In 2023, Dodge has thrown its hat into the ring of the compact crossover segment with the all-new Hornet. Nestled just below the mid-sized Durango in Dodge’s lineup, the Hornet is set to compete with the likes of the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-50, and the Volkswagen Tiguan. Available in several trims, including the GT AWD ($38,770 CAD), GT Plus AWD ($44,770 CAD), R/T PHEV EAWD ($53,295 CAD), and the R/T Plus PHEV EAWD ($59,295 CAD), there’s a Dodge Hornet to match various budgets and preferences.
Trims and Technology:
The Hornet’s entry into this competitive segment marks a significant step for Dodge. Its GT model, available in both base and GT Plus trims, comes well-equipped with a host of standard features. Among them, a large 10.3-inch infotainment display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 17-inch aluminum wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and dual-zone automatic climate control set the stage for a tech-rich experience. For those seeking an added touch of comfort, options include heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a remote start feature.
Engine and Performance:
At the heart of the Hornet lies a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering a punchy 268 horsepower. This power is delivered to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission, offering peppy acceleration from 0 to 96.56 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in an estimated 6.5 seconds. Despite this performance, the Hornet doesn’t sacrifice efficiency, with Environment Canada estimates clocking in at 11.2 L/100 km (21 mpg) city and 8.11 L/100 km (29 mpg) on the highway.
Inside the Hornet, you’ll find a cabin that blends comfort with contemporary design. The front seats provide ample space, while the rear might be snug for some. Black upholstery with red stitching lends a sporty aesthetic, with the option to upgrade to leather or faux-suede for a premium touch. Meanwhile, the infotainment system, powered by the latest Uconnect 5 system, offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Amazon Alexa connectivity.
SafetyFeatures that Inspire Confidence: When it comes to safety, the Hornet doesn’t cut corners. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and parking sensors all come standard. Adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature is available as an optional extra.
Covered by a standard three-year or 60,000 kilometers (36,000-mile) warranty, with an extended five-year or 96,560 kilometers (60,000-mile) power train warranty, the Hornet is a testament to Dodge’s reliability. As such, the Hornet isn’t merely a new entry in Dodge’s lineup; it’s a compelling contender in the compact crossover segment set to make waves in the Canadian automotive market.
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Alfa Romeo will bring the all-new Tonale subcompact luxury crossover SUV to market later this year, providing a much more affordable entry-level gateway for the premium Italian brand. The Tonale looks…
Alfa Romeo will bring the all-new Tonale subcompact luxury crossover SUV to market later this year, providing a much more affordable entry-level gateway for the premium Italian brand.
The Tonale looks like a modernized version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, albeit shrunken down to fit its more economical subcompact luxury crossover role. It builds on the Stelvio’s sleek lines with sharper cut LED headlamp clusters, a similarly shaped version of Alfa’s trademark deep “V” grille at centre, an aggressive yet clean lower front fascia, plenty of muscular bulges across the hood and fenders, protruding side skirts, and bright tri-element LED taillights at back, with a de rigueur centre light strip stretching across the middle.
Traditional Alfa Romeo styling helps tie glorious past to practical present
It gets a tidy little rooftop spoiler up above and blackened diffuser-style lower rear bumper too, not to mention a sexy set of classic circular cut-out Alfa Romeo rims shod in low-profile performance rubber to each side, these likely designed for a top-line trim, thus few onlookers will be turned off by its overall styling.
No doubt, if the Tonale is anything like the Stelvio, the smaller SUV’s interior will be made from top-notch materials, with its infotainment system a high-grade bit of kit too, whereas the dash and front seats certainly look well-designed, so it appears to be a recipe for success, right? Not so fast, amico.
Alfa promises the subcompact luxury crossover category’s best performance
Before delving into a business case for a new model like the Tonale, its performance might cause some to quite literally stir in their seats. Two power units were introduced at the SUV’s debut, starting with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder as part of the Tonale Q4 AWD, which puts a best-in-class 256 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque down to pavement through a state-of-the-art nine-speed automatic transmission actuated by optional fixed aluminum shift paddles (fixed paddles are optimal for performance driving), plus it features fuel-saving engine stop-start technology that helps meet super-ultra-low-emissions 30 (SULEV 30) standards.
Secondly, the Tonale PHEV Q4 AWD incorporates a much smaller 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission with a plug-in hybrid drive system featuring a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery and a 90-kW e-motor, resulting in another best-in-class horsepower rating of 272, not to mention a pure-electric range of more than 48 kilometres.
The Tonale will provide the subcompact class’ best handling bar none
Alfa Romeo optimizes the driving experience for both power units with their D.N.A. drive mode system that provides the options of “Dynamic” (or “Dual power” with the PHEV), “Natural,” and “Advanced Efficiency” selections. Unlike most in this class, DNA is a fully integrated driving application that optimizes both “manoeuvring and performance,” said Stellantis, Alfa Romeo’s parent company, in a press release, or in other words, the Tonale’s drive mode system won’t only enhance engine performance, but also adjust the suspension for best-in-class handling.
To assist with the latter, Alfa offers an available “Dual Stage Valve” active suspension system with electronically controlled damping, with the comfort setting providing a softer, more compliant ride, and the sportier mode stiffening the ride for “ultimate cornering ability and better body control under spirited driving conditions.” Such upgraded Tonale models even offer an ESC Off drive mode for treading a bit farther down the unbeaten path.
Steering and braking should be sports car-like
No matter the Sprint or Veloce trim level chosen (two will be offered at launch), all Tonales benefit from “sports car-like impeccable dynamic behaviour, proven by the best weight distribution and the most direct steering in its segment (13.6:1 ratio),” while base models ride on a fully independent MacPherson strut suspension system featuring Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) shock absorbers. Additionally, stopping performance is optimized by a Brembo-made segment-exclusive Integrated Brake System (IBS), which boasts fixed calipers clamping down on four-piston self-ventilated discs up front and full rotors at the rear.
Stopping power and emergency handling will be automatically assisted by Level 2 autonomous driving capability too, but don’t worry, Alfa Romeo promises the Tonale’s comprehensive advanced safety and convenience features won’t negatively interfere with the Tonale’s driving experience. Key features include Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (IACC), Lane Centering (LC) and Traffic Jam Assist (TJA), Automatic Emergency Braking, Driver Attention Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Path Detection, and a high-resolution, 360-degree parking camera featuring dynamic gridlines.
Business case for the new Alfa Romeo Tonale
The Tonale’s impressive performance will no doubt give it an edge over competitors when consumers weigh its pros and cons, as will its long list of safety, convenience, and luxury features, plus the SUV’s obvious good looks, but it will first need to get on Canadians’ radar, which will need an innovative and/or costly marketing campaign if the Italian brand doesn’t want to experience the same lacklustre results as other lesser-known manufacturers have weathered in this entry-level segment.
Despite most analysts’ initial take that this subcompact luxury crossover SUV segment would become the new gateway for premium automakers to pull in upwardly mobile buyers from the ranks of mainstream volume brands, such hasn’t always been the case. Not including the upcoming Tonale, there are current only 12 models in contention, while a 13th, Infiniti’s QX30, gave up on the segment in 2019 after just three model years of production.
In comparison to the larger compact luxury SUV segment, where there’s well over 20 rivals when factoring in varying body styles, not to mention the mid-size luxury SUV category that includes even more challengers, luxury brands are mostly staying away from the subcompact SUV class. This could potentially help the Tonale get noticed, albeit by a much smaller buying base.
Subcompact luxury SUV sales are lower than those in the larger compact segment
When factoring in potential sales numbers, it kind of makes sense why luxury manufacturers have opted out of this segment, or at least it does when looking at the yearly results early adopters have experienced. Last year, the subcompact luxury SUV sales leader was Buick (positioned as an entry-level luxury brand) with 8,861 deliveries of its Encore and slightly larger Encore GX, followed by Audi with 7,667 Q3 sales. It should be noted, the German brand had the most single-model sales (and is considered a true luxury brand), so therefore can be considered the number one seller in this category, depending on the way you slice it up. The Q3 also had its best sales tally ever, plus it was up 28.9 percent from 2020.
The “domestic” American (and Chinese) brand’s smaller Encore sold just 1,902 units in 2021 for eighth place in the subcompact class, which was a drop of 71.4 percent after 6,650 units sold last year, not to mention a shocking 82.1 percent fewer unit-sales than achieved at its 2018 height of 10,637 deliveries, despite a redesign last year. The Encore GX has clearly taken over the tri-shield brand limelight, with 6,959 deliveries last year, for 37.9 percent year-over-year (YoY) growth. Altogether, the two models gave Buick a total of 8,861 deliveries in this category last year, more than doubling the sales results of its compact luxury SUV offering.
Volvo and Lexus are growing their subcompact luxury SUV market share
Third-place Volvo grew its XC40 sales by 46.2 percent to 3,296 units last year, while the fourth-place Lexus UX found almost as many buyers at 3,284 unit-sales, increasing its numbers by 30.3 percent, and showing there’s still opportunity in this segment, despite long-time competitors like BMW’s fifth-place X1 growing YoY sales of 2,602 units by 9.1 percent, but actually seeing this tally tumble by 57.5 percent since its 2017 high.
Mercedes-Benz could be considered third-most successful in this category, due to 5,190 GLA and GLB deliveries last year, which is a YoY gain of 46.8 percent, although model-to-model the two-years-young GLB-Class came in sixth with 2,773 unit-sales thanks to 56.2 percent growth, and the long-running GLA-Class seventh with 2,417 deliveries and 37.4 percent increase in YoY sales, although that number represents a 45.1-percent downgrade from its high of 4,400 units in 2016.
Most luxury brands are struggling in the less profitable subcompact SUV class
While calendar year 2021 was one of the slowest years for the ninth-place Mini Countryman, with just 1,541 units down Canadian roads, sales only fell by 5.9 percent, while overall it’s been a pretty steady seller, only ever reaching a maximum of 2,479 deliveries in 2018, but no doubt the BMW-owned subsidiary would love to increase this number by the 37.8-percent it’s fallen from since then.
Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque didn’t fare as well as the Countryman last year, placing 10th in the segment due to 1,177 deliveries that resulted in a 16.5-percent downturn from last year’s sales, and a 32.1-percent drop since its 1,734-unit high in 2017, but it sold better than BMW’s 11th-place X2 that only found 903 buyers through all of 2021. Still, that number grew after a particularly bad 2020, but this said its sales have fallen 51.3 percent since its first-year high of 1,856 units. The X2 contributes to BMW’s fourth-place brand results of 3,505 units (plus 10.4 percent YoY), however, not to mention BMW Group sales (including Mini) of 5,046 units (down 37.5 percent YoY), which easily surpassed Mercedes’ total in 2020.
Infiniti’s QX30 and Jaguar’s E-Pace should cause Alfa and its Tonale to pause
If Infiniti abandoning the QX30 wasn’t enough to scare Alfa Romeo out of this segment (let alone Mini tossing the short-lived Paceman to the curb back in 2014), Jaguar’s abysmal E-Pace results should give cause for pause. The beleaguered British brand sold just 98 units last year, after a mere 265 in 2020, representing a serious downward slide from an already unworkable position, and that’s after an initial first-year high of just 572 unit-sales, the latter number showing a shocking 82.8-percent drop in popularity since arriving on the scene in 2018. It’s a good looking, well-made, fun-to-drive little SUV too, but, like Alfa Romeo, Jaguar’s Canadian branding isn’t as strong as it used to be.
So how does the Tonale fit into the grand scheme of subcompact luxury SUVs? One can easily argue that Infiniti was in a better place when the QX30 was introduced in 2016, than Alfa Romeo is now, from a market-strength and overall sales-volume position, and for all purposes it still is, yet the automaker could only push out 997 QX30s at the model’s height in 2017, that number quickly falling off to 357 units in 2018, and 93 in 2019. Some might argue that the QX30 was merely a Mercedes-Benz GLA rebadging exercise, but to be fair, Infiniti was involved in the project right from the start, much like how Toyota took five intensive years to co-develop the Supra with BMW (it shares its underpinnings with the Z4), and the arguably good-looking QX30 didn’t immediately resemble its kissin’ cousin from Mercedes.
Certainly, the Tonale is more Alfa Romeo-centric than the quickly forgotten Infiniti, or at least Stellantis-centric, being that it shares the FCA SCCS Small Wide 4×4 LWB (long-wheelbase) platform architecture with Jeep’s Compass and Commander/Meridian (the Tonale is made in Naples, Italy, at Alfa’s most advanced plant, with the latter two respectively produced in Brazil and India for various global markets), these being lengthened versions of the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X’ underpinnings. Still, Jeep and Fiat aren’t direct competitors in the premium sector, so the situation is akin to Alfa Romeo competitor Audi using the Volkswagen Group MQB A2 platform for the Q3, which it also shares with VW’s Tiguan (and Tayron, plus the European SEAT Tarraco and Škoda Kodiaq), or BMW sharing the X1’s UKL2 platform with Mini’s Countryman, etc.
A quick overview of how Alfa Romeo fits into Stellantis’ brand strategy
Stellantis, the new name for FCA Automobiles and Groupe PSA since joining forces in January of 2021, has a number of low-selling, marginal brands. Despite rich histories, Italy’s storied Lancia marque has been relegated to purveying one subcompact hatchback in European markets, Chrysler only has two versions of the same minivan plus the 300 full-size sedan that still bears the 2021 model year designation in Canada (which means it’s not selling well), Dodge has just three models north of the 49th, and Alfa Romeo, the subject of this news story, will soon have three models thanks to the advent of this new Tonale subcompact crossover SUV, which is slated to arrive here in early 2023.
We’ve got to give the automaker’s CEO Carlos Tavares, and the rest of his executive team, big points for courage, being that they promised each brand the chance to pull itself up and out of the automotive profitability doldrums, but Lancia’s CEO Luca Napolitano, Chrysler’s CEO Christine Feuell, Dodge’s CEO Timothy Kuniskis, and Alfa Romeo’s CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato certainly have their work cut out for them. It’s not like DS Automobiles’ CEO Béatrice Foucher will have a cakewalk either, but at least it has four models in the premium sector, while Maserati’s Davide Grasso has the largest lineup of new models the near-exotic brand has ever had to work with, including the sharp looking new Grecale subcompact SUV based on the same underpinnings as Alfa Romeo’s Giulia and Stelvio (plus Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee). Jeep aside, none of Stellantis’ brands have strength in the majority of global markets, which brings us back to Alfa Romeo and its new Tonale.
Wooing customers will be the Tonale’s greatest challenge
No one questions whether the Tonale will be a moderate hit in Italy, where Alfa Romeo still has legions of faithful, adoring fans, while it should also do reasonably well on the rest of the European continent, providing the EU can hold the economies of its various member states together (or doesn’t alternatively tear them apart, depending on your political point of view), but here in North America, and specifically in the relatively small market of Canada, the brand is relegated near the bottom of the luxury heap when it comes to consumer awareness. Hence the need for creative marketing that catches the collective imagination of a narrowly-focused performance-luxury subcompact SUV market, because loads of cash for blanket marketing won’t be available.
In the end, Alfa Romeo believes it can win in a market segment that plenty of others have failed at, are currently failing in, or simply (and possibly wisely) have not chosen to partake in. There’s a slim possibility they can do well with the Tonale, even growing the brand, and any gasoline/ion-blooded auto enthusiast will want them to do just that, but can a tiny contingent of Canadian quadrifoglio zealots be enough to make an entry-level model like the Tonale successful, especially considering many of such buyers already own a Giulia or Stelvio? Only time will tell.
Until the new 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale arrives early next year, be sure to check our complete photo gallery above, plus the long list of videos that follow:
Seven years have passed since Lexus introduced its fourth-generation RX, and while a dramatic departure stylistically than the more conservative model it replaced, time always takes its toll.
The RX’ continued success (it’s long been its mid-size luxury crossover SUV segment’s number-one seller, in both in Canada and the U.S.) means than even what once seemed daring and different can start to look commonplace and dated, but a fresh new RX will soon remedy any softening in the sales department.
Evolution of outgoing RX design makes for a fresh new look
First off, Lexus’ distinctive spindle grille is gone, but not entirely. As RX Project Chief Designer Jota Kusakari explains in a video (see below), it’s now a “spindle body,” encompassing the entire SUV.
This can clearly be seen up front, where the bulging hood forms into a body-colour nose-cap that melds almost seamlessly into the blackened grille opening below, much like Lexus’ new RZ electric. The spindle shape continues to flair outward as it reaches the lower valance, similarly to the previous RX, while it’s accentuated further via corner vents to each side.
Spindle grille gives way to new “spindle body-concept”
As dramatic as the frontal redesign, the spindle body-concept enhances the new RX’ rear design even more than the outgoing version, where an angled crease, parallel to the rear clip cutline, slices upwards from the aft portion of each rear wheel cut-out, overtop an identically angled rear corner vent, before ending where a singular taillight element forms into its centre section, which, much like that on the smaller UX, features a light bar lamp that appears stretched between two sharply angled outer lenses.
This design increases the visual tension started by the previous RX, almost as if the new model’s sides have been pinched together slightly at centre. There are plenty of other details worth noting too, some being quite creative, yet while nothing remains the same from old to new, no one will mistake this fifth-generation RX for anything other than a mid-size Lexus.
All-new RX sits on Toyota GA-K platform architecture
The new RX is built upon Toyota’s well-proven GA-K platform, even though it might appear as if it was formed off the back of the outgoing model’s Toyota K architecture. The latter is due to some carryover design elements like the lower half of the just-noted grille opening, the sharply angled LED headlamps with checkmark-style LED driving lights, forward-canted vertical corner vents with circular LED fog lamps, sweptback roofline with floating D pillars, and sharply angled wraparound LED taillights.
Even the rear reflectors, which make way for sportier vertical vents, are at the same angle in more or less the same place, while F Sport models receive much larger vents next to new rear reflectors on the bumper cap, providing a much more aggressive appearance.
Lighter and stiffer makes for better handling
The GA-K platform is is up to 90 kg lighter in the RX than the outgoing model, thanks to new materials in the main framework, while torsional rigidity has increased as well. Along with this is a lower centre of gravity and better weight distribution, while an all-new multi-link rear suspension design, attached to a stiff high-torsion rear body frame, “facilitates more consistent suspension input/travel during acceleration, deceleration and steering moments,” says Lexus.
It should all result in optimized performance, while the new model’s 60-mm longer wheelbase should improve ride quality too. Additionally, a 60-mm shorter rear overhang should also aid handling as well as providing a more athletic looking stance. Lexus managed to maintain an identical overall length to the previous RX too, so those trading up should feel right at home when parking.
More rear passenger and cargo room is always welcome in the mid-size class
The new GA-K platform increases the “front/rear couple distance” too, which provides greater rear legroom, while cargo space is reportedly improved too, as is access to the load floor thanks to a lowered liftgate sill that decreases the lift-over height.
The GA-K platform, incidentally, also underpins the new Lexus NX, the luxury brand’s latest ES, plus plenty of others from the namesake mainstream volume brand’s lineup, such as the Toyota Camry, Avalon, RAV4, Venza, Highlander, and Sienna, thus it will once again be ideal for the automaker’s range of hybrid powertrains.
RX powertrain options expand from two to four
Electrifying in mind, the entry-level RX 350 (more on that in a moment) will now be complemented by three different hybrid alternatives, including a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder version dubbed RX 350h that should be quite popular due to an expected lower price point and improved fuel economy than today’s RX 450h, with Lexus estimating a very thrifty 7.1 L/100km combined city/highway.
It should be more than capable of hauling a fully-laden mid-size crossover SUV too, being that it’s sourced from the aforementioned Venza and Sienna, which are now dedicated hybrids, plus Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid. It makes a net 246 horsepower and 233 lb-ft of torque, which is good for 7.6 seconds from zero to 100 km/h (just 0.2 seconds off of the base non-hybrid variant), plus comes mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) plus all-wheel drive.
Lexus adds plug-in and high-performance hybrid options to RX lineup
Additionally, there will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) using a similar name to the current V6-powered RX 450h, albeit named 450h+, but it’ll arrive later and therefore Toyota hasn’t provided any additional info. Due to the name, we should expect a bit more performance than the new RX 350, plus, of course, greater and more utile EV range.
Lastly, the pinnacle of RX performance will now be the all-new 500h F Sport Performance, which promises to be quite the mid-size family hauler, with the emphasis on hauling arse. This model combines the more potent 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder from the base RX 350 with a different six-speed automatic, an inverter, and all-wheel drive via Lexus’ eAxle unit boasting a stronger high output electric motor, inverter and reduction gearbox.
New 500h F Sport Performance puts RX in the mix with turbo-six Europeans
This results in a soul-stirring 367 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, which is similar to what we can find under the hood of twin-turbo six-cylinder-powered competitors like the Genesis GV80 3.5T and Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 hybrid, and considerably more than what BMW’s X5 provides from its 3.0-litre turbo-six. The benchmark here is Volvo’s XC90 Recharge, with 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged, supercharged and plug-in hybridized 2.0-litre four, but there will likely be a sizeable price difference between this new Lexus and the Swedish brand’s flagship SUV.
Where the XC90 Recharge can sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, the top-tier RX 500h F Sport Performance can do so in a respectable 6.1 seconds, whereas the two competitors’ city/highway combined fuel economy is rated at 8.8 L/100km for the Swede and a very similar 9.0 L/100km for the Japanese. Incidentally, the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz hybrid SUV scoots from zero to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds while achieving a claimed city/highway rating of 10.4 L/100km at the pump, while the non-hybrid X5 xDrive40i matches the Mercedes’ fuel economy while providing a sprint time of 5.5 seconds. Strangely, BMW has a pricier plug-in hybridized X5 dubbed xDrive45e that uses more fuel than the regular version, at 11.5 L/100km combined, and takes 0.1 seconds longer to hit 100 km/h.
Lexus introduces Direct4 all-wheel drive for new RX 500h F Sport Performance
Gripping pavement under the RX 500h F Sport Performance is a new Direct4 all-wheel drive system that Lexus is touting as its “highest technology all-wheel drive” system with “maximum grip, traction and acceleration in all situations.” Unfortunately, that’s all we know about it thus far, so we’ll just have to wait until more info comes out in order to learn what makes it better than Lexus’ regular AWD.
Overall, Lexus claims its RX 500h F Sport Performance provides “a sportier, more performance-driven look and feel,” thanks to its straight-line performance, of course, plus that all-wheel drive system and opposed six-piston brake calipers to enhance stopping power. These are framed in a set of 21-inch aluminum wheels “that exude a wide, confident stance,” and upgraded 235/50R21 rubber for enhanced traction.
