’ Achilles heel is its advanced nine-speed transmission, which while smooth and refined in its higher ratios, plus includes a sporty rev-matching feature, was often plagued with jerky starts from standstill, seemingly caused by a slight hesitation upon pressing the gas pedal that resulted in an uncomfortable slap in the back affect and distinct clunk on takeoff. Worse, this is the only vehicle to ever stall on me when in idle stop/start mode. While waiting at a light with the engine automatically turned off, the light went green, so I took my foot off the brake and, when nothing happened, feathered the throttle in order to get things going. Instead, the engine tried to start up and then died, stalling in Drive. After figuring out what had happened, returning my foot to the brake, shifting the transmission back into Park, pushing the start button, shifting it back into Drive, and then waiting for a very long time (as if the transmission was slipping) before it clunked into gear and started going again, I wasn’t at all amused. After all, there was a line of (fortunately patient) traffic behind me, looking at this poor sod that obviously didn’t know how to drive. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Rear seat roominess and comfort is good. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

As I’ve since learned, Jeep’s ZF-sourced nine-speed transmission has caused problems for the brand in this Compass and other vehicles (particularly the Cherokee) going back years, and the description of my specific problem doesn’t come close to describing all of the issues that might potentially go wrong. This particular problem still appears to be happening with some customers, as noted by multiple complainants on the U.S. NHTSA website. 

2020 Jeep Compass North
Cargo space is impressive for the class. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It’s such a shame to leave things on a sour note, because I really like this SUV in most every other respect. It looks great, has an impressive interior that’s packed full of features, is priced reasonably well, provides loads of practicality, and is fun to drive (when it’s not stalling and the transmission isn’t clunking). I could recommend it in front-wheel drive trims, but I’d want to test a couple of other examples with the all-wheel drivetrain and nine-speed automatic before recommending anything higher up the food chain.

If you like the looks of this stylish mid-size sport sedan you can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that it’s not getting cancelled anytime soon. Of course, considering the sheer number of…

2019 Buick Regal GS Road Test

2019 Buick Regal GS
This is the new face of Buick, and it’s a particularly handsome one at that. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

If you like the looks of this stylish mid-size sport sedan you can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that it’s not getting cancelled anytime soon. Of course, considering the sheer number of four- and five-door models currently getting axed by General Motors, and the fact that its European Opel and Vauxhall Insignia twins will soon need to disappear due to an August 2017 sale of the two brands to France’s Groupe PSA, it’s quite possible we’ll see this change at some point in the future (our Regal is manufactured in Rüsselsheim, Germany after all), but a 2020 Buick Regal is slated to go on sale shortly, so at the very least we’ll enjoy it for another year. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The Regal’s elegant lines come standard, but this GS model’s sportier additions really make it stand out. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I use the word “enjoy” because this mid-size near-luxury sedan is truly a joy to look at, and possibly even better to drive. It helps that my tester was in top-line GS trim, and therefore is one of the mid-size family sedan segment’s sportier cars. It’s also not technically a sedan, but rather a five-door hatchback, Buick choosing to call it a Sportback. As a quick side note they make a raised five-door sport wagon/crossover variant (à la Subaru Outback and Volvo V90 Cross Country) for the U.S. (and Euro markets, plus Australia and New Zealand where the two body styles are sold as the Holden Commodore) dubbed TourX, but just like in China where Buick finds its most ardent followers (and builds its Regal at the SAIC-GM assembly plant in Shanghai), we only get this four-door coupe-like sedan. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
In a rare feat of design mastery, the Regal’s rear angle looks just as good as its front. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Despite its attractive styling and strong performance, the Regal is either one of the least popular cars from a mainstream volume brand or a fairly strong selling luxury model, depending on how you categorize it. With a base price of $32,045 (plus destination and fees), most competitors start $3,000 to $7,000 more affordably, while similarly priced mid-size sedans from volume brands do about the same or worse when it comes to sales numbers. Still, the Regal doesn’t quite measure up to premium status or refinement levels (GM’s Cadillac division occupies that space), so the unique model’s market exclusivity is understandable (see all 2019 Buick Regal pricing at CarCostCanada, where you can also find out about available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The red “GS” insignia and LED headlamps come standard with this top-tier model. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Regal GS pictured here starts at a cool $44,045 plus freight and fees and goes up to $51,700 with all options (and a couple of cool accessories added), which while a steal compared to a comparatively sized and equipped premium-branded model, is a fair jump up the desirability ladder from a fully loaded Toyota Camry, Honda Accord or Ford Fusion, the top-three sellers in this category, but its fully loaded price is just $205 more than a completely optioned out Kia Stinger and actually $1,880 less than VW’s new Arteon with all features added. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The design details are fabulous! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Granted the top-tier Stinger is a 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6-powered AWD super-beast capable of hitting 100 km/h from standstill in just 4.9 seconds, but the 310-horsepower Regal GS’ is plenty respectable at 5.6 seconds from zero to 100km/h, which is (believe it or not) better than the legendary Regal Grand National GNX and about the same as the 265-horsepower Arteon, which is 300 kilos (about 660 lbs) lighter. These acceleration times are estimates, of course, with some manufacturers more conservative than others, Buick seeming not to want to set anyone’s hopes too high considering the GS’ 3.6-litre V6 engine’s generous power rating, not to mention its 282 lb-ft of torque. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
Yes, you’re looking at Brembo brakes behind those sharp looking 19-inch rims. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Of course, there’s a lot more that makes each of these impressive cars worthy of your attention, and much that sets them apart from their more conventional family sedan peers. I won’t turn this review into a full-scale comparison review, despite recently testing all of the above for a week at a time, but rather will concentrate on the Regal GS and occasionally point out strengths and weaknesses compared to its key rivals. 

