Photo Gallery
Login
Powered by Squarespace
Saturday
Nov302013

2013 Acura TSX

2013 Acura TSX

2.4L 4 Cylinder 201 HP with 6 Speed Close Ratio Manual Transmission

White Pearl with Ebony Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the TSX...click.

We had the unique opportunity to experience an outgoing model for a few days. We were left with the impression that it remains a cool car. Yes...we know the TSX is replaced by the ILX.

We also know that through the years there have been a myriad of comments and opinions directed at the TSX.

As expected the styling is middle of the road Acura conservative, with the iconic grille shield, and a discreet street presence. Upholding the tradition of Acura sedans in having conservative styling, with a subtle street presence. 

The interior is surprisingly well finished, with higher quality leather, and many soft touches. Compared to numerous cars in the segment where you wonder where the leather came from, and accompanied by hard surfaces. The TSX is a pleasant surprise.

The controls are easy, intuitive, with a conservative dash layout. Great sound system, useful back up camera, easy to use power seats, yes the centre dash screen could be a little bigger. The rear seat has reasonable leg room to accomodate adults for short trips.

How does it drive?

First impression is that Acura understands how to mate a close ratio 6 speed transmission to its 4 cylinder engine. This car is fun to drive, the engine comes alive in the upper revolution range, the shifter is precise and easy...its a great combination.

The level of power is subdued, while the fun factor is elevated.

The steering is precise, the brakes are authoritative, and while most cars are solid on broken pavement this TSX is extra solid and confidence inspiring. Yes...the car inspires a level of exuberance.

Overall its a pleasant surprise to experience a competent car, with a high level of fit and finish, and a genuine sporting chracter with a responsive engine and a precise manual transmission.

The quick review

 

 

Tuesday
Oct292013

2013 Honda CR-V

2013 Honda CR-V LX

2.4L 4 Cylinder 185 HP with 5 Speed Automatic Transmission

Crystal Black Pearl with Black Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the CR-V...click

Through the past few years compact sport utility vehicles have increasingly gained popularity. The CR-V is one of the best selling CUV's in Canada. We welcomed the opportunity to spend a few days with this tester.

Although most CUV's adhere to the same styling thought vector. The rear of the CR-V is unique, and always elicits a comment or reaction.

As we always mention styling is a personal choice, while we appreciate  styling that elicits comments.

Our tester being the LX version (base model) in addition to having steel wheels, came with a cloth interior. While providing us an opportunity to experience a less optioned version. 

The interior is voluminous and airy, its feels bigger inside than the exterior dimensions, the seats are comfortable, the rear seat leg room is good, the back up camera is useful and expected. The convex rear view mirror for the rear seat is a pleasant surprise, its a great way to monitor the activity in the rear seat from the driver's position. The sound system is middle of the road, the various plastic covers have a reasonable tactile feel.

The rear lift over is lower than most CUV's which makes the cargo area easier to use, when handling cumbersome items, yes...the seat backs are also easy to fold.

You can configure your own CR-V.

What is it about this CR-V that captured our attention?

Its a Honda, its a well thought out all purpose family vehicle. For a family that requires an all purpose vehicle that can deal with the requirements of children and an active life style. The feeling of competence, and thinking out the details is certainly appealing.

How does it drive? 

Its a competent with middle of the road performance; adequate power from the 4 cylinder and smooth shifts from the 5 speed automatic. Its great on surface streets, and navigating shopping mall parking areas. In addition the highway passing performance is surprising from 185 HP. 

This is a busy segment with strong contenders. Why should you experience a CR-V? It immediately communicates that its competent, reassuring, with a compelling value proposition for the price point. 

The quick review

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct172013

2010 GLK350 CPO

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4 Matic Certified Pre Owned

3.5L V6 268 HP with 7 Speed Automatic Transmission

Black with Charcoal Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the GLK350...Click

In case you did not know GLK's are a success story with Canadian consumers / customers, and we all know that Canadians have a keen affinity for a strong value proposition. In our case its interesting to experience a slightly used certified pre owned version of the GLK, and seek out all the value points that continue to make it a success in Canada.

