While Nissan’s Leaf was once the global dominant force in the electric vehicle industry, and instrumental in relieving “range anxiety” for thousands of EV buyers, it’s no longer king of the plug-in hill, despite offering up to 364 in range when upgrading to its “Plus” trim line. Plenty of competitors now provide greater travel distances on a single charge, making them more practical for everyday use, especially now that advanced electrical and battery storage systems allow for quicker charging.
Tesla now leads EV sales by wide margins in the U.S. and Canada, while strong competitors from Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia promise to make Nissan’s life difficult, with the Leaf only placing fifth most popular amongst EVs in Canada last year, and sixth in the U.S.
To remedy the problem, Nissan just announced a $500-million USD investment in its Canton, Mississippi plant, which will transform it from merely producing trucks, to soon producing electric vehicles by 2025. Nissan will retain and upskill 2,000 workers from the facility’s current roster of 5,000 employees, which will make Mississippi Nissan’s centre for electric vehicle manufacturing and technology.
“Today’s announcement is the first of several new investments that will drive the EV revolution in the United States,” stated Ashwani Gupta, chief operating officer for Nissan Motor Corporation, Ltd. “Nissan is making a strong investment in Canton’s future, bringing the latest technology, training and process to create a truly best-in-class EV manufacturing team.”
While this is only a small portion of the $13.5 billion of overall investment Nissan has sunk into its U.S. manufacturing operations thus far (of which $4 billion has previously been invested in Canton alone), the automaker is projecting that 40 percent of new vehicle purchases will be for fully electric vehicles by the year 2030, making this investment critical for its future prospects.
Even more electrified models will be sold as hybrids and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles before that time, which is why the “Nissan Ambition 2030” project targets 23 electrified models within its namesake and Infiniti brands globally by 2030, of which 15 are slated to be fully electric.
The Canton assembly plant, created in 2003, currently builds four Nissan models including the Altima, Frontier, Titan and Titan XD. It has produced almost 5 million vehicles over 19 years, and according to a recent announcement, will have two all-new fully electric models in production in three years time.
The Leaf, which is produced in Smyrna, Tennessee (for U.S. consumption), won’t have its production transferred to the updated Mississippi facility, so therefore it’s likely the two new models will be a production version of the Nissan Ariya Concept, which debuted in 2019, and possibly something along the lines of the 2019 Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept. Both are mid-size crossover SUV prototypes, which would make for a good target market to attract the most possible buyers.
Also interesting is Nissan’s choice of combining electric vehicle and truck production under one roof. This could potentially lead to electrified 4×4-capable models, similar to what Toyota is doing with its new Tundra hybrid pickup, not to mention Ford with its new F-150 Lightning and Chevrolet with its fully electric Silverado. Likewise, GMC introduced a renewed Hummer sub-brand with a fully electric pickup and SUV, plus upstart Rivian has made waves with its new truck and utility models.
What’s more, electric commercial vans would be a possibility as well, despite Nissan having discontinued its full-size NV Cargo and NV Passenger vans, plus its NV200 compact van up last September. A fleet of commercial EVs could revitalize this segment for Nissan, while simultaneously expanding the automaker’s important fleet customer base for its “Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM)” driving technologies.
With an expectation of 40 percent of North American new car buyers moving to full-electric mobility by 2030, BMW is setting out on a path to electrify 25 global models, half of which will be fully electric. Not all will be heading across the Atlantic, or the Pacific with respect to the Chinese-made iX3 crossover SUV that won’t yet be sold in North American markets, but we can expect to receive our fair share.
For starters, Canadians will be the recipients of BMW’s new 2022 i4 sport sedan and iX crossover SUV later this year. The former joins the German automaker’s D-segment 4 Series family, while the latter is positioned alongside the popular X5 mid-size crossover SUV, so therefore they target the popular Tesla Model 3 and Model X respectively. The two electric models share underpinnings too, thanks to BMW’s versatile Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform that also supports everything from their tiny 2 Series subcompact models to their executive-class 7, X7 and 8 Series models.
The i4 shares its body style with the 4 Series Gran Coupe four-door liftback. It starts at $54,990 (sans incentives, freight, and fees), and will be available in two trims, including the eDrive40 and M50 xDrive. The less eDrive40 version features a single rear-wheel drive (RWD) electric motor capable of 335 hp, while the $72,990 M50 gets both front and rear motors for an all-wheel drivetrain (AWD) capable of 516 hp. Both i4 trims utilize BMW’s 83.9-kWh battery.
BMW promises range of 340 km on a single full charge with the i4 eDrive40, not to mention a 5.7-second sprint time from standstill to 100 km/h, whereas the M50 xDrive can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in only 3.9 seconds and has the battery life to drive up to 510 km after a full charge. This means the i4 comes close to matching the aforementioned Tesla Model 3’s best-possible 576 km range.
Notably, the near identically sized, yet more conservatively styled BMW 3 Series line continues to offer its 330e plug-in hybrid (PHEV) trim for 2022, which is a less expensive hybrid alternative Tesla doesn’t provide.
Similarly, BMW offers the X3 xDrive30e PHEV to Canadian buyers, but as noted at the onset of this article, the more advanced iX3 EV won’t testing the resolve of Tesla’s Model Y in Canada, at least not yet. This said, BMW follows up its compact X3 hybrid with a plug-in hybrid version of its larger mid-size X5, dubbed xDrive45e PHEV.
The mid-size iX, on the other hand, is a full-electric that provides two-row, mid-size roominess for up to five passengers and plenty of cargo. BMW Canada will make three iX trims available, named xDrive40, xDrive50 and M60, with all incorporating standard front and rear motors for AWD.
To clarify, the xDrive50 is the only iX trim available for 2022, which means both xDrive40 and M60 models will be arriving later this year as 2023 models. The iX xDrive40, which will start at just $79,990 (plus freight and fees), puts out 322 hp, can hit 100 km/h from standstill in just 6.1 seconds, and has 340 km of range, should be very popular, although Canadians tend to buy more fully equipped models, so the 2022 xDrive50, which starts at $89,990, should be a hit due to 516 hp, a sprint time of 4.6 seconds to 100 km/h, and 521 km of range on a single charge. Finally, the top-tier M60 can be had from $121,750, features 610-hp for a 100-km/h dash of just 3.8 seconds, plus the ability to drive for up to 450 km on a single charge.
Additionally, unlike most electronic devices (including many EVs), BMW’s new battery electric vehicles won’t suffer from much battery degradation. This means its models’ various claimed range estimates should stand up over time. BMW claims, in fact, that its i4 and iX batteries will last the life of each vehicle, or specifically up to 1,500 full charge cycles, which is the equivalent of 500,000 km.
We have full pricing and trim information for the 2022 i4 plus 2022 and 2023 iX here on CarCostCanada, as well as the ability to configure each model’s options. Additionally, CarCostCanada members regularly receive information about manufacturer rebates, factory financing, and lease rate deals. Both the i4 and iX are currently being offered with in-house financing/lease rates from 4.49 percent, while members also receive dealer invoice pricing that can be critical when negotiating your best deal. Learn how the CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download our free app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store too.
Money in mind, all BMW i4 trims are eligible for provincial zero-emission incentives in BC, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, while the base i4 eDrive40 also qualifies for the national iZEV rebate program.
Expect to see the new i4 and iX on Canadian roads soon, as it will start arriving at BMW Canada dealers in March.
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Four new mainstream volume-branded electrics hit the market last year, including the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Hyundai Ioniq5, Mazda MX-30, and Volkswagen ID.4, and all start under sub-$45,000 sweet spot. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Kia’s new 2022 EV6 will do the same, entering the Canadian market at $44,995.
Of course, offering a base trim under $45k allows Canada’s national iZEV rebate to kick in, as well as various provincial rebates, and that can add up to a significant amount. Consumers in BC can save up to $8,000, for instance, while the national rebate can add up to $5,000 more. That brings the price down to $32k (plus freight and fees), and therefore well within most buyers’ budgets.
The EV6, which shares underpinnings with Hyundai’s Ioniq5 and Genesis upcoming GV60, mostly mirrors the former model’s pricing structure from beginning to end. The aforementioned base model comes with Standard Range power and a single-motor RWD layout. A Long Range RWD version increases the price to $52,995, while adding a second motor for AWD pushes the price up to $54,995. Additionally, the Long Range AWD model can be had with a GT-Line Package 1 for 57,995, and right at the top of the line is a Long Range AWD with GT-Line Package 2 for $61,995.
To be more specific, the base EV6 with RWD incorporates a 58.0 kWh battery with a 125kW rear motor that makes it capable of up to 373 km of range. The Long Range RWD trim increases the battery size to 77.4 kWh and the rear motor to 168kW for up to 499 km of range, while the two AWD power units utilize the same 77.4 kWh battery as the just-noted trim, but the first version gets a 74kW front motor and a 165kW rear motor for up to 441 km of range, while the most formidable combination combines a 160kW front motor with a 270kW rear motor for up to 499 kms of range.
Trims in mind, the new EV6’ gets a 12.3-inch standard centre display, while Canadian buyers are also treated to a standard heat pump system for maintaining range during cold conditions.
All of the expected advanced driver assistance and convenience features are on the menu as well, including forward collision avoidance assist, blind spot avoidance assist, automated parking assistance, driver attention warning, intelligent speed limit assist, highway driving assist, navigation-based smart cruise control-curve, and high beam assist.
Additionally, the new EV6 incorporates ultra-fast DC charging at 800V and 400V, without the need for a separate controller. This allows the battery to be recharged to 80 percent in only 18 minutes.
What’s more, the EV6 can be upgraded with a Vehicle to Load (V2L) option, which transforms the new crossover into a direct power source for just about anything. This means you can plug in your personal electronics, appliances for camping, tools for working, and more. You can even recharge another electric vehicle.
The new 2022 Kia EV6 will arrive at Kia Canada dealerships next month.
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The 2022 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will get underway this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before making its way to nine different cities ahead of the final race in Seoul, Korea on August 14. Along with the cars, teams and drivers, one new addition will remain constant throughout the season, the Porsche Taycan Official Safety Car.
“We’re proud that Formula E has entrusted a Porsche with this task – one that is important for the safety of its drivers,” said Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “With the Taycan Turbo S as the official safety car, we’re making an important contribution to track safety and also underlining the importance of Formula E for Porsche Motorsport.”
The ninth FIA-sanctioned race of the season will be held in Vancouver, Canada this year, from June 30 through July 2, alongside the Canadian E-Fest, which is a unique festival that combines a creative business conference on sustainability with an esports tournament, plus more. Tickets, which start at only $70, can be acquired directly from the Canadian E-Fest website.
The Canadian E-Fest event will be set up in Vancouver’s False Creek area, next to city centre business and residential districts, but unlike the Champ Car race weekends held there 18 years-plus prior, there shouldn’t be any complaints about noise violations from local residents, due to the near silent operation of the Formula E cars.
“Formula E is delighted the Porsche Taycan Turbo S will serve as the Championship’s safety car from Season 8,” said Jamie Reigle, CEO of Formula E. “The Porsche Taycan Turbo S is the pinnacle of high-performance electrified vehicles and will light up Formula E city racetracks around the world. In designing the Formula E safety car, Porsche reimagined the critical on-track safety function to be a powerful symbol of the championship’s commitment to an electrified future and the unity of the competitors in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.”
The 2022 Porsche Taycan Turbo S that serves as the base for the new Formula E Safety Car is whisper quiet as well, and that’s despite 750 hp (with Overboost) and 774 lb-ft of torque. The car can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds when its Launch Control feature is engaged, plus it moves off the line to 160 km/h in a scant 6.1 seconds. The new Taycan Turbo S starts at $218,000, but it’s possible to get into a 2022 Taycan for as little as $119,900.
The new Porsche Taycan is one of the more technologically advanced EVs currently available, but this doesn’t mean the only people capable of understanding how it works are electrical engineers.