As far as styling goes, each respectably holds its own. I find the Regal is thoroughly attractive, but admit my appreciation for its classic lines and overall elegance may have something to do with my 50-something age. On looks alone I could understand why someone would fall for it, especially when enhanced with GS trim details. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
These elegant LED taillights are standard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

These upgrades start with bold red italicized “GS” block letters on the otherwise glossy black mesh grille insert framed by a gloss-black grille surround that’s all underscored by yet more of the shiny, inky brightwork on lower fascia. The same piano black treatment highlights the lower side window trim and rear apron, this sporty look complemented by aluminum-like trim on the grille, corner grillettes, upper window surrounds, and exhaust. A subtle body-colour rear deck spoiler and modified rear bumper finish off the performance-oriented design. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The interior is a mix of awesome sport-oriented upgrades plus fit and finish that comes up a bit short. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Climb inside and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Buick is channeling the ghost of Pontiac, as you’ll immediately be greeted by two of the most aggressive looking sport seats in the Regal’s class, not to mention a contrast-stitched, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel to match, complete with a slightly flattened bottom for extra verve. I wouldn’t say the latter is as impeccably shaped as the Arteon’s superbly crafted wheel, or for that matter the Stinger’s paddle shifter-enhanced rim, but they all do much better than average in this family-friendly segment. Like the others (i.e. glossy black plastic is hardly original), Buick adds some additional splashes of piano black lacquer trim here, a bit of carbon weave-like adornment there, plus aluminized and chromed accents elsewhere, and voila, you’ve got a sport sedan. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The Regal’s interior design is conventional, but the GS spiffs things up with a nice sport steering wheel. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

A smart looking partially digital gauge cluster with a red GS insignia emblazoned within the 4.2-inch digitized centre speedometer portion reminds that we’re in Buick’s quickest car, a graphic than can be swapped with plenty of useful features by flicking the steering wheel controls. 

Over on the centre stack is the latest version of Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment interface, residing within a very nice high-resolution 8.0-inch touchscreen. The circular aqua-green on black graphics are attractive and a bit more upscale looking than the bright, colourful Apple-style design in the Regal’s Chevy Malibu counterpart, fitting for the Buick’s older and slightly wealthier target clientele. It’s certainly an easy system to use and once again filled to the brim with helpful features, from a large, clear backup camera with dynamic guidelines, to a navigation system with easy-to-input, accurate route guidance with detailed mapping, plus all the usual audio features including HD/satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming, phone and text message info/readouts, another panel for OnStar, a big interface for the dual-zone automatic climate control system, and more. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The gauge cluster includes a large colour multi-info display at centre. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