The styling is upright and angular, creating a distinctive street presence; compared to the majority of vehicles in this segment, the GLK stands out! Agreed that styling is a personal choice. 

The angular aspect is carried over to the interior which is well finished with attention to detail as you would expect in a Mercedes. The choice of materials is middle of the road, with some hard plastic, and expansive wood finishes. 

Power seats with memory, push button start, good sound system, rain sensing wipers, park assist are all features that one expects in a Mercedes, and a power tailgate too. Lets not forget the full complement of safety features, which again are expected from a manufacturer that holds a leadership position in safety. 

The upright, angular styling makes for a spacious, and inviting interior with adult sized rear seat leg room, while the cargo area is big, and folding down the rear seat becomes huge. The immense panorama roof brightens the interior, while slightly raising the level of wind noise at highway speeds.

The front seat cushions are adult sized with the correct thigh support.

In a crowded, competitive segment, you cannot overlook the distinctiveness of the GLK. Agreed it also generates stronger opinions and reactions which is always interesting.

From our perspective what else is distinctive about a GLK?

Yes...the wheels are big, 20 inches of big, its powered by the venerable 3.5L V6 with a nice growl, coupled to a 7 speed transmission with a comfort and sport shift algorithm. There is a good level of power for surface streets, and highway passing.

The GLK is reassuring on a stretch of broken pavement, the steering is presice, the brakes are good, yes it makes you feel good. The suspension is taught, for a CUV which steadies the GLK under most driving condition.

Most CUV's are acceptable in on/off ramp situations with moderation being the order of the day. The GLK with the 20 inch wheels and corresponding tires, enhanced by the taught suspension literally attacks on/off ramps and our favorite road with a few tighter turns. This CUV is a ton of fun in turns with enough power to make it interesting, and rewarding. 

If you really want a sport sedan, but pragmatic realities demand a CUV, and a compelling value proposition the GLK350 is a sport sedan in a CUV with a gratifying fun factor.

Why you should consider a Certified Pre Owned? They are meticulously inspected and reconditioned, providing peace of mind with comprehensive extended warranties, easy to acquire with responsive financial packages specific to CPO versions. 

The quick review...

 

 

 

Tuesday
Oct082013

2014 Nissan Versa Note - Urban Cruiser

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL

1.6 L 4 cylinder 109 HP with 5 Speed Manual Transmission

Magnetic Grey with Charcoal Cloth 

The photo gallery/slide show of the Versa Note...click.

Agreed we have an interest in smaller urban vehicles, since there is a segment of the auto market that is increasingly gravitating in the direction of these urban cars. We were anxious to spend a few days with the Versa Note.

The styling in this segment is always a function of being utilitarian, efficient, maximising space, while being somewhat attractive is a lower priority. The 4 door, rear hatch format is standard for cars of this size.

The first thing that caught our attention, the interior volume of this Versa is positively huge for the small exterior, the rear seat leg room competes directly with a stretched wheelbase sedan. For the price point the interior is spacious, well finished, the seats are very comfortable with a contrasting pattern to add character and life.

The folding rear seat, with the rear hatch enables to carry a variety of cargo, a shopping trip to Ikea comes to mind.

This tester came with heated seats, an acceptable sound system with satellite radio, and a back up camera to facilitate dealing with tighter spaces. Although the seats are manual, they are adjustable similar to power seats. 

In a busy urban environment this car can be parked in smaller spaces, is extremely manoeuvrable, and turns what would feel small and congested into a fun experience compared to a bigger vehicle. The car really comes into its own in "tight" urban use.

You can configure and build the Versa Note.

The fuel economy rating is 7.4 L city and 5.4 L highway per 100 kms for the manual transmission.

How is the drive?

Its an urban car that meets a specific price point, with front disc and rear drum brakes which are a clear indication of cost savings to meet a price point. In an urban context its a fun car, the manual transmission is easy to shift, the back up camera facilitates parking. Needles to mention that navigating parking lots or even finding a parking space is no longer a chore.

