William Byron won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Myatt Snider finished first in the Xfinity Series race at the same place on Saturday and this week’s Sermon, which is pretty heavy on politics (hint: F1 and Saudi Arabia), can be found way down at the bottom of this report.

First, the Cup race.

The transition of NASCAR drivers from a bunch of good ol’ boys to prep-school graduates was perfectly illustrated on Sunday by Byron’s drive to victory in the No. 24 car made famous by Jeff Gordon, who owns half of this entry. NASCAR used to be the world’s last major racing series where, unlike Formula One or IndyCar or all the various “ladders,” pure, unadulterated talent behind the wheel and the courage to go out there in the first place gave a driver the potential to perhaps land a competitive ride. Jeff Gordon is a perfect example.

But the days are gone when guys like Alan Kulwicki or Geoff and Brett Bodine could wrench and then race their own stock car or NASCAR modifieds on the small ovals and then fight their way to the top in Cup. Now, as is the case with most of the world’s open-wheel series, money gives a driver a huge leg up, if not the seat outright.

That doesn’t mean drivers who have money can’t drive the cars as well as drivers who don’t, but it does mean the transition from the backyard to the boardroom is pretty much complete and that pretty well eliminates any chance somebody without means has of making the big time.

It’s the way of the world, of course. One upon a time, you needed a pair of skates and you could make it to the NHL. Now, it costs so much to play hockey, a kid with only a pair of skates doesn’t stand a chance.

Byron is a classic example of the new NASCAR. He started out playing iRacing games on a computer. When he was 15, he got into Legends racing, with some late-model racing on the side, and then went right into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he won the championship. In 2016, he raced in the Camping World Truck Series (he also had a couple of ARCA starts) and set a record for wins by a rookie with five, en route to winning Rookie-of-the-Year. In 2017, it was into the Xfinity Series and he won the championship as well as being named top rookie. He went into Cup the following year and was rookie-of-the-year – only the second driver to ever be named top rookie in three NASCAR series in consecutive seasons. He is starting his fourth season in Cup and Sundays’ win was his second in the top series.

Tyler Reddick was second in Sunday’s race, with Martin Truex Jr. third, Kyle Larson fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.

For a complete report on Sunday’s Cup race, please click here

One of the most frightening things you can see at any race track, but something that I have never seen before in quite the way it happened, took place during Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami, which was won by Myatt Snider, his first in 36 starts in the series.

As driver Daniel Hemric pulled into his pit for a stop, the tire carrier, loaded down with one under each arm, crossed in front of the car, as he is supposed to do, but the car somehow made contact with one of the tires as it braked to a stop, knocking the man flying like a bowling pin and sending the tires going every which way.

My heart was in my mouth as I watched this happen, because I immediately was afraid that if he was dazed and unable to leap out of the way, he might be hit by another car leaving the pits. There was some immediate confusion but the team managed to pull itself together and completed the stop.

The tire carrier, Josh Shipplett, had sore ribs and was replaced during the Xfinity race but was cleared to work Sunday during the Cup race.

It took them a couple of overtime shots to reach the checkers Saturday and one of the leaders, Noah Gragson, was eliminated in a crash. But when the smoke cleared, Snider was chased across the line by Brandon Jones, Hemrick, Jeff Burton and Austin Cindric. Tyler Reddick was initially second but was disqualified during post-race inspection.

For a complete report on Saturday’s Xfinity race, please click here:


Scott and Penny Steckly’s son Kyle (photo, above) will start following in his father’s footsteps this season when he starts racing Pro Late Models with the support of Qwick Wick and AW Millwrights. Kyle, the 15-year-old son of four-time NASCAR Canada champion Scott, honed his skills driving mini stocks and plans to run a full Pro Late Model season at Flamborough Speedway with periodic starts in the APC United Late Model series.

Romain Grosjean did 80 laps in his Dale Coyne-Rick Ware IndyCar at Barber Motorsport Park last week and, other than a small spin early in his tenure, handled himself well. He wasn’t particularly quick, but that will come, I expect. He’s still having problems with a badly burned left hand, there is no power steering in an Indy car (which I find strange; it should be no big deal) and he has to build himself up physically. The IndyCars don’t start their season till April so he has time to get ready.

Santino Ferrucci, who gave up a full-time IndyCar ride this season to learn stock car racing in the Xfinity Series, says he has a few open weekends so chances are he will run the Indianapolis 500 in May and perhaps one or two other races. Ferrucci finished 30th in the Xfinity race. He hit the wall fairly early in the race and lost laps while in the pits for repairs. But he certainly didn’t disgrace himself.

Nick de Vries won the first Formula Electric race in Saudi Arabia at the weekend. Sam Bird won the second race of the season on the same circuit, driving for Jaguar. Driver Alex Lynn was checked out at hospital after a terrible accident in which his single seater got upside down, skidded down the track and wedged itself under the ARMCO (where have we heard about this before?)

All 12 races in the Canadian Touring Car Championship will be broadcast on TSN this season. Whistlestop Productions will handle filming and production.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is taking over the Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in a $2.5-billion deal.  Both companies are strong supporters of motorsport. Whether the Cooper brand will continue remains to be seen.

Several weeks ago, I broke the news that three Canadian motorsport icons had died. There are now others.

Sir Lewis Hamilton

Tim Miller, motorsport writer for the Hamilton Spectator, sent me the following information:

“Don Douglas, who died recently at age 85 (see photo), was one of the pioneers in organized drag racing in Canada.

“After racing a front-engine dragster for several years, Douglas, of Brantford, along with partners Larry Rook and Jerry Haman, took over the running of the Cayuga Dragway, which opened in 1954, in 1962.

“Along with building spectator stands and improving the pit area, Douglas and his partners were the first in Canada to order – and then operate – a Chrondeck Christmas Tree starting system from California. As the sport evolved, they knew the flagman starts were not going to keep pace, so they ordered the Tree and clocks which were in place for the 1964 season.

“The Tree was a big step over a flagman,” Douglas said in an interview last year. “We were running just class racing at first, but then the ET racing started, and it was difficult to properly start the cars. That was the reason we got the Tree.”

“The original Christmas Tree starting system, which cost $1,300, continued to send racers on their way down the track for years but technology caught up and today the track sports a Compulink system, complete with win lights and scoreboards.”

Thanks, Tim. RIP, Don.

Not a motorsport figure, but an automotive legend nevertheless, Max Wickens died last week at age 79. A founding member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), he filed stories throughout his career to the CBC, Toronto Star, Oshawa Times, Etobicoke Guardian and the Hamilton Spectator. He was also PR director of British Leyland Motors and Nissan Canada. RIP, Max.

Finally, not a Canadian but Hannu Mikkola of Finland, 1983 World Rally Champion and widely regarded as being among the greatest rally drivers of all time, has died at the age of 78.

Sir Lewis Hamilton


This is a story that will be – as we say in the trade – overtaken today. In other words, there will be developments.

I have been ranting, for months, about Formula One’s decision to schedule a race in Saudi Arabia this season. This is because the country’s reputation for ignoring basic human rights has been well documented. As long as you keep your nose clean and bow down, you have nothing to worry about. But if you step out of line in any way, you will find yourself in serious, serious trouble.

One who did was the journalist and Washington Post contributing columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. There is no need to repeat the gruesome details of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Although it’s been long suspected, the U.S. government made public last week a U.S. Intelligence report that said Khashoggi’s murder was the work of a hit team operating under direct order of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, identified in the report as MBS.

Now, the ink was barely dry on the report before spokespeople for President Joe Biden were saying MBS would get a pass because to do otherwise would create a breach with a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. But Jamal Khashoggi wasn’t just some other Saudi dissident. He was a writer and columnist for a major American newspaper and the administration’s too-quick reaction did not sit well with the Washington press corps.

The focus of most, if not all, the Sunday news programs was Saudi Arabia and the prince. Journalists around the world called for sanctions against MBS. Biden subsequently announced that he would make a statement on Monday.

I hope the United States – and Canada (our man Trudeau was interviewed by NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday) – will re-evaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia because of this murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And that, as a result, American-based Liberty Media, owner of Formula One, will cancel its planned race there.

Because the pressure will just not let up. Regardless of what Biden announces Monday, DAWN (the Democracy for the Arab World Now organization founded by Khashoggi before he died) will continue to lobby for America to impose sanctions (asset freezes, visa bans) against the prince.

And 45 human rights organizations and foreign policy groups have written to Sir Lewis Hamilton (photo, above) asking him to boycott the race. If that’s not possible, they want him to speak out against human rights violations in the Saudi kingdom. “The most decorated Formula One driver in the history of the sport demanding freedom for activists . . . would certainly speak volumes to the world,” one petition said.

Norris McDonald / Special to Wheels

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Thoughts while driving around on a wintry afternoon:

I used to say to my wife – who knows how to drive but let her licence lapse years ago because, when you live with me, I do the driving – that driving was the perfect illustration of cooperation. You have tens of thousands of cars and trucks on the road and, for the most part, they avoid running into each other and get to where they want to go.

That was then. Nowadays, driving on the 400-Series highways in and around the GTA is almost like taking your life in your hands. Nobody gives anybody else an inch – er, centimetre. I live near a major highway interchange where tractor-trailers leave warehouses with their loads and use a cloverleaf to get onto the 401.

They emerge from the “on” ramp with their directional signal indicating they would like to move left onto the highway and there are a bunch of cars in front of me and I’m watching this little scenario play out and I’m seeing that not one will slow down and let that big truck into line.

Now, if just one of those drivers had eased off the accelerator and let that truck in, we would all have been able to keep going with a minimum of fuss. But by being jerks and hanging that truck out to dry, they forced it to stop at the end of that “on” ramp and somebody on the highway (me) then had to stop to let the Big Guy in and all of a sudden you’ve got a backup and before long it backs up for miles – er, kilometres.

Smarten up, people. Please.

Many, many years ago, when I first got my driver’s licence (the day I turned 16, incidentally), my dad, the late J.A. (Al) McDonald, sat me down and told me this: your car (I bought my first one two days after I turned 16, incidentally) is a lethal weapon. Make sure it is in good repair and that all impediments to you driving it safely are wiped off or removed before you go out on the road.

I follow his instructions to the letter. If I don’t have time to run my truck through the car wash, I take a bottle of Windex and make sure I can see properly out of all the windows. And I have an extended sweeper so that in winter, after it snows, I can push or sweep whatever accumulates off of it.

And what about the roof, you say? Well, I have a stool and I stand on it to sweep off the snow.

So few things make me as angry as driving along in the winter and suddenly having a large load of snow land on my windshield that came flying off a car or truck in front of me because the driver was too lazy to take a few minutes to clean it off. It can startle you and cause a crash. (I took the photo of that car in front of me a week ago Thursday. The driver is a jerk.)

Smarten up, people. Please.

Now, nobody taught me anything about what’s coming next, which came as a big surprise.

When I picked up my wife from work on Christmas Eve, I drove us home, parked and locked the truck, and went into the house where we planned to stay until I drove her back to work in early January at the end of the Christmas break. We intended to hibernate. The pandemic kept us from celebrating with either of our families so we had lots of food and drink to consume and a bunch of Christmas movies to watch, etc. Other than opening the front door to get the Star out of the mailbox each day, we did not go out of the house once.

Since the truck had been sitting out in the elements for more than 10 days, I decided on the Sunday (Jan. 3), the day before I had to take it out on the road again, to give it the old once-over: clean off the snow, take the Windex to the windows and check the oil, wiper fluid and anything else that needed doing.

So, first things first: I got rid of the snow and spiffed up the glass. Then I popped the hood and what did I find but about a dozen pine cones that some enterprising squirrel had stashed away for a rainy day. They were neatly placed in just about every nook and cranny, hidden so that when Mr. (or Ms.) Squirrel felt like a feed of seeds that are hidden in the cones, they would be readily available.

There was no sign of the critter, which was good. I managed to find all the cones and tossed them out on the snowbank. And every time I go out there now, I bang on my hood to make sure he or she isn’t inside rummaging around, looking for lunch

Smarten up, squirrels. I mean it. 

Norris McDonald is a retired Star editor who continues to write for Wheels under contract. He reviews the weekend’s auto racing each Monday at wheels.ca  

The post Being Smarter About How We Drive appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

If you’re looking for a large family SUV with three rows of seating and you also want it to be hybrid you pretty much have two choices: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and the subject of this review, the Ford Explorer Hybrid.

Both of these near full-size SUVs are on a mission to save you money at the pumps. But both go about it quite differently.

If absolute efficiency is your main criteria, the Toyota will serve you well. However, if passing power and the largest towing capacity are what you need, the Ford would likely fare better.

I found the Explorer to be a bit of a mixed bag, one that I wanted to like more than I did, mainly because I dig the way it looks. I feel the Explorer’s evolutionary styling has reached a high point with this latest iteration. Its slim headlamps, commanding grille, wide stance, and muscular proportions strike a great balance between elegance and utility and would fare just as well at the valet as it would on the school run. And if you aren’t keen on advertising the greenness of your vehicle, you’d be happy to note that it took me a few minutes to spot the tiny little hybrid badge on the rear liftgate, so telling this apart from your run-of-the-mill Explorer is virtually impossible for all but the most knowledgeable.

The cabin on the other hand is a bit of a letdown with a sombre design, some poorly fitted trim pieces, and a tacked on infotainment screen that looks like an afterthought. More expensive trims come with an even larger, rather goofy-looking portrait-oriented screen, making me happy that my tester wasn’t equipped with it.

There are good things, though, like a myriad of thoughtful storage cubbies, ample room to move about, including in the third row where my 6-foot frame was able to fit just fine, a large cargo area, and generally excellent ergonomics with plenty of physical buttons and knobs so you don’t need to dive into the infotainment to do something like turn on the heated seats, or the A/C.

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

The Hybrid powertrain is available exclusively on the Limited Trim so it comes well equipped out of the box with intelligent 4WD, 20-inch wheels, voice-activated navigation, a terrain management system with multiple drive modes, 360 degree camera, wireless charge pad, remote start, and a heated steering wheel. You also get standard second-row captain’s chairs and a power-folding third row.

Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance is also standard and it includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering, evasive steering assist, and speed sign recognition.

You’ll pay quite a bit for all this with a base price of $53,799 representing quite a premium over a base level Highlander Hybrid, although the Ford does give you more content.

Where the Toyota uses a 4-cylinder and a CVT, Ford ups the ante with a 3.3-litre V6, and a 10-speed automatic transmission. An electric motor sandwiched in between the engine and transmission provides extra power and torque. The Highlander uses a trio of small motors including one on the rear axle for electric all-wheel drive. The Explorer uses a real mechanical AWD system.

With a combined power output of 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque, the Explorer Hybrid feels downright muscular with a great exhaust note and chunky power delivery that you wouldn’t expect from a hybrid. A 1.5 kWh battery pack provides electric operation for short distances at lower speeds and under light throttle usage.

The problem here is that the Explorer is a heavy vehicle and that small battery pack can only do so much, so you’ll be dipping into gasoline power more often than not. I try to drive hybrids like I do their gas-only counterparts and with the Explorer Hybrid my mixed road driving netted a rather disappointing 14L/100 km. With about 60 per cent of that on city streets, your experience might vary but the Highlander Hybrid I drove a few months prior used just 7L/100km, exactly half the fuel the Explorer did. And that’s really hard to ignore.

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

It’s an enjoyable drive, though, with an abundance of torque, whisper-quiet operation, and a comfortable and planted ride. The rear-biased 4WD system is also excellent on a snowy road, and even equipped with an all-season tire, the Explorer felt confident and controllable. That’s still not an excuse for not fitting a real set of winter tires, as traction is still limited. 4WD might get you going faster, but it doesn’t make an ounce of difference when it comes to slowing back down.

If there’s one thing that gets in the way of the driving experience, it’s the 10-speed automatic and its clunky shifts, more obvious at low speeds. I found it indecisive and prone to gear hunting, getting downright confused as to what gear it should be in under certain scenarios.

There’s a lot of good things about the Explorer and I feel given time it will be a much better overall product than it is right now. You should definitely not dismiss it because it’s a very good family vehicle, the tech is easy to use and works really well, and if you’re familiar with Ford products you’ll probably really like it.

I would, however, recommend against the hybrid. The base turbocharged 4-cylinder is just as powerful and only slightly less efficient. Natural Resources Canada actually rates its fuel consumption lower on the highway. And it will even tow more.

The post Review: 2021 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Buying a used plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in Ontario could be $2,000 more expensive by the end of this weekend, as two privately funded $1,000 rebates available for used PHEV buyers will expire by this Sunday at 11:59pm, though the rebates will remain for buyers looking for a pre-owned battery-electric vehicle on March 1st and beyond.

Program administrators Plug ‘N Drive announced the changes Thursday on the plugndrive.ca site. The current program offers any used plug-in vehicle buyer in Ontario with a $1,000 rebate when taking a one-hour EV seminar online by the non-profit EV organization, and another $1,000 if the EV buyer also takes any running internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle off the road.

“This is a privately funded rebate and the funder made the decision,” said Cara Clairman, founder and CEO of Plug ‘N Drive. “He wants to focus his funding on fully electric (vehicles), where the environmental benefit is greatest, which is his prerogative.”

Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, the new provincial government announced on Wednesday that it will introduce EV rebates for both new and used plug-in vehicles: $3,000 for new vehicles, $2,000 off for used EVs, and a $500 rebate for e-bikes.

Recently elected Premier Iain Rankin announced said it was key to bring electric vehicles to the province and will apply to plug-in vehicles up to $55,000.

“The rebates will apply starting today,” Rankin said, in his first announcement as Premier, with further details on this and further energy efficiency measures with homes to be released in the next month, he said. “We looked at programs in other provinces, and this complements the federal government rebate program,” with a similar price cap of $55,000.

Rankin also said he committed during his campaign to expand EV fast-charging infrastructure in commercial businesses as well, in hopes of increasing EV uptake in the province.

Nova Scotia becomes the fourth province to currently offer an EV rebate, after Quebec ($8,000), BC ($3,000) and the Yukon ($5,000); the current provincial government in Ontario cancelled its EV rebate soon after it was elected in 2018. Not counting Ontario’s privately funded EV rebates through Plug ‘N Drive, Nova Scotia becomes the second province after Quebec (which offered up to a $4,000 rebate starting in 2019) to offer a provincial rebate on used electric vehicles.

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It’s sayonara to Yaris, Fit and Micra, auf Wiedersehen to the Beetle, jalga to the Accent and adieu/so long to the Fiesta.

Robert Karwel, senior manager, Power Information Network (PIN) Canada, knows why the subcompact market – b-seg – is thinning out and he doesn’t mince words.

“The outlook for b-seg cars is grim, as there are not many models left to choose from. Canadian customers have voted with their wallets; they went up to an SUV variant, or, they went to the used vehicle market, perhaps the nearly-new CPO market,” Karwel said. “That is why we don’t foresee the subcompact car market coming back anytime soon.”

He went on to say that the automakers who used to be in the market aren’t mourning the passing of the b-seg cars even though many cars like the Yaris and Micra were solid sellers. Why? Because car buyers have left the market. They moved on up to subcompact SUVs, which offer more content and features and above all more space. And the automakers have the models to fit their needs.

“It’s all a demand-driven equation,” Karwel added.

The latest segment level data the PIN has indicates that the subcompact share of the Canadian retail car market shrank to 1.6 per cent for the year ending 2020. This is down 0.8 points from 2.4 per cent in 2019.

“To put it into perspective, that puts b-seg cars in 11th place for segment popularity and below Intermediate Luxury Utility at the next largest segment with 2.5 per cent retail share,” Karwel continued.

Where have all the customers gone?

“That’s not hard to guess,” said Karwell.

PIN stats show the fastest growing segment in 2020 was the Subcompact SUV. It increased its share from 2019 by over two full percentage points and is now the fifth largest segment in Canada.

Then he peers into the PIN crystal ball: “We predict it will overtake Intermediate Utility for fourth place sometime in 2021.”

PIN data shows that Canadian car buyers have been moving to bigger vehicles for years. The tide hit a high of 84 per cent light body truck penetration this past December.

New products

Karwel said that despite the pandemic, automakers have been putting new product such as the Trailblazer, Encore, Kicks, CX-30, Kona, Steltos into dealers’ showrooms to keep up with consumer demand.

“All nameplates that did not exist even just less than two years ago. In total we count about 16 nameplates,” he added. “Contrast that to subcompact car with five models, and some of those are on the way out.”

He pointed to sticker prices: the average pre-incentive price for a b-seg car in 2020 was about $19,000. But for a b-seg utility it was $29,000.

“That is a vast difference at that price level, but long-term financing options, low APR (annual percentage rate) and leasing, including 60 months have been able to keep payments within a tolerable level.”

Kia swims against the tide

2020 was a nightmare year for most automakers and their dealers, but not for Kia and its dealers. Kia declared 2020 a record year with eight months – January, February, June, July, August, September, October and December – of record sales.

August was Kia’s best-ever sales month in the automaker’s 20-year Canadian history: 8,780 units sold (an increase of 15 per cent YoY). In total, car buyers drove 72,452 Kias off dealer lots. Top models were the Forte and Sorento, and newcomer Seltos.

So, on the strength of sales numbers like those, the automaker is confident it needn’t pull out of the b-seg market. Kia continues to offer the Rio5. But it concedes that b-seg stalwarts like the Rio4 sedan and hatchback don’t attract customers anymore. So they are out of the lineup.

Going with the Rio5 offers a smaller – though still roomy – and less expensive answer to the SUVs.

“It’s important for Kia to have a diverse model line-up that fills different needs in many categories – particularly since there continues to remain interest from customers in the subcompact segment,” said Elias El-Achhab, COO at Kia Canada.

“With the option of the Rio 5-door as well as the Forte and Forte 5, Kia continues to offer excellent options to customers looking for well-equipped entry-level models.”

El-Achhab added those customers are largely Millennials who are attracted to the European-influenced design along with the wide range of safety and technology features.

Solid sales

Looks like going against the flow is paying off.

Starting price for the 2021 model with automatic transmission is $19,035. But that comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The price tag on the Chevrolet Spark starts at $11,798, but 1LCVT is $16,198. The Mitsubishi Mirage at $15,551. But add a CVT and the price tag is $16,751.


El-Achab added sales figures confirm the vehicle is priced right. “The Rio remains a popular product in Quebec specifically with more than 2,000 units sold annually in Quebec in the past five years.”

“Nationally, we’ve seen a 10.3 per cent increase in sales for January 2021 versus 2020, so the product is off to a great start this year.”

Lawrence Papoff is a former editor of Canadian AutoWorld magazine and continuing contributor to the magazine.

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The upcoming 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 all-electric crossover was revealed early this morning that will be the Korean company’s technological showcase for its modular battery electric platform that will usher in a family of new-generation line of Ioniq vehicles, while the current Ioniq hatchback and Kona EV models will continue on as more entry-level plug-in products.

The mid-size Ioniq 5 will come in rear-wheel drive form, with all-wheel drive optional, said Hyundai Canada officials in an online briefing about upcoming products planned to arrive in 2021. This will include plug-in hybrid versions of the all-new ’21 Santa Fe and the upcoming 2022 Tucson slated to arrive this spring, a compact SUV that will be sold in a long-wheelbase version for all of North America.

Hyundai Canada president Don Romano said the compact Tucson will be roughly the same size as the Ioniq 5, which the company is calling a mid-size crossover. Official specs peg the Ioniq 5 as only five millimetres longer than the Tucson, but with a much longer wheelbase for the BEV of 3,000mm versus 2,756mm for the Tucson. That should translate to much more passenger room for the wider (by 26mm) and sharply creased Ioniq 5.

However, even though the five-seat Ioniq 5 will offer an additional 24 litres of cargo room in the front trunk, and a healthy 531 litres of cargo space behind the second-row seat (1,591 litres when folded), the gas and hybrid Tucson easily tops those cargo numbers at 1,096 litres and 2,274 litres, respectively. The Tuscon PHEV will offer slightly less cargo room (903 litres, and 1,846 litrers seats down) than the similar gas and hybrid versions, and of course much less electric range than the Ioniq 5 – though not disclosed yet, will be in the double digits, not 400 km-plus of the Ioniq 5.

The exact amount of range available from the Ioniq 5 will depend on the battery selected, and perhaps on whether equipped with rear- or AWD. The standard range model comes with a 58 kWh battery, while a 77.4 kWh model will also be available in North America that Hyundai says will offer up to 470-480 km, although that’s using the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) rating.

This means it will likely achieve a rating of 420-430 km of range in top trim using the more realistic Natural Resources Canada/EPA ratings by the time it arrives in North America this fall, given that the Kona EV was also originally rated at 470 km by Hyundai using the WLTP standard, and it is now rated at 415 km of range in Canada.

The Ioniq 5 will come with rear-wheel drive in the base model, with a 168 hp (125 kW) motor that offers a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque (350 Nm) and a 0-100 km/h time of 8.5 seconds, the slowest of the Ioniq 5 variants. Opting for all-wheel drive also adds more power, with the addition of a second motor to the front wheels that adds up to a total 232 hp (173 kW) and a V8-like 446 lb-ft of torque. This version will run you from rest to highway speed in 6.1 seconds, said Hyundai.

The larger 77.4 kWh battery combined with rear-drive will be the one for those looking for that max 420 km-plus range. Opting for all-wheel drive will usher in its most powerful 302 hp (225 kW) dual motor version, which will run it from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds, according to Hyundai.

But perhaps the speediest aspect of the Ioniq 5 is its charging speed, especially at its expected mainstream price point – not disclosed yet, but expected to line up to BEV rivals such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the upcoming Volkswagen ID.4. Both of those offer between 125 and 150 kW max quick charging speeds, and while the Ioniq 5’s exact kilowatt figure remains undisclosed, Hyundai says that on CCS DC quick chargers rated at 350 kW, the Ioniq 5 can charge from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in a blazing 18 minutes.

Or more impressively, add 100 km of range in just five minutes.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5

This is Porsche Taycan territory here, which maxes out at a 270 kW quick charging speed, but in a luxury sports car that costs well into six figures. Going by Mustang Mach-E starting prices, the Ioniq 5 seems likely to start at closer to $50,000, though efforts may be made to sneak the starting price under the $45,000 level that would make it eligible for the national $5,000 EV rebate in Canada.

“This will be an 800-volt (super quick charging) crossover in what happens to be the biggest segment of the market,” said Romano.

Inside, the Ioniq 5 will offer two large digital screens, one in front of the driver in a futuristic binnacle-less layout, as well as a larger one above the floating centre instrument panel, since the gear selector is behind the steering wheel. A movable console in between the front seats offers elbow rests as well as storage underneath, and can also be moved rearward to offer rear passengers access to a wireless phone charger and cupholders.

The front seats also offer cushy business class-style reclining seats, including lower leg supports on both sides, while the rear seats can also move forward and back to prioritize rear legroom and cargo space as needed.

The Ioniq 5 will also offer a Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) capability that can supply up to 3.6 kW of power, which can power high-power equipment or even other EVs with the proper converter, though these converters have proven rare and relatively expensive up until now.

Though the advanced Ioniq 5 will no doubt be the most futuristic of the bunch, Hyundai will introduce three all-new plug-in crossovers to Canada this year, plus regular hybrid versions of the Santa Fe, Tucson and its popular Elantra compact car in 2021. The Kona and Kona EV will also receive a freshening for 2022, and is expected to arrive this spring, with a sleeker front end and a switch away from the dimpled front fascia the most noticeable change.

Story compiled using information provided by the manufacturer

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Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada announced that the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) crossover will arrive in dealerships at the end of March with a starting price of $44,198.

The 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander comes with a 2.4-litre engine that produces 126 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. Where the earlier Outlander had a 60kW rear-axle-mounted electric motor, the new 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander has a 70kW motor that increases the combined total system output to 221 hp, up 31 hp from the previous model. The main battery has also been given a boost, from the earlier 12.0 kW/h to 13.8 kW/h producing an increased range from 35 km to 39 km for a total combined range of 509 km.

The Outlander PHEV comes standard with DC Fast Charging capabilities allowing a charge to 80 per cent in 25 minutes. The Outlander PHEV can be charged with a standard home outlet at with the supplied charging cable, through brake generation and through Charge Mode that uses the gasoline engine to charge the battery

Added to this new 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander are Sport and Snow driving modes. These are paired with the optimized Active Yaw Control (AYC), anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control (TCL) to provide better control and handling for the driver.

The 2021 Outlander PHEV is available in four trim levels: SE, Limited Edition (LE), SEL and GT, and all come with standard S-AWC all-wheel drive. Pricing for the different trims are:

Outlander PHEV Trim Level MSRP
SEL S-AWC $44,198
LE S-AWC $45,698
SEL S-AWC $47,698
GT S-AWC $52,198

The 2021 Outlander PHEV continues to be eligible for federal and provincial incentives where applicable.

Story compiled using information provided by the manufacturer

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Lexus have proven that they mean business with the introduction of their new 2022 IS 500 F SPORT Performance.

Shoehorned under the hood is a five-litre naturally aspirated V-8 engine that produces a powerful 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. All the power is put down to the rear wheels via the same eight-speed Sport Direct automatic transmission found in the lesser IS 300 and IS 350 RWD siblings. This combination propels it to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds while emanating a “ferocious” sound from its dual-stacked tailpipes – well, that how Lexus describe it.

There hasn’t been much exterior design change from the IS 350 F SPORT but to be able to accommodate the much larger powertrain the engineers have had to move the radiator forward as well as extending the front fenders, bumper and, most notably, added a raised hood with a large 2-inch bulge that helps contain the big V-8.  Also added to differentiate it from its siblings are Enkei 19-inch lightweight wheels as well as an updated lower rear diffuser that helps accentuate the stacked, quad exhaust system. A dark chrome window trim is new as well as a black IS F SPORT rear lip spoiler. The only exterior badging to set this apart is only having the Lexus logo and IS 500 is small lettering on the trunk.

First Look 2022 Lexus IS 500

Also included as standard is an updated version of Lexus Safety System+ that includes a plethora of safety and convenience systems that incorporates an enhanced Pre-Collision System that includes an updated lens camera and radar that now expands the response range and helps the vehicle to better detect bicycles and pedestrians in daylight or low-light conditions.

To help control all the power the IS 500 comes with the same Dynamic Handling Package found on the IS 350 RWD F Sport that includes Adaptive Variable suspension with a Yamaha rear performance dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential that help to enhance handling and performance. Bringing the car to a halt has now been improved with the addition of larger 14-inch two-piece aluminum rotors up front and 12.7-inch rotors in the rear both being kept cool by adding more aerodynamic enhancements.

The cabin has been dressed up with F Sport badging on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and door scuff plates with IS F Sport footrest accelerator and brake pedals being added as standard.

The 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance will only be made available in North America and should be available in dealers in the Fall with pricing and colour choices being made available closer to roll out.

Story compiled using information provided by the manufacturer

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Kia Canada used its Virtual Auto Show Experience to debut its 2022 Kia Carnival.

The 2022 Kia Carnival will come in five trim levels – LX, LX+, EX, EX+ and SX – and will start at $34,495. It is expected to hit dealerships this spring.

2022 Kia Carnival will come with a 3.5-litre V6 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. It will sport an SUV-inspired design – similar to the new Sorento and the Seltos – with a sculpted character line that connects the front and rear lamps for a seamless and bold design. Added touches are a metallic bumper garnish, strong wheel arches, available black and chrome door moldings, two-toned mirrors and a chrome-finished C-pillar.

