Buying used: 2011 Mercedes GLK 350 for the young at heart

This is primarily an upscale compact luxury SUV, with modern conveniences galore

Buying used: 2011 Mercedes GLK 350 for the young at heartThe compact Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 was introduced in 2010 and designed with younger customers in mind. According to the company, the SUV was aimed at brand-conscious young professionals with an active lifestyle, plus up-and-coming female buyers. There are few, if any, differences between the 2010 and 2011 models. It featured a 3.5-litre V6 engine that…

Buying used: 2011 Nissan Murano upgraded and overhauled

This more mainstream-looking SUV bore some resemblance to its chief rival, the Acura RDX

Buying used: 2011 Nissan Murano upgraded and overhauledBuilt on Nissan’s revamped D platform (the same as the Altima sedan and coupe), the Murano got a revamp in 2011 – a bit of body tweaking here and there, some drivetrain upgrades, a new interior design and a new front grille, among other things. Nissan stylists overhauled the wheel arches and cleaned up the…

2021 Toyota C-HR passes (almost) every test

The C-HR is practical and easy to get along with – except for the CVT, which is its undoing

2021 Toyota C-HR passes (almost) every testIf you’ve ever driven in southern British Columbia, chances are you’ve spent some time on the Coquihalla Hwy, also known as Hwy 5. Constructed to coincide with Expo 86 in Vancouver, it’s a spectacular stretch of road, soaring over the coastal mountain range from Hope to Kamloops, with Hwy 97C branching off at Merritt, taking…

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 offers luxury and performance

This is a lively, stable and road-hungry compact SUV that will surprise you with its prowess

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 offers luxury and performanceIf you have any doubt about the dominance of SUVs in today’s market, look no further than Mercedes-Benz – by my count, they have no less than nine distinct models for your consideration in the 2021 model year. That includes everything from the “entry-level” GLA to the Maybach GLS at just shy of $200,000. For…

Tuning out the Mazda CX-5 because of a stubborn radio

Performance is excellent. Lively acceleration, smooth power delivery and whisper-quiet in operation

Tuning out the Mazda CX-5 because of a stubborn radioI want to congratulate Mazda for fitting their 2021 CX-5 compact SUV with the most unco-operative stereo system I’ve encountered in 35 years of testing automobiles. It’s so difficult to access and use it might as well not be there. I couldn’t figure out how to change stations without having to consult the owner’s manual…

Genesis GV80 has all the ingredients for the upscale SUV market

The GV80 is a mid-size SUV that feels full size

Genesis GV80 has all the ingredients for the upscale SUV marketAs an automobile manufacturer (they also make everything from deepsea freighters to power tools), Hyundai has had its share of ups and downs. The car that launched the company in North America – the Pony – was popular but deeply flawed. Subsequent offerings – Excel, first-generation Sonata, etc. – sold well enough but often developed…

Nissan Kicks a comfortable, serviceable urban runaround

The Kicks, despite its odd moniker, is actually a decent little SUV

Nissan Kicks a comfortable, serviceable urban runaroundOf all the car manufacturers, Nissan seems to display the most imagination when it comes to naming its products. Who can forget the Qashqai, Juke, Armada and, going back, the Fairlady and Pulsar. They also had a model in Japan called the Leopard J. Furie, not to mention the Big Thumb delivery truck. More recently,…

Buying used: 2011 Lexus GX 460 still top of the class

Plenty of power, almost completely silent and no worse on gas than most of the competition

Buying used: 2011 Lexus GX 460 still top of the classKissing cousin to the 4Runner, the Lexus GX 460 is the upscale version of Toyota’s popular SUV. It has a body-on-frame design and more stuff and a higher price tag, but features the same basic body style, wheelbase, seating capacity and driving experience. In 2011, it was powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine that delivered…

Revived Ford Bronco is worth celebrating

It’s faithful to the original idea behind SUVs

Revived Ford Bronco is worth celebratingIn the world of SUVs, size definitely matters. Some manufacturers, such as Ford, General Motors and others, believe that the bigger the SUV, the better. And many buyers agree. This explains the presence of models like the Escalade, Suburban, Explorer and so on. On the other hand, sport cutes are simply too small for some…

2021 Infiniti QX80 is an SUV I actually like

Offers style, comfort and performance

2021 Infiniti QX80 is an SUV I actually likeI’ve never really fully understood the SUV market. It seems to me that, most of the time, SUVs don’t really excel at anything. They don’t function as well as minivans when it comes to people-carrying or schlepping stuff around; they aren’t usually as comfortable or accessible as a conventional sedan or hatchback; nor do they…

Buying used: six-cylinder 2011 Chevrolet Equinox a better bet

Consumer Reports gave the V6 version an average used car prediction, while the four-cylinder models are worse than average

