2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate Road Test

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
Hyundai gave last year’s Sonata a dramatic refresh with this attractive new grille, and the car carried forward identically into 2019. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Hyundai’s Sonata has been around for decades. Just over three actually. During its 31-year tenure the South Korean brand has given it a fairly even mix of dramatic designs and comparatively less expressive styling, the latter seeming to win more buyers. 

A quick glance back into the rearview mirror shows the 1998 through 2004 fourth-generation and 2009 through 2014 sixth-generation models offering particularly daring designs, with a comparatively conservative 2004 through 2009 fifth-generation filling the gap. I might end up throwing my “dramatic” styling equals success theory out completely as that relatively modestly sedan sold very well, and while I spent at least one week with all of the above generations and every one since, all of which impressed, I actually had a V6-powered top-tier version of the latter car in my position as a long-term test car for more than a year, and experienced no problems while totally enjoying its comfort and performance (as my weekly reports confirmed). 

Today’s 2014 through 2019 gen-seven model is the best Sonata yet, but before its extensive 2018 mid-cycle update it was amongst the least visually inspiring generations. Don’t mistake my lack of excitement for criticism, as the 2014 through 2017 Sonata was still attractive enough for plenty of mid-size four-door family sedan buyers, but we’d best not call this level of reconstructive surgery a facelift. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
The Sonata looks great from all angles, especially in sporty Ultimate trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Both 2018 and 2019 Sonata models, which are identical, include a totally reworked grille that completely said goodbye to the front fascia’s sharply angled hexagonal design, a somewhat yawn-inducing generic look if I can be so bold, substituted by a more organically shaped opening that’s helped to visually separate Hyundai and its new Genesis luxury brand. Genesis, which merely rebadged Hyundai’s Genesis Sedan as the G80 as part of its transformation, appears to be keeping more of the outgoing Hyundai grille design while adding a “V” shape to the centre bottom, much like the side view of a brilliant cut diamond as revealed on its new full-size 2020 G90 luxury sedan. 

Back to the current Sonata, its curvaceous new grille is bookended by a nice complex set of headlamp clusters filled with ovoid projector beams (LEDs in my tester) surrounded by attractive LED daytime running lights, these hovering above a neatly stacked set of six LED fog lamps on the lower front corners. 

My tester’s sportier Ultimate trim gets stylish darkened chrome around the otherwise black gloss grille, lower fascia, and headlight surrounds that smartly continue rearward along the front fenders and the entire shoulder line along the side windows before wrapping up and around the greenhouse before meeting back up at the base of each A-pillar. This unique signature design element began with the aforementioned sixth-gen Sonata way back in 2009, and will once again make its dramatic statement for the upcoming 2020 model, a car that take all of the styling cues shown here and expands on them in drama and actual size, while completely redoing rear styling. There’s plenty more dark chrome and loads of glossy black trim on this Ultimate example too, the diffuser style rear apron nicely matching the front fog light bezels, all of which mirror the all black glass and high-gloss roof, this partially because of its panoramic sunroof. I have to admit, the 2018 update made a rather ho-hum Sonata into a great looking mid-size sedan. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
The new Sonata makes a statement with its big grille, available LED headlights, vertically stacked LED fog lamps, and sporty 18-inch alloys. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course, it needs to be in order to survive. Not only is it up against some very stiff competition thanks to Toyota’s latest Camry being downright seductive in its sportiest XSE trim line, the latest Honda Accord providing a lot more premium-like presence than ever before, an all-new Nissan Altima improving styling while offering standard all-wheel drive, plus plenty of other brands tempting consumers with high performance or fuel-efficient hybrid and plug-in alternatives, not to mention Kia and Volkswagen complementing their respective Optima and Passat family sedans with sporty four-door coupe variants dubbed Stinger and Arteon, but the entire car sector under serious threat from crossover SUVs. 

Out of the 14 mid-size sedans currently vying for your attention, only four saw an increase in year-over-year Canadian sales through the first three quarters of 2019, and the Sonata isn’t one of them. The segment-leading Camry’s 11,579 deliveries are up 4.18 percent since the close of Q3 2018, growth that pales in comparison to the third-place Ford Fusion’s 33.43-percent gain, although its total sales are only 7,280. The two others in positive territory are marginal players to say it kindly, with Honda’s Clarity plug-in hybrid up 12.37 percent to 890 units, and Buick’s Regal having increased its take-rate by a whopping 48.71 percent, albeit only to 635 deliveries. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
While not as large as some competitors, the Sonata Ultimate’s 18-inch alloys help this big sedan perform very well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The biggest loser is Volkswagen’s Passat down 78.24 percent to just 570 units, but Kia’s Optima didn’t fare much better with sales of 1,363 units resulting in a 52.09-percent downturn. A quick glance at some others like the Altima that lost 43.34 percent for 2,568 units despite its recent redesign, and Mazda6’s that took a 42.76-percent nosedive to 1,130 units, doesn’t make the Sonata’s mere 14.18-percent reversal look that bad, while the 3,346 units Hyundai delivered puts it in a strong fifth place, behind the Camry, Accord, Fusion and Malibu, yet ahead of the Altima, Optima, Subaru Legacy, Stinger, Mazda6, Clarity, Regal, Passat, and Arteon. Announcement of the Fusion’s upcoming demise might make it easier for those remaining, although it’s also a sobering sign of this once mighty category not being as essential to carmakers as it once was. 

All this said, the review you’re reading is more of a respectful adieu to the outgoing 2019 Sonata ahead of ushering in the all-new 2020, and therefore some of us can appreciate a car that helped define Hyundai’s new styling direction over its two-year tenure, while others are deciding if it will soon grace their driveway. I have a lot of good to say about this particular Sonata Ultimate tester, continuing on from my styling overview to its very impressive interior filled with upscale finishings and more features than you’re likely to find in any one of the competitors mentioned above. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
These attractive LED taillights come standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

A tasteful array of high-quality, soft-touch composites in all the usual places join textured and brushed metal-like trim and inky piano black detailing throughout, while the medium-grey cabin sports a classy set of identically coloured seats in perforated leather upholstery with light-grey piping around their edges, which matches light-grey stitching on the bolsters, with the latter complementing light-grey stitching found elsewhere around the interior, particularly on the door panel inserts, on the shifter boot, and in baseball-stitched style around the inside of the leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel rim. 

That steering wheel not only looks the part of a performance car, but its thick padded rim, nicely indented thumb spats, and overall meaty feel comes across a lot more Veloster N than Azera (RIP, in Canada at least), while the placement of the paddle shifters is so ideal they really enhance the overall driving experience. All is combined with ample steering column rake and reach, plus an eight-way powered driver’s seat with two-way lumbar, both allowing my long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight frame to get completely comfortable while providing ideal control of directional duties, unlike some in the class that don’t fit me as well. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
The top-line Sonata Ultimate interior is nicely finished and quite refined, but next year’s update is needed to keep it current. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

During the same week I also had Toyota’s new Camry XSE, which by all styling inferences appears to be the sportiest new mid-size sedan on the market. It’s a significant improvement over the previous model in every way including steering column reach, but it still doesn’t fit me as well. What’s more, the steering wheel doesn’t come close to feeling as sporty or allowing as much control as this Sonata’s, even from a styling standpoint. Don’t get me wrong as Toyota has done a commendable job with the new Camry interior, making its finishing more refined and its overall look a bit more upscale than this Sonata, but as far as real hands-on performance goes, it doesn’t come anywhere near close. What’s more, the Sonata’s steering wheel is heatable from its mid-range up, while Toyota doesn’t even offer a heated steering wheel in the Camry. 

The most notable Camry XSE and Sonata Ultimate differentiators are the seats, with the latter model featuring two of the best front sport seats in the family sedan class. Not only are the embossed with cool “Turbo” insignias up top, and detailed out with all the niceties mentioned earlier, but their deep side bolsters do an excellent job of holding butt and torso in place during hard cornering. You’ll need to hang onto something other than the steering wheel if you want to stay put in the Camry’s driver’s seat while attempting the same lateral Gs, because Toyota’s seats leave you sitting on top of their cushions rather than ensconced within. I didn’t find the Camry’s seats comfortable either, not even in the more luxurious XLE version, but the seats in the Sonata Ultimate are wonderful, and fully supportive in every way you’d want from a sport sedan. The Sonata’s three-way front seat heaters also get toastier than the Camry’s in their top temperature setting, plus the Hyundai includes three-way front seat ventilation that won’t be available to top-line Camry buyers until the 2020 model arrives. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
Most should find the well laid out Sonata interior easy to operate and comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Even the Sonata’s rear seats offer two-way derriere warmers next to the windows in mid-range Preferred trim and above, not to mention nicely carved out support that makes them feel great on the backside, albeit not so much to render the centre position useless. Side window sunshades, found in Luxury and Ultimate trims, can’t be had with a Camry either, while rear seat passengers benefit from plenty of other features like LED reading lights overhead, individual air vents, a nice wide folding centre armrest with integrated cupholders, deep door pockets with bottle holders, and more. A panoramic sunroof on Luxury and Ultimate trims makes the rear passenger compartment feel more open and airy than it would otherwise be, although even less opulent models are hardly short on side window visibility. 

It’s roomy in back too, with plenty of knee space, enough legroom to almost completely stretch out my legs while wearing winter boots, four to five inches to the door panels, plus I still had about three and a half inches above my head, so taller folks should fit in without problem. 

The trunk is large at 462 litres (16.3 cubic feet), while the lid can be opened with a button on the dash or automatically by standing behind the car with the ignition off and proximity-sensing key in pocket. It’s nicely finished with carpeting all the way up the sidewalls, including the trunk lid, while each side of the carpeted seatbacks fold forward in the usual 60/40-configuration via pull-tabs just underneath the rear shelf. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
Simple analogue instruments are enhanced by a good straightforward multi-info display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Everything mentioned so far comes standard in top-line Ultimate trim, including a sharp looking set of 18-inch double-five-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45R18 Michelin all-season tires (replacing 16- or 17-inch Kumhos) directed via special rack-mounted motor-driven power steering (R-MDPS) with a dual-pinion steering rack, an exclusive twin-scroll turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with dual continuously variable valve timing and two-stage variable induction making 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque (replacing the base 2.4-litre four with 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque), an eight-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters (instead of a six-speed automatic), as well as the special leather sport seats noted earlier, plus the aforementioned 3D Three-dimensional Overlay Method (T.O.M) metallic inlays. 

I’m itemizing the majority of each trim’s standard features because value for money has always been one a great way to judge any Hyundai against its peers, and considering this 2019 Sonata Ultimate goes for just $37,199 plus freight and fees, it’s hard to argue against it. After all, a similarly powered Camry with fewer features tops $41k, about 10 percent more than this full-load Sonata, while it’s also a couple of thousand pricier at its lowest end too. That base Essential trim can be had for just $24,899, while at the time of writing Hyundai was offering up to $2,000 in additional incentives. You can find out more right here at CarCostCanada, right on the same page that gives you detailed 2019 Sonata pricing, including trims, packages and individual options, plus rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
The Sonata’s centre stack provides a lot of hands-on functionality. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Yet more features pulled up to this Ultimate model from the $34,899 Luxury trim include the aforementioned LED headlamps with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, the cooled front seats, the rear window sunshades and powered panoramic sunroof, plus aluminum treadplates, chromed inner door handles, an electric parking brake, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door remote, a six-way powered front passenger seat, driver’s seat and side mirror memory, an 8.0-inch high-resolution infotainment touchscreen with navigation, an excellent sounding 400-watt nine-speaker Infinity audio system, wireless device charging, rear seat heating/ventilation/AC ducts, rear parking sensors, driver attention warning, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. 

Features pulled up to the Unlimited from mid-range $28,799 Preferred trim include the stitched leatherette door inserts, heated steering wheel rim, rear seat heaters, and proximity trunk release mentioned before, as well as two-zone auto climate control, satellite radio with a rooftop shark antenna, remote engine start, and BlueLink connectivity, while the $27,699 Essential Sport model provides its sport grille, dark chrome and sportier exterior detailing, sport-tuned suspension, LED tail lamps, front door handle welcome lighting, proximity-sensing keyless entry, sport-style Supervision instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch TFT LCD multi-function display, shift paddles, eight-way power driver’s seat, and aluminum pedals. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
The 8.0-inch centre display is high in resolution and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Lastly, standard features included with this Ultimate model from base Essential trim are as follows: automatic on/off headlamps, LED daytime running lights, powered and heated exterior mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, speed-sensitive variable intermittent windshield wipers, heatable front seats, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone integration, Bluetooth with streaming audio, micro-filtered air conditioning, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, the usual active and passive safety gear, plus plenty more. 

To be fair to the Camry, which has taken quite a beating while being compared directly to the Sonata Unlimited throughout this review, the mid-size Toyota provides a more sophisticated primary gauge package thanks to a more advanced multi-information display (MID) boasting a bigger, more modern looking TFT screen that neatly curves around the outside of each analogue dial, plus it also comes with more functions. Just the same, the Sonata’s MID is bright, clear and hardly short on features. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
This is one of the most supportive driver’s seats in the mid-size class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The car’s centre stack is more vertical than the Camry’s, which is a more modern horizontal layout, not that it matters from a functional standpoint, but it theoretically allows for a larger display (the top-line Camry’s 8.0-inch touchscreen isn’t any larger though) and more room for switchgear around it (the 2020 Sonata makes up for this in a big 12.3-inch way), and therefore the Sonata’s dash design appears more conventional than the Camry’s as well, but once again this has more to do with the 2019 Sonata’s end of lifecycle issues than not technically measuring up (upcoming reviews of the new 2020 Nexo and 2020 Palisade SUVs will expose Hyundai’s infotainment leadership in more detail). I like how the current Sonata’s touchscreen sits high on the centre stack, making it easy to read while driving, and its clear, high-resolution display provides good depth of colour and nice graphics. Its operating system is quick as well, while all functions are generally easy to sort out. 

I found the quality of Sonata switchgear good too, particularly the steering wheel controls and array of buttons, knobs and switches on the centre stack, some of this latter group detailed out with an attractive aluminum-like finish. The upper row of these aluminized toggles is set aside for audio and infotainment system functions, while the bottom row is for the automatic heating and ventilation system, plus the heated and cooled seats as well as the heated steering wheel rim. Under this is a rubberized tray for your smartphone that doubles as a wireless charging pad, while yet more connectivity sits just above on a panel integrating two 12-volt chargers, a USB port, and an aux plug (we can expect more USB ports and fewer old tech as part of the 2020 redesign). 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
This big panoramic sunroof adds a lot of light front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

With the thick, flat-bottom, paddle shifter-enhanced steering wheel rim in hands, and the nicely bolstered driver’s seat underseat, the Sonata Ultimate felt considerably more fun to drive than the Camry XSE, even without the latter car’s more powerful V6. The top-tier Camry is quite a bit quicker in a straight line, shaving about a second and a half off the Sonata Ultimate’s mid-seven-second 0-100 km/h sprint, as long as you manage to stop the front wheels from spinning too much, but straight-line acceleration only one performance criterion, and certainly not most important to me. 

Sure, making surrounding traffic almost instantly disappear in the rearview mirror can be fun while behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Turbo or something equally fast, but trying to do so in a Sonata or Camry simply makes you look juvenile. I found the Sonata Ultimate’s 2.0-litre turbo moved me out of the starting blocks fast enough, while its eight-speed automatic swapped gears quicker than the Camry’s eight-speed gearbox, particularly when its Drive Mode Select system was switched from Comfort, past Eco, into Sport mode, each of these making adjustments to steering, engine, and transmission responses. For my tastes, the high-revving top-level Sonata engine was a great deal more enjoyable than the Camry’s V6 when pushed hard at speed, while having less weight over the front wheels made for nimbler high-speed handling with less understeer. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
A large back seating area provides good comfort and available amenities like seat heaters, side sunshades, and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Yes, the Sonata Ultimate manages fast-paced corners better than the Camry XSE, the Hyundai reacting quicker and feeling more stable. The Toyota had a tendency to push its front tires out of its lane when driven similarly over the same circuitous roadway, while becoming its rear tires didn’t feel as hooked up either, and this is in spite of coming equipped with bigger 19-inch alloys on 235/40 all seasons. Throw the Sonata Unlimited’s driver seat superiority into the mix and it’s no contest. 

As for fuel economy, you’d think Hyundai’s 2.0-litre turbo-four would annihilate Toyota’s old 3.5-litre V6, but the Sonata Ultimate’s claimed rating of 10.4 L/100 km city, 7.4 on highway and 9.1 combined is only a fraction better than the Camry XSE’s 10.7 city, 7.4 highway and 9.2 combined rating. Another nod to Toyota is the inclusion of the eight-speed automatic throughout the Camry range, which helps its less formidable four-cylinder trims walk away with an ultra-thrifty 8.1 city, 5.7 highway and 6.9 combined rating, which is far better than the 2.4-litre equipped Sonata’s stingiest rating of 9.2, 6.8 and 8.1. 

2019 Hyundai Sonata Ultimate
The Sonata’s big trunk can be expanded upon by the mid-size segment’s usual 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Now that I’m griping, the Sonata’s proximity-sensing automatic trunk opener doesn’t seem to work when the car is already unlocked, and with no button in back to open it manually you’ll want to remember to do so from the driver’s position before getting out. The Camry’s approach, which includes a button on the trunk lid that unlocks by proximity sensing, is easier to live with. I also like the Camry’s heated front seats, which turn on (or stay off) automatically upon restarting the car, and stay set at the previous temperature. The Sonata’s heatable front seats require your attention each time you climb inside. 

Of course, a lot of other qualities keep the Camry on top of the mid-size sedan class hierarchy, and I promise to cover these in a future road test review, while there’s no shortage of credible competitors in this segment either, as mentioned at length before, yet if buying into this category you’d be wise to spend some time with the Sonata before choosing something else. 

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credit: Karen Tuggay

These Exciting 2020 Cars Will Transform Your Driving Experience (and Your Savings)!

It’s about that time, folks. The new year is almost at hand and you know what that means! We’re about to see some sleek, stylish and budget-friendly cars hit the road very soon. 

Automakers are promising to go all out with this incoming class of vehicles. If you’re shopping around for a new ride, why not check out what the new year has in store? Below, we compiled a list of the hottest rides that are fuel-efficient and affordable. Electric vehicles, hybrids and conventional models, there’s a lot to watch out for!

Before we get started, we want to remind you about the amazing benefits of getting a FREE car dealer invoice report. Let’s say you want to know the Toyota Tundra dealer cost in Canada, a car report will reveal the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – how much the dealer paid to own the car). 

You will also see a breakdown of the financing options, factory incentives, lease and finance rates, and recommended dealerships for that make and model. The report helps make the negotiations process 100x easier! 

Without further ado, let’s explore the best new models set to change the game in 2020!

 

2020 Nissan Maxima

Nissan has done it again. The 2020 Maxima is a full-sized sedan that is luxurious, functional and thrilling. Packed with a 300-HP VQ35 engine, it is beautifully crafted with a micro-finished forged crankshaft and high-flow tuned induction system. 

The car boasts of an ergonomically designed shift lever, display commander dial and sport mode button, along with its state-of-the-art NissanConnect navigation system; compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Available in black and carbon-fibre, car enthusiasts will immediately appreciate the sedan’s quality materials and ideal placement of controls. 

Curious about the price? Get a Free 2020 Nissan Maxima dealer invoice report

 

2020 Hyundai Elantra

This mainstream compact sedan has plenty to offer – without cleaning out your bank account! What’s new? The upgraded continuously variable transmission (CVT) that significantly improves fuel consumption by 3 to 6 kilometres per gallon. The standard safety equipment comes with forward-collision mitigation and automatic emergency braking, lane assist and driver-attention monitoring. 