Additional RX 500h F Sport Performance details include a unique mesh grille, plus special front and rear bumpers, while the cabin gets a whole host of F Sport upgrades such as a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, paddle shifters, aluminum foot pedals, additional aluminum trim, leather upholstery, microsuede-trimmed interior door panels, F Sport branded scuff plates, and more.
New RX 350 base model promises strong performance and better efficiency
Back to the basics, the entry-level and sole non-hybrid RX 350 drops the current model’s 3.5-litre V6 for a much thriftier 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that’s capable of 9.8 L/100km combined. It makes a solid 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, and while this might seem like a downgrade of 20 horsepower compared to the outgoing model’s 295, it’s also an upgrade of 50 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a net positive. It also comes mated to a sporty yet efficient eight-speed automatic transmission with standard all-wheel drive, so therefore, once factoring in pricing, which has yet to be released, this will likely be Lexus’ best-selling RX trim level in Canada.
The RX 350, and all RX trim lines, come standard with a generous supply of advanced safety and convenience technologies that the luxury firm dubs Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. This suite of features includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection, Intersection Support and new Motorcycle Detection; as well as All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with new Curve Speed Management (DRCC); Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA); and Emergency Driving Stop System (EDSS).
On the high-tech options list is Advanced Park that helps out when parallel parking, or when wanting assistance for back-up parking, forward-facing parking, or forward-facing and back-up exiting.
Seven grades mean standard and optional equipment will be plentiful
As for additional standard features, the new 2023 RX will get 19-inch alloy wheels, Lexus’ e-Latch proximity sensing access, and Lexus Interface, these details garnered from the Canadian press release, whereas the few options specifically mentioned include multi-coloured illumination accents, “tasteful” door trims, a head-up display (HUD), a 14-inch Multimedia Touchscreen Display, navigation, and a panoramic glass sunroof. Of course, there will be plenty more available in the 2023 RX’ seven grades, which will include Premium, Luxury, Ultra-Luxury, Executive, F SPORT 1, F SPORT 2 and F SPORT 3, but we’ll need to wait until closer to launch before knowing details.
A total of 10 exterior colour choices will be available too, depending on the chosen grade, including Caviar, Copper Crest (a Lexus-first), Eminent White Pearl, Grecian Water, Iridium, Matador Red Mica, Nebula Gray Pearl, Nightfall Mica, Nori Green Pearl, and Ultra White, while inside there’s a choice of four grade-dependant “ornamentation styles” including Ash Bamboo, Black Cascade, Black Open Pore, and Dark Graphite Aluminum, as well as six cabin colours including Black, Birch, Macadamia, Palomino, Peppercorn and Rioja Red.
Lexus expects the new 2023 RX to go on sale at the end of 2022, so it’s probably a good idea to claim your spot in line if you want to be first.
The All-New 2023 Lexus RX – World Premier (9:50):
Introducing the All-New RX | Lexus (2:51):
The Lexus RX | Lexus (8:35):
2022 Lexus Product Showcase | Lexus (24:40):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Lexus
Acura is smartly bringing back one of its most revered nameplates for 2023, and simultaneously ditching a three-letter moniker that never managed to garner as much devoted loyalty. The ILX has long been…
e compact sedan capable of running alongside the smallest offerings from Europe’s, Asia’s and the U.S.’ biggest luxury players, thanks to a combination of the previous ninth-generation (2012–2015) Honda Civic Si underpinnings and 2.4-litre engine with a much more sophisticated eight-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox. Certainly, the compact four-door has needed a redesign for years, so therefore sales have waned, but along with a significant update for 2023, Acura has blessed it with a much more endearing name.
Along with the new designation, a much-needed restyling, and a host of other improvements, the new 2023 Integra receives a base price of $34,350 (plus freight and PDI) that’s closer to upper trims of the outgoing ILX, which currently ranges from $31,400 to $36,800.
Integra roots go back 37 years
The ILX has already been with us for a decade, although it was given two facelifts in 2016 and 2019, the first one upgrading the drivetrain to its current iteration, and last one being a more dramatic visual departure, in that it received the brand’s latest “Diamond Pentagon” grille. Plenty of additional upgrades were made to each iteration as well, including the model’s sportiest A-Spec trim added to the latter.
Before the ILX, Canadians wanting an entry-level Acura had the option of the 2006–2011 CSX, which was exclusive to our market, albeit with styling shared with the Honda’s domestic-market Civic, while once again it shared plenty of parts with Honda’s Civic Si, albeit only in Type-S trim (beginning in 2007).
The CLX replaced the Canadian-exclusive 1997–2005 EL, which was more of a gussied up Civic in that it offered no performance option, yet nevertheless managed to accumulate 51-percent of Acura Canada’s sales in its first year and remain the Canadian division’s best-selling model from 1997 to 2003.
Up until 1996 the point of entry into the Acura brand was this article’s subject namesake Integra, or at least the inspiration for the name, which started life in 1986 and therefore joined the mid-size Accord-based Legend as one of the Japanese luxury brand’s initial two launch models.
Following Acura tradition by riding on affordable Honda Civic underpinnings
Like that original Integra, the renewed 2023 version is based on Honda’s ultra-popular Civic, although back in the mid ‘80s Acura had a Civic Coupe (and hatchback) to utilize for two-door hard-points, whereas the most recent 11th-generation Civic is only available in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles.
Understandably, fans of the original Integra were disappointed when the new 2023 model showed up as a five-door hatchback in prototype form and once again in production trim, despite early first-, second- and third-generation Integras being sold as four-door sedans (plus four-door pillared hardtops) and five-door liftbacks, not only as three-door liftbacks, often referred to coupes (the fourth-gen Integra, which only came in three-door liftback form, was known as the RSX here).
