It’s been nearly a decade since Nissan launched its car-based Pathfinder crossover, representing a risky move that replaced three generations of body-on-frame SUV predecessors, as well as the Quest minivan that faded away five years later, but it proved positive for sales. Now those awaiting its replacement before trading up can take heart, because the all-new fifth-gen Pathfinder just started rolling off the automaker’s Smyrna, Tennessee assembly line.
“Start of production of the new Pathfinder marks another major milestone in our Nissan NEXT momentum story,” said Jeff Younginer, Vice President, Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. “The Smyrna plant team is thrilled to put the newest version of this iconic vehicle on the road for customers.”
The new Pathfinder, which has been built in the Nashville suburb since 2004, pulls its sole 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 engine from Nissan’s Decherd Powertrain Plant in Decherd, Tennessee, located about an hour south on Interstate 24. The drivetrain’s all-new nine-speed automatic transmission, on the other hand, hails from ZF’s production plant in Gray Court, South Carolina, but would-be buyers hoping for greater performance will likely be more interested to know that it’s not the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the outgoing model.
The new nine-speed auto should provide quicker, more engaging shifts when performing passing manoeuvres or managing the three-row mid-size SUV through fast-paced corners, while Nissan promises smooth operation as well. Additionally, standard Intelligent 4WD with a seven-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector means Canadian buyers will enjoy optimal traction year-round. This is especially important off the line thanks to the powertrain’s strong 284 horsepower, the torquey V6 partially responsible for the new SUV’s impressive 6,000-pound (2,721-kg) maximum towing capacity.
Along with wholly renewed styling that should appeal to Nissan’s many truck buyers thanks to plenty of sharp angles and rugged details, the bigger and broader version of its trademark “U” shaped grille especially notable, a completely redesigned interior provides seating for up to eight, new available second-row captain’s chairs (which reduce seating to seven), plus an optional 10.8-inch head-up display that projects key info onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, a large 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and the brand’s ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving capability with Navi-Link, while the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driver assistive systems comes standard.
The new 2022 Pathfinder will start showing up in Nissan Canada dealer showrooms this summer, although those wanting to take advantage of especially good savings may want to consider the outgoing 2020 Pathfinder which utilizes the same V6 engine. Nissan is currently offering up to $7,000 in additional incentives when purchasing a 2020 model, and new zero-mileage examples are still available being that no 2021 version was produced. Be sure to check out CarCostCanada for all the details, and remember to download their free app so you can access timely info on available factory rebates, manufacturer financing and leasing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on any new car, truck or SUV.
2022 Pathfinder and Frontier Reveal (14:39):
Dévoilement du Pathfinder et du Frontier 2022 (14:39):
The All-New 2022 Nissan Pathfinder (0:06):
2022 Nissan Pathfinder LIVE Walkaround & Review (5:31):
Design Spotlight | Nissan Design Director Ken Lee on All-New 2022 Pathfinder (8:55):
How many seats does the Pathfinder have? | 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Q&A (0:55):
How many trims are available? | 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Q&A (0:31):
What’s the towing capacity? | 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Q&A (0:39):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Nissan
Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to…
Would you rather ride around in a Carnival or a Sedona? While a Carnival sounds like a lot more fun, it may depend on where you’re driving, as many Arizona residents might want their chosen city to be displayed on their vehicle.
This said, Kia Sedona owners may not have a choice if they choose to trade up to the brand’s fourth-generation minivan when it arrives later this year as a 2022 model, or so claims a VIN decoder published by the Sedona Forum, which sourced its information from the NHTSA.
The mid-size three-row van, set to debut with an entirely new look that says goodbye to the current model’s comparatively conservative front fascia and more fluid lines all-round, and hello to a much more angled, distinctive and upscale design, may be adopting the Carnival nameplate in order to maintain global continuity, which helps a brand make the most of advertising market bleed and more.
Someone watching an NBA basketball game in Asia, for instance (a regular occurrence in some countries), might not realize that the Kia Sedona shown on the HD scoreboard is in fact their market’s Carnival, or alternatively that the Carnival seen by North American F1 fans on electronic billboards around the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the new Jeddah Street Circuit is actually their Sedona (not that any of these marketing campaigns actually exist). Kia did something similar years ago by aligning the name of their Canadian-market Magentis mid-size sedan (the basis for the Sedona, incidentally) with the U.S.-specific Optima, and more recently rebadged this car the K5 in both markets in order to align with the newly redesigned model’s global marketing push.
The van debuted last June in Kia’s home market of South Korea, showing off its sharp new styling and a completely redesigned, more luxurious interior to go along with it. The ultra-plush Hi Limousine variant, boasting business class-seating and premium level refinement, won’t likely enter our market, but the current Sedona raised the bar significantly in the North American minivan segment when it arrived for the 2015 model year, and has steadily been improved since, so we can expect to be impressed with its top-line trims when they arrive.
Initial photos show available twin-screen digital displays that join a configurable gauge cluster and multi-information display up with an extremely large centre-mounted infotainment touchscreen, similarly in concept to Mercedes-Benz with its MBUX system, while the model incorporates a knurled metal-edged rotating gear selector on the lower console, similar to Hyundai and Genesis (and Kia K5) models, putting an end to the traditional gear lever that’s still being used in today’s Sedona.
This will continue to control an eight-speed automatic transmission, connecting through to a 3.5-litre V6 engine making 294 horsepower and 261 pound-feet of torque, which is a significant bump up from the current model’s 276 hp and 248 lb-ft. Other markets will also have the option of a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline-powered model, and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, the latter good for 202 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, but no one should expect that mill here.
