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2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST Road Test

2021 Buick Enclave Essence RT
Although four years since its second-gen redesign, the Enclave still looks good, even in base Essence trim.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence RT
Long and accommodating, all Enclave trims provide impressive roominess in all seating positions, plus plenty of cargo space.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence RT
There’s nothing particularly unique about the Enclave’s rear design, but it’s certainly not offensive.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence RT
A $1,495 Sport Touring upgrade package adds this sporty black mesh grille.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence RT
LED headlamps come standard across the Enclave line.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
These sporty machine-finished 20-inch alloys with black-painted pockets come with the optional ST package.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
Nice chrome faux “door hinge” garnishes add to the Enclave’s upscale appearance.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
Sharp looking taillights get spliced by sharp blade-like bright metal trim, while that tiny “ST” badge refers to this example’s Sport Touring package.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
Even the base Enclave’s interior should cause pause to anyone questioning whether this SUV deserves premium status.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
The Enclave’s driver positioning should be good for all body types, while its cockpit layout is easy to use and filled with standard features.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
The primary gauge cluster works as it needs to and is pleasantly designed, but it lacks the tech offered by most rivals.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
The Enclave’s centre stack is intelligently laid out, and the infotainment system is top-notch.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
The infotainment system’s graphics are easy to understand, this “page” showing the tri-zone climate control system’s functions.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
The Enclave’s standard 9-speed automatic transmission is ultra-smooth, as expected, but also surprisingly sporty.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
Comfort yes, but the base front seats’ lateral support aren’t up to the SUV’s handling capability.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
The standard second-row captain’s chairs are a step up from the optional bench.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
Getting into the third row is ultra-easy thanks to innovative second-row captain’s chairs that pop up and move right out of the way.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
If you regularly use a third row, the Enclave should be high on your list as the rearmost seat is roomy.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
This vantage point shows how much legroom is offered to rear passengers, not to mention the large rear quarter windows.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
Compared to most three-row rivals, this is a lot of dedicated cargo space.

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.

2021 Buick Enclave Essence ST
How’s that for total cargo volume? The Enclave provides one of the most accommodating interiors in its class.

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.

Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann

CarCostCanada

Buick shows off fully refreshed Enclave for 2022

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir
The new 2022 Buick Enclave should find universal appeal from a styling perspective, especially in top-line Avenir trim.

Buick recently unveiled its refreshed 2022 Enclave, and one glance should be all that fans of the brand need in order to trade up to the new model. To be clear, the refresh is more about evolution than revolution, with the majority of styling updates pulled over from its predecessor.

The second-generation Enclave arrived on the scene in 2017 as a 2018 model, unless you’re reading this from China where a unique version appeared two years later for the 2020 model year. The two designs seem to have been melded into one for this 2022 Enclave, which is a very good thing for those who appreciate elegant conservatism over edgy modernity.

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir
That’s one big new grille, although it still comes across as classy, which is important for the brand’s more conservative clientele.

As most in this camp with agree, the outgoing 2021 Enclave was already a very good-looking mid-size crossover SUV, with its Chinese alternate arguably being even more attractive. Changes made to this mid-cycle update include a larger grille for even greater premium presence, new headlights and tail lamps for yet more visual fluidity at its backside, and sharpened bumpers front to rear in order to increase visual width. It all results in even more luxury appeal, which Buick will hope lures in would-be shoppers that might otherwise be coaxed away from imported three-row luxury utilities.

At the moment, the only premium choices under the $50,000 threshold, which is more or less today’s entry-point for three-row SUVs in the premium sector, include the $48,000 2021 Enclave, soon to be replaced, and the $48,995 Infiniti QX60, which gets a long-awaited redesign for 2022. Acura’s recently redesigned MDX is priced well over the $50k mark at $56,405, as is Cadillac’s $57,998 XT6 and Lexus’ $59,700 RX 350 L.

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir
The Enclave, shown here in top-tier Avenir trim, doesn’t brake any styling molds from the rear.

That’s similarly priced to an Enclave around halfway through its options list, incidentally, although a fully-loaded 2021 Enclave Avenir nears the $70k mark, a price-point that’s in the range of the $64,500 Genesis GV80, $65,500 Land Rover Defender, $64,750 Volvo XC90, $68,600 Land Rover Discovery, $67,950 Audi Q7, and the $69,900 Lincoln Aviator. If you’re now questioning why Mercedes’ and BMW’s three-row competitors fit into this mix, their respective GLS and X7 start at a comparatively stratospheric $101,900 and $102,900, so there’s no need to bring them into this conversation.

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir
Expect even higher quality finishings inside the 2022 Enclave, not to mention some updated design details.

Away from such lofty heights, the renewed 2022 Enclave’s standard Driver Confidence Plus suite of advanced driver’s assistance and safety technologies include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beam assistance.

Behind the 2022 Enclaves larger grille, the same 310 hp 3.6-litre V6 joins up with a nine-speed automatic transmission to drive all four wheels, with no powertrain option available. A fully independent suspension provides good road-holding and, most importantly in this class, a comfortable ride, although the top-line Enclave Avenir comes with a more sophisticated adaptive suspension.

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir
The Enclave has always been spacious in all of its three rows, especially when compared to three-row luxury rivals such as Lexus’ RX 350 L.

Buick is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent on the 2022 model, although so far the General Motors brand isn’t advertising the updated Enclave on their retail website, so contact your local dealer to see if you can order one. As for the outgoing 2021 model, our 2021 Buick Enclave Canada Prices page is currently showing up to $1,000 in additional incentives for new buyers, while CarCostCanada members were saving an average of $2,916 at the time of writing.

To learn how you can save thousands when buying your next new car, truck or SUV, find out how a CarCostCanada membership works, and don’t forget to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store so you can benefit from all the savings you’re entitled to.

Story by Trevor Hofmann

Photos by Buick

CarCostCanada

Bill Nye The Science Guy explains Porsche Taycan technology in a new video series

Bill Nye The Science Guy explains Porsche Taycan technology
Porsche commissioned Bill Nye The Science Guy to explain complicated Porsche Taycan technology in simple, everyday terms.

The new Porsche Taycan is one of the more technologically advanced EVs currently available, but this doesn’t mean the only people capable of understanding how it works are electrical engineers.