In order to simplify the science, Porsche hired Bill Nye The Science Guy, a popular TV personality, to explain all the key technology, which resulted in a five-part short-format video series. Each episode, which span just under a single minute to one-and-a-half minutes long, focus in on technologies that differentiate the Taycan from its competitors, such as its 800-volt battery, uniquely innovative aerodynamic design, regenerative braking system, two-speed transmission, and repeatable performance.
The YouTube series, dubbed “Bill Nye Explains The All-Electric Taycan,” was filmed at the Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, California. The entertaining host uses simple terms and silly antics to clarify otherwise complicated subject matter, resulting in a series that’s ideal for all ages.
The Taycan, which arrived on the electric scene only last year, is already available in two unique body unique styles and four individual trims, including 4, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S. The sleek Taycan four-door coupe can be had in three of the just-noted trims, including 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, whereas the more recently introduced Taycan Cross Turismo also has a base trim. Additionally, the Cross Turismo can be upgraded with an Off-road Design package that increases ride height while adding more aggressive styling enhancements.
Top-level Taycan Turbo S trim can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds, thanks to its 750-hp twin-electric-motor power unit, while standard AWD means that all four performance tires grip the road below, especially helpful in inclement weather or when off-road.
Porsche’s new Taycan is doing a great job of scooping up premium EV buyers, enough so that Tesla may want to consider redesigning its Model S sometime soon. Of course, the iconic California-turned-Texan electric carmaker isn’t likely worried, thanks to a market cap that rivals the largest tech giants, not to mention key models in all of the most important luxury segments, but at least Porsche is succeeding where many others are struggling to gain ground.
Tesla’s Model Y fills the compact luxury SUV hole in its expanding lineup, exactly where Porsche plans to directly compete with an electrified version of its already popular Macan crossover. In order to make sure the Macan EV finds as many buyers possible, Porsche is getting busy testing it on road and track, and recently released some photos and info to let us know how the process is going.
Porsche plans a 2023 launch for its upcoming all-electric Macan, which should be enough time to get the kinks out. To that end, the Stuttgart-based luxury brand had been digitally and physically testing it on its Weissach Development Centre proving grounds until recently, but now has it touring public roads in heavily camouflaged attire, so as to hide its second-generation Macan sheet metal.
“Testing in a real-life environment is now getting underway – one of the most important milestones in the development process,” commented Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, at Porsche AG.
Porsche plans to cover three million kilometres worldwide, in every possible type of condition, ahead of delivering fully electric Macans to market, and that lofty number doesn’t even include the “countless” virtual kilometres accumulated on the Weissach test track, not to mention many more miles achieved via digital prototypes.
According to Porsche, developing the new Macan EV digitally reduces capital expenditures and time, while it also minimizes the new model’s environmental impact. Rather than putting actual prototypes through their paces, a digital computational model replicates the kinds of true-to-life properties, systems and power units of the EV to a very high degree of accuracy. As part of the electrified Macan’s development, Porsche has utilized 20 digital prototypes in order to simulate all types of situations, resulting in critically important aerodynamic, energy management, operation, and acoustic data.
“We regularly collate the data from the various departments and use it to build up a complete, virtual vehicle that is as detailed as possible,” said Andreas Huber, manager for digital prototypes at Porsche, plus one of the first aerodynamics engineers to ever work with digital prototypes. “This allows previously undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.”
Reducing aerodynamic drag helps the Macan EV achieve its ultimate range targets, with even minimal flow enhancements making a significant difference.
“We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” added Thomas Wiegand, Director of aerodynamics development.
A team of Porsche engineers utilizes simulations so as to fine-tune each and every surface of the new crossover EV, with specific attention paid to cooling air ducts. Such calculations help the engineers arrange components that in-turn optimize efficiencies, while they also provide the required data for predicting variances in real-world temperature levels. Porsche actually claims the new testing procedures allow for extremely precise simulations of both aerodynamics and thermodynamics.
“The digital world is indispensable to the development of the all-electric Macan,” said Wiegand.
Returning to air ducts and cooling, the new EV’s motive electric system boasts a totally different cooling and temperature control concept than the conventionally-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) powered Macan. To be clear, the various ICE’s used in today’s Macan need a 90- to 120-degree (Celsius) temperature operating range, whereas the new electric-powered model’s drive system and high-voltage battery maintain a temperature window between 20 and 70 degrees.
Also unique to the electric Macan, where an ICE increases its temperature when starting and stopping during heavy traffic, the battery-powered version needs more cooling during high-power charging, particularly in warmer weather. Porsche is overcoming this challenge by calculating and digitally optimizing the “position, flow and temperature” via the digital prototypes mentioned earlier.
Digital prototype use can start quite early in any vehicle’s developmental stage. In fact, Porsche created a completely new driver interface for its upcoming second-gen Macan long before designing some of the other components. A revised driver display was included, of course, which, when ready for testing, Porsche brought to life in a “seat box” that was capable of simulating the actual driving environment.
“Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” said Fabian Klausmann of Porsche’s Driver Experience development department. “Here, the ‘test drivers’ are not just the specialists themselves but also non-experts. This allows all interaction between driver and vehicle to be studied down to the last detail, enabling selective optimization even before the first physical cockpit has been built.”
The initial physical Macan EV prototypes were developed from information learned through the digital prototype program, and once these running prototypes were on the track, they fed additional data back to the digital prototypes to continue testing with. This process allowed Porsche’s engineers to continually update both the digital and physical prototypes, refining each aspect of the Macan EV throughout the development process.
“Endurance testing on closed-off testing facilities and public roads in real-life conditions is still indispensable to ensure that the vehicle structure, operational stability and reliability of hardware, software and all functions meet our high-quality standards,” continued Steiner.
The Macan EV continues to undergo a demanding testing process, including climate extreme endurance tests, plus the need to overcome all types of topographical conditions. Of course, this would include real-world charging and conditioning of the new EV’s high-voltage battery, with everyday reliability and segment-leading performance being high on the agenda.
