You’re on the lookout for your next car? That’s exciting news! What isn’t as exciting is the prospect of haggling with a dealer to talk them down from the exorbitant quote they’ve just given you. Fear not.
In this article, we reveal 5 successful strategies you can use to beat the dealer at their own game. We talk about how the price of your new car in Canada doesn’t have to be at the whim of the dealer.
Without further ado, let’s explore the 5 tactics that will get you a new ride without breaking the bank.
Stick to Your Target Figure
Make it clear to the dealer that you will only sign the paperwork when they agree to match the price you have in mind. Of course, they’ll try to counter your offer. Stay firm and politely decline. Leave them with your phone number, and if the price you’ve quoted is reasonable, chances are they’ll call you back within the next couple of days.
Know When to Follow Up
Auto gurus have suggested it’s best to follow up on Saturday or Sunday an hour before the dealership closes.
Always call and ask to speak to the same point-of-contact person you negotiated with before. Reiterate that you aren’t willing to go above your quote, and if they’re having a not-so-lucrative weekend, they just might acquiesce!
Salespeople are under more pressure to make one more sale before the month closes, hence it’s always a good idea to follow up at the end of the month. A deal that they refused on the 26th of the month might suddenly make sense to them on the 30th.
What NOT to Say
“I really love this car”
“I don’t know much about cars”
“I’ve made up my mind to purchase a car today”
While all of the above may be true, there’s no need to volunteer this information to the dealer. The dealer psychologically profiles every person that walks in. Knowing that you’re already emotionally invested in a car, they might just play to that and use any and all tactics to complete the sale. Make sure you hold the cards and don’t relinquish that edge to the salesperson.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
Walking away does not equate to defeat. Sometimes, leaving the dealer with a quote to mull over is a great thing. If you eagerly accept the first quote they give you, chances are you’ll get taken for a ride. From there, it’s only a matter of time before the dealer heaps additional fees onto you (VIN etching, rust protection) that you don’t really need. Again, if the dealer is not meeting you halfway, hit the road.
Get a Free Dealer Invoice Report
None of the above really stands for much if you don’t have a dealer invoice report to turn to.
Your report will reveal;
MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – what the dealer paid to own the car)
Lease and finance rates
Vehicle pricing options
A majority of dealers turn a profit of 8.7% on selling a new car. When you’re aware of the true MSRP, you can follow the 3-5% rule – meaning you can add about 3-5% on the invoice figure in your report to calculate the most lucrative negotiation price.
It’s simple! Choose your make and model and see a complete breakdown of all fees.
Sure, it’s really exciting to mosey on to your local dealership and pick out a new ride. But it’s also important to pay attention to your wallet. Apart from the upfront fees, there are plenty of “hidden” charges that rake up over time.
To ensure you’re not going to be breaking your budget down the road, check out these little-known fees that are often missed by new car buyers.
This one is a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many people overlook it. If you plan to buy an all-electric vehicle, then you can skip this point. Large vehicles like pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs tend to be costlier as far as the fuel economy is concerned. Small cars like sedans and hatchbacks are your best bet. Fuel is the second biggest ownership expense after depreciation and accounts for over 24% of overall charges.
The manufacturer’s warranty will most likely cover all maintenance requirements for the first couple of years of ownership. However, you will eventually have to take on that burden. Maintenance accounts for about 4% of ownership expenses over a 5-year period. Make sure you check how expensive your vehicle will be to maintain before putting down your money.
It costs anywhere between $60 to $125 to change one tire. It is recommended that you change your tires at least once every 3 to 6 years. Of course, always check them sooner to ensure they’re not worn out. Just like fuel, tire costs vary dramatically from one model to another.
You can’t forget to tally the insurance expenses as it is illegal to drive without insurance in Canada. Ontario and Alberta have the highest rates in the nation. The average resident pays about 1,476 per year on insurance.
Your monthly loan payments will probably be one of your biggest. You can extend the loan to lower your monthly payments, however, this, in turn, will increase long-term expenses as you will have to defray interest charges on each monthly payment. Interest accounts for over 11% of ownership expenses over a 5-year period.
As a car owner, you will have to renew your license on an annual basis which costs about $100 in Canada. Registration is a bi-annual charge that costs around the same.
Depreciation has a huge impact on the total cost of ownership. In fact, it is estimated that your car can depreciate by as much as 20% as soon as you drive it off the lot! The longer you wait between purchasing your vehicle and selling it, the more you stand to lose. Over a period of 5 years, vehicles depreciate by about 65%. This is why depreciation accounts for about 48% of total ownership expenses.
Find Out the True Cost of Your Next Car
How? Simple! With a dealer invoice report from Car Cost Canada, you can get a breakdown of factory incentives, lease rates and more! That way, you can easily skip the extra charges and find out how much the dealer actually paid to own the car. Negotiating for a great deal is so much simpler.
Porsche’s Panamera is a sport sedan like no other. Certainly there are a number of low-slung four-door coupes within the premium sector, but the Panamera is longer, wider and lower than most, and looks as close to the iconic 911 Carrera than any other car on the road.
The four-door coupe category is still relatively new, but it’s expanding while other segments are contracting. Mercedes-Benz created this segment along with the CLS-Class 15 years ago, five years before the Panamera became its first competitor in 2009. Audi’s A7 and Aston Martin’s Rapide quickly followed in 2010, a fair bit before BMW showed up in 2012 with its 6 Series Gran Coupe. Perfectly timed with the latter Bavarian model’s cancellation and the new 2020 8 Series Gran Coupe’s arrival, Mercedes will soon deliver a four-door coupe triple threat thanks to the all-new higher-priced (and clearly named) GT 4-Door Coupe, which will soon join the recently updated second-generation CLA-Class and third-gen CLS, so it’s not as if growth in this category is slowing, or at least sales aren’t falling off as quickly as they are amongst more traditional luxury sedans.
Some notable four-door coupe mentions at higher and lower levels of the auto market include the limited production (120 units) Aston Martin Rapide-based 2015 to 2016 Lagonda Taraf, which was gorgeous to my eyes at least, but priced at a stratospherically $1 million-plus, while possibly more interesting has been the success of smaller entries, including the just-noted Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, and the Audi A5 Sportback, which have pulled this rakish body type down-market nearly as far as the Volkswagen Arteon (previously the CC) and Kia Stinger.
Returning to the loftier price bracket, Lamborghini has been teasing us with a potential production model along the lines of the beautiful 2008 Estoque concept for more than a decade (I think it would’ve been a strong seller), while Bentley hasn’t stopped talking up the possibility of an even sleeker sport sedan. Otherworldly to some, these two models could actually be sensible business cases due to their Volkswagen group ownership and familial connection to this very Panamera. Bentley, for one, already uses the same VW AG-created MSB architecture found under this Panamera for its new Continental GT coupe and convertible plus its Flying Spur sedan, a version of which could also be modified to work with a future Estoque.
It’s not like this would be an unusual move, with the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus sharing underpinnings with the Porsche Cayenne and new Cayenne Coupe respectively, not to mention the Audi Q7, Q8 and new global market Volkswagen Touareg (that we no longer get here), but as exciting as it might be for these exotic players to dip their toes in the four-door coupe waters, buyers who want to spend $300,000-plus in this class, yet still requiring a reliable option, have no other choice but a loaded up Panamera.
And yes, if you check off every 2019 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive box on Porsche’s online configurator you’ll be paying north of $320k, which will provide you with an optional exclusive colour, the car’s largest set of 21-inch alloys coated in the same exclusive paint choice, an upgraded interior with the highest quality of leathers covering almost every possible surface that’s not already trimmed in hardwood or carbon-fibre, plus all available technologies.