In order to simplify the science, Porsche hired Bill Nye The Science Guy, a popular TV personality, to explain all the key technology, which resulted in a five-part short-format video series. Each episode, which span just under a single minute to one-and-a-half minutes long, focus in on technologies that differentiate the Taycan from its competitors, such as its 800-volt battery, uniquely innovative aerodynamic design, regenerative braking system, two-speed transmission, and repeatable performance.

Bill Nye The Science Guy explains Porsche Taycan technology
Bill Nye uses graphics and humour to bring electrical engineering to the masses.

The YouTube series, dubbed “Bill Nye Explains The All-Electric Taycan,” was filmed at the Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, California. The entertaining host uses simple terms and silly antics to clarify otherwise complicated subject matter, resulting in a series that’s ideal for all ages.

The Taycan, which arrived on the electric scene only last year, is already available in two unique body unique styles and four individual trims, including 4, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S. The sleek Taycan four-door coupe can be had in three of the just-noted trims, including 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, whereas the more recently introduced Taycan Cross Turismo also has a base trim. Additionally, the Cross Turismo can be upgraded with an Off-road Design package that increases ride height while adding more aggressive styling enhancements.

Bill Nye The Science Guy explains Porsche Taycan technology
Check out all five short-format videos below.

Top-level Taycan Turbo S trim can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds, thanks to its 750-hp twin-electric-motor power unit, while standard AWD means that all four performance tires grip the road below, especially helpful in inclement weather or when off-road.

Porsche is now offering the 2021 Taycan with factory leasing and financing rates from zero-percent, so be sure check out our 2021 Porsche Taycan Canada Prices page to learn more. We also provide our CarCostCanada members with dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands when purchasing your next new vehicle, so learn how our system works, and remember to download our free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all of this valuable information at your fingertips when you need it most.

Here are the five “Bill Nye Explains The All-Electric Taycan” videos:

Bill Nye Explains the All-Electric Taycan: Two-Speed Transmission (1:11):

Bill Nye Explains the All-Electric Taycan: 800 Volts (1:17):

Bill Nye Explains the All-Electric Taycan: Regenerative Braking (0:52):

Bill Nye Explains the All-Electric Taycan: Aerodynamics (1:14):

Bill Nye Explains the All-Electric Taycan: Repeat Performance (1:34):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

CarCostCanada

New 2022 Genesis GV70 compact luxury crossover is now available for $49,000

2022 Genesis GV70
The 2022 GV70 opens the compact luxury SUV market up to Genesis, and simultaneously provides an exciting new alternative in this class.

To say Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury brand is on a roll would be quite the understatement, being that it began with just one full-size G90 flagship luxury sedan at the close of 2015, added its mid-size G80 sport-luxury sedan in early 2016, and followed up with the compact G70 sport sedan in 2017. Additionally, the more important mid-size GV80 luxury SUV arrived just last year, while what might become its top seller, the compact GV70 sport-luxury SUV, is just starting to arrive at dealers now.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
Most should find the GV70 attractive from all angles.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
Although some press photos show the GV70 off-pavement, the SUV has primarily been designed to stay on the road, with limited off-road use.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
The GV70 offers up very sleek, sporty lines.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
The unique oval layout of some interior controls, is unique to Genesis and the entire compact luxury SUV segment.

On this note, the new 2022 GV70 is more affordable than the $48,500 Volvo XC60 after adding its fees (plus $2,615 for $51,115 in total), as well as Land Rover’s $49,900 Discovery Sport (plus $2,726 in fees for $52,626), plus the $49,900 Mercedes-Benz GLC (not shown on retail site so adding $2,500 for $52,400). Likewise, the BMW X3 starts at $52,550 (plus $2,245 for $54,795), the Tesla Model Y at $55,000 including its $1,300 freight fee (although the least expensive Performance model currently offered on their retail site goes for $69,990), the Alfa Romeo Stelvio at $55,190 (plus fees ranging from $1,995 to $2,695 for a maximum base price of $57,885), the Porsche Macan at $57,800 (plus $1,600 for $59,400), the Jaguar F-Pace at $60,350 (plus $2,826 for $63,126), and finally Land Rover’s Range Rover Velar at $63,500 (plus $2,826 for $66,326).

2022 Genesis GV70
The GV70’s tasteful layout of controls, appears well designed and very upscale.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
Top-line trims receive a fully digital gauge cluster.

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).

2022 Genesis GV70
Tired of European, American or Japanese luxury? How about stepping up to something South Korean this time?

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
The GV70’s centre HD display is a massive 14.5 inches.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
Only time will tell how well the GV70 is received by compact luxury SUV buyers.

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.

2022 Genesis GV70
The GV70’s long, lean layout should make it good for rear legroom and cargo capacity.

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.

For now, take note that Genesis is offering the 2022 GV70 with factory leasing and financing rates from zero-percent, as seen on our 2022 Genesis GV70 Canada Prices page. You can find out about deals like this by being a member of CarCostCanada, as well as gain access to dealer invoice pricing on any model currently sold new in Canada. Find out how the CarCostCanada system works now, and be sure to download our free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, in order to pay the least amount possible for your next new car.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Genesis

CarCostCanada

Redesigned Mercedes C-Class ups style and technology for 2022

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
Mercedes’ new 2022 C-Class sedan pulls many design cues from the smaller A-Class four-door, and looks all the better for it.

It’s finally the C’s time to shine. As part of a thorough fifth-generation C-Class redesign, the new model will bypass first-gen MBUX electronics to be second in the lineup to feature Mercedes’ entirely new separated digital gauge cluster display and infotainment touchscreen.

That’s probably the biggest 2022 C-Class news, next to the updated model’s completely new sheet metal, mostly because the latter could’ve easily been guessed by looking at the recently updated fourth-generation A-Class sedan that debuted in 2018.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
The new C’s side styling is less curvaceous than its predecessor, but the lines are clean and attractive just the same.

The new (W206) C-Class is the A’s obvious bigger brother, at least when the two model’s sedans are placed side-by-side. The A can be had in a sporty hatch as well, while the C is offered in coupe, convertible and wagon body styles. We’ve only seen the sedan and wagon thus far, and sadly the latter car won’t make the journey across the Atlantic later this year, news that no doubt has fans of low-slung, elongated five-door Mercs feeling woeful.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
Possibly the most noticeable change to the 2022 C-Class sedan is in the rear, where new taillights dress up the design.

