Think back to 2008. It’s not a year everyone will remember fondly, due to the housing crisis that was followed up by a short-erm financial freeze, plus numerous banking bailouts, and reasonable fear of economic woes ahead, but on the positive it was also an Summer Olympic year, held in Beijing, China (déjà vu all over again), and while that subject might be too political for some to dwell upon in an automotive story, 2008 was also the year that Conservative leader Stephen Harper eked out a minority up here in Canada, and Barack Obama was victorious south of the 49th. Even more momentous, it would take another month for Bitcoin to be introduced in January of 2009.
Why all the references to a past that’s now hardly recognizable from today’s world? Because that’s when Toyota’s full-size Sequoia SUV received its last major update. The first-generation Sequoia lasted a rather lengthy seven years, incidentally, and received its redesign with the advent of the second-gen Tundra, but today’s model, which will be replaced later this year, needed to wait a lot longer for its redesigned Tundra donor platform to arrive.
Amazingly, the first-generation Venza was new that year too, as was the tiny Scion iQ (remember Scion?). The iQ’s been off the market for seven years already, and, after a three-year hiatus the Venza was wholly renewed for 2020, but the Sequoia soldiered on unchanged. It’ll be 14 years old when it arrives later this year as a 2023 model, but from what we can see here, the long wait has not been in vain.
After all, it looks similar to the new Tundra that’s received plenty of praise for its brash, bold styling, or at least its headlamps and the basic outline of its grille do. The new Sequoia’s grille is more restrained, and I think the better for it. It pulls cues from the Tacoma, of course, as well as the latest RAV4, no bad thing either, while sharing visual ties to the Highlander and new Corolla Cross as well. We can guess this look hints at the new 4Runner’s design approach too, an even more important SUV from a sales perspective, and one we’ll see in redesigned form soon.
This said there’s nothing radically unexpected about the new Sequoia’s styling. It appears rugged and tough, yet clean and refined, while all the time being respectful of Toyota’s SUV lineage. The hood domes nicely at centre, and either features cool looking matte plastic, vent-like garnishes on its outer rear edges when upgraded to “TRD PRO” trim, complete with trim designation, or gets a smaller chromed “i FORCE MAX” engine plaque in the same spot for other models. Additional visual separation includes some chrome embellishment down each side of the new top-tier Capstone trim line, brightening the new Sequoia’s deeply sculpted flanks, while the SUV’s upright rear design certainly shouldn’t offend any traditional SUV lover’s tastes.
Speaking of the trims, a total of five include TRD Off-Road, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro and just-noted Capstone, the latter initially introduced with the new Tundra, and representing a more luxurious level above Platinum. First, congrats to Toyota for coming up with something more original than Limited and Platinum to designate fanciest trim, and second, this model really does appear to deliver on its near-premium promise.
The Sequoia Capstone provides a black and white motif inside, with plenty of higher-quality semi-aniline leather throughout, while Toyota has even improved soundproofing. Those familiar with the outgoing Sequoia will already know its most luxurious Platinum variant lacked some its rivals’ refinements, especially for an SUV in the $80k range. Pampering won’t be a problem in the new 2023 version, however, even in lesser trims that will likely go up in price from their current model’s $70k starting point.
In the U.S., this new Sequoia effectively replaces the full-size Land Cruiser that was discontinued, so it had better deliver at a high level and be fully capable off-road. Certainly, Lexus’ redesigned LX, which once again is based on the Land Cruiser, will toe the line as far as full-size luxury utes go, but just like some wristwatch buyers would rather wear a dive watch bearing the famed Seiko name than lesser-known Grand Seiko (which is respected more for dressier timepieces), yet still want similar levels of finishing and movement accuracy/quality and are willing to pay premium prices for it, there are SUV buyers who’d more proudly own a Toyota-badged utility than one gussied up in Lexus duds. To that end, the off-road-oriented SUV industry is as much about heritage and respect as it is utility, but isn’t necessarily turned on by premium badging.
The i-Force Max engine noted a moment ago was also introduced with the Tundra, but in the pickup truck it’s an option, and with the Sequoia it comes standard. Interestingly, it’s a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid drivetrain, so, just like Toyota did with the aforementioned Venza and their newest Sienna minivan, it’s hybrid or the highway, so to speak. Of course, there may be additional options moving forward, but more likely a pure electric variant than anything without electrification. As it is, the Sequoia’s mill makes a substantive 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque, and feeds its power down to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission, which includes the usual Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes.
The actual hybrid component is a generator motor positioned between the internal combustion portion of the drivetrain and gearbox, a tried and tested solution, so we should expect much improved fuel economy along with Toyota’s already legendary hybrid reliability and longevity.
With each trim basically set up with the same drivetrain capabilities, performance differences will come down to suspension options, whether optimized for handling and comfort or off-road prowess. All should provide enough stability and manoeuvrability to keep the engine power in check on fast-paced curving roadways, however, achievable via a combination of improved chassis design and rigidity, plus a new independent front suspension design and new rack-mounted electronic power steering system, which is said to enhance feel. A more advanced multi-link rear suspension has also been added to the mix, plus Sequoia owners can option their rigs out with an adaptive variable suspension setup, which adds Comfort, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom settings to the Drive Mode Select system’s menu, and a height-adjustable air suspension with load leveling, which is especially helpful when lifting heavy items into the cargo area.
Also impressive is the new Sequoia’s 9,000-lb (4,080-kg) towing capacity. This is almost 22-percent more than the current model, and therefore allows for much larger camp trailers and boats, which is a key reason that buyers buck up for larger utilities in the first place. Along with its upgraded tow rating, the Sequoia will utilize features shown first with the new Tundra when choosing its Tow Tech Package, such as Trailer Backup Guide that makes it easier to reverse with a trailer, and Straight Path Assist that, via the steering system, helps keep the trailer straight when backing up. Additionally, the power mirrors now include automatic extensions for seeing around the sides of wider loads.
Some additional features include standard heated front seats and a standard heatable steering wheel rim, Toyota’s proprietary breathable Softex leatherette, a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, and the TSS 2.5 suite of convenience and safety features.
An available 14-inch centre touchscreen improves the Sequoia’s digital experience, including a Panoramic View Monitor that makes parking easier, especially with a trailer, while a digital display rearview mirror is also available, as is a fully digital and very colourful driver’s display.
As for the Sequoia’s cabin layout, it comes with three rows including a bench for the second row, but can be optioned with second-row captain’s chairs. Additionally, the third row can slide back and forth up to 150 mm (6.0 in), plus provides reclining backrests, while Toyota provides a unique parcel shelf in the cargo area that covers those seatbacks when folded down, resulting in a totally flat load floor. For hauling taller items, the parcel shelf can be fitted back into the floor, or alternatively it can be raised higher to act as a cargo cover. Smart.
While it might take some time for the new Sequoia to catch on, Toyota is probably looking to its loyal 4Runner, Highlander, and to some extent, Tacoma owner base to fill order books. While news about the new 2023 Sequoia will create some excitement, the nameplate isn’t strong enough to pull many conquest buyers away from the big three, despite having been around since 2001. Toyota just hasn’t updated it enough to create any kind of long-term growth, and certainly hasn’t marketed much, other than featuring it on its retail website.
The result has been slow, but steady sales. The 418 units sold into Canada through 2021 was less than half of its all-time Canadian high of 912 deliveries in 2010. The numbers remained just above or just below 700 per year until 2018, before dipping downward over the last few years. In case you were wondering, the Nissan Armada, which is the Sequoia’s most obvious challenger, only sold 413 units in 2010, yet, due to a major second-generation redesign (that’s really a global-market Patrol, the full-size Land Cruiser’s main rival in other markets), saw its deliveries rise to a high of 1,435 units in 2018, before falling down to Sequoia levels for the last three years.
Of course, neither set of numbers would cause a carmaker to invest the necessary money to develop and market an all-new model, which should make us Canadians grateful to our friends south of the border that have 10 times the purchasing pool. To be clear, while we were selling just over 400 Sequoias here in Canada, the U.S. market delivered 22,815. Even that number would have to increase to make a business case viable, but there’s a lot of potential upside when looking at the rest of the full-size SUV market.
Last year it totaled 21,999 units in Canada and 388,294 in the U.S., and General Motors walked away with almost three quarters of Canada’s full-size SUV deliveries, at 15,307 units, plus a staggering 275,421 new buyers in the States. GMC’s Yukon was number one in Canada’s market with 8,338 examples sold, its two body-style line beating both the Chevy Tahoe (4,590) and Suburban (2,379) by a wide margin, while Ford’s Expedition ended up second from a model perspective, with 4,878 individual deliveries. While all this is good for GM and Ford, the new Sequoia could slice off a larger section from that lucrative pie.
Helping Toyota’s cause is the highest retained value in the Canadian Black Book’s “Full-size Crossover-SUV” category, plus the top podium in the “Large SUV/Crossover” category for Vincentric’s Best Value in Canada Awards. The Sequoia also topped J.D. Power and Associate’s 2021 Initial Quality Study, which doesn’t hurt matters. It almost makes a person want to buy the outgoing Sequoia, which is still available with factory leasing and financing rates from 2.99 percent. Check out CarCostCanada for details, plus find out how accessing dealer invoice pricing could you save thousands off retail, plus remember to download their free app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
The new Sequoia will be available this summer, with orders starting sooner. Contact your local Toyota dealer for more info.
2023 Toyota Sequoia Overview | Toyota (7:07):
2023 Toyota Sequoia | Undeniable Capability, Unmistakable Presence | Toyota (2:17):
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Toyota
With an estimated 200,000-plus F-150 Lightning orders in the books, Ford has clearly shown the market is ripe for full-size electric pickup trucks. In fact, the books are likely full for 2022. Added to…
With an estimated 200,000-plus F-150 Lightning orders in the books, Ford has clearly shown the market is ripe for full-size electric pickup trucks. In fact, the books are likely full for 2022. Added to that, microchip shortages and recent talk about a coming battery shortage means the Dearborn-based automaker’s ability to fully deliver on these orders is suspect, but nonetheless, if a history of BEV customer patience is anything to go by, particularly with respect to Tesla, the blue-oval brand may garner a lot of market share and win out in the end.
This scenario would see Chevrolet, a leader in battery-electric vehicles, come up short by being late to the electrified truck party. If the bowtie brand had been quicker to the draw, they could have capitalized on Ford’s temporary weakness, but instead the new Silverado EV pickup, introduced at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, won’t be available until 2023 as a 2024 model. Just the same, fleet buyers and eco-minded consumers may want to wait for the General’s new model, because its unique features really set it apart.
First off, and possibly most critical, the Silverado EV is based on General Motors’ new Ultium platform, an electric-specific truck and SUV chassis. The Lightning rides on Ford’s conventional F-150 chassis architecture, which is likely why it was quicker to market. Most electric vehicle fans will give a nod of approval to GM for going the extra mile of taking this pure-EV route, but the optimal choice is not yet clear. The F-150’s body-on-frame layout is a very well-known entity, whereas the Silverado EV’s design is mostly uncharted territory. It’s a mix between a traditional truck frame and unibody, which will hopefully end up being a best-of-both-world’s scenario.