The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid was new for 2018, and thanks to Porsche I was able to drive it along with a number of other new and updated models last year. The version I tested featured the regular sloped trunk lid and normal non-extended wheelbase, and it was mind-blowingly fast thanks to 680 net horsepower. I also tested last year’s entirely new Sport Turismo wagon, that I happen to like best, although that car’s drivetrain was identical to the Panamera 4S shown right here in this review, and therefore made 440-horsepower from a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6.
Bringing all things Panamera up to 2019 speed, no changes have been made to any of the models mentioned in this review so far, other than minor increases to pricing across the line, the car on this page precisely as it was for the 2017 model year when the second-generation Panamera was introduced. This said 2019 hasn’t been without improvements to the Panamera line, thanks to the addition of a 453-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8-powered GTS model that now slots between this 4S and the Panamera Turbo in both performance and price. The car I’m reviewing here starts at $119,600, by the way, while the new GTS can be had for $147,400, and the Turbo for $174,200.
No GTS was available at the time of testing, unfortunately, but I was truly okay having another stint in a 4S. It makes 110 more horsepower than the 330-horsepower base Panamera after all, and uses all four wheels for added grip. The snarling exhaust note is fabulous in Sport mode, crackling and popping when lifting off the throttle, but rest assured that the fiercer Hyde side of its personality becomes a docile Jekyll when the drive mode selector is moved over to its default setting.
The Panamera’s ideal balance between opulent luxury and outrageous performance is its best asset. No other four-door combines its level of sports car-like agility with such impressively detailed interior finishings. Its low-slung bodywork bucks against today’s taller SUV trend; Porsche providing its Macan and Cayenne for folks who want go-fast performance with a better view of the road.
The Panamera manoeuvres through serpentine corners like nothing so sizeable has ever been able to before, yet its ride is impressively smooth. Whether enduring inner-city laneways, overcoming inadequately paved railroad crossings and aging bridge expansion joints, or coursing down a circuitous backcountry road inundated with broken asphalt, the Panamera offers ample suspension travel for dealing with the worst bumps and potholes without becoming unsettled. Its compliance and/or firmness depends on the trim and wheel options chosen, of course, but I’ve driven every grade on offer other than the new GTS, and all provide track-worthy performance with comfort levels that I’d be more than satisfied to live with for all regular commutes and errand runs, let alone weekend getaways.
My test car’s optional Satin Platinum finished 21-inch alloy wheels on 275/35 front and 315/30 rear Pirelli Cinturato P7 performance tires are the biggest available, so it wasn’t like I was cossetted with the base 4S model’s 19s, which are identical to the most entry-level of Panamera’s 265/45 front and 295/40 rear ZRs, by the way, a car that can be had for only $99,300 plus freight and fees.
That base Panamera in mind, it’s hardly a slouch thanks to a 5.7-second launch from zero to 100km/h, or 5.5 seconds with its available Sport Chrono Package, whereas my 4S tester can do the deed in a mere 4.4 seconds in standard trim or 4.2 seconds with its Sport Chrono Package. The 4S also blasts past 160km/h in only 10.3 seconds, slicing 3.3 seconds off of the base trim’s zero to 160km/h time, all ahead of a terminal velocity of 289km/h, a stunning 25km/h faster on the track than the most basic Panamera.
As phenomenally fun as all this high-speed action sounds, there are plenty of quicker Panameras available. The new GTS, for instance, can hit 100km/h from standstill in only 4.1 seconds, while the Turbo blasts past the mark in a scant 3.8 seconds, and finally the sensational Turbo S E-Hybrid needs just 3.4 seconds to charge past 100km/h. Top speeds increase similarly, with the Turbo S E-Hybrid capable of a lofty 310 km/h, but when compared to the majority of sport sedans even this Panamera 4S performs better.
Its new eight-speed twin-clutch PDK transmission delivers fast, smooth, paddle-activated shifts, and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive maintains the chassis’ awesome adhesion to tarmac no matter the weather or road conditions, while I must also say it looks just as eye-arresting when blurring past at high speed as it does when cruising around town.
As mentioned earlier, glossy black exterior trim isn’t standard, but nevertheless my test car’s darkened accents were an attractive contrast against its white paint. Normally the Panamera gets satin silver and/or bright metal detailing, but on the other hand you can also have the mirror caps, door handles, badges, etcetera painted in gloss black.
This said the possibilities are almost limitless inside, but each Panamera’s incredibly fine attention to detail is what makes its interior stand out above many peers, such as all of the industry’s best composites and leathers, available hardwoods, aluminum or carbon-fibre inlays, plus digital interfaces that are so brilliantly high in definition that it seems like you can dip your fingers right into the depths of their fabulously rich contrasted displays and graphically illustrated imagery.
Yes, the Panamera provides some of the best digital displays available, whether ogling the classic Porsche-style five-dial instrument cluster, its centre ring being the only analogue component in an otherwise wonderfully colourful arrangement of screens, the one on the left for driving-related info and the right-side monitor incorporating a comprehensive multi-information display including mapping for the route guidance system.
Alternatively you can choose to view that map over on the long, horizontal infotainment display atop the centre stack, which looks nearly three-dimensional when doing so. All the usual touchscreen gesture controls make this as simple to use as a smartphone or tablet, and speaking of your phone it also syncs with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, while providing all of the types of functions expected in this class including an as-tested surround camera system that, together with audible and visual front and rear sonar, makes parking a lot easier.
The majority of controls on the raked centre console are touch-sensitive, needing only a slight push and click to engage. All the buttons, knobs and switches feel very high in quality too, the Panamera’s interior second to none for quality construction. The console’s surrounding surface treatment is glossy black, but nevertheless it’s quite easy to keep clean due to a glass-like smartphone material, although the piano black lacquered detailing found elsewhere in my tester’s cabin, particularly a section on the ashtray at the very base of that centre console, was always covered in grime, dust, etcetera. On the positive you don’t have to opt for piano black, but can choose one of many options that will keep the cabin looking tidier even when dirty, although it should be said there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being able to see what needs cleaning for the sake of sanitation.
Fortunately the leather-clad sport steering wheel, where my hands were most of the time, had no such yucky buildup of filth. Instead, I was greeted to one of the best of its type in the industry. Its narrow spokes are elegant, hollowed out at centre for an even lighter, more performance-oriented appearance, while its integrated buttons and scrolling knurled-metal dials are well crafted with especially tight fitment and good damping. As per usual, the button for the heatable rim is hidden within the base of the lowest spoke, an intelligent design for sure, but some may find it too easy to turn on or off when spinning the wheel. I like that it automatically turns on when starting the car, or likewise stays off, depending on the way you’ve set it up.
Features in mind, my test car came stocked up with three-way heated and ventilated front seats, plus a superb optional 710-watt 15-speaker Bose Centerpoint 14-channel surround sound stereo upgrade, which should only be shown the door if going for the 1,455-watt 22-speaker Burmester 3D High-End Surround system (I’ve tested this top-line system before and it’s amazing). As good as the audio performance was, my tester didn’t include the previously noted Sport Chrono Package, so it was 0.2 seconds slower off the line (not that I could notice), and the clock on top of the dash only featured an attractive looking black dial with white numerals and indices, instead of the upgraded chronometer version with both analogue and digital readouts.
Still, due to including an available full rear console incorporating a large high-definition touchscreen, three-way heatable seat switches, twin rear auto climate controls resulting in a four-way auto HVAC system front to rear, powered side and rear window sunshades, plus a large two-pane panoramic moonroof above, not to mention the Panamera’s usual set of ideally shaped sport bucket rear seats that are as comfortable and supportive as those up front, I might have been just as happy being chauffeured as I was driving, but as life has it I didn’t have the means (or an available friend) to do the driving, so I simply enjoyed my nice quiet rest in the back seat while taking notes.
