2017 Canadian International Auto Show

Toronto, February 2017


Land Rover Discovery

The hotly anticipated fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery made its North American Debut in Toronto. The new Discovery has been redesigned around the all-aluminum structure first seen in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.  With a claimed weight reduction of 830 pounds, the new Disco will offer better on- and off-road manners, as well as improved fuel economy.

The smooth 340 horsepower, 332 lb-ft torque, 3.0-litre Jaguar V6 carries over from the LR4 as standard equipment.  Buyers can opt for the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 found in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which churns 258 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Range Rover claims an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, although I have observed 29 mpg in mixed driving and up to 40 mpg on extended highway trips in the 2016 Range Rover TD6 with the same motor. 

Inside, 5 passenger seating is standard on SE and HSE Models, with 7 passenger seating available. Top-spec HSE Luxury models have 7 passenger seating standard.  Both rows of rear seats are power-adjustable from switches in the cargo hold, or via a smartphone app. The feel is more upscale than the previous generation, feeling more like a Range Rover and less like the smaller Discovery Sport.

Towing capacity is just over 8,000lbs, and there's a trick new Advanced Tow Assist feature which can autonomously steer a trailer when backing up.  

The Land Rover Discovery will be available in North America this summer. 

Cadillac Escala Concept

Cadillac's Escala concept appeared once again on the auto show circuit, and this time I was able to get up-close and personal for better photos.  If Cadillac can bring this level of design and quality to a production car, they will finally be able to stake their claim as a real contender in the luxury market. 

More photos and info from the Detroit Auto Show are here.


hyundai Accent

Hyundai presented the world premiere of its new Accent subcompact in Toronto.  Canada is a strong market for Hyundai, so it's fitting that the South Korean brand would treat the Canadian audience to the CAIS' first worldwide introduction.  

The styling of the 2018 Accent is a handsome, if predictable, take on Hyundai's current design language.  It's underpinned by Hyundai's Superstructure platform, which makes use of high strength steel for a 32% improvement in chassis stiffness.  The standard powertrain is a 1.6 liter, 132hp four cylinder with 119 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. 

As more manufacturers jump ship from the subcompact category, Hyundai is upping the ante by offering the Accent with high end features like Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, autonomous emergency braking, and pushbutton start.

The Accent will be in dealers in the middle of 2017, with the Canada-only Accent 5-door arriving in the fourth quarter. 


Mercedes-AMG introduced Canada to it's top-end E-class model, the E63 S 4Matic+.  First shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in October, the E63 S packs a 4.0 liter, twin-turbocharged V8 with 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque.  All that power is applied to the pavement by the 4Matic+ all wheel drive system, which allows for completely variable power transfer between the front and rear wheels. 0-60mph happens in 3.3 seconds, on its way to an electronically limited 186 mph. 

The Edition 1 model is cloaked in Designo Night Black Magna satin finish paint, shod with matte black AMG 20" wheels, and features black nappa leather with yellow stitching inside. 

Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Wagon

Doctor's wives rejoice!  Mercedes Benz showed the latest E-Class wagon in Toronto.  The E400 features an available rear-facing jumpseat, perfect for carting the neighborhood kids and their friends home from fencing lessons. As in the E400 sedan, the wagon is powered by a 329hp V6 with 354lb-ft of torque. 

The wagon's sweeping roofline makes it look more natural and more stylish than the sedan, which seems to have been forced upright to allow for adequate headroom in the rear seat. Mercedes has announced that the E63 AMG version will be coming to North America this fall, meaning there's never been a better time to marry a cardiac surgeon.



Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupe

The VMotion 2.0 concept is Nissan's preview of their next Altima mid-sized sedan.  In a word, it's stunning.  The proportions, the stance, the detailing; they're flawless. As with many other concepts at this year's show, the VMotion 2.0 is built around autonomous technologies.  Nissan calls theirs "ProPilot", and the system features lighting in the grille and rear fascias that illuminates to indicate to motorists and pedestrians that the car is driving itself and there's no need to flip the bird at its occupants. 

The current Altima is the #6 best selling car in the US, despite the fact that it's flabby, dowdy, and depressing to drive. It's particularly uninspiring in base "S" trim, with it's undersized 16" steel wheels and miserable CVT.  If Nissan can successfully translate this gorgeous concept into an inspired production car, they may be able to chip away at the Honda Accord's 5th place position without putting so much cash on the hood in the showroom. 