“Like the Taycan, the all-electric Macan, with its 800-volt architecture, will offer typical Porsche E-Performance,” added Steiner, pointing to development goals such as the SUV’s long-distance range, high-performance fast charging, and goal of best-in-segment performance. “The all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”
The new Macan EV will also need to be highly efficient, of course, which is why it’s the first Porsche to make use of the brand’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture. This said, most Macan owners will continue choosing one of the automaker’s conventional ICE’s instead of the electrical alternative, at least in its early years, particularly in markets where consumers aren’t penalized for not going green, thus gasoline-powered models will need to remain part of the overall Macan package for the unforeseen future.
“In Europe, demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” noted Steiner. “That’s why we’re going to launch another attractive conventionally-powered successor to the current Macan in the course of 2021.”
This said, the new second-generation Macan will launch later this year, with varied availability of ICE’s. The new Macan EV will follow in about three years and millions of kilometers of digital and physical prototype tests.
After first spending a week with Honda’s then-new Insight in its top-line Touring trim a couple of years ago, I really felt the Japanese automaker had a winner on its hands.
The compact sedan’s conservative good looks should have appealed to an even greater number of consumers than the edgier Civic it shares underpinnings and hard points with. Even better (to my eyes at least), its classy front fascia pulled some grille details over from the larger Accord mid-size sedan, while its tidier taillights stopped short of wrapping overtop most of the trunk lid.
Don’t get me wrong, as the outgoing Civic was a styling tour de force when it arrived in 2015 as a 2016 model, but the more subdued Insight gave… ahem… insight to the Civic’s future design direction, particularly at the hind end where those just-noted taillights look like positive precursors to those on the much more conventional 2022 Civic sedan.
Still, as it was and still is, Honda failed to properly launch this 2019–present Insight within Canada, where it suffers incredibly slow sales, not even surpassing 500 units last year. In fact, the dismal number was 496, while the first quarter of 2021 has seen just 91 examples roll out of Honda showrooms. When compared to the Civic’s class-leading 50,805 sales-total in 2020, and 7,158 units delivered during Q1 of this year, which puts the Insight just under 1 percent of Civic deliveries during 2020, and nearly 1.3 percent for Q1 of 2021, Honda’s dedicated compact hybrid can only be seen as a complete dud. But why?
After all, the two models’ sales ratio in the U.S. is much better, although still not anywhere near as evenly weighted as I initially expected, with the Insight finding 15,932 buyers south of the 49th in 2020, and 3,859 as of the end of March this year, compared to 261,225 Civics sold last year and 55,903 for Q1 of 2021. That represents 6.1 percent of Civic sales in 2020 and 6.9 percent for the first three months of 2021, which probably isn’t even good enough to justify any sort of business case for keeping the model alive.
It comes down to pricing. With a base price of $28,490 (plus freight and fees), the Insight finds itself $3,400 more expensive than the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which starts at only $25,090. If the Insight were 10-percent more car it might make sense, but, as I already pointed out, consumers have spoken load and clear with their wallets, plus I’ve personally driven both, and that’s not the case.
My Insight tester’s top-line Touring trim was even pricier at $32,190, and once again it wasn’t any more appealing than the top-tier Corolla Hybrid with its Premium package, which costs just $27,090. This means Canadian Insight Touring buyers will need to take a $5,100 hit just to see a stylized “H” badging in all the usual places, a questionable bonus they obviously don’t desire all that much.
So why would Honda sabotage its chances of winning over important Canadian hybrid buyers just ahead of the entire market turning to electric vehicles (whether we want to or not)? Obviously, Honda’s Canadian division would love to import the Insight (or for that matter the CR-V Hybrid, which is currently not available here) for less money, but their American affiliate that produces it, can’t seem to make it cheap enough.
Honda does bring us the Accord Hybrid, however, but the Marysville, Ohio-built mid-size sedan doesn’t do as well as Toyota’s Camry Hybrid for similar reasons. Its base price is $35,805, whereas the Camry Hybrid is advertised at $30,790, and similarly to the Insight’s fancier Touring trim line, the top-level Accord Hybrid Touring starts at a lofty $42,505, which compares poorly to a fully loaded Camry Hybrid XLE that’s priced at only $39,690.
It doesn’t take a economics major to figure out that Honda Canada needs to deal with this problem if it wants to grow hybrid sales, but so far no Alliston assembly plant upgrades have been announced. If Honda Canada were able to produce the CR-V Hybrid north of the 49th, it might be able to compete with Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid (although not the plug-in RAV4 Prime) or Hyundai’s new Tucson Hybrid, but coming up with a business case to put such a plan into action might not make any sense in our market, which is just 10 percent of America’s population.
Even if such a plan made sense, the very fact Honda’s Insight is a dedicated hybrid with a number of totally unique body panels and trim, puts the smaller of these two Japanese automakers at another disadvantage. Where Toyota can theoretically produce its Corolla Hybrid at multiple plants without modifying major body stamping equipment, Honda would need to upgrade more than just the drivetrain portions of any alternative assembly plants to allow for more Insight production.
Currently, the Insight is built at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana in Greensburg, which also produces the Civic and previously pushed out the popular Civic Hybrid. If, alternatively, Honda chose to create a hybridized version of the new Civic, its many global assembly plants that are already pushing out versions of its venerable compact sedan could adapt more easily to hybrid production. Applying this (admittedly theoretical) logic to Canada’s Alliston assembly plant, might mean a Civic Hybrid could be built for Canadian consumption, thus resolving Honda’s inability to move many Insights in the great white north. As it is, Honda is fast losing its electrification edge in our market.
All said, is the Insight any good? Absolutely. If you’ve made it this far into this review, you’ll already know this Insight is nothing less than a gussied up Civic sedan, which everyone should appreciate is a very good compact car. It’s so good in fact, it consistently outsells every other car made, and we should all remember that the audience is always right (at least by “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” standards).
Behind its large, blackened grille opening is Honda’s well-proven 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric motor assistant, the latter powered by a 60-cell lithium-ion battery. All totalled up, the combination makes 151 net horsepower and an even stronger 197 lb-ft of torque. While off-the-line performance and passing power is certainly important, in the Insight’s compact class, hybrids are more about fuel economy, and the Insight delivers with a claimed rating of 4.6 L/100km city, 5.3 highway, and 4.9 combined, which will be good enough to wow most Civic owners that can only manage to eke out 7.9 L/100km in the city, 6.1 on the highway and 7.1 combined when driving the model’s most efficient variant. Still, Toyota’s previously noted Corolla Hybrid is not only less expensive at the time of purchase, but keeps giving at the pump with an estimated rating of 4.4 L/100km in the city, 4.5 on the highway and 4.5 combined. Ouch!
Still, a small number of Canadian consumers, who are faithful to Honda and therefore willing to pay more initially and continually, choose the Insight over the Corolla Hybrid, or for that matter the all-new Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, which incidentally improves on both Japanese models’ fuel economy thanks to a claimed rating of 4.5 L/100km in the city, 4.2 on the highway and 4.4 combined, plus adds insult to injury with a starting price of just $24,699 and arguably more attractive (or at least fresher) styling. So, for those willing to pay more for less of what hybrids are supposed to be about, the Insight delivers extremely smooth operation from its continuously variable transmission (CVT), an equally calming ride and a well-organized, reasonably high-quality interior.
Before delving into the latter, the just-noted CVT isn’t designed for performance enthusiasts, so Civic Si buyers need not apply, but rather becomes annoyingly buzzy when pushing hard on the throttle for extended periods. Of course, such driving negates the car’s purpose, so I can’t see many Insight buyers doing so very often. I merely did for testing purposes, and have long experienced similar results from other CVT-equipped models in the class, such as the Corolla Hybrid. Nevertheless, despite its economy-first mission, Honda decided to include a Sport setting along with its expected Comfort, Econ and EV powertrain modes, which really says a lot about the much-loved brand itself.
Another positive advantage benefiting Insight buyers over those living with a Corolla Hybrid, is an EV mode that allows traveling at posted city speeds, something not possible in any non-plug-in Toyota hybrid that engages its ICE over 20 km/h. While enjoyable to run around town in near silent bliss, this feature doesn’t necessarily aid fuel-efficiency, as pointed out earlier, so it won’t like matter to most buyers.
As for that smooth suspension, it really is good. My city’s streets are mostly agreeable, although like in any urban area there are roadways that desperately need upkeep and only limited funds and workers to maintain them. Despite its compact size, the Insight’s relatively long wheelbase and nicely tuned fully independent suspension made bumpy patches of tarmac easier to endure, while simultaneously providing capable road-holding when choosing to rev out its noisy powertrain. Fortunately, the much of the Insight’s motive mass hides below the rear seat, which aids its centre of gravity, providing decent handling characteristics. Again, Civic Si enthusiasts need not apply, but hybrid buyers would be pleasantly surprised if they chose to test one out.
For such situations, the aforementioned Sport mode is ideal, enhanced by the ability to use steering wheel-mounted paddles to shift its CVT through a number of artificially stepped “gears”. Those who prefer shifting with a traditional gear lever are out of luck, because Honda infused the Insight’s lower console with its pushbutton gear selector. I’m just fine with that thanks to those paddle-shifters, and honestly, I only used the latter for one short stint throughout my weeklong test, due to the harshness of the drivetrain when doing so. Again, while its cool that Honda added DIY paddles, they’re not all that useful in a car like this, making me wonder if the investment might have been better spent on something else, or possibly eliminated altogether in order to lower the price?
As for the pushbutton (and pull-tab for reverse) gear selector, it looks appropriately modern and frees up arm space above the console, which otherwise is fitted with a big rubberized tray for holding your oversized smartphone. Honda includes two USB charge points plus a 12-volt power supply just above, all of which come together at the base of a centre stack that’s also laid out well, with a stylish dual-zone auto HVAC interface, a slim strip of switchgear for turning on the three-way heated front seats, recirculating air, and defog/defrost functions.
The centre stack is topped off with a large enough 8.0-inch touchscreen, which will be all-too familiar to current Civic owners. It features colourful, user friendly digital controls that are organized in an attractive tile design, with some of its functions being Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a navigation system (in my Touring tester) that proved very accurate, a fun-to-watch engine/battery power flow indicator, audio functions for a great sounding stereo, and the list goes on.
Of course, the display uses smartphone- or tablet-like finger gestures, so you can tap, swipe or pinch to your heart’s content, while Honda also framed this touchscreen with some useful switches for accessing key info quickly. The left-side row features a button for the home screen, plus one for returning back to the previous function, and another for transitioning between day and night modes. There are also two for browsing radio stations or MP3 tracks, while a rotating volume knob joins a volume controller on the left-hand steering wheel spoke. All of the infotainment system’s quick-access buttons receive backlit names just underneath, but makes sense until using them at night, when pressing the lighted name does nothing at all. Instead, you need to press the little, narrow button on top of the name, which is invisible in the dark. Yah, not the smartest application of an otherwise intelligent concept.
The Insight’s primary instrument experience is all positive, on the other hand. Honda was early to adopt a fully digital driver’s display, the arching cluster incorporating a multi-information display (MID) featuring useful hybrid info, such as a battery charge indicator, on the left, and a speedometer and gas gauge combo to the right. Well-made, smartly organized steering wheel switchgear controls the MID, which is par for the course with Honda products. Above everything is an overhead console integrating two incandescent reading lights, plus an emergency assist button, a HomeLink remote garage door opener, and the usual powered moonroof rocker switch. And yes, I would have rather seen an oversized glass sunroof in place of the Insight’s smallish opening, but some electrified cars don’t offer sunroofs at all, so I’d best not complain.
Back to positives, the Insight’s cabin approaches Acura ILX levels of fit, finish, and materials quality, with a dash top surfaced in nice pliable composites, plus a padded and French-stitched leather-like bolster ahead of the front passenger that flows across the instrument panel and down the sides of the centre stack. Certainly, I would’ve appreciated if Honda had finished the driver’s compartment as nicely as the front passenger’s, but at least both sides of the lower console gets the same soft-touch pampering treatment, which perfectly matches the sliding armrest in the middle.
The front door uppers get the same premium covering as the dash top, by the way, while the door inserts just below receive a similar stitched leatherette to that on the instrument panel bolster. Most everything looks and feels like it was produced by an entry-level luxury brand, like Acura, but I should say that Honda isn’t alone in raising the level of refinement in its compact models.
Honda has produced some of the better seats in the industry for a long time, however, and this Insight Touring’s driver’s perch is no exception. It provided excellent inherent support and no shortage of adjustability, resulting in a very comfortable office chair, while the tilt and telescopic steering column just ahead proved extendable enough to reach my shorter arms and torso when the lower cushion was pushed back far enough to make room for my longish legs. This ideal driver setup is not always possible from other compact models, and would be something I’d be willing to spend hundreds if not thousands for, so kudos to Honda for getting this right.
Along with excellent positioning, my tester’s steering wheel rim felt nice and meaty, with comfortable indents for thumbs and an overall performance-oriented feel. It’s as if Honda pulled it out the aforementioned Civic Si, rather than something designed to blissfully cruise past gas stations. All-round, the cockpit area is comfortable, spacious and lends a sense of control, which is exactly what most in this class are looking for.
Rear passengers should be nearly as comfortable, and despite not covering the tops of each window sill with soft-touch synthetic like those up front, the rest of the door panels were near duplicates, and a reasonably large armrest topped off by unreasonably small cupholders made things comfier for those stuck in back. Likewise, two-way rear seat warmers added wintertime heat to the outboard cushions, but there were no air vents next to the rocker switches on the backside of the front console or anywhere else in back, nor for that matter reading lights overhead.
The trunk’s 416-litre (14.7 cu-ft) volume should be large enough for most peoples’ needs, while extra gear can be placed below the cargo floor if small enough. This is where Honda stows the Insight’s tire repair pump, which is necessary for fixing a flat, being that no spare is offered. Expanding on the trunk’s usefulness are 60/40-split rear seatbacks, and no centre pass-through for loading longer items such as skis down the middle.
If an Insight seems like the car for you, keep in mind that Honda is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives. You can learn more about this discount on our 2021 Honda Insight Canada Prices page, which also provides comparative trim pricing, plus the ability to build the car with all available options. While you’re there, be sure to check out how the CarCostCanada system works, so you can utilize dealer invoice pricing to save even more when negotiating your best deal, plus download the free CarCostCanada app so you can have all of this valuable information on-hand when you need it most, whether at a Honda dealership pushing for a more agreeable Insight price, or walking across the street to a Toyota or Hyundai dealer in order to check out their electrified Corolla and Elantra offerings.
It shouldn’t be a shock that Porsche once again earned highest honours amongst luxury brands in J.D. Power 2021 Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. This is the second time in three years the Stuttgart-based automaker took top spot amongst its premium competitors, and this only a month since winning “most trouble-free new car overall” status for its 911 sports car, in the same third-party analytics firm’s 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), the large owners survey resulting in Porsche’s Macan (top photo) achieving the highest podium for its “Premium Compact SUV” category.
“Our dealers worked hard for our customers throughout the initial lockdowns of the past year and subsequent social distancing and health measures to make sure they could rely on Porsche,” stated Kjell Gruner, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA). “We are continually striving to not just meet, but exceed the high expectations of our customers – and it’s vital that the quality of service must live up to that vision.”
J.D. Power’s CSI Study measures “customer satisfaction with service for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 3-year-old vehicles,” states a press release, with its latest data collection period being from July through December of 2020. Over 62,500 new vehicle owners responded to a survey, which allowed for a comprehensive list to pull results from.
Porsche received 17 more points over the 2000 CSI study, by the way, with the latest 2021 results combining for an 899-point total out of 1,000 possible points. The brand’s retail dealerships ranked in either 1st or 2nd place in each of the survey’s five classifications, which included Service Facility, Service Advisor, Service Initiation, Service Quality, and Vehicle Pick-Up.
Following any of the linked models to our Canada Prices pages shows that Porsche is currently offering each model with leasing and financing rates from zero percent, so check out each links to remind yourself what they look like, figure out trim and pricing details, plus configure the one you’re interested in with colours and options. Also, be sure to see how your CarCostCanada membership helps you access dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands when you’re negotiating your next deal, plus remember to download our free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, so you’ll have all of this important info when you need it most.
GM revealed the new Hummer EV pickup truck a mere six months ago, not to mention that it would be sold as a GMC, a forerunner to what everyone knew was coming next, a big, burly sport utility model. So, without further ado, say hello to the 2024 Hummer SUV.
America’s military SUV brand was last sold new to retail customers in 2010, after receiving a lot of negative criticism from environmentalists for being a gas guzzler. To be fair, the mid-size H2 and compact H3 weren’t any worse than many similarly sized SUVs and pickup trucks of the era, the two models actually based on Chevy/GMC’s Tahoe/Yukon and Colorado/Canyon respectively, which weren’t targeted by protesters, but either way the all-new Hummer EV shouldn’t suffer from any such negative feedback.
Hummer is still a well-respected name amongst many 4×4 enthusiasts, so pairing it up with an off-road capable zero-emissions electric powertrain seems to make sense for today’s market, while making sure its plug-in battery/motor combination is capable of blistering quick acceleration seems to suit the brand’s premium cachet as well.
GMC is touting a insanely fast 3.5-second sprint from standstill to 100 km/h, which has it tied with the otherworldly Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, that uses a seriously tuned Hemi V8 to make 707 horsepower, an impressive feat considering how large the new Hummer is.
How will this mix of stellar performance, off-road prowess and squeaky-clean emissions fare in the marketplace? If Tesla is anything to go by, and to be clear they’re an anomaly due to their cult-like following, green speed is a salable commodity amongst premium EV buyers, while newcomers like Rivian are getting a lot of traction in the truck and SUV market, so it certainly appears there’s space for a rebranded Hummer.
Tesla’s Cybertruck should appear in production trim soon, as will the just-noted Rivian (as an SUV too), plus plenty of others from newbie brands like Alpha, Bollinger, Canoo, Fisker, Hercules, Lordstown, and Nikola, while some of the mainstream contenders are coming to market with EV versions of their pickup trucks, including Ford with its F-150 EV, Chevrolet with its Chevrolet Silverado Electric Pickup, and Nissan with the Titan Electric Truck.
Just in case you forgot, Hummer previously dabbled in pickup trucks, with their H2- and H3-based H2T and H3T, but just like the new SUV, the brand’s new pickup will hit the market with an all-electric drivetrain. According to GMC, both production models will receive the same potent powertrains as shown in prototype form, with the truck’s top-tier “3X” power unit producing a mind-numbing 1,000 hp, which makes it good for zero to 100 km/h sprints of about 3 seconds. This is Corvette territory, incidentally, from a mammoth pickup that likely carries twice its mass before loading it up. Its lickety-split takeoff is partially due to 11,500 lb-ft of torque, this twist sourced from three individual motors.
That’s where the “3X” designation comes from, this carried over to the SUV as well, albeit with “only” 830 hp. Fortunately it boasts an identical 11,500 lb-ft of torque, while the mid-range “2X” powertrain features two electric motors for up to 625 hp and 740 lb-ft of torque, this version of the SUV good for 5-second zero to 100 km/h sprint times, which will likely be ample for the majority of customers. Finally, a base Hummer SUV, simply named EV2, will incorporate 400 volts of charging capability instead of the 2X and 3X version’s 800-volt/300kW systems.
“GMC’s HUMMER EV SUV offers an exceptional balance of on-road performance and off-road capability, enhanced by a unique structure that allows for our signature open-air experience,” stated Hummer EV chief engineer Al Oppenheiser in a press release. “New features debuting on the SUV reinforce its role as a tactical tool in almost any situation.”
Upon arriving in the fall of 2022 as a 2023 model, the truck will come in special “Edition 1” trim featuring its most formidable 3X performance setup, as will the SUV when it hits the market in early 2023. Those wanting a base SUV will need to wait until the spring of 2024, with other trims arriving in between.
As for the all-important question of range, GMC is claiming up to 482 kilometers for the SUV and about 560 km for the truck, the differentiator being four extra Ultium battery modules (24 compared to 20) stored within the latter model’s 3,444-mm long wheelbase (the SUV’s wheelbase measures 226 mm shorter at 3,218 mm). The downgraded base SUV, filled with just 16 modules, will be capable of about 400 km of range. Every new Hummer will incorporate GM’s new double-stacked battery pack, by the way, which is included as part of an interdependent body/battery structure that is said to enhance the vehicles’ rigidity.
“The HUMMER EV’s body protects the battery, while the battery supports the structure,” continued Oppenheiser. “That means the battery pack itself is a structural element, which enables a truly open-air experience and a rare combination of extreme off-road capability and smooth on-road performance in a body-frame integral platform.”
Despite the lengthy time to market, GM Canada has announced an entry price of $88,898 plus freight and fees for the 16-module base EV2, which is quite reasonable, but take note this will be the only Hummer SUV south of the six-figure mark. The 2X will be priced at $104,898, while 3X will start at $119,398. Lastly, an Edition 1 will cost early adopters $125,898, which isn’t bad considering the prices some competitors are charging for their street-only crossover SUVs.
This in mind, why not go all the way for an Edition 1 with its Extreme Off-Road package. It’ll only set you back $131,898, but adds a set of skid plates underneath that GMC dubs “armour”, as well as rock sliders, a front eLocker differential and a virtual locking one for the rear, HD ball-spline half-shafts, and 22-inch alloy wheels encircled by 35-inch-OD Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires. Last but hardly least, the upgrade includes front- and rear-facing UltraVision underbody cameras (including a wash system) to visually assist when overcoming trail clutter.
While impressive, we’re just scratching the surface of the new Hummer’s off-road technology. The new SUV also includes Crab Walk technology as standard equipment, which points all four wheels in the same direction for diagonal mobility thanks to a standard four-wheel steering system, while an air suspension with Extract Mode can increase the utility’s ground clearance up to 406 mm (16.0 inches) while driving, ideal for when traversing obstacles.
Those willing to scratch up their new Hummer EV’s paint will be happy to know it’s going to be one very capable SUV, due to an e4WD system that can power individual wheels, while its 330 mm (13 inches) of suspension travel, plus its ability to climb 60-percent grades when moving forward or reversing, as well as its capability of scaling 457 mm (18-inch) vertical obstacles, not to mention its willingness to ford more than 600 mm (2 ft) of water, should make it nearly unstoppable.
Those wanting yet more features can opt for a “multisensory, interactive experience” dubbed Watts To Freedom, which will fill the cabin with special sounds from the Bose audio system, as well as kinesthetic sensations via its haptic driver seat, plus visual stimulation from custom displays that portray the SUV’s performance mode as “armed and ready.” GMC’s My Mode lets you make the required personalization adjustments for this unique system, not to mention the ability to modulate its steering and suspension systems, throttle response, as well as the customization of engine sounds.
If you’d rather hear and feel air rushing over your head, an Infinity Roof, which includes removeable Sky Panels, comes standard.
Most should find the Hummer SUV’s five seats ample for their needs, while it should be practical enough for cargo as well. GMC says the powered side-swinging tailgate, which hangs a spare tire on its outer panel, is actually “wider than the vehicle itself” when open, with “an unimpeded 48-inch opening,” while owners will be able to stuff it full with 2,316 litres (81.8 cubic feet) of gear when the back seats are laid flat. What’s more, additional stowage space is hidden under the load floor, while another storage compartment can be found behind the cargo area’s side panel.
Width in mind, the new Hummer features a generously proportioned 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster ahead of the driver, which combines with an even larger 13.4-inch infotainment touchscreen to the right. Within the latter, an “In-vehicle Energy App” will monitor energy usage, plus can preschedule charging intervals, condition the battery temperature, and the list goes on.
Additional tech includes a Digital Key that allows owners to use their smartphone for wireless access and ignition, while an HD Surround Vision parking camera lets the driver see up to 14 vantage points. The aforementioned UltraVision underbody camera system provides up to 176 camera views, by the way, while a host of Off-Road Widgets deliver performance info to aid when off-roading, with driving scenarios like “ride height and eLocker engagement, compass headings, pitch/roll status,” etcetera.
Ever new Hummer EV model will be available with an updated version of GM’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driver assistance technology too, which provides hands-free driving on compatible highways. The enhanced system even features new automatic lane changing, ideal for those who might be initially intimidated by large vehicles, or just wanting a more relaxed drive home.
Finally, ultimate tech geeks (plus the do-it-yourself crowd and campers alike) can add an available Power Station generator, which provides 19.2 kW of AC charging/generator functionality for accessories (120V/25A/3kW), plus the ability to recharge other EVs (240V/25A/6kW).
GM will drop more detailed information closer to the Hummer SUV’s launch, when we’re hoping to see the SUV’s special Moonshot Green Matte exterior paint as an option within its configuration tool. Stay tuned…
As anyone who’s spent days at a time driving around in a mid-engine supercar will tell you, there’s more to a car than just being able to go fast. Hence the new age of four-door coupes, Porsche’s fully electric Taycan EV being the latest of such wonders to hit the road. Now, just as it did with its more conventionally-powered Panamera four-door coupe’s transition into the Sport Turismo, Porsche is introducing an extended sport wagon version of the Taycan to expand its practicality without detracting from its performance-oriented nature.
The new Taycan Cross Turismo is Porsche’s answer to Audi’s E-tron (or the new E-Tron Sportback), Jaguar’s I-Pace, and Tesla’s Model X, for the time being at least. No doubt, the Stuttgart-based firm will eventually reveal a purely electric SUV, but for now EV fans with more pragmatic leanings will need to settle for an elongated four-door coupe, not that opting for a Taycan Cross Turismo could ever be considered hardship.
By the numbers, the new Cross Turismo provides 793 litres (28.0 cu ft) of added cargo space for a new maximum of 1,200 litres (42.4 cu ft), which is a great leap forward from the regular Taycan’s 407-litre (14.4 cu-ft) trunk. This doesn’t include the Taycan’s 81-litre (2.8 cu-ft) “frunk” (front trunk) either, which is standard in both cars. If you still require more luggage capacity, Porsche has a bespoke roof-top cargo carrier on offer that’s capable of clinging in place up to 200 km/h.
Yes, the Cross Turismo is no different than the regular Taycan coupe when it comes to performance, with top track speeds varying from 220 to 250 km/h depending on trim. Both body styles feature identical 800-volt battery-electric plug-in power units, complete with a lithium-ion Performance Battery Plus good for 93.4 kWh of power, which makes the car capable of approximately 320 km of range before a recharge, depending on exterior temperatures conditions, road conditions, driving style, etcetera.
Especially helpful, up to 100 km of range is available after a mere five minutes of being hooked up to a DC fast charger, which should be enough for most people to top up and get on their way. Of course, if plugged into a regular 240-volt charging station it will take significantly more time to reach that level of range.
Charging times will also be reflective of the chosen Taycan model, as will the Cross Turismo’s zero to 100 km/h performance. The slowpoke of the litter is the base Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, which nevertheless zips past the 100 km/h mark in a rapid 5.1 seconds due to its 375-hp dual-motor electric power unit. An upgrade to the 4S Cross Turismo will chop an entire second off that standstill to 100 km/h sprint time, thanks to 482 hp flowing through to all four of its wheels.
Porsche oddly uses its “Turbo” nameplate for top-level Taycan trims, but even if those around chuckle at the thought of a turbocharged EV, you’ll be last to laugh as you blast past. To that end, the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo puts out a formidable 616 hp, resulting in just 3.3 seconds from naught to 100 km/h, whereas the even quicker Turbo S Cross Turismo provides 750 hp for an otherworldly 2.9-second run to 100 km/h, when launch control is employed.
Porsche provides all Taycan Cross Turismo models with the same chassis and adaptive suspension system, which is shared with the regular Taycan coupe, while all-wheel drive is standard to improve four-season capability. Better yet, Porsche includes a standard “Gravel Mode” too, this setting adjusting the model’s throttle response and chassis control to optimize adhesion to less than ideal road surfaces.
If you want even more off-road prowess, an optional Off-Road Design package raises the Cross Turismo’s ride height by 30 mm (1.2 in), plus provides more protection to paint surfaces that might otherwise get chipped without mud flaps. Additional rugged-looking upgrades give this EV more of a crossover look. s
Appearances in mind, the Cross Turismo is already tougher looking than a regular Taycan, thanks to SUV-style matte black body cladding circling the wheel cutouts, yet more along the rocker panels, and of course more rugged black stuff end-to-end, while the front and back bumper caps are further enhanced with stylish silver undertrays.
Deliveries of the new Taycan Cross Turismo will start this summer, so make sure to give your local Porsche retailer a call if you’d like to get your hands on one. Pricing begins at $119,900 for the entry-level Taycan Cross Turismo 4, and grows to $126,800 for the Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, $178,000 for the Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo, and lastly $218,000 for the top-tier Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo S.
Notably, the Cross Turismo’s base power unit is not available in the regular Taycan coupe, which is why this crossover-wagon variant is a bit more affordable. Specifically, the 2021 Taycan 4S can be had for $120,500, but it incorporates the Cross Turismo’s stronger 4S power unit. Therefore, a direct price comparison should be made against the $126,800 Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, which requires $6,300 more than the four-door coupe variant. Even better, Cross Turismo Turbo and Turbo S trims only cost $3,000 more than their regular Taycan equivalents.