When considering a compact SUV, it’s essential to compare offerings from both domestic and international car manufacturers. This helps make a well-informed choice, striking the right balance between performance, space, efficiency and value. Today, we compare the 2024 Chevrolet Equinox, 2023 Ford Escape, 2023 Toyota RAV4 and the 2024 Honda CR-V.
Performance and Efficiency
2024 Chevrolet Equinox:
Engine: Turbocharged Gas I4, producing 175 hp @ 5800 RPM and 203 lb-ft torque between 2000-4000 RPM.
Fuel Efficiency: EnerGuide Estimate for the highway is 7.9 L/100 km.
Emissions: 207 G/km of CO2.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic.
2023 Ford Escape:
Engine: Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-3, delivering 180 hp @ 6000 RPM and 199 lb-ft torque @ 3000 RPM.
Fuel Efficiency: EnerGuide Estimate for the highway is 6.9 l/100 km.
Emissions: 197 G/km of CO2.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with OD.
2023 Toyota RAV4:
Engine: 2.5 Litre, 4-Cylinder, DOHC with Dual Variable Valve Timing, generating 203 hp @ 6,600 rpm and 184 lb-ft torque.
Fuel Efficiency: EnerGuide Estimate for the highway is 6.3 L/100 km.
Emissions: Not Available.
Transmission: CVT with OD.
2024 Honda CR-V:
Engine: Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4, 190 hp @ 6000 RPM and 179 lb-ft torque @ 1700 RPM.
Fuel Efficiency: EnerGuide Estimate for the highway is 7.6 L/100 km (estimated).
Emissions: Not Available.
Transmission: CVT with OD.
Interior and Comfort
Both the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox impress with their spacious interiors, boasting passenger volumes of 104 ft³ and 103.5 ft³, respectively. On the other hand, the Toyota RAV4 provides a slightly more compact ambiance with 98.9 ft³, while the Honda CR-V matches the Equinox and the Escape with 103.5 ft³.
Cargo and Utility
Regarding space, the Honda CR-V leads the pack with a sizable cargo volume of 39.3 ft³ up to the second seat. Following closely are the Ford Escape at 37.5 ft³ and the Toyota RAV4 at 37.4 ft³. The Chevrolet Equinox offers slightly lesser space at 29.9 ft³.
As for towing capacities, the Ford Escape comes out on top with a capacity of 2000 lbs. The RAV4 and CR-V follow with 1750 lbs and 1499 lbs, respectively. The Equinox’s towing capacity remains unspecified.
Incentives & Financing
Incentives and financing options can make a significant difference in your purchasing decision:
2024 Chevrolet Equinox: Finance incentives range between 5.49%-6.19% for 36 to 84 months. Lease incentives are at 8.9% for 24 to 60 months.
2023 Ford Escape: Finance incentives span from 1.99% to 3.99% for 36 to 84 months, and lease incentives are set at 3.99% for 24 to 60 months.
2023 Toyota RAV4: Finance incentives begin at 7.29%, going up to 7.79% for 24 to 84 months. Lease incentives range from 6.29%-8.39% for 24 to 60 months.
It should be obvious that the interest rate assigned to your finance or lease agreement is going to impact your monthly payments in a very significant way. Click on the name of each of these vehicles to check out the latest offers available at CarCostCanada®.
Each SUV in this comparison brings a unique set of attributes. While the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Escape shine with their spacious interiors and robust performance, the Toyota RAV4 stands out for its unmatched fuel efficiency. The Honda CR-V, on the other hand, offers a harmonious blend of performance and space.
Your final choice should reflect which attributes align best with your needs and preferences.
Regarding compact SUVs, it’s often difficult to find that sweet spot between utility and style, fuel economy and performance. Yet, the 2024 Volkswagen Tiguan seems to have found a comfortable niche in the market. As the SUV market in Canada continues to grow, consumers are spoiled for choice. But where does the Tiguan fit in?
The Tiguan rests under VW’s larger Atlas model, boasting European elegance, agile handling, and a thoughtful design. While it may not be a speed demon, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, eight-speed automatic transmission and 4Motion All Wheel Drive ensure an efficient and confidence-inspiring ride. The interior balances function with understated style, and for those who need extra seating, a third row is available, albeit with limited legroom.
Interior and Cargo
The Tiguan is one of the few compact SUVs that offers an optional third row of seating. Note this feature is best reserved for people with smaller bodies. With the third row folded, expect about 33 cubic feet (roughly 935 litres) of cargo space, placing it in the middle of the pack against competitors.
The Tiguan’s Place in the Market
With its performance, feature set, and balanced demeanour, the Tiguan makes a compelling case for its strong position among compact SUVs in Canada. It maintains a highly competitive position when compared to the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-50, with a starting price of $34,495 CAD MSRP.
Here is some more context on where the Tiguan fits into the overall Compact SUV Market
Under the hood, a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine offers 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. This power is sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission with standard 4Motion All-Wheel drive. Although the 0-100 km/h time is a modest 9.1 seconds, the vehicle excels in everyday drivability, particularly in city and winter driving conditions.
Regarding fuel efficiency, the Tiguan delivers 24 mpg (around 9.8 litres per 100 km) in city driving and 31 mpg (roughly 7.6 litres per 100 km) on the highway. The combined Transport Canada rating is 8 litres per 100 kilometers. When you consider the standard all-wheel-drive system, these fuel consumption numbers are good.
Infotainment and Connectivity
While its infotainment system may not be universally praised, standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The base S trim gets a 6.5-inch screen, whereas higher trims have an 8.0-inch display. An 8.0- or 10.3-inch digital gauge display is standard on all trims.
What’s New for 2024?
New this year is VW’s IQ.DRIVE driver-assistance suite, which is standard even on the base S trim. Enhancements include lane-centering and adaptive cruise control, along with rain-sensing wipers, a faux-leather steering wheel, wireless charging, and an infotainment upgrade.
Safety gets a boost in 2024 with the standard inclusion of the IQ.DRIVE adaptive cruise control system. This comes on top of pre-existing features like a forward-collision alert with automatic braking and a blind-spot warning system. Four-wheel disc brakes, with anti-locking technology, are also standard equipment.
The 2024 Volkswagen Tiguan makes a compelling case for Canadian consumers searching for a balanced compact SUV. Although it doesn’t dominate in any area, its synthesis of features, comfort, and driving dynamics place it as a worthy contender. If you seek versatility and refinement, consider putting the Tiguan on your shortlist.
In 2023, Dodge has thrown its hat into the ring of the compact crossover segment with the all-new Hornet. Nestled just below the mid-sized Durango in Dodge’s lineup, the Hornet is set to compete…
In 2023, Dodge has thrown its hat into the ring of the compact crossover segment with the all-new Hornet. Nestled just below the mid-sized Durango in Dodge’s lineup, the Hornet is set to compete with the likes of the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-50, and the Volkswagen Tiguan. Available in several trims, including the GT AWD ($38,770 CAD), GT Plus AWD ($44,770 CAD), R/T PHEV EAWD ($53,295 CAD), and the R/T Plus PHEV EAWD ($59,295 CAD), there’s a Dodge Hornet to match various budgets and preferences.
Trims and Technology:
The Hornet’s entry into this competitive segment marks a significant step for Dodge. Its GT model, available in both base and GT Plus trims, comes well-equipped with a host of standard features. Among them, a large 10.3-inch infotainment display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 17-inch aluminum wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and dual-zone automatic climate control set the stage for a tech-rich experience. For those seeking an added touch of comfort, options include heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a remote start feature.
Engine and Performance:
At the heart of the Hornet lies a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering a punchy 268 horsepower. This power is delivered to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission, offering peppy acceleration from 0 to 96.56 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in an estimated 6.5 seconds. Despite this performance, the Hornet doesn’t sacrifice efficiency, with Environment Canada estimates clocking in at 11.2 L/100 km (21 mpg) city and 8.11 L/100 km (29 mpg) on the highway.
Inside the Hornet, you’ll find a cabin that blends comfort with contemporary design. The front seats provide ample space, while the rear might be snug for some. Black upholstery with red stitching lends a sporty aesthetic, with the option to upgrade to leather or faux-suede for a premium touch. Meanwhile, the infotainment system, powered by the latest Uconnect 5 system, offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Amazon Alexa connectivity.
SafetyFeatures that Inspire Confidence: When it comes to safety, the Hornet doesn’t cut corners. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and parking sensors all come standard. Adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature is available as an optional extra.
Covered by a standard three-year or 60,000 kilometers (36,000-mile) warranty, with an extended five-year or 96,560 kilometers (60,000-mile) power train warranty, the Hornet is a testament to Dodge’s reliability. As such, the Hornet isn’t merely a new entry in Dodge’s lineup; it’s a compelling contender in the compact crossover segment set to make waves in the Canadian automotive market.