A separate HVAC panel just below provides quicker-access analogue controls for the same, not to mention switchgear for the three-way heated and cooled front seats, while other features not yet mentioned that came with my Regal GS tester included a heatable steering wheel rim, a head-up display atop the dash, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and driver’s side mirror, two-way driver’s seat memory, leather upholstery, eight-speaker Bose audio, wireless charging, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, a powered moonroof, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, remote engine start, auto-leveling LED headlamps with cornering capability, 19-inch alloy wheels with grey-painted pockets, front and rear parking sensors, and much more. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The centre stack is nicely sorted, and the infotainment system excellent. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Buick also includes a host of advanced driver assistance and safety features, such as autonomous forward braking with collision alert and pedestrian detection, blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, plus Buick’s first active hood pedestrian safety system that raises the rear portion of the hood by 100 mm (3.9 inches) to lessen impact and help reduce injury. 

The driver’s seat is inherently comfortable and benefits further from four-way lumbar support, a feature some premium-branded luxury sedans don’t even include, not to mention extendable lower cushions that cup nicely below the knees, and big side bolsters that provide excellent lateral support thanks to powered adjustability. Complemented by extensive reach from the tilt and telescopic steering column, the Regal provided an ideal driving position, which isn’t always the case for my long-legged, short-torso frame. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
Get a load of these sport seats, complete with four-way lumbar, extendable lower cushions, and powered side bolsters. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Regal GS’ V6 idles smoothly when it’s not shutting off automatically to save fuel and reduce emissions, a good thing in my books. Quick shifts come from a nine-speed automatic transmission, the GS getting one additional forward gear than four-cylinder AWD trims, which like the engine proved smooth and effortless to operate around town, on the highway, or through more entertaining serpentine stretches. Chagrined to learn this sporty sedan didn’t include paddle shifters, which would have been a great way to improve on its well sorted transmission and fully capable powerplant, I first put it in Sport mode and then slotted the gear lever to the left for a little old school manual fun. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
The rear seats are roomy and comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The GS has a lot of punch off the line and the gearbox is a perfect match, shifting quickly yet never harshly, but needing more sport from Sport mode I immediately chose the GS setting, which adds more weight to the steering and feels a lot more engaging overall. Yes I missed having paddles, but I adapted as needed and enjoyed this very well balanced sedan through some tight, twisting two-laners and some open straights as well. The chassis is smooth and comfortable, yet it holds the road very well thanks to active dampers that adjust every two milliseconds. The GS’ active twin-clutch all-wheel drive system aids handling further, particularly in wet weather, while its high-performance Brembo brakes perform as brilliantly as they look. Fuel economy is reasonable for its performance and all-wheel drivetrain, with a rating of 12.4 L/100km city, 8.7 highway and 10.7 combined. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
Yes, the Regal is a hatchback. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Unfortunately, the GS wasn’t perfect. It suffered from one of the cheapest turn signal stalks I’ve ever experienced, due to flimsy hollow plastic and a loose, sloppy feel, while there’s a lot of low rent hard plastic on the lower dash, glove box lid, and mid to lower door panels. To be fair, the aforementioned Arteon isn’t much better when it comes to the latter, but the Stinger pulls off luxury more convincingly. Most of the GS’ upper surfaces are agreeably soft to the touch, however, and front and rear seat roominess is good, with the rear outboard positions almost as comfortable as the buckets up front, but the moulded black plastic panel covering the backside of the front console looked bulbous, as if it was pulled from a much cheaper vehicle, an issue made worse by its spartan array of twinned air vents up top and dual USB ports below. 

2019 Buick Regal GS
A 40/20/40-split rear seat configuration makes for ultimate passenger/cargo flexibility. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Yes, the Regal GS comes up a bit short on back seat features. It doesn’t including rear seat heaters like most $50k-plus competitors, which was a shame as, together with its AWD, its standard 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks and liftback layout, not to mention its strong performance on winding mountainside roads, it would make for an ideal ski shuttle. The cargo cover is weighty, feeling really well made, and seat releases on the cargo walls quickly expand the 892-litre (31.5 cubic-foot) luggage compartment to an accommodating 1,719 litres (60.7 cu ft). 