Subaru Viziv-7 CONCEPT

The VIZIV-7 (short for Vision for Innovation, 7-passengers) presages the upcoming Subaru Ascent crossover.  Since giving the B9 Tribeca the axe in 2014, Subaru has sat out of the booming 3-row crossover market and focused on their existing Outback and Forester models.  That will change in early 2018 when the Ascent launches in North America. Look for the new model to have the familiar boxer 4- and 6- cylinder engines found in the Outback, driving all four wheels via Subaru's Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system.  

If you like the styling of this concept, don't get too excited.  Subaru has a history of showing exciting concept cars that show up on the road bearing almost no resemblance. If these spy photos are any indication, it will look like an enlarged Forester.  It's no bad thing as the Forester is a good looking vehicle, though I can't help but wonder why Subaru insists on castrating every concept on its way to production.   

Chrysler Portal CONCEPT

My, how time flies.  When you weren't looking, the millennial generation entered its thirties and started having kids. Shocking, I know! The Portal is presented as a fresh approach to family transportation; futuristic looking and packed with technology and entertainment. Chrysler says it was developed by an entirely millennial-aged team of designers.  The Portal was first shown at CES in Las Vegas, showing that Chrysler is hip to the fact that their target audience is more interested in mobile devices than in cars. 

As with most concepts this year, particularly the similarly targeted Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, the Portal is a semi- autonomous electric vehicle promising innovative packaging and improved usability over the current crop of electrics.  Its 100-kWh battery, which lives in the floor, is said to provide 250 miles of range on a full charge, with 150 miles of range available on just a 20-minute charge.  That's certain to help the industry conquer at the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread electric adoption: charging time.

The Portal features a massive touchscreen interface, and a zoned audio system which allows each passenger to listen to their own music selection without headphones.  Sensors in the interior use facial recognition to customize various entertainment and seating settings to each passenger's preferences. Voice biometrics are employed to allow you to shout to your Portal to open the doors when your hands are full. 

The squat, chunky styling, with front and rear sliding doors and is successful overall, if a bit anonymous. It will be interesting to watch this class of mobile devices as more carmakers join FCA and VW in pursuit of the family car of the future. 


The X2 is a styling exercise meant to preview the look of the upcoming production X2.  There's no interior and no mechanical specifications yet, but it's safe to say that as the "Sports Activity Coupé" version of the popular X1 crossover, you can expect it to have the same selection of four-cylinder motors as the X1. 

 BMW created chopped SUV segment with the original X6, but to my eye neither generation of X6 or the X4 was a particularly successful design. This SAC is different than the X4 and X6 in that designers have ventured farther afield from the X1 than they did from the X3 and X5, and that's a very good thing. The X2 cuts a handsome profile and has details that will hopefully make it to production, such as the blocky 21" wheels and integrated tailpipes.

Look for the X2 in dealers in spring of 2018.


In tech-geek parlance, UX is short for "User Experience," and that's just what Lexus is reinventing with its newest crossover concept.  Likely a coupé counterpart to the NX compact crossover, the UX's interior is designed around 3D hologram-like displays and a capacitive-touch console.  The furniture is pretty out-there as well: driver and front passenger sit in open-webbed "Kinetic Seats" which Lexus claims conform better to the human form than traditional upholstered foam seats.  

The concept was designed by Lexus' design studio in France, and the result is a body that marries expressive French style with Lexus' wild L-finnesse design language. It's another very successful execution by Lexus, and though the production model will likely be toned down a bit, I expect it will be as beautiful and polarizing as Lexus' best work. 

Lexus has applied for trademarks on the model designations UX200, UX250, and UX250h, so it's safe to assume that the production model will offer similar powertrain options.  Likely competitors include the upcoming BMW X2, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Infiniti QX30, and Range Rover Evoque. 

Infiniti QX50 CONCEPT

Infiniti's QX50 Concept is an evolution of last year's QX Sport Inspiration Concept from the Beijing Motor Show. With essentially the same proportions as the Beijing car, this iteration shows more production-ready detailing, and by the look of it, it's a home run.  Infiniti's nature-inspired design theme, which claims as inspiration "an ocean swell rising above the calm surface of the water" as well as the "compressing and releasing of tension calling to mind the human muscle," is evident in the styling.  The "crescent-cut" c-pillar, double-arched grille, and "focused eye" headlamps that define the current milieu are present and accounted for.  

Mechanical details are scarce, but it wouldn't be far-fetched to expect similar options to the Q50 Sedan, which means a Mercedes-sourced 2.0 liter turbo four with 208 horsepower, and a  3.0 liter twin turbo VR30 V6 with either 300 or 400 horsepower. 

It's a beautiful design, and if Infiniti gives it all the horsepower, it will be a compelling entry in a pretty homogenous field. SQ5 showdown, anyone?