Wednesday, November 25

Road Test

Road Test

SUV Review: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 4×4

OVERVIEW Rugged, trail-rated, midsize crew cab pickup PROSGreat looks and great off-road capability HOW TO SPEC IT?Loaded up, as is You know that joke about if you buy a pickup be prepared to spend at least one weekend out of the month moving friends? Buy this one and your pals who live at the end of logging roads will be calling you up. And while most pickup owners get a little tired of moving friends, with the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon chances are you’ll jump every time a backcountry friend calls on their sat phone for a favour.At first blush, this four-door Wrangler with a box bolted on the back appe...
Road Test

Want a 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross? Check out these 3 competitors first

OVERVIEW Sort of like a BMW X6, but much cheaper and more reliable PROSCute as all get out, decent handling, 10-year warranty CONSGauge cluster looks old, CVT causes the engine to groan when pushed VALUE FOR MONEYGood, but not exemplary WHAT TO CHANGE?A real automatic, perhaps, and why not a 1.6L turbo-four for a bit more oomph? HOW TO SPEC IT?I'd go for the Limited and bypass the GT So, you want a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. What you seem to be saying is, you want a crossover-cum-SUV-cum-sport-cute that looks a little coupe-ish. Sort of...
Road Test

Reader Review: 2020 Chevrolet Blazer RS AWD

Defying expectations, Carolin Adie was surprised by the 2020 Chevy Blazer.“I was shocked, actually,” the Calgary driver admits. “I figured a Blazer would be kind of bland, but this was definitely far from bland.”Reintroduced to the Chevrolet line of vehicles in 2019, the Blazer nameplate actually dates back 50 years to 1969, when the automaker first launched a sporty truck-based vehicle to compete with the Ford Bronco. Several iterations followed, some proving extremely popular, but Chevy quit Blazer production in 2005.Aimed to fit between the larger Traverse and the smaller Equinox in Chevrolet’s current range of SUVs, the newest five-seat midsize Blazer takes some of its design cues from the Camaro. The Blazer has a wide stance, plenty of interesting sheet metal and a rather t...
Road Test

SUV Review: 2020 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

OVERVIEW A mild refresh of the original luxury crossover PROSMade in Ontario, comfortable and quiet, smooth engine, stunning interior CONSOver-styled grille, starting to get pricey, some ergonomic quirks WHAT TO CHANGE?Sport+ mode should be the Normal mode, tone down the HOW TO SPEC IT?F Sport Series 2 ($65,050) The Lexus RX and I are old buddies. We’ve known each other for 22 years and four generations. I was there for its unveiling as the RX 300 back in 1998, the first real, successful attempt by a Japanese brand to build a luxury-oriented mid-sized spor...
Road Test

Want a 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost? Consider its competitors first

OVERVIEW A desirable four-cylinder Mustang PROSFast, fun, and fairly frugal CONSExpensive once you spec the necessary equipment that requires the High Performance package VALUE FOR MONEYIt's the only thing wrong with the car WHAT TO CHANGE?Make it less expensive HOW TO SPEC IT?Not much choice but take it as-equipped, since the options that cost so much are also what makes this a great car So, you want a high-performance Mustang. If that’s the case, you’ve traditionally gravitated towards one of the many V8s — from the base GT to the top-dog Shelby...
Road Test

SUV Review: 2020 Jeep Cherokee

It’s a crazy time in the automotive world. Ford builds a better sports coupe than Jaguar, some of the most exciting new luxury cars are coming from Korea, and the Jeep Cherokee is less “Jeep-like” than its competitors. Strange times, indeed.The Cherokee nameplate has a long and varied history with Jeep, but today it’s pinned onto their entry into the hotly contested and highly competitive compact crossover segment. Our tester is the nearly fully loaded High Altitude model; in the 1970s, that meant you had a unique catalyst and emissions system, but today, you get a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, black and grey exterior accents, 19-inch wheels, FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system with GPS navigation and an 8.4-inch touchscreen, and a nine-speaker Alpine stereo with a subwoofer. It also appa...
Road Test

SUV Review: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

OVERVIEW Fully loaded, luxury SUV with serious off-road cred PROSInterior creature comforts; exterior styling VALUE FOR MONEYDecent, but brings into the conversation luxury German performance utes WHAT TO CHANGE?Prefer a darker interior HOW TO SPEC IT?As is, but pass on rear entertainment system If the Grand Cherokee lineup were the Spice Girls, this vehicle would be Posh Spice. The upmarket Summit trim is one of seven available for 2020, two more than there are ‘Girls,’ and rounds out a model line that includes some other Spice-parallels (Baby Spice would ...
Road Test

SUV Review: 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS

OVERVIEW Porsche’s sportiest driving and looking Cayenne gets V8 power PROSuncanny agility and body control, vocal V8, high style CONSoptions add up quickly, firm ride, can’t tow if you get the uber-cool central exhaust (part of the Lightweight Sport Package), compromised cargo space HOW TO SPEC IT?Handling upgrades and Burmester audio should do I knew something was afoot when first viewing the 2021 Porsche Cayenne Coupe GTS’s head up display. Proudly presented in my line of sight as I peered over the Cashmere Beige Metallic hood was a tachometer and G-force meter – ready to mea...
Road Test

SUV Review: 2020 Buick Encore GX

OVERVIEW New all-wheel-drive compact crossover PROSFuel efficient, cargo capacity, well integrated dash CONSToo little engine, firm ride, pricey with options WHAT TO CHANGE?It really needs a four-cylinder engine to be competitive HOW TO SPEC IT?GX Select ($30,098) There’s no polite way of saying it: GM’s timing for the debut of the Buick Encore GX just plain sucks; its supposed release at the end of March perfectly coinciding with the overdue realization that the COVID-19 pandemic was indeed becoming global in nature. So, the awareness level for the latest...
Calgary, Road Test

Reader Review: 2020 Toyota Camry XSE V6 TRD

Incredulity was par for the course as Brian Smith spent a week testing the new Toyota Camry TRD.‘THAT’s a Toyota Camry!?’ people queried the Calgarian as he took his kids to one of their first basketball practices in the cautiously re-opening city during this new pandemic-era. They weren’t the only ones to respond in such a manner.And yes, it’s a Camry. It’s actually the first TRD-tuned – for Toyota Racing Development – Camry that Toyota has ever produced. Based on the eighth-generation Camry, a five-passenger sedan that was redesigned and launched for the 2018 model year, this TRD version adds to the XSE V6 model some unique and aggressive styling with an aerodynamic body kit. Included in that kit is a front splitter, side skirts, a trunk lid spoiler and rear diffuser. The TRD ...
Road Test

5 things I learned driving the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

You can do two things when life gets you down. Choice one, as my mother told it so many years ago, is to fold up your tent and skulk away, tail between your legs, in the dead of night. The other choice — and even at six years old, I could figure out by dear old mother’s tone of voice that this was the option I was expected to choose — you can hunker down and figure away out of the morass.It’s no secret the sedan segment is hurting. SUVs are ascendant, ordinary consumers are buying F-250 dualies because they have to move a dresser once a year, and sport-cutes are a phase that threatens to overwhelm the entire automotive marketplace. What’s a traditional automaker, especially one steeped in a long history of sport coupes and sedans, to do?Improve. That’s why Alfa Romeo, all but a ...
Road Test

SUV Review: 2020 Hyundai Kona

OVERVIEW All-wheel-drive, subcompact crossover PROSVery well contented, fun to drive, fuel efficient CONSToo much plastic in the cabin, growly engine under acceleration WHAT TO CHANGE?Softer plastics for interior with colours other than black HOW TO SPEC IT?Luxury AWD ($27,949) Talk about a walk-off home run. In its first full year of sales, almost 26,000 compact-sized Kona crossovers were sold in 2019, making it Hyundai’s second-best selling vehicle in Canada, just behind the larger Tucson. Clearly indicative of the continued strength of the entire SUV mar...