Discover the Grand Cherokee’s MSRP and Invoice Price right at your fingertips here.
Explore enticing Factory Incentives, Lease Rates, and Finance Rates available here.
For comprehensive Vehicle Specifications, look no further; find them right here.
Uncover all the latest features in one place for your convenience here.
Alfa Romeo will bring the all-new Tonale subcompact luxury crossover SUV to market later this year, providing a much more affordable entry-level gateway for the premium Italian brand. The Tonale looks…
Alfa Romeo will bring the all-new Tonale subcompact luxury crossover SUV to market later this year, providing a much more affordable entry-level gateway for the premium Italian brand.
The Tonale looks like a modernized version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, albeit shrunken down to fit its more economical subcompact luxury crossover role. It builds on the Stelvio’s sleek lines with sharper cut LED headlamp clusters, a similarly shaped version of Alfa’s trademark deep “V” grille at centre, an aggressive yet clean lower front fascia, plenty of muscular bulges across the hood and fenders, protruding side skirts, and bright tri-element LED taillights at back, with a de rigueur centre light strip stretching across the middle.
Traditional Alfa Romeo styling helps tie glorious past to practical present
It gets a tidy little rooftop spoiler up above and blackened diffuser-style lower rear bumper too, not to mention a sexy set of classic circular cut-out Alfa Romeo rims shod in low-profile performance rubber to each side, these likely designed for a top-line trim, thus few onlookers will be turned off by its overall styling.
No doubt, if the Tonale is anything like the Stelvio, the smaller SUV’s interior will be made from top-notch materials, with its infotainment system a high-grade bit of kit too, whereas the dash and front seats certainly look well-designed, so it appears to be a recipe for success, right? Not so fast, amico.
Alfa promises the subcompact luxury crossover category’s best performance
Before delving into a business case for a new model like the Tonale, its performance might cause some to quite literally stir in their seats. Two power units were introduced at the SUV’s debut, starting with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder as part of the Tonale Q4 AWD, which puts a best-in-class 256 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque down to pavement through a state-of-the-art nine-speed automatic transmission actuated by optional fixed aluminum shift paddles (fixed paddles are optimal for performance driving), plus it features fuel-saving engine stop-start technology that helps meet super-ultra-low-emissions 30 (SULEV 30) standards.
Secondly, the Tonale PHEV Q4 AWD incorporates a much smaller 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission with a plug-in hybrid drive system featuring a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery and a 90-kW e-motor, resulting in another best-in-class horsepower rating of 272, not to mention a pure-electric range of more than 48 kilometres.
The Tonale will provide the subcompact class’ best handling bar none
Alfa Romeo optimizes the driving experience for both power units with their D.N.A. drive mode system that provides the options of “Dynamic” (or “Dual power” with the PHEV), “Natural,” and “Advanced Efficiency” selections. Unlike most in this class, DNA is a fully integrated driving application that optimizes both “manoeuvring and performance,” said Stellantis, Alfa Romeo’s parent company, in a press release, or in other words, the Tonale’s drive mode system won’t only enhance engine performance, but also adjust the suspension for best-in-class handling.
To assist with the latter, Alfa offers an available “Dual Stage Valve” active suspension system with electronically controlled damping, with the comfort setting providing a softer, more compliant ride, and the sportier mode stiffening the ride for “ultimate cornering ability and better body control under spirited driving conditions.” Such upgraded Tonale models even offer an ESC Off drive mode for treading a bit farther down the unbeaten path.
Steering and braking should be sports car-like
No matter the Sprint or Veloce trim level chosen (two will be offered at launch), all Tonales benefit from “sports car-like impeccable dynamic behaviour, proven by the best weight distribution and the most direct steering in its segment (13.6:1 ratio),” while base models ride on a fully independent MacPherson strut suspension system featuring Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) shock absorbers. Additionally, stopping performance is optimized by a Brembo-made segment-exclusive Integrated Brake System (IBS), which boasts fixed calipers clamping down on four-piston self-ventilated discs up front and full rotors at the rear.
Stopping power and emergency handling will be automatically assisted by Level 2 autonomous driving capability too, but don’t worry, Alfa Romeo promises the Tonale’s comprehensive advanced safety and convenience features won’t negatively interfere with the Tonale’s driving experience. Key features include Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (IACC), Lane Centering (LC) and Traffic Jam Assist (TJA), Automatic Emergency Braking, Driver Attention Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Path Detection, and a high-resolution, 360-degree parking camera featuring dynamic gridlines.
Business case for the new Alfa Romeo Tonale
The Tonale’s impressive performance will no doubt give it an edge over competitors when consumers weigh its pros and cons, as will its long list of safety, convenience, and luxury features, plus the SUV’s obvious good looks, but it will first need to get on Canadians’ radar, which will need an innovative and/or costly marketing campaign if the Italian brand doesn’t want to experience the same lacklustre results as other lesser-known manufacturers have weathered in this entry-level segment.
Despite most analysts’ initial take that this subcompact luxury crossover SUV segment would become the new gateway for premium automakers to pull in upwardly mobile buyers from the ranks of mainstream volume brands, such hasn’t always been the case. Not including the upcoming Tonale, there are current only 12 models in contention, while a 13th, Infiniti’s QX30, gave up on the segment in 2019 after just three model years of production.
In comparison to the larger compact luxury SUV segment, where there’s well over 20 rivals when factoring in varying body styles, not to mention the mid-size luxury SUV category that includes even more challengers, luxury brands are mostly staying away from the subcompact SUV class. This could potentially help the Tonale get noticed, albeit by a much smaller buying base.
Subcompact luxury SUV sales are lower than those in the larger compact segment
When factoring in potential sales numbers, it kind of makes sense why luxury manufacturers have opted out of this segment, or at least it does when looking at the yearly results early adopters have experienced. Last year, the subcompact luxury SUV sales leader was Buick (positioned as an entry-level luxury brand) with 8,861 deliveries of its Encore and slightly larger Encore GX, followed by Audi with 7,667 Q3 sales. It should be noted, the German brand had the most single-model sales (and is considered a true luxury brand), so therefore can be considered the number one seller in this category, depending on the way you slice it up. The Q3 also had its best sales tally ever, plus it was up 28.9 percent from 2020.
The “domestic” American (and Chinese) brand’s smaller Encore sold just 1,902 units in 2021 for eighth place in the subcompact class, which was a drop of 71.4 percent after 6,650 units sold last year, not to mention a shocking 82.1 percent fewer unit-sales than achieved at its 2018 height of 10,637 deliveries, despite a redesign last year. The Encore GX has clearly taken over the tri-shield brand limelight, with 6,959 deliveries last year, for 37.9 percent year-over-year (YoY) growth. Altogether, the two models gave Buick a total of 8,861 deliveries in this category last year, more than doubling the sales results of its compact luxury SUV offering.
Volvo and Lexus are growing their subcompact luxury SUV market share
Third-place Volvo grew its XC40 sales by 46.2 percent to 3,296 units last year, while the fourth-place Lexus UX found almost as many buyers at 3,284 unit-sales, increasing its numbers by 30.3 percent, and showing there’s still opportunity in this segment, despite long-time competitors like BMW’s fifth-place X1 growing YoY sales of 2,602 units by 9.1 percent, but actually seeing this tally tumble by 57.5 percent since its 2017 high.
Mercedes-Benz could be considered third-most successful in this category, due to 5,190 GLA and GLB deliveries last year, which is a YoY gain of 46.8 percent, although model-to-model the two-years-young GLB-Class came in sixth with 2,773 unit-sales thanks to 56.2 percent growth, and the long-running GLA-Class seventh with 2,417 deliveries and 37.4 percent increase in YoY sales, although that number represents a 45.1-percent downgrade from its high of 4,400 units in 2016.
Most luxury brands are struggling in the less profitable subcompact SUV class
While calendar year 2021 was one of the slowest years for the ninth-place Mini Countryman, with just 1,541 units down Canadian roads, sales only fell by 5.9 percent, while overall it’s been a pretty steady seller, only ever reaching a maximum of 2,479 deliveries in 2018, but no doubt the BMW-owned subsidiary would love to increase this number by the 37.8-percent it’s fallen from since then.
Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque didn’t fare as well as the Countryman last year, placing 10th in the segment due to 1,177 deliveries that resulted in a 16.5-percent downturn from last year’s sales, and a 32.1-percent drop since its 1,734-unit high in 2017, but it sold better than BMW’s 11th-place X2 that only found 903 buyers through all of 2021. Still, that number grew after a particularly bad 2020, but this said its sales have fallen 51.3 percent since its first-year high of 1,856 units. The X2 contributes to BMW’s fourth-place brand results of 3,505 units (plus 10.4 percent YoY), however, not to mention BMW Group sales (including Mini) of 5,046 units (down 37.5 percent YoY), which easily surpassed Mercedes’ total in 2020.
Infiniti’s QX30 and Jaguar’s E-Pace should cause Alfa and its Tonale to pause
If Infiniti abandoning the QX30 wasn’t enough to scare Alfa Romeo out of this segment (let alone Mini tossing the short-lived Paceman to the curb back in 2014), Jaguar’s abysmal E-Pace results should give cause for pause. The beleaguered British brand sold just 98 units last year, after a mere 265 in 2020, representing a serious downward slide from an already unworkable position, and that’s after an initial first-year high of just 572 unit-sales, the latter number showing a shocking 82.8-percent drop in popularity since arriving on the scene in 2018. It’s a good looking, well-made, fun-to-drive little SUV too, but, like Alfa Romeo, Jaguar’s Canadian branding isn’t as strong as it used to be.
So how does the Tonale fit into the grand scheme of subcompact luxury SUVs? One can easily argue that Infiniti was in a better place when the QX30 was introduced in 2016, than Alfa Romeo is now, from a market-strength and overall sales-volume position, and for all purposes it still is, yet the automaker could only push out 997 QX30s at the model’s height in 2017, that number quickly falling off to 357 units in 2018, and 93 in 2019. Some might argue that the QX30 was merely a Mercedes-Benz GLA rebadging exercise, but to be fair, Infiniti was involved in the project right from the start, much like how Toyota took five intensive years to co-develop the Supra with BMW (it shares its underpinnings with the Z4), and the arguably good-looking QX30 didn’t immediately resemble its kissin’ cousin from Mercedes.
Certainly, the Tonale is more Alfa Romeo-centric than the quickly forgotten Infiniti, or at least Stellantis-centric, being that it shares the FCA SCCS Small Wide 4×4 LWB (long-wheelbase) platform architecture with Jeep’s Compass and Commander/Meridian (the Tonale is made in Naples, Italy, at Alfa’s most advanced plant, with the latter two respectively produced in Brazil and India for various global markets), these being lengthened versions of the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X’ underpinnings. Still, Jeep and Fiat aren’t direct competitors in the premium sector, so the situation is akin to Alfa Romeo competitor Audi using the Volkswagen Group MQB A2 platform for the Q3, which it also shares with VW’s Tiguan (and Tayron, plus the European SEAT Tarraco and Škoda Kodiaq), or BMW sharing the X1’s UKL2 platform with Mini’s Countryman, etc.
A quick overview of how Alfa Romeo fits into Stellantis’ brand strategy
Stellantis, the new name for FCA Automobiles and Groupe PSA since joining forces in January of 2021, has a number of low-selling, marginal brands. Despite rich histories, Italy’s storied Lancia marque has been relegated to purveying one subcompact hatchback in European markets, Chrysler only has two versions of the same minivan plus the 300 full-size sedan that still bears the 2021 model year designation in Canada (which means it’s not selling well), Dodge has just three models north of the 49th, and Alfa Romeo, the subject of this news story, will soon have three models thanks to the advent of this new Tonale subcompact crossover SUV, which is slated to arrive here in early 2023.
We’ve got to give the automaker’s CEO Carlos Tavares, and the rest of his executive team, big points for courage, being that they promised each brand the chance to pull itself up and out of the automotive profitability doldrums, but Lancia’s CEO Luca Napolitano, Chrysler’s CEO Christine Feuell, Dodge’s CEO Timothy Kuniskis, and Alfa Romeo’s CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato certainly have their work cut out for them. It’s not like DS Automobiles’ CEO Béatrice Foucher will have a cakewalk either, but at least it has four models in the premium sector, while Maserati’s Davide Grasso has the largest lineup of new models the near-exotic brand has ever had to work with, including the sharp looking new Grecale subcompact SUV based on the same underpinnings as Alfa Romeo’s Giulia and Stelvio (plus Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee). Jeep aside, none of Stellantis’ brands have strength in the majority of global markets, which brings us back to Alfa Romeo and its new Tonale.
Wooing customers will be the Tonale’s greatest challenge
No one questions whether the Tonale will be a moderate hit in Italy, where Alfa Romeo still has legions of faithful, adoring fans, while it should also do reasonably well on the rest of the European continent, providing the EU can hold the economies of its various member states together (or doesn’t alternatively tear them apart, depending on your political point of view), but here in North America, and specifically in the relatively small market of Canada, the brand is relegated near the bottom of the luxury heap when it comes to consumer awareness. Hence the need for creative marketing that catches the collective imagination of a narrowly-focused performance-luxury subcompact SUV market, because loads of cash for blanket marketing won’t be available.
In the end, Alfa Romeo believes it can win in a market segment that plenty of others have failed at, are currently failing in, or simply (and possibly wisely) have not chosen to partake in. There’s a slim possibility they can do well with the Tonale, even growing the brand, and any gasoline/ion-blooded auto enthusiast will want them to do just that, but can a tiny contingent of Canadian quadrifoglio zealots be enough to make an entry-level model like the Tonale successful, especially considering many of such buyers already own a Giulia or Stelvio? Only time will tell.
Until the new 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale arrives early next year, be sure to check our complete photo gallery above, plus the long list of videos that follow:
The compact luxury crossover SUV segment is one of the most competitive in the premium automotive sector, with a total of 22 entrants, not including all the unique body-style variants like Mercedes’ own GLC Coupe, or the new electrified versions of normally gasoline-powered models.
Looking back at the variety of compact luxury SUVs I’ve personally spent a week with, I find it difficult to choose one as best overall, because each does at least something especially well. Of course, I have my favourites, and actually loathe one of the top sellers due to its wholly frustrating infotainment interface and confusing gear selector. As you may have already guessed, Mercedes’ GLC is not on the naughty list, but in fact right near the top.
Mercedes has competed in the compact luxury SUV market for almost 15 years
For a bit of background, this first-generation GLC-Class took over from the GLK in 2015, and therefore is one of the more experienced offerings in its segment. Like its predecessor, which arrived early on the compact luxury scene in 2009 for the 2010 model year, it shares underpinnings with the C-Class, although now it does so via Mercedes’ flexible MRA platform architecture that supports everything from these current compacts to the mighty AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, plus the outgoing 2013 to 2020 S-Class.
Mercedes doesn’t make generational changes as quickly as some other brands, with the 2022 C-Class only just replacing a model that was already eight years old, but this in mind, the now six-years-young GLC will probably be updated with a new design soon, at which point it will likely receive a version of Mercedes’ wholly revised C-Class-style infotainment system, while, following the updated C- and S-Class models, the new second-generation MRA 2 platform will underpin it all.
Mercedes makes it easy to get acclimatized between models
Hard to believe it’s taken me this long to get inside a GLC, considering how important the model is to the Mercedes brand, and how many other three-pointed star testers I’ve driven since it was introduced. All said, it didn’t take much time to get acclimatized, being that it provides the same simple, easy-to-use column-mounted gear selector as every other M-B model I’ve tested in recent years, as well as a similar version of Mercedes’ digital driving display and centre touchscreen combo as used in the outgoing C-Class (the GLC will get a similar instrument panel to the new C-Class in 2023), the latter complemented by an intuitively designed set of lower console controls.
To be clear, it’s not the dual-display MBUX system used for most other Mercedes models, but instead the GLC features a separate set of displays. This means its digital gauge cluster was shrouded by a classic hood that ideally shields it from sunrays, while the screen’s colourful, graphically stimulating design can be easily modified for personal preference. Default is Classic, which is a simple yet elegant two-dial combination of tachometer and speedometer featuring a cool aqua-blue background, while Sport adds a racier edge and fierier red and yellow colours to the same layout. More minimalized Progressive is for those moments when you just want to cruise in auto-glide while listening to “Chill” on XM satellite radio.
Of course, you can use the thumb-actuated touchpad on the left-side steering wheel spoke (there’s one on the right as well, for infotainment functions), together with surrounding buttons, to scroll through a centre-screen pop-up menu that fills its right-side circular “dial” with various graphical features (see all the photos in the gallery), such as service, trip, navigation, audio and media functions.
Older layout still works as well as newer MBUX system
It makes the most of a host of features otherwise found in the infotainment touchscreen to the right, which is an equally colourful, artistically stimulating collage of complementary functions laid out with a simple, straightforward, user-friendliness that few competitors come close to matching. It sits tablet-style, albeit horizontally instead of vertically, and while hardly the largest in its class (that trophy would likely go to the Tesla Model Y), it was big enough for my needs and replete with layers upon layers of usefulness.
Like the driving display, its resolution is imperceptibly fine, almost seeming like I could stick my finger right through it in 3D effect, rather than just touching each prompt. It responds to tap, swipe and pinch inputs rapidly, depending on the feature, and functions as it should. I especially found that its navigation guidance system reacted quickly and performed accurately, which for the latter point, believe it or not, isn’t always the case.