The Elantra’s base 147-HP engine sure packs a punch and the electrically assisted steering delivers an enjoyable driving experience. All in all, with its emphasis on luxury and generous standard equipment, the sedan is shaping up to be a crowd favourite. 

Curious about the price? Get a Free 2020 Hyundai Elantra dealer invoice report

 

2020 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota describes this car as  a ‘Hybrid plug-in style model that makes a statement.’ This model has bold colours, striking LED headlights and a unique dual wave rear glass that evens out the airflow. 

With heightened performance and handling, the Toyota Prius Prime boasts of a driver-centric console with soft-touch materials, heated front seating and Qi wireless charging. It is great for a long drive, given the ample storage space to tote around whatever you need. 

The car combines a high-capacity battery with an electric motor to pack a punch. It can achieve a top speed of 135km/hr all the whole delivering seamless acceleration. 

Prime’s EV mode generates zero transmissions and still delivers an amazing performance. You won’t find much amiss with this model.

Curious about the price? Get a Free 2020 Toyota Prius Prime dealer invoice report

 

 Any of These Catch Your Eye? 

Get a Dealer Invoice Report to SAVE Big!

When you select a make and model and request your free report, you will immediately gain access to the following information;

  • MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – what the dealer paid to own the car)
  • Factory incentives
  • Lease and finance rates
  • Recommended dealerships
  • Vehicle pricing options
  • Comparable vehicles

With this information, you can access certified recommended dealerships and the negotiation process then becomes a breeze. 

What are you waiting for? Save big with your CCC report!

New Car Research is a Drag. Shorten the Process to Just a Couple of Minutes!

You’ll agree when we say; we live in an age of information overload. Even when it comes to researching a car, you probably know by now that there are so many random tidbits of information that need to be accounted for; the price, the make, the model, the financing options, the dealership, whew, just reading that was probably tiring!

Great news! We’re here to fast track the process for you. We also explain why knowing the new car invoice price in Canada is incredibly important. So for example, if you get a new price report on an Acura RDX, you can find out the MSRP (how much the dealer paid to own the car). 

This is a figure that not too many people know about, and as such struggle through the negotiations process. Don’t put yourself through that scenario. Shop smarter with a Car Cost Canada report!

Alright, let’s get started!

 

PRICE

Establishing a budget before shopping around is key. Here are the factors you should pay attention to when crafting a budget:

Trim Level: Each subsequent trim level comes with added features. Going from one to the other can elevate the base MSRP by as much as $1,500. 

Manufacturer Features: Manufacturer add-ons like safety, extra gadgets and so on, can also elevate the base MSRP by at least $1,000.

Fees: Regulatory fees, freight, air tax, PDI among a few, are some of the additional fees that could hike up the price by as much as $2,200 per vehicle. 

Dealer Features: Rust-protection, VIN etching and the likes offered by the dealer will add approximately $1,000 to the base MSRP. 

Sales Taxes: This is a percent of the MSRP and added charges that varies by province and territory from anywhere between 5 to 15%. 

 

FINANCING OPTIONS

Now that you have your budget in place, let’s look at potential financing options!

Car Leases: This is similar to long-term rentals. You will have to make regular payments, usually lasting for 3 – 5 years. You will not own the car once the lease terminates. However, some contracts do offer the option to purchase the vehicle at the end of the term. Such leases are arranged by dealers. Be sure to carefully read the fine print before signing any contracts. 

Car Loans: You can either procure a loan through the dealer or through a financial institution. 

When you go to a dealership, the dealer takes care of the intricacies with the lender whether that is the manufacturer’s financing division, a bank or credit union, or a car financing company. 

When you approach a financial institution directly for credit, you may be able to negotiate a better interest rate, if you have good credit and a good relationship with the lender. 

Rent-to-Own: These are much like car leases where you have to make regular payments for a certain period of time. The difference is that with a rent-to-own plan, you have to make payments directly to the dealership or rental company instead of a credit union or bank. 

 

GET A DEALER INVOICE REPORT

Getting yourself a dealer invoice report is half the battle won. You can choose your model, make and trim level and get your free report in your email within minutes. Your report will show you;

  • MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – what the dealer paid to own the car)
  • Factory incentives
  • Lease and finance rates
  • Recommended dealerships
  • Vehicle pricing options
  • Comparable vehicles

By getting a dealer invoice report from Car Cost Canada, you can cut down your research by half. This report reveals everything you need to know before approaching the dealer. 

Plus, dealers are more open to negotiating when they see you’ve done your research and have a report on hand. 

Shop smartly and save big on your next car.

Get a FREE Dealer Invoice Report Right Now. 

New 2020 Porsche Macan Turbo almost 10 percent more powerful

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
The 2020 Macan Turbo receives a new front end design and plenty of other styling tweaks too. (Photo: Porsche)

The 2020 Macan has received such a thorough upgrade that many consider it more like newly designed generation, instead of a mid-cycle refresh. Porsche even revised its suspension, while also restyling its front and rear fascias, adding new standard LED headlamps and taillights, with those in the rear helping to give it a completely new look when viewed from behind. Now, instead of two distinct rear lighting clusters, the lenses to each side are bound together by a thin strip in between, similar to other vehicles in Porsche’s updated lineup like the entry-level 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster sports coupe and convertible, the mid-size Panamera four-door coupe, mid-size Cayenne SUV, the iconic 911, and entirely new Taycan all-electric four-door coupe. The 2020 Macan’s interior has been updated too, with a much larger standard 10.9-inch high-definition Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen display atop the centre stack. 

The renewed Macan Turbo will arrive later this year as a 2020 model, but can be ordered from your local Porsche retailer now for $94,200. If that’s a bit rich for your budget, you may be just as happy with the more fuel-efficient 2020 Macan or the seriously sporty Macan S, both base and mid-range models having arrived earlier this year, the most affordable trim starting at $56,100, with the S bridging the gap at $63,600. 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
New 20-inch Turbo wheels enhance the 2020 refresh. (Photo: Porsche)

The base Macan comes equipped with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, capable of shooting it from zero to 100km/h in a mere 6.7 seconds, or 6.5 with its optional Sport Chrono Package, while its top speed is 227 km/h. 

Of note, all Macans feature a fully automated seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters, plus Porsche Traction Management (PTM) active all-wheel drive with an electronic map-controlled multi-plate clutch is also standard, as is an automatic brake differential (ABD) and anti-slip regulation (ASR). 

The second-rung Macan S sports a massive jump in straight-line performance due to a 3.0-litre V6 turbo behind its reshaped front grille, pushing 348 horsepower and 352 lb-ft of torque down to all wheels for a lickety-split acceleration time of just 5.3 seconds to 100km/h, or 5.1 with the Sport Chrono Package, while its new terminal velocity is 254 km/h. 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
The biggest change externally is a one-piece body-wide LED taillight cluster. (Photo: Porsche)

Yes, those Macan S performance numbers have been improved for 2020, so Porsche couldn’t arrive with a new Macan Turbo held back by the same engine specs. Instead, the new Turbo gets nearly 10 percent more thrust, its 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 good for 34 more horsepower at 434, while torque remains the same at 406 lb-ft. This shaves 0.3 seconds from its zero to 100km/h sprint time, the result being 4.5 seconds or 4.3 with its Sport Chrono Package, while its terminal velocity rises by 5 km/h to 270 km/h. 

A few standard Macan Turbo performance features now include one-inch bigger 20-inch Macan Turbo alloys, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) that manage stops faster than the SUV’s outgoing standard braking setup, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers, a sport exhaust system, and more, while a bevy of performance options include (but aren’t limited to) a height-adjustable air suspension system with rolling pistons and new shock absorber hydraulics, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV +), and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB). 

2020 Porsche Macan Turbo
Along with the 10.9-inch centre display all 2020 Macans receive, the Turbo gets Alcantara roof pillars and headliner, 18-way front seats, and more. (Photo: Porsche)

The new 2020 Macan Turbo adds some special touches inside as well, such as standard Alcantara-wrapped roof pillars and roofliner, 18-way front Adaptive Sport Seats with memory, a 665-watt Bose Surround Sound audio system boasting 14 speakers, and the list goes on. 

Its list of convenience and luxury options is long too, and includes a GT Sport steering wheel, wireless charging that comes in a package with a special Smartphone Compartment, semi-autonomous self-parking and traffic assistance systems, and more. 

The new 2020 Macan Turbo can be ordered now at your local Porsche dealer, and will arrive here in Canada toward the end of this year, while you can drive away in a new 2020 Macan and Macan S now.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann  

Photo credits: Porsche

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC Road Test

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Mitsubishi has made a bold move by entering an SUV-coupe into the mainstream market, but we like its new Eclipse Cross very much. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

What’s in a name? So much. I’m actually a tiny bit put off by Eclipse Cross, the name Mitsubishi is using for its new compact crossover SUV. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the two words chosen, unlike when Buick named one of their mid-size sedans after Canada’s national game that actually had another somewhat raunchy colloquial meaning in French, but it sends my mind back to a better (automotive) time when personal 2+2 sports coupes like the Japanese brand’s own Eclipse, Honda’s Prelude, Nissan’s 240SX, and Toyota’s Celica, amongst myriad others, were what many of us longed to cruise the strip in on Friday and Saturday nights before autocrossing on Sundays, but now all of these low-riding, two-door hardtops are gone, leaving us with a glut of two-box sport utilities. 

A few of these car-based crossovers are slightly more unusual, however, making this mostly practical market sector more intriguing than it might otherwise be, with the edgy new Eclipse Cross top of this category’s list of orthodox heretics. It’s a particularly good choice for buyers not requiring all of the Outlander’s cargo capacity yet wanting more get-up-and-go than an RVR, plus its sporty SUV-coupe design pulls some of the premium pizazz down from luxury juggernauts like BMW and Mercedes-Benz that offer similarly sized variants in their X4 and GLC Coupe models respectively. I’m not trying to say this commoner’s shuttle somehow measures up to such lofty Europeans, but it’s got a strut all its own and therefore deserves a level of respect for going its own way in a compact SUV class that’s more often than not safer than safe. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
It’s sloped rear roofline is joined by a very stylish combination of taillights and two rear windows. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Most brands that choose to get their funk on turn to the smallest subcompact SUV category to do so, where Mitsubishi pits its comparatively conservative RVR against more unusual entries such as the Kia Soul and Toyota C-HR (Nissan’s Juke, and before that the Cube, which was the oddest of them all, laid to rest a number of years ago, the latter replaced by the more mainstream Kicks), while, size aside, the Mazda CX-3 is closer to the Eclipse Cross as far as consumer acceptability and sporty driving dynamics go, but the larger Mitsu is the only SUV-coupe in its bigger compact segment. 

The Eclipse Cross reaches 4,405 mm (173.4 in) from nose to tail, with a 2,670 mm (105.1 in) wheelbase, while it stretches 1,805 mm (71.1 in) wide and stands 1,685 mm (66.3 in) tall. This makes its wheelbase identical to the brand’s Outlander that in fact measures 290 mm (11.4 in) longer overall, while its width is a mere 5 mm (0.2 in) thinner and height 25 mm (1.0 in) lower to the ground. This means it’s about the same size as the Outlander other than length, which combined with its sloped rear roof section, makes for a much more exciting looking SUV. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The 18-inch alloys are standard, but the LED headlamps are exclusive to this GT trim line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As for styling, the Eclipse Cross wears Mitsubishi’s bold new “Dynamic Shield” design language rather well, better in my opinion than any other model in the lineup, other than the new 2020 RVR that takes this look to new heights. The drama continues around both sides where sculpted cutlines emerge about a third of the way through the front doors before slicing through the handles and meeting up with the lower edge of an even more enticing combination of LED tail lamps, these visually tied together by a narrow strip of lighting that separates two panes of back glass in similitude to Honda’s 2nd-generation (1988-1991) CRX or more recent (2011–2016) CR-Z, plus the Japanese brand’s defunct mid-size (2010–2015) Crosstour, although these three Hondas never included the Eclipse Cross’s light strip. Additional body sculpting along the rocker panels bends upward before rounding the rear fenders, these matching the Eclipse Cross’s muscular front fender design with a slight nod to the past (2004–2011) Endeavor mid-size crossover SUV, a long-term tester I had the pleasure of living with for more than a few months way back when. 

Framed behind a sharp looking set of standard 18-inch alloy rims on 225/55 all-season rubber is a fully independent MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear setup incorporating stabilizer bars at each end, all of which combines for ample grip to keep its 1.5-litre turbo-four in control. The diminutive engine, good for 152 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, sends its output through an innovative continuously variable transmission (CVT) complete with eight forward gears, or should I say simulated gears, shiftable via two of the best magnesium column-mounted paddles in the business. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
This three-part LED lighting element looks even better up close. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Why the best? Unlike most anything else in the entire industry, these longer than average paddle shifters are fixed to the steering column rather than the steering wheel, exactly like with the fabulous Evo X MR (RIP) and plenty of other Mitsubishi models, allowing accurate upshifts and downshifts even when the wheel is being turned. 

This Eclipse Cross GT moved along well when pushed hard, feeling more energetic than its horsepower rating led on, without doubt due to its sizeable torque figure. Steering effort was firmer than most other compact SUVs I’ve driven, although light enough for easy daily use, while its ride quality was a bit more rigid, yet never uncomfortable. Its firm stance helped amid tight twisting curves, the Eclipse Cross feeling rock solid when getting aggressive, but this said I wouldn’t have thought it would be as good as it is when running errands around town or otherwise driving normally, as the powertrain responds like it’s in eco mode even when it’s not. Yes, you can still press the green “Eco Mode” button on the centre console if you want an even more relaxed experience, plus the fuel savings to go with it. 

Unfortunately there’s no Sport mode, my right foot on the go-pedal the only way to extract all of the engine’s energy, and even with those aforementioned shift paddles the CVT isn’t the sportiest of transmissions (I’m being nice). It’s smooth, however, and therefore just what most buyers in this compact SUV class want, plus it’s very effective at moving this little utility down the road quickly while using as little gas as possible. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The Eclipse Cross provides a really well laid out cockpit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In the wet, much of the Eclipse Cross’s straight-line speed and cornering capability is directly due to its standard Super All-Wheel Control, those four words collectively designated to Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive system, which is an advanced torque-vectoring AWD honed from decades of rally car racing. True, it’s difficult to accept that this “performance” SUV is now the sportiest model in Mitsubishi’s once very racy lineup that previously offered the superb Evo X noted earlier, an all-wheel drive super compact that easily out-handled the Subaru WRX STI of the era, but Mitsubishi’s focus has changed now, with practical SUVs front and centre, one of which is a plug-in electric that’s giving it a good green image if not much in the way of profits. 

Rather than cry over the Evo’s demise, it’s probably best to praise Mitsubishi for the Eclipse Cross’s fuel-efficiency. It’s rated at 9.6 L/100km city, 8.9 highway and 8.3 combined, which is good when compared to the segment-sales-leading Toyota RAV4 that can only manage 10.5 city, 8.3 highway and 9.5 combined, although it’s not quite as stingy on gas as the Honda CR-V’s estimated rating of 8.7 city, 7.2 highway and 8.0 combined. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The gauge cluster looks good and is easy to read in any light. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The previously noted turbocharged four-cylinder and CVT combination is identical no matter which of its three trim lines gets chosen (not including special editions), but like usual in this business Mitsubishi provided my Eclipse Cross tester in top-tier GT trim so I could experience all of its available goodies. This model hits the road for $35,998 plus freight and fees (check right here on CarCostCanada for all the pricing details, including dealer invoice pricing and rebate info that could save you thousands), and came well equipped with LED headlights, a head-up display unit, a multi-view rearview camera with active guidelines, an excellent 710-watt Rockford Fosgate Punch audio system featuring nine speakers including a 10-inch sub, a heated steering wheel, two-way heatable rear outboard seats, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver’s seat, a two-pane panoramic glass sunroof, plus more. 

This top-line GT also boasts everything from the mid-range SE trim’s available Tech Package, including auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian warning, lane departure warning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated universal garage door remote, roof rails, and a stylish silver-painted lower door garnish. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Mitsubishi’s head-up display powers up out of the dash. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Items grandfathered up to GT trim from the just-noted SE include those paddle shifters mentioned earlier, plus proximity keyless entry and pushbutton start/stop, an electric parking brake (the base model uses a classic handbrake), a leather-clad steering wheel rim and shift knob, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, two-zone auto HVAC (an upgrade from base trim’s single-zone automatic climate control), blind spot warning, etcetera for just $29,998, while items pulled up from $27,998 base ES trim include LED daytime running lights, fog lights, LED side mirror turn signals, LED tail lamps, a tilt and telescopic steering column, a colour multi-information display in the primary gauge package, the “ECO” mode mentioned a moment ago, micron-filtered auto climate control, two-way heatable front seats, plus more. 

Eclipse Cross interior quality is good, including a dash completely made from a premium-like pliable composite that bends all the way down to the middle portion of the instrument panel, while nice soft synthetic front door uppers add to the luxury feel, along with even plusher door inserts just below, and a comfortable set of armrests with contrast stitching. Their orange contrasting thread matches with the seat bolster stitching nicely, while all added colour is applied tastefully (unlike some in the compact SUV category). 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The infotainment system is excellent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Mitsubishi has organized the primary instruments well, with an amply sized colour trip computer between its two conventional dials, while over on the centre stack its 7.0-inch centre display offers an upscale look. Tap, pinch and swipe finger prompts can be used in the usual smartphone/tablet-style touchscreen way, but that’s not all as Mitsubishi provides an impressive touchpad on the lower console for those who’d rather not reach all the way to the dash when entering commands. I’m impressed at this entry-level brand incorporating such a sophisticated infotainment system as standard equipment, its features and layout comparable to a number of premium SUVs on offer. 

Within the bright, graphical interface is standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a big backup camera with active guidelines (my tester including an upgraded multi-view version), Bluetooth with audio streaming, satellite radio, two USB charging/connectivity ports, and more. 

The Eclipse Cross’s driver’s seat is comfortable, thanks to good powered adjustability. I was able to set up an ideal driving position due to ample rake and reach via the tilt and telescopic steering wheel, but alas the seatback didn’t include any adjustable lumbar support. Still, its ergonomically shaped design provided good lower back comfort anyway, although as I’ve experienced during countless road trips, the ability to make periodic seat adjustments so as to ease acquired pain is important. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Along with its touchscreen functionality, the infotainment system accepts finger prompts from this handy touchpad. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The steering wheel mentioned a moment ago is nicely designed with a reasonably thick leather rim, while the ability to heat it up was appreciated. The front seat heaters cooked up a storm too, but with just two temperature settings available I found my driver’s seat was either too hot or too cold, never just right. 

The second row of seats offers up a lot of space and comfort, plus it includes a flip-down armrest in the middle that integrates the usual set of cupholders. The rear seat heaters on the backside of the front console are an easy reach, while my test model’s rear glass sunroof joined up with this SUV’s ample visibility out the rear windows for a really open and airy experience in back. 

The Eclipse Cross doesn’t offer a powered tailgate, which wouldn’t matter to me personally, but something that would truly sway my vote would be more accommodating 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks than the 60/40 division provided, or at the very least a centre pass-through so I’d be able to load skis down the middle while my rear passengers enjoyed those previously mentioned seat warmers on our way back from the mountain, but for reasoning that can only come down to cost savings, only a couple of mainstream volume-branded rivals offer this premium-level convenience. Then again, it’s not like this new Mitsubishi breaks rank when it comes to cargo flexibility, yet the automaker may want to reconsider this because it could be a leader and therefore garner sales it hasn’t been able to thus far. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
The driver’s seat is good, but it needs adjustable lumbar support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Continuing on this practical train of thought, even this segment’s sportiest SUV has to measure up when it comes to hauling gear, so it’s good the Eclipse Cross provides plenty of luggage capacity to go along with its sizeable passenger compartment. By the numbers, the Eclipse Cross offers 640 litres (22.6 cu ft) aft of the rear seats, and 1,385 litres (48.9 cu ft) behind the front seats when the rear seatbacks are lowered, making it 26 litres (0.9 cubic feet) more voluminous for cargo than the subcompact RVR when both model’s rear seats are in use, albeit 17 litres (0.6 cubic feet) less so when those seatbacks are dropped down. Hence, the compromise of a sporty SUV-coupe compared to a more conventional crossover SUV. 

When comparing the Eclipse Cross to its bigger Outlander brother, which is closer in most external dimensions, it’s a full 328 litres (11.6 cubic feet) less accommodating behind its back row, and a whopping 407 litres (14.4 cubic feet) less so when both SUVs’ have their rear seatbacks lowered. Mitsubishi helpfully includes a removable cargo floor to expand on cargo space by unveiling a fairly large stowage compartment underneath. 

On the negative, when I pulled those rear seatbacks up so they could be used again, I found their headrests almost impossible to yank up from their deep-set lowered positions. It really took all of my strength, and while I’m no Charles Atlas, the level of effort needed bordered on the outrageous. I’m sure the headrest mounts would free up in time, but this presupposes that an owner is capable of pulling them up in the first place. I recommend you find out if you can do so even before going on a test drive, and also that Mitsubishi dealers make sure their service departments check this as part of their pre-delivery inspection regimen. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Love all the light shining from above. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Now that I’m griping, I experienced way too many annoying creaks and squeaks from the rear when underway. It’s possible this has something to do with the removable cargo floor noted earlier, but I doubt it. It’s more likely due to the fitment of the rear sunroof, or even more likely the rear seats, as some of the squeaking sounds seemed more like leather rubbing together. Therefore I’d really like to test the Eclipse Cross with its fabric seats, and find out just where all the noise is coming from. 

On a more positive note, I liked having separate power sunshade controls for both front and rear sunroofs, as it allowed rear passengers more overhead light while front occupants were shaded, or vice versa. 

Another thumbs up goes to the rear wiper that engages automatically when reversing if the windshield wipers are on, while the previously noted head-up display (HUD) was a helpful tool being that it provides key info directly in front of the driver where it can be seen easily without taking eyes off the road. Rather than projecting images directly on the windshield, which is the usual way an HUD works, Mitsubishi’s design is near identical to the HUD used by Mazda, in that a small transparent plastic reflector screen powers up atop the instrument hood, but the only problem with the Eclipse Cross version is that it’s somewhat distracting. It doesn’t really block the view ahead, but it kind of interrupts the mind’s eye. I did get used to it after a few days, to the point that it didn’t bother me at all, but I could understand if some others didn’t like it. 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Rear seat roominess is good and the backrests are comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

After pointing out the various Eclipse Cross positives and negatives that you may or may not agree with, I think we can all commend Mitsubishi for its industry-leading 5-year or 100,000-km basic (almost bumper-to-bumper) warranty and 10-year or 160,000-km powertrain coverage. No other manufacturer comes close to providing as much peace of mind, with the majority providing 2 years or 40,000 km less basic coverage, and 5 years or 60,000 km less powertrain warranty. This, and the fact that Mitsubishi is one of the more well respected automakers in global markets due to superb engineering and better than average dependability, makes its excellent warranty a top selling point that every consumer should factor in when purchasing a new vehicle. 

Mitsubishi should also be commended for creating the Eclipse Cross’s compact SUV-coupe niche within its mainstream volume-branded class. True, the model’s year-to-date 2019 sales figure of 4,159 units (as of Sept 2019) leave it dead last in its segment, but when combining that number with Mitsubishi’s second-to-last Outlander sales of 8,568 units, its 12,727-unit overall brand impact on the compact SUV segment positions it above Subaru, GMC and Kia; an impressive accomplishment for one of Canada’s newest automotive brands (Mitsubishi Motor Sales was established here in 2002). 

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross GT S-AWC
Most won’t mind the load hauling compromise, but the rear headrests are really hard to adjust. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

This, combined with the Outlander PHEV, the only plug-in hybrid in the volume-branded compact SUV segment, shows that innovation remains a key component to Mitsubishi’s continued market presence and future growth, and despite some of us lamenting the loss of performance-first models like that Evo mentioned earlier, or the Eclipse sports coupe this crossover SUV pays tribute to, we need to acknowledge Bob Dylan’s famous line, the times they are a changin, and appreciate that only those willing to adapt will survive when times get tough. 

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credit: Karen Tuggay

Buying a Car? Breeze Through That Test Drive the RIGHT Way!

You’re in the market for a new car!

There’s nothing quite as exciting as checking out all the makes and models, narrowing down your list and test driving those final few. As fun as this is, there are certain hitches throughout the process that can trip you up, especially when it comes to that tricky test drive. 

In this article, we navigate you through this elusive art, and also explain why it’s so so SO important to familiarize yourself with the car’s dealer invoice price in Canada before putting down your money.  

A dealer invoice report breaks down the MSRP (how much the dealer paid to own the vehicle), factory incentives, financing options, and more! So for example, if you’re curious about the BMW series 8 dealer price in Canada, a dealer invoice report is your secret weapon to making the negotiations process simpler. 

Without further ado, let’s delve into the different techniques to adopt when test driving your dream car. 

Research, Research, Research

We urge you to read reviews from people who’ve test-driven the same model before, get a dealer invoice report and effectively narrow down your top picks. The last thing you want to do is test drive more cars than you need to. 

Create a checklist that meets your main criteria. When you do your homework, it’s much easier to identify the things you want and don’t want in the car and by default, it becomes easier to identify the things you like or dislike during the drive!

Bring a Buddy

Granted, you may not be a car savant, and that’s okay. Bring along a family member or friend. Even if they’re not as savvy themselves, that extra pair of eyes elevates the chances of noticing something that you may not. 

Plus, they can provide valuable feedback as to what it’s like to ride as a passenger in the vehicle. Inexperienced buyers greatly benefit from bringing someone along as there are many potential concerns that crop up during your negotiations with the dealer that call for added support. 

Inspect the Vehicle

Yes, looks matter! Conducting a visual inspection is as important as getting behind the wheel and giving the car a whirl. What to look for?

  • Make sure the size is optimal, and that the car will easily fit into your garage; break out the measuring tape if you must!
  • Inspect the cargo space and glove compartment; too much or too little will be a problem later on.
  • How about that legroom? The interior space should be sufficient for the driver and front and back seat passengers. 
  • Adjust the seats to see if this can be done quickly and comfortably. 
  • Try out the Bluetooth, GPS and radio to make sure there are no glitches. 
  • Experiment with the buttons and knobs to ensure that everything is accessible and intuitive to use.

Get a Dealer Invoice Report

Now you may be wondering; how is a dealer invoice report vital to my test drive? As it turns out, this handy report is vital to not just your test drive but the entire buying process. Allow us to explain. 

When you select a make and model and request your free report, you will immediately gain access to the following information;

  • MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – what the dealer paid to own the car)
  • Factory incentives
  • Lease and finance rates
  • Recommended dealerships
  • Vehicle pricing options
  • Comparable vehicles

With this information, you can access certified recommended dealerships and the negotiation process then becomes a breeze. 

A majority of dealerships make a profit of 8.7% on selling a new vehicle. When you know the MSRP, follow the 3-5% rule – add 3-5% on the invoice figure in your report to calculate the most lucrative negotiation price!

Test driving is nothing by itself if you don’t get a good price without breaking your budget, right? Right! That’s why we encourage you to get a free report today – no matter the make and model you have in mind, we got you covered. 

We’re here to help. Request your free dealer report right now.

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory Road Test

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
There are no visual changes for the 2019 QX60, but it still looks mighty attractive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Back in the day, badge engineering was mostly a domestic issue. Certainly there were some instances of entry-level European brands sharing underpinnings with a luxury marque, but few would call an Audi Fox, which rode on the back of Volkswagen’s “mid-size” Dasher, a luxury car. The practice was more common in North America where full-size Chevy and Pontiac sedans were unabashedly transformed into Buicks and Cadillacs by grafting on new front and rear clips, stamping new sheetmetal, and gussying up their cabins with leather, faux woodgrain and chrome, but little else, which was probably why no one thought anything about luxury newcomers Acura, Lexus and Infiniti doing likewise when they arrived on the scene in the ‘80s. While these Japanese premium brands have now mostly done away with this exercise as they’ve gained more prestige, some hangers on still survive, like Infiniti’s QX60. 

We can point fingers at others, like Lexus’ ES series that rests on the comfortable Toyota K platform, the same as Toyota’s Avalon, which also carries the RX and Highlander, not to mention the Camry mid-size sedan, Sienna minivan, and now discontinued Venza mid-size crossover, while Audi still shares plenty of its platform architectures with VW (and Bentley, amongst others), BMW with Mini, Alfa Romeo with Jeep, and so on, but most aren’t as obvious as Infiniti with the QX60 and Nissan’s Pathfinder. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The 20-inch alloys included with the Sensory package adds visual flair and performance benefits. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Truly, few premium models come closer to mimicking their mainstream volume-branded donor platform as the QX60 and Pathfinder, but to be fair to Infiniti the similarities aren’t easily seen outside. The luxury brand’s most accommodating crossover SUV incorporates its trademark grille and animal-like LED headlights up front, plus its curvy rear quarter window, and its more shapely wrap-around LED taillights, while the Nissan appears a lot more like a traditional truck-based SUV since it was refreshed for 2017. 

No, the most noticeable similarities are found inside, where the two SUVs are near duplicates in design, layout, and overall goodness. Did you notice how I did that? No doubt you thought I was going to slam the QX60 for not measuring up to the luxury class, but despite a desire to see more differentiation between QX60 and Pathfinder interiors, they’re both very good at providing what customers in this family segment want and require, the Infiniti simply offering more when it comes to the choice and quality of materials, plus other niceties. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The QX60 interior mimics the Nissan Pathfinder’s a bit too closely, but it’s materials quality and finishing is good. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

For starters, the QX60’s dash top, instrument panel fascia, glove box lid, lower console sides, and front door panels, from top to bottom, are covered in high-quality soft synthetics, while the Pathfinder is the king of hard plastics, covering each of these surfaces with low rent composites except for (oddly) the front door panels that receive the full soft-touch treatment too. The QX60 also moves these improvements into the rear passenger compartment, offering pliable rear door uppers, whereas hard shell plastic covers the Pathfinder’s inner door panels. What’s more, Infiniti covers each roof pillar in padded cloth too, while unlike some competitors Nissan doesn’t even wrap the front pillars. 

Being a luxury brand, Infiniti makes other QX60 upgrades too, like replacing the Pathfinder’s faux woodgrain with genuine maple hardwood, covering the seats with high-grade leather featuring hourglass quilting on their inserts and contrasting piping around their outer edges, or at least this was the case with my tester’s top-tier Sensory trim, but the old-school electronic interfaces are near identical other than their digital branding and graphic design, the driver’s gauge package is the same except for Infiniti’s unique purple coloured theme within the dials and serrated metallic surrounds, this motif also carried over to the centre display, which just happens to not yet include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration, and while all the switchgear that controls these interfaces (plus everything else) are fairly unique and nicer in the more upscale QX60, they’re organized in mostly the same way. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The interior design hasn’t changed in years, but it’s highly functional and nicely laid out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Together with the beautiful hardwood and soft leather, the $4,200 Sensory package includes three-way ventilation to the standard heated front seats, while second-row outboard positions get heated and the rearmost third row includes a powered folding return to make cargo hauling easier, while getting to that is made more convenient due to a motion activated powered tailgate. All seven QX60 occupants will likely appreciate the wide open feeling of the power panoramic sunroof up above, which comes complete with power sunshades, while they should also like this Sensory model’s 15-speaker surround-sound Bose audio upgrade, which uses digital 5.1-channel decoding, while all should also like the Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) that includes auto-recirculation, a plasmacluster air purifier and a grape polyphenol filter. Lastly, the Sensory package enhances the QX60’s styling and road-holding with a special set of 15-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels on 235/55 all-season rubber. 

Those wanting the Sensory package need to first add the $5,000 Essential package and $4,800 ProActive package, the first including remote start, entry/exit assist for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, reverse-tilt side mirrors, two-way powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat, two-way driver’s memory with an Enhanced Intelligent Key, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, leather upholstery, Infiniti InTouch infotainment with navigation, lane guidance, and 3D building graphics, voice recognition, an Around View parking monitor with Moving Object Detection, front and rear parking sonar, SiriusXM Traffic, plus more. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Classic two-dial layout gets a nice colour multi-information display at centre. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The ProActive package adds auto-dimming side mirrors, headlight high beam assist, full-speed range adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, active trace control, lane departure warning and prevention, blindspot intervention, backup collision intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts, and Infiniti’s exclusive Eco Pedal. 

All of this premium equipment gets added to a QX60 that’s already nicely equipped in base Pure trim, a well-priced competitor at just $48,695, due to features like auto on/off LED headlights, LED daytime running lamps, LED fog lights, LED tail lamps, roof rails, power-folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, proximity keyless entry, pushbutton start/stop, a heated leather-clad steering wheel rim, a power tilt and telescopic steering column, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, a six-way powered front passenger’s seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal remote garage door opener, a (normal sized front) powered moonroof, micro-filtered three-zone auto HVAC, an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with a reverse camera, SMS/email display, satellite radio, three USB charge ports, a power rear tailgate, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning, etcetera (see all 2019 and 2020 Infiniti QX60 pricing right here at CarCostCanada, with details about trims, packages and individual options, plus don’t forget to look up special manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
A nicely organized centre stack has stood the test of time, while features are plentiful. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Many of these features are available with the Pathfinder, by the way, so it isn’t like top-level trims of the Nissan-branded utility aren’t up to snuff, especially when compared to their true mainstream competitors, but as it should Infiniti takes its feature allotment up a notch or two. Fortunately, not much differentiation in mechanicals is needed to remain popular, where both SUVs use the same direct-injected 3.5-litre V6 and continuously variable transmission, the latter featuring nearly real feeling stepped gear ratios. It’s one of the better CVTs available today, and ideally suited to the QX60’s comfort-oriented mission. Take note, however, that all-wheel drive comes standard with the QX60 and is optional with more basic Pathfinder trims. 

Performance off the line and during passing manoeuvres is good thanks to 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, which is 11 horsepower and 11 lb-ft more than the Pathfinder, while the CVT gets a manual mode for more spirited engagement. Additionally, Infiniti provides driving modes with default (a best of all worlds compromise), Sport (that makes adjustments to the engine and transmission to enhance performance), Eco (that adjusts engine and transmission responses to improve fuel economy), and Snow (that controls engine output to reduce wheel spin) settings, compared to the Pathfinder that only offers the choice of 2WD, AUTO, and LOCK for its “i-4×4” Intelligent 4WD system. The Pathfinder’s 4WD settings are no doubt best off the beaten path, as would be its 7.0 inches of ground clearance compared to 6.5 inches for the QX60, but Infiniti’s design is more useful for combatting slippery conditions on pavement. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Real maple hardwood adds a touch of elegance throughout the QX60 cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

And how is fuel economy impacted? The QX60 does very well with an estimated rating of 12.5 L/100km city, 9.0 highway and 10.9 combined, while a fully loaded Pathfinder with AWD can manage a claimed 12.4 city, 9.2 highway and 11.0 combined.  

Both QX60 and Pathfinder models ride on an identical fully independent suspension setups too, constructed of struts up front and a multi-link system in back, plus fore and aft stabilizer bars and coil springs, but this sameness aside the Infiniti feels more solid and substantive than the more affordable alternative. It likely comes down to some of the previously noted soft surfaces and additional sound deadening materials subduing interior noise, vibration, and harshness, not that the Pathfinder I tested recently was harsh in any way. Either way, the QX60 is more upscale, as it should be. 

This more substantive presence, and suspension tuning, makes for a smoother and more comfortable ride as well, but truly both SUVs coddle their passengers well, no matter the road below, while these two can manage fast-paced curves reasonably well too, as long as no one gets unrealistically overenthusiastic. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
The otherwise comfortable driver’s seat would have been better with 4-way lumbar support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

A QX60 disappointment is lumbar support, because its two-way in-and-out design (which is identical to the Pathfinder’s) simply doesn’t cut it in the premium sector. They at least should’ve made a four-way system available, because the way it is now makes it so you’ll either receive ideal pressure just where you want it, or not, the latter being reality for my five-foot-eight body type. A four-way system provides upward/downward adjustment so as to meet up with the lower backs of all types of bodies.

Two-way lumbar support aside, the driver’s seat is fairly comfortable and should be amply big in order to satisfy for most owner’s needs, while the 60/40-split second-row bench seat is plenty accommodating too, due to loads of space to each side plus fore and aft adjustability. Infiniti installed a comfortable armrest with integrated cupholders in the middle, making it a good place to idle away the hours. The QX60’s rearmost row isn’t the biggest or the smallest in this mid-size luxury segment, but it should be ample for all but large teenagers and adults. Better yet, the QX60 provides the same innovative second-row seat folding mechanism to access that third row as the Pathfinder, which allows a child safety seat to remain installed (without the child strapped in) when sliding it forward and out of the way. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Second- and third-row roominess is good. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Safety seats in mind, the needs more child seat latches, especially in the very back, but on the positive the Nissan/Infiniti Rear Door Alert system is really smart. It uses door sequence logic, together with a message alert within the gauge cluster, plus multiple horn beeps, to cause its driver to check the rear compartment after parking and shutting off the ignition. It’s an important step towards reducing and hopefully eliminating child and pet injuries and deaths after being left behind in the summer heat of parked vehicles. 

The QX60 is also accommodating for cargo, with a total of 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) available aft of the third row (this area made even more functional due to a stowage compartment under the load floor), 1,155 litres (40.8 cubic feet) behind the 50/50-split third row via powered switches mounted on each cargo wall, and 2,166 litres (76.5 cubic feet) of total cargo space available when the 60/40-split second-row seats are folded forward via manual levers on their sides. Some competitors also make automated second-row seats available, but this setup should work well enough for most. 

2019 Infiniti QX60 Sensory
Plenty of room for cargo here. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

After all is said and done the QX60 is getting on in years, but aging doesn’t necessarily translate into outdated. True, its cabin electronics could use updating and, as noted earlier, I’d appreciate less obvious ties to its Pathfinder cousin, but it’s attractive from the outside in, has been finished with good quality materials, drives quite well, and provides seven-occupant luxury and plenty of practicality for an affordable price when compared to its closest premium rivals. Of note, this 2019 version is no different than the 2020 model that’s starting to arrive now, other than all the packages outlined in this review transforming into four trim levels, plus some new option packages. 

This said a complete redesign isn’t far off, and expected to arrive in 2020 as a 2021 model, but if you need to upgrade now you’ll be well taken care of with this 2019 QX60, or the new 2020 version. 

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credit: Karen Tuggay

Mitsubishi dramatically refreshes 2020 RVR

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
Mitsubishi has aligned its 2020 RVR styling with the rest of the brand’s SUVs, and by so doing given its front fascia a dramatic new look. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

Mitsubishi’s RVR has long become a fixture on Canadian roads, having entered our market as far back as 2010 when its handful of subcompact crossover SUV rivals included Honda’s Element, Jeep’s Compass and Patriot, Kia’s Soul, Nissan’s Cube and Juke, plus Scion’s xB. 

Initially the little utility did quite well, achieving third place in category sales during its first full year before attaining best-in-class deliveries for 2013, but nearly a decade of minimal updates, other than reworked grille and lower front fascia designs for the 2016 model year, have resulted in so-so sales ever since. 

Mitsubishi hopes to change this with its much more dramatically refreshed 2020 RVR. Stylistic similarities to the edgy new Eclipse Cross were obviously intended, but the new RVR provides standard LED headlamps plus a pair of truly unique standard four-lens LED daytime running lamps, while down each side is an eye-catching chromed front fender “vent”, all before the SUV’s hind end gets new standard LED taillight clusters above a new bumper with more intricate detailing. This said the 2020 RVR’s highlight item might be the new standard 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen found in its updated interior. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
These standard LED taillights join standard LED headlamps and DRLs up front. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

To clear up an confusion, the RVR is also called Outlander Sport south of the 49th and ASX in the Europe markets and elsewhere. This new version was initially introduced at the Geneva motor show in March before arriving here in Canada, and now that we have pricing and all other details on the automaker’s Canadian retail site, it’s clear to see that there’s more about the redesign than some stylish new duds. 

The 2020 RVR is also a better value, thanks to its base price staying at $22,998 plus destination and fees, yet its many new updates being included in the standard fare. On that note the 8.0-inch Smartphone Link Display Audio centre touchscreen also includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, plus a bigger backup camera. 

Additionally, all new 2020 RVR trims get heatable power-adjustable exterior mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, heated front seats, Bluetooth, anti-theft security, a rooftop rear spoiler, hill start assist, traction control, active stability control, a brake override system, plus more. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
A refreshed interior gets a new standard 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a bigger rearview camera. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

Mitsubishi also makes its advanced All Wheel Control (AWC) all-wheel drive system more affordable this year, by providing it in new ES AWC trim that starts at only $25,498. 

Mitsubishi offers seven trim levels for 2020, with the just-above-base $25,298 SE FWD now providing standard blindspot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, a combination only offered on pricier trims last year. 

The all-wheel drive SE AWC, at $27,998, incorporates the same fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT) as its more entry-level siblings, yet replaces the model’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine for a larger 2.4-litre version, which brings output up from 148 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque to a potent 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, while this model also features standard LED fog lights. 

Above this is $29,798 SEL AWC trim that replaces the 16-inch alloy wheels to a new sportier set of 18-inch alloys, while also adding plusher, more pampering microsuede upholstery. 

2020 Mitsubishi RVR
The RVR should continue offering strong performance thanks to carryover 148 and 168 hp 4-cylinder engines. (Photo: Mitsubishi)

Instead of the SEL AWC you may want to consider moving up to the $30,798 Limited Edition AWC (dubbed Black Edition last year), which provides a black headliner, a heated steering wheel rim, and a centre console kneepad with contrast red stitching. 

The blackened headliner and heatable steering wheel are included in the top-line $33,998 GT AWC too (Mitsubishi has discontinued use of the “GT Premium” nameplate for 2020), as well as a new chrome beltline moulding. 

Finally, new colour choices include standard Oak Brown and Sunshine Orange, which join carryover standard colours Sterling Silver and Titanium Grey, whereas a new Red Diamond exterior paint colour becomes available for $450, alongside $300 optional Labrador Black, Octane Blue, and Pearl White exterior paints. 

“RVR is our number one selling nameplate,” stated Juyu Jeon, president and CEO, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc. “As an entry-level SUV, RVR has done the important job of introducing new customers to the brand and these customers are staying and growing with Mitsubishi Motors. We believe with its new bold, rugged look, Canadians will want to revisit why RVR has become a Canadian favourite for Mitsubishi.” 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann  

Photo credits: Mitsubishi

New 2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet just in time for winter

2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The 2020 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet is a true all-season convertible. (Photo: Porsche)

This winter will be “colder than normal,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac in this year’s Annual Weather Summary for Southern British Columbia, while “temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall will be above normal” in Southern Ontario. 

Yikes! Ready for the dark days of winter yet? Anyone with a reasonably good memory will get a chill when thinking back to the past two winter seasons, while February of 2019 was Vancouver’s coldest on record ever. Now, early storms are already rearing their ugly heads across Canada, bringing these bitter memories back earlier than expected, but you won’t need to concern yourself about getting around if you ante up for Porsche’s all-new redesigned 2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé or 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. 

2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The new Carrera 4 sports rectangular tailpipes for a unique look. (Photo: Porsche)

The Stuttgart-based performance/luxury brand has been introducing its fresh new 911 throughout the year, and its latest Carrera 4 models couldn’t have timed their arrival better. Using the identical 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder “boxer” engine as found in the new Carrera 2, making 370 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque, the new Carrera 4 Coupe blasts from standstill to 100 km/h a scant 0.1 seconds faster than the Carrera 2 at just 4.5 seconds when shifted by its seven-speed manual transmission, or 4.3 seconds when mated up to its paddle-shift infused eight-speed PDK gearbox. Even better, the Carrera 4 can accomplish the same feat in a mere 4.1 seconds when Porsche’s Sport Chrono Package enhances the dual-clutch automated transmission. 

Furthermore, only 9.7 seconds is required to zip from zero to 160 km/h with the manual gearbox, or 9.3 seconds for the PDK, while the two model respectively top out at 292 and 290 km/h. If the convertible is your thing, the new Carrera 4 Cabriolet takes just 0.2 seconds longer to achieve each timed exercise, while its top speed is a lofty 289 km/h. 

2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
Fabulous looking new Carrera 4 Coupé is even more stable in inclement weather than the previous generation. (Photo: Porsche)

Identical to the 2020 Carrera 4S released earlier this year, the redesigned Carrera 4 features a new water-cooled front differential, which includes reinforced clutches that increase load capacity and durability. Together with Porsche Traction Management (PTM), the new front axle drive system enhances the Carrera 4’s grip in slippery situations, while also improving performance in dry conditions. 

Additionally, all 2020 911 Carrera buyers get an innovative new Wet mode as part of the upgraded steering wheel-mounted driving mode selector. The smart technology automatically maintains greater control over slippery road surfaces when turned on, while all new 911 trims improve safety further via standard autonomous emergency braking with moving object detection, while a high-resolution rearview camera plus rear parking assist come standard too. 

2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
The new 911 incorporates all of Porsche’s most advanced electronics. (Photo: Porsche)

Also standard, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) improves high-speed handling thanks to electronically variable dampers with both Normal and Sport settings, while Porsche Torque Vectoring, which comes standard with the pricier S and 4S, is now offered as optional equipment when ordering the new Carrera 4 Coupe and Cabriolet. 

Other features include the optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, plus staggered front and rear 20- and 21-inch alloy rims, while staggered 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels come standard. 

As for exterior styling, you’ll have a difficult time trying to spot a Carrera 4 when it’s driving toward you, but you might catch its italicized “4” on the rear deck lid when it passes you by, or alternatively see if two rectangular tailpipes have replaced the base model’s twin oval tips. This isn’t an exact science, however, as it’s possible for Carrera 4 customers to purchase an available set of dual oval exhaust pipes, but take note if a quad of round ports are filling out the 911’s lower rear apron it’s a Carrera 2S or 4S. Got that? 

2020 911 Carrera 4 Coupé and Cabriolet
These redesigned sport seats, standard with both Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 models, are classic Porsche designs. (Photo: Porsche)

This said nothing is so obviously unique inside either 911 Carrera 2 or 4. Both models arrive standard with the German brand’s almost entirely digital primary gauge cluster, with only its classic analogue tachometer at centre, while the new 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen infotainment interface fills the top portion of the centre stack, featuring enhanced connectivity no less. Hardly last on an extensive list of standard features, both 911 Carreras feature the same reportedly comfortable and supportive redesigned seats. 

The fresh new 2020 Porsche Carrera 4 Coupé is now available to order from $111,900, plus freight and fees, as is the Carrera 4 Cabriolet, start at $126,000. 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credits: Porsche

2020 Jeep Compass North 4×4 Road and Trail Test

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
The stylish Jeep Compass looks even better off-road. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

When first hearing news that Jeep would be cancelling its boxy Patriot and keeping its somewhat sleeker Compass, I wasn’t happy. It’s not that I loved the Patriot in any great way, but it was a lot more intriguing than the first-gen Compass, at least to me, plus it provided a bit of off-road capability. In spite of my silent opposition, Jeep followed through by discontinuing the Patriot in 2017, but the totally new second-generation Compass that followed that year as a 2018 model quickly made up for any concern, thanks to much more appealing lines, a wholly upgraded interior and a significant improvement in drivetrain specs. 

The first-generation Compass was actually available for a full decade, from 2006 to 2016, with just one major facelift in 2011. That’s when Jeep transformed it from its Liberty/Wrangler-esque styling roots to a much classier Grand Cherokee wannabe, at least up front, but this entirely new second-gen Compass adopts even more design cues from the since-revised and very attractive Grand Cherokee, resulting in a great looking compact crossover SUV. I can’t continue one without noting how much the rear end of this SUV looks like the new Volvo XC40, but in fairness to Jeep the shapely Compass arrived a full year before the new entry-level XC40, so therefore it’s more likely that Jeep influenced Volvo instead. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
The Compass is just as capable over easy backcountry roads…

Of course, Jeep has made impressions on luxury brands before. Anyone claiming Mercedes’ G-Class (Gelandewagen) paid no homage to Jeep’s iconic CJ/Wrangler (plus Land Rover’s Series 1/11/111/Defender and Toyota’s Land Cruiser J40/70) when it arrived in 1979 isn’t being fully honest, and with respect to this new Compass, it’s not only premium in styling, but does a decent job of mimicking a compact luxury utility inside as well. 

You’ll want to move up from my tester’s just-above-base North trim to a Trailhawk, Limited or High Altitude model in order to get some of the more luxurious finishings, but this second-rung example has a nicely finished cabin nonetheless. Its dash top and most of the instrument panel is soft to the touch, wrapping all the way around the infotainment touchscreen before spanning the front door uppers. The door inserts get a nice supple padded leatherette treatment too, similar to the armrests that also boast attractive cream and copper dual-tone contrast stitching to match the same on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter boot, and seat upholstery. 

Those seats include stylish hexagonal-pattern black fabric inserts and leatherette bolsters, plus are quite comfortable due to a good inherent design and four-way power lumbar support. Yes, you heard me right, this hardly loaded compact Jeep gets an eight-way powered driver’s seat with four-way lumbar, this latter feature not always included with some premium brands’ offerings. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
…. as it is through rougher situations. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The little Jeep also gets high-quality switchgear, with the standard two-zone automatic climate control system’s main dials trimmed in chrome with rubber grips, while my Compass tester included a separate HVAC interface within its upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen that allowed me to swipe up and down for temperature settings, not to mention adjust the two-way front seat heaters and super-hot heated steering wheel rim. 

The centre touchscreen provides many more functions, including plenty of entertainment choices from the usual AM/FM radio bands to HD as well as satellite radio, not to mention Bluetooth streaming audio, while the optional navigation system provided accurate route guidance and nicely detailed mapping, the standard Android Auto smartphone integration hooked up to my Samsung S9 easily (Apple CarPlay is standard too), a nice big reverse camera with active guidelines made parking a breeze, etcetera. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
Its details look nice when cleaned up too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Yet more $29,645 Compass North trim features include 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 225/60 all-season tires, automatic headlamps, fog lamps with cornering capability, body-coloured side mirrors and door handles, bright daylight opening mouldings, black roof rails, deep-tint sunscreen glass, proximity keyless entry, LED ambient interior lighting, and illuminated vanity mirrors, while features pulled up from the $26,150 base Sport model just below include an electric parking brake, pushbutton start/stop, heated and powered side mirrors, powered windows, tilt and telescopic steering, cruise control, a six-speaker audio system, an aux input and USB connectivity/charging port, a second-row USB charger, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, two 12-volt chargers, a forward folding front passenger seat, a capless fuel filler, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, a block heater, and the list goes on. 

The previously noted eight-way powered driver’s seat is optional, as are the heated front seats and steering wheel rim, and the 1.4-inch larger 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation, while my test model also boasted a really impressive, fully featured, high-resolution 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster between the otherwise analogue dials, a windshield wiper de-icer, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, rear parking sonar, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic warning, remote start, heavy-duty all-weather floor mats, a full-size spare tire, a Class III tow package, and more. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
The Compass cabin is quite upscale for a subcompact utility. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The standard quad-halogen headlamps can be upgraded to bi-xenon HIDs with LED signatures, while LED taillights can also be added, as can a set of 18-inch alloys on 225/55 all-season tires, an upgraded audio system with Alpine speakers, a two-pane panoramic sunroof, plus a powered liftgate, while the Compass’ convenience and safety can be enhanced by opting for adaptive cruise control with stop and go, automatic high-beam headlamp control, forward collision warning with active braking, advanced brake assist, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and this is merely North trim. 

You can also get the Compass in $30,940 Altitude trim, which ups the ante with glossed black 18-inch alloy wheels, yet more glossy black exterior trim including a black-painted roof, plus auto on/off headlights, nicer upholstery, a set of dual exhaust tips, and additional changes, while the $31,640 Upland model includes the 17-inch off-road alloy wheels found on the aforementioned Trailhawk model, as well as its unique front fascia, front skid plate, tow hooks, and other styling upgrades. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
A big 7-inch multi-info display puts key functions just where you need them. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The full $34,145 Trailhawk model includes an off-road package with a unique raised uprated suspension setup, plus off-road tires encircling the just-mentioned 17-inch alloys, underbody skid plates, hill descent control, the previously noted 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster display and 8.4-inch centre touchscreen as standard, rain-sensing wipers, ambient-lighted cupholders, and leather upholstery. 

Limited trim, which starts at $36,145, builds on the more car-like Altitude trim, adding the aforementioned remote start system, the windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats, and heated steering wheel as standard equipment, plus it includes a 12-way power driver’s seat, whereas the top-line $38,340 High Altitude model features the HID headlights, LED taillights and navigation system as standard equipment, while also adding 19-inch wheels and tires, plus perforated leather upholstery (learn more about 2020 Jeep Compass pricing, including trims, packages and options, plus make sure to research available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, right here on CarCostCanada).

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x42020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
This 8.4-inch touchscreen is optional, yet well worth the upgrade. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

No matter which trim line you choose, the 2020 Compass is quite spacious for its subcompact crossover SUV designation. It provides lots of room in the front, plus plenty of driver’s seat adjustability, with good reach from the telescopic steering column, providing me with an ideal driving position, while there’s more headroom than most anyone should ever require. 

Once I’d set my driver’s seat up for my long-legged, short-torso body type, a process that forced me to slide it further back than most people measuring my five-foot-eight height would normally need to, I nevertheless had approximately six inches in front of my knees when seated directly behind in the second row. I also had about four inches above my head, plus another four next to my hips and shoulders, while the Compass includes a comfortably wide folding armrest in the middle. The window seats are comfortable with decent lower back support, and the aforementioned rear seat amenities, which also included good air circulation through vents on the backside of the front console, aided rear seat relaxation. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
An optional 8-way powered driver’s seat includes 4-way power lumbar. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The luggage compartment features the usual carpeting on the floor and seatbacks, plus four chrome tie-down rings, and the usual 60/40 split-folding rear seats that grow cargo capacity from 770 litres (27.2 cubic feet) to 1,693 litres (39.8 cu ft). This is up 127 litres (4.5 cu ft) from the old version of this SUV when the seats are left in place, yet it’s 82 litres (2.9 cu ft) less accommodating when they’re laid flat. 

Repositioning myself in the driver’s seat, I saw no Eco or Sport driving modes to eke out better mileage or drive the most performance from the Compass’ standard 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir four-cylinder engine, or for that matter its three drivetrains. The engine makes 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, potent for its subcompact SUV segment, while fuel consumption depends on whether it’s mated up to the base front-wheel drive, six-speed manual combination (10.4 L/100km city, 7.3 highway and 9.0 combined), front-wheel drive with the six-speed auto (10.6 city, 7.6 highway and 9.3 combined), which also features auto stop/start that automatically shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, or four-wheel drive with its nine-speed auto (10.8 city, 7.8 highway and 9.5 combined) that also boasts idle stop/start. Only Sport trim offers the manual, with the Sport, North and Altitude models allowing for the option of front-wheel drive with the six-speed automatic, while all trims can be had with the 4WD, nine-speed configuration, which is standard on Upland models and above. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
The spacious rear seating area is plenty comfortable too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Compass is wonderfully fun to drive, especially when equipped with my tester’s steering wheel paddle-actuated nine-speed automatic. It’s plenty quick off the line, the little turbocharged four providing loads of torque for a good kick in the pants at launch and no slowing as speed ramps up. Fast-paced cornering is good too, while the little Compass provides a nice compliant ride even over imperfect pavement. It boasts a fully independent suspension with rear struts instead of a multi-link setup (or trailing arm), so as to allow for more travel while 4x4ing. 

And it’s true, the little Compass is a reasonably good off-roader. Jeep’s Selec-Terrain drive mode system comes standard, providing Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud settings, the latter proving to be quite capable when put through its paces in a dirty, muddy, watery off-road playground near my home. I would’ve rather had a Trailhawk for such activities, its slight suspension lift and more suitable tires no doubt aiding grip while traversing more challenging obstacles, but nevertheless the Compass North crawled over some fairly difficult medium-duty trails including ankle-deep wading through a number of sizeable mud puddles, allowing me to bring it back home in one piece. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
Fold the 60/40-split second row down and you’ve got loads of cargo space. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The only problem I experienced during my weeklong test had to do with its highly advanced optional nine-speed automatic gearbox, which while very smooth and quite refined in its taller ratios, plus enjoyable thanks to its sporty rev-matching capability, was sometimes far from smooth when starting out. When pressing the throttle it hesitated slightly, resulting in an uncomfortable slap in the back that was followed by a mechanical clunk when taking off. 

Even worse, the Compass was my first and only test vehicle to stall when restarting from its idle stop/start mode. I was waiting at a stoplight with the engine automatically shut down, when the light turned green and, upon taking my foot off the brake nothing happened. I immediately dabbed the gas pedal to get things going, yet the engine only attempted a start before petering out while in Drive. After looking at the controls in dumbfounded dismay, I returned my foot to the brake, shifted back into Park, pushed the start button, once again shifted into Drive, and then waited too long (as if the transmission was slipping) for it to clunk into first gear before moving again. I wasn’t happy. In fact, a line of thankfully patient drivers was behind me, no doubt all wondering how this pathetic person purchased their driver’s license. 

2020 Jeep Compass North 4x4
The new Compass provides great day-to-day performance with a go-anywhere attitude. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

After some digging online, I learned that Jeep’s ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic has been causing myriad problems for the brand in this Compass and other models, particularly the Cherokee, going back years, and the near exact story I just told you was reiterated by a number of frustrated Compass customers on the U.S. NHTSA website, even as recently as August 2019. 

The sad thing is I truly like this SUV, so therefore I don’t want to end the story with such a dire problem. After all, it’s a great looking little unit, offers up an attractive, well-made interior that’s stock full of upscale features, is priced quite well, is wonderfully practical, and thoroughly enjoyable to drive (when the transmission works properly). I can easily recommend its manual and six-speed automatic front-wheel drive trims, but until I’ve spent some time in a couple of trouble-free testers I hesitate as much as this test car’s nine-speed automatic when recommending one of its pricier models. 

Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann