2019 Mercedes AMG C 43 Wagon – Automotive Review

2019 Mercedes AMG C 43 Wagon – Automotive Review

A Canadian treat, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC, is an unexpected solution for those who are looking for the space and room provided by an SUV but want the feel and performance of a sporty car

Overview/Summary

Honestly, at first, I was a little hesitant while picking up this car. It brought back memories of my Dad’s ugly old Ford Taurus; the backward-facing bench seat allowed my brother and myself to make faces at the vehicles behind us. However, that hesitant feeling vanished because the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC looks nothing like that old car. Mercedes-AMG as always has produced a very sleek and sophisticated vehicle, from the sweeping exterior lines to the premium look and feel of the interior.

After packing all the gear required for a weekend away at the lake, I was then entirely sold on the idea of a wagon. Unlike many of the smaller SUV’s and Crossover’s we’ve tested lately, everything just seemed to fit, and when taking an eight month old little girl camping… I mean everything. While it may have been packed full everyone still was comfortable on the long trip out to Port Alberni from the mainland.

It wasn’t only the space that had me sold; it was the drive. Just like it’s smaller brother the C43 sedan, the vehicle was just a pleasure to drive. The snapping and crackling exhaust notes found in the Sport+, mode could always put a smile on my face. With AMG tuning the 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo engine to have a whopping 385hp, the wagon can shoot down the road with almost criminal ease.  While the 69% rear axle torque bias, and low center of gravity, kept that classic racecar feel. Keep in mind depending on the era, the muscle available in the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C 43 could easily have been in an actual race car. As for the first time in 1986, AMG implanted the 5.0-liter V8 into an E-class coupe, which received worldwide fame under the nickname “The Hammer.” As per this 1986 Car and Driver review,

“The Hammer we tested leaped from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds flat. It hurtled through the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds at 107 mph. And it pounded down a long, flat straightaway to a top speed of 178 mph. Like the Corvette, the 911 Turbo, the Testarossa, and the Countach, the Hammer covers ground so quickly that you swear you can feel the earth’s curvature racing to meet you.”

Boy, it sure is crazy to see how far things have come… With a starting MSRP of $59,990 CND, this wagon available exclusively in Canada, while still expensive, when you compare it to the rest of Mercedes lineup or a luxury SUV it is actually quite reasonable.

  • (+) – Really fun and responsive to drive, but still has room for the whole family
  • (-) – In Sport/Sport+ mode, sometimes when accelerating hard from a stop and then easing off of the gas can cause the computer to shift like a 16-year-old learning a manual transmission for the first time

Highlights

  • Exclusive to Canada in the North American Market
  • 385-hp bi-turbo V6 with a nine-speed quick-shifting transmission
  • 4MATIC all-wheel drive with a 31:69 base front/rear torque split
  • 7-inch high-resolution central display
  • Cargo Capacity of 460L behind back seats and up to 1480L with back seats folded

Comparisons

  • Volvo V90 Cross Country
    • MSRP $62,500 CAD
    • 316 hp @ 5,700 rpm; 295 lb.-ft. @ 2,200 – 5,400 rpm
    • Cargo Capacity 1,953L
    • Combined Fuel Efficiency 10.0L/100 km
  • Audi A4 allroad Quattro 45 TFSI Technik S tronic
    • MSRP $57,300 CND
    • 248 hp @ 5000 – 6000 rpm; 273 lb-ft @ 1600 – 4500 rpm
    • Cargo Capacity 1510L
  • BMW 330i xDrive Touring
    • MSRP $48,900 CAD
    • 241 hp @ 5,000 rpm; 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 – 4,800
    • Cargo Capacity 1500L
    • Combined Fuel Efficiency 8.9L/100 km

Recommended Options

  • AMG Driver’s Package $2000 CND
  • Intelligent Drive Package $2700 CND
  • AMG Head-Up Display
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Automotive Reviews Car

2019 Ford Fusion Energi – Roadtrip

2019 Ford Fusion Energi – Roadtrip

After taking the 2019 Ford Fusion - Energi on an extended road trip around BC. Our conclusion; Ford is providing some much needed relief at the pump

The new Fusion Energi is projected to offer an electric-only range of 40 km, which is an almost 20% improvement on previous generations. Ford’s engineers have accomplished what all our bosses regularly ask of us; do more with less, in the form of a new 9.0-kilowatt-hour battery with higher energy capacity, and no change to the physical size of the cell.

With the highway robbery that happens at a gas station these days, it’s great to see manufacturers offering more fuel-efficient technologies. The week we had the new Ford Fusion Energi coincided with the unaffordable $1.60+ a litre gas prices in Metro Vancouver. So, we decided to put this car through the paces and take it on an extended road trip to put the fuel savings to the test. In our previous experiences, we have found that the PHEV, fits more closely with our lifestyle, as we often must use the vehicle beyond the capabilities provided by an all-electric car. (Unless you have access to the proper charging infrastructure) 

With the 20-degree weather, we had this spring; it was a perfect time to do an extended trip up the Fraser Canyon. Leaving the house with the sunrise, we left the valley and headed out to Hope. Here in the shadows of the mountains, we filled up the car and our stomachs to get ready for our little adventure. Driving north through the canyon is a sight that is quite amazing, with steep vertical mountain cliffs, twisting highways with dark tunnels, and lush wet green forests; you see the BC that I picture in my head.

Upon leaving the canyon, you exit the Trans-Canada and turn off on to the Cariboo highway leaving the mountains behind as the landscape slowly turns to the rolling pasture land for the cowboys. Much of this highway follows the route of the original Cariboo Wagon Road, which in the early 1800s was a critical part of BC’s gold rush history. There were many neat little historic markers dotted between the small rustic farming and logging communities. A sad thought throughout the trip was seeing the devastation caused by the recent terrible wildfire years.  There were many times where on one side of the highway was a green forest, and out the opposite window, the view was kilometers and kilometers of charred stumps with not much else.

Our first day ended in Williams Lake, which presented us with one of our most surprising insights of the trip. But to get that I should first start with, a few months ago, we were visited by some family from Saskatchewan. They loved seeing so many electric cars driving around Vancouver, but lament the fact that without the proper infrastructure, they couldn’t see many people in their community adopting to them anytime soon. When they said this, I agreed and thought that made sense, however now after this trip; I think I might disagree! Most Canadian cities provide access to power for their block heaters! When we parked at our hotel in Williams Lake, we were surprised to see each stall had a wooden post with 120v power access. Now while it won’t solve all the world’s problems at once, this does seem like something that might actually give those more electric resistant places a leg up in terms of charging infrastructure. The power required to start your cloud spewing diesel truck in the dead of winter, might also just help speed up the adoption of a greener alternative. In our situation, it provided us with a free 40kms! (one full charge of the Ford Fusion Energi).

After another day on the road and a night in Quesnel, we were on our way home. Having never driven the 99 through Lillooet, we decided to take the scenic route and turned west just before Cache Creek. Boy were we happy that we did that, Highway 99, must be one of the most beautiful drives in BC. I thought the canyon was stunning but, on the way home we were pulling over what felt like every 30 minutes to try and take in the breathtaking view. The twisting mountain pass must have also been one of the quietest, as we must have only seen a dozen vehicles as we drove through the emptiness between Lillooet and Pemberton. The only thing we regretted about the detour (and we did regret it at the time,) was after a late lunch in Whistler; we arrived in North Vancouver just in time for the horrible Friday rush hour traffic.

After all, was said and done, we had spent almost 24 hours and drove nearly 1500 km’s in the Ford Fusion. Having carefully tracked our fuel receipts, we calculated that we spent only $150 on the gas for the entire trip, stopping in 100-mile House both ways.  The onboard computer gave us a trip average of 5.7l/100km, which was pretty impressive real-world numbers.

Lineup

  • Fusion SE
    • Starting at $24,090
    • 1.5-litre EcoBoost
    • 10/7L/100km
  • Hybrid SE
    • Starting at $29,695
    • 2.0-litre 188hp Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder
    • 5.5/5.6L/100km
  • Hybrid SEL
    • Starting at $30,890
    • 2.0-litre 188hp Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder
    • 5.5/5.6L/100km
  • Energi SEL
    • Starting at $32,590
    • Electric-only range of 40 km
    • 2.3/2.2L/100km
  • Hybrid Titanium
    • Starting at $34,540
    • 2.0-litre 188hp Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder
    • 5.5/5.6L/100km
  • Energi Titanium
    • Starting at $35,590
    • Electric-only range of 40 km
    • 2.3/2.2L/100km

Key Features

  • Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology
  • Standard 17” Aluminum rims, with available 18
  • Electric power-assisted steering (EPAS)
  • SiriusXM® Radio with Traffic and Travel Link®
  • SYNC® 3 with 8-in. LCD touchscreen and Apple CarPlay™/Android Auto™
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Automotive Reviews Experiences

2019 Mazda CX-5 – Automotive Review

2019 Mazda CX-5 – Automotive Review

"From a simple commute to an epic road trip, experiences are formed, and memories are made. Mazda vehicles are more than a mode of transportation"

Granted the opportunity to test the Mazda CX-5 for an extended period, I felt it was the perfect time to put the constant praise to the test. Having now experienced the CX-5 for over 1000 km’s and almost a month of driving in different conditions, I can say that this compact crossover lives up to the hype.

As one of Mazda’s best-selling vehicle, with over 2 million units sold worldwide this vehicle is widely acclaimed including being one of the top 3 finalists for World Car of the Year. Having driven it thoroughly now, I can see why. Mazda had built a car that works, from the highway to city, snow to sand, the CX-5 drives with excitement and style. The high-quality materials mixed with the latest in technology and safety, leaves few things that one could say are missing.

Highlights

  • Great drive, full of the latest conveniences, fuel efficient, all around great value

Lowlights

  • Coffee cup was right near my sleeve! When loaded up with a large baby car seat and a bulky stroller didn’t leave much room for anything else

What’s New

Most significant change in the 2019 CX-5, is the new Signature level trim which features a turbocharged 2.5L SKYACTIV-G engine, and all the premium technology and materials that enhance the driving experience. Also noted that the G-Vectoring drive system, Apple CarPlay™, and Android Auto™ infotainment is now standard on all trim lines.

Comparison

  • Toyota RAV4 Starting From $27,990
  • Honda CR-V Starting From $27,490
  • Ford Escape Starting From $25,899

Options

  • Mazda CX-5 GX FWD – $27,850 AWD – $29,850
  • Mazda CX-5 GS FWD – $30,750 AWD – $32,750
  • Mazda CX-5 GT AWD – $37,450
  • Mazda CX-5 GT Turbo AWD – $39,450
  • Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD – $40,950

Driving

The CX-5 fully loaded with all the bells and whistles, was a pleasure in every environment; and we mean every environment. We took the CX-5 to the ocean, up mountains, through desert, and snow… from our daily commute to an extended road trip, this vehicle surely delivers. With Mazda’s six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission, mated to the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T, (which is also found in the CX-9 and the Mazda6), produces 310lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 RPM and up to 250hp.  Currently, Mazda is the only automaker to offer cylinder-deactivation on a 4-cylinder engine, which further improves its efficiency at low cruising speeds. Finally, the G-Vectoring Control Plus helps work in the background to change variables to ensure a smoother ride for everyone on board.

Styling

The new Signature trim takes an already refined CX-5 and intensifies the sophistication even further. With the use of materials like Napa leather and genuine wood, you feel like you could be in an SUV that is easily twice the sticker price. With the available 19-inch alloy wheels, and a wide front grill with large badging the Mazda CX-5 not only can get you anywhere, but it does also so dressed for all occasions.

Tech and Safety

With the package of safety features found in the Mazda i-Activsense technology, the CX-5 helps provide confidence, and assistance to the driver while they are operating the vehicle. The technology like voice command, a vibrating steering wheel when leaving your lane, and a Heads up Display with your speed and the posted speed limit shown on the road ahead of you, helping to minimize distracted driving by providing clear alerts and information to the driver to ensure a safer trip. Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™, and the ten speaker BOSE surround sound system helps to provide all the entertainment needed on any journey you are headed.

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Automotive Reviews

2018 Dodge Durango SRT – Automotive Review

2018 Dodge Durango SRT – Automotive Review

The all-new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is one mean, stuff moving machine. The SRT Durango is the fastest, most powerful three-row SUV. Using Dodge’s tested and proven HEMI V-8 provides this SUV with 475 hp and best-in-class towing capability of 8,700 pounds.

This is one beautiful SUV, where everything is functional and highly refined. With the wide rectangular front grill and LED headlamps, and the full-width tail lamp, the classic Dodge Detroit muscle car styling can be found everywhere on the Durango. The SRT takes this styling even further with large 15” red Brembo performance brakes, 20” gloss black rims on Pirelli 295/45ZR20 Scorpion Verde’s, and a widebody exterior with a hood featuring a functional cold-air duct and heat extractors.

“This is what you get when you take everything great about the Durango and combine it with the performance of the Charger SRT: a 12-second quarter mile, 8,700-pound-toy hauling, three-row muscle car.”

-Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT – FCA N.A.

The SRT badge is positioned as the ultimate in performance of the Dodge brand, and the SRT Durango lives up to the expectations. Featuring the time-tested and well received, 6.4L 392-cubic-inch HEMI V-8, delivering in this situation 475 horsepower with 470 lb.-ft. of torque and an impressive NHRA certified 4.4-second 0-60 mph time. Possible when combined with technology like the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, and track Mode providing 160-millisecond shifts and up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels for the most pronounced rear-wheel-drive experience. Even the exhaust is tuned to offer an unmistakably deep, high-performance Dodge SRT exhaust note modeled after the Dodge Charger SRT. While to make things more rational there is the Fuel Saver Technology with cylinder-deactivation seamlessly alternates between smooth, high-fuel-economy four-cylinder mode and the track inspired V-8 when demanded.

The impressive styling and quality are continued on throughout the interior, with Durango SRT featuring heated and ventilated second-row captain’s chairs for six-passenger seating. Large families will find the captain’s chairs with pass through especially helpful as multiple car seats can be latched into each of the second-row seats, and there’s still easy pass-through for passengers to access the third row. Keeping the minions entertained and quiet is easy with the class-exclusive Blu-ray video rear entertainment system. On the back of front headrest is an HD 9” screen. With the provided inputs for HDMI or RCA, passengers can watch their media or play their gaming systems independently on each screen. Parents will be extra thankful of the included wireless headphones and remote. The specific SRT styling can be found in the interior via the carbon fiber trim, the flat-bottom performance steering wheel with paddle shifters, premium SRT embroidered velour-bound floor mats, and suede-wrapped headliner and A-pillars.

Of course, while the Durango is styled like a muscle car this machine still has all the safety and tech that consumers require these days for peace of mind while transporting their families around safely and conveniently. With things like lane departure, parking assist, and stability control you know that there is support and systems in place that will help you while you undertake the critical role of a taxi driver for your passengers. In total there are over 60 available safety and security features that combined with Dodge’s 3 and 5-year warranty and 24hr roadside assistant will provide you with the peace of mind you deserve.

Key Features:

  • Dodge Durango SRT starting at $68,845 CND
  • 6.4L 392-cubic-inch HEMI V-8
    • 475 horsepower with 470 lb.-ft. of torque
    • 12.2L/100Km Hwy, 18.3L/100Km City, 15.6L/100Km Combined
  • 7-inch full-colour customizable in-cluster display centre
  • 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect® 4C NAV multimedia centre
    • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • 506 Watt Beats audio system
  • 3 Year / 60,000km Basic Warranty
  • 5 Year / 100,000km Powertrain Limited Warranty
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Automotive Reviews

2018 Lexus IS 350 – Automotive Review

2018 Lexus IS 350 – Automotive Review

The 2018 Lexus IS 350 is a perfect example of Lexus’s commitment to today’s newest generation of luxury buyers. Already a strong player in the entry luxury segment, the IS 350 offers drivers a balance of power and handling with a more unique and eccentric Japanese styling. Aggressive lines and angles that stand out from the more common and traditional European luxury sedans.

The IS lineup is produced in the Tahara Toyota Motor plant, which is one of the most computerized and robotized automotive plants in the world. The plant is spread out over four million square meters, and it even has direct port access for more efficient international shipping. The Lexus brand represents the pinnacle of the already well-respected Toyota brand, with track like performance added to the top of the line quality and reliability expected from the company often quoted as the inventor of many of today’s manufacturing processes and standards.

Test driving the Lexus IS 350, was quite enjoyable. It was exciting and responsive which helped bring some joy to what is normally a dreary commute. Our car came with the F Sport package, which included some further refinement in styling such as the dark mesh front grill and larger and more functional brake cooling ducts. The interior was also heightened with some sportier vented and heated front seats, a 3-spoke steering wheel, and fancy aluminum brake and gas pedals. The 10.3 display is controlled by the annoying Lexus Remote Touch input, while the haptic feedback was nice, I found myself continually overshooting the chosen icon and having to fiddle with it more than I would have liked too. The available 15-speaker Mark Levinson® Surround Sound Audio system provided home theater like quality, and the IS 350 includes all the features expected from a luxury sedan. The F Sport package also included some performance features like Sport S/S+ modes providing faster gear changes, with reduced body roll through Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) damping the force of the shock absorbers.

The Lexus IS 350 is powered by a 3.5L V6 producing 311 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The AWD models use a six-speed automatic transmission where the RWD model uses an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission. While this is plenty of power for the average daily drive, at this price point on paper the IS 350 does fall behind some of its direct competitors. 

Competition – Entry Level Performance Luxury (50-60k)

  • INFINITI Q50 Red Sport 400
    • Producing 400-hp from a 3.0-litre V6 capable of doing 0-100km/hr in 4.5sec
  • BMW 340i xDrive
    • Producing 320hp from a 3.0-litre V6 capable of doing 0-100km/hr in 4.9sec
  • Cadillac ATS Premium Luxury
    • With a 3.6L V6 335 hp engine capable of doing 0-100km/hr in 5.6 sec

Key Features:

  • Starting from $53,100 CND
  • 3.5L V6 with 311hp and 277lb-ft
  • 12.3/9.1/10.9 city hwy combined
  • Lexus Safety System Plus+
  • Heated and Air-Conditioned Front Sport Seats
  • Dimensions
    • Height 1430mm.
    • Length 4680mm.
    • Width 1810mm.
    • Gross Vehicle Weight 2125 Kg.
    • Cargo Capacity 306L.
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