At least the new C four-door should put a smile on those who prefer keeping their cargo snuggly secured away in a locked trunk, as it’s one very stylish sedan. It boasts Mercedes’ new frowning oval grille (the previous sport grille was turned up at its ends, resulting in a happier countenance), also seen on the just-noted A-Class, plus the leaner looking CLA. Moving outward, a new set of more sharply angled Performance LED headlamps stretch farther around each front fender, while a reworked lower front fascia comes across cleaner for a more minimalist approach. Additionally, the hood incorporates a pair of sinuous character lines, pulling memories of the ‘50s-era 300 SL, which is certainly no bad thing.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic Wagon
Unfortunately, there won’t be a 2022 C 300 4Matic Wagon in Canada.

Peering down each side, Mercedes abandoned the outgoing C sedan’s gracefully penned beltline crease, which used to sweep downward through the rear door ahead of disappearing under its handle. This said, the new model appears more slab-sided, although the lower crease remains, which kicks upward as it moves rearward.

Quite possibly the most obvious differentiator between old and new Cs are the taillights, the latest iteration featuring two-piece triangular lenses that wrap horizontally around the rear flanks, compared to the outgoing model’s less distinctive ovoid lamps. Look no further than the A-Class sedan for their inspiration. Finally, the new C-Class gets fresh sets of 18- and 19-inch alloys, along with a revised palette of exterior paint colours.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
The new C-Class will come standard with Mercedes’ second-gen MBUX infotainment system.

Those lured to a new car via modernized electronics may have already flocked to Mercedes in recent years, being that the brand’s two-in-one MBUX driving/infotainment display has been second to none (except for Hyundai/Kia that adopted a similar design for many of their latest models). As noted earlier, Mercedes is skipping over the initial MBUX system for an altogether different approach to design and functionality. Instead, it will keep a similar fixed tablet-style display for the car’s primary gauge cluster, but will host the majority of infotainment info on a much larger individual display in a more conventional location, a bit lower on the centre stack, which should be easier to reach for some drivers. Anyone moving from the current C’s analogue dial and digital multi-information setup to the new all-electronic layout shouldn’t be put off, but some elevating their lifestyle from an A-Class may be chagrined after getting used to the first-gen MBUX design. Then again, if new design is good enough for Merc’s full-size S-Class flagship, it should be acceptable for C-Class users, the smaller sedan being the second car in the Stuttgart-brand’s lineup to complete rework its entire instrument panel layout.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
The digital gauge cluster is now a separate entity, but its functionality should be at least as good as the first-gen MBUX driver’s display.

The centre display is an elegantly crafted bit of electronica, particularly how it appears to seamlessly meld into a high-gloss carbon fibre weave surface treatment as it curves into the lower console, save for a thin strip of bisecting analogue buttons. The larger display is a touchscreen, just like the outgoing C’s smaller monitor and Merc’s first-gen MBUX unit, the extra digital acreage necessary now that a console-mounted touchpad is nowhere to be seen. Fans of minimalism will like how it looks, but others who preferred a best-of-both-worlds approach will probably complain.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
The new infotainment display is much larger than the outgoing version, and controlled by the touchscreen and steering wheel switchgear.

According to Mercedes, the new display integrates haptic feedback for more fingertip feedback, while updating the system software now takes place over-the-air. Mercedes has included mention biometric authentication too, via either voice command or fingerprint scanning, while touching the scanner will initiate pre-selected memory adjustments to the driver seat, radio station, etcetera. The ability to purchase apps (and no doubt additional items in the future) from the Mercedes Me store can be done via fingerprint scanning too, while the C’s new head-up display utilizes augmented reality to project real-time visuals on the windshield in front of the driver.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
Look ma, no touchpad and rotating dial. The C-Class does away with Mercedes’ secondary infotainment controls.

Not only the driver benefits from new C’s improvements, by the way. Everyone aboard should appreciate the added comfort from its increase width and length. Both front and rear passengers should have more space for their legs and shoulders at their disposal, which is critical in a category that includes a few rivals boasting almost mid-size dimensions.

For those put off by the larger car when parking, a rear-wheel steering system should make the process easier. Additionally, the C 300 4Matic model gets some major tech upgrades under the hood, such as a standard 48-volt integrated starter-generator (ISG), a.k.a. a mild hybrid drive system. It combines with Mercedes’ potent 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, for a total of 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor is responsible for 20 of those horses, plus 147 lb-ft of additional twist, but despite its boost in output the new car is a tad slower than the outgoing model off the line. Of course, the changes are more about fuel-efficiency, the hybrid drivetrain joined by driveline drag reducing gliding capability, plus a kinetic energy recovery system.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
Expect Mercedes’ usual high-quality and impressive comfort.

Strangely, we won’t see the plug-in hybrid version, which reportedly has an EV range of 100 km between charges (maybe it’s reserved for Germany’s taxi fleets), so any hopes of scoring any front-of-business reserved plug-in parking spots when at the wheel of a C-Class need to be dashed, or for that matter blasting past rush-hour traffic in the HOV lane.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
The new C 300 4Matic will come standard with a 48-volt mild hybrid-enhanced powertrain.

Mercedes has made no announcements of ultra-potent six- or eight-cylinder AMG-tuned C-Class models either, but instead we’re hearing reports of electrically-assisted four-cylinder variants, possibly similar to Volvo’s T8 and Polestar Engineered power units. The difference between regular and AMG hybrid Cs will come down to tuning, with the former prioritizing fuel economy and the latter focused on performance.

Of course, the new C-Class will also include all the expected driver assistive systems, including sign and red-light recognition, and steering assistance to help drivers maintain a chosen lane up to 210 km/h, where legally permitted.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic
With styling like this, the C-Class will remain a segment leader.

As noted earlier, we can expect the new 2022 C 300 4Matic arrive in Canadian dealerships later this year, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for pricing and trim details. For the time being, Mercedes is providing up to $5,500 in additional incentives on the 2021 C-Class models, while CarCostCanada members are currently saving an average of $3,950.

To learn more about how to save money with your CarCostCanada membership, check out our “How it Works” page. Members receive info about manufacturer leasing and financing deals when available, plus factory rebates when available, as well as dealer invoice pricing that can help you save thousands when negotiating over a new vehicle. Also, be sure to download the our free app from the Google Play store or Apple store too, so you can access all this critical money-saving info on your smartphone.

