Have you checked out Kia’s latest SUV lineup lately? It’s gone from all curves to sharp angles and complex creases, not unlike its sister-brand Hyundai’s updated crossover lineup.
The hierarchy of Kia SUV models now includes the entry-level Seltos, the always future-think Soul (which includes an EV option), the second-rung Niro (which provides plug-in hybrid and EV variants), the compact Sportage, the mid-size three-row Sorento, and finally the larger and longer mid-size three-row Telluride, with only the Niro and Sportage needing updates to the brand’s edgier new design language.
Heck, even the new Carnival minivan (which replaced the Sedona) looks like a chunky SUV now, while the always sharp looking Stinger was also updated for 2022, whereas the mid-size K5 (nee Optima) sedan received its redesign for 2021, as did the subcompact Rio (although not as thoroughly) that’s now only available as a hatch (you might find a heavily discounted 2020 Rio sedan if you look far and wide enough). The compact Forte sedan and hatchback, on the other hand, are expected to be refreshed for 2022, soon putting the entire South Korean brand at the leading edge of modern-day styling.
While all of the new Kia SUV designs are advanced looking, the new Sportage might just be the most futuristic of all. Such was the case for the outgoing Sportage when its third-generation debuted back in 2010 and fourth-gen model arrived in 2016, the latter looking a bit like a scaled down Porsche Cayenne. This made sense considering all the German designers filling up the brand’s studios, as does the new 2023 version’s similarities to Audi’s Q8 and Lamborghini’s Urus.
This means the new fifth-gen Sportage should catch the gaze of passersby, although some of these will merely be trying to figure out where the headlamps are. In fact, these are integrated into two boomerang-shaped LED clusters beside the wide glossy black front grille, which itself is situated under a couple of narrow, horizontal nostril-like vents. While a somewhat radical redesign, it should still be pleasing to most compact SUV buyers that tend to want sporty yet practical alternatives to their less-appealing cars.
From the side view, the new Sportage provides more aggressive sculpting on the door panels than most rivals, plus a narrow greenhouse on top, for increased visual length, while some stylish detailing on the lower rockers gives it that critically important SUV look.
The new Sportage appears more conventional from its hind end, thanks to body-wide taillights that add to its wide-looking stance, plus a thin mid-section that almost makes it seem as if it was stretched into place. All of these delicate details support a substantive rear bumper that’s visual extended from the just-mentioned black rocker panels, continuing upward to enclose about two-thirds the CUV’s backside, before being capped off by some angular metal-like trim mirroring a similar treatment on the side rockers and lower front fascia, the latter items surrounding two LED fog lights. The entire package rolls on some similarly edgy alloy wheels that look quite large in the as-shown trim, and featuring machine-finishing with glossy-black pockets.
“Reinventing the Sportage gave our talented design teams a tremendous opportunity to do something new; to take inspiration from the recent brand relaunch and introduction of EV6 to inspire customers through modern and innovative SUV design,” commented Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Design Center, in a press release. “With the all-new Sportage, we didn’t simply want to take one step forward but instead move on to a different level in the SUV class.”
Kia calls its new design language “Opposites United”, a theme that continues inside the cabin where uniquely shaped HVAC vents and horizontally-organized instrument panel trim joins up to form parentheses-like structures that incorporate a very large dual-display primary gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen within.
The large single-screen setup pulls forward a driver display/infotainment design used recently by both Kia and its parental Hyundai brand, which must be said is similar to Mercedes’ MBUX dash design. Ironically (this being a Kia), it incorporates some camera technologies that are much more advanced than anything on offer from the German luxury brand, particularly its rear-facing camera system that automatically shows right/left rearward views when flicking either turn signal.
A row of switches continues the horizontal theme just underneath, integrating a well-organized two-zone auto HVAC interface at its mid-point, all before a gently sloping piano-black lacquered centre console gets stuffed full of drive functions such as an engine start/stop button, a rotating gear selection dial, a driving mode selector, and more, while switches for the heatable and cooled front seats, plus the heated steering wheel can be found right next door. A wireless charging pad probably sits under a lidded compartment just in front of this cluster of controls, plus all the expected USB ports and other connectivity/charging alternatives.
“When you see the all-new Sportage in person, with its sleek but powerfully dynamic stance, and when you sit inside the detailed-oriented cabin with its beautifully detailed interior and first-class materials, you’ll see we have achieved those goals and set new benchmarks,” continued Habib. “In the all-new Sportage, we believe you can see the future of our brand and our products.”
So far, Kia hasn’t shown off any other details, such as the new Sportage’s front and rear seats or its cargo area, but interior capacities should be similar to the new Hyundai Tucson that shares the Sportage’ underpinnings. That compact crossover SUV has grown in size since also being renewed for 2022, now stretching 4,605 mm (181.3 inches) from front to back, making it 155 mm (6.1 in) lengthier than its predecessor, with a 86 mm (3.4 in) longer wheelbase at 2,751 mm (108.3 in), while it’s about half an inch (12-13 mm) wider and similarly taller than the 2021 crossover it sent packing.
Kia’s Sportage has long shared its mechanical setup with the Tucson too, so we’re expecting a version of the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant that currently puts out 190 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque in the 2022 Hyundai. The new Tucson also features an efficient eight-speed automatic gearbox across its entire trim line, which should be the only transmission used in the Sportage too, while Hyundai’s compact SUV includes both FWD and AWD alternatives, common in this class.
Of course, we’ll get more details when the new 2023 Sportage arrives, which should be sometime in calendar year 2022, at which point we should also find out if it receives an off-road focused X-Line variant, and/or the Tucson’s electrified power units, which currently include both hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives.
For the time being, Kia is offering the latest 2022 Sportage with up to $1,000 in additional incentives, while buyers of 2021 models get up to $2,500 off. Also notable, CarCostCanada members are currently saving an average of $2,386, so check our 2022 and 2021 Kia Sportage Canada Prices pages for all the details, including complete trim pricing with all available options and colours.
As the years start to stack up and there’s more of them behind you than ahead, to hear you’re aging gracefully is quite the compliment. Such could be said of Buick’s current Enclave, a three-row crossover SUV that’s now been with us in its current second-generation form for four years. Certainly, that’s not long by human standards, but it’s a full product cycle in automotive years, albeit not compared to the first-generation Enclave that, despite a mid-cycle refresh in 2013, lasted for an entire decade.
The SUV being reviewed here was as up-to-date as possible when being tested, but as it happens, 2021 is the Enclave’s last model year before getting a fairly comprehensive makeover. Its underpinnings will remain the same, but its styling will look a lot fresher, and not unlike the much sleeker and more modern looking second-gen Chinese-market version that’s been available since last year.
Sure, you can wait for a 2022, which actually gets reduced by $300 at the base level, but there’s opportunity to take advantage of end-of-lifecycle savings if you choose a 2021 over the new 2022 model, so as long as you don’t need to have the latest and greatest styling, the outgoing Enclave is still one very attractive family hauler. It’s also a very affordable one, at least when comparing it to longstanding luxury brands that it more or less competes against. To be clear, three-row SUV buyers won’t likely be shopping the Enclave against BMW’s X7 or Mercedes’ GLS, simply because their price points are nowhere near each other.
A base Enclave Essence starts at $48,398, or $51,398 with as-tested all-wheel drive. That’s similar pricing to fully loaded alternatives from Honda, Hyundai, Kia or Toyota, which arguably offer more features (and sometimes more luxury) for the money, but none of these rise up to $70k, which is possible when adding all the options to the Enclave Avenir. That’s around where a base Audi Q7 starts, and plenty of other premium-branded three-row SUVs, although an equivalent entry-level GLS will set you back an astonishing $101,900, just a bit less than what you’ll need to pay for the least expensive X7, which starts at $102,900.
This in mind, Buick, and its Enclave fall into the entry-level luxury sector, along with competitors like the $48,995 Infiniti QX60, $56,405 Acura MDX, and possibly the $59,700 three-row Lexus RX 350 L (which is only meant for small kids in the third row), although if we’re moving all the way up to the $60k starting point, we should probably include GM’s own Cadillac XT6 that rides on the same stretched C1XX platform (more or less) as the Enclave (and the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia), yet starts at $57,998. Everything else in this class retails over the $60,000 threshold, and while that’s about where the aforementioned Enclave Avenir can be had ($62,298), this Enclave Essence is the model Buick gave me to test, and therefore targets a different entry-level luxury client.
I don’t know if that last exercise was done more for my own clarification of where Buick fits into the scheme of luxury things, or as a way for you to come to grips with the same, but in any case, it’s good to understand that Buick fills an important niche in the middle of the automotive class hierarchy, and its relatively strong sales more or less prove that reality.