Analogue switchgear looks fabulous and aids ease-of-use
Just below, atop a gorgeous slab of open-pore hardwood, sits a glossy black frame surrounding a neat and narrow row of knurled metallic toggle switches, of which the largest in the centre is used to get you back to square one on the infotainment system above, or rather the menu page. This is a really handy feature that I went to often, as were the smaller surrounding toggles that gave quick access to regularly used heating and ventilation functions. Again, analogue switches for features used all the time are always appreciated in this day of over-the-top digitization.
Speaking of analogue switchgear, an additional row of buttons sits just below the mostly HVAC interface just mentioned, designed for directly engaging the phone, navigation/mapping, and radio/media sections of the infotainment system, on the left, plus the car systems and favourites pages to the right, with the rightmost button being the hazard lights. Again, handy go-to buttons to make living with the GLC simpler.
Mercedes includes a lidded wireless phone charger below this, along with a USB-C charging port, ahead of the infotainment system’s haptic-feedback touchpad and surrounding switchgear for actuating various functions of the latter, as well as driving features, like Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes. Again, the German brand uses high-quality knurled metal to dress up some key controls, including that drive mode selector and the audio system’s handy scrolling volume switch, while the deep, rich wood noted earlier makes everything look sensational.
Best-in-class interior design and finishing
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, should probably take this moment to mention just how well Mercedes does interiors in this class. Most materials are top-level, soft-touch composites or real wood/metal, particularly those above the waste-line, where our eyes and hands are more likely to reside, but Mercedes went the extra mile by covering the entire lower dash facing in premium, pliable, padded leather/leatherette, including the glovebox lid, which is not always the case in this class, while the doors are finished similarly all the way down to their bottommost panels.
The seat-surface leather is soft and supple, plus perforated for those up front to enjoy three-way forced ventilation on a warm day. Of course, there are three-way heaters to warm the cushions in winter, plus a heated steering wheel rim that warms all the way around.
All roof pillars are wrapped in high-grade woven fabric, which is par for the course in this category, with the same material used for the roof liner that surrounds a massive dual-pane panoramic glass sunroof with the benefit of a powered opaque cloth sunshade and capability of powering half open if you’d rather breathe in fresh air.
Smooth performance is the name of the game
Top on the list of GLC attributes is a very comfortable and smooth ride. In fact, this small SUV feels significantly larger than most competitors, at least when it comes to ride quality and its general sense of solidity. It’s a Mercedes, so it promises performance too, with those two Sport modes mentioned earlier, plus its manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddles, truly helping to get the most out of its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is good for 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, plus its quick-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission, and 4Matic all-wheel drive.
The GLC 300’s handling is excellent too, and I’d say comparable to the most recent BMW X3 I drove (a 2021 X3 xDrive3.0i). I pressed for details, I’d give the BMW a slight edge for handling and the Merc a similar nod for ride quality, but without testing them side-by-side on the same roads in identical conditions, it’s probably not fair to split hairs. They’re both excellent in both respects, so it will come down to personal preferences.
Of course, both Mercedes and BMW, plus other compact luxury SUV competitors, provide upgraded models with much more performance, the GLC also available in 385 horsepower AMG 43 and ultra-potent 503 horsepower AMG 63 S trims.
Fuel economy is a GLC 300 4Matic highlight
If your priority is fuel economy, however, the GLC 300 4Matic is a better choice. The amount of money going into the tank always depends on how a person drives, of course, and to this end I must say the more pump prices have increased the lighter I’ve been on the throttle. Therefore, when not testing its performance capabilities, I kept the GLC 300 in Eco or Comfort mode more often than not, which allowed for good power when required, along with decent fuel economy.
The worst offenders on the competitive list are Land Rover’s Discovery Sport and Porsche’s base Macan at 11.3 L/100km combined apiece, so avoid these two if you want to save at the pump. Another point worth remembering, many manufacturers in this class provide hybrid powertrains, dramatically reducing fuel consumption while still providing competitive performance, while full electrics compete in this segment too, including the Tesla Model Y.
Comfort is king in the GLC
For those larger in stature, I put a 6-foot-2 friend (who’s also a bit wide in girth) in the driver’s seat, which he found totally comfortable, not only for its ample headroom, but also for its width and legroom. So therefore, if you’ve found compact vehicles a bit too cramped in the past, the GLC may not be a problem for you.
Improving comfort further, the driver’s seat gets four-way powered lumbar support, and one of my favourite features, an extendable lower cushion. This latter feature is done via the power controls on the driver’s door panel. There are power controls for moving the headrest up and down as well, plus all the usual adjustments.
The rear seats aren’t powered, of course, but they’re roomy and comfortable, with excellent lower back support. Each outboard position also provides two-way cushion warmers, and a set of air vents on the backside of the front console, just above a little drawer that opens up to show a 12-volt charger and dual USB-C ports.
Cargo space is generous and luxuriously lined
Move around to the backside of the GLC and a powered liftgate opens up to a large and accommodating cargo area, complete with nice stainless steel protection plates and premium carpeting most everywhere else. A really nice, easily removed, lightweight yet well-made retractable cargo cover hovers above it all, while chromed tiedown latches are fixed to each corner, keeping your belongings in place if you choose to add a cargo net or bungie cords. Lifting the load floor reveals everything you’ll need to change a tire, including the compact spare, along with a little more space for hiding valuables.
Even better (unless you’ve got a flat), the GLC comes with 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks, meaning that two rear passengers can enjoy the more comfortable, three-way heated window seats, while longer items such as skis are stowed down the middle. Mercedes includes a set of unpowered releases to lower each side on their respective cargo walls, which is handy while loading larger items with hands full.
GLC 300 value proposition
Often, upon returning a given test vehicle and summing up last thoughts in my notes, I ask the question, “Would I buy this vehicle.” Having thoroughly enjoyed my time in the GLC 300, I couldn’t help but feel positive about it, but as was the case my next mechanical fling was with a new 2022 Genesis G70, a newcomer to the compact luxury SUV class, and filled with a few features not included in my test model, such as three-way front seat coolers. Sure, these are probably available in a package with the GLC, but they’re standard on the all-new Korean ride. It offers similar levels of luxury too, plus more power, near identical fuel economy, and a lower price range. Sure, it’s missing the three-pointed star, which is no inconsequential omission amongst premium buyers, but it once again reminded me just how competitive the luxury market is, especially in the burgeoning small crossover sector.
Some as yet unmentioned options to consider in the GLC’s specific compact luxury SUV category include the Acura RDX, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Range Rover Velar, Lincoln Corsair, Porsche Macan, Tesla Model Y, Volvo XC60, and soon the Maserati Grecale. Some promise more luxury and others deal out greater performance, while a few on the list might be considered entry-level luxury and therefore cut corners to deliver on price, but none of the above has the long-term credibility in this class, let alone most other market segments, as Mercedes-Benz, and few manage to balance their overall premium experience as well as the GLC when it comes to exterior styling, interior design, materials and build execution, features, performance, and fuel economy.
Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann
With an all-new 2020 Escape already showing up at Canada’s blue-oval dealerships, it’s time to say goodbye to a third-generation Escape that’s been with us since 2013. The version seen here was…
With an all-new 2020 Escape already showing up at Canada’s blue-oval dealerships, it’s time to say goodbye to a third-generation Escape that’s been with us since 2013. The version seen here was dramatically refreshed to look more like its larger Edge sibling for 2017, and it’s served its many owners well since then.
Of course, with a redesign arriving there’s opportunity to save money on the outgoing 2019 model, and being that it’s still so very good, and that plenty of Ford retailers still have various trims new in stock, you may want to consider your options. At the time of writing, CarCostCanada was reporting $1,200 in additional incentives over and above any personal discount you can work out with your friendly local sales manager, which is a great conversation starter you can back up further by knowing the 2019 Escape’s actual dealer invoice price before arriving at the dealership. The best way to do this is by going to CarCostCanada where you can also discover the various features and prices of each trim, options package and individual upgrade. You can also check out pricing and features for the new 2020 Escape and even last year’s 2018 model, making CarCostCanada a vital resource when buying a new vehicle.
The top-line 2019 Escape Titanium you’re looking at has changed one iota since introduced in 2016, as witnessed by my 2017 Ford Escape Titanium AWD Road Test, a compact crossover SUV that was virtually identical to this new one, even down to its Ingot Silver exterior colour. Don’t worry, as smart as silver or white is for resale values (more people buy these shades than any other), Ford offers this 2019 model in seven additional colours, with some of the standard no-cost hues even quite vibrant such as Sedona Orange and Lightning Blue, while $450 Ruby Red and $550 White Platinum look downright rich.