On the highway the performance is acceptable, the wind noise is easily subdued by raising the volume of the radio, especially that the engine revolutions are higher than lower at highway speeds. The higher revolutions provide reasonable passing power considering the power.

Its a busy market segment with a myriad of choices, the Versa Note stands out with impressive interior room, for the size of the car...it absolutely does not feel cramped inside even for rer seat passengers. Visibility is excellent to navigate tight spaces. 

Lets not forget that the price point is advantageous.

The quick review...

 

 

Tuesday
Sep242013

2014 Chevrolet Impala - Impressive

2014 Chevrolet Impala LT

3.6 L V6 305HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Silver Ice Metallic with Grey Leather/Ultra Suede

The photo gallery/slide show of the Impala...Click

We are all familiar with the outgoing Impala, and its vocation as a daily rental. We recently had an opportunity to experience a rental Impala for a few days...an uninspiring, competent car, disconnected from the Impalas of old.

On first seeing the new for 2014 Impala, the car inspires and through its styling sends a powerful message that its breaking tradition with the previous Impala. While perhaps espousing what an Impala was all about from a few years, or perhaps decades ago.

Even the Impala logos on the B pillars are a reminder of the historical Impalas...from back in the day when Chevrolet ruled, and the Impala was the top of the line. 

Although styling is a personal preference, this car is evocative, makes a statement, has a strong street presence, reinforced by the fastback roof. One recent styling trend is to have bigger grilles, this Impala complies adding a sizeable "bow tie" in the grille.

The interior reinforces the message conveyed by the styling, its fresh, the ultra suede inserts and piping add a touch of distinction, the stitching on the dash enhances the sophistication. Its a cool interior, the controls are easy, the centre display/touch screen is quite easy to use. The Navigation screen in horizon mode ads a cool factor. You can connect your device through bluetooth and listen to your own music on a great Bose sound system. 

The indirect interior lighting is a totally cool feature.

The rear seat is a revelation with huge leg room, you expect good leg room from a full size sedan, this is immense, and a reminder of cars costing thousands more with extended wheelbases. Yes...the rear seat is inviting for adults.

The trunk is big, and with a folding seat back will accomodate all sorts of stuff.

You can configure the Impala here

How does it drive? We kept on saying among ourselves, its a good car, it drives really well, good level of power, good brakes, responsive steering.

You expect all of the above, but this car does it well, and makes sure that you immediately realise that it does it very well, its competent, its seamless, its reassuring.

The V6 with 305HP generates appreciable power to provide authoritative acceleration and confident highway passing, the transmission is smooth with a shift algorithm directed towards smoothness.In addition the car is solid on our stretch of broken pavement.

Although imperceptible due to the styling, the tires are positively huge, this car has 245/45R19 tires which you would not expect on a sedan. Obvious they also make a contribution to how the car handles, brakes, steers.

There are a ton of mid to full size sedan that are very good and competent, what is so special about this car?Simple...the folks at Chevrolet have done their due diligence and reenergised the historic Impala value equation...its a competent full size sedan with a strong value proposition which is what the historic Impala was all about...when Chevrolet ruled.

If you are considering a mid size or full size sedan you probably never considered an Impala, it did not even blip on your radar. We strongly urge you to experience this new Impala, it will redefine how you look at the other vehicles in the segment. 

The quick review.

 

 

Tuesday
Sep032013

2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD

3.7L V6 300 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Bordeaux Reserve with Light Dune Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the Lincoln MKZ.

After reading numerous thoughts and comments, we were anxious to spend a few days with the new MKZ which sets the future direction of the Lincoln brand in the luxury segment. 

Although styling is a personal preference we find the MKZ styling unique to set it apart and appealing to make a statement, while preserving the iconic Lincoln grille in a refreshed version. Agreed we are partial to the 4 door fastback look. Its a cool car...the immense sunroof opening on the exterior not only preserves interior headroom, it ads a touch of originality too.