Despite only offering five models (the 2020 Regal Sportback of which has already been sent off to that great four-door sedan graveyard in the sky—it’s a five-door really, as its trunk is actually a hatch), Buick managed to rank sixth amongst premium brands in Canada thanks to 15,957 units being sold last year, which puts it only 755 sales behind Acura, plus more than twice as much as Lincoln (7,155) and almost three times as many deliveries as Infiniti after a particularly gutting year. What’s more, as of Q2 2021’s close, Buick’s 8,277 delivery total had already blasted past Acura’s rather sluggish 7,465 tally, although Cadillac’s XT6 appears to be on a roll with 8,402 examples out the door, so therefore Buick maintains its sixth position.
The Enclave wasn’t quite as strong in its mid-size three-row luxury SUV category last year as the Buick brand, but amongst dedicated premium three-row family haulers it ranked seventh out of 11 competitors with 1,773 deliveries (I’m not including Bentley’s Bentayga on this list for obvious reasons). This said, so far this year it’s doing a bit better with 1,270 units down the road already, placing it ahead of Mercedes’ GLS (1,148), Lincoln’s Aviator (926), and Infiniti’s QX60 (687) that’s getting an even more dramatic redesign for 2022.
Cadillac’s XT6 (973) lagged a bit behind the Enclave over the first six months of this year, as did BMW’s X7 (522), Lexus’ GX (161), and Land Rover’s Discovery (103), which seems to be getting killed by the new Defender (1,057). Tally all this up and it’s easy to understand why the Buick brand and this Enclave model are so important to General Motors (a total of 3,264 combined Enclave and XT6 sales puts GM close to Acura’s MDX), but after factoring in their even greater strength in the U.S. and yet stronger presence in China, this information might also help build confidence that Buick isn’t about to leave our market anytime soon—unfortunately I can’t confirm that for Infiniti.
The upcoming 2022 Enclave refresh should further improve the model’s sales when it arrives later this year, as long as Buick doesn’t dump any leftover 2021s on the market before the new one gets here. The fact Buick is only offering customers up to $1,000 in additional incentives is a good sign they have inventories in check, but stay tuned to CarCostCanada for any further discount info. Also, take note that CarCostCanada members who purchased a new 2021 Enclave saved an average of $2,625 thanks to knowing the SUV’s dealer invoice price before negotiating their best deal, which means it’s a good idea to find out how their very affordable membership works, and how easy it is to use from anywhere via their free app that can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
As for the 2021 Enclave Essence being reviewed here, my tester was not only upgraded with AWD, but also received a stylish $1,495 Sport Touring upgrade package that includes a sporty black mesh grille, glossed-black Pitch Dark Night lower accent trim, and 20-inch alloys instead of the standard 18s. This gets added to a base model that also features automatic on/off LED headlamps and heated power-folding exterior mirrors, on the outside, plus proximity access to get you inside.
Once seated, pushbutton ignition gets the engine going, while additional standard features include an auto-dimming centre mirror, a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display within the gauge cluster, an 8.0-inch touchscreen at dash-central, integrating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, a universal garage door opener, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Safety Alert driver’s seat that uses vibrations to warn, perforated leather seat upholstery, three-way heatable and ventilated powered front seats with four-way lumbar support, two-position driver memory, three-zone auto HVAC with a set of rear controls, heatable second-row captain’s chairs resulting in seven-passenger capability (a bench for the second row resulting in a total of eight occupants is available), a power-folding 60/40-split third row, a hands-free powered liftgate, a 120-volt power outlet, remote start, etcetera.
All Enclaves include the Buick Driver Confidence Plus package of advanced driver assistance and safety technologies as standard too, which includes a Following Distance Indicator, Forward Collision Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking and Front Pedestrian Braking, as well as Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, front and rear Park Assist, and IntelliBeam auto high beam assist headlights.
Believe me, I never once felt like I was slumming it in this Buick, even in its base trim. Actually, standard features like cloth-wrapped A, B and C pillars gave it a true premium feel, as did better-than-average soft composite materials on top of the dash and atop the front and rear side window sills. It’s also impressive across the front of the instrument panel, and the lower section of that IP ahead of the front passenger, which extends below the infotainment touchscreen and along the right side of the lower console. Buick made a point of stitching nicely padded leatherette on the sides of that centre stack and lower console, the left side of which is padded further to protect the driver’s inner knee from chafing, while this pampering surface treatment extends down to the armrest as well. These areas were done out in a particularly attractive caramel brown in my tester, perfectly matching the seats and door inserts that were also stitched, the former also featuring perforated leather inserts.
Additionally, the seat surface leather is suppler than some others at the Enclave Essence’s price point too, plus those aforementioned heated front cushions warm up to near therapeutic levels. Warmth in mind, the climate control interface, while appearing a bit rudimentary, did its job well, and while it could be a bit more upscale to look at my eyes were more easily pulled toward the centre display overtop, which has to be one of the simplest to use in the segment.
I generally like General Motors’ infotainment systems, and while I appreciate Chevrolet’s more colourful Apple-inspired interface even more than this classier design from Buick, they both work identically and utilize a full colour palette for graphically stimulating controls. I found this latest version responded to inputs quickly, which was particularly notable when jiggling the navigation map around with my fingertips. I should also note that GM’s navigation/GPS system has never once led me astray either, so a big hand to the automaker’s tech department that does infotainment very well. Important also, the rearview camera was clear and its moving guidelines useful, while the standard Bose audio system was very good.
As for the Enclave’s primary gauge cluster, it’s not very enticing. The chrome trimmed analogue dials are ok, these placed bookending another set of chrome-edged gas and engine temp meters above, but the tiny square multi-information display kind of looks like an aftermarket add-on. This comes at a time that competitors are arriving with fully digital clusters that show virtual gauges one minute and giant maps the next. Some brands are even including rear-facing camera monitors in their clusters, so Buick needs to up the ante in this respect. Fortunately, even this base Enclave’s steering wheel is excellent, with high-quality leather and an impressively sporty feel, while the spokes’ switchgear well-made and works as it should.
Looking up to the overhead console could be summed up as a trip back to yesteryear too, although it’s functional and happily includes a sunglasses holder, as well as LED reading lights and switches for the universal remote, OnStar, SOS, plus more. You won’t find a power sunroof button, as this base trim doesn’t include a sunroof, and I have to say it’s weird not seeing a sunroof in a roof this large.
Nevertheless, I found it easy to find an ideal driving position thanks to a manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel with loads of rearward reach, while the seats were comfortable, although without much lateral support, therefore if you’re looking to use this Enclave to snake through fast-paced corners, you’ll probably want to find something other than the steering wheel to hold on to. This is only worth mentioning because the Enclave handles well, partially due to the 20-inch wheel and 255/55 tire upgrade noted earlier, so it might be a good idea for performance fans to look upstream to a fancier trim line in order to find more aggressive seat bolstering.
Similarly, the Enclave Essence model’s second-row captain’s chair backrests are almost totally flat, although rear passengers can fold down their individual centre armrests to hang on. The second-row seats are mostly comfortable, however, with good legroom when slid all the way rearward. Those in the second row will also appreciate the previously mentioned rear climate control panel on the backside of the front console, which includes seat warming switchgear. This is where you can also find a set of USB chargers, but oddly no air vents. Don’t worry, though, as these are intelligently integrated within the roof, as are another set of vents for third-row passengers, and likewise for the LED reading lamps.
It’s easy to flip the second-row seats up and out of the way for getting into the very back, only necessitating a mild pull on a handle atop the backrest, while another lever below flips them down for storage. Before getting into cargo capacity, rear occupants enjoy separate USB charging ports, not to mention fairly large rear quarter windows for good outward visibility. I found the third-row seats comfortable too, not to mention reasonably roomy. Buick left good space for legs and feet, especially when the second-row seats are pulled slightly forward.
As for cargo, they fold down relatively flat, as does the second row, providing more storage capacity than most of their peers. In fact, I was able to load up a double-wide Ikea Pax wardrobe inside, including its rather bulky glass sliding door system, with room left over. By the numbers, the Enclave can manage up to 2,764 litres of what-have-you behind the front seats, 1,642 litres aft of the second row, and 668 litres in back of the third row.
Even when loaded up with gear the Enclave was no slouch off the line, its 3.6-litre V6 making a healthy 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque for plenty of straight-line performance. It’s conjoined to a nine-speed autobox that not only aids fuel economy with a fairly good rating of 13.0 L/100km city, 9.1 highway and 11.2 combined with FWD, or a respective 13.6, 9.6 and 11.8 in as-tested AWD, partially thanks to standard idle start/stop technology, but it also provides wonderfully smooth shift up and down the range.
Then again, engaging manual mode and its steering wheel-mounted paddles transform this calm, sedate traveler into a much sportier canyon carver, or at least it was much more enjoyable than I initially expected. BMW doesn’t even go so far as to hold the X5 or X7 engine’s redlines before upshifting, so a big hand for Buick’s engineers that give the Enclave such strong performance. The V6 also makes a nice growl at full throttle, although I wouldn’t take that to mean it’ll outshine those BMWs as far as engine auditory tracks go.