While missing some key features and not quite measuring up to its peers when it comes to interior fit and finish, the Regal GS is nevertheless an ultra-stylish ride that does some things so well it’s worth a closer look. You’ll probably like its quick and agile performance, reasonably well-equipped, roomy and comfortable cabin, and overall practicality, and therefore will likely be able to look past its few shortcomings.

Lexus’ ES has come a long way in 30 years. Yes, 2019 marks three decades of the quintessential Japanese luxury brand’s best-selling car, which started life as the comparatively humble ES 250 in 1989. …

2019 Lexus ES 300h Road Test

2019 Lexus ES 300h
Lexus redesigned its ES luxury sedan for 2019, with even this 300h hybrid looking sportier than ever before. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Lexus’ ES has come a long way in 30 years. Yes, 2019 marks three decades of the quintessential Japanese luxury brand’s best-selling car, which started life as the comparatively humble ES 250 in 1989. 

It was obviously based on the Camry family sedan, yet despite being rushed to market in order to make sure the full-size LS 400 wasn’t alone in the new premium brand’s lineup, it was a handsome, well-built and reasonably strong performing V6-powered mid-size luxury sedan. Lexus has made six ES generations since, releasing this most recent seventh-generation redesign late last year as a 2019 model, and while each new version made improvements on its predecessor, this latest iteration is by far the most dramatic looking, most refined inside, and best to drive yet. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The new ES is stylish from all angles, its new elevated rear deck lid providing a particularly sporty look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In fact, Lexus has done such a good job of pulling the ES upmarket that it’s getting more difficult to justify having two mid-size sedans in its lineup. The two look similar and are near identical in size, the ES’ wheelbase just 20 mm (0.8 in) longer at 2,870 mm (113.0 in), and 4,960 mm (195.3 in) of overall length a bit more of a stretch thanks to an additional 110 mm (4.3 in). The ES is 25 mm (1.0 in) wider than the GS too, measuring 1,865 mm (73.4 in) from side to side, but at 1,445 mm (56.9 in) high it’s 10 mm (0.4 in) lower, the ES’ long, wide and low design giving it proportions arguably more appealing than the sportier, more upscale sedan. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
Lexus has taken its trademark spindle grille to new lengths, heights and widths with the new ES. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be fair to the GS, it not only delivers stronger performance, particularly through the corners and off the line, especially in 467 horsepower GS F form, but it generally feels more substantive thanks to a 66-kilo (145-lb) heftier curb weight in base trim and 185-kg (408-lb) difference in hybrid trims, a rear-drive architecture shared with the smaller IS series sedan and coupe, a stiffer, more robust suspension setup, and other improvements that justify its significantly higher price point; the GS ranging from $63,800 to more than $100,000, compared to just $45,000 to $61,500 with the ES (find pricing for all new and past models at CarCostCanada, including trims, packages and individual options, plus money-saving rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could keep thousands in your wallet). 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
These stunning Tri-LED headlamps come as part of the mid-range Luxury package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Under the base ES hood is a 302 horsepower version of Lexus/Toyota’s ubiquitous 3.5-litre V6, just 9 horsepower and 13 lb-ft of torque shy of the base GS engine yet 34 horsepower and 19 lb-ft of torque more than the previous ES 350, and the Japanese luxury brand now marries it to an eight-speed automatic instead of the comparably antiquated six-speed unit found in last year’s ES and the pricier GS currently on sale. 