Two trims will be available at launch, including a WT (Work Truck) version designed specifically for the aforementioned fleet market and individual contractors, plus another that’s dubbed RST, focused on personal use. Initially, the latter will get the moniker RST First Edition, although to be clear it will show up in the fall of 2023, after the WT arrives that spring.
The RST First Edition will be good for a range of 640 km between charges, albeit probably not while towing up to 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) of trailer, or for that matter a full payload of passengers and cargo, or 1,300 lbs (590 kg). While towing capacity is very strong, the electric model doesn’t compare all that well against a conventionally-powered Silverado 1500, which is good for a payload range of 1,870 to 2,280 lbs (848- 1,034 kg).
Still, the Silverado EV should be mighty quick off the line when its WOW (Wide Open Watts) maximum power mode is engaged, thanks to 660 horsepower and 780 lb-ft of torque. Smart, Chevy. Not as brilliantly silly as Tesla’s Ludicrous mode, referencing the 1987 space parody film Spaceballs (Mel Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy and Rick Moranis), but clever just the same.
It should be noted that a WT model capable of towing up to 20,000 lbs (9,072 kg) will be made available sometime after lesser trims are introduced, while no matter the trim level a Tow/Haul mode will be included, while trailer hitch provisions, an integrated trailer brake controller, and a Hitch Guidance system as part of Chevrolet’s Advanced Trailering System, will be available. It should be mentioned that base WT trucks only be able to haul 8,000 lbs (3,629 kg), plus a payload of just 1,200 lbs (544 kg) due a performance downgrade of 510 horsepower and 615 lb-ft of torque. Notably, this model will be upgradable to 640 km of range.
As standard, at least initially, both trims will receive a DC fast charging system with up to 350 kilowatts of capability, while both models will be available with up to 10.2 kW of offboard power delivery, meaning contractors and tradespeople will be able to plug in their tools while using the lowered tailgate as a workbench, plus campers will be able to light up and even heat their tents and trailers with an extension cord. And speaking of cords, the electrified Chevy truck will be capable of charging another EV via its optional accessory charge cord.
The Silverado EV, which is set to be assembled at GM’s Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan-based Factory ZERO, comes with an adaptive air suspension that can be raised or lowered by up to 50 mm (2.0 in). Additionally, four directional wheels should make it capable of rotating on the proverbial dime. GM will also provide its Super Cruise semi-autonomous drive system as an option, which will even be functional when towing.
While the above features are strongpoints, the truck’s Multi-Flex Tailgate (similar to what’s already available from today’s Silverado) and Chevy Avalanche-style Midgate bed expansion system, provide much greater cargo functionality than anything currently on the market. Where the just=noted 2001-2013 Avalanche (and the 2002-2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT) featured a single-piece Midgate, the Silverado EV’s is split in a 60/40 configuration, which allows longer items to be loaded while a third occupant sits in back. Those items can be up to 10 feet, 10 inches long when the tailgate is closed, by the way, which almost doubles the Silverado EV’s five-foot, 11-inch bed-length. This creative cargo solution could become a key reason for BEV truck buyers to wait for the Silverado EV over a Lightning, Rivian R1T, or any other electric pickup.
The wait certainly won’t be for its compact dimensions. In fact, the new Silverado EV, which will only be available in one Crew Cab body style, measures 5,918 mm (233 in) from nose to tail, making it slightly longer than today’s 5,885 mm (231.7-in) 2022 Silverado Crew Cab, although the two models’ heights are approximately the same.
Like its size, few should complain about the Silverado EV’s styling, as it builds on the conventional model’s current design theme, albeit with more modern lines and details. It should appeal more to those who prefer smooth, flowing, wind tunnel-formed designs than folks with a greater focus on tradition than aerodynamics.
To the latter point’s end there’s no conventional grille. The bowtie badge is merely placed at the centre of a Tesla-like body-colour panel, all of which sits below an elegant strip of LED lighting that spans the entire width of the vehicle before melding into the headlight clusters. These are slim LEDs, while just underneath is a complex set of driving/fog lamps divided by a knife-like chrome bezel. A rugged matte black and silver bumper cap finishes off the frontal look before it rounds each corner and joins up with the truck sector’s usual swollen fender flares, which are finished in gloss black for a classier appearance than the usual matte application. Lastly, the rear design is appropriately more conventional with an upright box and traditional tailgate that’s bookended by a stylish set of LED taillights.
What appears to a premium-level interior will come standard with a panoramic glass roof in First Edition trim, as will a glossy infotainment display above the centre stack, measuring 17 inches from corner to corner. Lesser Silverado EV trims, including the WT, will feature a reasonably sized 11-inch touchscreen, which should be more than suitable for most peoples’ needs. Similarly, the top-line model’s 8.0-inch configurable driver’s display shrinks down to 7.0 inches in lower trims.
Like Ford’s Lightning, interested parties only need a $100 deposit to reserve their Silverado EV, so as long as buyers don’t mind waiting until 2023 to take delivery, and can afford the RST First Edition’s $119,948 base price, it will likely steal sales from the blue-oval truck. Then again, Chevy won’t have anything to compete against the Lightning XLT’s $68,000 initial base price, which is expected to go down once lower-end trims become available.
To deal with this issue, General Motors promises more affordable consumer variants, although buyers will likely have to wait another 12 months for delivery, pushing these less expensive Silverado EVs into the 2025 model year. On the other side of the pricing spectrum, GM president Mary Barra alluded to a potential Trail Boss edition during the live model launch program, which would certainly garner some attention in both EV and off-road camps.
And now for the ultimate electric pickup truck question: is there a frunk? Yes, a front-trunk (frunk) is included, but Chevy calls it an eTrunk. It’s lockable and weatherproof, of course, plus large enough to stow a big hard-shell suitcase along with a few smaller items.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Chevrolet
It’s true, Nissan is walking away from the full-size pickup truck segment in Canada. The Titan before you, as impressive as it is, will no longer be available north of the 49th, aside from Anchorage…
It’s true, Nissan is walking away from the full-size pickup truck segment in Canada. The Titan before you, as impressive as it is, will no longer be available north of the 49th, aside from Anchorage or Fairbanks.
As with most cancellations, it came down to a lack of sales. Nissan sold a mere 1,218 units last year and just 2,807 in 2019, while even at its peak of 2017 the Japanese automaker found just 5,692 Canadian buyers. This is actually bad news for Toyota, because its Tundra will now inherit lowest sales status, despite managing to push out a respectable 11,053 units last year (it’s high of 11,738 was in 2018). Although the Tundra’s numbers may appear lofty when shown next to the Titan’s, even mighty Toyota’s full-size offering hardly matches Ram’s 83,673 full-size pickup truck sales in 2020, or GM’s collective Chevy/GMCSilverado/Sierra deliveries of 104,279 units during the same 12 months, while Ford once again topped them all last year with 128,650 F-Series down the road.
The sad reality is, Nissan’s failure to launch the Titan as a serious full-size pickup truck contender has nothing to do with the vehicle’s quality and capability. It’s one rugged, well-built half-ton, or rather two tough trucks when factoring in its larger Titan XD heavy-half sibling, with its only serious weaknesses being fewer cab/bed options and just one, lone V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission combination.
Currently, the Titan is just available as a Crew Cab in Canada, having dropped its smaller King Cab variant for 2020. Both cabs remain in the US, although American buyers can no longer purchase the Single Cab work truck.
The Titan’s sole V8 displaces 5.6 litres and makes 400 horsepower plus 413 lb-ft of torque; the XD’s turbo-diesel was discontinued for 2020. Part-time four-wheel drive is standard in Canada, with no lower priced rear-drive alternative, but it must be said the Titan’s nine-speed automatic transmission certainly gives it an edge compared to some competitors, Toyota’s Tundra only offering six forward speeds. Still, Ford uses a 10-speed automatic in all of its full-size trucks, while GM offers the same transmission (literally) in some of its large pickups.
Notably, Nissan Canada’s retail site never bothered updating its Titan page with a 2021 model (clearly displaying the 2020 truck instead), even though the brand’s dealers continue to advertise the newer model year, plus third-party car sites, such as CarCostCanada, have integrated all 2021 specs along with the elimination of base S trim, which was $50,498 before, and addition of a new base 2021 SV trim for $63,698. Now (June 30, 2021), Nissan isn’t even showing trucks as an option on its side pull-down menu, strangely hoping would-be 2022 Frontier customers manage find the redesigned model in its “Future & Concept” section.
The just-mentioned 2021 base price doesn’t come anywhere near to matching the entry prices of the Titan’s domestic rivals, by the way, with the class-dominating F-150 starting at just $34,079, which isn’t even as affordable as the base Chevy Silverado 1500’s $32,048 entry point, or for that matter the Sierra 1500’s lowest window sticker of $33,248. The least expensive Ram 1500 Classic is priced just a bit higher at $36,890, and the aforementioned Tundra significantly more at $47,010. Compare those numbers to the Titan’s $63,698 base price, and it’s easy to understand how it might be difficult to get someone’s attention, unless they clearly understood that similar equipment and trim levels sold by all of the above cost around the same.
Unfortunately, that’s not how we tend to buy vehicles. There’s a reason that dealers advertise a vehicle’s base price, after all. We might initially become interested in a Silverado because it’s the lowest priced truck on the market, but after we get sold on one with more features, we quickly forget about the initial “loss leader” that motivated us to come down to that particular dealer in the first place. Soon it’s all about how much you can afford each month, and the sales team turns you over to the finance department.
To be clear, the domestic trucks’ lower prices are mostly due to their inclusion of regular cab body styles, multiple engine choices, and a whole lot of additional trims, with the cheapest of each U.S. brand’s truck focused more on attracting high-volume commercial fleet buyers. The sheer volume of such trucks sold actually allows for the seemingly endless cab, bed, engine, drivetrain and trim combinations to exist, making it possible for a buyer to configure a truck exactly the way they want. Most pickup truck consumers, however, would rather buy a well-equipped four-door pickup, which is the key reason Nissan and Toyota only offer such variants.
The Titan I most recently tested was a Crew Cab Pro-4X optimized for off-road work and pleasure. So equipped, it’s priced at $66,998, which is right in the realm of pricing acceptability for this class of truck. As stated earlier, the sales leads enjoyed by Nissan’s rivals have nothing to do with any specific competencies over the Titan. It’s a tough, capable on- and off-roader with better than average expected reliability, beefy towing and payload capacities of 9,270 lbs and 1,580 lbs respectively, plus no shortage of style. I think the Titan’s recently refreshed design, and particularly my Pro-4X-trimmed test model’s upgrades, look great, while Nissan’s interior finishing was even a bit more refined than some of its competitors.