I think ride quality will matter more to most Buick buyers than all-out performance, however, and to that end the Enclave’s driver and many passengers will be nicely isolated from exterior elements no matter the speeds being traveled or environment outside. Although I found there was more wind buffeting on the highway than expected. It wasn’t the side windows (I checked), but it may be something specific to my test model’s door seals. Buick prides itself in providing near tomblike silent interiors, so it could also be possible that more of Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” technologies get added to upper trims. Either way, make sure you look for this on your test drive.
Even if the Enclave Essence is a bit noisier at highway speeds than it should be, it’s hard to argue against its sub-$50k price point. That it competes so well against others that cost thousands more should be taken into consideration, but then again it also gets out-muscled for features and refinement by some newcomers in the volume-branded mainstream category. This is a very competitive market segment, and the upcoming 2022 Enclave should address some of my minor complaints.
On that note, I don’t think any of my grumblings should put you off testing a 2021 Enclave, and at least comparing it to its rivals, especially when factoring in Buick’s enviably high ranking in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study, where it sits fifth overall and just third amongst luxury brands.
It helped that Genesis’ earliest two models were already in production as the Hyundai-branded Equus and Genesis Sedan, one of two cars, including the Genesis Coupe, that carried the new brand’s name for eight years before its steering wheel hub and trunk lid removed Hyundai’s stylized “H” for Genesis wings (which were already displayed proudly above the front grille), and “GENESIS” lettering was replaced by G80 badging at back.
Since then, all three early cars have been updated with fresh new styling, including a new pentagonal “Crest Grille” plus double-slatted LED “Quad Lamps” fore and aft, and heavily reworked interiors, resulting in a wholly cohesive design language to at least rival its key Japanese rivals, while the new G80 will soon be available with a two-motor pure electric drive system.
Granted, Genesis has a long way to go before it starts matching Lexus sales in Canada, with 1,737 units sold at the close of Q2 2021 compared to 12,405, but it’s closing in on Infiniti’s 3,189 total after the first six months of this year, and has already bypassed Jaguar’s 1,204 deliveries and Alfa Romeo’s 434. Lincoln is also in target with only 3,629 units sold as June ended, and this comes before any GV70 deliveries get added to the Genesis mix.
Interestingly, the sporty 2022 GV70 is not the least expensive compact luxury SUV on the market, a tactic often chosen by upstart luxury brands trying to attract new buyers by providing all the bells and whistles for a better price. Instead, the new model gets an all-inclusive price of $49,000, including freight and delivery fees (or $49,150 all-in as shown on GV70’s retail website landing page).
The new GV70, in fact, is ninth most expensive in a compact premium crossover segment that’s now 16 competitors strong. That places it near the mid-point, although it’s important to point out that most competitors don’t include destination/delivery fees or the $100 A/C tax in their advertised prices. Therefore, after factoring in the latter (and using an average of $2,500 for those brands that made it difficult to locate this information on their retail websites), the new GV70’s retail price is more competitive thanks to a ranking of seventh most affordable.
By the numbers, alternatives priced lower than the new GV70 include the $44,298 Cadillac XT5 (plus $2,500 in fees for a total of $46,798), $44,505 Acura RDX (plus $2,475 in fees for a total of $46,980), $44,600 Lexus NX (couldn’t find their fees so adding $2,500 for $47,100), $45,495 Infiniti QX50 (plus $2,220 for $47,415), $45,200 Lincoln Corsair (plus $2,250 for $47,450), and lastly the $46,550 Audi Q5 (plus $2,395 for $48,945).
Genesis’ willingness to let eight brands advertise lower pricing in such a highly competitive market is a bold move, but it just might be calculated one, in that its mid-pack pricing could cause loftier perceptions of its brand identity, and therefore leave cheaper alternatives looking like they’re not good enough. After all, parent company Hyundai has long been seen as a value brand amongst its more established mainstream rivals, and while that’s changing because of impressive entries such as the Genesis and Equus models that came before, plus today’s Santa Fe, Palisade and the list goes on, it’s still important for Genesis to not allow such a more-for-less mindset and instead develop its own brand desirability.
An approximate $20,000 price gap, from least expensive to priciest, is a sizeable chasm for compact luxury SUV shoppers to cross, but it should be mentioned that any one of the compact luxury utilities named above comes close to the revered Velar’s starting price when amped up with options, while even the cheapest on this list can go much higher. What’s more, some boast more equipment in their various base trims than others, not to mention stronger performance, greater interior room, etcetera. In other words, it’s not a direct apples-for-apples comparison.
For around $50k, the 2022 GV70 2.5T Select AWD arrives standard with Quad LED headlights, LED tail lamps, 18-inch alloys, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton start/stop and remote engine start, fingerprint authentication, an 8.0-inch LCD digital gauge cluster, a big 14.5-inch HD multimedia display incorporating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, navigation, wireless device charging, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar, an eight-way power front passenger seat, heated front seats, rear occupant alert, a hands-free tailgate, plus more.
Additionally, the GV70’s standard Highway Driving Assist II driver assistance and safety technology suite adds High Beam Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist to all the usual active and passive safety features.
As is often the case in this category, AWD is standard, while the GV70 also includes Terrain Mode Select. The base powertrain is a 2.5-litre turbo-four good for 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, while a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 capable of 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque is available. An eight-speed automatic transmission also comes standard, as do steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
As for exterior colours, Uyuni White, Vik Black, Himalayan Gray, Savile Silver, Adriatic Blue, Cardiff Green, Barossa Burgundy, and Mauna Red are no-cost options, while base models can only be had with “artificial leather” upholstery in Obsidian Black (Genesis might want to reconsider the name it’s using for leatherette).
For $55,500 (including freight and fees), the 2022 GV70 2.5T Advanced AWD ups the ante with 19-inch alloy wheels, power-folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, genuine leather seat coverings (in Obsidian Black, Vanilla Beige, Havana Brown/Ocean Wave, Pine Grove/Ocean Wave, and Slate Gray/Velvet Burgundy, depending on the exterior colour), a power panoramic glass sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, plus a fully automatic rear climate control system.
For $59,000, Advanced Plus trim continues adding features such as a driver’s head-up display (HUD), a Surround View parking monitor, a Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM), an 18-speaker Lexicon sound system upgrade, manual rear side sunshades, and a household-style 110-volt AC power outlet for the rear cargo compartment.
Further up the range, the $63,000 GV70 2.5T Prestige AWD includes a Sport Appearance package featuring metal foot pedals, upscale Nappa leather upholstery with suede-like micro-fibre inserts (in Obsidian Black, Sevilla Red or Ultramarine Blue, depending on exterior colours), a psuede headliner, a driver’s seat power extension for the lower cushion as well as power side bolsters that cinch up in sport mode, Smart Posture Care, Parking Collision Avoidance-Assist Rear (PCA-R), and Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA).
For $68,500, the GV70 3.5T Sport AWD trim line combines 2.5T Advanced AWD features with the larger, more powerful engine, as well as some of the just-noted Prestige items like the Sport Appearance package, HUD, power seat cushion extension, bolsters and Smart Posture Care, Lexicon audio system, and 115-volt power outlet, not to mention 21-inch alloys, special aluminum sports trim, enhanced monobloc brakes, an improved Electronic Control Suspension with Road Preview, plus Sport leather seating.
Finally, $75,500 GV70 3.5T Sport Plus AWD trim adds an electronic limited slip differential, a bigger 12.3inch 3D TFT LCD digital instrument cluster, carbon fibre interior trim, plusher Nappa leather upholstery with stitched quilting (in all the same colours as Prestige and Sport trims), a micro-fibre headliner, and laminated acoustic rear door glass, plus the previously-noted surround parking monitor, BVM, PCA-R, RSPA, and rear sunshades. Of note, this segment’s most affordable Cadillac XT5 reaches the same price point when fully optioned, as do most of the others.
Together with the premium finishings, arguably attractive design, no shortage of features and impressive performance numbers, Genesis provides owners with at-home/work valet pick-up and drop-off concierge service, complete with a complimentary courtesy vehicle, when complimentary scheduled maintenance or other repairs are required during the first five years of ownership, or the SUV’s first 100,000 kilometres of use.
On top of this, GV70 owners benefit from Genesis Connected Services featuring map updates and more for the extent of the SUV’s five-year comprehensive warranty (with an unlimited km extension for map updates and roadside service). The five-year or 100,000-km comprehensive warranty is an entire year longer, and an average of 20,000 km greater than most premium competitors’ comprehensive coverage, plus it’s an additional two years or 40,000 km better than the majority of competitive powertrain warranties.
Still, the compact luxury SUV market is deep with capable offerings, giving Genesis’ newcomer big challenges to overcome. How it’s received is anyone’s guess, but we’ll be certain to report on its success after it’s been around long enough to do so, and of course we’ll review it as soon as a test model becomes available.
Porsche’s new Taycan is doing a great job of scooping up premium EV buyers, enough so that Tesla may want to consider redesigning its Model S sometime soon. Of course, the iconic California-turned-Texan electric carmaker isn’t likely worried, thanks to a market cap that rivals the largest tech giants, not to mention key models in all of the most important luxury segments, but at least Porsche is succeeding where many others are struggling to gain ground.
Tesla’s Model Y fills the compact luxury SUV hole in its expanding lineup, exactly where Porsche plans to directly compete with an electrified version of its already popular Macan crossover. In order to make sure the Macan EV finds as many buyers possible, Porsche is getting busy testing it on road and track, and recently released some photos and info to let us know how the process is going.
Porsche plans a 2023 launch for its upcoming all-electric Macan, which should be enough time to get the kinks out. To that end, the Stuttgart-based luxury brand had been digitally and physically testing it on its Weissach Development Centre proving grounds until recently, but now has it touring public roads in heavily camouflaged attire, so as to hide its second-generation Macan sheet metal.
“Testing in a real-life environment is now getting underway – one of the most important milestones in the development process,” commented Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, at Porsche AG.
Porsche plans to cover three million kilometres worldwide, in every possible type of condition, ahead of delivering fully electric Macans to market, and that lofty number doesn’t even include the “countless” virtual kilometres accumulated on the Weissach test track, not to mention many more miles achieved via digital prototypes.
According to Porsche, developing the new Macan EV digitally reduces capital expenditures and time, while it also minimizes the new model’s environmental impact. Rather than putting actual prototypes through their paces, a digital computational model replicates the kinds of true-to-life properties, systems and power units of the EV to a very high degree of accuracy. As part of the electrified Macan’s development, Porsche has utilized 20 digital prototypes in order to simulate all types of situations, resulting in critically important aerodynamic, energy management, operation, and acoustic data.
“We regularly collate the data from the various departments and use it to build up a complete, virtual vehicle that is as detailed as possible,” said Andreas Huber, manager for digital prototypes at Porsche, plus one of the first aerodynamics engineers to ever work with digital prototypes. “This allows previously undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.”
Reducing aerodynamic drag helps the Macan EV achieve its ultimate range targets, with even minimal flow enhancements making a significant difference.
“We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” added Thomas Wiegand, Director of aerodynamics development.
A team of Porsche engineers utilizes simulations so as to fine-tune each and every surface of the new crossover EV, with specific attention paid to cooling air ducts. Such calculations help the engineers arrange components that in-turn optimize efficiencies, while they also provide the required data for predicting variances in real-world temperature levels. Porsche actually claims the new testing procedures allow for extremely precise simulations of both aerodynamics and thermodynamics.
“The digital world is indispensable to the development of the all-electric Macan,” said Wiegand.
Returning to air ducts and cooling, the new EV’s motive electric system boasts a totally different cooling and temperature control concept than the conventionally-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) powered Macan. To be clear, the various ICE’s used in today’s Macan need a 90- to 120-degree (Celsius) temperature operating range, whereas the new electric-powered model’s drive system and high-voltage battery maintain a temperature window between 20 and 70 degrees.
Also unique to the electric Macan, where an ICE increases its temperature when starting and stopping during heavy traffic, the battery-powered version needs more cooling during high-power charging, particularly in warmer weather. Porsche is overcoming this challenge by calculating and digitally optimizing the “position, flow and temperature” via the digital prototypes mentioned earlier.
Digital prototype use can start quite early in any vehicle’s developmental stage. In fact, Porsche created a completely new driver interface for its upcoming second-gen Macan long before designing some of the other components. A revised driver display was included, of course, which, when ready for testing, Porsche brought to life in a “seat box” that was capable of simulating the actual driving environment.
“Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” said Fabian Klausmann of Porsche’s Driver Experience development department. “Here, the ‘test drivers’ are not just the specialists themselves but also non-experts. This allows all interaction between driver and vehicle to be studied down to the last detail, enabling selective optimization even before the first physical cockpit has been built.”
The initial physical Macan EV prototypes were developed from information learned through the digital prototype program, and once these running prototypes were on the track, they fed additional data back to the digital prototypes to continue testing with. This process allowed Porsche’s engineers to continually update both the digital and physical prototypes, refining each aspect of the Macan EV throughout the development process.
“Endurance testing on closed-off testing facilities and public roads in real-life conditions is still indispensable to ensure that the vehicle structure, operational stability and reliability of hardware, software and all functions meet our high-quality standards,” continued Steiner.
The Macan EV continues to undergo a demanding testing process, including climate extreme endurance tests, plus the need to overcome all types of topographical conditions. Of course, this would include real-world charging and conditioning of the new EV’s high-voltage battery, with everyday reliability and segment-leading performance being high on the agenda.
“Like the Taycan, the all-electric Macan, with its 800-volt architecture, will offer typical Porsche E-Performance,” added Steiner, pointing to development goals such as the SUV’s long-distance range, high-performance fast charging, and goal of best-in-segment performance. “The all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”
The new Macan EV will also need to be highly efficient, of course, which is why it’s the first Porsche to make use of the brand’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture. This said, most Macan owners will continue choosing one of the automaker’s conventional ICE’s instead of the electrical alternative, at least in its early years, particularly in markets where consumers aren’t penalized for not going green, thus gasoline-powered models will need to remain part of the overall Macan package for the unforeseen future.
“In Europe, demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” noted Steiner. “That’s why we’re going to launch another attractive conventionally-powered successor to the current Macan in the course of 2021.”
This said, the new second-generation Macan will launch later this year, with varied availability of ICE’s. The new Macan EV will follow in about three years and millions of kilometers of digital and physical prototype tests.
As far as alternative fuels go, hydrogen shows a lot of long-term promise, particularly when used to create electricity via a fuel cell. This allows for a virtual rolling electric power plant that charges up a battery and then drives the wheels through electric motors, just like a regular electric car.
The technology has actually been in the works for decades, with one of the first automotive applications being the Ford Focus FCV that I drove in 2005. That was when Ford was working alongside Daimler-Benz and Ballard Engineering, the latter firm specializing in hydrogen fuel cells. At the time I felt hydrogen would quickly supplant regular plug-in electric cars that hadn’t really taken off yet, because it only made sense that people wouldn’t want to live with the inconvenience and downtime of hours-long recharging. Little did I realize at the time how infrastructure challenges would put H2 technology on hold for decades, with 2021 seeing just three refueling stations spaced around my city.
It actually ended up taking another decade and a half before I could schedule a weeklong test with a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car, that innovator being Toyota’s unusual looking Mirai sedan. It’s a slightly larger than Prius-sized sedan that, similarly to my previous experience, worked exactly like a regular electric vehicle until it came time to fill it up. Back then, however, Toyota took care of refueling because the aforementioned H2 refuelling stations hadn’t been retrofitted yet (they all sell gasoline too), so I was only told about how convenient it was. More recently, with the very Hyundai Nexo on this page, I was able to pump my own H2.
The zero-emissions Nexo took about five minutes to fill up, incidentally, and while a bit more complex than pumping gasoline into a car, a few attempts would get most anyone up to speed. As for the price, it seemed comparable to regular unleaded, although it would take more data and plenty of time to calculate whether life with a Nexo provides any financial advantages. Up to this point it hasn’t really been about pump savings anyway, but more so about the practical development of an alternative fuel that only emits water vapour yet is as easy to live with as a conventional combustion powertrain.
One thing I really appreciate is Hyundai stuffing all of its advanced H2 hardware into a body style and compact size most will find agreeable, not to mention styling it so as not to offend the majority of buyers. That might sound like a no-brainer, but if so, we wouldn’t have cars like the aforementioned Mirai and Honda’s equally divisive Clarity running around. The compact crossover SUV body style meant it would be immediately acceptable to consumers all over the world, while its extended wheelbase and mid-size length made certain that its battery and other electronics wouldn’t impinge on second-row passenger room and cargo volume.
For comparison’s purposes, the Nexo is 190 mm (7.5 in) longer than the outgoing Tucson, but it’s near identical in width and height. While increasing interior spaciousness, the extra length also aids ride quality and highway stability, plus arguably looks a bit leaner.
Styling is a personal thing, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide which Hyundai SUV looks best, but I find the Nexo plenty attractive, unlike the two visually offensive competitors noted a moment ago. It features a slightly older version of Hyundai’s latest grille design, and a set of LED headlamps that seem inspired by the popular Kona subcompact SUV, while the sheet metal from front to back is ultra-smooth, especially when seen in my tester’s stylish matte grey paint scheme.
A few interesting details include a thin accent strip between the grille and hood that lights up at night, plus a set of Land Rover-inspired pop-out door handles that keep the body lines flush in order to lower drag. Lastly, the 19-inch five-spoke alloys don’t look aerodynamically wonky, like so many others in this class.
Take a seat inside and you’ll immediately appreciate that this SUV was designed to be a forerunner for Hyundai’s electronics when introduced two years ago. Ahead of the driver is a similar twin-display instrument cluster/infotainment system as Mercedes-Benz’ MBUX (which has just been completely updated in the new S- and C-Class models). A digital gauge cluster sits on the left side of a long, horizontally-positioned display, controllable with steering wheel-mounted switchgear, while a touchscreen rests to the right. Anyone who’s peeked inside a modern Mercedes will quickly see the similarities, and while I wouldn’t go so far to say Hyundai’s is better, they deserve commendation for including left- and right-side rearview cameras within the gauge cluster, which come into action by flicking the turn signal stalk. These are now commonplace features in both Hyundai and Kia vehicles, setting them apart from most rivals.
While the gauge cluster and infotainment display is about as advanced as this sector gets, the sloping centre stack comes across a bit more antiquated thanks to being filled with switchgear, including P, N, D and R buttons that engage the SUV’s 120-kW (161 hp) electric motor. That thrust is complemented by 291 lb-ft of twist, all of which gets pulled from a 40-kWh battery. While it looks like an SUV, only FWD is available, although Hyundai would probably find a way to add AWD if the Nexo were to go mainstream.
The 95-kW fuel-cell stack provides electricity production on route, as noted earlier, so therefore recharging is continuous, as long as there’s enough hydrogen in the tank. Depending on conditions, the EPA claims the Nexo is good for approximately 570 to 610 km (355 to 380 miles) when topped up.
As noted earlier, the Nexo drives like an electric vehicle, although the normal silence was interrupted by a subtle vacuum-sucking sound when pushing hard on the throttle. I only went for the gusto while testing, mind you, so for most commuting I found it nice and quiet.
Nevertheless, when a fast getaway was needed the Nexo provided plenty of get-up-and-go, taking off from a standstill as enthusiastically as dispatching slower moving highway traffic. What’s more, it went about its business in a wholly refined fashion, never interrupting the bliss with any jarring responses. Ever so smoothly it whisked from zero to 100 km/h around 8.5 seconds (I used my Seiko chronograph to time it, so don’t hold me to the exact number), which is a half-second faster than Hyundai managed, but the difference may have more to do with my less than scientific method, combined with their usual conservativism. While this won’t likely impress too many Tesla owners (or for that matter Chevy Bolt owners), but it had no problem staying ahead of most surrounding traffic.
Handling was the Nexo’s more pleasant surprise. I veered off a local freeway onto a serpentine backcountry road that winds along a river near my home, at which point it was evident that Hyundai’s engineers took advantage of the SUV’s low centre of gravity. This is due to battery being housed below the floorboards, and thus it really hung on through fast-paced curves, while its electrically-assisted rack and pinion steering system was quite responsive for its compact crossover class.
I found the Nexo’s ride quality even better, with much credit going to its conventional front Macpherson strut and rear multi-link suspension layout, plus nicely sorted tuning. This meant that potholes, frost-heaves, bridge expansion joints and other road intrusions hardly impacted those within, which all resulted in one of the better ride/handling compromises in this segment; especially notable when factoring in its large 245/45HR19 all-season rubber.
The Nexo feels well-made and rock solid too, with absolutely no body creaks despite benefiting from a large glass sunroof above, while wind or road noise was kept to a minimum too. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by this compact SUV’s refinement.
I’m guessing that the focus on refinement is why Hyundai didn’t include a sport mode. Alternatively, selecting Normal is the default performance mode, while Eco makes everything even smoother and more fuel-efficient.
On this note, the two paddles on the steering wheel aren’t for shifting gears, but rather the one on the left is for applying the brakes and sending regenerative kinetic braking energy to the battery simultaneously. The Nexo comes to a full stop when continuing to pull this paddle back, as long as you’re not moving too quickly before application. Also, the strongest of the system’s three settings needs to be chosen first, but that’s the job of the right-side paddle, along with cancelling any rolling resistance by easing the regenerative brakes off. Most electric cars use such systems, so anyone that’s driven a popular EV will quickly acclimatize to this hydrogen-powered SUV.
Like those just-noted EVs, the Nexo is filled up with features to help offset its higher price point. Together with the superb digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen mentioned earlier, my Nexo tester came with a surround-view overhead parking camera, an accurate navigation system with nicely detailed maps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a wireless charging pad, plus more.
As for luxury, we shouldn’t expect too much now that Hyundai Motor also has its Genesis premium brand, but the mainstream brand did cover the dash top in a nicely textured soft-touch composite, just like the front and rear door uppers, plus the door inserts and armrests.
I like that it included a heatable steering wheel, while its powered driver’s seat was comfortable and provided three-way heatable and cooled cushions. The powered lumbar support was only two-way, but fortunately it found the right spot on my lower back to relieve my traffic stress.
The longer wheelbase I mentioned before makes a big difference when it comes to legroom, while the Nexo’s width is reasonable for the compact SUV segment. Three could probably sit across the rear bench if needed, but two would be more comfortable, and that would mean inside elbows would benefit from its folding centre armrest with two integrated cupholders, as well as the outboard seat warmers. There’s a three-prong household-style power outlet on the backside of the front console too.
As for cargo, the dedicated space behind those rear seats is good for up to 850 litres (30 cu ft) of gear, plus it can be expanded to 1,600 litres (56.5 cu ft) when those 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded down. I would have preferred a 40/20/40 split rear seat, for stowing longer items such as skis down the centre, but such conveniences are rare in this class. I appreciated its mostly level load floor as it was, not to mention the slim storage compartment below the carpeting.
So, what’s it all cost? This is where I recommend you get yourself a stiff coffee, or possibly something stronger, because Nexo’s entry price might induce sticker shock. How does $71,000 (plus freight and fees) sound to you? Yah, there’s a price for being an early adaptor, which is made steeper when factoring in that you’re not really saving anything at the pump. At least a $52,000 Tesla Model Y will let you say goodbye to gasoline forever, or for that matter Hyundai’s own Ioniq Electric, which will only set you back $41,599.
My Ultimate-trimmed tester was actually a bit pricier at $73,500, which I learned by checking the 2021 Hyundai NEXO Canada Prices page right here on CarCostCanada. While you’re looking, be sure to check out the other models mentioned in this review by following the links connected to their names.
Also, find out about how a CarCostCanada membership can leave more money in your wallet when buying a new vehicle. A membership will help keep you up to date on factory rebates, manufacturer leasing and financing deals, and most importantly provides you dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when negotiating your best deal. Remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store too, so you’ll always have this vital info on hand.
As anyone who’s spent days at a time driving around in a mid-engine supercar will tell you, there’s more to a car than just being able to go fast. Hence the new age of four-door coupes, Porsche’s fully electric Taycan EV being the latest of such wonders to hit the road. Now, just as it did with its more conventionally-powered Panamera four-door coupe’s transition into the Sport Turismo, Porsche is introducing an extended sport wagon version of the Taycan to expand its practicality without detracting from its performance-oriented nature.
The new Taycan Cross Turismo is Porsche’s answer to Audi’s E-tron (or the new E-Tron Sportback), Jaguar’s I-Pace, and Tesla’s Model X, for the time being at least. No doubt, the Stuttgart-based firm will eventually reveal a purely electric SUV, but for now EV fans with more pragmatic leanings will need to settle for an elongated four-door coupe, not that opting for a Taycan Cross Turismo could ever be considered hardship.
By the numbers, the new Cross Turismo provides 793 litres (28.0 cu ft) of added cargo space for a new maximum of 1,200 litres (42.4 cu ft), which is a great leap forward from the regular Taycan’s 407-litre (14.4 cu-ft) trunk. This doesn’t include the Taycan’s 81-litre (2.8 cu-ft) “frunk” (front trunk) either, which is standard in both cars. If you still require more luggage capacity, Porsche has a bespoke roof-top cargo carrier on offer that’s capable of clinging in place up to 200 km/h.
Yes, the Cross Turismo is no different than the regular Taycan coupe when it comes to performance, with top track speeds varying from 220 to 250 km/h depending on trim. Both body styles feature identical 800-volt battery-electric plug-in power units, complete with a lithium-ion Performance Battery Plus good for 93.4 kWh of power, which makes the car capable of approximately 320 km of range before a recharge, depending on exterior temperatures conditions, road conditions, driving style, etcetera.
Especially helpful, up to 100 km of range is available after a mere five minutes of being hooked up to a DC fast charger, which should be enough for most people to top up and get on their way. Of course, if plugged into a regular 240-volt charging station it will take significantly more time to reach that level of range.
Charging times will also be reflective of the chosen Taycan model, as will the Cross Turismo’s zero to 100 km/h performance. The slowpoke of the litter is the base Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, which nevertheless zips past the 100 km/h mark in a rapid 5.1 seconds due to its 375-hp dual-motor electric power unit. An upgrade to the 4S Cross Turismo will chop an entire second off that standstill to 100 km/h sprint time, thanks to 482 hp flowing through to all four of its wheels.