My as-tested ES 300h, which incidentally starts at $47,000, combines an upgraded 176 horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder featuring 163 lb-ft of torque with a 67 horsepower (50 kW) electric motor and 29.1-kWh nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery for a net output rating of 215 horsepower and an undisclosed torque rating (the previous ES 300h’ net torque rating was 206 lb-ft). Toyota’s fourth-generation hybrid system once again incorporates a silky smooth electronically controlled continuously variable transmission that suits this car’s luxury role well. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The ultimately angular 2019 ES can no longer be called a bland wallflower. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Fuel economy is incredibly good at a claimed 5.5 L/100km in the city, 5.2 on the highway and 5.3 combined, which despite its performance gains beats last year’s ES 300h hands-down, that model only capable of 5.8, 6.1 and 5.9 respectively. The new ES 300h handily outmaneuvers its Lincoln MKZ Hybrid archrival past the pumps too, the domestic luxury sedan only managing 5.7 city, 6.2 highway and 5.9 combined, while other notable efficiency comparisons include the conventionally powered ES 350 that gets a rating of 10.6 city, 7.2 highway and 9.1 combined, the same car with its F Sport styling upgrade that manages 10.9, 7.5 and 9.4 respectively, and the regular GS 350 AWD with its 12.3, 9.1 and 10.9 rating, while last year’s GS 450h hybrid eked out an impressive 8.0 city, 6.9 highway and 7.5 combined, but it’s no longer available so the point is moot unless you can find a new one lurking around your local Lexus dealer or are willing to live with a pre-owned example. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The top-line Ultra Luxury package includes these stylish 18-inch noise reduction alloy wheels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

You might find the latter difficult being the GS is as rare as the proverbial bird’s teeth, with year-to-date sales a scant 82 units as of August 31, compared to 1,445 down the road for the ES. That latter total makes for the mid-size luxury segment’s second-best results behind the Mercedes-Benz E/CLS-Class, plus the category’s best growth at 55.54 percent over the same eight months of last year. Only two rivals saw any upside at all, Mercedes’ E/CLS-Class (which also includes a coupe and convertible) up by 1.24 percent, plus Audi’s A6 and A7 with 18.87 and 24.28 percent YTD growth respectively, the latter two cars only capable of garnering 441 and 430 unit sales apiece during those eight months, however. 

In case you were wondering, the GS, its sales down 43.84 percent, wasn’t last, with Jaguar’s XF having lost 52.89 percent for 57 deliveries, Acura’s RLX down by 24.53 percent for 40 unit sales, and Infiniti’s Q70 dropping 2.56 percent for a 38 unit total. The segment’s biggest loser by percentage is the Lincoln Continental, dropping 56.88 percent so far this year, while closest to positive without going over is the G80 from Hyundai’s upstart Genesis brand that narrowly missed out with a loss of just 0.44 percent (thanks to GoodCarBadCar.net for the detailed sales results). 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
Here’s a closer look at the ES’ raised rear deck lid, that seems to pay some homage to BMW’s once infamous Bangle butt. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

After witnessing the sales carnage in this mid-size luxury sedan class it’s easy to appreciate why Lexus might eventually choose to keep the ES over the GS, and while anyone that’s driven a GS F might lament such a decision. Personally, I’d back a CEO that makes good, sound business decisions over someone merely wanting a hyper-fast executive shuttle in their fleet. Certainly there’s a reasonable case for image cars, but Lexus is already losing money on its gorgeous LC coupe, which will go a lot further to bolster the brand’s image than an aging four-door sedan could ever do, let alone a car that sells in such small numbers there isn’t much image building being done anyway, so let’s see what happens to the Lexus lineup as we move into the next decade. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The ES’ new LED taillights are exquisitely detailed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

One thing is for sure, the ES will continue to fill its unique position within the marketplace, and it will have fewer rivals moving forward. The aforementioned Continental will soon be gone, as will Lincoln’s more directly competitive MKZ, which also comes in electrified hybrid form. Cadillac will also drop its front-drive XTS and CTS, while sales of its newer CT6 are so slow it hardly rates. The only challengers not yet mentioned include BMW’s 5 Series, Volvo’s newish S90, and Tesla’s aging Model S, while some might also shop the ES against Buick’s LaCrosse (also slated for cancellation), the Chrysler 300 (there’s no definitive word about this aging car’s future), and possibly Kia’s impressive Stinger, not to mention large luxury sedans like Toyota’s own Avalon, which is basically the same car as the ES under the sheetmetal, and lastly Nissan’s Maxima, which also gets very close to premium sans highfalutin badge. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
If you think the exterior is appealing, wait until you get inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Still, the ES has long outsold most of these would-be rivals, and this newest iteration should keep that ball rolling for the next few years. As noted earlier, the ES 350 and ES 300h hybrid are completely redesigned for its seventh generation. No matter whether trimmed out as a base ES 350, upgraded to its more athletic looking ES 350 F Sport trim, or delivered in classy as-tested ES 300h form, Lexus’ front-drive four-door now adds an entirely new level of visual drama to its outward design. 