In detail, the Pro-4X’s dash top was completely covered in a padded soft leather-like synthetic with cool orange contrast stitching, while others only apply hard plastic to this area. This said, Nissan only uses hard-shell composites for the Titan’s door uppers, which makes them uncomfortable for those who like to rest their elbow next to the side window. The Titan does provide nicely padded leatherette door inserts above even more comfortable armrests, also featuring contrasting thread work, while the Japanese model gets even more pampering with a soft, padded bolster ahead of the front passenger.
The Titan Pro-4X’ seats also include contrast stitching, complete with the model’s “PRO-4X” logo embroidered into their backsides, but their wide, flat shape didn’t allow much side support for my smaller body type. The driver’s seat was multi-adjustable, however, providing good positioning, but its two-way powered lumbar support never met up with the small of my back as well as others do in this class. At least it was roomy and accommodating.
Rear occupants get limousine-like legroom, while seat comfort in back is decent enough. An airy panoramic sunroof made my tester feel even more spacious, while rear outboard passengers get the comfort of a warmer behind thanks a set of seat heaters.
Back up front, the Titan Pro-4X’ steering wheel is leather-wrapped with sporty thumb indentations for optimizing comfort and control, plus yet more contrast stitching gave it plenty of style to go along with its heatable rim (not available with every rival), while Nissan’s multi-information display is also larger and filled with more features than some others in the class, but is missing some useful ancillary dials within a primary gauge cluster that’s otherwise analogue.
The Titan’s centre touchscreen is fairly large and plenty colourful too (the permanent blemishes to my test model’s display were due to a previous journalist’s ammonia-infused wipe down), with no shortage of functions either. High-quality switchgear could be found through the cabin as well.
I learned how to drive using column-shifters, so naturally didn’t mind swapping cogs next to the Titan’s steering wheel. The arrangement (also used by Mercedes for most of its cars) frees space up on the lower console as well. The aforementioned nine-speed auto was updated by two forward gears for 2020, and delivers smooth, positive shifts via fast kickdowns when needing to take off quickly. And yes, the Titan sprints away from stoplights with little hesitation, blasts past slower moving highway traffic with only a hint of provocation, and provides a soul-stirring V8 snarl while doing so.
Like most trucks in this segment, the Titan rides on a fully-boxed frame and uses an independent suspension up front plus traditional leaf springs in back, which provide good composure over the majority of surfaces. The Ram 1500 is the only large truck that utilizes coil springs all-round, while all trucks in this class use steel for their cabs and boxes, other than the F-150 that’s significantly lighter due to an aluminum out shell.
Nissan has an enviable 4×4 heritage, which left me with no concerns about going off-road with the Titan. It features a dial for engaging two- and four-wheel drive high, plus four-low when the going got tough, while its electronic and mechanical driving aids not only aid handling during slippery condition on pavement, but help overcome challenges on the trail as well. Therefore, it was easy to crawl over rocks and logs before swamping through ruts and mud-soaked pits, not to mention plenty of deep sandy spits, while generous suspension travel helped make the Titan’s ride comfortable at all times.
When it comes to reliability, plus resale value, the Titan should fare well over time. Yes, I know it’s being discontinued, which never helps when trying to predict the latter, but Nissan has a great reputation for holding values overall, and trucks tend to do better than cars in today’s market. There are even some models that start going up in value, something we’ve seen with well-cared-for examples of the Xterra and earlier off-road capable versions of the Pathfinder in recent years. The Armada may experience similar depreciation resilience if the overland trend continues, so it makes sense that trucks like this Titan will also hold onto their value in the used market.
After everything is done and said, the Titan isn’t perfect, but it scores high in all the categories it needs to, particularly its better than average expected reliability, impressive refinement, well-stocked features, thoughtful design, solid construction, and potent powertrain. It’s not even that bad on fuel with a claimed combined city/highway rating of 13.3 L/100km, so you might just want to snatch one up before all the new ones are forever gone from this country.
If you’re in the belief that Porsche’s Panamera flagship is simply a low-slung luxury sedan, think again. Designed to transport four adults in a comfortable cabin filled with some of the most impressive…
If you’re in the belief that Porsche’s Panamera flagship is simply a low-slung luxury sedan, think again.
Designed to transport four adults in a comfortable cabin filled with some of the most impressive interior quality and luxury amenities available, it would be easy to surmise that Porsche didn’t have its eye on performance when conceiving its most luxurious car, but after a single lap on the arduous 4.0-km long Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, such thoughts should forever be banished.
The new 2021 Panamera Turbo S was chosen, the quickest of its type yet with 620 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque on tap resulting in a shocking zero to 100km/h launch of just 3.1 seconds and wickedly fast terminal velocity of 315 km/h. The car, set to arrive at Canadian Porsche retailers this spring, managed the fastest time ever set by a production sedan of one minute and 31.51 seconds (1:31.51).
This record, set with professional racing driver Leh Keen at the wheel, beat the new Taycan Turbo S’ single lap time of just 1:33.88 minutes set the month prior in December, although the electrified Porsche continues to hold the track’s production EV title.
“The engineers found a perfect balance,” said Keen. “They really made it feel small and sporty. The stability gave me a ton of confidence to use every bit of the asphalt and curbs. And yet the car has a completely different and more refined and relaxed character on the highway – an amazing combination.”
Along with a luxurious interior filled with premium materials and state-of-the-art electronics, the 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S gets plenty of standard performance equipment that make it as quick on the road as it is on the track, including Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+), rear axle steering, and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport roll-stabilization system (PDCC Sport).
It should be noted that the 2021 Panamera Turbo S example that set the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta production sedan record was upgraded with an optional set of newly-developed road-legal Michelin Pilot Sport cup 2 ND0 ultra-high-performance tires measuring 275/35 ZR 21 103Y XL at the front and 325/30 ZR 21 108Y XL in the rear. The tires’ “N” designation signifies their co-development between Porsche and a tire manufacturer, in this case Michelin. The special tire was in fact designed specifically for the Panamera, and tuned at the legendary Nürburgring race track in Germany.
Also notable, vehicle data acquisition and timing expert Racelogic recorded and verified the Panamera Turbo S’ Road Atlanta lap time utilizing their VBOX video HD2 system.
Also, be sure to check out our full gallery of great Porsche-supplied photos above, plus enjoy the two Panamera Turbo S track record videos that follow.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S: Road Atlanta Record Lap (2:12):
Panamera Turbo S Record Lap: Driver’s POV (1:50):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and to many a luxury car buyer it seems desire grows commensurately with the size of its grille. Enter the 2019 Avalon, which incidentally is identical to the…
Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and to many a luxury car buyer it seems desire grows commensurately with the size of its grille. Enter the 2019 Avalon, which incidentally is identical to the upcoming 2020 model, a car that’s gone from having one of the larger front grilles in the industry to now leaving very little room for anything but the grille.
The frontal aperture looks larger in as-tested base XSE trim due to a gloss-black surround instead of the top-line Limited trim’s chrome, while the deeper, inkier, glossy mesh grille inserts appear more menacing than the loftier model’s horizontal ribs. Toyota further emphasizes the XSE’s sporting nature with black side mirror housings and a black rear deck lid spoiler, small in size yet quite noticeable when the car is doused in a lighter paint finish than my tester’s lovely Brownstone metallic.
Even the XSE’s LED headlamps look more piercing than the Limited’s upgraded triple-beam LEDs, while its once graceful taillights have given way to a single body-wide LED infusion hovering over a thick black diffuser-style lower bumper cap bookended by a quad of circular chrome tailpipes with the XSE or two large rectangular chromed tips for the Limited. Likewise the XSE’s machine-finished 10-spoke 19-inch alloys with black-painted pockets are decidedly more aggressive looking than the upscale Limited’s shiny silver multi-spoke 18-inch rims.
With the 2019 refresh one thing is for sure, Toyota isn’t willing to idly stand by watching ever-increasing SUV popularity destroy their beloved full-size flagship luxury sedan without a fight. The new Avalon now begs to get noticed, which shows a significant turnaround from the model’s formative years when it was more content living life in the shadows.
My favourite Avalon was the 2005–2012 fourth-generation model, a truly elegant car that provided much better performance than its classy styling promised. While hardly a sport sedan, the Av has continued to improve over the years, with this fifth-gen model, particularly in base XSE trim, its most dynamic yet.
To be clear, the XSE is only base in Canada. South of the border, where Avalon sales are more than 100 times greater (Americans bought 22,453 Avalons during the first nine months of 2019, compared to just 212 over the same three quarters in Canada, despite the US only having 10 times the population), it’s offered in XLE, XLE Hybrid, XSE, Touring, Limited and Limited Hybrid trims. As anyone shopping for an Avalon knows, the hybrid isn’t offered here, Toyota having long provided this fuel-friendly alternative in Lexus’ ES line instead. The two full-size luxury sedans share all subsurface components, by the way, and thanks to even stronger sales under its premium brand (in Canada too, where the ES is only outsold 35 to 1, with 37,896 US deliveries compared to 1,081 in Canada), the Avalon continues to exist north of the 49th.
The numbers above attest that you, dear reader, either digest all things automotive or, if considering purchasing, have very unique taste. Yes, the Av certainly has exclusivity going for it, an appeal that isn’t wholly price related, in that you’ll likely never see one of these pull up next to you at a stoplight, or show up in your neighbour’s driveway, unless he or she happened to like yours so much they went out and bought one of their own.
This is more likely to happen with the new generation, as it will no doubt get noticed, but the overwhelming trend is downward in this full-size volume-branded sedan category. Even the mighty Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 pairing that saw 4,704 collective sales over the same nine months had to accept this comparatively large number was the result of a significant downward slide of 14.15 and 39.31 percent respectively, while GM’s Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse managed 2,075 total deliveries during this period for respective 16.96 and 15.13 percent downturns, which no doubt only added internal support for their upcoming discontinuation. The 710 sales of Nissan’s Maxima and mere 7.07 percent year-over-year shrinkage is downright impressive next to Toyota’s aforementioned 212 Avalon delivery total, the latter a 17.19-percent reduction, whereas all must look positively meteoric from Kia’s standpoint, its Cadenza finding just 19 buyers since January for the segment’s worst 54.76 percent YoY plunge. Shockingly Kia hasn’t cancelled the Cadenza for Canada, but in fact will introduce a totally redesigned one for 2020.
Bravery should be rewarded, whether by manufacturer or consumer, and to the latter end buyers in this class do end up getting a lot of luxury car for their money. The $42,790 base Avalon XSE’s list of standard features includes the aforementioned LED headlamps and LED taillights, plus 235/40R19 all-season tires, proximity-sensing keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a 7.0-inch multi-information display, a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Entune and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (but no Android Auto), SMS/text- and email-to-speech functions, advanced voice recognition, eight-speaker audio with satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, a wireless smartphone charger, four USB charging ports, a powered moonroof, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, a six-way powered front passenger’s seat, Toyota’s Softex breathable leatherette upholstery, heatable front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, dual-zone automatic climate control, and more.
Entune Safety Connect is also standard, providing automatic collision notification, a stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance (SOS) button, and enhanced roadside assistive, while standard advanced driver assistive and safety systems include automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, plus all the expected active and passive safety features including two airbags for front occupant knees, plus more.
The multi-information display just mentioned sits in the middle of a mostly analogue instrument cluster, which is nothing new, but I like that it does more than just provide the usual trip information. For instance, it also provides route guidance instructions right where you need them, while the big touchscreen atop the new centre stack might lack in the way of colour and therefore doesn’t make enough use of its high-resolution capability, but it does incorporate Toyota’s new Entune smartphone integration, which I like a lot better than Android Auto. The system lets you connect to functions, music and info like traffic conditions, fuel stations, weather forecasts, stocks and more via a variety of apps including Scout GPS, Yelp, Slacker, NPR One and more through your smartphone.
Those wanting more can opt for $47,790 Limited trim, which adds 235/45R18 all-season tires, the previously noted triple-beam LED headlamps, a more complex set of LED taillights, ambient interior lighting, a 10-inch colour head-up display with customizable settings, a heatable steering wheel rim, four-way powered driver’s lumbar support, driver’s memory, semi-aniline leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a 360-degree surround bird’s-eye view parking monitor, navigation, a 14-speaker 1,200-watt JBL Clari-Fi surround sound audio system, Connected Services by Toyota Premium Audio, a three-year subscription to Scout GPS Link, intelligent clearance sonar (front parking sensors), automatic rear cross-traffic braking, and more.
All these features are great, but honestly some should be part of the base package. The Avalon XSE is hardly cheap at almost $43k, so why does Toyota force its very small number of interested buyers to buck up another five grand just to get a heated steering wheel? Sure, plenty of other features come with this trim too, but a warm steering wheel rim should be a prerequisite for designating the word “luxury” on any car attempting to lure in Canadian buyers. After all, our winters have been getting colder, not warmer as our news media wants us to believe (February 2019 was the coldest ever in Vancouver). Making matters worse, the Av on this page was the only car I tested in weeks without a toasty steering wheel, the others being an off-road specialty 4×4 pickup truck and a small luxury-branded car. Toyota is normally quite slow in adopting trending features, the latest Camry not offering one at all. This deficit was made worse while writing a review of a 2019 Kia Forte during the same week, which included a heated steering wheel in its most basic $16,000 model. Fortunately Toyota is starting to figure out that it’s been losing sales to upstarts like Kia, and now offers an optional heated steering wheel in the new 2020 Corolla, and will do likewise for the Camry in 2020.
The Avalon’s interior refinement is quite good above the waist, meaning that soft, pliable composites are used across the entire dash top and both front and rear door uppers, while a softer padded and stitched surface treatment gets added along the middle portion of instrument panel, just below a beautifully textured metal-like inlay and really attractive three-dimensional metallic and black horizontal section that melds into the corner vents. The bottom half of the dash, including the glove box lid, is made from a harder plastic, as are the lower door panels, but the doors’ middle sections, below the premium-like uppers, are comprised of soft-touch synthetics, ultrasuede and stitched leatherette.
The centre stack is mostly made up of black, glossy, glass-like surfacing, the upper section blending seamlessly into the main infotainment touchscreen, and the bottom portion housing a digital readout plus controls for the HVAC system. This doesn’t come across as upscale as the previous Avalon’s metal-finished centre stack surface treatment, the latter model’s tiny hollowed-out hockey stick-shaped switchgear absolutely stunning, albeit the new design modernizes the look and is certainly easier to use. The top portion of the centre stack appears to hover in the air, thanks to buttresses that allow access to a large wireless phone charge pad sitting below a padded retractable bin lid. The rest of the lower console is finished in stitched and padded leatherette, and is nicely detailed with satin-silver trim around the gear selector and cupholders, while this aluminized trim completely surrounds the console and centre stack as well, plus the steering wheel, much of the switchgear, and other highlights elsewhere. It’s a very attractive cabin that does a decent job of providing premium levels of luxury, even including fabric-wrapped A-pillars.
In case you were wondering how the Avalon measures up to the slightly smaller Camry that joins the aforementioned Lexus ES by also riding on Toyota’s TNGA-K (GA-K) platform architecture, it’s 100 millimetres (4.0 inches) longer from nose to tail, with a 50-mm (2.0-in) longer wheelbase, plus it’s also 10 mm (0.4 in) wider and fractionally lower by the same 10 mm (0.4 in). The new 2019 Avalon is also larger than the previous version, with its overall length up by 20 mm (0.8 in) to 4,980 mm (196.0 in), its wheelbase stretched by 50 mm (2.0 in) to 2,870 mm (113.0 in), its width increased by 15 mm (0.6 inches) to 1,850 mm (72.8 in), and height lower by 20 mm (0.8 in) to 1,440 mm (56.5 in), resulting in a leaner more athletic stance.
The new Av backs up its dramatic new styling with more energy under the hood, its enhanced 3.5-litre V6 now put out 10 more horsepower and 17 additional lb-ft of torque for a new total of 278 and 265 respectively, while in XSE trim this improved performance is complemented by an “Engine Sound Generator” that beefs up the exhaust note artificially through the audio system when Sport mode is engaged. Before any snide comments, BMW does this with its M cars and Ford with its Mustang and Ecoboost-powered F-150 pickup trucks (plus a number of others, I’m guessing), the result being music to the ears of gearheads.
Even better, Toyota has mated its upgraded V6 with a completely new eight-speed automatic transmission (not a CVT like one of the Av’s supposedly sportier competitors), and by so doing said goodbye to its antiquated six-speed gearbox, plus they’ve add steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to make the entire package more engaging.
Underpinning the new Avalon is an extended version of the stiffer, more agile chassis that improved the newest Camry, and likewise makes the new Lexus ES more fun to live with, while the XSE’s front struts and rear multi-link setup is sport-tuned even further before being bolted to the one-inch larger 19-inch rims and rubber noted earlier.
Despite all the performance upgrades, the Avalon’s ride continues to be very comfortable, but as anyone reading about the upgrades would imagine, the comfortable ride came with a lot more capability than ever before. The extra horsepower proved enjoyable off the line and the new automatic certainly more engaging than the outgoing one, particularly with Sport mode engaged, although it still took too long for those shifts to occur, so a true sport sedan this is not. Still, this XSE handled considerably better through fast-paced curves than its already adept predecessor.
I also found the seating position very good for a Toyota. Actually, I find Toyota improving their cars’ driving positions in most models recently tested, in that they now offer more telescopic steering column reach to complement their already good seat adjustability. This allowed me to move the Avalon’s driver’s seat rearward enough for comfortable legroom while extending the steering column amply for relative arm comfort and reasonable control, all this necessary due to my having a longer legged, shorter torso frame. I could have used more steering column extension, but the Av’s setup was passable.
This said the driver’s seat’s two-way powered lumbar support was disappointing, particularly considering competitors in this price class offer four-way powered lumbar support that better meets up with the small of my back. Still the seats were quite comfortable without using the extra lumbar support, while the rear seating area is massive, bordering on limousine-like, and comfortable as well. Likewise, the trunk is large at 456 litres (16.1 cu ft) and offers 60/40 folding access for longer items, although a centre pass-through would improve passenger/cargo flexibility even more.
All said I think most luxury sedan buyers that spend a little time with the new Avalon will like it. It’s well built, as most would expect from Toyota, should be reliable, is packed with most of the features one would expect in a $40k-plus car, and provides wonderfully comfortable yet surprisingly sporty performance.
What’s more, with the 2019 model year ending and the identical new 2020 Avalon soon arriving, Toyota is motivated to sell all the remaining stock, which is why you can to now save up to $2,500 in additional incentives (at the time of writing). Just go to CarCostCanada to learn more, and while you’re at it, check out both 2019 and 2020 model year pricing information, including trims, packages and individual options, and also find out about the latest rebates and even dealer invoice pricing, that puts you in charge when negotiating with your local retailer.
Remember the Hyundai Equus? No? If I hadn’t borrowed one from a local dealer to use for a 2014 test I probably would’ve forgotten about it by now too. In fact, I don’t believe Hyundai even put one…
Remember the Hyundai Equus? No? If I hadn’t borrowed one from a local dealer to use for a 2014 test I probably would’ve forgotten about it by now too. In fact, I don’t believe Hyundai even put one on their weekly rotation fleet in my area. It was a good luxury car, better in fact than any mainstream volume-branded rival, all of which merely offered stretched versions of their front-wheel drive mid-size family sedans, like Hyundai’s own Azera, instead of a V6- and V8-powered, rear-drive Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series type full-size luxury sedan, but just the same its premium-level interior, long list of features, impressive performance, and superb value proposition didn’t result in many sales.
The problem? No premium branding. Mighty Volkswagen learned this the hard way too, with its ill-fated Phaeton, but Toyota, Nissan and to some extent Honda figured out the importance of premium branding decades ago, resulting in Lexus, Infiniti and Acura, while GM’s Cadillac and Ford’s Lincoln brands have been trying to break back into the luxury sector since they lost ground to the Germans in the ‘80s.
Canada was first introduced to South Korean luxury in 2010 when the second-generation 2011 Equus was introduced, and while an impressive luxury car it was a bit bland and nondescript from a styling standpoint, much like the first-gen Hyundai Genesis Sedan. It was almost as if the designers of these two cars didn’t want us to know they were Hyundai products. We all expected the third-generation Equus to take on styling details from the second-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan, which was and still is a very handsome mid-size sport-luxury sedan, and then the Korean automaker one-upped us and discontinued both, instead rebadging the Genesis sedan as the G80 and making its next Equus into this G90, while simultaneously launching the Genesis luxury brand in Canada, the U.S., China, the Middle East, Russia, Australia, and of course its home market of South Korea. Hyundai is planning to launch Genesis in other Asian markets as well as Europe within the next couple of years, but might just be waiting until they have a full lineup of models (read: SUVs) to do so.
It could be said Hyundai jumped the gun by introducing this sedan-only brand without having at least one SUV in its lineup, but Genesis Sedan (the G80’s predecessor) sales were relatively strong when it made the decision in 2015 and the rest is history. All I can say is, if Genesis’ upcoming SUVs are as impressive as its three sedans (they introduced the smaller C-Class/3 Series fighting G70 last year), and better than the fabulous new Hyundai Palisade that just arrived for 2020, we’re in for a real treat.
As I write this review the totally redesigned 2020 Genesis G90 is being advertised, sporting a completely new version of its “diamond” grille that comes complete with a unique downward pointing lower section and “G-MATRIX” crosshatch patterned insert in place of the current 2019 model’s seven horizontal ribs. It gets LED “Quad Lamp” headlights, Bentley-esque front fender grillettes, massive mesh-pattern wheels, and three ultra-distinctive horizontal LED taillights, the lower element spanning the entire width of the car, while the interior is more up-to-date from a design and digital standpoint, plus even more luxurious than this outgoing model.
As good as the new model looks (and that will be up to your personal preferences of course), I still find this 2019 G90 very attractive. Its extremely low sales volumes have helped keep it fresh, familiarity even causing great designs to seem commonplace and therefore lose their exclusivity. The current G90’s approach to design is more discreet than the new model and much more conservative than, say, the Lexus LS’ spindle grille design, the G90 working well for those of us who’d rather fly under the radar than attract unneeded attention. Audi’s A8 once had this appeal too, but the horseshoe grille has grown to encompass most of its frontal fascia, and while still attractive it’s a more intimidating beast than it used to be.
Like most new brands Genesis is still forming its identity, evidenced by the just-noted lower point on the new 2020 model’s diamond-shaped grille, with this search for a trademark look made even more critical after factoring in that the brand’s general design language started off wearing Hyundai badging. To be fair, Lexus took decades before choosing its spindle grille and sharp origami-angled body sculpting, as did Infiniti and Acura with their more recently distinctive grille treatments, the latter of which is the oldest upstart luxury marque of all, yet the its dramatic new grille was just adopted a couple of years ago. This said it’s important to find a memorable look and stick with it, Lincoln a prime example of the never-ending identity quest often gone wrong (hopefully they’ll stick with their latest design as it’s quite nice).
As for this G90, the grille has been criticized for its obvious Audi influence (the Hyundai-Kia design head is ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer after all), while there’s a little bit of 7 Series in the sweeping line over the front fender and along the sculpted rocker panel, plus the thick chrome strip down the side and around the back, but the taillights are pure Genesis, and hardly original winged badge uncomfortably Bentley-esque. The build quality is good though, with nice tight panel gaps and excellent paintwork.
As for the interior, the design is attractive and detailing exquisite. From the microfibre roofliner and pillars to the French-stitched padded leather across the dash top and door uppers front to back, plus the planks of glossy hardwood all around, it fully measures up to its German peers. I shouldn’t stop there of course, as the aluminum trim is brilliant, especially the Lexicon-badged speaker grilles and aluminized buttons across the centre stack, while all of the switchgear is superbly crafted with ideal fitment and damping; it’s easily in the league of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.
In fact, the analogue clock at dash central is one of the best I’ve seen, with a beautiful white guilloche dial, Arabic numerals at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions, and chromed indices marking the hours between. The perforated seat leather is incredibly supple and soft, and the seats themselves are superb, with myriad adjustments to fit most any body type. What’s more, you’ll be hard pressed to find any hard plastic in this sedan, the only corners cut being the shell surrounding the steering column and the very lowest sides of the center console, but even these surfaces are made from dense composite and then soft painted for a high-quality feel.
I’m not going to try and say this G90 is better than its competitors, because everything in this class is mind-blowingly good. Really, you could put a fully loaded 7 Series up against a Bentley Flying Spur or even a Rolls-Royce Ghost and you probably wouldn’t notice much lacking if anything, and while I wouldn’t go so far with respect to this particular G90, its front and rear quarters are still very impressive.
In fact, the backsides of the front seats are so beautifully finished I might be inclined to claim industry-best, especially the wood that wraps around their upper edges. The backside of the front centre console is nothing special, however, with typical HVAC vents finished well, but that’s because the folding centre armrest is a smorgasbord of tech, not to mention beautifully finished leathers, woods and metals. It includes controls for the auto HVAC system’s third zone, as well as three-way heatable outboard seats, plus controls for the powered side and rear sunshades, while you can also extend right-side legroom by powering the front passenger seat forward and tipping the seatback as well. Full infotainment controls are also included, allowing rear passengers to have total control of the aforementioned Lexicon audio experience, which incidentally is amazing.
Back in the driver’s seat, the primary gauge package isn’t fully configurable, but it does have a nice big colour multi-information display at centre, filled with the usual assortment of features. The infotainment system just to the right is more advanced, with simple yet attractive graphics, an especially clear backup camera with good realistic colour and contrast, this featuring dynamic guidelines albeit no overhead view, while the navigation system’s route guidance worked very well and offered excellent mapping detail. Those wanting more advanced tech, including a fully digital gauge cluster and higher resolution infotainment display, will want to pay a bit more for the 2020 G90, but others may choose to take advantage of year-end and model-ending 2019 G90 savings that should be quite attractive.
As it is, this V6 turbo-powered 2019 G90 3.3T AWD starts at $84,000 plus freight and fees, while the V8-powered G90 5.0 AWD is available for $87,000, with its only upgrade being a $2,500 rear entertainment package. The much-improved 2020 model will be fully equipped for $89,750, just $250 more than the outgoing V8 model, and that more potent engine is now standard. You can still get the turbo-V6 for a $3k discount, but take note that it’s a special order model. All pricing, including trims and packages, can be found at CarCostCanada, where you can also source rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
The G90 tested here was in base 3.3T AWD trim, which means that its standard feature set included a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged direct-injection V6 making 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission with manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, HTRAC torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/45 front and 275/40 rear all-seasons tires, an adaptive suspension system, full LED headlamps with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist and lane keeping assist, plus the multi-view parking camera with dynamic guidelines noted earlier, a 12.3-inch centre display with passable 720p resolution and the accurate navigation mentioned a moment ago, the wonderful Nappa leather upholstery and microfibre suede headliner also noted before, the aforementioned 17-speaker Lexicon AM/FM/XM/MP3 audio system with Quantum Logic surround sound and Clari-Fi, plus much more.
Those willing to spend a very reasonable $3,000 to upgrade to the 5.0 AWD will not only get a 420 horsepower direct-injection V8 with 383 lb-ft of torque, but also be able to pamper their rear passengers to a much higher degree (or themselves if they hire a driver) thanks to a 14-way power-adjustable right rear seat and 12-way powered left rear seat including powered head restraints with manual tilt, plus memory and cooling ventilation for those outboard rear seats, and rear illuminated vanity mirrors overhead.
I’ve driven various Hyundai and Kia models with the 5.0-litre Tau V8 and found it as ideal for blasting away from stoplights as it was for highway passing and just plain cruising down the freeway, the engine nicely matching up to the smooth yet quick-shifting eight-speed automatic, and Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD superb through wet conditions and even adding performance in the dry. I can only imagine it would perform as well in this G90 as it did with the most recent 2017 Genesis G80 5.0 AWD Ultimate I tested a couple of years ago, but this said there’s a lot to like about Genesis’ smaller, more fuel-friendly 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6.
Their claimed Transport Canada fuel economy ratings are notable, with the V6 achieving an estimated 13.7 L/100km in the city, 9.7 on the highway and 11.9 combined, and the V8 good for a potential 15.2 city, 10.2 highway and 13.0 combined, a difference that would certainly be noticeable to the pocketbook, while the V6’s performance is more than capable of whisking the big sedan and its occupants away in short order, not with quite as sensational an exhaust note, but nevertheless entertaining in its own way.
The V6 also has less weight over the front wheels, allowing for greater agility through the corners, and was particularly enjoyable with Sport mode engaged. It just hunkers down and flings itself through fast-paced curves with hardly a squeak from the tires, portraying the kind of poise expected of a big German luxury sedan. Truly, this is one impressive driving car, with handling that borders on the mighty 7 Series. The adaptive suspension no doubt plays a part in its overall stability while keeping ride quality serene, the quiet cabin equaling the nicely sorted chassis in delivering the type of pampering experience luxury car aficionados appreciate.
With performance as good as this, one might think I’d keep it in Sport mode all the time, but Eco mode helped reduce consumption and minimized emissions, while an even more intelligent Smart mode chooses optimal responsiveness depending on the mood of the driver. Either way Genesis has all its bases covered, resulting in a very well rounded, highly refined luxury sedan that honestly deserves to be moved up to sports sedan status.
Still, sink your toes into the deep pile carpet floor mats and you’ll once again be reminded of the G90’s luxury sedan purpose, its trunk large amply sized for a couple of golf bags and easy to access thanks to powered actuation and an easy lift-over height, not to mention highly convenient due to a centre pass-through for longer items like skis, but the G90’s first priority is comfort, not utility.
Those wanting a serious sport-luxury sedan that won’t cause the taxman to question how you achieved your good fortune should consider the G90, and now is a great time to get the best deal possible on remaining stock.
To say that Ford leads SUV sales in this country is almost as big an understatement as merely stating that the F-Series is Canada’s best-selling pickup truck. F-Series sales were 145,694 units last…
To say that Ford leads SUV sales in this country is almost as big an understatement as merely stating that the F-Series is Canada’s best-selling pickup truck.
F-Series sales were 145,694 units last year compared to 108,569 total full-size GM trucks (55,097 Chevy Silverados and 53,472 GMC Sierras), and 77,951 Ram pickups, with sales actually picking up from January through May 2019 at 59,511 F-Series units to GM’s 41,207 large pickups and Ram’s 37,152 deliveries over the same five months. As for Toyota and Nissan, the full-size Tundra sold 11,738 units in 2018 and 4,238 as of May 31, 2019, while Titan found just 5,445 buyers last year and a scant 1,399 by the end of May this year.
In the commercial van sector Ford’s lead is even stronger, obliterating its competitors with 22,214 Transit, E-Series and Transit Connect models through 2018 plus 10,658 units up until May 31, 2019, compared to 10,796 total GM vans delivered last year and 4,215 over the first five months of this year, 6,538 Mercedes-Benz vans sold through 2018 plus 2,166 from January through May, 4,362 Ram vans delivered last year and 2,627 more up to the close of May 2019, plus 2,527 Nissan vans down the road in 2018 and 1,122 from January through May this year.
How about mainstream SUVs? While Ford benefited from a less comfortable lead in total crossover and SUV sales across Canada last year, it nevertheless remained out front with 92,418 EcoSport, Escape, Edge, Explorer, Flex, and Expedition models delivered, but with just 36,861 units from January through May of 2019 compared to 86,964 last year and a new lead of 37,125 units from Nissan up until May 31, 2019, not to mention 85,830 from Toyota throughout 2018 and another higher number of 37,348 sales through May, Ford has its work cut out for it if it plans to stay ahead of its closest rivals this year.
While we’re talking SUV competitors, I should also point out that FCA (Jeep, Dodge and Fiat) sold 84,387 SUVs last year and 35,776 up until May 31 this year, whereas GM’s three brands (Chevrolet, GMC and Buick) managed 78,002 and 39,407 units respectively, Honda delivered 72,022 and 32,802 new SUVs respectively, and Hyundai found 67,171 and 29,613 new SUV customers during the same two periods of time.
Take note that one of Ford’s better-selling SUVs, the Explorer, saw its sales slip by a significant 45.14-percent over the first five months of 2019 in preparation for a totally redesigned model being launched now (they wouldn’t want to stick their dealers with too many older examples when the new one arrives), while Nissan and Toyota had new high-volume subcompact and compact models come online, so we should expect Ford to regain its SUV sales leadership over the final seven months of this year.
Of course, every other volume brand sells into the crossover SUV sector too, and new models designed to disrupt the status quo are arriving regularly, so we’ll just have to wait to see if the blue-oval brand manages to stay on top over the long run, but keep in mind that Ford’s all-new retro-inspired Bronco 4×4 will soon go up against Jeep’s Wrangler, while its rumoured Baby Bronco will provide an off-road alternative in an even smaller package, and likely be more appealing to Canadians than Jeep’s Renegade that’s been an unparalleled flop (only rivaled by its Fiat 500X platform-mate).
Two of Ford’s lowest performing models on the sales charts include the incredibly resilient three-row Flex crossover that surprisingly found 115.71 percent more customers during the first five months of 2019 than it did over the same period last year, its total year-to-date deliveries at 1,812 units as of May 31, 2019, which probably won’t be enough to cause Dearborn to keep the unique model in the lineup after being slated for cancellation next year, while the full-size three-row Expedition being reviewed here (you were probably wondering when I’d get around to talking about it) saw its sales increase by 29.4 percent from January through May, up to 2,007 deliveries, albeit that’s after year-over-year Expedition sales fell by 12.67 percent throughout 2018.
You might remember me using the word “obliterate” to describe Ford’s dominance in the commercial van segment earlier in this review, but that doesn’t even begin to sum up how dramatically GM outperforms Ford and all others in the Expedition’s full-size SUV segment. Where Ford only offers its Expedition and longer Expedition Max to large utility buyers, the General has Chevrolet and GMC anteing up with their Tahoe/Suburban and Yukon/Yukon XL regular and long-wheelbase models respectively, Ford’s aforementioned 2,007 Expedition deliveries over the first five months of 2019, and 2,798 sales throughout 2018 looking pale by comparison to 4,617 deliveries of the four GM models in 2019 (comprised of 1,357 Tahoes, 1,255 Yukons, 1,058 Suburbans and 947 Yukon XLs), and 11,629 total units sold through 2018 (including 3,576 Tahoes, 3,061 Yukons, 2,789 Suburbans and 2,266 Yukon XLs).
The best of the rest is Nissan’s Armada that saw its sales rise to an all-time high of 1,435 units last year, followed by a rather scant 321 units sold up until May 31 of 2019, while the trailing Toyota Sequoia’s sales fell to 684 units in 2018, and have only managed 248 deliveries over the same five months of 2019.
Interestingly, the same scenario plays out within this full-size SUV category’s competing luxury brands, with the Lincoln Navigator doing well thanks to an 80.52-percent year-over-year bump from 2017 through 2018 totaling 1,177 units, plus another 21.83-percent increase from January through May 2019 resulting in 720 deliveries, but despite Cadillac’s Escalade sales having fallen by 5.43 percent last year it still managed a much healthier 2,767 total units, while Escalade deliveries bounced back by 4.90 percent over the first five months of 2019 to 1,050 unit sales.
Now where were we? Oh yes, the difference between the now decade-old Flex dying and the latest Expedition, which was totally redesigned last year, continuing to live, come down to plant availability and profit margins, with the Flex produced at Ford’s Oakville Assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, along with the highly popular Edge, impressive new Lincoln Nautilus, and the equally long-in-tooth and ancient D4 platform-sharing Lincoln MKT that only remains alive to serve in airport limousine and funeral service fleets (oh gods of the universe please don’t let me go to my place of rest in that horrid looking contraption), plus truly unlucky marrying couples and graduates (hopefully the powers that be within Lincoln will find a replacement for the MKT soon—the fabulous looking, wonderfully outfitted, and strong performing Continental anyone?), whereas the new fourth-generation Expedition rides on the same much more recently introduced body-on-frame and aluminum-skinned T-Platform as the F-Series pickup truck mentioned earlier, albeit the larger Super-Duty versions, and therefore gets produced at Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky Truck Assembly plant, alongside the just-noted heavy-duty pickup and Lincoln’s just-noted Navigator.
That Navigator adopted the same aluminum body construction as the Expedition last year, both full-size SUVs having received ground-up redesigns for 2018, hence their recent growth in sales. The mostly alloy (and I must say very good looking) skin joins up with a high-strength lightweight boron steel and aluminium frame to further reduce the Expedition’s curb weight by 44 kilograms to 90 kg (97 to 199 lbs) depending on trim, or 135 kg (just under 300 lbs) for the longer Expedition Max (EL in the U.S.), yet despite such a significant reduction in overall mass the upgraded SUV is more than 100 mm (4.0 inches) longer than the outgoing model in regular wheelbase form, and 28 mm (1.1 inches) lengthier than the old SUV in its larger Max body-style, while its wheelbase gets stretched by nearly 90 mm (3.5 inches) for the regular-length model and by 15 mm (0.6 inches) in the Max, plus it gains more than 25 mm (1.0 inch) from side to side.
The regular-wheelbase Expedition’s size and its lightweight aluminum design are reasons you may want to consider this newest version over the best-selling Tahoe/Yukon pairing, all of these more rugged truck-based SUVs often chosen over unibody car-based crossovers for their passenger carrying and load hauling capabilities, so therefore the more the merrier in this respect.
The new Expedition’s larger dimensions make for an even roomier cabin than the previous generation’s already generous proportions, while the cargo compartment grows to a maximum of 2,962 litres (104.6 cubic feet) in the regular length model, or 3,439 litres (121.4 cubic feet) in Expedition Max form, the latter providing 477 litres (16.9 cu ft) more gear-toting space than the regular Expedition. This means 4×8 sheets of building material can be laid flat on top of the load floor with the tailgate closed.
Addition cargo dimensions include 1,627 litres (57.4 cu ft) behind the regular Expedition’s second row and 2,077 litres (73.3 cu ft) behind that in the Max, or alternatively 1,800 and 2,254 litres (63.5 and 79.6 cu ft) respectively for the same area when the second row is pulled all the way forward, and lastly 546 litres and 972 litres (19.3 and 34.3 cu ft) behind the regular Expedition’s and Expedition Max’s third row respectively, or 593 and 1,019 litres (20.9 and 36.0 cu ft) in the regular and Max models’ rearmost compartment when the third row is fully upright. Got that?
Incidentally, both second- and third-row seats can be powered up and down individually via rocker switches on the cargo wall, a really helpful feature in such a large vehicle, and standard with Limited and Platinum trims (third-row PowerFold seats are standard across the line). What’s more, those rows fold completely flat so that all types of cargo have a better chance of remaining upright throughout the journey.
When compared to the Tahoe and Suburban it’s easy to see the Expedition and Expedition Max are considerably more accommodating, with the Chevy’s shorter wheelbase model’s 2,682 litres (94.7 cu ft) of maximum cargo space shy by a whopping 280 litres (9.9 cu ft), its 1,464-litre (51.7 cu-ft) capacity aft of its second row down by 163 litres (5.7 cu ft), and its 433 litres (15.3 cu ft) of gear-toting space behind the third row short by 160 litres (5.6 cu ft).
As for the Suburban, its 3,446 litres (121.7 cu ft) of maximum cargo capacity is actually 7 litres (0.02 cu ft) larger than the Expedition Max’s grand total, or more or less a wash, while the 2,172 litres (76.7 cu ft) behind its second row make it less accommodating by 82 litres (2.9 cu ft), although the big GM climbs back on top with 94 litres (3.3 cu ft) of extra storage room behind the third row thanks to 1,113 litres (39.3 cu ft) of cargo volume.
If towing is more on your agenda, take note the regular wheelbase Expedition can now trailer up to 4,218 kilos (9,300 lbs) when upfitted with its $1,400 Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package (the base model is good for 4,173 kg/9,200 lbs with the same package), which is an increase of 45 kg (100 lbs) over its predecessor, plus this is the full-size SUV segment’s best result by a long shot. Standard is trailer sway control, which works together with AdvanceTrac traction control and Roll Stability Control (RSC) in order to maintain total command of both SUV and trailer.
Once again comparing the Expedition to the current Tahoe shows 3,901 kg (8,600 lbs) of capacity, but that’s with its most capable version in rear-wheel drive trim, whereas the Expedition comes standard as a 4×4 in Canada. The best the Tahoe 4×4 can do is 3,810 kg (8,400 lbs), a considerable 408 kg (900 lbs) less than the Expedition. Likewise the Expedition Max is good for a maximum of 4,082 kg (9,000 lbs) of total trailer weight, whereas its Suburban rival can only tow up to 3,765 litres (8,300 lbs) in its two-wheel drive layout and just 3,629 kg (8,000 lbs) with its more directly competitive four-wheel drive configuration.
A key reason the Expedition is such an effective beast of burden is its updated twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6 that’s now good for 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque in base XLT and mid-range Limited trims, the latter shown here, while an even more potent version puts out 400 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque in top-tier Platinum trim. These two powerplants are mated to a brand new 10-speed automatic transmission that, together with standard idle start/stop technology that automatically shuts off the engine when it would otherwise be idling and then quickly restarts it when lifting your foot from the brake, helps deliver much better fuel-efficiency than the outgoing model.
By comparison, the Tahoe offers full-size SUV buyers 20 horsepower and a shocking 87 lb-ft of torque less performance with its base 5.3-litre V8, which comes mated to a reliable albeit less sophisticated six-speed automatic, while its top-line engine is a massive 6.2-litre V8 mated up to a version of the same 10-speed automatic used in the Expedition (Ford and GM smartly developed this advanced gearbox together in order to save money), this combination providing 20 more horsepower than the most potent Ecoboost V6, albeit 20 lb-ft of torque less twist.
As noted, the Expedition’s 10-speed really helps reduce fuel economy, something I noticed during my weeklong drive. I actually had no trouble getting close to Transport Canada’s rating of 14.1 L/100km city, 10.6 highway and 12.5 combined when going easy on the throttle, which compares well against the heavier steel-bodied 2017 Expedition with its six-speed automatic that only managed a 15.9 L/100km city, 12.0 highway and 14.2 combined rating in its regular length form. The new Expedition is much thriftier than the 2019 Tahoe 4×4’s best Transport Canada rating of 15.8 city, 11.1 highway and 13.7 combined too, despite the Expedition’s significant power advantage.
Likewise, the long-wheelbase 2019 Expedition Max’s claimed rating of just 14.7 city, 11.2 highway and 13.1 combined beats its steel-bodied predecessor that could only manage 16.1, 12.2 and 14.3 respectively, a significant improvement, while the best Transport Canada rating for the base Suburban 4×4 is 16.8 city, 11.3 highway and 14.3 combined, worse than the old Expedition Max if driven around town most often. Also notable, there’s no stated difference in fuel economy from the base Ecoboost engine to the more powerful version, but the larger optional 6.2-litre V8 in the Tahoe and Suburban slightly increases fuel consumption to 16.4 city, 10.7 highway and 13.8 combined or 17.1, 11.3 and 14.5 respectively.