Porsche oddly uses its “Turbo” nameplate for top-level Taycan trims, but even if those around chuckle at the thought of a turbocharged EV, you’ll be last to laugh as you blast past. To that end, the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo puts out a formidable 616 hp, resulting in just 3.3 seconds from naught to 100 km/h, whereas the even quicker Turbo S Cross Turismo provides 750 hp for an otherworldly 2.9-second run to 100 km/h, when launch control is employed.
Porsche provides all Taycan Cross Turismo models with the same chassis and adaptive suspension system, which is shared with the regular Taycan coupe, while all-wheel drive is standard to improve four-season capability. Better yet, Porsche includes a standard “Gravel Mode” too, this setting adjusting the model’s throttle response and chassis control to optimize adhesion to less than ideal road surfaces.
If you want even more off-road prowess, an optional Off-Road Design package raises the Cross Turismo’s ride height by 30 mm (1.2 in), plus provides more protection to paint surfaces that might otherwise get chipped without mud flaps. Additional rugged-looking upgrades give this EV more of a crossover look. s
Appearances in mind, the Cross Turismo is already tougher looking than a regular Taycan, thanks to SUV-style matte black body cladding circling the wheel cutouts, yet more along the rocker panels, and of course more rugged black stuff end-to-end, while the front and back bumper caps are further enhanced with stylish silver undertrays.
Deliveries of the new Taycan Cross Turismo will start this summer, so make sure to give your local Porsche retailer a call if you’d like to get your hands on one. Pricing begins at $119,900 for the entry-level Taycan Cross Turismo 4, and grows to $126,800 for the Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, $178,000 for the Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo, and lastly $218,000 for the top-tier Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo S.
Notably, the Cross Turismo’s base power unit is not available in the regular Taycan coupe, which is why this crossover-wagon variant is a bit more affordable. Specifically, the 2021 Taycan 4S can be had for $120,500, but it incorporates the Cross Turismo’s stronger 4S power unit. Therefore, a direct price comparison should be made against the $126,800 Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, which requires $6,300 more than the four-door coupe variant. Even better, Cross Turismo Turbo and Turbo S trims only cost $3,000 more than their regular Taycan equivalents.
We can never say Infiniti is following the crowd by introducing its new QX55 crossover coupe. After all, the Japanese luxury brand helped define this niche market segment way back in 2002 when they unveiled the mid-size V6- and V8-powered FX35 and FX45. That strong-performing SUV would eventually transform into the even more dramatic QX70, and sadly be discontinued after the 2017 model year. It remains a great used buy for those wanting a true coupe-like “sport” utility featuring elegant finishings inside.
The new QX55 is for those who want something a bit sportier than the QX50, but more practical than the Q50 sedan or Q60 sports coupe. Sure, rear passengers need to give up a little headroom, while its cargo compartment is slightly smaller, but nothing in life is without compromise, and the QX55 delivers big in many other ways.
To be clear, the QX55 loses 134 litres of cargo capacity when compared to the QX50, which leaves 761 litres compared to 895. Sliding the rear seats forward can increase dedicated luggage space, but this versatility is unoptimized by less-than-ideal 60/40-split rear seatbacks, compared to European competitors that provide the more convenient 40/20/40 rear seat split that allows longer items, like skis, to be laid down the middle while two rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable rear window seats.
Those competitors include a few well-proven contenders, such as the BMW X4 that started the entire compact SUV coupe segment off in 2014. It was followed in 2018 by Mercedes’ GLC Coupe, while the Audi Q5 Sportback is entirely new for 2021. Now Infiniti hits the market as the first non-German luxury brand to offer an SUV coupe.
To be fair, some compact luxury rivals look similarly swank, including the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Velar, Porsche Macan and Tesla Model Y, so they could very well vie for SUV coupe-like contention, but being the only compact models offered by their respective luxury brands, and providing similar passenger and cargo volumes to their more conventional category challengers, we’ll leave them off the list. They deserve honourable mentions, however, as does Genesis’ soon-to-arrive GV70.
The new QX55 can arguably be called the most attractive crossover in Infiniti’s shrinking SUV lineup (after they cancelled the QX70 they also nixed the subcompact QX30). It offers up a sizeable interpretation of Infiniti’s stylish double-arched grille, a standard set of slim LED headlamps, which Infiniti says “mimic the human eye,” plus gloss-black fog light bezels that look similar to brake cooling ducts. The look is imposing, yet classy.
Continuing rearward, dwn the QX55’s curvaceous side surfaces and arching roofline flow into a short rear deck lid, the latter said to be a “fresh interpretation of the FX silhouette” by Infiniti. It combines for a neat and tidy hind end, highlighted by “piano key” style tail lamps boasting 45 separate LEDs for quite the dazzling display after hours.
Black cladding trims off the SUV’s lower extremities, of course, running from the front wheel arches backward, sweeping upwards when reaching the rear bumper in order to outline a body-colour diffuser-style panel packed full of chromed rectangular exhaust pipes. It’s a handsome design that should be popular with those wanting something slightly more daring from a brand known to be more dependable than its European competitors.
Behind its elegant grille is the same variable-compression 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the QX50, in which it makes 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s conjoined to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steering wheel paddles, which while efficient and reliable, is rarely a performance fan’s first choice. Canadian examples feature standard AWD, while its fuel economy is slightly lower than the QX50’s at a claimed rating of 10.5 L/100km city, 8.3 highway and 9.5 combined.
Like the engine and drivetrain, the QX55’s cabin hardly deviates from its more conventionally shaped sibling, other than the top-tier Sensory model’s lack of quilted leather upholstery. Seeming to be trying for a sportier theme, this model gets optional two-tone Monaco Red and Graphite black detailing, joined by additional red accents on the centre stack and lower console, which truly highlights the unique shape of this technology-filled cabin divider. Additionally, this swath of bright colouring gets offset by dark grey, open-pore wood trim on the dash and door panels, while these pieces butt up against satin-finish aluminum trim that combines with yet more nicely finished metal throughout the cabin.
The Japanese brand’s InTouch 8.0- (upper) and 7.0-inch (lower) dual digital displays are once again front and centre, which is a sharp contrast to most premium rivals that house their main screens like upright fixed tablets on the dash top. This choice allows for touch capacitive use along with most peoples’ preferred smartphone-style tap, swipe and pinch finger gestures, while redundant controls are located on the steering wheel spokes. The QX55 will come standard with all expected infotainment functions too, such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and 4G LTE wi-fi connectivity for up to seven devices.
The QX55 just went on sale with three available trim levels. The first is Luxe, which at $51,995 plus freight and fees includes standard AWD, 20-inch alloys, leatherette upholstery, dark aluminum interior trim, heated front seats, a powered glass sunroof, active noise cancellation, and a bevy of advanced driver assistive systems like predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic rear braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams.
Upgrade to $56,998 Essential ProAssist trim and you’ll get adaptive front LED headlights, an overhead surround parking camera with moving object detection, adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, blind spot intervention, and lane departure prevention, while additional features include InTouch navigation, a Bose audio system with 16 speakers, and leather upholstery.
As mentioned earlier, Sensory is the top-line trim in the QX55 hierarchy, which at $60,998 features plusher semi-aniline leather upholstery, the previously noted open-pore maple wood accents, three-zone auto HVAC, ambient cabin lighting, and a motion-activated liftgate, while this model’s tech systems are further improved with a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, full speed range and hold capabilities for the adaptive cruise control, ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving with steering assist, and finally, Infiniti’s exclusive drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system.
Infiniti’s new crossover luxury coupe faces some serious competitors, mostly because its brand name doesn’t provide the same premium cachet as more established marques like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Nevertheless, the QX55 provides impressive good looks, similar levels of luxury, competitive technology and strong performance, while the new QX55’s value proposition should be a deal-maker for those concerned about their monthly payments.
Saving money in mind, Infiniti is already offering up to $1,500 in additional incentives for the new QX55, as seen on our pricing page, where you can choose one of its three trims and configure it to your liking. Find out how you can save thousands when buying your next vehicle by becoming a CarCostCanada member, and be sure to download our free CarCostCanada app as well, so you can get info on the latest factory rebates, newest manufacturer financing and leasing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that will make negotiating your best deal ultra-easy.
Chevy has updated its Bolt EV plug-in electric car for 2022, and along with subtly reworked styling, a revised interior and more tech, the bowtie brand will add a second crossover-style variant dubbed EUV, to make the model appeal to more would-be buyers.
The Bolt EV is positioned within the subcompact hatchback segment, with a focus on practical four- to five-passenger capability and flexible cargo hauling utility, plus highly efficient, zero-emissions, battery-powered mobility. Despite all of this clean, green and easy-to-live-with pragmatism, today’s Bolt is actually a great deal more fun to drive than most would imagine before stepping inside, thanks to more than ample torque from its potent electric motor.
In an interesting move, the outgoing Bolt will lose its roof rails as the new EUV takes over the SUV-style family role, or at least the version shown in GM’s press photos shows a clean roof without any rooftop load carrying capability. The original Bolt not only included a set of roof rails, but also featured a slightly taller ride height and black body cladding around its lower extremities, all in crossover-like fashion. The new 2022 Bolt will carry forward with the latter conventions, while the EUV’s roof rails are more prominent and (at least in the trim level shown in photos) black, adding to its SUV-like presence.