The car’s trademark spindle grille is larger and considerably more expressive, its origami-inspired LED headlight clusters more complex with sharper edges, its side profile longer and sleeker with a more pronounced front overhang and a swoopier sweep to its C pillars that now taper downward over a shorter, taller trunk lid, while its rear end styling is more aggressively penned due to a much bigger crescent-shaped spoiler that hovers above expansive triangular wrap-around LED taillights. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The new ES pulls plenty of design cues from the LFA supercar. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The overall design toys with the mind, initially flowing smoothly from the grille rearward, overtop the hood and down each sculpted side, but then it culminates into a clamour of dissonant creases, folds and cutlines at back. Still, it comes together quite well overall, and certainly won’t conjure any of the model’s previous criticisms about yawn-inducing styling. 

Similar can be said of the interior, but instead of sharp edges the cabin combines myriad horizontal planes and softer angles with higher-grade materials than the outgoing ES, not to mention a few design details pulled from the LFA supercar, particularly the black knurled metal pods hanging off each side of the primary instrument hood, the left one for turning off the traction control, and the knob to the right for scrolling between Normal, Eco and Sport modes. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
This full digital gauge cluster is heavily inspired by the LFA, but modernized with unique hybrid features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Between those unorthodox pods is a standard digital gauge cluster that once again was inspired by the LFA supercar and plenty of lesser Lexus road cars since, this one providing real-time energy monitoring via a nice flowing graphic just to the left of the speedometer, while the infotainment display at dash central measures a minimum of 8.0 inches up to the sizeable 12.3-inch unit tested, yet both look even larger due to all the extra black glass bordering each side, the left portion hiding a classic LED-backlit analogue clock underneath. The high-definition display gets attractive graphics plus deep, rich colours and contrast, plus responds quickly to inputs. 

When opting for the as-tested ES 300h hybrid the infotainment interface now comes standard with Apple CarPlay for those who’d rather not integrate their smartphone via Lexus’ proprietary Enform system. This said Enform is arguably more comprehensive and easier to use than Android Auto, which is not included anyway, while standard Enform 2.0 apps include info on fuel prices, traffic incidents, weather, sports, and stocks, plus it’s also bundled with Scout GPS Link, Slacker, Yelp, and more. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
Paddle shifters in a hybrid? The ES 300h is a lot more fun to drive than it used to be. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The 2019 ES 300h also gets an updated Remote Touch Interface trackpad controller on the lower console, which allows gesture controls like tap, pinch and swipe, and works much better than previous versions, with more accurate responses, especially to tap inputs, while other standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, Bi-LED headlamps, LED taillights, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a nicely shaped leather-wrapped steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, 10-speaker audio with satellite radio, a deodorizing, dust and pollen filtered dual-zone automatic climate control system, truly comfortable 10-way powered front seats with both three-way heat and ventilation, NuLuxe breathable leatherette upholstery, all the usual active and passive safety equipment including 10 airbags, plus much more. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
Just like the LFA, these cool pods provide a unique way to adjust driving settings. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Safety in mind, the new ES 300h comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 that features an autonomous emergency braking pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, plus lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, new Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) automated lane guidance, automatic high beams, and full-speed range adaptive cruise control, all of which worked well, without being overly sensitive. 

The just-noted 12.3-inch infotainment display comes as part of an optional $3,800 Premium package that also adds blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse tilting side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a toasty heatable steering wheel that along with the heated front seats comes on automatically upon startup (I love this last feature), front seat and side mirror memory, accurate navigation with incredibly detailed mapping, and Enform Destination Assist that provides 24/7 live assistance for finding destinations or points of interest. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The upgraded 12.3-inch centre display allows for a big backup and overhead camera experience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Alternatively you can choose the even more comprehensive $10,600 Luxury package that combines everything from the Premium package with unique 18-inch alloy wheels, ultra-bright Tri-LED headlamps, much appreciated Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging, full leather upholstery, and a powered rear window sunshade. 

