2019 Nissan Kicks

2019 Nissan Kicks – Automotive Review

2019 Nissan Kicks

2019 Nissan Kicks – Automotive Review

The Nissan Kicks is coming in hot with a fun and perky attitude.

With efficiency and affordability in mind, the Kicks will get you from point A to point B without hurting the bank. Compact size and responsive steering will get you in and out of the busy city with ease. It was hard to find anything negative to say about this car. From the moment you see this car to the moment you hit the lock button, you know precisely what this cars job is, and it does it well.

The boxy styling of the Kicks is adorable. The ground clearance is ample, and the ride is excellent. It’s a shame it isn’t available in all-wheel drive but given the fact that it isn’t the most powerful car, front-wheel drive suffices. Trunk space is more than convenient, and the headroom available is fantastic. From the outside the Kicks looks small, but when sitting in the driver seat you notice the space. Well done, Nissan. The Bose speakers in the headrest are the feature you never knew you needed. That being adding to the already great sound system, even the local radio station will sound premium. You won’t be getting the same novel-like list of safety features like the lane-keep assist, or the semi-autonomous steering that the Rogue or Qashqai offer but the around view monitor, blind-spot warning, ABS, and TCS will keep safe. Leather seats are comfortable, but the one complaint I have is the armrest. It’s a smidge too high, making you hike your shoulder into an unnatural position, for me at least. Making it adjustable, or even getting rid of it altogether and using a storage compartment as an armrest could do the 2020/2021 model some good.

Every 2019 Nissan Kicks comes standard with the 1.6-litre DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS). The engine is rated at 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. Combined with a smooth, fuel-efficient Xtronic transmission, fuel economy is anticipated at 33 mpg combined. The best way to describe this car is “Go-Kart with leather seats.”

The Kicks will not be your first choice for track day, but it can be your first choice when it comes to your daily drive. It’s cozy, it’s perky, it’s fun, and it’s affordable. Heated leather seats and an excellent sound system are great additions for anyone looking for value. Toss in a touch-screen infotainment system and a fun exterior color, and this is at the top of your list when searching for your next ride!

Model tested: $25,498

Models available: S, SV, SL

Fuel Economy combined: 33mpg

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Automotive Reviews Crossover

2018 Ford Ecosport – Automotive Review

2018 Ford Ecosport – Automotive Review

“Introducing the 2018 Ford EcoSport, a combination of no eco and zero sport.”

Seriously though, the 2018 Ford EcoSport is a complete head-scratcher. I don’t know who this vehicle is intended for. With engine options varying from lawnmower to large pressure washer, I was surprised at how fast my fuel tank seemed to disappear. Entirely I wasn’t even pleased with some of the design choices Ford went with. In the ever-expanding crossover market, Ford has missed the mark with the 2018 EcoSport.

Whether it’s the 123-horsepower 1.0L intercooled turbo or the 166-horsepower inline-four, the EcoSport struggled to keep up with traffic on higher density roadways. I often felt the need to have the peddle completely down to the floor, with the RPM’s maxing out, just to keep up with the flow of traffic while commuting up and down Highway 1.  The measly 123 hp featured in the standard Ecosport is significantly lower than its direct competitors such as the Toyota C-HR, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3, and Hyundai Kona, yet has a very similar fuel rating. As consumer desire for sub-compacts grows every calendar year; in 2018 Ford has failed to impress or stand out from the rest.

As you may not get there in a hurry, you will hopefully get there with ease. The suspension controls a great degree of the body weight around corners, and with a smaller wheelbase, this was a pleasant surprise. The steering response isn’t particularly as energetic as vehicles with the electric power steering, (which I almost expect from newer vehicles) but it’s also not sluggish either. Simply the EcoSport will go where you point it without any resistance.

Although this Ford model was introduced to North America in 2017; the EcoSport is not new. It is designed for South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. In terms of size, the EcoSport is the smallest of the bunch. While still having a seating capacity for five, the EcoSport is about half a foot shorter than most competitors and has a smaller wheelbase. We unfortunately tested the seating capacity, and as you can imagine it’s a tight fit for five full-grown occupants. The storage in the rear is decent for a sub-compact, as it has 20.9 cubic feet of available storage and another 30 additional cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. There was a complaint from everyone on our team that tested this vehicle, related to the design in opening the rear hatch. It’s pretty well hidden in the rear passenger-side taillight. Once found it looks like it’s was designed as a pull-latch, but it’s not, instead it’s a small sensor button. I kept trying to open the hatch pulling on the latch, but of course not getting a response until I felt the small little button. And judging by how loose the piece I was pulling on… I think many of the other journalists had the same problem.