Five-door Integra makes sense in today’s market
Old Integras are most collectable in sportier looking three-door form, which, by the hubbub of controversy surrounding the new Integra’s initial announcement, must have been how many fans initially imagined the majorly-hyped new version before it came out. Looking across the auto mall at Ford, disgruntled Acura enthusiasts might just want to be grateful the new Integra isn’t a crossover SUV (looking at your Mustang Mach-E).
With no three-door model in the Civic lineup, and the need to base the Integra on an existing body style, it makes sense Acura chose the liftback option to pay tribute to the luxury brand’s past. Doing so also results in the sportiest of its two Civic donor platforms, plus better access to the cargo area than the outgoing ILX’ trunk.
High-revving Honda Si engine making way for more efficient 1.5-litre turbo-four
Those who love the high-revving 2.4-litre ILX engine might be disappointed that its replacement loses 900 cubic centimetres, but take heart because the new Civic-sourced 1.5-litre unit is much more efficient (which matters these days) and utilizes a turbo to produce more output overall at 200 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, compared to 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft for the ILX.
Where the outgoing engine has been both lauded and criticized for its quick-spinning, peaky performance, with serious enthusiasts loving its mechanical audio track and intense accelerative VTEC forces in the upper rev-range, it was always a bit too sporting for some. After all, the current ILX, and soon this new Integra, need to serve as Acura’s entry-level product for all.
Therefore, the new model’s more subdued engine note and broader, more automatic-friendly torque band, which ranges from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm, should make it much more enjoyable with the eight-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox, not to mention easier to drive casually around town, while max power can still be found at a lofty 6,000 rpm, or 800 rpm lower than the ILX, meaning that those wanting to rev the engine out will still have an adrenaline inducing, VTEC-enhanced soundtrack to draw upon. That this engine is also used in today’s Civic Si is just another nod to both the ILX’ past and previous Integra’s, et al.
Acura incorporates fabulous six-speed manual transmission from Civic Si
Where the outgoing ILX was not available with a manual transmission (odd considering the Civic Si that donated its 2.4-litre four only was offered with a six-speed manual), the new Integra can now be had with a six-speed DIY gearbox in top-line Elite A-Spec trim at no extra charge, with both the manual and automatic models starting at $42,550, while positioned between base and Elite A-Spec trims is the regular A-Spec at $37,050. According to Acura, the six-speed manual is a “segment-exclusive” feature (sad, but true), which could cause plenty of traditional performance enthusiasts to flock to this front-wheel drive model, despite rear-wheel drive normally being the configuration of choice for the go-fast crowd.
Then again, Honda’s Civic is quite possibly the best-handling front-driver ever created, in 306-horsepower 10th-generation Type R trim at least (the new one is expected later this year as a 2023 model, incidentally), so the automaker knows a thing or two about maximizing handling prowess in this less-than-optimal layout.
Making the most of its dynamic chassis design is a standard sport-tuned suspension, plus the Elite A-Spec adds an Adaptive Damper System that provides even more control of the road below. Likewise, the Elite A-Spec model features a customizable Individual mode for its Integrated Dynamics System, with the rest of the Integra’s trim lines coming standard with the usual Comfort, Normal, and Sport driving modes.
Impressive top-level technologies included
So far, no Tech trim (currently top-of-the-line with the ILX) will be offered, which kind of makes sense being that all 2023 Integras will feature a standard configurable 10.2-inch digital driver’s display, dubbed Acura Precision Cockpit. Then again, a head-up display unit is optional with the Elite A-Spec package, as is a higher-end 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The just-noted wireless capability of its smartphone integration will once again make this package’s Qi-compatible wireless charging pad something useful (it isn’t when forced to plug-in for smartphone integration), while this top-tier upgrade also includes a 16-speaker ELS STUDIO 3D audio system.
Back to standard kit, the Integra’s advanced safety features include a special set of driver and passenger airbags that were “designed to control head rotation in a crash,” says Acura, while rear seat airbags are also included. What’s more, a new single-camera AcuraWatch system boasts enhanced Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR). Lastly, a one-year free trial of AcuraLink services will also be included across the line, also incorporating the brand’s Security and Remote packages at no extra cost.
All Integra trims come standard with best-in-class roominess
According to Acura, the Integra also promises class-leading rear legroom and cargo volume (the latter partially due to its convenient hatchback design), which are two bonuses the ILX couldn’t boast of.
After all is said and done, it’s difficult to criticize Acura for making a much better ILX and then rebranding it with a legendary name. Calling this five-door model an Integra brought it much more press than merely making it the second-generation ILX, while badging it with a memorable moniker also pulls on the heartstrings while making it easier to bring up in conversation with friends. Just ask anyone not seriously into cars what an ILX is, and you’ll get a stunned look. Do the same for the new Integra, and while you might get a quizzical, doe-eyed gaze, you’re also more likely to receive a curious response. A name like Integra is more easily embedded in one’s memory too, aiding Acura’s marketing efforts, while reducing its spend. Overall, it just makes sense.
Introducing the Next-Gen Integra (0:30):
Next Generation 2023 Acura Integra Debut Featuring Pierre Gasly (1:02):
2023 Acura Integra Production Model Walkaround (6:02):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Acura
Porsche is adding a new “T” trim line to its most popular Macan model for 2023, and it looks to be an ideal combination of fuel-efficiency and agility. The Macan, which was updated midway through…
Porsche is adding a new “T” trim line to its most popular Macan model for 2023, and it looks to be an ideal combination of fuel-efficiency and agility.
The Macan, which was updated midway through 2021 for the current 2022 model year, gets refreshed exterior styling as well as an updated interior. Key details inside include a new centre stack and console, incorporating a 10.9-inch touchscreen filled with a fully-networked Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment interface up top, plus a stylish glass-like interface with touch-sensitive switchgear below.
Macan T adds special styling details
The new 2023 Macan T adds some nice exterior and interior design details such as Agate Grey metallic trim elements outside, specifically on the front fascia, mirror caps, side blades (which also include “Macan T” script), the rooftop spoiler, and the rear bumper cap, plus glossy black exterior window trim and exhaust pipes, as well as Dark Titanium 20-inch Macan S alloy wheels and the choice of 13 plain, metallic and special colours.
Stepping inside reveals “Macan T” branded black aluminum door sill plates, a multifunction GT steering wheel featuring a heated leather-wrapped rim (that can optionally be covered in Race-Tex), and heatable eight-way powered sport seats with grey pinstriped Sport-Tex centre panels and embossed Porsche crests on the front headrests. This exclusive upholstery is based on the Macan’s Black leather package, and therefore features silver stitching on the seat bolsters, headrests, and steering wheel rim.
Up until now the “T” designation has never been used outside of Porsche’s 718 and 911 sports cars lines, and due to this the Macan T is the first Porsche with steel suspension components to bear the name, plus the first four-door model to do so. T, which stands for Touring in Porsche-speak, was originally used for the 1968 911 T, but now is a trim level that designates lightweight, affordable performance, particularly emphasizing handling dynamics.
To this end the new Macan T’s suspension is lowered by 15 mm and comes standard with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), although take note that a further 10 mm drop can be achieved by opting for the brand’s adaptive air suspension. Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive is also standard, which is expected, but it receives more rear torque bias in the Macan T in order to improve at-the-limit cornering. Additional standard features include stiffer front anti-roll bars and specific chassis tuning that Porsche says is “the perfect suspension for the vehicle and powertrain.” Additionally, those opting for the Macan T’s available Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus system will find that it’s been further retuned to enhance performance through tight, fast-paced curves.
Upgraded powertrain is identical to entry-level 2022 Macan
As part of its 2022 refresh, the base four-cylinder engine received a bump up from 248 horsepower to 261 hp, and 273 lb-ft of torque to 295 lb-ft, which translates into much stronger get-up-and-go. In fact, the model’s zero to 100 km/h sprint time has been reduced by 0.2 seconds, from 6.7 seconds to 6.5 in the new model, while base models upgraded with the Sport Chrono package see their sprint times drop from 6.4 seconds to 6.2. The Macan T comes standard with the Sport Chrono package, so it benefits from quicker acceleration, while its top track speed is limited to 232 km/h.
Along with the Sport Chrono package is a dash-top mounted stopwatch/lap timer, plus a convenient steering wheel-mounted Sport Response button that makes switching between drive modes quick and easy. This can be used to shorten the shift increments of its standard seven-speed dual-clutch automated Porsche’s Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission, the latter standard across the entire Macan line.
Speaking of alternative Macan models, those wanting more straight-line performance can choose the revised 348-hp 2022 Macan S that hightails it from zero to 100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds, while the latest 434-hp Macan GTS blasts from standstill to the same speed in just 4.5 seconds, which incidentally was the previous Macan Turbo’s sprint time.
Macan T slots in between base Macan and Macan S trims
The Macan GTS costs a cool $85,500, by the way, which is fair value considering its performance and Porsche pedigree, while the Macan S will set owners back a much more affordable $70,600. The new Macan T will fit right in between the S and base model, the latter of which starts at just $58,500, plus it benefits from the four-cylinder engine’s considerably lower running costs when it comes to fuel-efficiency. Currently we only have the base model’s numbers of 12.2 L/100km in the city, 10.2 on the highway and 11.3 combined, but these shouldn’t change in its transition to T trim, whereas the 2022 Macan S is rated at 13.1 in the city, 9.6 on the highway and 11.5 combined, and GTS at 13.5 city, 10.5 highway and 12.2 combined.
Macan T pricing and detailed ordering info will be announced early this spring, but take note that all of the other models mentioned can currently be had with factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent. Check out CarCostCanada’s 2022 Porsche Macan Canada Prices page for more detailed info, plus the ability to price out each Macan trim including options on their configuration tool. CarCostCanada will also keep you apprised of any other manufacturer deals, like rebates, if you become a member, and you’ll always have access to dealer invoice pricing info, which can help you save thousands when negotiating your next new vehicle deal. In fact, CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $1,250 when purchasing the new Macan, impressive considering how tight inventories are these days, so be sure to check out how their system works and definitely download their free app from the Google Play store or Apple Store.
Dare forward: the new Porsche Macan T (0:54):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Until recently, the most you could pay for an Acura MDX (less destination and dealer prep fees) was $69,400 when upgraded with an optional colour, which is only $1,090 less than the technologically advanced…
The new Type S, which arrives at Canadian dealerships next month for a starting price of $79,000 ($81,500 with destination fees included), boasts plenty of upgrades worthy of the extra coin, particularly an engine that boasts 65 more horsepower and 87 lb-ft of additional torque, resulting in a total of 355 horsepower and 345 lb-ft, while the sporty new model also includes an Active Exhaust system to make it sound as quick as it goes.
The engine remains 3.0 litres in displacement, but the MDX’ 10-speed automatic transmission has been upgraded with stronger internal components, plus quicker shifting capability, and rev-matched downshifts, whereas a performance-tuned version of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) makes the best use of the high-performance tires below.
The upgraded MDX Type S rides on unique 21-inch twinned five-spoke rims with black painted pockets and self-sealing all-season rubber, while hidden behind those wheels are Brembo brakes incorporating large 363-mm front rotors with four-piston fixed calipers, enhancing stopping power.
Maintaining stability under braking and through the corners is an Acura-first adaptive air suspension boasting three different damping profiles specific to the Type S. Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System has been updated too, now including Type S-exclusive Sport+ and ride height-increasing Lift modes. While all this sounds ultra-sporty, keeping the family comfortable is critical in this three-row luxury SUV class, so rest assured Acura also promised “a smooth, comfortable ride” in their press release.