I can’t say I liked this 2017-2019 grille design as much as its 2013-2016 predecessor, which was totally unique and even futuristic looking when it debuted. I remember how taken aback I was, not sure what to think initially yet warming up to it quickly enough, so that it quickly became my favourite small SUV. I understand why Ford changed up the look, both from a prospective customer’s need for something new and a requirement to visually align its SUV lineup, but for reasons not necessarily related to styling the Escape has lost a little ground to the now top-selling Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in recent years.
Only four years ago the Escape was number one in this class, a position it had held for years. In fact, look back a bit further and the Escape nearly doubled annual sales of the RAV4 and CR-V, but it’s been on a steady slide downhill since this refresh, from a high of 52,198 units in 2014 to 47,726 in 2015, the last time it topped the category, falling to 46,661 deliveries in 2016 when the RAV4 leapt to number one, and then 47,880 sales in 2017 when both the RAV4 and CR-V passed the 50,000 threshold. The two Japanese branded SUVs kept luring in more and more new customers in 2018 when each models’ sales neared 55k, but the Escape only managed 43,587 deliveries that year, while at the close of September 2019 the Escape only pulled in 30,817 new buyers to the CR-V’s 43,464 and RAV4’s 49,473, the redesigned Toyota on target for another record year.
While this 2019 Escape is starting to show its age, especially when put beside that new RAV4 and the entirely new 2020 Escape that Ford hopes will inspire its once loyal customer base to come back to the domestic brand, it’s still a very good compact SUV that can be had for considerable savings. You won’t have your choice of colours, while available trims will come down to what’s left in stock, but with such a wide variety to choose from there’s bound to be something you’ll like.
At the start of this 2019 model year the Escape was available in base $26,399 S trim, as a $29,349 SE and $30,849 SEL, the latter designation added this year, and finally top-line $37,699 Titanium. The Titanium comes standard with all-wheel drive, while the SE and SEL can be had with AWD for an extra $1,500, and the S is only available in front-wheel drive.
If this wasn’t confusing enough, the Escape offers the choice of three gasoline-fueled four-cylinder engines, and strangely not one of them is electrified despite this model being first to market an SUV hybrid. The base model labours forward with Ford’s dozen-year-old 2.5-litre mill making 168 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, which are respectable numbers for a base model, but most Escape buyers will pay a bit more for one of the brand’s turbocharged Ecoboost engines, the 1.5-litre making 179 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque and standard in SE and SEL trims, and the 2.0-litre version good for a very spirited 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, this one standard with as-tested Titanium trim and available with the SE and SEL. So as you can likely imagine, just what you’ll find at your local Ford retailer will be anyone’s guess, although if you’ve got your heart set on a particular trim powered by a specific engine they can phone around to other dealers on your behalf.
At least the Escape’s sole six-speed SelectShift automatic makes your choice of transmission easier, which is two speeds less impressive than the new 2020 model’s eight-speed automatic, but the outgoing gearbox is proven reliable and certainly capable enough when fitted to either Ecoboost engine. The 2020 Escape will get the 1.5-litre turbo-four as standard equipment, with auto start-stop technology no less, which shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, while the 2.0-litre continues to provide a performance option in a compact SUV class that’s in dire need of some excitement.
Speaking of drivetrain options, the long lost Escape Hybrid I previously complained about not being available is finally back for 2020, which is great news for those willing and able to spend more for better air quality, let alone saving some money on fuel.
While Ford isn’t providing fuel economy numbers for the new 2020 Escape just yet, the 2019 model does quite well in all trims. The 1.5-litre is the best choice for those on a budget, with the FWD version achieving a claimed 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.8 on the highway and 9.1 combined rating, and that engine with AWD good for an estimated 11.2 city, 8.4 highway and 9.9 combined. The FWD-only base S, on the other hand, does pretty well despite its age with a rating of 11.0 city, 8.0 highway and 9.6 combined, and finally the top-tier AWD-only Titanium is extremely thrifty considering all the performance available, with a claimed rating of 11.5 city, 8.7 highway and 10.2 combined.
Looking past the 2019 model’s aging body style and just as classic interior design, its quality of materials, fit and finish, and general goodness is hard to argue against. Even its electronic interfaces are better than a number of more recently redesigned competitors, its primarily analogue gauge cluster filled with a very crisp, clear and colourful high-resolution multi-information display at centre, and its centre stack-mounted Sync 3 infotainment touchscreen soldiering on as one of the more graphically attractive and easy to use, not to mention wholly functional. It’s incorporated Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration longer than most rival systems, while its navigation/route guidance is amongst the sector’s more accurate, the system’s tap, pinch, and swipe gesture controls working ideally with the nicely detailed map, and dynamic guideline-equipped backup camera easy on the eyes. There’s much more to it, such as Bluetooth streaming audio, mobile apps, voice control, a WiFi hotspot, 911 assist, etcetera, so only those looking for premium-level options like overhead surround cameras and Near Field Communication (NFC) short-range wireless connectivity will find themselves wanting.
The centre display provides all the expected audio functions too, like AM/FM/satellite radio plus MP3 and WMA compatibility, but no HD radio, although the 10-speaker Sony system it all plays through is very good for this class. Some quick access controls sit on an angled interface just below the touchscreen, this just above a large user-friendly dual-zone automatic climate control panel, all the kind of premium equipment expected in a luxury brand, and the Escape’s top-tier Titanium trim line. Still, compared to some competitors that have digitized these controls under touch sensitive interfaces, the Escape’s look pretty dated, but a tiny pull switch for engaging the electromechanical parking brake makes it clear that Ford did everything it could to keep this model current.
Advancements in mind, my tester featured a $2,500 optional Safe and Smart + Roof Package including a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic brake support, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, plus lane departure warning with lane keeping assist. A number of these features are also available as part of a separate package in the two mid-range trims, so you don’t need to go full tilt with a Titanium model in order to benefit from these advanced driver assistive systems.
I’m not going to bother going into each and every standard and optional feature with this SUV, because as explained earlier it’s now a WYSIWYG affair, but over and above everything already mentioned this Titanium includes 18-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights with LED signature lighting, a heatable steering wheel, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming centre mirror, front parking sensors, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, a foot gesture-controlled hands-free liftgate and plenty more, while highlights pulled up from lesser trims include extra chrome exterior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a powered liftgate, rear parking sensors and more from the SEL; fog lamps, body-colour exterior details, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, Ford’s exclusive keyless entry keypad, one-touch up/down power windows all around, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone auto HVAC, heated front seats plus more from the SE; and finally auto on/off headlamps, a windshield wiper de-icer, remote engine start, keyless remote entry, MyKey, variable intermittent wipers, powered windows, air conditioning, an overhead console with sunglasses holder, SOS Post-Crash Alert System, all the usual airbags including one for the driver’s knees, and much more from the base S model.
Some Escape Titanium materials quality highlights include a mostly soft-touch dash top that nicely wraps all the way around the infotainment controls before crossing over to the front door uppers. The door inserts and armrests are nicely padded too, as is the centre armrest/bin lid, while at least the mid-door panel niceties extend into the rear seating area as well, but that’s about it for soft synthetic pampering. Ford spiffs up the instrument panel with some piano black lacquered trim that extends across the dash and down each side of the centre stack, while a tasteful assortment of aluminized accents added a bit of brightness to my tester’s mostly black cabin, but other than a touch of blue and red for the temperature controls, the lovely aqua blue needles within the gauge cluster, the dark blue and sky blue backgrounds used for the multi-info display and centre touchscreen respectively, this Escape won’t exactly stimulate one’s colour-craved senses.
The leather upholstery is nice, and features what looks like cream-coloured contrast stitching, while the driver’s seat is plenty comfortable and the SUV’s driving position much better than some others in this class. In fact, I’d call its ergonomics excellent thanks to a tilt and telescopic steering column with enough rearward reach to make my long-legged, short-torso frame feel right at home. This isn’t always the case, as anyone who reads my reviews regularly will know, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a competitor with as much driver adjustment as this Escape. Visibility is excellent all-round too.
The rear seating area is spacious and reasonably comfortable too, especially if positioned in the outboard window seats, but take note you don’t exactly sit in the seats, but rather on top of them, and there’s not much lateral support at all. Fortunately, taller teens will have no problem fitting in thanks to reclining seatbacks, while the folding armrest at centre improves comfort and provides a place for drinks. Rear ventilation can be found on the backside of the front console, where the aforementioned 110-volt outlet features a more useful three-pronged socket. I was surprised not to see heatable seats in back, especially in this top-of-the-line model, but those wanting such luxuries can ante up for Lincoln’s MKC, soon to be renamed Corsair, which is basically a 2019 Escape Titanium with more glitz and glamour.