The interior is well finished with a judicious choice of materials, surfaces, and textures to uphold a sense of luxury while meeting a price point. The THX sound sytem is awesome and expected, as well as the various other features from navigation, back up camera, heated seats, and so on. The controls are easy to use and mostly intuitive which is the way it should be and again expected. My Lincoln Touch is at the same level as the systems offered by other manufacturers,

The rear seat is accomodating for adults providing good leg and head room for a fastback design; which reinforces why the sunroof opens on the outside of the roof.

As is almost "de rigueur" in this segment to be in a competitive position this tester is the all wheel drive version. 

Its a cool car, the interior is well executed, the sound system is impressive, all the technology that you anticipate is there, how does it drive?

The push button shifter immediately captures your attention, and keeps on capturing your attention that its different, communicating that its a Lincoln MKZ and not something else.

This car is smooth, reassuring, with a good level of power for all circumstances, while the AWD is imperceptible. The Lincoln Drive Control powered by technology enables the driver to alter the personality, and driving characteristics of the car, its cool since not only do shift points, accelerator inputs alter, with an electric power steering even the steering feel alters.  

You can configure your Lincoln...here.

The car is solid when driving over our usual stretch of broken pavement, the brakes are good for the intented purpose, and the steering feel can be altered.

This new MKZ is an appreciable improvement from the previous version, and enhances Lincoln's positioning in the hyper competitive entry level luxury segement. Its gratifying to see Lincoln starting to wedge itself in this market segment with a noteworthy car.  

If you are considering an entry level, or perhaps even a mid size luxury car, and we all know the names of the various partcipants in these segments. Make it a point to experience the Lincoln MKZ, you will see Ford's vision of luxury. 

The quick review

 

 

Wednesday
Jul102013

2013 Jaguar XF - Its Elegant

2013 Jaguar XF AWD

3.0L V6 Supercharged 340 HP with 8 Speed Automatic Transmission

Ebony with Charcoal Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the  Jaguar XF

We all have our own opinions of Jaguars which usually tend to be at least humorous if nothing else. We approached this Jaguar with an open mind, its English, its owned by an Indian company (Tata), lets see what this latest blend is all about. 

In the rarer atmosphere of luxury vehicles, they either feel right from the outset, or it usually develops into an intellectual debate of compromises. The XF feels right from the "get go", this car immediately communicates that its a competent luxury car. What a pleasant surprise!

Although styling is a personal choice, the XF gathers numerous positive comments from onlookers, with its distinctive street presence. Most folks find it refreshing compared to the habitual Teutonic look in this segment. From our perspective the styling is appealing, distinctive, while making an elegant statement.

The interior is well appointed in warm charcoal with ivory, meticulously finished, complemented by the suede headliner. Lets not forget the knurled aluminum with satin rosewood. The dash vents that close when the igition is turned off are a totally cool feature. The seats are supportive and comfortable, the 7 inch center screen is easy to use while being on the larger side of most screens. All the features that you expect in a car of this segment are present, from navigaton, back up camera, including the rotary shift knob which does take some getting used to it. Agreed that you expect an interior that exudes the tradition of leather in an English car.

Lets not forget the impressive sound system which from our perspective is compulsary luxury feature, on which this Jaguar delivers. As well as the accomodating rear seat leg room.

You can configure the Jaguar XF to your own preferences.

Driving the car!

How the 8 speed automatic is mated to the engine is truly impressive, as if the various algorithms anticipate your every move. The rotary shift selector is counter intuitive to how well the engine and transmission perform. In addition to having a good level of power for acceleration and highway passing. While the AWD configuration is seamless, and imperceptible. 

This car is reassuring, and pleasant to drive, with a good steering feel, strong brakes, good performance in on/off ramps, and completely unfazed over broken pavement. 

Its a pleasant surprise, immdiately and convincingly surpassing our expectations.

If you are consedering a mid size luxury sedan, and you probably did not consider a Jaguar for a multitude of your own reasons. We suggest and urge you to experience the XF, especially you presently drive a mid size luxury car. The XF will quickly grasp your attention, and sway your emotions.

The quick review

 

 

 

Wednesday
Mar272013

2014 Mazda 6 - Sedan with Soul

2014 Mazda 6 GT

2.5L 4 Cylinder 184 HP with 6 Speed SKYACTIV-Drive Automatic Transmission

Soul Red Mica with Black Leather Interior

The photo gallery/slide show of the Mazda 6

I don’t consider myself that old. I’m on the cusp of just turning 31. I mean most young men/kids like myself still love the same things that we loved 5 years ago. The odd video game, party, and especially cool cars. I have to admit the past couple of cars had me worried.

Time is ticking, meaning I will have to grow up, and mature at some point. That means, sell that sport bike. Start looking at necessities rather than luxuries, and probably have to get some form of a family sedan. Its making me cringe just typing that.

To add insult to injury, that past couple of cars, although...good cars, seemed to be missing something.. Perhaps The Colonel said it best when reviewing the Accord “Its competent value”

So that is what I have to look forward to. Cars that offer “value” no more coupes, V8’s, twin turbos, or a clutch pedal? Until I pull in the drive way and see this new 2014 Mazda 6 in Soul Red Mica. At first glance I think to myself perhaps there is hope for the future, as long as Mazda is still around.

Styling wise the car is more with KUDO design language is livelier, and aggressive than its predecessor, and you can see all the right fastback sedan cues. The long hood, and short trunk also give it somewhat of a sports car silhouette while the 19’ wheels just add to the package. Inside the same lines continue on the dash, and door panels. The fit and finish is good, and what you expect in this class. The power seats are comfortable, and offer plenty of support, and the red stitching is a nice touch that also sets it apart.  This tester is a GT version with everything that Mazda offers, from active xenons that steer, navigation, 11 speaker Bose sound system, active cruise control, push button start, just name a few. Like all cars in this class it also offers a compelling value proposition.

The rear seat is roomy, offering acceptable leg room for adults.

You  can configure your own Mazda 6.

Motivating this Mazda 6 is a 2.5L four cylinder with SKYACTIV technology that makes 184HP and 185lb-ft which is inline with most cars in this class with the 4 cylinder box checked. Power comes on smooth and is not peaky. The engine also makes quite the snarl above 3000rpm. The 6 speed auto is well calibrated to the engine with smooth shifts. In manual mode the car will blip the throttle, and shifting through the gears using the paddles adds to the sporty experience. The car is light on its feet, even with snow tires on, and is a more exciting to drive than other sedans. The brakes are strong, and provide good feedback, and the steering although electric is wheel weighted. One of their slogan is “if it’s not worth driving, it’s not worth building” and Mazda did stay true to that.

I don’t think there is a single car in this class that does not offers strong value. Most is not all manufacturers, will pour everything they have into their mid size sedans. Mazda gives this car something extra that you won’t find in a brochure or product description....a soul.

LPR 

The quick review

 

 

Monday
Mar182013

2013 Honda Accord - Competent Value

2013 Honda Accord V6 Touring

3.5L V6 278 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission

Obsidian Blue Pearl with Grey Leather

The photo gallery / slide show of the Accord.

Its the Canadian Car of the Year...upholding the Honda tradition of holding a prominent position in the Canadian market with one or more of its vehicles. As you know, the mid size sedan segment is a battle ground fought primarily on value and features. This new Accord is not just a serious contender, but literally redefines the rules of engagement in the value equation. 

Our tester is the top of the line Touring version with a strong V6, and full featured at $35,290. its a ton of car for the money, and its a Honda! With the new Accord starting at $23,990. for the LX version...yes Honda is redefining the landscape, and the Accord sales figures since the beginning of this year confirm the impact of the new Accord on the segment.

You expect conservative middle of the road styling, and the Accord does not disappoint, while having a subdued street presence. The interior is well finished with attention to details, contrasting stitching to liven up the look, a good choice of materials to balance the price point. While all the features that you expect, from a sunroof, satellite radio, navigation, back up camera, prominent and well integrated center of dash displays are present. In addition to a novel right hand side camera when the turn signal is activated. 

Did we forget heated seats, push button start, a good sound system, to name a few more. The full complement of features is truly impressive, the trade off is a level of prominent black plastic.

The heated rear seat is roomy and  accommodating for adults.

Yes...the projector beam LED headlamps are very cool.

You can configure your Accord.

One of the constants of any Honda, is a superior driving experience. This new Accord immediately embarks on a mission to impress with the level of power, the well calibrated smooth shifting 6 speed transmission. The 278 horsepower is exuberant, well trained, feels like more, with a wonderful sound. Its a joy to depress the throttle by wire.

The car is reassuring, competent, with an enthusiastic level of sportiness. The electrically assisted rack and pinion steering provides adequate steering feel, while the brakes are very good for a sedan.   

The V6 has VCM (vehicle cylinder management) and a novel Eco Mode indicated with geen highlights on the circumference of the speedometer. You can elect to remain in the green, or enjoy the engine sound while turning the circumferene white.

You expect a Honda to provide a superior driving experience, and become impressed by its competence, and how good the driving experience really is. 

In a very competitive segment populated by ton pf great sedans, why should you consider the Accord? Its competent value, with a full complement of features that you expect, and several that will surprise you, while upholding the Honda tradition of being a great driving car. 

The quick review

 

 

Wednesday
Feb202013

2013 Toyota Avalon - Exceptional Value

2013 Toyota Avalon Limited 

3.5L V6 268 HP with 6 Speed Automatic Transmission w/Paddle Shift

Cypress Pearl with Almond Leather 

The photo gallery/slide show of the Avalon

The styling of the new Avalon appealed to us from the instant we saw the first photos. Yes the fast back sedan look captures our interest, while generating a compelling street presence. Compared to the previous Avalon this one exudes additional vigor and youthfulness. 

As usual Toyota is meticulous with their press vehicles ensuring that they have winter tires, which were very useful during the appreciable snowfall we experienced a few days after we picked up the car. We should mention that the Avalon is great in snow inspiring confidence negotiating streets and parking lots that were not well plowed due to the heavy snowfall. 

The interior is refreshing, and meticulously well finished with detail stitching on the dash that ads an additional touch of sophistication. All the features that you expect are present, from power seats, sunroof, heated and ventilated seats with lumbar, navigation. In addition our tester included the Premium package with a JBL sound system, rear seat climate control, heated rear seat, dynamic cruise control to name a few additional features. 

In typical Toyota philosophy the center dash display is conservative with a smaller than bigger touch screen. The rear seat leg room is generous. the rear climate control enhances the comfort of rear seat passengers; while the trunk is the size you would expect on a full size car. 

Sitting in the car, perusing the interior, the features, it quickly becomes apparent that its a lot of car for a starting price of $ 38,900. and obvious that being a Toyota the fit and finish is superlative, you would not expect anything less from Toyota.

You can configure your own Avalon.

How does it drive? 

We had an opportunity to experience the Avalon with a good amount of snow, the traction control, ABS, work well in snow conditions. We navigated streets and parking areas with appreciable snow, the Avalon was competent, inspired confidence, and never lost its composure to gain traction. We should mention that our speeds were in direct relation to the conditions.

Its a middle of the road competent full size sedan, with a good level of power from the V6, accompanied by a smooth shifting 6 speed transmission, acceptable steering feel and good brakes. Its not spectacular in any area, but does everything spectacularly well.

Be it travelling on surface streets, navigating parking lots, or on highways, its a reassuring car with an acceptable level of power for all situations. Its not a sport sedan, although if the car seems too sedate, selecting "sport mode" will immediately elevate the "vigor" of the car.

Why you should consider and experience the Avalon. You are focusing on a full size sedan for your needs, there are numerous choices offered by many manufacturers. Some have subdued styling, while other have the emerging fast back sedan look, either in a smaller or in many instance more expensive offerings. The Avalon is stylish, with a complement of features often found on more expensive sedans. 

Its a competent car, offering exceptional value...yes its a lot of car for the money!

 

The quick review