To be clear, the second-gen Panamera is now so excellent in every way that it’s near impossible to find much to complain about. Of course there’s not as much room in the rear as a 7 Series or S-Class, but providing limousine levels of roominess is hardly the Panamera’s purpose. Truth be told, no matter the model tested I have never been uncomfortable in back, and let’s not forget that Porsche would be more than happy to provide you with a longer-wheelbase Executive body style if driving around larger passengers is part of your routine, which means that you won’t have to say goodbye to beautiful design and sensational performance just to maintain a practical lifestyle.
And that’s the gist of the Panamera. Thanks to its wide variety of trims, packages and options, all of which are viewable right here on CarCostCanada, where you can also learn about manufacturer rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, this four-door Porsche provides something for almost every sport/luxury car shopper.
Buying a new car is always a tricky affair, especially if you’re a novice. Dealer sharks are on the prowl and the only way to protect your interests is by staying informed! In this article, we’ve got your back. We reveal the required dealer fees and the ones that are nothing more than a strain on your wallet.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP): We talk about this one a lot but we cannot stress enough how you shouldn’t pay the full MSRP quoted by the dealer. The MSRP can be altered by the dealer as they wish, meaning it is up to you to negotiate and get the best price. This figure does not include sales tax.
(Psst, to find out how to avoid paying the full MSRP, read till the end!)
Incentives: Incentives vary from one brand to the next. They may also change depending on the payment option you go for. This discounted figure changes each month and can be deducted before or after tax. Some incentives double up as rebates, this means that the buyer has to cover the deduction before they can get the amount back.
Pre-Tax: The total price of the car before the sales tax, including MSRP, pre-tax incentives and add-on fees.
Sales Tax: A percent of the total price that ranges from 5 – 15%
After-Tax: The total price after deducting the sales tax, including MSRP, pre-tax/post-tax incentives, add-on fees and sales tax.
The Essential Fees
Freight: Manufacturers compute the average cost of transportation by determining the price to ship the car from the production location to its retail outlet.
Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI): The cost of the maintenance assessment on the car when it first comes to the dealership. These checks are mandatory to make sure your car is ready to take on the challenges of the road.
Air Tax: A $100 charge applied by the government to all cars with an A/C.
Tire Tax: A charge ranging from $20 – $30 applied to a vehicle to promote the tire recycling program.
Regulatory Fees: This is a fee levied by the provincial government which is around $10; varies based on the province.
The (Avoidable) Money-Guzzling Fees
Admin Fee: This is the fee charged to cover licensing, insurance documents, processing loans or leases, activating satellite radio, etc. It is applicable to luxury vehicles only and is optional in every other case.
Extended Warranty: This is a standard warranty extension that is offered by the dealer before the vehicle is sold. You can buy this at any time and aren’t required to do so right away (despite what the dealer may have you think).
Block Heater: A fee for the block heater installation to keep the engine warm in colder weather. This is necessary only where the temperature is constantly below 0°C.
Rust Protection: A fee to apply any kind of rust proofing. Yes, it’s useful but not at all mandatory.
Nitrogen Tires: The fee to infuse nitrogen in the car’s tires. Again, this is useful in sports cars as it enhances safety when cruising at a high speed.
VIN Etching: The fee charged to impose the VIN on a car’s windows in order to reduce the value for potential thieves.
Carefully assess the quote provided by your dealer and only accept the items you really want to pay for. You can compare the dealer breakdown to the list provided above. And guess what? You can…
Start Saving Right Now With a Dealer Invoice Report
A car dealer invoice report reveals the actual amount paid by the dealer to own the car. That way, when you’re haggling for a good deal, you won’t have to pay the full MSRP.
A majority of dealers turn a profit of 8.7% on selling a new car. When you’re aware of the true MSRP, you can follow the 3-5% rule – meaning you can add about 3-5% on the invoice figure in your report to calculate the most lucrative negotiation price.
It’s simple! Choose your make and model and see a complete breakdown of all fees.
Finally! Every time I’ve been given the opportunity to test the new Kia Stinger something got in the way. The test model was either damaged by another journalist, or got put out to pasture before I could get into it, the latter due to me being out of country, but just a matter of days back from my regular winter warming in my favourite tropical isle had me ogling a beautiful California Red painted Stinger GT-Line parked in front of my temporary left coast home.
I have to say the Stinger looks impressively upscale. Even in my tester’s base GT-Line trim, it comes standard with automatic dual-function LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED positioning lamps, body-wide bar-type LED tail lamps, classy dark chrome exterior trim details with the same darkened chrome used for the side mirror housings, these also enhanced with slim LED turn signals, while sharp looking 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels on 225/45 rubber round out the look, as does a set of chromed exhaust pipes at back.
While base, it should be noted that the entry-level Stinger starts at a considerable $39,995 plus freight and fees, but despite its less than prestigious Kia branding it really comes across as something much closer to premium than most anything in its mid-size segment.
The Stinger is a mid-size sedan, by the way. I’ve noticed some consider it compact because it utilizes the same underpinnings as the Genesis G70, which is a compact luxury model going up against BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes’ C-Class, Audi’s A4, et al, but in spite of having similar wheelbase lengths of 2,910 mm (114.4 in) compared to 2,835 mm (111.6 in), both being longer than the Optima’s 2,805-mm (110.4-in) wheelbase, the Stinger’s 4,830 mm (190.2 in) nose-to-tail length spans 145 mm (5.7 in) farther than the G70’s, while it only measures 20 mm (0.8 in) shorter than Kia’s Optima family sedan.
Also notable, at 1,870 mm (73.6 in) the Stinger is 20 mm (0.8 in) wider than the G70 and 10 mm (0.4 in) narrower than the Optima, while it stands 1,400 mm (55.1 in) tall, which is identical to the G70 and 70 mm (2.7 in) lower than the Optima. Those still choosing to call the Stinger compact will also want to take note that it’s 190 mm (7.5 in) longer than the Forte sedan (a reasonable large compact itself), with a 210-mm (8.2-in) longer wheelbase, while it’s 70 mm (2.7 in) wider too. So it’s obviously a mid-size model, even offering up a longer wheelbase and more width than the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, although slightly less length and height.
The Stinger’s long, low and wide dimensions make it more of a four-door coupe-like sedan, its sporty profile backed up by dynamic styling and a premium cabin, at least for its volume branded pedigree (or lack thereof). I should mention this isn’t Kia’s first premium-like entry, or for that matter its most luxurious. We only need to look to the Mercedes S-Class/BMW 7 Series-sized K900 for Kia’s highest-end car, a model that might only be outmaneuvered amongst pedestrian brands for all out premium cachet by the Volkswagen Phaeton, but like that outrageous VW the K900 didn’t garner enough popularity to enjoy prolonged availability in Canada, so therefore is now history north of the 49th.
Where the K900 was a seriously impressive luxury sedan, it couldn’t even come close to the Stinger’s viability here in Canada. It comes down to affordability, its more popular mid-size market segment, and a greater focus on performance than luxury. Size aside, I would’ve previously said it comes closest to mirroring the Dodge Charger in spirit than anything else in its class, at least until Volkswagen showed up with its new Arteon a few months ago. The Arteon, that’s based on the European Passat, just replaced the outgoing CC four-door coupe. The two are near identical in size and similarly powered, so are therefore going after the same sport-oriented customers, in the Stinger’s base trim at least, but with its base price more than $8,000 loftier than the Stinger’s aforementioned window sticker, the new Arteon is reaching up much further into premium territory.
By the way, the Stinger weighs in between 1,729 and 1,782 kilograms (3,812 and 3,929 lbs) with its as-tested 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, or 1,873 and 1,889 kg (4,129 and 4,165 lbs) with its optional V6, whereas the Arteon hits the scale at 1,748 kilos (3,854 lbs) and the larger and heftier Charger offers more mass for your dollars at 1,823 to 1,980 kg (4,021 to 4,530 lbs). While lighter than the Charger, the all-wheel drive Stinger and Arteon are significantly heavier than the previously noted mid-size front-drive family sedans, giving the car being reviewed here, at least (I’ve yet to drive the Arteon that’s scheduled for August 26), more of a substantive, premium-like feel.
Kia really does manage to pull off a near luxury brand level of refinement inside thanks to details like cloth-wrapped A, B and C pillars, a soft, pliable dash top with a really well-finished padded instrument bolster crossing the entire dash front, as well as premium-level soft composite door uppers front to back. All of the Stinger’s button, knobs and switches are nicely fitted with good damping as well, with some aluminized for an especially upscale look and feel, while this base model’s standard perforated leather upholstery is definitely up to par for a volume-branded sedan.
Being that we’re already talking about features, standard content includes a heated leather-clad flat-bottom sport steering wheel that’s sized perfectly for performance and feels great in the hands, plus a leather-wrapped and chrome-adorned shift knob, piano black interior accents, comfortable and supportive heatable eight-way powered front seats with four-way power-adjustable lumbar, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-folding outside mirrors, two-zone auto HVAC, LED cabin lighting, ambient mood lights, and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s my only cause for complaint, being that it’s too small and isn’t flush within its fixed mounting and therefore looks dated.
This display houses the usual backup camera, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and Kia’s exclusive UVO Intelligence connected car services, while nine-speaker audio provides good sound quality for a base stereo, even incorporating standard satellite radio, whereas the wireless device charger is a very impressive standard feature as well.
Proximity-sensing technology lets you in the car while a satin-silver button fires up the engine, again on the standard menu, while the electric parking brake releases automatically. The just noted rearview camera combines with standard rear parking sonar and rear cross-traffic alert to help keep the Stinger’s dazzling paintwork free from scratches and dents, the latter feature bundled together with blind spot detection. Once pointing forward choose from a list of Drive Mode Select settings including Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom, slot the eight-speed Sportmatic automatic gearbox in Drive or move the lever over to manual mode in order to get the most out of the standard steering wheel paddle shifters, which is how I enjoyed all 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque generated by the Stinger’s standard direct-injection, turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.
This might only be the base powertrain, but due to 100 percent of its torque arriving at only 1,400 rpm, plus each of its four wheels simultaneously gripping the pavement below, this most basic of Stingers moves away from a standing start quickly, and stays on the power to highway speeds and beyond. Its twin exhaust pipes make a nice sporty note, complementing the engine’s mechanical tone, the Stinger delivering an enjoyable soundtrack alongside its strong acceleration.
Of course, this base engine won’t be as brilliantly satisfying as the available twin-turbocharged 3.3-litre V6, that powerhouse providing 365 soul-stirring horsepower and 376 lb-ft of twist (the Arteon doesn’t offer an optional powertrain), but the turbocharged four is a compromise I’d be more than happy to live with, particularly when factoring in its much greater efficiency. Comparatively, the four-cylinder is rated at 11.1 L/100km city, 8.1 highway and 9.7 combined, whereas the V6 gets a claimed 13.6, 9.6 and 11.8 respectively, while both are assisted by an auto start/stop system that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling.
I’m guessing the last thing you’ll want to be thinking about when flinging the Stinger through a set of fast-paced curves is fuel economy, the car’s fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension featuring gas shocks and dynamic dampers that help to deliver an ideally firm yet compliant ride and handling combination that proves superb over all types of tarmac, from broken backroads to smooth-as-glass freeways.
Braking is also strong, with four-cylinder models benefiting from 320 mm (12.6 in) front vented discs and 314 mm (12.4 in) rear solid rotors, plus the V6 model improving binding power with a set of Brembo discs measuring 350 mm (13.8 in) and 340 mm (13.4 in) respectively, plus the addition of vented rotors in the rear.
While the Stinger looks fast standing still, its long and lean body capable of minimizing drag and amply maximizing downforce, it also provides more than enough rear headroom for most adults’ needs. I had about three inches above my five-foot-eight frame when seated behind the driver’s seat, so six-footers should have no problem. What’s more, cargo access is excellent due to its less conventional four-door coupe-style rear liftback, which opens up to 660 litres (23.3 cu ft) of volume behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks or 1,158 litres (40.9 cu ft) of gear-toting space when they’re flipped forward. So the Stinger is not only good looking, fun to drive and beautifully finished inside, it’s also plenty practical.
I’ll be spending a week with the new Arteon soon, and will let you know if it measures up to the Stinger for passenger and luggage space, plus if its loftier price range provides any benefits, but I’ll say right now the VeeDub will need to be very good in order to upstage this Stinger when it comes to performance, interior quality, features and value. As it stands, with all options included the Arteon costs just over $53k, which makes it pricier than the most expensive $51,495 Stinger GT Limited 20th Anniversary Edition that gets unique 19-inch alloys, carbon fibre décor trim, red Nappa leather, and custom red-stitched “Stinger” floor mats, while the mid-range Stinger GT starts at $44,995 and the regular GT Limited can be had for $49,995 (learn more about 2019 Kia Stinger trims, packages and standalone options right here at CarCostCanada, and don’t forget that we can help you save hundreds or even thousands via manufacturer rebates and dealer invoice pricing).
The last two trim lines get there own set of 19-inch alloys, an upgraded suspension with Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC), noise-reducing front side glass, auto-dimming outer mirrors, stainless steel tread plates, stainless sport pedals, carbon fibre-style inlays (that replace the piano black ones), shift-by-wire transmission control (replacing the base model’s shift-by-cable gearbox) a power-adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel, driver’s memory, an under-floor storage tray, a large moonroof, a gesture-controlled power liftgate, plus a luggage net.
Finally, the GT Limited provides a special set of cornering headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, aluminum-finish trim (replacing the faux carbon fibre), a black roofliner, a 7.0-inch Supervision LCD/TFT digital instrument cluster, a heads-up display (HUD), a HomeLink universal transceiver, Nappa leather upholstery, cooled front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a driver’s seat upgrade with four-way “air cell” lumbar support, powered side bolsters, and a power-operated lower squab extension, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen (that really should be standard) with a surround parking monitor system and navigation, 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio, dynamic cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (that’s usually standard in this class), lane keep assist, and driver attention alert.
You might be interested in knowing that year-over-year (YoY) Stinger sales slipped a bit during the first six months of this year in Canada, having dropped 14.38 percent due to just 750 units leaving Kia dealer lots, but this said it’s doing its job to boost the brand’s mid-size car sales now that the Optima has become 44.67 percent less popular over the same half year, with just 872 deliveries on the books. As for how the Stinger sells against regular front-drive mid-size sedans, the Camry took no prisoners over the same two quarters with 8,586 sales (an increase of 12.87 percent), whereas the Accord held second with 5,837 deliveries (dropping 9.71 percent). The Arteon, incidentally, found just 184 buyers so far in 2019, but to be fair it only came on the market this spring so we’ll need to wait and see how it fares over the long haul. This said if the Passat is any indicator, its poor Q1 and Q2 total of 474 deliveries should hardly give VW confidence, this number representing a 75.55 percent fall from grace compared to January through June of 2018.
Continuing on this theme, there are 14 different mid-size sedans fighting it out in this class, including the Stinger and Arteon, but not the aforementioned Charger that competes against cars like the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima etcetera in the full-size or large sedan category. Of these 14, nine are in the red as far as growth goes, one (the Arteon) is to new to measure, and just four are in the black (positive), while the Stinger’s small decline is not as significant as many rivals, and more the result of the entire mid-size sedan category’s loss of favour than any lack of interest in this specific car.
In fact, I witness the polar opposite during my entire test week, with loads of smiling stares, positive nods of appreciation and general goodwill while driving by onlookers. Stinger owners can hold their heads high as this car garners a lot of respect, while it will no doubt benefit Kia’s overall brand image long-term as well. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new mid-size sedan, you may want to take a closer look at this innovative, well-sorted four-door coupe, because it delivers a higher level of style, refinement and features than most rivals, while it still should be practical enough for most peoples’ requirements.
It’s been less than a year since Porsche introduced the all-new eighth-generation 2020 911 at the LA auto show, and just seven months since the Cabriolet arrived, and now the German performance brand is readying those mid-range Carrera S models for production and upcoming deliveries this fall. Ahead of these 443 horsepower super cars, Porsche has just released photos and key information about a couple of 911 models that are a bit more down to earth, the more affordable base 911 Carrera Coupe and 911 Carrera Cabriolet.
The new entry-level 911 hardtop and soft-top models share the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder “boxer” engine as those “S” trims, but they incorporate a unique set of turbos for less performance. Still, 379 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque is no laughing matter, unless the thrill of quick acceleration makes you giggle. The first number adds 9 horsepower over the outgoing 2019 model, which results in a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 4.2 seconds, or 4.0 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package. This is a significant move up from the outgoing base Carrera that was only capable of 4.6 or 4.2 seconds to 100km/h respectively.
Surprisingly, the new 911 Carrera will only be available with Porsche’s new eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission when it first arrives. This gearbox, which was originally announced for the Carrera S, adds one gear over the outgoing automatic, for stronger performance and improved fuel economy. Those who want the seven-speed manual will need to wait until later in the model.
The new Carrera Coupe’s track speed is identical to the outgoing model at 293 km/h (182 mph), while the Cabriolet’s terminal velocity is 291 km/h (181 mph). It’s normal for a fabric-topped convertible to be slower at high speeds than its equivalent hardtop coupe, due to the cloth roof “ballooning” at high speeds, but Porsche incorporated magnesium surface elements dubbed “bows” within the redesigned roof’s structure, so it manages wind more effectively.
By the way, that fabric roof, which is now bigger to accommodate for the 911’s larger interior, can open and close at speeds of up to 50 km/h (30 mph), and only needs 12 seconds to do so thanks to a reworked hydraulic system. What’s more, the updated process also extends an electrically extendable wind deflector so as to keep gusts of air from discomforting occupants.
Inside that larger, more accommodating cabin, the new 911 Carrera receives a wholly renewed interior with a large 10.9-inch high-definition touchscreen on the centre stack, while an all-new safety feature dubbed “Wet Mode” provides greater control when it’s raining or otherwise slippery.
All just-mentioned items come standard with the Carrera S, but take note the new base Carrera gets a smaller set of 19-inch alloys on 235/40 ZR performance tires up front, plus bigger 20-inch rims shod in 295/35 ZR rubber at the rear. Additionally, the base Carrera’s 330-millimetre brake rotors are smaller than the Carrera S’ discs, these biting onto black-coated four-piston monobloc fixed calipers for stopping power that should easily be up to task for dealing with this less potent car’s overall performance. Also notable, the 911 Carrera’s exhaust system gets unique individual tailpipe covers.
Transport Canada hasn’t provided fuel economy specs for the new 2020 911 models yet, but Porsche claims its new base Coupe and Cabriolet will be capable of a 9.0 and 9.2 L/100km city/highway combined rating respectively, when calculated on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). We can expect slightly different numbers when our five-cycle rating system is applied.
And what about pricing? Surprisingly the base 2020 911 Carrera Coupe’s window sticker gets pushed up $7,000 over its predecessor, from $104,000 to $111,000, while the Cabriolet’s starting price has been increased from $118,100 to $125,600, for a $7,500 increase. Then again, we need to factor in that the new eight-speed automated PDK transmission is now standard, and that prices will likely be lowered when the seven-speed manual arrives later in the model year.
Just the same, Porsche is probably hoping that the new 2020 911 Carrera’s many enhancements will justify its sharp move up in price, but this said it will be interesting to witness how a more value-driven rival, like Chevy’s new 526-horsepower mid-engine C8 Corvette that hits the road for a mere $69,998, might erode 911 sales. Granted, Porsche clientele, particularly 911 buyers, are not normally Corvette buyers, but the C8 is no normal Corvette, and its more exotic mid-engine layout and styling, stronger performance, and bargain basement price might lure in those who aren’t as brand loyal.
This said, if you still want a 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe or Cabriolet you can order it now and expect delivery early next year, while all-wheel drive C4 models will be available to order soon.
And while waiting, be sure to flick through all the photos we’ve gathered in our gallery above, plus enjoy the short video below:
The new 911 Carrera Coupé and 911 Carrera Cabriolet. (1:00):
It hasn’t been all that long since Bentley launched its latest third-generation Continental GT, but they’re already showing us what’s possibly in store for the not too distant future.
The new EXP 100 GT Concept “reimagines the Grand Tourer for the world of 2035,” states Bentley in a press release, the swoopy new design exercise boasting a large grille surrounded by big circular headlights, a long elegant hood, a two-door coupe body style with a sweptback roofline, much like the current Continental GT, but the prototype’s grille is illuminated almost as brightly as the dazzling headlamps, its eye-shaped taillights are reminiscent of today’s GT albeit much larger and detailed in OLEDs, and its hind end protrudes much farther rearward than anything we’ve seen from Bentley since the 1950s-era R-Type Continental.
Today’s Continental GT uses a lot of aluminum highlighted with carbon-fibre in some trims, but the EXP 100 GT is mostly carbon-fibre and aluminum, while its uniquely sculpted body panels come coated in “paint made from recycled rice husks,” adds Bentley. It no doubt takes a lot of rice husks to cover 5.8 metres (19.0 feet) of car, not to mention 2.4 metres (7.9 feet) from side-to-side, but Bentley wasn’t about to make a small statement as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations.
Hence the “100” in the EXP 100 GT’s name, the automaker having come to life in North London during 1919.
“Today, on our Centenary, we demonstrate our vision of the future of our Marque, with the Bentley EXP 100 GT – a modern and definitive Grand Tourer designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the last 100 years,” said Bentley Chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark. “Bentley has, and will continue to enhance and enrich every single journey and the lives of every single person who travels in, or has the honour to be a part of creating our extraordinary products.”
As visually captivating as the EXP 100 GT is, there’s a lot more going on than just dramatic styling. Indeed, it represents much of the advanced ideas and ideals that Bentley hopes for its future. The car is all-electric, expected of future-think concept cars these days, although instead of the usual single battery and one or two electric motor combination the EXP 100 GT’s “Next Generation Traction Drive” system mounts a single electric motor in each of its four wheels, which provide electronic torque vectoring while combining for an astounding 1,100 pound-feet of torque (1,500 Nm).
Bentley claims standstill to 100km/h in “less than 2.5 seconds,” which is shockingly quick when factoring in just how big this car is. Some of this can be attributed to a relatively light curb weight of only 1,900 kg (4,189 lbs), which is a lot less than today’s Continental GT that hits the scales at 2,244 kg (4,947 lbs), much thanks to previously noted lightweight materials usage, while Bentley projects a maximum range of 700 km (435 miles), which would presuppose it wasn’t cruising at its 300 km/h (186 mph) top speed.
This impressive range and performance is due to “future battery technology” with “intelligent power and charge management,” says Bentley, which will provide “five times the conventional energy density,” thus recharging the battery from near empty to 80 percent in just 15 minutes. Incidentally, optimal charging gets taken care of automatically by the Bentley Personal Assistant, a bit of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tech that acts like a personal valet for all EXP 100 GT occupants.
“The Bentley EXP 100 GT represents the kind of cars we want to make in the future,” commented Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design. “Like those iconic Bentleys of the past, this car connects with its passengers’ emotions and helps them experience and safeguard the memories of the really extraordinary journeys they take.”
Another high-tech advancement promised in the EXP 100 GT is autonomous self-driving ability, transforming this driver’s car into a commuter’s dream. It’s cabin is just as pampering as any current Bentley offerings, with amply sized seats for two or four, plus all the leather, fabrics, glass, wood and metal expected from one of the most luxurious brands the world has to offer.
This said, while Bridge of Weir once again provides the EXP 100 GT’s hides, they’re an alternative material made from 100-percent bio-based winemaking byproducts, whereas the embroidered door panels are recyclable too, and made by UK-based Hand and Lock employing “traditional techniques that date back to 1767 and are used on Royal and Military Dress uniforms.” What’s more, the car’s interfaces aren’t covered in glass, but rather Cumbrian crystal, while 5,000-year-old peat bog-, lake- and river-sourced Copper Infused Riverwood is used for the interior’s trim, along with real aluminum and copper, this last combo apparently paying homage to an alloy developed by W.O. Bentley for the BR1 Aero engine piston, which played a major aeronautical role during World War 1.
The mostly clear rooftop seen in photos is used for naturally harvested light, but the innovative roof also synthesizes light via “prisms that collect light and transfer it into the cabin using fibre optics.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll want to remove your shoes and socks just to wiggle your toes within the deep British Farmed Wool carpets, while embroidered cotton interior surfaces add to the recycled and recyclable atmosphere, making the EXP 100 GT a rolling test bed of sustainability.
Additional tech includes seats that incorporate intelligent, adaptable three-way biometrics, with positions that depend on whether you’re doing the driving or being driven. Yet more biometric sensors monitor the automatic climate control system as well, plus the passengers’ positions, and the exterior environment’s conditions before providing ultimate comfort, while additional biometric sensors are embedded throughout the cabin in order to track eye and head movements, blood pressures, etcetera in order to deliver a level of in-car comfort that far exceeds anything Bentley, or anyone else, currently offers. The cabin is even capable of automatically aerating its atmosphere with a sandalwood and moss fragrance.
Whether we’ll be able to experience this particular Bentley coupe by 2035 or not can’t be known outside of Bentley’s inner circle, but we should remember that automaker’s have to plan their upcoming models decades into the future, so something quite similar may be in the books.
The EXP 100 GT is certainly a vision of distinctive beauty that should be welcomed by car enthusiasts of any era, and is much truer to Bentley’s brand heritage than the kind of electrified, autonomous, monobox SUV/MPV-thingy they’re more likely to offer in 15 years’ time. Until we find out what’s actually coming down the line, make sure to check out our complete gallery above and nice collection of videos below.
A Lexus 4×4? The thought of bashing through the woods, plunging knee-deep into streams and marshes, or powering over sand dunes in a wood- and leather-swathed Lexus might not compute to some, but in fact two of the Japanese luxury brand’s most expensive models are based on rugged Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs.
Land Cruisers are the stuff of legend, and in many markets around the world they’re considered premium models due to lofty prices, luxurious interiors, and near unlimited capability. This said, when the majority of Canadians think “Land Cruiser,” icons such as the Jeep Wrangler-like FJ40 (1960–1984), long-wheelbase FJ55 (1967–1980), slightly newer BJ60 (1980–1989), and possibly the more recent J200 (2008–present) come to mind, the latter doing double-duty as the Lexus LX 570, but the modified Lexus GX 460 shown here is based on the J150 (2009–present), otherwise known as the Land Cruiser Prado.
Despite being on the road for a decade, the GX 460 remains an intensely capable three-row mid-size sport utility. In fact, its third-generation J120 (2002–2009) predecessor shared a body-on-frame platform with today’s Toyota 4Runner as well as yesterday’s FJ Cruiser (the latter still available in other markets), which only adds to its off-road credibility.
It makes sense that 4×4 fans wanting to add more luxury to their off-road lifestyles have chosen the GX 460, and therefore it’s also no wonder that Lexus is now paying tribute to these faithful enthusiasts with this unique prototype SUV.
“Concept vehicles are typically created to generate excitement for the enthusiasts, but sometimes, it’s the enthusiasts and their vehicles that give life to the concept,” said Lexus in a press release. “The Lexus GXOR Concept (GX Off-Road) is fueled by the passionate Lexus GX owners that have discovered and embraced the SUV’s perfect combination of ultimate luxury and unrivaled off-road capability.”
Lexus chose to launch the new GXOR Concept at the annual FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado, the 12th consecutive event having taken place on the weekend of July 17–21, 2019. Similar to Jeep’s Jamborees, each FJ Summit provides opportunities for Toyota SUV owners to gain skills from experienced off-road instructors and then test their driving prowess along with their personal Toyota/Lexus 4×4’s capability on challenging off-road trails.
While the GX 460 is an impressive SUV both on and off pavement, sales have struggled over the past months and years. During the past six months the model’s year-over-year deliveries dropped by 25.41 percent, resulting in just 138 new owners and last place within its mid-size luxury SUV class (other than the discontinued Lincoln MKT, which came in dead last), while calendar year 2018 resulted in just 376 new buyers, after an all-time high of 662 sales throughout 2015.
The GX 460 isn’t alone, however, because so far this year many competitors are having difficulty maintaining previous sales numbers. For instance, Tesla Model X deliveries fell 30.00 percent to 840 units during the first six months of 2019, while the Audi Q7 dropped by 36.13 percent to 1,674 units; the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class lost 36.66 percent to 762 unit sales; and Mercedes’ GLE-Class nosedived by a whopping 42.00 percent to 2,413 deliveries. Even the best-selling Lexus RX experienced a sales decline of 8.50 percent during the first half of 2019, although its tally of 3,982 units made sure it maintained a comfortable lead over the rest of the mid-size luxury SUV field.
Adding perspective, the GX 460’s 376 2018 calendar year sales and best-ever result of 662 deliveries in 2015 pales in comparison to said Lexus RX, which found 9,329 buyers last year and 9,402 in 2017. Of note, the RX outsold Lexus’ NX compact luxury crossover too, which found 7,859 customers last year. So in a nutshell, any reasonably inexpensive way to increase GX sales should be welcome.
The new GXOR Concept fits that bill, because it merely builds on an existing model by adding aftermarket components that could theoretically be installed at the dealer level. What’s more, this concept heightens the GX 460’s off-road credentials, making clear to those who may not be in the know that it’s no lightweight car-based crossover.
This in mind, the GXOR Concept’s aftermarket upgrades include a custom CBI Stealth front bumper sporting a hidden Warn 9.5 XPS winch, a Safari snorkel that provides air to the engine’s intake when wading through deep water, a set of Lexus F Sport 18-inch alloy wheels circled in General Tire Grabber X3 275/70 all-terrain tires, a jacked-up Icon 2.5 CDC suspension system featuring remote reservoirs as well as billet control arms with delta joints, a complete set of underbody armour skid plates, CBI frame sliders, a Redarc Tow-Pro brake controller, and finally an EEZI-AWN K9 roof rack carrying a Rigid 50 LED light bar, a 160-watt Overland solar panel power supply, Alu-Box storage cases, and lastly a set of Maxtrax recovery boards.
Climb inside and you’ll find the same luxurious interior that GX 460 owners enjoy all the time, although Lexus has upgraded the cockpit with an Icom 5100A ham radio for those forays into the wild that take you away from the cellular grid, while the cargo compartment gets filled up with Goose Gear custom drawers sporting storage containers as well as a slide-out National Luna fridge.
Lastly, hanging onto the GXOR Concept’s backside is a Patriot Campers X1H trailer boasting a powered pop-up tent, a hot water system, plus plenty more, while the solar panel mentioned a moment ago powers all of its electric components.
This in mind, Lexus isn’t saying if the GXOR Concept’s 4.6-litre V8 keeps its production-specified 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque or is tuned for even stronger performance, but it either way would be more than ample for pulling the hefty trailer just noted.
“To all of the GX enthusiasts that use their rigs to escape on epic adventures, and proudly share the #GXOR, this concept build is for you,” continued Lexus to GX enthusiasts. “Thank you for inspiring us to Experience Amazing.”
So will the GXOR Concept make it to production? Despite being a radical departure for Lexus, something similar actually makes a lot of sense. Mercedes-Benz has been undeniably successful with its terrain-conquering G-Class, and most expect Land Rover’s upcoming Defender to be a fairly strong seller as well, yet it might make more sense for the Japanese luxury brand to offer the GXOR as a dealer-installed kit instead of a factory model. Doing so would allow Lexus to utilize all of the GXOR’s aftermarket suppliers, with the final product providing a way for retailers to bring some much-needed attention to their unsold GX 460 stock, as well as attracting an entirely new customer base to the brand.
While you’re waiting for your very own GXOR to arrive (which honestly might never happen), make sure to watch it in action below. Additionally, you might also want to find out just how affordable the 2019 Lexus GX 460 is in stock trim, so check out our 2019 Lexus GX Canada Prices page where you can peruse complete pricing that includes trims, packages and individual options, as well as available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands when it comes time to negotiate.
What do you think of the new 2020 Highlander? It was introduced a few months ago at the New York auto show and will go on sale in December this year, just in time for Christmas (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, and Omisoka, take your pick). It pulls plenty of styling cues from what I think is the better looking 2014 through 2016 version of the third-generation Highlander currently available, the newer 2017 through (as-tested) 2019 variation a bit too over-the-top when it comes to its chrome-laden mega-grille for my tastes, but to each his, her or hir own. I find the 2020 much more attractive, and believe it will serve both Toyota and the Highlander’s faithful well for years to come.
That 2014 Highlander I just referenced was a major milestone in Toyota design and refinement, its interior wholly impressive. The Matt Sperling-designed model, which saw its maximum seat count grow from seven to eight in base trim, found greater success due to its more rugged Toyota truck-inspired grille and lower fascia combo, while this fancier Lexus look hasn’t fared quite as well, hence (I’m guessing) the move back to simpler, cleaner, more classic lines.
Probably due more because of the auto market’s general move from cars to crossover SUVs, Highlander sales grew by 17.70 percent from 2016 to 2017 in Canada, but then deliveries eased 4.06 percent through 2018 before plunging by a whopping 17.70 percent (strangely the exact number the model gained two years ago) over the first six months of 2019. In a market that’s constantly being touted as SUV crazy, why has Toyota seen such a downturn in Highlander popularity? Could it be styling?
Before jumping to conclusions, a deeper look at the entire mid-size crossover SUV segment’s sales chart shows the Highlander as far from alone in this downward slide. In fact, this entire class experienced a 7.66 percent decline from 2017 to 2018. Specifically, of the 24 crossovers/SUVs now selling into the mid-size volume segment (including tall wagons such as the Subaru Outback, two-row crossovers like the Hyundai Santa Fe, three-row models like this Highlander, and traditional body-on-frame SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner), just 8 saw upward growth while 10 swung to the negative, while another five only grew because they were totally new and had no 2018 sales to be compared to.
I wouldn’t expect to see all of these models slotting into the same order by year’s end, due to redesigns (the new Explorer should regain much of its lost ground, as it was third last year, while the 2020 Highlander should receive a nice bump too, albeit during the following calendar year) and totally new models should help swell the ranks (Chevy’s new Blazer sales are very strong), but the leading brands will probably maintain their leadership for reasons we all know too well, one of these top sellers being this very Toyota Highlander.
For the remainder of the year Toyota’s mid-size crossover success hinges on the current Highlander, which should be able to hold its own well enough. The well-proven model didn’t get a lot of help from its product planning team, however, with just one itty-bitty upgrade to wow prospective buyers. That’s right, a lone set of LED fog lights replacing previous halogens is the sole excitement for 2019, and Toyota didn’t even change their shape from circular to anything else (stars would’ve been fun).
I had a 2019 Highlander Hybrid Limited on loan for my weeklong test, incidentally, oddly coated in identical Celestial Silver Metallic paint and outfitted in the same perforated Black leather as a 2018 model tested late last year and reviewed at length along with an even richer looking Ooh La La Rouge Mica coloured Limited model with the regular old non-hybrid V6 behind its grandiose grille (minus this year’s fancy LED fog lamps).
Improvements aside, I continue to be amazed that Toyota remains the sole mainstream volume automotive brand to provide a hybridized mid-size crossover SUV, being that the majority of key challengers have offered hybrid powertrains in other models for years (I should really lend a nod to Chrysler for its impressively advanced Pacifica Hybrid plug-in right about now, as it’s roomy enough to be added to the list despite not being an SUV). Kudos to Toyota, this Highlander Hybrid being by far the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class in an unprecedented era of government taxation resulting in the highest fuel prices Canada has ever experienced.
Transport Canada rates the 2019 Highlander Hybrid at 8.1 L/100km city, 8.5 highway and 8.3 combined, which compares well to 12.0 city, 8.9 highway and 10.6 combined for mid-range XLE and top-line Limited variations on the conventionally-powered Highlander theme, which also include AWD plus an upgrade to fuel-saving auto start/stop technology.
Both regular Highlander and Highlander Hybrid models provide considerably more standard power in their base trims than the majority of peers that get four-cylinder engines at their points of entry. For starters, regular Highlanders feature a 3.5-litre V6 capable of 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque, which drives the front wheels in base LX trim or all four wheels in LX AWD, XLE or Limited trims. An efficient eight-speed automatic transmission has the option of idle start/stop, this fuel-saving technology having originally been standard equipment with Toyota’s first hybrid models.
Of course, auto start/stop comes standard in the new Highlander Hybrid as well, this model utilizing the same 3.5-litre V6, albeit running on a more efficient Atkinson-cycle, while its electric motor/battery combination makes for more get-up-and go, 306 net horsepower to be exact, plus an undisclosed (but certainly more potent) increase in torque.
From the list of mid-size Highlander challengers noted earlier, the most fuel-efficient three-row, AWD competitor is the Kia Sorento with a rating of 11.2 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 10.2 combined, but the Sorento is substantially smaller than the Highlander and, like the Hyundai Santa Fe that’s no longer available with three rows in order to make way for the new Palisade, Kia buyers wanting more passenger and cargo space will probably move up to the new 2020 Telluride.
This said, following the Sorento (in order of thriftiest to most guzzling) this three-row mid-size SUV segment’s offerings include the GMC Acadia at 11.3 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 10.5 combined; the Mazda CX-9 at 11.6, 9.1 and 10.5 respectively; the Highlander V6 at 12.0, 8.9 and 10.6 (you’ll see here that it does pretty well even in none-hybrid form); the Nissan Pathfinder at 12.1, 8.9 and 10.7; Honda’s Pilot at 12.4, 9.3 and 11.0; Hyundai’s Palisade at 12.3, 9.6 and 11.1; Kia’s Telluride at 12.5, 9.6 and 11.2; the Dodge Durango at 12.7, 9.6 and 11.3; the Ford Explorer at 13.1, 9.2 and 11.4; Chevy’s Traverse at 13.7, 9.5 and 11.8; VW’s Atlas at 13.8, 10.2 and 12.2; the (how is it possible it’s still alive?) Dodge Journey at 14.5, 10.0 and 12.4; the (ditto) Ford Flex at 14.7, 10.7 and 12.9; and finally the fabulous (I’m so glad it’s still alive) Toyota 4Runner at 14.3, 11.9 and 13.2 respectively.
For those that don’t need a third row yet are thinking of buying the Highlander anyway (I almost always leave the third row down in SUVs like this as it’s easier for moving quick loads of whatever), a quick comparo against two-row competitors (again from the list above) shows the four-cylinder Subaru Outback as the best of the rest from a fuel economy perspective (it’s nowhere near as roomy for cargo of course) at 9.4 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 8.5 combined (yet that’s still not as thrifty as the Highlander Hybrid), while more similar in size albeit still not as capable for toting gear and only four-cylinder-powered are the base Ford Edge at 11.4 city, 8.3 highway and 10.0 combined; the Hyundai Santa Fe at 11.2, 8.7 and 10.1 respectively; and the Nissan Murano at 11.7, 8.5 and 10.3.
Only because my OCD tendencies would cause me distress if not included I’ll finish off the list of potential rivals with the new two-row Honda Passport (that doesn’t measure up to the conventionally-powered Highlander’s fuel economy) with a rating of 12.5 city, 9.8 highway and 11.3 combined; the new Chevrolet Blazer at 12.7, 9.5 and 11.3 respectively, and lastly the Jeep Grand Cherokee at 12.7, 9.6 and 11.3.
The electrified portion of the Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is made up of two permanent magnet synchronous motors, the first powering the front wheels and the second for those in back (making AWD), while a sealed nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) traction battery takes care of power storage. Toyota has eschewed newer, more common lithium-ion battery technology for this version of its Hybrid Synergy Drive system (it uses lighter Li-Ion tech for other battery applications), and it’s hard to argue against their long-term dependability as Toyota has used Ni-MH batteries in its Prius since that car hit the streets in 1997. Prius taxicabs have become legendary for reliability and durability, many eclipsing a million-plus kilometres without exchanging or rebuilding their batteries, while the latter is possible due to current NiMH modules being identical in size to those introduced with the 2001 Prius.
If I can point to something negative, and then only negligibly, the regular model’s eight-speed automatic is more enjoyable to drive than the Hybrid’s electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT). Still, I’m kind of splitting hairs because I only noticed this when pushing harder than I would normally do in a family SUV like this. Under normal conditions, such as driving around the city or cruising down an open freeway the ECVT is brilliantly smooth and even quite nice to flick through the “gears” thanks to sequential shifting capability via stepped ratios that copy the feel of a conventional automatic transmission.
The Highlander Hybrid’s electric all-wheel drive system works well too, both on rainy streets and also in a snow packed parking lot I managed to find up on a local ski hill. Its prowess through slippery situations makes sense, as Toyota’s been perfecting this drivetrain since the first 2006 Highlander Hybrid arrived on the scene, and after spending week’s at a time with all of its variations through its entire tenure I’ve certainly never experienced any problem that it couldn’t pull me and my family out of.
With a price of $50,950 (plus destination and fees) in base XLE trim the 2019 Highlander Hybrid isn’t inexpensive, while this top-line Limited is even pricier at $57,260, but it’s certainly not the loftiest price in this class. For instance, a similarly equipped 2019 Chevrolet Traverse High Country starts at a whopping $60,100, while the only slightly more premium-like 2019 Buick Enclave Avenir hits the road at $62,100, neither of which provides any type of hybrid electrification at all. I don’t know about you, but the Highlander Hybrid Limited’s price is starting to look quite reasonable.
Incidentally, pricing for all crossover SUVs mentioned in this review can be found right here at CarCostCanada, including their various trims, packages and standalone options, while you can also find money saving rebate information and really useful dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands (for your convenience I’ve turned the name of each model mentioned in this review into a link to its pricing page).
In essence, despite the current Highlander’s age you could do a lot worse in this segment. It provides plenty of power, a comfortable ride, good road manners, near premium interior quality that even includes fabric-wrapped roof pillars from front to back, as well as soft-touch surface treatments galore, an attractive colour-filled primary instrument cluster (that includes loads of unique hybrid controls), a decent centre-stack infotainment interface that only looks dated because of Toyota’s superb new Entune touchscreen, a spacious, comfortable three-row passenger compartment, tons of cargo capacity, excellent expected reliability, and awesome fuel economy.
I suppose the only reason I can give you not to choose a 2019 Highlander Hybrid over one of its competitors is the upcoming 2020 Highlander Hybrid, although now that the new one is on the way you’ll probably be able to get a much better deal on this outgoing 2019. You’ll need to look at your own budget and then decide how you want to proceed, but either way don’t forget to use CarCostCanada for rebate info and dealer invoice pricing, so you can get the best possible deal.
We live in a time where you name it, you can buy it online. From groceries to electronics, the e-commerce world has made shopping significantly easier. With online shopping opening up a convenient means of obtaining goods, the car world saw it as a great opportunity to help individuals purchase a vehicle without having to leave the house.
Buying a car online in Canada is still relatively new and not fully adopted by consumers. Because it is such a massive purchase, many prefer to go to the dealership to ensure their needs are met. Despite any misconceptions, buying a car online poses an array of benefits for any consumer looking to nab a new ride.
Here are a few reasons why buying a car online may be a good route for you to take:
A Convenient Experience
Shopping can be a daunting task. You have to get ready, leave the house, walk around for what feels like hours, and sometimes, you end up buying things you don’t need because they just caught your eye along the way (we’ve all been there). When it comes to shopping online, you can eliminate all of this. Shopping for a car online doesn’t even require you to get out of bed!
Many car makers have easy to use, virtual interfaces that allow you to design your desired model and get a realistic feel of what it will look like in person. They will also show you the prices associated with add-ons, financing, leasing, interest, and even discounts available. You can do all of this from the comfort of your own home on your own schedule – no need to leave or even get out of your comfy PJs!
A Dream for Non-Negotiators
Some are experts when it comes to negotiations and can haggle money off of nearly anything. However, many people are hesitant when it comes to the negotiation process either because they are unsure how to properly do so, they fear rejection of their counteroffers or they are a little on the shy side. If negotiation isn’t your cup of tea, buying a car online can help you pass that roadblock.
Most vehicle sites will show a list of available discounts, incentives, and offers, as well as a place for you to interject your own (ones you received from your Dealer Invoice Report for example). Should you feel the need to negotiate, some sites offer online chat services where you can talk to a real individual without the face-to-face awkwardness you may feel when hassling in person. Say goodbye to the days of long-drawn-out and uncomfortable in-person negotiations.
Time is Money
We can’t sugar coat it, buying a car isn’t exactly a quick process. First, you have to choose your vehicle, then you have to choose the paint colour and other features, from there you have to wait for approval, then you have to work out the costs and fill out even more paperwork. The typical process of purchasing a vehicle is around 1 to 2 hours, provided everything goes smoothly. Buying a car online can cut this process down significantly and can be done in less than an hour.
When you are buying a car online, you essentially bypass any sales pitches the dealer may have and all required work that needs to be filed can be done with a few clicks. If you don’t want to spend a couple of hours sitting in a chair endlessly waiting, opting to purchase a vehicle online may be the best route for you.
Shop On Your Own Accord
Buying a vehicle online allows you to browse as you please. While you can do so at the dealer, it’s significantly easier online. You can customize as many models, add-ons, and exterior and interior features as you would like at your own ease. Dealerships typically hold the most popular models with the basic paint colours and features. Want to see how a Mazda 3 looks in metallic gray, black, vibrant orange, or chocolate brown? You can do so online. You can get a good feel of what your fully customized vehicle may look like prior to purchase, even if it isn’t on the showroom. There is no pressure to buy or settle – you can browse and customize as much as you want!
A few years ago, online shopping had many limitations and now you have the option to purchase an entire vehicle without leaving the comfort of your own home. Just a few clicks can secure you a new ride. Both traditional and online purchasing pose many benefits; it all comes down to personal preference and comfort.
Added the car of your dreams to your cart? Get your FREE Dealer Invoice Report today to save money on your checkout!