What’s more, the new Bolt EUV adds length, width and height over the regular model, now measuring 161 mm (6.3 in) more from nose to tail, 5 mm (0.2 in) extra from side-to-side, with 10 mm (0.4 in) of additional track, plus 5 mm (0.2 in) add from the base of its tires to the top of its just-noted roof rack. Most importantly, its extended length results in 75 mm (3 in) of extra wheelbase, allowing the EUV to increase rear legroom by 78 mm (3.1 in), but strangely the larger model’s cargo volume decreases slightly, from 470 litres (15.6 cu ft) behind the rear seats and 1,614 litres (57.0 cu ft) when folded down, to a respective 462 and 1,611 litres (16.3 and 56.9 cu ft).
Odd yet again, despite the EUV increased height, its headroom drops by 0.2 mm (0.1 in) front to rear, plus it forgoes another 24 mm (0.9 in) in front when the optional glass sunroof is chosen. Second-row shoulder room is reduced slightly as well, but hip room grows by a similarly hair-like measurement yet shrinks a bit more in back, thus the upgrade to a larger EUV seems to only benefit rear passenger legroom, which was an issue that has reportedly caused complaints from first-generation Bolt owners. On the positive, the EUV’s curb weight only increases by 41 kg (90 lbs).
The extra poundage probably won’t be felt by EUV buyers, however, being that both Bolts will continue to zip along faster than anything else in their subcompact categories. This in mind, plus factoring in the regular Bolt’s exemplary 417 km (259 miles) range, caused no reason for Chevrolet to improve the power unit, although the same battery/motor setup in the EUV reduces range by about 15 km (9 miles) to 402 km (250 miles).
The powertrain in question is GM’s permanent magnetic electric drive motor and 65-kWh, 288-cell lithium-ion battery, which combine for a stealthy yet healthy 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Both Bolt models are front-wheel drive, similar to a number of other small crossover SUVs, so don’t take them onto a beach for photos like GM did for the press images.
Chevy makes DC fast charging capability standard, which allows for approximately 160 or 150 km (100 or 95 miles) of EV or EUV range respectively after 30 minutes of charging, while a special dual-level charge cord makes it possible for owners to hook up to a 240-volt charging station or 120-volt household-style three-prong outlet.
Those familiar with today’s Bolt will notice that Chevy left the biggest changes to their interiors, where both EV and EUV models feature more horizontally themed layouts for a wider visual effect. The new design is more conventionally laid out as well, replacing the pod-type centre stack with one that flows downward in a more traditional style, ending in a conventional lower console. The same standard 10.2-inch touchscreen remains, large for the subcompact category, while the infotainment graphics have been given a refresh. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are still standard, with a navigation system optional, but most will probably be happiest to see a new standard wireless charging pad. Chevy saw no need to change the Bolt’s fully digital primary gauge cluster, however, which looks exactly the same as that in today’s model.
Together with the current Bolt’s less than ideal rear legroom, owners also complained about seat comfort and interior materials quality, which they deemed substandard for the many asked. While loading the Bolt up with an impressive list of kit, including that big infotainment display just noted, the car’s near $45k price point justifies higher quality surface treatments. Thus, the new 2022 Bolt models will get their just desserts, with softer surfaces in key areas, even including what appear to be padded leatherette on the dash. Chevy seems to have improved some cabin switchgear too, but we shouldn’t expect anything nearing Cadillac quality.
Knobs, levers and switches in mind, the new lower centre console includes an updated gear selector that replaces the current model’s conventional shifter for a slim row of Acura/Honda-style push and pull buttons. The green-lit button nearest to the driver engages one-pedal driving, which is a more effective design than slotting the shift lever into the “L” position, a system employed for the current Bolt and other EV and plug-in models within GM’s various lineups. The paddles on the backside of the new flat-bottom steering wheel will be more familiar to Bolt (and Volt) owners. These can be used for braking assistance, plus for recharging the battery through regenerative kinetic energy.
Tech in mind, the top-line EUV Premier will be first amongst Chevrolet vehicles to offer GM’s Super Cruise hands-free semi-self-driving technology, which is functional on median divided highways. The EUV Premier also features adaptive cruise control and an HD parking camera with a bird’s eye overhead view.
With respect to new Bolt family styling, the majority of onlookers should find the smaller EV better looking than its already reasonably attractive (for a subcompact hatchback) predecessor, unless a more traditional grille-filled front fascia is preferred. The new model says goodbye to the black mesh grille insert, instead replacing it with a grey-painted and patterned panel cut in an ovoid outline, with a slender slot below being the real air intake. This patterned effect does a better job creating family branding than Tesla’s Model 3, for instance, which looks like a non-branded car in an insurance commercial.
Following a theme from the first-gen Bolt and Volt predecessor, Chevy connects the new LED headlamps and side mirror housings with a thick black strip of fender trim, while the outgoing car’s traditional fog lights have been axed for more extended black trim, similar to Cadillac’s front fascia styling.
The EUV features a unique frontal design, which separates the headlight clusters and air intake-style fog lamp bezels, while providing a deeper air vent at the base of a similar solid grey grille insert. Black fender garnishes also flow into the mirror caps, while appearing to follow the black-painted window trim around the glass to a floating roof look, not unlike designs in use across the Chevrolet lineup.
The rear designs of both Bolt models are unique in their execution, but they have a similar design theme that features clean, horizontal, LED taillights at the corners, plus loads of gloss-black composite trim in between. Large matte black bumpers underscore the look, although in a change of pace the EUV appears somewhat dressier due to aluminum-like skid plates, both in the rear and up front.
The 2022 Bolt EV will be priced from $38,198 (plus freight and fees), which is a shocking $6,800 lower than today’s 2021 Bolt EV (those roof rails must have been expensive add-ons), while the new Bolt EUV will be available from $40,198. This means that fully loaded versions should keep them below $45,000, which is as high as possible before being disqualified for government rebate programs. Today’s base Bolt LT can be had for $44,998, incidentally, so it qualifies for the most generous of rebates, whereas the better equipped 2021 Bolt Premier’s $50,298 MSRP doesn’t.
If you’re considering a performance SUV, I have four words of advice: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Despite being compact in size, or maybe because of it, the feisty Italian is one of the fastest production utilities ever created.
How fast is it? It’s evenly matched against Mercedes-AMG’s similarly sized GLC 63 S off the line, both holding title to quickest in their compact luxury SUV class, while it edges out the segment’s second-fastest BMW X3 M Competition by 3 km/h at 283 km/h (176 mph) compared to 280 (174). Possibly more important from an all-round performance perspective, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio has earned more fastest lap records than any SUV available new today.
It doesn’t hurt that it shares racing pedigree limelight with the aforementioned three-pointed star brand, even if Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN is no Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Afla’s just older, wiser and cooler than Merc, the Italian brand having been formed in 1915 compared to Mercedes’ 1922 (a technicality, but it’s F1 and I’m running with it). Likewise, I’d rather hang out with Alfa’s older, wiser and cooler driver and F1 champion Kimi Räikkönen than seven-times world champ Lewis Hamilton too. Kimi’s chill and hilarious, while Lewis is always so serious, and so political… but I digress.
Or did I? After all, when we buy a premium branded car, especially a performance model with awesome street cred, most of us buy into the company that builds it as much as the vehicle itself. Whether we want to admit it or not, branding sells, and while Alfa Romeo doesn’t reach as many luxury buyers are Mercedes-Benz, I’m willing to wager a bet the majority of those who buy into Alfa do so with more enthusiasm. Maybe it’s an Italian thing. Alfa is all about red-blooded passion.
That Alfa Romeo is infused with more racing pedigree than most of its competitors doesn’t hurt matters either, the brand even fielding a Formula One team, which can’t be said for all of its key competitors except Mercedes-AMG—Aston Martin’s larger and much pricier DBX isn’t a direct competitor. You don’t buy one of these things because you’re being practical. Sure, a Stelvio is easier to stow things inside than a Giulia or any other premium sedan, and it seats four large adults in comfort or five in a pinch, but you can do that in a RAV4, and go pretty quick to boot, if it’s the new plug-in hybrid.
Pretty quick is one thing, but the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s top track speed is only beaten by Aston Martin’s new DBX amongst SUVs, the little Alfa managing 283 km/h (176 mph), as noted earlier, with the Aston whisking past at a heady 291 km/h (181 mph). The Quad is actually quicker from standstill to 100 km/h, leaving the exotic super-SUV behind as if it’s standing still, the two brands’ official 0-100 km/h times claimed to be 3.8 seconds to 4.5. That’s not even in the same ballpark, let alone on the same track (although the DBX looked fabulous pulling up behind the Merc, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, AlphaTauri, Alfa, Alpine, Williams, Haas, and yes, Aston F1 cars as the official medical car at the Bahrain GP last weekend).