Sitting inside this new 2022 Kia Carnival the driver will be greeted by a panoramic dashboard display connected to a 12.3-inch TFT LCD cluster and a 12.3-inch ANV display. The infotainment system will provide wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, wireless smartphone charging, and paired with an available Bose Premium Sound System.

2022 Kia Carnival

Two interior colours are available: Black with available Martian Brown leather, and available 3D HydroGrafic trim and premium stitching details. Also available will be power-adjustable VIP Lounge Seats, complete with heated or air-cooled seats, leg rests and headrests in the SX trim.

There has been no compromise in safety as the 2022 Kia Carnival will come with: Lane Keeping and Following Assist; Smart Cruise Control with available Highway Driving Assist; Driver Attention Warning; Parking Distance Warning; Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with available Junction Turning; and available Blind-Spot View Monitor.

Story compiled using information provided by the manufacturer

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The world’s premier road tourer – the Honda Gold Wing – has been tweaked for 2021 with improved passenger comforts, increased luggage capacity and platform-wide updates including changes to seating, infotainment and trim styling.

Most of my Gold Wing experiences have been on the fifth generation GL1800s that spanned the 2001-2017 eras. There were occasional upgrades but every year I’d joke that I just needed to test the latest colour. And we’d trek to the Maritimes or Hatteras or down the Blue Ridge to the Dragon’s Tail, around the Great Lakes or to whatever long haul destination struck our fancy, always relying on the constants of bulletproof reliability, touring accommodation and smoothly effortless power.

After years of speculation, Honda did eventually unveil a new 2018 Honda Gold Wing model lineup that was lighter, tighter and featured a renewed sporty demeanour, courtesy of an impressive 40 kg weight trim.

Some of the 2018 features at the time included:

• An updated design – edgier, less rounded, lower and swept back with 11.8 per cent improved aerodynamics, electric windscreen and LED lighting

• New, more compact, 6.2 kg lighter 1,833 cc DOHC engine

• New six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT with Walking Mode forward/reverse

• New radially-mounted six-piston dual front brake calipers with bigger 320 mm rotors

• New double-wishbone front-suspension & Pro-link rear

• Electronically-controlled suspension

• Throttle-by-wire with multiple riding modes

• Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) and Hill Start Assist

• Smart Key and Apple CarPlay via seven-inch multi-info TFT display screen

Of course, not all was perfect in Honda paradise. Some Wingers whined about the weight trim’s collateral damage, like the four litre reduction in fuel tank size (21 litres). But an up to 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy made the point moot by enabling the same 400 km range potential.

Also, compared to the previous version that riding buddies often referred to as “the Hondapotamous”, the new leaner and slightly meaner Gold Wing Tour tightened luggage space by more than 20 per cent, with the smaller sidecases reduced to 30 litres each (-10 litres) and the top box down to 50 litres (-15 litres).

Responding to the customer blowback, the 2021 Honda Gold Wing restores some of that luggage capacity and also finds other features to add or upgrade. Recent sixth-gen Gold Wing tweaks had already included navigation software updates, reshaped passenger grab handles, new blacked-out components, updated suspension settings, a saddlebag-mounted USB charger and standard fog lights for all Tour models.

First Look: 2021 Honda Gold Wing

Now, the new 2021 model changes include:

• An enlarged top trunk on Gold Wing Tour, 48 mm wider, 46 mm taller and 34 mm longer, adding 10 litres of storage (60 litres vs. 50 litres), so the trunk can fit two XXL helmets or added luggage

• Passenger backrest is 30 mm taller with five mm thicker foam and a lean angle shifted from 17º to 24.5º for a more relaxed riding position

• Resurfaced seat on Gold Wing Tour and Gold Wing features premium suede-like cover

• Gold Wing seat includes coloured piping for added colour contrasts

• Android Auto capability joins Apple CarPlay integration

• New 55 watt speakers replace 25 watt speakers for richer midrange sound (Gold Wing Tour includes two speakers at the front fairing and two at the trunk, while Gold Wing features two speakers at the front)

• Automatic volume-adjustment level optimized

• Navigation software updated to include speed-limit information and four map colour options

• XM radio antenna now standard

For 2021, models include the Gold Wing ($27,899) and Gold Wing DCT ($29,099) bagger models, both available in Mat Ballistic Black Metallic, the Gold Wing Tour ($32,199) and Gold Wing Tour DCT ($33,399) available in Gunmetal/Mat Black and, finally, the Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag version ($35,999) coming in Candy Ardent Red/Black two-tone.

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