Buying used: six-cylinder 2011 Chevrolet Equinox a better betThe Chevrolet Equinox was the first model out of the gate after General Motors’ corporate shuffle in 2009. Made in Ingersoll, Ont., it replaced the Suzuki-built Tracker and was essentially a carryover for GM in 2011. It could be had with two engine choices: GM’s ubiquitous 2.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder or a 3.0-litre V6. A six-speed…

Buying used: 2011 Ford Explorer a people mover with frills

This Explorer was aimed more at soccer moms than off-road rock-hoppers, and was still the quintessential suburban grocery-getter

Buying used: 2011 Ford Explorer a people mover with frillsDebuting in mid-2010, the 2011 Ford Explorer signalled a new direction for Ford’s most popular SUV. From here on in, fuel economy would trump performance. Power was delivered by either a Triton V6 that displaced 3.5 litres and developed 290 horsepower, or a 2.0-litre turbocharged Eco-Boost four-cylinder engine that came later in the model year.…

Land Rover Defender utilitarian, retro and capable

The 2021 version conveys a sense of ruggedness and capability that sets it apart from most other Rover products

Land Rover Defender utilitarian, retro and capableIn one of my favourite movies – The Gods Must Be Crazy – a hapless protagonist inadvertently winches his old Land Rover to a massive tree branch and immediately forgets about it. When he remembers what he’s done, the trusty Rover has winched itself off the ground and is hanging in the air like some…

New Nissan Rogue built for hockey moms

The 2021 version is a mainstream, garden-variety compact SUV and, all things considered, that’s a good thing

New Nissan Rogue built for hockey momsCar manufacturers have always had an interesting time when it comes to naming their products. Over the years, they’ve given us monikers such as Gremlin, Judge, Duster and, way back when, the Utopian Turtletop – although, in fairness, Ford didn’t choose this last one when unveiling the new 1958 Edsel but they thought about  it.…

Buying used: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep’s flagship SUV received a major overhaul in 2011 that included new body style, new V6 engine, interior makeover and more

Buying used: 2011 Jeep Grand CherokeeNeed a pre-owned winter vehicle? How about a Jeep? Jeep’s flagship SUV, the Grand Cherokee, received a major overhaul in 2011. That included a new body style, a new V6 engine, interior makeover and revised four-wheel-drive system. Although it was no longer available with the Mercedes six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, a new Pentastar V6 apparently gave…

RAV4 Hybrid offers plenty for 2021

The 2021 version of this SUV is comfortable, driveable, reasonably roomy, thrifty and, with Toyota’s proven hybrid system, reliable

RAV4 Hybrid offers plenty for 2021Back when they were first conceived some 70 years ago, the idea behind sport utility vehicles was to provide practical, usable transportation that could move things and people around with a modicum of comfort. Clearly it was a good idea on the part of car manufacturers. SUVs have almost replaced the conventional four-door sedan as…

Small irritants combine to spoil Infiniti QX50

This mid-size SUV spoils the driving experience with too many convenience features that only serve to irritate – and bump up the price

Small irritants combine to spoil Infiniti QX50The well-known phrase “leave well enough alone” is something carmakers should take to heart. We could throw in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” while we’re at it. But either way, it seems automobile manufacturers are incorporating more and more features and designs of questionable value – or no value at all – into…

Mazda CX-3 nimble and versatile

This sport cute may be a little shy on power but it’s a pleasure to drive as an urban runabout

Mazda CX-3 nimble and versatileFor the first time in a long while, I went to a social event last week. Just a few people getting together to play a little music and socially un-distance for a while. It was all COVID-19-proof, of course, and a good time was had by all. But what struck me as I pulled up…

Slow but sure, RAV4 Hybrid fills a need

As you would expect from any Toyota, the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid is very driver-accessible and immensely driveable

Slow but sure, RAV4 Hybrid fills a needHybrid engineering, once thought to be bridge technology, is stronger than ever. Sometimes it seems every other vehicle on the road is a hybrid of some kind. And this includes SUVS – virtually all the major carmakers have something on offer. Volvo XC90, Mitsubishi Outlander, Hyundai Kona, Ford Escape, Subaru Crosstrek and others are available…

Hyundai Palisade makes no wrong turns

The 2020 version does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s comfortable, roomy, powerful, easy to drive and pleasant to look at

Hyundai Palisade makes no wrong turnsSometimes, going with the flow is the best course of action. Not making waves, being consistent and taking your cues from those around you. That strategy has certainly served Hyundai well over the years. Going right back to the 1980s-era Pony, the South Korean company has kept a sharp eye on industry front-runners and built…

Mercedes GLS 450 is big, bold and pricey

The 2020 version of this SUV has plenty of prestige and presence, but it's not perfect