The C-Class: Rapid-Fire Questions to Dirk Fetzer (1:07):

The New C-Class Sedan: An Intelligent Comfort Zone (0:49):

The New C-Class Sedan: A Connected Comfort Zone (0:56):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz

CarCostCanada

Infiniti gets sporty with all-new QX55 crossover coupe

2022 Infiniti QX55
Good looking QX55 should bring more buyers to Infiniti and enhance its brand image.

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.

Infiniti is now re-entering the SUV coupe-style sector for 2022 with the QX55, and being that it rides on the Japanese luxury brand’s top-selling QX50 compact crossover, and therefore priced lower than the QX70 was, it should find more buyers.

2022 Infiniti QX55
The QX55 gets a sportier coupe-like rear profile that limits cargo capacity yet looks great.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
A bold yet elegant variation on Infiniti’s classy grille joins a sporty front fascia for a good first impression.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
The QX55’s “piano key” style tail lamps boast 45 separate LEDs.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
Top-line Sensory trim sports a red and black interior theme.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
If you’ve been inside a QX50, you’ll be right at home in the QX55.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
Infiniti’s dual-display infotainment setup remains the cabin’s key focal point.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
Infiniti’s well-proven CVT comes standard in all QX55 trims.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
Second row seating looks spacious enough for most adults.

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.

2022 Infiniti QX55
Cargo capacity is reduced, but not by much.

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.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Infiniti

CarCostCanada

New Mercedes EQA brings electric power to entry-level luxury SUV segment

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
Mercedes is preparing its new EQA electric for sale, and we think it’ll eventually arrive here in Canada where small SUVs do very well.

Mercedes is expanding its electric vehicle lineup rapidly, due to the goal of providing a “Carbon Neutral” model lineup by 2039, with the latest plug-in offering possibly its most important being that it’s the gateway into three-pointed star EVs.

When (or if) the EQA is sold into the Canadian market (we shouldn’t expect it before calendar year 2022), it will most likely be Mercedes’ most affordable EV. Designed to slot below the EQC, which was originally scheduled to launch later this year but will likely arrive next year, the EQA will initially combine for a three-way EV lineup topped off by the full-size EQS luxury sedan and SUV variant (although the EQE sedan and SUV are expected to join below the EQS models, these targeting Tesla’s Model X and Audi’s E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback).

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
The long, wide strip of LED taillights does a good job of separating the EQA from its GLA-Class platform donor.

Mercedes is obviously targeting the Tesla Model S, Porsche Taycan, and Audi E-Tron GT Quattro with the latter (or maybe more so with the upcoming EQE sedan), as well as the Tesla Model Y and Jaguar i-Pace with the EQC, whereas only the Volvo XC40 Recharge competes directly with the EQA (and to some extent the BMW i3), allowing a fairly open market in the electrically-powered subcompact luxury SUV market segment. This could change in the next year or so, however.

According to Mercedes-Benz Canada President and CEO, Brian Fulton who was addressing journalists attending the Montreal International Auto Show in January of 2019, the EQS, EQC and this EQA model will initiate a 10-model EQ lineup of new EVs, with one of the others including an EQB (based on the GLB subcompact SUV).

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
The EQA is 100-percent electric, so you’ll need to plug it in to get power.

While the EQC’s dual electric motors produce 300 kilowatts (402 horsepower) and 564 lb-ft of torque, the smaller EQA’s initial 250 trim line will offer a single electric motor with 140 kW (188 hp), focusing more on efficiency than performance. A more capable performer is expected to make approximately 200 kW (268 hp) through a second electric motor driving an opposing set of wheels, this resulting in all-wheel drive. A thin battery gets spread out below the floor in order to maximize interior space, enhance weight distribution, and lower the model’s centre of gravity to optimize handling.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
Anyone familiar with current Mercedes interiors will feel right at home in the highly advanced EQA.

Of utmost importance, the EQA’s range is said to be about 500 kilometres on a single charge (depending on the model chosen), based on Europe’s somewhat optimistic NEDC and WLTP standards (we should expect this number to be downsized when the EQA hits North American markets).

Making the most of stored electricity, the EQA will utilize an intelligent navigation system that plots out the most efficient routes possible after calculating real-time traffic information, as well as terrain, weather conditions, driving style, and charging requirements.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
The EQA uses a modified version of the same MBUX gauge cluster/infotainment display found in the GLA.

Further aiding efficiency, Mercedes has incorporated a standard heat pump to channel the warmth generated from the EQA’s electric powertrain into the passenger compartment. Eco Assist aids battery usage too, while plenty of advanced driver assistive systems and electronic safety technologies have been designed to protect everyone onboard.

While most might think Mercedes used one of its wind tunnels to perfect the EQA’s impressive 0.28 drag coefficient, the reality is that such aerodynamics were achieved digitally, a first for the German carmaker. Therefore, the EQA’s smooth exterior shell with nearly flush headlights and grille, plus its arcing coupe-like roofline, wind-cheating alloys, and almost completely enclosed underbelly were the result of computer simulations.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
EQA seating looks just as roomy and comfortable as in the gasoline-powered GLA-Class.

Just the same, there’s no denying the EQA’s GLA-Class roots. The new electric shares architectural hard points with Mercedes’ smallest gasoline-powered SUV, just like the brand’s other EQ models utilize the underpinnings of their similarly named counterparts.

Mercedes has added blue accents to the headlight clusters for a bit more personality, while an LED light strip visually connects those lenses with daytime running lamps that span across the grille. The theme gets used similarly for the SUV’s hind quarters too, which show organically-shaped LED taillights visually connecting through a narrow reflector that spans the back hatch.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
The slim battery rides low under the EQA’s floor, aiding handling.

Inside, the EQA should look familiar to anyone who’s experienced a modern-day Mercedes model. The instrument panel is highlighted by the automaker’s dual-screen MBUX display, featuring a digital primary instrument cluster to the left and an infotainment touchscreen on the right, the latter controllable via a touchpad and buttons on the lower centre console as well. Together with such systems’ normal functions, the two EQA displays will feature a bevy of EV-specific graphic interfaces.

Just like with its gasoline-powered models, Mercedes also integrates ambient lighting to highlight key interior design elements in the EQA. Materials quality should be up to par as well, while an optional rose gold trim package should match similarly coloured smartphones.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA
Initially, a less potent EQA 250 model will debut.