Those wanting even more luxury can opt for the $4,000 Ultra Package, which pushes the MDX Type S’ price up to $83,000 ($85,500 with destination). The top-tier package comes with 16-way power-adjustable front seats featuring nine massage settings, as well as quilted leather upholstery throughout, and a 1,000-watt ELS Studio 3D surround audio system infused with 25 speakers, including special LED illuminated doors speakers, PrecisionDrive carbon fibre speakers, and CenterParquet.
With respect to styling, all 2022 MDX Type S models receive a revised front fascia, which is highlighted by an open-surface Diamond Pentagon grille designed to improve engine cooling. A unique Type S-exclusive front splitter trims off the front lower section, while a special Type S rear diffuser comes filled with four exhaust outlets.
Just in case Porsche’s new 2022 718 Cayman GT4 RS isn’t intense enough for you, a new Clubsport model adds a handy helping of track-ready components after almost completely gutting the interior, resulting…
Just in case Porsche’s new 2022 718 Cayman GT4 RS isn’t intense enough for you, a new Clubsport model adds a handy helping of track-ready components after almost completely gutting the interior, resulting in one of the most enticing OEM race cars the auto industry has ever produced.
Let’s face it. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS is already one of the best road-going performance cars available, thanks to a lightweight mid-engine layout, plenty of 911 components, and a 4.0-litre horizontally opposed six pulled from the fabulous GT3 RS, this mill good for a sensational 500 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque. The engines spins to a stratospheric 9,000 rpm, makes peak thrust at 8,300 rpm, maximum twist at 6,000 rpm, and comes with a special six-speed manual transmission that’s said to be pure bliss to shift.
The new Clubsport version does away with the DIY gearbox, however, substituting it for a quicker shifting seven-speed dual-clutch PDK with paddles, which is more ideally suited for track use, while additional racecourse-ready performance parts include a gargantuan swan-neck rear wing that teams can adjust for optimized downforce or increased straight-line speed, while under this special Cayman are two-way adjustable shocks as well as a set of anti-roll bars that can be tweaked individually too. Likewise, the Clubsport’s ride height, toe, and camber can also be adjusted as required, plus teams can opt for one of three pre-set spring rates with either the front or rear axle.
Clamping down on velocity, performance calipers bite into sizeable 15.0-inch front rotors that are actually cooled by the big NACA vents atop the 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport’s hood, while enhancing braking control and handling further is race-tuned stability control system.
A quick peek inside shows an interior devoid of the types of leather, microsuede, carbon fibre and electronics normally found in a 718 Cayman GT4 RS, instead replaced by white painted metal for most surfaces, along with a welded-in roll cage, one sole Recaro driver’s seat with a six-point racing harness, and a fire extinguisher. The Clubsport gets a built-in air-jack too, while an optional 138.2-litre (30.4-gal) fuel cell can be included for longer races.
All added up, it only makes sense that removing the high-end hides, metals and electronics should decrease the price, right? Hardly. In fact, all the Clubsport fittings nearly double the window sticker, from a base of $160,600 for the 2022 718 Cayman GT4 RS, to $229,000 USD, or approximately $293,400 CAD for the race-spec version.
The new Clubsport is nevertheless considered a good value within racing circles, however, something you’ll know all too well if you’re actually considering buying one. Everyone else would be better served behind the leather-wrapped wheel of a regular 718 Cayman GT4 RS, and currently Porsche is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent, while CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $1,000 off of retail. Check out how the CarCostCanada system works, and remember to download their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.
The new 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport (12:18):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
It’s been a strong year for Porsche’s new Taycan so far, and the German performance brand isn’t about to let the all-electric model’s momentum ebb anytime soon thanks to new updates for the 2022…
It’s been a strong year for Porsche’s new Taycan so far, and the German performance brand isn’t about to let the all-electric model’s momentum ebb anytime soon thanks to new updates for the 2022 version of both its regular four-door coupe body style and the new sport-wagon-like Taycan Cross Turismo.
Number one of the update list is a revision of the sixth-generation Porsche Communications Management (PCM 6.0) infotainment system within the centre stack, which now adds Android Auto to a smartphone integration package that already included Apple CarPlay.
Android Auto permits users of Google Android-based smartphones to completely connect to the centre display for greater ease of use. A 2022 Taycan owner can now simply plug their Android handheld device into the assigned USB-C port and follow the necessary prompts, at which time a modified version of their phone’s features, apps and personal info is displayed within the in-car touchscreen.
Porsche has updated the new PCM 6.0 operating system’s graphic design as well, with five menu options on the left side of the display rather than merely three, while each icon can now be organized separately.
What’s more, the 2022 Taycan’s Voice Pilot auditory assistant is now capable of better understanding instructions in everyday language, plus the PCM 6.0 satellite navigation system is quicker to respond to inputs, and also displays info with more clarity thanks to the just-noted graphics refresh.
Better yet, owners of 2022 Taycans will also be capable parking and retrieving their car remotely via their smartphones, by downloading Remote Park Assist. Remote Park Assist, which can remotely park perpendicularly and parallelly, will automatically detect a given parking space by first measuring it with ultrasonic sensors and cameras, and if ample space is available will park the Taycan by using the Porsche Connect app’s smartphone prompts.
Also important for this higher end premium class, new 2022 Taycan owners can now utilize more personalization options, such as Paint to Sample and Paint to Sample Plus. Along with the 17 standard paint colours already offered, Porsche will provide the choice of 65 Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur colours (so far) when opting for Paint to Sample, the palette including a number of past favourites like Acid Green, Moonlight Blue Metallic, Riviera Blue, Rubystar, and Viola Metallic.
The Paint to Sample Plus option, on the other hand, lets customers provide a unique sample of any colour, after which their Taycan will be doused in a coat of colour-matched paint from the factory.