Mercedes GLS 450 is big, bold and priceyIs bigger better? Mercedes-Benz has always thought so. If you’re talking bigger performance, bigger presence, bigger luxury and, yes, bigger price tag, Mercedes has always risen to the challenge. This applies in spades to the company’s full-size SUV line. These are big automobiles and the 2020 GLS 450 is right near the top of the…

Honda’s 2020 CR-V maintains strong tradition

It’s a state-of-the-art compact sport utility vehicle that stands at the head of the class in almost every department. You just need to overlook the transmission

Honda’s 2020 CR-V maintains strong traditionThe qualities that have made the CR-V such a winner – driver-friendliness, usability, thrift and driveability – are still very much in evidence in the newest iteration of this Honda mainstay. I spent some time with the 2020 CR-V and liked just about everything about it. Available in five trim levels, with front- or all-wheel…

Toyota RAV4 is still worth raving about

Toyota has mastered the art of building appealing, mainstream automobiles and the 2019 RAV4 carries on that tradition

Toyota RAV4 is still worth raving aboutFirst, let’s talk about the paint job on my test RAV4. Toyota is calling it Blue Flame With Ice Edge. I call it taxi cab meets corporate fleet vehicle and it’s, well, distinctive. Taste is personal, of course, but of the infinite number of paint choices the company could have picked, why this particular eyesore?…

Strip away the mod cons and GM’s Terrain could be the perfect vehicle

The Terrain is chock-a-block with safety and modern convenience features that push the price tag to just under 50 grand

Strip away the mod cons and GM’s Terrain could be the perfect vehicleApparently, the first true SUV was the Jeep Wagoneer, introduced in 1963 ... but, depending who you talk to, the Sport Utility Vehicle – SUV – as we know it was actually conceived at General Motors, which introduced the pickup truck-based Chev Carryall Suburban decades earlier, in 1935. Originally intended to be a workhorse –…

The 2019 Ford Expedition is big on features – and just plain big

Comfortable, stable, accommodating and roomy, it’s the state of the art for full-size SUVs

The 2019 Ford Expedition is big on features – and just plain bigWith the explosion in compact SUV popularity, it’s almost unusual to see an actual full-size model – the ones that got this whole ball rolling, like the Chevrolet Suburban or its direct competitor, the Ford Expedition. Introduced in 1997, the Expedition borrows heavily from the F-150 pickup truck platform, utilizing many mechanical components and similar…

Honda CR-V a treat to drive in almost every way

The unresponsive transmission takes a great deal of the joy out of this otherwise practical, pleasurable small SUV

Honda CR-V a treat to drive in almost every wayAlthough I drive 50 to 60 new cars a year, I still own a 1976 BMW 2002, a ’76 Triumph TR6 and the family schlepper: a 2002 Honda CR-V. The first two cars are my toys, pampered and driven in nice weather, and usually for short distances. The Honda is the workhorse, and is used…

Power plant sets Mazda CX-5 apart from competition

No one wants surprises in this market. The practical, well-thought-out model will win the race every time. This fits the bill

Power plant sets Mazda CX-5 apart from competitionIn a market absolutely saturated with utes, sport utes, sport cutes, and full-size beauts, what can a manufacturer do to make its product stand out in the crowd? In a word, nothing. At least, nothing drastic. This segment of the auto market is not about game-changing innovations (despite carmakers’ boasts to the contrary), revolutionary design…

Mazda CX-3 is a sport cute built for urban driving

It’s a little twitchy at highway speed but around town it’s nimble, easy to manoeuvre and simple to park

Mazda CX-3 is a sport cute built for urban drivingTake a look at what’s filling up the highways and byways these days and you’ll come to the inescapable conclusion that the day of the traditional family sedan is over. The four-door people carrier with a trunk that many of us grew up with seems to be going the way of whitewall tires, bell-bottom pants…

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a straightforward value

Mid-size SUV offers high standard equipment level, driver-friendliness and a high degree of usability

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a straightforward valueAlthough it sometimes seems that every other vehicle on the road is a Hyundai Santa Fe, this mid-size SUV from Korea is actually not even in the best-selling top 10. The best-selling SUVs in Canada are the likes of the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. According to the people who monitor these things,…

Buying used: 2011 Kia Sorento may not age well

It gets average grades for performance and features, but users have had a variety of problems

Buying used: 2011 Kia Sorento may not age wellKia had a landmark year in 2010. As well as dramatically increasing its sales and becoming a legitimate contender in the marketplace, it opened a manufacturing plant in the U.S. – West Point, Ga. The debuting model was the mid-size 2011 Sorento SUV. There are two engine choices: a 2.4-litre four cylinder and 3.5-litre V6,…