The rear hatch powers up out of the way via foot-activated gesture control as noted earlier, revealing a sizeable 964 litres (34.0 cubic feet) of cargo space behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks, or 1,925 litres (68.0 cu ft) when these are lowered. I’d prefer a 40/20/40-split, or even a centre pass-through to provide room for longer items like skis down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable and scenic window seats, but such configurations are rare outside of the premium sector, so this can hardly be seen as a deal-breaker. Ford doesn’t include any mechanisms for automatically folding the rear seats down while loading in cargo either, unlike some rivals, but on the positive a flap drops down to cover the gap between seatbacks and cargo floor so smaller items don’t slip between the cracks, so to speak, and the expanded cargo area does provide a fairly flat load floor.
Before it starts sounding like I’m beating up on this poor old Escape, the fact of the matter is it remains a very good compact crossover SUV with the best performance in its class by far. Its arguably old school transmission might be short a couple of gears compared to some competitors (and its own replacement), but it goes about its business with a level of smooth refinement that would make a JATCO engineer proud, although my tester’s steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters combined with a manual mode affecting real gears makes it a lot more enjoyable to drive than most competitors that are now using continuously variable transmissions (hence the JATCO reference, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of CVTs). The Escape’s shifts are comparatively crisp and quick, resulting in a much more engaging experience than any of its top challengers, all of which use CVTs.
On this sportiness theme, a slightly firmer suspension means the Escape Titanium isn’t the smoothest riding model in its compact SUV class. It’s hardly rough or uncomfortable, but you’ll notice each bump and road imperfection in a fairly pronounced manner, unlike a RAV4 or CR-V that better isolate driver and passengers, but keep in mind the Escape Titanium’s more capable driving dynamics will have you smiling at speed on a winding back road. Of note, all Escapes incorporate torque-vectoring control and Curve Control that senses if you’re going to fast when entering a corner and, if so, automatically slows you down via throttle reduction and anti-lock braking.
That pretty well sums up the 2019 Escape, particularly in Titanium trim. It remains a solid competitor that’s stood the test of time because it was well conceived in the first place, and would be a good choice for someone who’d rather save money than be seen in the most modern compact SUV currently available. I can’t say whether or not its replacement will be worth paying more for as I haven’t even sat in it, but it make gains mechanically and now offers a hybrid, plus its infotainment systems appear to have made a step upward as well. This is important, because it will need to last for six years as well if Ford plans to follow its past upgrade schedule, which is one year longer than its main rivals. Now we’ll have to see how well it does against the RAV4, CR-V and an ever-improving crop of compact SUVs.
The completely redesigned 2019 Forester, now in its fifth-generation, is just arriving at Subaru dealers nationwide, with a new price of $27,995. In case you were wondering that’s $2,000 pricier than…
The completely redesigned 2019 Forester, now in its fifth-generation, is just arriving at Subaru dealers nationwide, with a new price of $27,995.
In case you were wondering that’s $2,000 pricier than last year’s base Forester, but it now comes standard with a host of features that should make the bump in MSRP well worth it.
First on the list is a set of stylishly safer LED headlamps, a technology that previously required a move up to Limited trim in order to partake, and one that’s still optional with most of its rivals including the totally redesigned 2019 RAV4 and recently redesigned Honda CR-V—the Mazda CX-5 already comes standard with LED headlights and refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee now does as well.
The Forester’s new LED headlamps also feature automatic on/off so you won’t always have to remember to turn them on and off manually, this standard feature part of last year’s Convenience upgrade, while new standard automatic climate control gets pulled up from 2018’s Touring trim.
Additionally, a new electromechanical parking brake replaces the old handbrake, freeing up space between the front seats and modernizing the driving experience, while new auto vehicle hold replaces the old hill holder system that previously only came with the manual transmission that’s now been discontinued. In its place, Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is now standard across the line, which means that Subaru’s impressive X-Mode off-road system with Hill Descent Control, and SI-Drive drive mode selector are now standard too.
Along with that CVT and Subaru’s much lauded Symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive system that remains standard, the 2019 Forester gets a new direct-injection enhanced 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine that’s good for 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, which is a 12-horsepower and 2-lb-ft advantage over last year’s identically sized base engine. The drivetrain now includes an auto start/stop system that automatically shuts off the engine when it would otherwise be idling, which helps to reduce emissions while improving fuel economy, the latter resulting in a 0.2 L/100km savings despite the increase in performance, from 9.2 L/100km city, 7.4 highway and 8.4 combined to 9.0, 7.2 and 8.2 respectively.
The big change for 2019 isn’t what comes with the Forester, but rather what’s no longer on offer being that Subaru has discontinued the SUV’s optional 2.0-litre turbocharged engine upgrade that previously put out 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and still managed a relatively thrifty 10.2 L/100km city, 8.6 highway and 9.5 combined. Granted, few vehicles in this class offer such a potent optional engine, but nevertheless it was an important differentiator in a market segment that’s rife with competition.
The aforementioned base model is once again simply called 2.5i in reference to its engine designation, and along with everything already mentioned includes standard power-adjustable heated side mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, steering wheel controls, cruise control, filtered air conditioning, backup camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth with audio streaming, StarLink smartphone integration with Aha radio, HD and satellite radio, two USB ports/iPod interfaces, an aux input, heatable front seats, roof rails, the usual active and passive safety features including an airbag for the driver’s knees, and more.
Regarding infotainment, the standard infotainment touchscreen is now 0.3 inches larger in diameter at 6.5 inches, and now features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility that wasn’t even optional before.
Above the base 2.5i, features become even more generous in second-rung Convenience trim, while the 2019 Forester can also be had in Touring, new Sport, Limited and new top-line Premier trims.
Convenience trim, at $30,295, includes everything from the base model plus fog lamps, a rear rooftop spoiler, 17-inch alloys replacing the standard 17-inch steel wheels with covers, a windshield wiper de-icer, silver finish interior trim, chrome interior door handles, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters, a colour TFT multi-information display within the gauge cluster, a 6.3-inch colour multi-function display atop the dash that’s controllable via steering wheel-mounted switchgear, two more stereo speakers for a total of six, dual-zone automatic climate control (the base model is single-zone), sunvisor extensions, illuminated vanity mirrors, premium cloth upholstery, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with lumbar support, a flip-down rear centre armrest with integrated cupholders, and more.
For a reasonable $1,500 you can add Subaru’s EyeSight suite of advanced driver assistance systems that includes pre-collision braking, pre-collision brake assist, pre-collision throttle management, lead vehicle start alert, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, while the upgrade also includes reverse automatic braking, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, and a retractable cargo cover.
EyeSight comes standard with all other trim levels, including the $32,995 Touring model that gets everything already mentioned as well as automatic high beam assist, a large power-sliding glass sunroof with a sunshade, and a powered tailgate with memory function.
Above this, Sport, Limited and Premier trims get a new two-mode X-Mode off-road system that’s capable of even greater go-anywhere prowess thanks to separate settings for snow and dirt, as well as deep snow and mud, while larger 316 mm front rotors add better braking power over the standard 294 mm discs.
Additionally, these three trims include steering responsive headlights and Subaru’s Side/Rear Vehicle Detection (SRVD) system as standard equipment, improving safety, plus a leather shift knob and a new 8.0-inch touchscreen adds an inch to the diameter of last year’s top-line infotainment interface, while once again including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto where there wasn’t such smartphone connectivity last year. These upper trims also include dual rear USB ports for a new total of four, plus A/C ducts on the backside of the centre console, and reclining rear seats.
The new $34,995 Sport is the visual standout of the 2019 Forester lineup thanks to a unique gloss black grille, special front corner grilles, a larger rear spoiler, a blackened out trim strip that runs across the rear liftgate before striking through the taillights, a unique rear under-guard, plus bold orange trim on its front fascia, roof rail posts, side sills and rear bumper, the latter wrapping up and over the exhaust to highlight a chromed tipped tailpipe, while a bright orange “SPORT” badge gets added to the liftgate. The Sport also gets exclusive dark metallic 18-inch alloys with subtle orange accents, while LED daytime running lights, vertically stacked LED fog lamps and LED turn signals integrated within the mirror caps add to its upmarket appeal.
Inside, the Sport model’s orange theme continues with uniquely treated dash vent surrounds and centre console detailing plus orange stitching throughout, and within the gauge cluster plus some background lighting, while an additional exclusive Sport feature includes an SI-Drive Sport system that provides more immediate throttle response. Lastly, the Forester Sport replaces the availability of Crimson Red Pearl, Horizon Blue Pearl, Jasper Green Metallic, and Sepia Bronze Metallic exterior colours with an exclusive Dark Blue Pearl paint finish.
The $37,695 Limited loses some of the Sport’s aesthetic and performance features, but keeps most of its convenience and luxury upgrades while adding unique 18-inch 10-spoke bright-finish machined alloy wheels, a premium grille, chrome detailing around the fog lamp bezels and side windows, auto-dimming side mirrors with approach lighting and reverse tilt (the latter item a Subaru first), an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated compass, chrome trimmed primary gauges, a heatable steering wheel rim, GPS navigation, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with weather, sports and stock market information, an eight-speaker, 440-watt Harman Kardon audio system with an eight-channel amplifier, leather upholstery in black or platinum, silver contrast stitching throughout, driver’s seat memory, heatable rear outboard seats, and one-touch folding rear seatbacks.
New $39,495 Premier trim is top-of-the-line for 2019, and once again includes the vertical LED fog lamps from the Sport within unique satin-silver trimmed bezels, as well as special aluminum-look satin-silver trim on the front fascia, side mirror caps, roof rail posts, side sills, and rear bumper. Additionally, exclusive 18-inch five-spoke machined alloy wheels combine with chromed exterior door handles and a stainless steel rear bumper step pad to spiff up the look further.
Inside, the Forester Premier features exclusive brown leather upholstery plus an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, while Subaru’s brand new DriverFocus driver fatigue and distracted driving mitigation system uses facial recognition to detect drowsiness or distraction.
Of note, all pricing was verified at CarCostCanada.com, where you can also find detailed trim and feature pricing, dealer invoice pricing that let’s you get the best deal possible when negotiating for your new Forester, and rebate information on any discounts that might be available to you.
All of the new 2019 Forester’s features come within a compact SUV that’s been thoroughly redesigned around the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP), which has resulted in greater refinement, capability and dynamic performance, plus considerably more interior space.
This means it has grown slightly all-round, now measuring 15 millimetres (0.6 inches) more from front to back at 4,625 mm (182.1 inches), with a 30-mm (1.2-inch) longer wheelbase at 2,670 mm (105.1 inches), while it’s also 21 mm (0.8 inches) wider including its mirrors at 2,052 mm (80.8 inches), or 20 mm (0.8 inches) wider not including its mirrors at 1,815 mm (71.4 inches). The new Forester’s front and rear track has widened too, now up 20 and 15 mm (0.8 and 0.6 inches) respectively to 1,565 and 1,570 mm (61.6 and 61.8 inches), which, along with its other dimensional and mechanical changes has caused a one-metre (3.3-foot) larger curb to curb turning circle of 5.4 metres (17.7 feet).
Despite maintaining its minimum ground clearance at 220 mm (8.6 inches), the new Forester is actually 5 mm (0.2 inches) lower in height than its predecessor with its roof rails included at 1,730 mm (68.1 inches), while its base curb weight has increased by a 26 kilograms (57.3 lbs) at 1,569 kilos (3,459 lbs) when compared to the previous model’s optional CVT. This said the fully loaded 2019 Forester Premier now weighs in at 1,630 kg (3,593 lbs), which actually makes this top-line model a surprising 56 kg (123.4 lbs) lighter than the ritziest version of the 2018 model in spite of its greater size and spaciousness.
Along with a roomier passenger compartment, the new Forester improves cargo space by 29 litres (1.0 cubic-foot) behind the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks in base trim, from 974 to 1,003 litres (34.4 to 35.4 cubic feet), and by 40 litres (1.4 cubic feet) in base trim when those seats are laid flat, from 2,115 to 2,155 litres (74.7 to 76.1 cubic feet). When the optional sunroof is added, which encroaches slightly on overhead space, the difference from old to new grows to 43 litres (1.5 cubic feet) behind the rear seatbacks, from 892 to 935 litres (31.5 to 33.0 cubic feet), and 68 litres (2.4 cubic feet) when the rear seats are lowered, from 1,940 to 2,008 litres (68.5 to 70.9 cubic feet). That’s a significant improvement that can really make a difference when faced with a big load.
A press release about the new 2019 Forester promises “maneuverability that’s synonymous with the popular Subaru,” but we’ll need to properly road test it in order to relay any improvements to its driving dynamics.
Until then, make sure to check out our photo gallery of the 2019 Subaru Forester above.
I don’t know what’s going on south of the 49th parallel these days. And no, I’m not talking the usual banter about trade, tariffs, walls, kids in incarceration, a stock market bubble, etcetera (notice…
I don’t know what’s going on south of the 49th parallel these days. And no, I’m not talking the usual banter about trade, tariffs, walls, kids in incarceration, a stock market bubble, etcetera (notice I didn’t say Trump… oops), but rather how the Nissan Rogue managed to speed into the compact SUV segment’s top sales position.
Tops in the U.S. means it’s also the best-selling compact SUV in North America, its U.S. and Canadian combined sales reaching 237,606 units over the first six months of 2018 compared to 224,996 for last year’s sales leading Toyota RAV4. While many factors can play into market success, another week with a Rogue SL Platinum AWD reminded me of a number of very likely reasons it’s doing so well.
First of all, the Rogue remains a great looking crossover SUV despite this second-gen model having been with us since 2013. Of course, it had a stylish mid-cycle update just last year, which saw Nissan’s broader more “U” shaped “Vmotion 2.0” grille add a bit more masculine ruggedness to the otherwise sleek design, while its headlights received more sophisticated inner complexity thanks to quad beams and standard signature LED daytime running lamps. Additionally, full LEDs were made available to the previously tested and currently reviewed SL Platinum, while a reworked lower front fascia was included with all trims, receiving a narrow strip of LED fog lights with both SV and SL Platinum models. Less dramatic modifications were made down each side and at the rear, yet the result is a much more assertive looking compact SUV.
This said the 2017 update did more than just refresh Rogue styling, it also improved interior refinement, modernized some technologies, and made a bevy of advanced driver assistance features available. Safety has even been strengthened further for 2018, with Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert now standard across the entire Rogue line, while you’ll still need to step up to SL Platinum trim to have Pedestrian Detection added to the Forward Emergency Braking system, plus Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Moving Object Detection, automatic high beam headlights, and adaptive Intelligent Cruise Control with full speed range and hold.
Last year this gear earned the Rogue a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS when the SL Platinum trim’s standard LED headlamps with Smartbeam were factored in, but being that the U.S. government organization keeps moving the goalposts further away in order to raise safety standards it now only garners Top Safety Pick status.
Even bigger news this year is the addition of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous “hands-on-wheel” driving system to SL Platinum trim. The top-tier model is actually called SL Platinum ProPilot Assist on Nissan Canada’s retail website, and it’s a good thing it’s not a pricey option as buyers might feel shortchanged once the initial wow factor wears off.
Yes it will certainly impress the uninitiated, thanks to its ability to almost completely take over driving functions on the highway, even coming to a full stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic or changing lanes after you signal a desire to do so, but imagine for a moment the need to place both hands back on the steering wheel every eight seconds in order to prevent a warning chime from sounding off and red dash light from flashing, which gets a lot more annoying if you don’t, and it soon becomes evident this future technology is not ready for prime time.
To be fair (and not rile the Nissan PR reps that are very clear about what ProPilot “Assist” can and cannot do), this is a hands-on system, not designed to work while your hands are on your lap, behind your head with the driver’s seatback reclined, and certainly not holding a smartphone, tablet or book. That’s the stuff of a fully autonomous driving future (or brave Tesla owners), the Nissan system alternatively providing steering assistance that some find helps to reduce fatigue over a long distance.
And don’t worry about falling asleep, as the constant beeping that occurs when veering too close to a lane marking will keep you fully awake and alert, and possibly annoyed. I’m not one for incessant beeping, sometimes causing me to turn off overly sensitive parking sensor systems, so therefore this ProPilot setup wouldn’t work for me, but I can appreciate why some drivers would like it.
So go ahead and have some fun with it, because it’s really cool to watch the steering wheel turn on its own while your Rogue remains safely within its lane, and it only needs you to turn on the adaptive cruise control, set a given top speed, and press a blue button on the steering wheel to initiate.
Also notable, ProPilot Assist will change lanes automatically just by flicking the turn signal. After analyzing the adjacent lane and finding a safe entry point it quickly moves to the right or left as per your signal indication. I could really see this feature assisting new drivers that are sometimes intimidated to change lanes at highway speeds. This said make sure to check your mirrors, as this technology is in its infancy and therefore can’t yet be relied upon 100 percent.
What’s more, don’t attempt to use its change lane feature to exit a highway, because once in the exit lane ProPilot Assist won’t slow down or turn to follow the off ramp. In fact, if I hadn’t taken over the controls it would’ve driven straight off the exit lane into the ditch. Granted, Nissan says only to use this system on a limited access highway, but being a curious journalist I just had to find out where that highway ends with respect to ProPilot Assist. Now I know, it ends in the exit lane, or before, if you really want to be cautious.
So kudos to Nissan for being the first mainstream volume brand to bring semi-autonomous “hands-on-wheel” driving to market. I’m sure it will improve with each new application, something Nissan has promised as it rolls out more autonomous capability in the future, including its ability to be used in city traffic.
Additional standard SL Platinum features not yet mentioned include 225/55R19 all-season tires on 19-inch alloys, an electromechanical parking brake (lesser trims get a foot-operated one), memory for the side mirrors and front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated leather-wrapped multifunction sport steering wheel, a leather shift knob, leather upholstery, dual-zone auto climate control, an Around View parking monitor, navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, NissanConnect with mobile apps, a really good Bose audio system with nine speakers including two subs, Radio Data System (RDS) and speed-sensitive volume control, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, and a motion-activated powered liftgate, plus it’s the only trim in the line that comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Take note the four-way powered front passenger’s seat has been deleted from SL Platinum trim for 2018, and I would’ve liked to see ventilated front seats and heatable rear seats added to the top-line features list, but nevertheless this top-line model still provides a significant load of high-end features for $37,098 plus freight and dealer fees, that number representing an $800 increase over last year’s non-ProPilot Assist equipped version, or so I found out at CarCostCanada.com, your best source for new vehicle pricing, dealer invoice pricing, and important rebate information.
There’s just one factory upgrade available with the SL, but the Platinum Reserve Interior package appears worth the extra $500 if you like rich appearances. It adds unique Tan leather-appointed seats with special quilted leather inserts. Alternatively, my tester’s Pearl White exterior paint makes no-cost Almond leather available, an interior treatment that would no doubt look good with Magnetic Black or Caspian Blue too if it were made available (it’s not, despite being offered south of the 49th along with a host of other exterior colours), although probably not with Gun Metallic grey.
Just so you know, you’ll only need to have the proximity-sensing key fob in your pocket or purse to access either front door or rear liftgate, which is also power operated. Nissan’s Intelligent Key comes with pushbutton ignition in $28,598 SV trim, with other features from this mid-range model including fog lamps, LED turn signals on the side mirror housings, roof rails, rear privacy glass, remote engine start, an eight-way power driver’s seat including two-way powered lumbar, a retractable cargo cover, and more.
Notably, you can also choose a special blacked-out Midnight Edition, a nice upgrade for those wanting a sportier looking Rogue. While based on the SV, it also includes that trim’s otherwise $2,600 Technology package, which adds the dual-zone auto HVAC, Around View monitor, navigation, leather, powered liftgate, Moving Object Detection, and more from other trims, all for $34,198.
Features pulled up to my top-line SL Platinum model from $26,298 base S trim include auto on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering, variable intermittent wipers, illuminated vanity mirrors, LED map lights, mood lighting, overhead sunglasses storage, micro-filtered air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, hands-free text messaging, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, an AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio system with satellite radio, USB and aux ports, Quick Comfort heated front seats (they heat up really fast), four cargo tie-down hooks, a rear seat pass-through, all the usual active and passive safety features, and much more.
Once inside I’m sure you’ll appreciate the care and attention Nissan has given to the cabin. It actually comes close to matching some premium brands, and while it’s missing upper crust compact luxury segment accoutrements like fabric-wrapped roof pillars, fully configurable digital gauges, and soft-touch rear door uppers, the entire dash-top and front door uppers are made from a nice soft padded synthetic.
What’s more, Nissan also finished the instrument panel ahead of the front passenger with padded and French-stitched leatherette, while the driver gets a leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel with aluminized spokes, plus a leather metal and glossy black shift knob, a leatherette shift boot, and plenty of piano black lacquered surfacing around that shifter and across the centre stack. The door panel trim looks more like carbon fibre, but it matches nicely and dresses up the look well, while the armrests at each side and at centre feature stitched padded leatherette to match the instrument panel bolster and the same treatment on each side of lower console, this last feature not only looking good, but also preventing chafing of the driver and front passenger’s inside knees.
Analogue gauges with excellent backlighting are joined by a large colour multi-information display directly in front of the driver, providing easily accessible information on key functions, including the aforementioned ProPilot Assist system.
Over on the centre stack, a 7.0-inch touchscreen provides most everything someone buying into a premium-level compact SUV could want. Its resolution is good, albeit not the clearest or crispest in the industry, and being a matte finish the depth of colour and contrast isn’t quite as rich, but fewer fingerprints will be a positive for many, while the infotainment interface is very good. It includes easy connectivity for your smartphone and streaming audio, plus the audio section gets bright and colourful thanks to album graphics when using satellite radio, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the line.
The navigation system is also impressive, with accurate directions via clear, detailed mapping. It even took us via the quickest route, and by so doing reminded me of alternative choices I hadn’t used for a long time. The upgraded parking camera was equally impressive, as it features a split screen that shows the usual rear view with active guidelines, as well as a top view with 360-degree surround visuals.
Just below the touchscreen is a nicely sorted dual-zone automatic HVAC interface, with large well-made chrome-trimmed knobs and tight fitting buttons, plus a sizeable display screen.
The driver’s seat controls provide plenty of adjustment, but I could have used a bit more reach from the telescopic steering column in order to set myself up for better comfort and control, a common problem due to having longer legs than torso. The seat itself is very supportive, cupping the small of the back nicely and providing ample side bolstering for this class of vehicle, while headroom and side-to-side spaciousness won’t likely be a problem for most body types.
It certainly wasn’t for my regular sized five-foot-eight, medium-build frame, and with the driver’s seat positioned as ideally as possible I climbed into the back to check rear roominess, only to find that I still had loads of space to move around, with about eight inches ahead of my knees, plus plenty of space under the seats for the big boots I was wearing, allowing my legs to almost fully stretch out. Likewise, there was about three and a half inches left over above my head and three next to my shoulder and the window, plus about the same from my hips to the door panel.
Other than the hard plastic door upper, that rear door panel is finished just as nicely as the one up front, while incandescent reading lamps for each outboard passenger, and large vents on the backside of the front console was about it for extras. And no I’m not forgetting to mention the rear centre armrest because there isn’t one in the traditional sense, the Rogue instead giving rear passengers the option of folding down the centre pass-through that includes dual cupholders and enough room to each side for resting arms, but its hard plastic surfacing isn’t very comfortable. Most competitors that offer both an armrest and pass-through provide a separate door for the latter, but I’d take a pass-through over a rear armrest any day, so I can hardly complain.
Another positive is the panoramic sunroof that really opens up the rear compartment from a visual perspective, while I should also point out that back seat visibility is excellent, as the side windows are tall and extend quite far toward the rear.
As accommodating as the Rogue is for passengers, it’s a cargo hauler’s dream thanks to 60/40 split seatbacks that open up the rear storage area from 1,112 litres (39.3 cubic feet) to 1,982 litres (70.0 cubic feet), making it one of the more capacious compact SUVs available. The rearmost portion is also quite flexible, its standard two-piece adjustable Divide-N-Hide shelving system starting off down on the floor, capable of being moved up in tandem to make a flat loading area when the seats are lowered, or alternatively set up higher for a shelf above a larger load below. It’s a smart, innovative cargo system that really sets the Rogue apart. This said, when the need to lower the rear seats presents itself you’ll be forced to walk around to the side doors, as Nissan doesn’t provide levers on the cargo walls to do this automatically like some others in the compact SUV segment.
Back in the driver’s seat, the Rogue gets positive marks for its excellent ride quality, overall comfort and impressive quietness. This is just another way it feels like a premium compact SUV, while its drivetrain is one of the smoothest operators in the category too. On that note, it’s probably not the ideal compact SUV for performance enthusiasts, as its sole 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine makes just 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, while the continuously variable transmission (CVT) it comes mated to was primarily designed for smooth, silky operation over snap-to-it get-up-and-go. Nissan does include a manual mode via the shift lever, but I only used it for testing and wasn’t amused.
Just the same, the Rogue moves away smartly from stoplights, has no problem passing slower moving traffic on the highway and is a relative miser with fuel, its Transport Canada rating an estimated 9.7 L/100km in the city, 7.4 in the city and 8.7 combined with as-tested AWD, or an even thriftier 9.2 city, 7.0 highway and 8.2 combined with FWD models.
Similar to the Rogue’s straight-line performance, its comfortable suspension setup isn’t optimized towards sport, so it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the ride. Don’t get me wrong as it can snake through a set of fast-paced corners quickly enough, holding on commendably, but it just doesn’t feel as secure doing so as some others in the compact SUV segment. I don’t believe this will be much of an issue for most buyers, as all the big sellers in this class are similarly biased toward comfort.
And to tell you the truth, that’s exactly how I like my family haulers. It’s a very rare moment that I get to put a vehicle through its paces when not searching out a suitable road or track for testing purposes, as life behind the wheel is more often than not experienced amid thick, congested traffic, or at best a cruise up the highway for a weekend getaway. Therefore comfort takes priority over sport in this category, hence why the Nissan Rogue is finding so much success.
To that end the 2018 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum is a wonderful all-round people pleaser, providing performance that’s more than adequate, impressive economy, a comfortable, fully featured, spacious interior that’s big on luxury, and some pretty cool new tech. It should definitely be on your shortlist.