Along with standard four-wheel drive, the new Expedition also gets a version of the Explorer’s terrain management system, allowing the choice of driving styles, the capability of maximizing traction on various road and trail surfaces, plus the ability to set the SUV up to either tow a trailer or have it hauled behind a larger vehicle (although the latter is a bit hard to imagine given the size this SUV), all from a dial on the lower console.
On pavement, where I spent most of my time with the Expedition, I found its Ecoboost V6 nice and smooth, albeit complemented by the sound of a pleasant V8-like rumble emanating throughout the cabin. Step on the throttle and it feels even stronger than the majority of V8s thanks to all the aforementioned horsepower and torque, and therefore would be my choice in this class unless Ford opts to offer the Expedition with a Powerstroke diesel at some point, but that won’t likely ever happen due to emissions regulations.
The new 10-speed automatic might be an even smoother operator than the engine. It’s truly almost as seamless as a CVT, shifting often albeit without commotion, and responding well to more aggressive digs at the pedal, with fairly quick downshifts and continued silky operation. Likewise, I never tried to defeat the auto idle start/stop system as it shut itself off at stoplights without much notice and restarted immediately, again without even a hiccup.
Speaking of smooth, the Expedition’s ride is a comforting mix of pillows, clouds and whip cream. Ok, that was a stretch, but it nevertheless soaked up bumps, dips and other road imperfections wonderfully around town, out on the highway and pretty much everywhere else, even during some quick tests on gravel roads and wily trails. The Expedition is probably best on the open freeway where it’s ability to cruise for hundreds of miles upon miles in any given stint is superb, this ability made even more relaxing via dynamic cruise control that makes life behind the wheel as easy as can be, while its handling around sharper curves is nevertheless very good for this class, its rear suspension being an independent multi-link design unlike the Tahoe’s non-independent solid rear axle, plus the Expedition’s road and wind noise pretty nominal considering it’s shaped like a big brick.
I even found my Expedition tester quite nimble through traffic, aided by the excellent visibility its extremely tall ride-height provides. This said parallel parking in the inner city or trying to find a large enough spot in a parking garage can be challenging, but then again most of the folks I know who own a full-size SUV have a smaller vehicle for getting around town.
Along with all the performance and luxurious ride is a cabin that’s improved so much over its predecessor that I’m really wondering why there’s a need for a Lincoln Navigator in the lineup. Okay, I probably shouldn’t go that far because the 2019 Navigator I recently tested really impressed me with authentic hardwood and a lot of premium materials all-round, more than making up for the $12k or so price upgrade needed to get into a similarly equipped model, but I certainly wouldn’t need all the fancy stuff in a family hauler like this, and found my Expedition Limited test model incredibly comfortable, especially the driver’s seat that was about as supportive as can be found in this full-size segment. It only includes two-way lumbar support, mind you, although to Ford’s credit that lumbar pad powered in and out exactly where the small of my back required it, so it’s hard for me to complain (but you should to try the lumbar support on for size). I found the driver seat’s squab fit nicely under my knees too, although can’t say how it would feel for someone with shorter legs.
Back to the subject of materials quality, Ford finishes most of the dash top ahead of the driver and front passenger in attractive, soft-touch stitched and padded leatherette, this premium material actually flowing all the way around the sides of the primary gauge cluster, and also forming a separate horizontal strip ahead of the front passenger between chromed metallic inlays. Likewise the top of each door upper was furnished in the same high quality padded and stitched leatherette, front and back no less, while the tops and sides of the armrests are nicely padded as well.
The Limited trim’s woodgrain is finished with a matte treatment, but Ford didn’t even try to make it feel real. I have to say it looks pretty good though, so I can’t see many complaining as this is the way they’ve offered up the Expedition since day one, and if you want more you can move up to the new Navigator as mentioned a moment ago. One thing I like more than the Navigator is the knurled metal rotating dial for swapping gears, this a lot more intuitive than the latest Lincoln’s horizontal row of buttons.
Ford complements its gear selector with a smaller rotating knurled metal dial for choosing drive modes, which include Normal, Eco, Sport, Tow/Haul, Mud and Ruts, Sand, and Grass/Gravel/Snow. I set it to Normal for most of my time behind the wheel, but found that Eco was a good choice when driving around town in busy traffic as well, plus I’m sure there were fuel savings from doing so.
Eco mode retards the 10-speed transmission’s shift points so it doesn’t hold gears as long, amongst other things, although if you need to move off the line quickly to get ahead of slower moving traffic the engine certainly responds well enough. Sport mode doesn’t allow the auto start-stop function to work, so the engine is always primed and ready to go, while shift points are higher in the rev range resulting in more responsive performance. Also important, when still in Sport mode yet driving in a more relaxed manner, the transmission won’t simply hold engine revs high for no apparent reason, making this gearbox design a lot more intelligent than many others I’ve driven.
I scrolled through the other drive mode functions for testing purposes and all seemed up to their various tasks, although only a true test over specified terrain would verify. This said I’ve experienced Ford’s Terrain Management System in other models before, such as the Explorer, and can only imagine it would work even better in this true body-on-frame 4×4.
Back to interior niceties, the instrument panel includes an impressive analogue/digital gauge cluster. It smartly shows a row of 10 gears right next to the tachometer, which move up and down as they slot into place. The standard multi-information display between the two analogue gauges is very large at 8.0 inches in diameter, and extremely high in resolution, plus it’s filled with an eye-arresting array of attractive graphics boasting excellent contrast and depth of colour. Functions include an off-road status panel with an inclinometer and more, a real-time fuel economy average that showed 18.3 L/100km when taking notes (fortunately not my weeklong average), a comprehensive trip mileage panel, some engine information such as driving hours and idle hours (my tester showing 209 total hours of which 63 were idling, so the need for an idle start-stop system in a vehicle like this is understandable), a turbo boost gauge, and more.
If you’re not familiar with the Ford Sync 3 infotainment system then you probably haven’t read many of my other reviews about Ford products, because I’ve been raving about this infotainment system since it was introduced a few years back. I won’t say that it’s still best of the best, but it was at one point and now remains one of the better electronic interfaces in the mainstream industry, continuing forward with stylish light blue graphics and simple, straightforward commands, plus loads of useful features including a very accurate navigation system and, in the case of my tester, an excellent parking camera system with backup and overhead views.
Surprisingly, all Expeditions come suited up with a fabulous 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, while its controls were once again comprised of knurled metal-like dials and tight fitting buttons, as were all the HVAC system controllers that neatly featured temperature readouts within the middle of each dial. Most of the Expedition’s switchgear is nicely made, tightly fit and well damped for a premium feel, with only the steering wheel buttons coming across a bit low rent.
Also, don’t look for premium composites below the beltline, Ford even finishing the glove box lid in shiny hard plastic. That might be good news for those looking to their Expeditions for hard work or play, being that the lower door panels, while hard shell plastic, appear rugged enough to sustain plenty of kicks from steel toed boots. Likewise, you won’t need to worry about grabbing hold of the A-pillar with dirty, sooty gloves or unwashed hands while swinging yourself into the driver’s seat, because Ford doesn’t wrap any of the Expedition’s roof pillars in fabric, so once again look to Lincoln’s Navigator if you’re interested in a higher level of premium pampering.
The Expedition’s passenger compartment is about as spacious as you’re going to get in any class, and no different than the Navigator’s from a size perspective. My tester came with two rear buckets featuring a wide passageway in between to get to the third row. You can also tilt either bucket seat forward to access that rearmost row, which might be easier for some, but I expect smaller kids will just run through the middle. This makes it easier for parents still strapping a child seat into that second-row bucket. Nevertheless, the new Expedition is actually the first full-size SUV to incorporate tip-and-slide second row seats, so kudos to Ford for bringing this convenient feature to the largest SUV segment. No one will complain about third-row seat comfort no matter how they climb in back, because its as accommodating as any large minivan, if not more so.
No one should complain about second-row seat comfort either, plus these lucky folks benefit from a comprehensive rear automatic HVAC and audio system panel on the backside of the front console featuring two USB ports, a three-prong household-style socket for laptops, entertainment/gaming consoles or whatever else you might want to plug in, plus buttons for the heated seats, and more. Even third-row passengers can use the aforementioned sidewall-mounted power controls for reclining their seatbacks, while they also benefit from an available USB charge point for each outboard passenger (highly unusual but wonderfully welcome), good standard overhead ventilation, and wonderful visibility out each side through large squared-off glass, not to mention from above via the massive panoramic sunroof, all helping to minimize any claustrophobic-like feelings of being stuck in the very back.
Additional Expedition tech worth mentioning includes wireless device charging (if you have a smartphone new enough to make use of it), Wi-Fi hotspot capability, and rear-seat entertainment, my tester featuring a separate monitor on the backside of each front headrest. This isn’t ideal for third-row passengers, so you may get some complaints from the very back about not being able to see the movie (my recommendation is to crank up the B&O audio system and not worry about it). In total, the Expedition provides six USB ports, four 12-volt power outlets, and the single 110-volt power outlet just noted, which should be enough for most families’ needs. Lastly, Ford includes 17 cupholders for holding all those personal devices, or alternatively for keeping all occupants’ thirst quenched.
That would be a total of eight occupants, by the way, although as noted my tester’s second-row captain’s chairs reduced the big SUV’s people hauling capacity to seven, and by seven I’m referring to seven adults.
The eight-occupant layout comes standard in $53,978 base XLT trim, by the way, with other standard features including 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels, fog lamps, black running boards, black roof rails with crossbars, Ford’s exclusive SecuriCode keyless entry keypad, Ford MyKey, illuminated entry with approach lamps, pushbutton start/stop, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a windshield wiper de-icer, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an overhead console with a sunglasses holder and conversation mirror, a universal garage door opener, tri-zone automatic climate control, Sync 3 infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a backup camera, navigation, voice activation, and 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio with satellite radio, with yet more standard features including powered rear quarter windows, a flip-up tailgate window, a useful cargo management system, power-folding third-row seats, Ford’s Easy Fuel capless fuel filler, a Class IV trailer hitch receiver and wiring, tire pressure monitoring, SOS Post-Crash Alert System, all the usual active and passive safety features, and much more.
My tester’s Limited starts at $65,288 and includes 20-inch alloys, additional chrome embellishments including chrome detailed door handles, bright stainless roof rails, LED taillights, remote engine start, passive keyless entry, power-deployable running boards in body-colour with polished stainless accents, power-folding side mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming, ambient lighting, woodgrain appliqués, a powered steering column, power-adjustable pedals, driver-side memory, a heatable steering wheel rim, 10-way powered front seats with heat and forced ventilation, perforated leather upholstery, the aforementioned heatable second-row outboard seats with Tip-and-Slide and PowerFold (albeit a 40/20/40-split bench), the previously noted powered panoramic sunroof, a Connectivity package that includes wireless smartphone charging, a FordPass Connect 4G WiFi modem, and the two smart-charging USB ports in the third row noted earlier, plus the Limited also gets additional first/second-row and cargo area power points, a hands-free foot-activated powered tailgate, front parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic assist and trailer-tow monitoring, plus more.
My tester also included a $5,000 302A package featuring 22-inch alloys, LED headlamps, LED fog lights, and a Driver’s Assistance Package that would otherwise cost $1,200 while adding automatic high beams, rain-sensing front wipers, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, Pre-Collision Assist with forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, lane keeping alert, lane keeping assist, driver alert, a Split View 360-degree parking camera, and the Enhanced Active Park Assist system with Auto Park.
Lastly, $72,552 Platinum trim makes everything from the 302A package standard while adding its own 22-inch alloys, a unique satin-mesh front grille insert, additional satin-aluminum trim details including its mirror caps, satin-chrome door handle trim, brushed aluminum scuff plates, a similar set of multi-contour front seats as found in the Navigator including an Active Motion massage function, inflatable second-row outboard safety seatbelts, and more (all pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, which provides full details about each trim, package and standalone option, plus otherwise difficult to find rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands).
Considering the 2019 Chevy Tahoe starts at $59,500 with 4WD, which is $5,522 (or about 10-percent) more than the Expedition’s base price, with even the Tahoe’s base 2WD model starting higher at $56,200, the much more advanced 2019 Ford Expedition should really do a lot better than it does from a sales perspective. After all, its powertrains provide more performance plus greater efficiency, its Terrain Management four-wheel drive system is more sophisticated (originally sourced from Ford Motor’s previous Land/Range Rover ownership and since improved upon), its suspension system is fully-independent, its body shell is constructed mostly of lightweight aluminum, its third-row access is much easier and rearmost seat more accommodating, its cargo capacity is mostly larger, and the list goes on and on. If you’re in the market for a new full-size SUV, you may want to consider all of the above before choosing yet another Tahoe, Yukon or Suburban.
Lovers of big full-size four-door cars aught to be giving Toyota a collective slap on the back, not to mention anteing up for its completely redesigned 2019 Avalon luxury sedan. That said they should…
Lovers of big full-size four-door cars aught to be giving Toyota a collective slap on the back, not to mention anteing up for its completely redesigned 2019 Avalon luxury sedan.
That said they should also be lovers of off-the-charts mechanical aeration and otherwise eccentric styling cues front to back, because the new Avalon lays to rest any preconceived notions of conservatism initiated by the yawn-inducing 1995–1999 first-generation model, or for that matter the oddly proportioned yet still boring 2000–2004 version, the much improved yet nevertheless forgettable 2005–2012 third-gen car, and (IMHO) the quite elegant and therefore best-yet 2005–2012 fourth-generation model.
While I opined against the oversized grille that visually weighed down the outgoing model, this new 2019 Avalon breaks the mould that previously cast the world’s largest engine vents, now staking claim on the ultimate gaping maw award, if there ever were such an accolade. My goodness what were they thinking? This design must be targeting a different market than North America, or possibly Toyota knows something about its aging Avalon demographic that we don’t, but boy-oh-boy this is one mind-bogglingly bizarre front fascia. At least it’s not boring, our tester’s base XSE trim line (a new designation for this model) making matters more unusual by substituting the top-line Limited model’s chrome for loads of glossy black detailing most everywhere that wasn’t tastefully painted in an earthy metallic dubbed Brownstone.
The new Avalon’s previously elegant rear quarters have been radicalized too, from a design I could have easily called beautiful to one that’s been hit with the Prius stick. Ok, it’s not quite as whacky as the world’s best-selling hybrid, but it’s revolutionary to the eyes thanks to a multi-angled taillight cluster featuring a body-wide light bar at centre, this branded with “AVALON” block lettering in the middle. A tastefully small “XSE” badge lets passersby know you didn’t spend as much as Avalon Limited owners, or alternatively that you’re an Av buyer that likes your ride on the sportier side.
Ok, you’ve got to know that last comment was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Despite the outgoing model being a decent handler, better even than some direct competitors, one of which is professed to be a “four-door sports car” yet when the road gets bumpy has trouble maintaining contact with pavement due to an overly rigid chassis, Avalon customers wouldn’t normally be associated with those seeking performance first and foremost.
Fortunately, a byproduct inherent in the new 2019 Avalon is a much-improved chassis architecture shared with the equally improved Camry, albeit lengthened to the same proportions as the recently redesigned Lexus ES 350/300h, which is also a much better performer than its forebears. It’s a bit large and soft to be considered a sport sedan, but the Av can now credibly zig and zag alongside its comparative rival from Nissan, not to mention other full-size front-drivers like the Kia Cadenza, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Taurus.
This said it’s no challenger to now premium mid-size models like the Genesis G80, a model that previously wore the Genesis nameplate under the Hyundai brand, while it’s also no match for a fully equipped Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger, which are also the sales leaders in this class.
This brings up what may be an interesting question: With sales of large sedans falling off the proverbial cliff, and various models within this segment being accordingly axed to make way for crossover SUV replacements, or so we’re told, why has Toyota, with some of the lowest sales in this class, chosen to completely redesign the Avalon? The answer may have little to do with the Av itself, and more to do with the aforementioned Lexus ES 350 it shares production space with.
The ES is one of Lexus’ more popular cars with U.S. sales of 48,482 units last year and 1,808 sold over the same 12 months in Canada, which when added to 33,580 Avalons purchased south of the 49th and 626 bought here (the latter number representing year-over-year growth of 41.0 percent), combines for 84,496 units. While a reasonable argument can be made for keeping the ES within Lexus’ lineup, especially when considering it’s also sold elsewhere, but the Avalon hardly seems like a worthwhile venture.
To put it in perspective, Ford just cancelled its full-size Taurus that found 40,341 U.S. and 2,812 Canadian buyers last year, a car that shares underpinnings with the Lincoln Continental that will also be discontinued despite 8,758 U.S. and 438 Canadian sales (which is nowhere near least popular in either market), while General Motors just announced the cancelation of its fraternally twinned Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse, the former growing its numbers by a shocking 26.8 percent to 3,903 units in Canada, thus beating the aforementioned Chrysler 300 to second place behind the Dodge Charger (LaCrosse sales were down 27.9 percent). The Impala was already in second in the U.S. with 56,557 deliveries in calendar year 2018, making it a much bigger seller than the Avalon, yet it’ll soon go the way of the dodo while Toyota’s large car entry soldiers on. Even the afterthought Buick sells stronger than the Avalon in Canada, managing 664 units last year, although its 15,527 U.S. total will mean that few will miss it south of the border.
Other large mid-size models will soon be sent to the chopping block too, including Chevy’s Malibu (with 6,822 unit sales in 2018), Ford’s Fusion (with 6,350 units) and Lincoln’s MKZ (833 units) (somehow Buick’s Regal, that sold just 799 examples last year, was saved), whereas near full-size mainstream models that (like the Avalon) find fewer buyers, such as the Maxima that saw a sales decline of 38.6-percent for 1,357 units last year, or the Kia Cadenza that lost 33.1 percent for a near nonexistent 83 deliveries throughout all of 2018, are continuing on. It seems nonsensical to those on the outside of such decision-making boardrooms, but each automaker has its reasoning and, to make a short story long, the renewed Avalon will continue to exist in a market segment that’s saying goodbye to the Impala, LaCrosse and Taurus.
As it is the redesigned Avalon offers a lot to traditional mid-size sedan buyers that want to step up into a larger, more luxuriously appointed car. Upwardly mobile Camry buyers seem like the obvious target market, the larger Toyota measuring 100 millimetres (4.0 inches) more from nose to tail, with a 50-mm (2.0-in) longer wheelbase, while it’s also 10 mm (0.4 in) wider than the more affordable sedan, albeit fractionally lower by the same 10 mm (0.4 in) measure.
This said the new 2019 Avalon is larger than the already sizeable outgoing version, its overall length having grown by 20 millimetres (0.8 inches) to 4,980 mm (196.0 in) and wheelbase by 50 mm (2.0 in) to 2,870 mm (113.0 in), while it’s now 15 mm (0.6 inches) wider at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), but following a trend is now 20 mm (0.8 inches) lower overall at just 1,440 mm (56.5 in), resulting in a leaner more athletic look.
The new Av backs up its sportier styling with more oomph under the hood, its massaged 3.5-litre V6 now outputting 10 more horsepower and 17 additional lb-ft of torque for 278 of the former and 265 of the latter, while in XSE trim this newfound performance is complemented by an “Engine Sound Generator” enhanced exhaust note that gets artificially amped up when Sport mode is switched on. What’s more, the entirely new eight-speed automatic transmission (not a CVT like one of the Avalon’s supposedly sportier competitors) that replaces the old six-speed unit even comes standard with (wait for it) paddle shifters. Yes, Toyota truly is trying to upset the mainstream volume-brand luxury car applecart, but it gets better still.
Underpinning the new Avalon is an extended version of the stiffer, more agile chassis that improved the most recent Camry, and likewise makes the new Lexus ES 350/300h more enjoyable to live with, the XSE’s front struts and rear multi-link setup even sport tuned and matched up to one-inch larger 19-inch alloy wheels on 235/40 all-seasons, my tester’s produced by Continental.
The Avalon smartly picks up where the Camry leaves off, the latter retailing for $41,090 plus freight and fees in top-tier XLE V6 trim and the base Avalon XSE starting at $42,790 (see all 2019 Avalon trims, packages and option pricing, plus rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands at CarCostCanada), but don’t expect to get all of the fully loaded Camry’s features in base Avalon form. I won’t detail out my disappointments in this abbreviated garage preview, but will instead go over a few highlights starting with a standard gauge cluster featuring a 7.0-inch digital multi-information display wedged between two analogue dials, which intelligently doubles up route guidance instructions in this easier to view location when the navigation system is in play, amongst numerous other functions.
Atop the redesigned centre stack is a large 9.0-inch touchscreen featuring Toyota’s Entune infotainment interface as standard equipment that, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, lets you connect to functions, music and info such as traffic conditions, fuel stations, weather forecasts, stocks and more via a variety of apps such as Scout GPS Link, Yelp, Slacker, NPR One and more through your smartphone.
iPhone users will appreciate that Apple CarPlay also comes standard (but there’s no Android Auto), as does a wireless smartphone charger, SMS/text- and email-to-speech functions, advanced voice recognition, a 14-speaker 1,200-watt JBL surround sound audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, four USB charging ports, and more, while Entune Safety Connect provides automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance (SOS) button, and enhanced roadside assistance.
Some other noteworthy standard features include LED headlamps, LED taillights, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, six-way powered front passenger’s seat, heatable front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, and dual-zone automatic climate control, while standard advanced driver assistance and safety systems include automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and more.
As noted, I won’t mention any negatives in this garage preview, and of course I won’t be going into any detail about the new Avalon XSE’s driving characteristics, interior refinements, creature comforts, etcetera, so make sure to come back to find out why I had reason to grumble when climbing into my test model each and every morning during my cold January test week…