Aston will likely follow up the current DBX with a stronger performing version at some point, just like Porsche does with its various Cayenne trims. The German brand’s Turbo S E-Hybrid is monstrous, while Bentley’s massive Bentayga Speed completely defies physics, but at least for now we can’t deny the hard numbers. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is even quicker from zero to 100 km/h than those just-noted uber utes. It’s not the quickest of all, mind you, this honour going to Lamborghini’s phenomenal Urus, which is capable of jettisoning from standstill to 100 km/h in a ferocious 3.4 seconds, while independent testers have claimed even quicker times.
I’ve driven some of the above and each were crazy fun, but all said there’s something extraordinarily special about the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It feels lighter and nimbler than most, and the music made from its snarling sextet of pistons and rambunctious quartet of tailpipes is like nothing else this side of the fabulous Giulia Quadrifoglio. Combined with accompanying G forces bashing my backside into a perfectly formed leather- and Alcantara-covered driver’s seat, not to mention similar forces trying to expel me beyond that seat’s sizeable side bolsters when pushing the envelope through twisting backroads, this SUV is shockingly good.
Trust me, I did my best to drive slowly. I truly did. In fact, I more or less succeeded in maintaining posted limits around the city and along rural highways, especially where joy-sucking regulation enforcers have been known to drink coffee and eat donuts while poking radar guns out windows of less inspirational Ford Explorers, but I failed miserably when beyond my city’s outer perimeter, where ideal strips of perfectly aligned pavement stretched diagonally across farmland to connect minuscule communities with circuitous secondary backroads and even quicker-paced byways. This is where Alfa’s Quadrifoglios were designed to run freely, and where I quickly learned how otherworldly this little utility is to drive.
Spin its DNA drive selector to the “d” position for sportier Dynamic mode, or turn it one position farther for “RACE”, which results in even more intense performance, and prepare for ridiculous levels of speed, not to mention one of the most enticingly exhaustive snap, crackle and pop cacophonies to ever emanate from the rear of a vehicle.
Alfa Romeo wraps a beautiful set of 20-inch alloys in 255/45R20 front and 285/40R20 rear Pirelli P Zero performance rubber, which can cling to most any kind of road surface. The specially-chosen tires combine ideally with a smartly sorted chassis that feels as if it could run rings around any competitor.
My driving position was excellent. Alfa slightly squared-off the Quad’s leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, which was just large enough to feel substantive without being cumbersome. It features nicely formed thumb spats for a good grip, these just ahead of long alloy paddle shifters that are attached to the steering column instead of the wheel. This means they’re always where they’re supposed to be, even when the wheel’s rotated in a given direction multiple times. The steering column’s tilt and reach adjustability is generous as well, with the latter matching excellent seat adjustment. My long-legged, short-torso frame fit in well, not always the case with some rivals, which resulted in good control and much-appreciated comfort.
No wonder Alfa Romeo’s team of professional drivers have had no issue setting global track lap records. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio leads every SUV made at Britain’s famed Silverstone (2:31.6) racetrack, not to mention Donington Park (1:21.1), and the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch (55.9), but to be fair I must admit its record-setting 7:51.7-minute lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife was recently broken by the aforementioned GLC 63 S, the hyper-Merc laying down a wickedly quick lap time of 7.49.369 minutes.
Both are faster in one lap of the 20.832-km mountainside racetrack than the next-best Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, however, which did the deed in 7:59.7 minutes, while the Range Rover Sport SVR could only manage the course in 8:14 minutes. Until one of the previously mentioned super-SUVs chooses to take these two little compacts on at the ‘Ring, they’ll likely remain top of the “Green Hell” podium.
Back to my need for fairness, the Urus nabbed the title from this Stelvio Q at one of my favourite racecourses, California’s Laguna Seca. It makes sense for the 641-horsepower super-ute to beat the little Alfa, especially when factoring in the latter SUV’s comparatively bargain-basement price, but its 1:40.9-minute record lap wasn’t all that much better than the Stelvio’s 1:43.5-minute trip around the ultra-challenging track.
It doesn’t matter which premium branded super SUV you opt for, its interior will come stuffed full of contrast-stitched leather with ultra-suede accents, brushed and polished metals, plus glossy carbon-fibre trim, and more, while high-grade pliable composite surfaces are used where one of the above coverings won’t work. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is no exception. That said, at just under $100k it’s not going to blow away a Bentayga owner, but its interior design is nevertheless alluring, quality of workmanship excellent, and overall sense of luxury impressive.
I was happy to learn of its updated infotainment system too, the interface more user-friendly and graphically inspiring than a four-cylinder Stelvio I drove before. Its drag and drop tile/widget design made it more customizable too, while it can do most anything its competitors can, plus compile performance statistics via various “pages” showing boost, torque, lateral Gs, etcetera.
I was surprised, but not disappointed that a fully-digital gauge cluster wasn’t included, being that the analogue dials and sporty circular shrouds looked fabulous and worked well. A large speedo and tach bookended a big high-definition multi-information display in the middle, this screen complete with the usual functions.
Along with the impeccably finished cabin and outrageous performance, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is plenty practical too. It’s an SUV after all, and therefore came with a comfortable, sizeable second row with three seatbelts across, as well as three-way outboard seat heaters, two USB-A charge ports on the backside of the front console, great rear ventilation, and overall refinement as nicely finished as the front seating area.
The cargo compartment was similarly impressive, and roomy enough for the majority of peoples’ requirements. An especially useful 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback expanded on its cargo carrying capacity further, while Alfa also included an smartly engineered aluminum track system for strapping down items that might otherwise fly about (for those moments when you temporarily forget you’re supposed to be carting cargo and start driving like Mario).
Alfa Romeo is currently offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero-percent, by the way, so be sure to check out our 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Canada Prices page where you can also configure your Stelvio with every available colour and option. A CarCostCanada membership will also provide information about available manufacturer rebates when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that can make sure you pay the lowest price possible during negotiations. Learn how the CarCostCanada system saves you money, and remember to download our free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store so you can have all of this critical info immediately available.
To reiterate, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is up against some very worthy premium competitors, but the fact that you’ll need to spend more than $250k in order to get something capable of outrunning it says everything you need to know. Mercedes’ fastest GLC is a more direct match and should be up for consideration, but its twin-turbo V8 doesn’t provide the same kind of high-strung audio track as Alfa’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, making the Italian more like watching (and listening to) classic F1, and the Merc more akin to today’s fast yet dull sounding hybrid machinery.
We also need to consider standard features and options. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes mostly loaded up with features, other than approximately $4k worth of add-ons, whereas the AMG GLC 63 S can be had for slightly less in base form, but the German model needs to be optioned up with more than $26k of extras to come in line with the Italian SUV. This probably makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio the wiser choice financially, even though you probably won’t care what it costs once behind the wheel.
Lovers of small hatchbacks like Nissan’s Micra and Versa Note will have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years, their cancellations.
The same has happened with most manufacturers, with Toyota having dropped its Yaris, Honda having nixed its Fit, Ford having axed its Fiesta (and Focus), and the list going on. All of the above have increased their allotment of small crossover SUVs, however, which on the surface seems as if we’re not all that concerned about fuel economy after all.
Fortunately, most of these new crossover SUVs are merely front-wheel drive economy cars on steroids. The various brands have slightly raised their suspensions and rooflines, sometimes making them more accommodating inside, but all come standard with front-wheel drivetrains and equally efficient powerplants, some not even offering all-wheel drive at all.
For that extra $500, Nissan has grafted a big, imposing grille on the front of its smallest crossover, and for the most part we feel it looks quite good. Its chromed surround flows elegantly upwards and outward toward sharply chiselled headlamps, while a fresh set of LED fog lights are located just beneath, at least when viewing the Kicks’ sportiest top-line SR trim. Updates aren’t as noticeable at each side or hind end, the former featuring a new set of LED turn signals within revised side mirror housings, and the latter adding a reworked bumper cap.
The slight price increase also includes new standard features such as auto on/off headlamps, heated exterior mirrors, and a rear wiper/washer, while changes to the cabin include a new standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When moving up to mid-range SV and top-line SR trims, the display gets upsized to 8.0 inches in diameter, with additional features including a leather-clad steering wheel and shift knob, a single-zone auto HVAC system, and a Bose audio upgrade.
The Kicks’ 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine makes a reasonably peppy 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque, which means it wasn’t changed as part of the refresh. Likewise, its continuously variable transmission (CVT) remains standard too, resulting in the identical a fuel economy rating to last year: 7.7 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 7.2 combined with its sole front-wheel drivetrain.
The 2021 Kicks also comes well equipped with advanced standard safety and convenience features such as automatic emergency braking, rear auto braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and auto high-beam assistance. The move up to SV or SR trims includes driver alert monitoring plus a rear door alert system that warns the driver when something (or someone) may still be in the rear seating area after parking, while top-tier SR Premium trim adds an overhead camera system.