Although Mercedes’ EQA is not yet available for purchase, those wanting an efficient subcompact luxury SUV should consider the brand’s GLA-Class, which is currently being offered with up to $1,000 in additional incentives, or if you can still manage to find a new 2020 model (2020 was a rough year for car sales after all) you may be able to save up to $5,000 in additional incentives.

To find out more, visit our 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA Canada Prices and 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA Canada Prices pages, plus remember that a CarCostCanada membership can provide yet more savings from factory rebates (when available), manufacturer leasing and financing deals (when available), and always available dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when negotiating your deal. Check out how easy the CarCostCanada system is to use and how affordable it is, plus be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz

CarCostCanada

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro Road Test

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Audi’s Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro looks fabulous, even with a utilitarian roof rack on top.

Style. Some have it, and others just don’t. A small handful, on the other hand, are not only in style, but in fact set the trends. Audi has long been one such brand, often lauded for its leadership in design and execution, while the new Q8 has become one of the automaker’s key style-setters.

While hardly an initiator in the SUV coupe category, the Q8’s edgy lines and sleek, low-slung profile has certainly made up for lost time. As you may already know, it shares hard points with a number of other Volkswagen group crossover utilities, namely Porsche’s Cayenne Coupe and Lamborghini’s Urus, while its MLB platform underpinnings can be found in Audi’s own Q7, plus the regular Cayenne, Volkswagen’s Touareg (in other markets) and at the other end of the spectrum, Bentley’s Bentayga.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s rear design is easily as attractive as its front end.

This means that along with its dashing good looks it’s an SUV that can run with the best in the industry, and believe me the Q8 can hold its own on a curving backroad. The Q8 plays alongside BMW’s X6 and Mercedes’ GLE Coupe, the former being the first-ever SUV coupe, while most others in this sector are much higher priced alternatives such as Maserati’s Levante (which is more of a regular crossover SUV despite being very sleek), Aston Martin’s DBX, and soon Ferrari’s Purosangue.

The Q8 is not only more affordable than the exotics just mentioned, but my tester’s Technik 55 TFSI Quattro trim line is considerably more approachable than the mid-range SQ8 or top-line RS Q8. Our 2021 Audi Q8 Canada Prices page shows suggested pricing of $91,200 plus freight and fees, which adds $8,650 to the price of a base Q8 Progressiv model, while Audi is currently offering up to $4,000 in additional incentives on both 2021 and 2020 models, and average CarCostCanada member savings are $3,875.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The standard LED headlamps are stunning.

The Q8 arrived for 2019, by the way, and other than an assortment of tech features that have been added to the base Progressiv trim since its initial year, 2019, 2020 and 2021 versions are mostly the same. The Q8 Technik shown on this page is pretty well fully loaded, so it’s pretty well the same vehicle as a 2021.

Obviously the Q8’s base price makes its placement within Audi’s SUV hierarchy clear, the sporty mid-sizer positioned above the Q7, the two Q5 models, and of course the Q3, at least as far as non-electrics go. Audi has a lineup of EVs now, including the E-Tron and new E-Tron Sportback (Audi-speak for an SUV Coupe), while the second Q5 I just mentioned is another Sportback, making a total of three SUV coupes in the Ingolstadt brand’s lineup.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
These painted alloys help this all-black Q8 look particularly menacing.

SUV coupes are arguably better looking, unless you’re more of a traditionalist, but there is a trade-off. It comes in the way of rear headroom and cargo capacity, the second row more than adequately sized for most adults, but the Q8’s dedicated luggage space down significantly from the Q7 and even some of the regularly proportioned five-passenger SUVs it might be up against. Even the GLE Coupe offers more room behind its rear seats, but the Q8 edges out the X6.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s cabin is impeccably finished.

Now that we’re talking about practical issues, the base Q8 powertrain delivers decent fuel economy. Driven with a tempered right foot you’ll be able to eke out 13.8 L/100km in the city, 11.7 on the highway and 12.7 combined, but that’s probably not how you’re going to want to drive it.

Sorry for the yawn-fest, but I needed to get the mundanities out of the way before talking performance. Fortunately for enthusiasts like us, Audi chose not to go all pragmatic with its Q8 powertrains, leaving the Q7’s 248 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder off the menu and instead opting for its 335 horsepower V6 in base models. That’s a healthy dose of energy for any SUV, but even more for a lighter weight five-passenger ute like the Q8. It pushes out 369 lb-ft of torque as well, all from a 3.0-litre V6-powered with a single turbo, so off-the-line acceleration is strong and highway passing manoeuvres are effortless.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s driving environment is amongst the best in its class.

Not as effortless as passing would be in a 500 horsepower SQ8, mind you, or for that matter the near Urus levels of straight-line power offered up by the 591 horsepower RS Q8. These two put 568 and 590 lb-ft of torque down to the tarmac respectively, so launching from standstill would be exhilarating to say the least. Is 3.8 seconds to 100 km/h good enough for you? That’s as quick as Bentley’s W12-powered Bentayga, and only 0.2 seconds off the Urus’ 3.6-second sprint. The mid-range SQ8 is fast too, but 4.3 seconds from zero to 100 km/h is not quite as awe-inspiring, while the 55 TFSI Quattro’s 6.0-second run is definitely quick enough to leave most traffic behind when the light goes green.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The digital gauge cluster’s multi-info display can be enlarged to take up most o the area.

Speaking of fast, the Q8’s ZF-sourced eight-speed auto is both silky smooth and wonderfully quick-shifting when pushing hard, while Quattro continues Audi’s advanced tradition in all-wheel drive, delivering superb traction in all conditions. Adding to the experience, Audi provides Comfort, Auto, Dynamic (sport), Individual and Off Road “drive select” modes, the sportiest enhancing the Q8’s direct electromechanical steering design and nicely-tuned five-link front and rear suspension setup, resulting in a luxury SUV that’s comfortable when needed, and plenty of fun through the curves.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s centre display will impress.

Comfort is the Q8 55 TFSI Quattro’s primary purpose, however, and one look inside makes this immediately known. Its interior design typifies Audi’s contemporary minimalism, while the quality of materials is second to none. My test model’s cabin was mostly done out in a subdued charcoal grey, other than the large sections of piano black lacquered trim running across the instrument panel and lower console. These perfectly bled into the numerous electronic displays, while Audi added some stylish brown details to visually warm up what could come across as a cold grey motif. Yes, even the open-pore hardwood inlays were stained grey, although ample brushed aluminum trim and the big panoramic sunroof overhead helped to lighten the mood.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
A separate display for the HVAC system frees up space on the infotainment screen.

The aforementioned displays brightened the gauge cluster and centre stack too, with attractive graphics and brilliantly clear high-definition resolution. The former, dubbed “Audi Virtual Cockpit,” is 100-percent digital and wonderfully customizable, plus can be modded so that the centre-mounted multi-information display takes over the entire screen via a “VIEW” button located on the steering wheel spoke. My favourite choice of multi-info functions for this full-size view is the navigation map, which looks fabulous and frees the centre display for other duties, like scrolling through satellite radio stations, while multi-zone heating and ventilation controls can be found on a separate touchscreen just below.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
This is one smooth eight-speed operator.

The previously noted “drive select” modes can be found on a thin strip of touch-sensitive interface just under the HVAC display. Also included is a button for cancelling traction and stability control, turning on the hazard lights, and selecting defog/defrost settings. This switchgear, plus all others in the Q8’s well laid out interior, is impressively made.

Of course, we’ve all come to expect this level of detail from Audi, as is the case for cabin comfort. Of upmost importance to me is any vehicle’s driving position, due to a torso that’s not as long as my legs, therefore once my seat has been powered rearward enough to accommodate the latter, I often require more reach from the telescopic steering column than some models provide in order to achieve maximum control while comfortably holding the rim of the wheel. If that reach isn’t there, I’ve got to crank my seatback to a less than ideal vertical position, which is never a good first impression. In the Q8’s case, nothing I just said was even necessary, other than to point out that its driving position is near perfect.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Ready for supreme comfort? Even including a massage?

Of course, the amply adjustable driver’s seat had much to do with that. It includes an extendable lower cushion that nicely cups under the knees, a favourite feature, while together with the usual fore/aft, up/down, recline and four-way lumbar support functions was a wonderful massage feature that gently eased back pain via wave, pulse, stretch, relaxation, shoulder, and activation modes, not to mention three intensity levels. Industry norm three-temperature heatable cushions were combined with three-way cooling, making a very good thing just that much better.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
An expansive panoramic sunroof opens up the world.

With my seat pushed back far enough to fit my long-legged albeit still short five-foot-eight frame, I still had more than enough space in all directions, while I could nearly stretch out fully when sitting behind the driver’s seat in the second row. With only two seated in back, the Q8’s wide, comfortable centre armrest can be folded down. It features the usual twin cupholders, plus controls for the power-operated side-window sunshades, which can be operated by someone seated on either side of the rear bench. A climate control interface allows adjustment of another two zones in back, for a total of four. This is where you’ll find buttons for the rear outboard seat heaters.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Rear seat comfort and roominess is above par.

I’ve already mentioned the Q8’s cargo volume, so rather than going down this memory hole one more time I’ll just reiterate that most should find it adequate. It’s very well finished, as you might expect, with full carpeting and a stylish aluminum protective plate on the hatch sill, plus bright metal tie-down hooks at each corner, not to mention a useful webbed storage area to the side. I especially appreciation folding rear seatbacks split in the optimal 40/20/40 configuration, which allows for longer items like skis to be stored down the middle while rear occupants benefit from the more comfortable heatable window seats.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s cargo compartment isn’t the largest in the class, but it’s not the smallest either.

I’ve already mentioned pricing and likely discounts, but you’ll need to go to CarCostCanada to find out how to access the deals. Their very affordable membership gives you money-saving info on available manufacturer rebates, factory financing and leasing deals, plus dealer invoice pricing that’s like having insider information before negotiating your best deal. Find out how a CarCostCanada membership will save you money on your next new vehicle, and download their free app too, so you can access critical info when you need it most.

All said, the Q8 would be a good way to apply all knowledge you’ll gain from a CarCostCanada membership. While practical and fuel efficient, it’s drop-dead gorgeous from the outside in, includes some of the best quality materials available, comes equipped with an impressive assortment of standard and optional features, is wonderfully comfortable in every seating position, and delivers strong performance no matter the road conditions.

Story by Trevor Hofmann

Photos by Karen Tuggay

CarCostCanada

Porsche increases battery size and EV range of the 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
All 2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid models get a bump in battery size for increased range.

Just in case you’re having a déjà vu moment, rest assured that you previously read an article on this site about Porsche E-Hybrid battery improvements, but at that time we were covering Panamera variants and now it’s all about the electrified Cayenne.

Like last year, both the regular Cayenne crossover SUV and the sportier looking Cayenne Coupe will receive Porsche’s E-Hybrid and Turbo S E-Hybrid power units, but new for 2021 are battery cells that are better optimized and improve on energy density, thus allowing a 27-percent increase in output and nearly 30 percent greater EV range.

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe
Although it looks as if it should be faster, the 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe is a fraction slower to 100 km/h than the regular body style.

The new battery, up from 14.1 kWh to 17.9, expands the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s range from about 22 or 23 km between charges to almost 30 km, which will force fewer trips to the gas station when using their plug-in Porsches for daily commutes. Likewise, the heftier Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid gets an EV range bump up from approximately 19 or 20 km to 24 or 25 km.

Added to this, Porsche has reworked how these Cayenne plug-ins utilize their internal combustion engines (ICE) when charging the battery. The battery now tops off at 80 percent instead of 100, which in fact saves fuel while reducing emissions. Say what? While this might initially seem counterintuitive, it all comes down to the E-Hybrid’s various kinetic energy harvesting systems, like regenerative braking, that aren’t put to use if the battery reaches a 100-percent fill. Cap off the charge at 80 percent and these systems are always in use, and therefore do their part in increasing efficiency.

2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid
The regular Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid body style and the Coupe are identically quick.

Additionally, the larger 17.9 kWh battery can charge quicker in Sport and Sport Plus performance modes and default or Eco modes, making sure the drive system always has ample boost when a driver wants to maximize acceleration or pass a slower vehicle.

Net horsepower and combined torque remain the same as last year’s Cayenne plug-in hybrid models despite the bigger battery, with the 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid retaining its 455 net horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque rating, and both Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid body styles pushing out a sensational 670 net horsepower along with 663 lb-ft of twist.

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
No matter the 2021 Cayenne body style or trim line, the view from inside is impressive.

Standard Cayenne E-Hybrid models can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.0 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, before maxing out at a terminal velocity of 253 km/h, while the Sport Chrono Package equipped Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe requires an additional 0.1-second to achieve the same top speed. Alternatively, both regular and coupe Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid body styles catapult from standstill to 100 km/h in an identical 3.8 seconds, with the duo also topping out at 295 km/h.

The 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid starts at $93,800 plus freight and fees, while the Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe is available from $100,400. After that, the Turbo S E-Hybrid can be had from $185,600, and lastly the Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe starts at $191,200. You can order the new electrified Cayenne models now, with first deliveries expected by spring.

Take note that Porsche is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent, so be sure to visit our 2021 Porsche Cayenne Canada Prices page to find out all the details. CarCostCanada also provides manufacturer rebate information, when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on your next purchase. Learn how it all works by clicking on this link, and also download our free app.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

CarCostCanada

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550 Road Test

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The new second-gen G-Class stays true to its iconic design and purpose.

Few vehicles ever earn “icon” status. They’re either not around long enough, or their manufacturers change them so dramatically from their original purpose that only the name remains.

Case in point, Chevy’s new car-based Blazer family hauler compared to Ford’s go-anywhere Bronco. One is a complete departure from the arguably iconic truck-based original, whereas the other resurrects a beloved nameplate with new levels of on- and off-road prowess.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
For crossover buyers the G will be too boxy, but to serious SUV fans it’s just right.

Land Rover has done something similar with its new Defender, yet due to radically departing from the beloved 1990-2016 first-generation Defender 90 and 110 models’ styling (which was based on the even more legendary 1948-1958 Series I, 1958-1961 Series II, 1961-1971 Series IIA, and 1971-1990 Series III) it runs the risk of losing the nameplate’s iconic status.

In fact, a British billionaire eager to cash in on Land Rover’s possible mistake is building a modernized version of the classic Defender 110 for those with deep pockets, dubbed the Ineos Grenadier (Ineos being the multinational British chemical company partly owned by said billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe). That the Grenadier was partly developed and is being produced by Magna Steyr in its Graz, Austria facility, yes, the same Magna Steyr that builds the Mercedes-Benz G-Class being tested here, is an interesting coincidence, but I digress. The more important point being made is that Mercedes’ G-Class never needed resurrecting. Like Jeep’s Wrangler, albeit at a much loftier price point, the G-wagon has remained true to its longstanding design and defined purpose from day one, endowing it with cult-like status.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The G 550’s LED headlights look much the same as the old model’s from a distance, but inside they’re much more advanced.

The G-Class was thoroughly overhauled for the 2019 model year, this being the SUV’s second generation despite more than 40 years of production, so as you can likely imagine, changes to this 2020 model and the upcoming 2021 version are minimal. The same G 550 and sportier AMG G 63 trims remain available, but the more trail-specified 2017-2018 G 550 4×4 Squared, as well as the more pavement-performance focused 2016-2018 AMG G 65 haven’t been offered yet, nor for that matter has the awesome six-wheel version, therefore we’ll need to watch and wait to see what Mercedes has in store.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
This G 550’s wheel and tire package meant it remained on-road.

The 2019 exterior updates included plenty of new body panels, plus revised head and tail lamp designs (that aren’t too much of a departure from the original in shape and size), and lastly trim modifications all-round. The model’s squared-off, utilitarian body style remains fully intact, which is most important to the SUV’s myriad hardcore fans.

While I’m supposed to be an unbiased reporter, truth be told I’m also a fan of this chunky off-roader. In fact, I’m actually in the market for a diesel-powered four-door Geländewagen (or a left-hand drive, long-wheelbase Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series diesel in decent shape), an earlier version more aligned with my budget restraints and less likely to cause tears when inevitably scratching it up off-road. Of course, if personal finances allowed me to keep the very G 550 in my possession for this weeklong test, I’d be more than ok with that too, as it’s as good as 4×4-capable SUVs get.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Simple and small, yet filled with LEDs for faster response to brake input.

While first- to second-generation G-Class models won’t be immediately noticeable to casual onlookers, step inside and the differences are dramatic. The new model features a totally new dash design and higher level of refinement overall, including the brand’s usual jewel-like metalwork trim, and bevy of new digital interfaces that fully transform its human/machine operation. Your eyes will likely lock onto Mercedes’ new MBUX digital instrument cluster/infotainment touchscreen first, which incorporates dual 12.3-inch displays within one long, horizontal, glass-like surface.

The right-side display is a touchscreen, but can alternatively be controlled by switchgear on the lower centre console, while the main driver display can be modulated via an old Blackberry-style micro-pad on the left steering wheel spoke. Together, the seemingly singular interface is one of my industry favourites, not only in functionality, which is superb, but from a styling perspective as well.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Everything about the new G’s interior is better.

The majority of other interior switchgear is satin-silver-finished or made from knurled aluminum, resulting in a real sense of occasion, which while hardly new for Mercedes is a major improvement for the G-Class. Likewise, the drilled Burmester surround sound speaker grilles are some of the prettiest available anywhere, as are the deep, rich open-pore hardwood inlays that envelope the primary gauge cluster/infotainment binnacle, the surface of the lower console, and the trim around the doors’ armrests.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Compared to the outgoing G-Class, the new model is over the top in refinement and luxury.

The G isn’t devoid of hard composites, but centre console side panels that don’t quite meet pricey expectations aren’t enough to complain about, particularly when the SUV’s door panel and seat upholstery leatherwork is so fine. My test model’s interior also featured beautiful chocolate brown details that contrasted its sensational blue exterior paint well.

Driver’s seat bolstering is more than adequate, as are the chair’s other powered adjustments, the only missing element being an adjustable thigh support extension. Still, its lower cushion cupped below my knees nicely enough, which, while possibly a problem for drivers on the short side, managed my five-foot-eight frame adequately. At least the SUV’s four-way powered lumbar support applied the right amount of pressure to the exact spot on my lower back requiring relief, as it should for most body types. Likewise, the G 550’s tilt and telescopic steering column provided plenty of reach, resulting in a near perfect driving position despite my short-torso, long-legged body.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The left half of the large driving display is for the primary instruments and multi-info display, controllable via steering wheel switchgear, whereas the right half is an infotainment touchscreen.

As part of the redesign, Mercedes increased rear seat legroom to allow taller passengers the ability to stretch out in comfort. What’s more, those back seats are nearly as supportive as the ones in front, other than the centre position that’s best left for smaller adults or kids.

All of this refinement is hardly inexpensive, with the base 2020 G 550 priced at $147,900 plus freight and fees, and the 2021 version starting at an even heftier $154,900. This said, our 2020 and 2021 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Canada Prices pages are currently reporting factory leasing and financing rates from zero-percent, which could go far in making a new G-Class more affordable. The zero-interest rate deal seems to apply to the $195,900 2020 G 63 AMG as well, plus the $211,900 2021 G 63 AMG, so it might make sense to buy this SUV on credit and invest the money otherwise spent (I’m guessing commodities are a good shot considering government promises of infrastructure builds, inflated currencies, runaway debt, market bubbles, etcetera, but in no way take my miscellaneous ramblings as investment advice).

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
All of the G 550’s buttons, switches and knobs are superbly crafted.

By the way, along with information about factory financing and leasing deals, CarCostCanada provides Canadian consumers with info about manufacturer rebates when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Find out more about how CarCostCanada’s very affordable membership can work for you, and remember to download our free smartphone app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all of this great information at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
If you’d rather not use the touchscreen, Mercedes offers this well-designed controller on the lower console.

Anytime or anywhere in mind, the G 550 can pretty well get you everywhere in Canada, anytime of the year. There’s absolutely no need to expend more investment to buy aftermarket off-road components when at the wheel of this big Merc, as it can out-hustle most any other 4×4-capable SUV on the market. While I would’ve liked even more opportunities to shake the G-Class out on unpaved roads, I certainly enjoyed the number of instances I did so, and can attest to their greatness off the beaten path. I’ve waded them over rock-strewn hills, negotiated them around jagged canyon walls and between narrow treed trails, coaxed them through fast-paced rivers and muddy marshes, and even felt their tires slip when dipped into soft, sandy stretches of beach, so my desire to own one comes from experience. Just the same I didn’t want to risk damaging my G 550 test model’s stylish 14-spoke alloys on pavement-spec 275/50 Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber, so I kept this example on the street.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The G 550’s driver’s seat is sublime.

The G 550’s ride was sublime even with these lower-profile performance tires, which goes to show that car-based unibody designs don’t really improve ride quality, as much as at-the-limit handling. The G-Class’ frame is rigid after all, as is its body structure, while its significant suspension travel only aids ride compliance. Therefore, it made the ideal city companion, its suspension nearly eliminating the types of ruts and bridge expansion joints that intrude on the comfort levels of lesser SUVs, while its extreme height provides excellent visibility all around.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Even rear passengers get the royal treatment, the Burmester audio system’s speaker grille’s beautifully made.

Those who spend more time on the open highway shouldn’t be wary of the G 550 either, as its ride continued to please and high-speed stability inspired confidence. I would’ve loved to have been towing an Airstream Flying Cloud in back to test its 7,000-lb rating (and given me more comfort than my tent), but I’m sure it can manage the load well, especially when factoring in its 2,650-kg (5,845-lb) curb weight.

Despite that heft, the G 550 performs fairly well when cornering, the previously noted Pirellis proving to be a good choice for everyday driving. I’ve previously driven the AMG-tuned G 63 on road and track, so the G 550’s abilities didn’t blow me away, but it certainly handles curves better than its blocky, brick-like shape alludes.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Mercedes increased rear passenger legroom in the second-gen G-Class, making it more comfortable for larger occupants.

Braking is strong for such a big, heavy ute too, and while the G 550’s 416-horsepower 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 can’t send it from standstill to 100 km/h at the same 4.5-second rate as the 577-hp G 63, its 5.9 seconds for the same feat is nonetheless respectable, its 450 lb-ft of torque, quick-shifting eight-speed automatic, and standard four-wheel drive aiding the process perfectly, not to mention a very engaging Sport mode.

Engaging might not be the best word for it, mind you. In fact, I found the G 550’s Sport mode a bit too aggressive for my tastes, bordering on uncomfortable. It helps the big SUV shoot off the line with aggression, but the sheer force of it all snapped my head back into the seat’s pillowy headrests too often for comfort’s sake, but only when trying to move off the line in particularly quick fashion. When first feathering the throttle, as I usually drive, and then shortly thereafter dipping into it for stronger acceleration, it worked fine. I wish Mercedes’ had integrated a smoother start into the SUV’s firmware, but the requirement to use skill in order to get the most out of it was kind of nice too. All said, at the end of such tests I just left it in Eco mode for blissfully smooth performance and better economy.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The G’s cargo door swings to the side in order to support the rear-mounted full-size spare, but unlike Jeep’s Wrangler it provides easy curb-side access.

Fuel sipping in mind, no amount of technology this side of turbo-diesel power (how I miss those days) can make this brute eco-friendly, with Transport Canada’s fuel economy rating measuring 18.0 L/100km city, 14.1 highway, and 16.3 combined. It’s not worse than some other full-size, V8-powered utilities, nor does it thirst for pricier premium fuel, but this might be an issue for those with a greener conscious.

Speaking of pragmatic issues, the G-Class is a bit short on cargo capacity when comparing to some of those full-size SUV rivals just noted, especially American branded alternatives such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. Then again, the G fares better when measuring up to similarly equipped European luxury utes, with the 1,079-litre (38.1 cu-ft) dedicated cargo area a sizeable 178 litres (6.3 cu ft) greater than the full-size Range Rover’s maximum luggage volume. Interestingly, both luxury SUV’s load-carrying capacity is an identical 1,942 litres (68.6 cu ft), which is ample in my books.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
There’s lots of room for gear in the back of the G, but take note the rear seats don’t fold flat.

After my week with Mercedes’ top-line SUV, I can’t complain. Certainly, I would’ve liked a larger sunroof or, even better, something along the lines of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited’s new Sky One-Touch Power Top that turns the entire rooftop into open air while still maintaining solid sides and back with windows, but this might weaken the G’s body structure and limit its 4×4 prowess. I also would’ve liked a wireless phone charger, and would have one installed if this was my personal ride.

Hopefully my next G-Class tester will be more suitable to wilderness forays, possibly as an updated gen-2 G 550 4×4²? Previous examples included portal axles like Mercedes’ fabulously capable Unimog, but in just about every other respect I was thoroughly impressed with this well-made luxury utility, and glad Mercedes stayed true to this model’s iconic 4×4 heritage. To me, the G-Glass is the ultimate on-road, off-road compromise, and I’d own one if money allowed.

Story and photos by Trevor Hofmann