Lastly, the as-tested $14,500 Ultra Luxury package builds on the Luxury package with an attractive set of 18-inch noise reduction alloy wheels, calming ambient interior lighting, a really useful 10-inch head-up display, a 360-degree surround parking monitor that made getting into awkward parking spaces easier, a sensational sounding 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system, softer and more comfortable semi-aniline leather upholstery, rear door sunshades, and a touch-free gesture control powered trunk lid. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The new trackpad improves upon Lexus previous Remote Touch Interfaces. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Needless to say this $61,500 model is the most lavishly equipped Lexus ES 300h to date, but it also provides the best ES driving experience by a long shot. Of course, those who love a comforting ride will appreciate the ES for its suspension compliance, the fully independent setup combining front struts and a multi-link rear setup, albeit revised for 2019 with newly developed Dynamic Control Shocks that include an auxiliary valve to complement the main damper valve in order to respond better to subtler movement. The front suspension was reworked for both comfort and stability, while additional adjustments made to the rear trailing arm and stabilizer bar mounting points helped minimize body lean, all resulting in an ES that’s quite adept through fast-paced curves. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
As usual, the ES driver’s seat is excellent, while more reach from the steering column makes for an even better driving position. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The ES 300h is actually quite fun to drive now, something I would not have admitted to previously, Lexus even including steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to swap a set of simulated gears that mimic the real thing quite well when in Sport mode, plus this enthusiast setting also adds torque at low speeds and provides a tachometer within the digital gauge cluster to monitor all the action. Those purchasing their ES 300h for economical or environmental reasons might prefer Eco mode that improves fuel economy, while EV mode lets you cruise silently at low speed for short durations. 

Enhancing efficiency yet more is new Auto Glide Control that allows the ES to coast more freely when lifting off the throttle, instead of slowing down automatically from automatic regenerative braking. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
Rear seat roominess and comfort will impress. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

No matter the speed this wind-cheating ES is now the quietest yet, thanks to twice as much structural adhesive, improving noise, vibration and harshness levels, front fender liners and underbody covers, and sound deadening material coating 93 percent of the ES 300h’s floor pan, a major increase over the previous car’s 68 percent area coverage. 

The aforementioned battery is smaller but more potent, by the way, and is now located under the rear seat and not in the trunk, which makes the cargo area identical in size to the non-hybrid ES 350 at 473 litres (16.7 cu ft). It also allows for a centre pass-through capable of swallowing up skis or other long items, and therefore allows rear passengers to enjoy the more comfortable window seats. And yes, the ES is roomy and comfortable no matter where you’re seated.   

2019 Lexus ES 300h
The ES 300h hybrid’s trunk is now just as large and accommodating as the regular ES 350. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Interior finishings are a lot nicer than previous generation ES models, with higher quality soft-touch composite surfacing being used, and more of it. This said, the lower door panels are still hard plastic, as are the sides of the centre console. Lexus smartly includes the wireless device charger under the armrest in the centre console bin, so you can keep your phone away from otherwise distracted eyes. 

All of the switchgear is improved over previous generations too, with some noteworthy details being those aforementioned pods that stick out each side of the instrument cluster, the little round metal buttons on the centre stack for controlling the radio, media, and seek/track functions, the temperature control switches, and, while not exactly switchgear, the speaker grilles and surrounds for the Mark Levinson audio system. The hardwood trim feels genuine because it’s actually real, and comes in Striated Black, Linear Dark Mocha or Linear Espresso, while the metallic accents are nicely finished and tastefully applied. 

2019 Lexus ES 300h
A centre pass-through adds convenience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Over the past 20 or so years of covering all things automotive I’ve spent many weeks with Lexus’ ES in both conventionally powered and hybrid forms, so therefore now that I’ve spent yet another seven days with this all-new 2019 ES 300h I can confidently promise that ES enthusiasts will like it best of all. It incorporates all previous ES attributes yet makes them better, resulting in one of the most impressive entry-level luxury sedans ever created.