Kia doesn’t offer an all-wheel drive Sedona variant at this time, and it looks as if this will be the case for the Carnival as well, based on information from the aforementioned NHTSA documents and an update by South Korean auto portal Autocast, which also reports that no gasoline-electric hybrid version will be offered either. This will be seen as a negative by environmentally-focused buyers, especially considering Toyota’s new Sienna is only offered with a hybrid power unit that includes standard all-wheel drive. Additionally, Chrysler has long offered a plug-in hybrid Pacifica with real EV driving capability, not to mention an AWD powertrain in its conventionally-powered model.
We can expect details about the Canadian-spec 2022 Carnival to surface sometime this spring, at which point we’ll know more about how this intriguing new entry will stack up against the recently redesigned Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, plus the always strong-selling Stellantis group—FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and Peugeot—vans, now including a Chrysler rebranded, entry-level version of the pricier Pacifica minivan dubbed Grand Caravan in order to gain some name recognition advantage from one of Canada’s best-selling nameplates (this model is called Voyageur in the U.S., which ironically pays no heed to the market-bleed concern noted earlier).
I hate to admit that with each passing year adapting to new things takes more time. This is part of the normal aging process, I know, but I dislike it just the same. Don’t get me wrong, as some new designs are so captivating that I’m 100-percent sold as soon as they debut, but others take more time to lure me in. Such has been the case with the 2020 redesign of Mercedes’ GLS-Class.
It’s good looking, I can see that, but the previous version, which transformed from GL- to GLS-Class in 2016, was good looking too, while the boxier original might still be my favourite. This type of long-term appeal is a Mercedes-Benz hallmark, and partly why the brand’s cars and SUVs hold residual values well.
On a more personal note, an affinity for older vehicles pays dividends when purchasing myself, as I can save a lot buying a well-kept, pre-loved 10-plus-year-old “classic” (or for that matter an even older relic, with respect to the ‘80s-‘90s-era Geländewagen W460 LWB Turbo Diesel I’m saving up for). Decades old vehicles aren’t practical for most peoples’ lifestyles, however, as they can’t easily be financed or leased, and certainly don’t come with the carefree ownership experience that Mercedes’ warranty provides.
This 2020 GLS 450 4Matic does, mind you, and I must say its technology is a lot more advanced and interior finishing even more refined than the GLS and GL models it replaces, not to mention that antiquated G290d/G300d always on my radar. The new GLS’ sportier, rounded design is growing on me too, particularly its bolder dual-slat, satin-silver and bright metal grille, sophisticated LED headlamp clusters, and horizontally positioned LED taillights.
Other than that, 2021 models will likely stay the same, the GLS 450 4Matic remaining the most affordable trim in this body style, with the GLE, incidentally, being the least expensive way to get a third row in a Mercedes model. Of course, the larger, longer GLS is much more accommodating from front to back, this being the ideal three-pointed star car for big families.
While only five-foot-eight and sized “S” for most clothing items, I still consider myself a full-size adult (add laugh track here), yet I had no problem climbing into the very back once the second-row seats were powered almost completely out of the way, after which I fit inside comfortably. Specifically, I had about four inches left over above my head and ample room for my legs and boots, with my knees just touching the backside of the middle seatbacks. Take note that it was still possible to move the second-row forward, so therefore any average-size person should not need to complain. Both rear seats were comfortable too, plus Mercedes allowed for excellent visibility out the side windows, useful LED reading lights overhead, and two USB-C ports at each side.
Second-row seating is also comfortable, thanks in part to nice big optional captain’s chairs that also provide a convenient walking space in between to reach the back row. Parents should appreciate this setup, as there’s no need to power the passenger’s side second-row seat forward when accessing the seats behind. This in mind, the driver-side second row seat doesn’t move, but most would rather have their kids enter from curbside anyway.
Both of my tester’s rear seats were powered and heated, by the way, plus the rear panel of the front centre console was filled with twin air vents, a dual-zone HVAC interface for the GLS’ four-zone automatic climate control system, and a pullout drawer-style storage bin complete with two USB-C charge ports and a household-style 115-volt socket.
Staying on this pragmatic theme, accessing the cargo compartment comes via a gesture-controlled power liftgate, which includes 355 litres usable space behind the third row, or about the size of a compact car’s trunk. The spare tire, tools and a nice set of white gloves (talk about class) are stowed below the removeable load floor, as is a retractable cargo cover that neatly locks into place out of sight. As should be expected in a Mercedes-Benz, even this luggage area is well finished, with a classily ribbed satin-finish metal sill protector, a beautifully detailed bright metal floor latch, chromed tie-down hooks, and high-quality carpeting across the floor, a third of the way up the sidewalls, as well as on the 50/50-split rear seatbacks.
Those seats can be powered down via buttons that anyone should find easy to reach, plus they drop smoothly and surprisingly fast. Oddly, however, the switches for lowering the third and second rows are found on opposite sides of the cargo area—how uncharacteristically inefficient. Still, make sure the neighbours are watching when powering down the second row, as the headrests automatically tuck away while lowering, before both captain’s chairs (or the bench seat) powers rearward to close the gap with the cargo floor in one uninterrupted motion, resulting in a near perfectly flat load floor along with 2,400 litres of open space.
Forgive me for going on and on about the GLS’ rear passenger and cargo attributes without mentioning a word about its frontal accommodations, but let’s just say I left the best for last. Much like the second-row, the forward cabin is exquisitely finished, with the highest quality composite materials, soft perforated leathers, beautifully finished hardwoods, nicely detailed brushed aluminum trim, including drilled speaker grilles, plus knurled metal knobs, buttons, rocker switches and toggles, etcetera.
Mercedes didn’t include much piano black lacquer, and I say good riddance as the inky surface treatment scratches and collects dust too easily. There’s a little around the steering wheel controls, a location that will probably get used often enough to remove the dust and is likely too small of an area to make hairline scratches noticeable, but the same added to the lower console may not fare as well, thus I would’ve rather seen this location finished with open-pore hardwood, like seen in an E 450 I recently drove.
Just the same, the black lacquered surfacing looks good as it seamlessly melds into the massive MBUX interface that does double-duty as a primary instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen. The former includes one of the more configurable displays in the auto industry, with multiple graphical styles from sporty or modern to classic and more, plus the ability to cover the entire cluster area with a map featuring navigation guidance, or one of the system’s other functions.
The centre touchscreen can be controlled via smartphone/tablet-like tap, swipe and pinch finger gestures, plus just ahead of a comfortable palm rest on the lower console is a similarly useful touchpad that’s a bit easier to reach than the screen itself. Both touch-capacitive surfaces work as advertised (which is unusually welcome for a console-mounted touchpad), as do the surrounding quick-access buttons and knurled metal volume knob.
Each connects through to the segment’s usual collection of infotainment features, like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation with route guidance, climate controls, the audio system, phone and Bluetooth functions, vehicle setup, integrated and downloadable apps, backup and overhead parking cameras, etcetera. Mercedes employs an easy-to-use tile layout to scroll between features, with superb graphics as already noted, while the overall system speed is excellent.
Together with all the infotainment switchgear on the lower console is a black lacquered scroll-top lid that exposes twin cupholders actually capable of keeping drinks hot or cool, a very rare feature that I happen to love, plus a much-appreciated wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones, along with two USB-C ports. Those with older phones that can’t utilize wireless charging will also be out of luck for wired charging, as old-school USB-A ports aren’t offered. Of course, there’s always an aftermarket workaround.
If that’s my only complaint, this GLS is doing very well. Like those in back, the driver’s seat was wonderfully comfortable and wholly supportive, while the three-way butt warmer was downright therapeutic at its highest level. The ability to cool one’s backside in the summer would be welcome too. A third button on the driver’s side allows full adjustment of the front passenger seat too, which was helpful when picking up a taller passenger that required more legroom.
The heatable steering wheel button is found in the same place as the E-Class, but instead of twisting the end of the power steering column stalk, it’s just a rocker switch that can be pushed fore and aft. This was one of my GLS tester’s only problem areas, in that it didn’t always work. When pushed, it sometimes switched on, whereas an opposite tug usually turned it off, but other times it did neither. It also can’t be set up to turn on automatically. All said it would’ve been nice to warm my hands on the cold winter mornings that it didn’t work, but I’m guessing this was a one-off problem. Just the same, if I were on Mercedes’ engineering team, I’d look for one single solution that could be duplicated across the entire product range, plus even better, one that doesn’t involve breakable moving parts.
Otherwise, the GLS 450 4Matic is one incredibly comfortable SUV. As you might expect from Mercedes-Benz, it drives very well, with one of the smoothest rides in its three-row category. Even with Dynamic sport mode turn on it felt wholly refined, albeit a much more confidence-inspiring handler than when in default comfort mode. Don’t expect it to run away from Mercedes’ smaller utilities, however, or for that matter anything wearing the brand’s performance-oriented AMG badge, like this model’s AMG GLS 63 sibling that makes 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, or the 483-hp V8-powered GLS 580 that puts 516 lb-of torque down to all four wheels, but the GLS 450 still moves off the line quickly and is a joy to pilot over curving backroads at fast-paced speeds.
Under this entry-level GLS’ hood is a new 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid drivetrain. Output is sizeable at 362 net horsepower and 369 combined lb-ft of torque, with the electric power unit responsible for 21 horsepower (16 kW) and 184 lb-ft of this total (although figuring out hybrid output isn’t as cut and dry as subtracting one from the other). As with all GLS models, an efficient nine-speed automatic takes care of shifting duties, and is a mighty smooth operator, while all-wheel drive comes standard.
All this complex electrified wizardry results in a claimed fuel economy rating of 12.4 L/100km in the city, 10.2 on the highway and 11.4 combined, which is a big improvement over last year’s V6-powered GLS 450 that could only manage an estimated 14.9 city, 11.2 highway and 13.2 combined. Of course, these numbers are only possible with the SUV’s Eco mode engaged, which makes sure its auto start/stop system is active, while the roads would have indeed been paved when putting the GLS through its paces, but such impressive mileage is doable just the same.
Roads less traveled in mind, when Mercedes first brought the GLS to market as the GL back in 2006, it was designed to replace the aforementioned G-Class, which meant it had to offer a modicum of off-road prowess. As we now know, the G thankfully remained an important icon within the German automaker’s SUV lineup, which meant the off-road-oriented model never made it across the Atlantic. The one offered in Europe was nowhere near as 4×4-capable as a G-wagon anyway, but Mercedes nevertheless provides its largest ute with reasonable light-duty off-road chops.
Off-road mode is available from the same lower console-mounted knurled metal rocker switch that selects all the other drive modes, while there’s also a separate rocker that raises the air suspension. As tempting as it was, I chose not to take my GLS tester off-roading during my weeklong stint, as it just didn’t seem right to muddy up such a beautiful vehicle with rims and tires that were obviously meant for paved surfaces. This said I’ve enjoyed previous examples in less favourable conditions, and found that the SUV manages light- to medium-duty trails quite well. Just don’t expect it to run with a G-Class and you should be more than satisfied.
All said, I’m going to guess more people will haul a trailer than try to take their GLS off-road, and as you might expect it’s more than up to the task thanks to a 3,500-kilogram (7,716-lb) tow rating. This means it can pull small to medium sized camp trailers, possibly up to an Airstream Classic without anything heavy on board, or average sized power craft and sailboats, but nothing too extreme. When it comes to power craft, you’re probably looking at a 2,000-kilo (4,500-lb) boat carrying about 225 kg (500 lbs) of fuel, sitting on a 700- to 900-kg (1,500- to 2,000-lb) trailer. In other words, this side of a full-size body-on-frame SUV or pickup truck, the GLS 450 provides some serious hauling capability.
I don’t know about you, but after the crazy year we’ve had few things sound better than hitting the road with a boat or camper in tow. If you did so at the wheel of a GLS 450 4Matic, I can promise you a speedy, comfortable, cost-efficient trip, while living with this SUV every day would be a personal lifestyle upgrade that I’d certainly be happy to live with.
The cost to do so begins at $95,500 plus freight and fees, while extras can add up quickly. At the time of writing, Mercedes was offering factory leasing and financing rates from 2.99 percent, but there’s no doubt more cash on the hood for those willing to negotiate. To learn more about such deals, as well as possible manufacturer rebates and always helpful dealer invoice pricing, check out CarCostCanada, where members regularly save thousands on their new vehicle. CarCostCanada provides a free app for your smartphone too, downloadable from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, putting everything you need to get the best deal right at your fingertips.
Review and photos: Trevor Hofmann
Despite being well into its fourth model year, you’ll have a hard time finding a more beautifully finished, or more luxuriously appointed mid-size luxury SUV. The Volvo XC90 is exquisitely detailed,…
Despite being well into its fourth model year, you’ll have a hard time finding a more beautifully finished, or more luxuriously appointed mid-size luxury SUV. The Volvo XC90 is exquisitely detailed, particularly when outfitted in its most opulent Inscription trim, which is exactly how I most recently drove it.
The 2019 XC90 on this page is fourth on my list of second-generation testers, and the second to wear Inscription badging, the other two outfitted in sportier R-Design trim, while two have utilized the 316 horsepower mid-range engine with the other duo bridled to the much more potent 400 horsepower plug-in hybrid drivetrain. This in mind, the last non-electrified XC90 I drove was way back in 2016 when this wholly reimagined luxury utility ushered in an entirely new look and much higher level of luxury for the Swedish brand, and by so doing turned Volvo’s fortunes completely around.
Volvo more than doubled its Canadian sales toward the end of calendar year 2015 when the 2016 XC90 was introduced, from 10,964 units in Q4 of 2014 to 22,507 in the final three months of 2015, while the XC90’s sales volume grew from 427 units throughout all of 2014 to 957 in 2015 and a stellar 2,951 in calendar year 2016. This said the growth hasn’t stopped, verified by the XC90 hitting a new record of 3,059 deliveries last year, making it the most popular model in Volvo’s lineup.
Yes, the XC90 sells even better than the completely redesigned XC60, the smaller two-row compact luxury model having consistently outsold this three-row mid-size contender prior to both models’ redesign. This is the complete opposite of most others in the class, incidentally, which are consistently outsold by their smaller, more affordable compact luxury SUV siblings.
I could only hazard to guess why this occurs, because the XC60 comes closer to matching the XC90’s materials quality, refinement, electronic interfaces and powertrain options as any rival brand, and would save its would-be buyer nearly $13,000 at the bottom end and almost $12k in top-line Inscription T8 eAWD Plug-In Hybrid trim, but either way it appears Volvo SUV buyers are generally wealthier than the class average, or prefer larger, roomier, more substantive machinery.
The XC90 is a true mid-size three-row luxury crossover SUV, measuring 4,950 mm (194.9 inches) from front to rear bumpers with a 2,984-mm (117.5-inch) wheelbase in between, plus 2,140 mm (84.3 inches) wide including its side mirrors, and 1,775 mm (69.9 inches) tall including its roof rails, while providing a considerable 237 mm (9.3 inches) of ground clearance, which helps it trudge through deep snow easily.
That size makes it more than just accommodating. Its superbly comfortable front and rear seats confirm this just as notably upon first climbing inside as after a long road trip, a particularly elegant Magic Blue Metallic painted 2017 XC90 T8 Twin Engine eAWD Inscription tester having taken my partner and I out of Greater Vancouver, up the steeply inclined Coquihalla Highway and then over the 97C connector to Kelowna, BC’s wine country during the particularly warm fall of 2016, and while we took no passengers in back we hauled a fair bit of gear (including wine) in the 1,183 litres (41.8 cubic feet) of cargo space available when laying the third row flat.
That’s how I’d leave the seats more often than not if this were my personal ride, as I’d have little need for a third row now that my kids are grown, despite the nicely separated buckets in the very back accommodating my five-foot-eight frame comfortably. Volvo provides a reasonably large 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) of dedicated cargo volume behind that third row, and trips to the hardware store for building materials are doable thanks to 2,427 litres (85.6 cubic feet) of available space when both rear rows are lowered. As good as all this is, I’m even more impressed by its overall passenger/cargo flexibility, the XC90’s second row divided into thirds so that everyone’s skis can be laid down the middle, thus mitigating potential whining about who gets the three-way-warming window seats.
Yes, this Inscription model comes well packed with features, second-row seat heaters just one of many upgrades included after choosing to move past base Momentum trim. For 2019 the Momentum starts at $59,750 plus freight and fees, with the more sport-oriented R-Design coming in at $69,800, and the Inscription starting at $71,450. All three Volvo powertrains are offered in the XC90, the Momentum’s exclusive T5 displacing 2.0-litres in four cylinders and using a turbocharger to make 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the as-tested T6 adding a supercharger to the same powertrain for 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and the T8 plug-in hybrid combining a 60-kW electric motor for a grand total of 400 net horsepower and 472 net lb-ft of torque. The T6 powertrain adds $4,250 to Momentum trim, whereas the T8 will set Momentum buyers back another $10,950, while the increase from T6 to T8 will cost you $12,650 in either R-Design or Inscription trims.
By the way, the 2020 XC90, which will start arriving at Volvo Canada retailers when this review gets published, continues to be available with the same three trim lines as the outgoing 2019 model, although a new six-passenger variant, available solely with T6 AWD Momentum and Inscription trims, provides a more luxuriously-appointed second row and easier access to the very back thanks to captain’s chairs and an aisle down the middle. The 2020 update includes a stylish new concave grille design as well, plus some less noticeable changes, all for a $1,500 hike in base price, less $1,000 in potential incentives at the time of writing. If personal savings matter more to you than getting the latest, greatest model, consider this 2019 XC90 that can provide up to $5,000 in additional incentives. Just visit the 2019 Volvo XC90 Canada Prices page at CarCostCanada, where you can also peruse through trim, package and individual option pricing, as well as find manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing.
An eight-speed Geartronic automatic with auto start-stop plus all-wheel drive comes standard across the line, although the transmission and AWD systems are unique to both conventional and electrified powertrains, the latter dubbed eAWD for sourcing all of its rear-wheel power from its electric motor.
While a person could theoretically drive their XC90 T8 on electric power alone, its approximate 30-km EV range would necessitate a very short commute with very little highway time, and after that it’s merely a very potent hybrid. Still, as long as you’re not attempting to utilize its full 400 horsepower all the time, this model’s fuel economy improves over both the base T5 and mid-range T6 powertrain from 11.3 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway and 10.0 combined for the T5 AWD, 12.1 city, 8.9 highway and 10.7 combined for the as-tested T6 AWD, to 10.1, 8.8 and 9.5 respectively for the T8.
Despite the vehicle I tested being thirstiest on this list, it’s only worst amongst a very efficient lineup of Volvo mid-size luxury SUV trims. Comparatively the segment sales-leading Lexus RX now offers an extended three-row variant that’s nowhere near as roomy in back as the XC90, but can be had in 450h L hybrid form that’s good for the best fuel economy in this class at 8.1 L/100km city, 8.4 highway and 8.1 combined, while the same model in 350 L trim only manages a rating of 13.1 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined. Likewise, the next most popular Acura MDX does a bit better than the conventionally powered Lexus with a respective 12.2, 9.0 and 10.8, while its hybrid variant achieves 9.1 city, 9.0 highway and 9.0 combined.
Both Infiniti’s QX60 and Audi’s Q7 split the conventionally powered MDX and RX 350 L results with respective ratings of 12.5 city, 9.0 highway and 10.9 combined and 12.2, 9.5 and 11.0, while, again in order of popularity, Buick’s Enclave rating doesn’t measure up to the XC90 T6 either at 13.8 city, 9.5 highway and 11.9 combined (while also not measuring up in luxury, but I included it because it represents entry-level luxury in this class).
The XC90 is next in the sales hierarchy, followed by Mercedes’ three-row GLS 450 4Matic that only manages an estimated 14.9 city, 11.2 highway and 13.2 combined (how I wish they still offered their diesel), while BMW’s new X7 is rated at 12.0, 9.4 and 10.8, which isn’t too bad for this elongated three-row X5. Land Rover’s Discovery is the only non-hybrid model to beat the XC90, but not with its base V6 that can only manage 14.8, 11.4 and 13.0, this model’s diesel just sneaking below the least stingy XC90 at 11.3, 9.2 and 10.4, while the new 2020 Cadillac XT6 (the more luxurious version of the Buick Enclave) gets an estimated rating of 13.5 city, 9.7 highway and 11.5, and the new 2020 Lincoln Aviator achieves a slightly less efficient 13.7, 9.7 and 11.6 rating.
Such incredible efficiency and the XC90 also outhustles many of the just-noted utilities in the base trims used to compare fuel economy (including the two hybrids, which incidentally the T8 eAWD model annihilates), its mid-range T6 AWD powertrain surprisingly strong for a small displacement four-cylinder thanks to the aforementioned turbo and supercharger combination, its zero to 100 km/h acceleration time being a very spirited 6.5 seconds, which is 1.4 seconds quicker than the base XC90 T5 AWD that manages the feat in 7.9 seconds, and only 0.9 seconds slower than the ultra-advanced T8 eAWD powertrain that scoots the big Volvo from standstill to 100km/h in just 5.6 seconds.
My T6 AWD tester not only looks quick on paper, but it really felt strong off the line and even more confidence inspiring when passing slower moving vehicles on the highway, while it takes to the curves effectively too. No, it doesn’t track through quick corners or feel as generally hooked up as the sportiest of Germans in this elite pack, but it can certainly hold its own against all the rest, while it delivers one of the smoothest rides in its class combined with seat comfort that’s hard to beat.
I will refrain from itemizing every feature offered in each trim level as that would be a dreadful bore for both of us and hours of painstaking work for yours truly to endure, although those wanting all the info are free to check out my 2018 XC90 R-Design review in which you can pour over all this insufferable data to your heart’s content, and for those of us who’d rather not, suffice to say the XC90 represents good value for what’s being offered, which as a reminder includes one of, if not the most opulently attired interior in its class this side of a Bentley Bentayga, and honestly much of this Volvo’s switchgear is a helluvalot better than the big winged Brit, while all of its electronic interfaces are miles more advanced.
Ahead of the driver is a fully digital instrument cluster with the ability to add navigation mapping and route guidance to its centre-mounted multi-information display, amongst most other functions from the vertical, tablet-style Sensus infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack. This is one of my favourite centre displays and it’s packed full with every key feature currently offered by competitors, plus one of the best overhead cameras in existence.
My tester included the awesome sounding $3,250 1,400-watt 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins optional audio system, complete with its lovely drilled aluminum speaker grilles including a tiny centre dash-mounted tweeter, but this particular XC90 didn’t include the jewel-like Orrefors crystal and polished metal shifter found in last year’s R-Design tester, c’est la vie.
The glittering diamond-pattern metal-edged rotating dial on the centre stack was exquisitely detailed, however, as were the twisting engine start/stop switch and cylindrical drive mode selector on the lower console, while the open-pore hardwood used for the scrolling bin lids around the latter switchgear and shifter, which was also found on the instrument panel and doors was absolutely stunning, not to mention the superbly crafted contrast stitched padded leather covering almost every other surface, which was backed up elsewhere by more high-quality soft-touch composite surfacing than you’ll find on most competitors.
So next time you see someone drive by in a Volvo XC90 you may want to show a similar deference offered to Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Range Rover Autobiography owners, because they’re rolling in a similar level of luxury while doing a lot more to limit fuel usage and mitigate local emissions, plus they’re obviously intelligent enough to get all of the above for hundreds of thousands less than the ultra-utilities just noted.
As you can probably tell I continue to like the XC90 very much, and therefore highly recommend it.
The fact that you’re reading this means you’re probably fully aware what an Acura MDX is, but it’s quite possible you’ve never heard of A-Spec. Don’t worry, because you’re far from alone.…
The fact that you’re reading this means you’re probably fully aware what an Acura MDX is, but it’s quite possible you’ve never heard of A-Spec. Don’t worry, because you’re far from alone. Basically, A-Spec is a performance trim offered across the entire Acura lineup that, depending on the model in question, may or may not include any actual go-fast sport-oriented upgrades. As for the MDX A-Spec, which is new for this 2019 model year, it’s purely a styling exercise.
Fortunately the new A-Spec enhancements result in a very attractive bit of SUV kit, including gloss-black and darkened chrome trimmings for the grille, headlamps, window surrounds, and rear rooftop spoiler, plus a more aggressive frontal apron, painted front and rear lower skid plates, body-colour door handles, body-coloured rocker panels, bigger exhaust pipes, and a gorgeous set of 20-inch 10-spoke Shark Grey alloys on lower profile 265/45 all-seasons. That rubber might seem like the only upgrade that could possibly improve the MDX’ performance, but it should be noted these are the same as used on this SUV’s most luxuriously adorned Elite model.
Sliding into any one of the MDX seven seats means that you’ll inevitably have to pass over one of four A-Spec-embossed metal treadplates, while the upgraded cabin also features a unique primary gauge package that’s been brightened with additional red highlights. The latter gets framed by a thicker A-Spec-branded sport steering wheel that’s partially wrapped in grippy dimpled leather, while just below are sporty metal foot pedals. The console between the driver and front passenger gets special carbon-look detailing, and the sport seats flanking it are either covered in a sensational “Rich Red” upholstery or, in the case of my test model, special black leather with high-contrast stitching, plus plush perforated black suede-like Alcantara inserts.
So what do you think? I, for one, like what Acura has done to spiff up this aging yet still worthy luxury SUV. The exterior changes add some fresh new life to what is still a good looking package, while the interior mods are as easy on the eyes as they’re tactilely pleasurable (especially the Alcantara), but let’s be clear, none of this does much to modernize an instrument panel layout that has slowly been freefalling into the realms of classic, retrospective designs.
Of course, I’m not talking about the MDX’ downright radical, left-field, but now that I’m used to it, perfectly functional and kind-of-cool lower console-mounted pushbutton gear selector, which should never be exchanged for RDX version that takes up much too much valuable space on its centre stack, or for that matter the entry-level crossover’s new rotating drive mode selector that’s equally inefficient in its size and placement and therefore forced the need to position the otherwise superb tablet-style infotainment display atop the dash instead of closer to the driver where it could otherwise be actuated via touch gestures for easier use, instead of a complex touchpad that should only be an extra add-on to complement the overall infotainment package, we all have to admit the MDX two-tiered display setup is pretty outdated.
Why two centre tiers? Unlike the new RDX, that fits a fairly large multi-information display (MID) between two analogue dials within the primary package (although a fully digital cluster would be more competitive in top trims), the MDX gets a tall, narrow MID with simple colour graphics and minimal info ahead of the driver, and sends other MID info to the larger 8.0-inch top monitor on the centre stack. You can access the usual info from a rotating/push dial just under the second display below, while the top screen defaults to the navigation map when not in reverse, at which point an excellent multi-angle backup camera with active guidelines comes into play; the available 360-degree surround parking monitor can only be had with the previously noted top-line Elite model. This leaves more easily reached 7.0-inch touchscreen for audio and climate control adjustment, etcetera.
Before I start getting hate mail for beating up on the MDX’ obviously aging infotainment system, a problem that many other brands are dealing with as their various models attempt to stay fresh and intriguing while undergoing the same old two- to three-year refresh, and four- to five-year redesigned cycles as have been used for decades, some of Acura’s competitors have done a better job of staying ahead of the digital curve and are therefore reaping the rewards of doing so.
We’ll have to wait and see what Acura brings to the table, or more specifically the instrument panel when the all-new redesigned MDX surfaces sometime before 2020 or 2021 (so far there has been no official launch announcement), but as you can tell from my RDX comments (which is otherwise one of the best crossover SUVs in its compact luxury class), I’d rather Acura choose a different infotainment direction for the next-gen MDX.
All grumbling aside, the current MDX infotainment system works well enough, and even includes such advanced features as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email reading functionality, satellite radio, four USB charge-capable ports, and more, plus as noted my A-Spec tester also had an accurate navigation system with detailed mapping and voice recognition, this pulled up from the MDX’ mid-range Tech trim line, which also provided superb 10-speaker ELS Studio surround sound audio, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, AcuraLink subscription services, and more.
As usual with any Acura model, I feel tempted to list out as many features as possible, because this helps you to appreciate just how good the brand’s value proposition is, but this time around I’ll try to keep my babbling to a minimum and just detail the more important highlights such as LED fog lamps, auto-dimming power-folding outside mirrors, perimeter/approach puddle lamps, keyless entry buttons for the rear doors, and cooled/ventilated front seats as additions to the $60,490 A-Spec features menu, while additional items sourced from the Tech model include sun position detection for the climate control, front and rear parking sonar, and Blind Spot Information (BSI) with rear cross-traffic alert. s
Advanced driver assistance systems in mind, each and every MDX trim comes standard with the Japanese luxury brand’s AcuraWatch suite of safety and convenience features, including Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow.
Finally, some key features sourced from the $54,390 base MDX for my tester’s A-Spec trim include the brand’s signature Jewel Eye LED headlamps with automatic high beams, attractive LED tail lamps, sound-deadening acoustic front glass, a remote engine starter, proximity-sensing front access, pushbutton start/stop, ambient cabin lighting, memory for the standard power-adjustable steering column, side mirrors, and auto climate control system, an electric parking brake, a power-operated glass sunroof with shade, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, an auto-dimming centre mirror, driver recognition, a heatable steering wheel rim, transmission paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, tri-zone front and rear auto HVAC, Active Noise Control (ANC), Active Sound Control (ASC), heatable 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way powered lumbar, a power liftgate, a 1,588-kilo towing capacity (or 2,268 kilograms with the available towing package), plus more.
Of note, all of the 2019 Acura MDX trim, package, and options pricing shown in this review were sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can also find helpful rebate information as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, so make sure to check click here to save the most money possible when purchasing your next car, truck or SUV.
So far in this review, I’ve criticized the MDX for some of its mostly digital shortcomings, but I have to admit that it’s still enjoyable to drive and very comfortable, no matter where you’re seated. It’s also finished quite well considering its age, particularly in A-Spec trim. Some of this model’s interior upgrades include the aforementioned sport steering wheel, which feels really good in the fingers thanks to a thick, meaty, textured leather rim and well-sculpted spats for each thumb, while the interior is also filled with an attractive combination of satin-silver aluminum trim accents and other premium-finish inlays. Additionally, Acura lays on a heavy dose of premium-quality pliable composites across the dash, each door upper, and most everywhere else including the glove box lid, with just a small section of the instrument panel below the driver’s knees, plus each side of the lower centre console, and the bottom portion of each door panel, finished in harder, less premium types of plastic. Just above, however, are some of the plushest Alcantara door inserts in the business, this exclusive to my A-Spec model.
I was happy to be reminded that the MDX’ driver’s seat includes the four-way powered lumbar mentioned earlier, helping to add just the right amount of pressure in just the right spot for reducing back pain, and only wish all automakers would do likewise, while the comfortable driver’s seat also provided plenty of the usual adjustments this category offers, yet I would have also liked the under-leg support provided by a lower cushion extension, and being that this model is Acura’s sportiest large SUV, a set of adjustable side torso bolsters would be handy too. Unfortunately, even the front seats in A-Spec trim don’t keep one’s backside in place very firmly when tackling corners, but on the positive the side bolsters should provide comfort for those on the larger size.
Not only comfortable, the MDX provides excellent visibility all around, making it easy to operate in all types of traffic situations, but before delving into its driving dynamics, I should mention how much room this SUV offers. Having set up the driver’s seat for my five-foot-eight, long-legged, short-torso frame I still had plenty of room when seated in the second row just behind. That second-row easily slides fore and aft to make more room if needed, but even with it pulled all the way forward I still had a couple of inches of air ahead of my knees and room enough for my feet while shod in winter boots, plus when that second-row seat was pushed all the way back it was downright limousine-like.
With the second-row all the way rearward, the MDX’ rearmost row is probably only good for smaller adults or children, but after sliding the middle row forward I had plenty of room and those just mentioned winter boots slotted nicely underneath. I can’t call the third row comfortable, but it should be adequate for kids and mid-size teens, which is makes the MDX more utile than many in this class. Those in the very back shouldn’t get claustrophobic either, thanks to a set of side windows and a decent view out the front, while cupholders and nice reading lamps provide a good atmosphere for long trips. Climbing out from the very back is fairly easy as well, only needing you to press a button on the back of the second-row seat that immediately slides it forward, but this said it’s not the largest throughway to enter or exit from, so take care if you’re past teenage years.
Back in second row, a handy climate control panel is added to the backside of the front centre console for rear passenger comfort, while Acura also provides two USB device chargers below. I would’ve liked to see a set of second-row seat heaters, but these only come in top-tier Elite trim; c’est la vie.
The powered rear liftgate opens to a properly finished cargo area featuring chrome tie-down hooks and nice, high-end carpeting up the sidewalls and on the seatbacks, while a sharp looking aluminum tread plate pretties up the rear doorsill. It’s adequately roomy too, with 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) of gear-toting space behind the third row, and a useful underfloor compartment too. Folding the 50/50-split rear seats down is easy enough, but smaller folk might want Acura to add a power option in the upcoming redesign. Dropping the second row down is a manual affair as well, and while it’s easy enough you’ll need to walk around to the side doors to do so. Cargo capacity grows from 1,230 litres (43.4 cu ft) aft of the upright second-row seats to 2,575 litres (90.9 cu ft) when all are laid flat, but take heed that no middle pass-through is available for longer cargo such as skis, meaning the MDX’ European rivals do a more comprehensive job of providing passenger/cargo flexibility.
As for the MDX powertrain, it’s probably the most experienced in its segment, which is a bonus if you’re looking for well-proven reliability, or a bane if you want the latest under-hood technology. Acura’s SOHC 3.5-litre V6 has been around since 2014, and while producing a decent 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque when compared to mainstream volume branded SUVs, doesn’t exactly light a fire under your seat when getting hard on the throttle when compared to some key competitors, like Audi’s 333-horepower supercharged Q7 and BMW’s 335-hp turbocharged X5, plus plenty of others, and making this issue even more pronounced is the fact the older 2007 to 2013 second-gen MDX used a 200-cc larger 3.7-litre variation on the same V6 theme that was 10 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque stronger for max output of 300 hp and 270 lb-ft, which means the MDX has kind of been in reverse when it comes to straight-line performance.
Softening the backhanded blow in 2013, when the current 2014 powertrain was introduced, was the nine-speed ZF automatic transmission still doing an admirable job of swapping cogs. While hardly producing lightning-quick shifts, even in Sport mode, it was certainly more fun to flick through the paddles than the previous six-speed unit, and I must say it’s wonderfully smooth about its business, while Acura’s torque-vectoring SH-AWD, standard with the MDX, even makes slippery road conditions confidence-inspiring.
I took the MDX up a local mountain road and was thoroughly impressed by its ability through thick, mucky snow, the white fluffy stuff having departed long before I arrived. I can only imagine how well it would work if Acura had provided some winter tires instead, but the 265/ 45R20 Michelin Latitude Alpin all-seasons circling the dark grey alloys mentioned earlier, did a fine job just the same.
Likewise for the MDX’ capable suspension, which while set up with more focus on compliant comfort than edgy performance, is easily up to fast-paced cornering through circuitous backroads, but it’s even better at high-speed cruising down the freeway thanks to its superbly sorted fully independent suspension that tracks brilliantly while providing an excellent ride.
The Sport mode just mentioned comes as part of a drive mode selector that also offers Comfort and Normal settings, plus the ability to stay in a chosen mode even after shutting off the engine and returning later. So therefore, if you’re the type of driver that leaves their SUV in Sport mode all the time, Acura has you covered without any extra fuss, and likewise for those who place Comfort higher on their priority list.
Now that I’m on to more practical subjects, the MDX’ fuel-efficiency is quite good for this class, despite its large V6 engine. This might be due to its relatively stress-free life compared to what a turbo-four would need to do if pushing such a large, weighty SUV, the as-tested MDX A-Spec hitting the scales at 1,945 kg (4,288 lbs). The engine also features some impressive technologies including direct-injection, i-VTEC, Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that turns off one row of cylinders when not being pushed hard, auto idle stop/start that reduces consumption and emissions even more, and the nine-speed autobox that’s tweaked to minimize engine revs, all helping this A-Spec model to achieve a Transport Canada rating of 12.2 L/100km city, 9.5 highway and 11.0 combined, which is just a bit more than every other MDX trim that get rated at 12.2 city, 9.0 highway and 10.8 combined. Speaking of fuel economy, I just recently retested the MDX Sport Hybrid, which, due to an innovative two-motor hybrid-electric powertrain, is rated at 9.1 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 9.0 combined. I’ll make sure to review this top-line MDX soon, so please come back for the rest of this SUV’s story.
Back to the conventionally powered MDX, I must admit to still enjoying my time behind the wheel. It’s not the fastest, best handling or most advanced crossover SUV in the luxury sector, but quick and agile enough, and offers up an excellent ride with superb comfort all-round. It’s the type of SUV you can drive all day and never tire of, and that’s just the kind of luxury I like living with day in and day out. On top of this, 2019 A-Spec trim brings a sporty new look and other refinements to the well-proven MDX package, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of these nicely outfitted models in better Canadian neighbourhoods this year.