Ford has always stayed with the Sync software in their infotainment system, and it’s no different in the EcoSport. With a touch 6.5-inch screen Sync3 with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and additional features like; power sunroof, automatic climate control, heated seating, push-button start, and rear-sensor parking assistance provided in the tested EcoSport SE at $27,599. Optional upgrades would be features like lane assistance, heated steering, 17-inch wheels, and a 1.5-inch increase in the touchscreen navigation are available. The base model S at $21,099 grants you the basic Sync, a backup camera, with rear-mounted spare tire capability at an additional cost. The Titanium starting at $27,599 is outrageous for what you are getting in my opinion. As the saying goes, “you get what you paid for” Ford is going against the grain with that saying. I recommend looking elsewhere at this premium price point, as all the competitors will be offering more hp with better fuel efficiency while providing more legroom.

Finally, common sense would tell you with a name that features synonym for economical that it would be in fact economical. Well, there is no common sense here. With a fuel economy rating of 8.6L/100km city and 8.1L/100km highway as per fords website. We tested this first hand by resetting the gauges based on how we drove. With a combination of highway driving and city travel, we had a rating of 10.6L/100km of actual fuel economy. For a 1.0L subcompact SUV these are terrible numbers, and fuel economy was obviously sacrificed due to the lack of power, but we weren’t purposely stepping on the gas to increase the consumption, it just happened to be the consequence of driving in BC traffic

Key features:

  • Starting at
    • $21,099 for the Ecosport S
    • $24,099 for the Ecosport SE
    • $27,599 for the Ecosport Titanium
    • $28,399 for the Ecosport SES
  • 1.0L EcoBoost® engine with Auto Start-Stop Technology
    • Est. L/100km 8.6 City / 8.1 Hwy
  • 2.0L Ti-VCT I-4 engine with optional Auto Start-Stop Technology
    • Est. L/100km 10.2 City / 8.0 Hwy
  • Front-wheel drive (FWD) with optional Intelligent 4WD System
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Available FordPass Connect™ Powered by FordPass™ in-vehicle WiFi
  • Capacity
    • Passenger volume 2580.9 L
    • Cargo volume behind first row 1414.9 L
    • Cargo volume behind second row 592 L
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Automotive Reviews

2018 Hyundai KONA – Automotive Review

2018 Hyundai KONA – Automotive Review

There’s a trembling brewing up from Hyundai’s core, spewing out like an eruption is the all-new 2018 KONA. This is Hyundai’s first global entry to the B-SUV segment and is the smallest crossover in Hyundai’s lineup, however, this little KONA sure packs a wallop.

“Get a friendly aloha from this Mecca to you…”

– Beach Boys Kona Coast

Hyundai chose some interesting styling compositions. The decision to mold clunky plastic fender flares looks bad in my opinion and I would have preferred a continuation of the body paneling to be over the wheel-well like a typical vehicle. I understand the decision to look different and new, but I feel it missed the mark. The wide front grille is appealing, and combined with the slim aggressive LED headlights, gives the KONA the look of eye squinting focus. The rear end starts to lose that appeal and looks messier and more disorganized compared to the tight sleek front. Below the rear taillights are additional lights with indicators located separately. With the addition of the bulky molded plastic, the rear end looks too busy and doesn’t really catch the eye in a good way.

However, that is where my complaints end as equipped with the 1.6L turbo GDI engine this KONA provides a fun and practical amount of power. Ideal for zipping around town, the KONA wasn’t as gutless as it’s opponent the Honda HR-V. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and it shifts very smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised with the drive overall, as the all-wheel-drive combined with the multi-link rear suspension performed firmly and responsively. It’s particularly less top heavy then the Kia Soul, providing more control through corners. Also available is a turbocharged 2.0-litre. Having an estimated zero to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds is almost 2.5 seconds slower than the 1.6L GDI but combined with no AWD saves you about $7000 CND.

The interior will not blow you away, but that is not Hyundai’s intention. It was a safe design, giving every it features its occupants will need and making available all the features many will want. Nothing looks clustered, or busy, it just looks standard and typical. The infotainment screen can be between seven to eight inches in size depending on chosen spec. The inclusion of Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto is great when in use. With so many options available on the KONA compared to the competition, ensure to choose things like the heads-up display or the wireless charging, which can be worthy and useful upgrades.

Up against the likes of the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, and the Mazda CX3; the fuel economy of the KONA is on par with the competition. With such small engines, it becomes hard to break out in this category. With that considered, showing that it’s close to identical in this category; this is an advantage for Hyundai. The KONA was a more pleasurable driving experience with the combination of swiftness and power without sacrificing fuel economy.

Overall, I was impressed with the Hyundai KONA. I can see a small family living in the city will find this vehicle ideal. It’s ability to keep up with traffic, being affordable, and under-sized for parking will delight its owner. With everything you need and want bundled into a small package at an affordable price point, it’s no wonder that these types of crossovers are an ever-growing in popularity amongst the public. I’ll say that I’m positive you will be seeing many KONA’s zipping around your city for sure.

Key Features:

  • 2018 KONA is Hyundai’s first global entry to the B-SUV segment
  • Starting from $20,999 CND
    • 0L four-cylinder engine
    • 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft. of torque.
    • 0L FWD City/Hwy/Combined 8.6/7.0/7.9
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Starting at $27,274
    • 6T GDI engine.
    • 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque
    • 6T AWD City/Hwy/Combined 9.0/8.0/8.6
  • BlueLink telematics service
    • Accessed from: buttons on the rear-view mirror, the web or via a smartphone app
    • features like Remote Start with Climate Control, Local Search powered by Google, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Find My Car and Enhanced Roadside Assistance
    • *included in the Ultimate trim and is activated for a 5-year term from the date of purchase.
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Automotive Reviews

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio – Automotive Review

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio – Automotive Review

Just as many were asking for an exotic and unique flair to the crossover class, Il solo e unico, the Godfather himself has granted their wish for Italian flair in the form of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio – “on this the day of his daughter’s wedding.” With a combination of slick styling and a formidable chassis, the Stelvio is all about producing comfortable drivability; every trip to the market will feel like an adventure through the foothills of Tuscany. Prego! I can smell it now, a hint of olive oil, some fresh baked pizza, a little parmigiana. Dannazione I am stopping for something to eat. Enzo park the car and wait for me here.

Named after one of the most infamous scenic roadway’s in the world (Italy’s Stelvio Pass), the Alfa Romeo Stelvio has both impressive standard features and exotic styling, which is sure to fulfill the appetites of these crossover starved North Americans. Built extensively with aluminum framing for weight and control, the Stelvio handles incredibly and vigorously. Assisting with the handling is the addition of the electric power steering. This is exceedingly helpful when parking or turning, allowing for minimal effort to be applied to the steering wheel.

The exterior is unique and unlike most other vehicles around. I have had conflicted opinions throughout my personal test drive and from others continuously offering to share their thoughts. I have had some that say it looks like a Mitsubishi rip-off; which I took as a negative comment to its credit. While others having said it looked original, foreign, and a was nice change from the similar looks to all the regular SUV’s you see everywhere. This is like being the new kid at school; some people aren’t going to trust an outsider, and can take some time to warm up. While others are going to be immediately intrigued by the novelty. I concluded that I do like the downward aggressive Bi-Xenon headlamps and uniquely shaped front grille. However I find the rear to be somewhat plain and boring, and the rear window from a functionality standpoint can be slightly difficult to see out of.

The interior is pretty standard and lacks pizzazz. For a country that produced Giorgio Armani, and Guccio Gucci, the mark was missed on some fashionable design to this interior. The seating was noticeably uncomfortable, and clearly didn’t take the average sized American into account. The side bolsters of the seat were so tight that a man built like Tony Soprano physically couldn’t fit, and he would have had to find the shmuck that designed it. The Stelvio has pride itself on being more spacious then other crossovers. With a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat configuration, the space opens to an impressive stretch of trunk capacity.

The impressive powerhouse is a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine that produces 280 horse power, 306 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 232 km/h when mated with the 8 speed automatic transmission. Fantastico!  Starting at $43,240 for a base model, the Stelvio is on the expensive side amongst it’s direct competitors. While that comes with some premium standard features like a leather interior, automatic power hatch, and Apple CarPlay to name a few; The Ti trim performance package includes paddle shifters, limited-slip differential, and sport-tuned adaptive suspension to enhance your driving experience.

Key Features:   

  • Starting at $43, 240
  • 2.0L turbocharged engine
  • 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque
  • 0-60 mph 5.4 sec.
  • 40/20/40 split-folding seat configuration
  • Fuel Economy L/100 km (city/hwy/combined) 10.8  / 8.3  / 9.6 
  • Maximum Cargo Volume – 1,600 Litres
  • Towing Capacity – 1,361 Kg.
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Automotive Reviews