Picking five top vehicles for the year is near impossible, but here are the ones that made the biggest impression on me
In 2015, more than 60 different new vehicles have parked outside Chez Morgan.
Picking five top vehicles for the year is virtually impossible such is the quality control in today’s design studios and auto manufacturing plants.
But here are five models that left the biggest impression on me for differing reasons. If you pushed me, I might say my first two choices – the Mazda CX-3 and the Honda Civic – were tied for those that impressed me the most, not because they are unrivalled but because the timing of their release was spot on.
I’ve flipped a coin and chosen to start with the all-new Mazda CX-3, described at the launch earlier this year as an ‘urban crossover’. It truly is an easy ride in town, which, if truth be told, is where most crossovers call home. But it performs in the ice and snow of the rural areas quite well. The CX-3’s all-wheel drive system tests the ground under tire in milli-seconds before deciding how much power to dispatch to each wheel in order to gain traction, just as we do when we start walk across ice.
The Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre, 146-horsepower four-cylinder, engine is a great little power plant offering great fuel economy – 7.6 L/100km (FWD) 8.1 L/100km (AWD), combined city/highway. Base price is $20,695.
The all-new Honda Civic launched just a few weeks ago will undoubtedly collect the honour as Canada’s top-selling car for the 18th consecutive year. A couple of days behind the wheel suggests the tenth generation Civic will set a new benchmark in looks, performance, safety and fuel economy.
The base model, which includes a list of standard features that belie its lowly position in the model pecking order, lists at just $15,750 (excluding taxes). The loaded Touring version doesn’t come close to 30 grand with its base sticker price of $26,990.
It was the right time for a new Civic and finally we have one that looks as good as the versions available in Europe.
Nissan led the crossover charge with the introduction of the Murano almost 12 years ago but its imitators soon outsold it. The sharp-looking third-generation Murano should be a game changer.
The external good looks are matched inside but it’s the usability of the controls that make it a real beauty. The touch screen is almost as intuitive as your smart phone of choice. Five passengers will find comfort and room aplenty and fold flat seats add to its versatility.
The Murano S starts at just short of $30,000, which includes Bluetooth with streaming audio, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and 18-inch wheels. That’s a lot of extras for what passes as standard fare.
I confess I am an Audi fan but most are out of my price range making them an aspirational ride for yours truly. I attended the launch of the 2017 A4 (coming soon!) in the mountainous region outside of the waterlogged city of Venice.
It has plenty of perk provided by the turbo charged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine aided by a responsive seven-speed transmission.
No fuel economy numbers yet but, for what it’s worth at this stage, Audi is promising substantial improvements over the current combined city/highway of 8.9 L/100kms for the gas engine. Our A4s will all have Quattro four-wheel drive and the seven-speed dual clutch S-Tronic transmission when they arrive in the spring.
Inside the very quiet cabin, there are some classy touches: fine grain ash wood inlays lifts and chrome trims raise the A4 in the elegance stakes. The current model base price is $38,500 and I don’t expect the prices for the 2017 model to vary much.
Finally, I had a lot of fun in the Hyundai Tucson Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV. Sounds like something from a sci-fi story that could go very wrong. However, there is no combustion of hydrogen and the fuel cell stack has no moving parts. The electrochemical process of combining oxygen and hydrogen in the stack creates electricity used by the vehicle’s electric motor and onboard battery. The only by-product of the process is pure water vapour, resulting in zero greenhouse-gas emissions.
It’s the future but right now it is possible to lease one from Hyundai.
Now I’m clearing the Morgan Driveway to sample another 60 cars in 2016.
keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca