Oshawa, Ontario – Chevrolet announced today that its all-new small car will be called the Chevrolet Sonic in North America.
“Following the successful formula of the award-winning Chevrolet Cruze, which has changed the way people look at compact cars, the new Sonic takes aim at energizing Canada’s small car segment,” said Marc Comeau, vice president, Chevrolet Canada. “The new car is roomy, stylish and fun to drive, and we felt that the Sonic name conveys the youth and energy that this vehicle is all about.”
The Sonic small car is the next important step forward reflecting Chevrolet’s commitment to deliver a range of smaller, fuel-efficient and fun to drive cars that are ideally suited to the Canadian market and particularly at home within urban environments.
The vehicle will continue to be called Aveo in other parts of the world, where it will be sold in more than 50 countries.
Just like MJ & Diana sang in The Wiz, the best way to describe the Prius driving experience is to say you are gonna ease on down the road. Despite those who seem to enjoy the high speed fuel economy the Prius offers, this is a machine dedicated to economy and drivers be ready to drive appropriately. Just ease it on down the road.
Our tester was the base model 2010 Prius which actually looked almost sexy draped in Barcelona Red Metallic paint which rings in at an MSRP of $27,800 Canadian. At this level the Prius comes with comfortable seating, front and back, that are clad in a rather basic but nice bisque colored cloth.
On the outside, Prius has always had an attractive style that while understated is distinctly modern. If the transportation people during the time of Logan’s Run designed a car, it would look like a Prius. The exterior lamps look quite rich, while the front and rear emblems have sort of a blue halo inside that the kids and even a few adults considered quite cool. Personally, I like the angle of the functional real spoiler that finishes off the rear hatch. It just looks a little racy, even if it is there to improve highway fuel economy.
The interior styling is unfortunately signature Toyota nice. That is to say that the fit and finish are exceptional and the surfaces have a nice tactile feel, there is just no passion involved. Sure, the shifter is tres cool and the digital display is fun and informative, I was just hoping for something a bit more exciting. Front seats are comfy and feel like they would fine for a long trip, while the back seat is quite large. Typical of a hatchback, the Prius offers a good amount of usable storage space, with a large storage bin beneath the cargo area floor to keep items away from prying eyes. Fold the back seats down and an active couple have tons of space for camping gear or a trip to Ikea.
I must admit that I haven’t reviewed many hybrid vehicles, because I don’t feel that they are the solution the Canadian market needs. Most hybrid systems are most effective at speeds below 50 or so km/h, which is fine in deep urban settings, but not much use for those who commute from the burbs every day. I’m happy to say that the Prius has gone a long way towards changing that opinion.
The hybrid system in the Prius has 3 modes. EV, where the car runs solely on the electric motor, Eco, where electric and gas systems work in harmony and Power, where the gasoline engine is a bit more involved. I found that the EV mode shuts itself off somewhere between 38-40 km/h, which makes it useless for most driving, unless cruising around a parking lot. I tried the Power mode briefly, to see if there was indeed more power and yes, it is somewhat quicker. The whole point of this exercise was to see how economical the Prius would be for our family, so ECO mode was the way to go.
I haven’t driven a Prius since 2005 and the drivetrain has improved dramatically. In most cases, the transition from electric motors to gas engine are completely imperceptible. I don’t just mean you can’t feel the transition, but also can’t hear it! With 98 horsepower from the 1.4l gas engine and 80 horsepower from the electric motor flowing through the CVT, the Prius driver isn’t going to win any stoplight wars. Then again, that is hardly the reason for buying a green vehicle. When trying to achieve fuel economy, the acceleration is a tad on the slow side but the elation that one feels when filling up the tank far outweighs the missing rush of speed.
So how did we do on our quest for economy? I made 2 trips into the city, with the cruise control set well above the optimal fuel economy range. The rest of the week though was spent doing what a hybrid does best: tootling around town. We achieved a very respectable 4.8 l/100 km. If you are an old Miles Per Gallon type like me, that number doesn’t make a great impact, but the fill-up certainly did. We drove the Prius 413 km. On the fuel gauge, that registered as just a tic over a half tank. I held my breath, thinking it could be a huge tank. We used exactly 21 liters of gas to go over 400 km! Absolutely incredible!
I still believe that a hybrid is not for everyone and consumers should think very carefully about their driving habits before choosing any hybrid. That said, the Prius is by far the most normal feeling hybrid I’ve driven and the one that our family would buy if we were in the market for a small hatch that has the ability to carry 5 people in comfort. In today’s fast paced world, it wouldn’t hurt any of us to slow down a little anyway and just ease on down the road!
We have a long history with Suzuki here at Driven Wheels, yet this is the first time we’ve reviewed one. Back in the 90′s we performance rallied a Swift GT and did all sorts of navigational rallies and track days in another one. It felt great to finally get behind the wheel of a Suzuki again.
This is our first ever video road test here at Driven Wheels, so I’m pretty excited. While we’ve done lots of video over in The Garage, they have all been professionally produced by our video guru, Scott Simmons. Today’s review was shot and edited by non other than yours truly. I know it is far from pro, but I would love to hear your thoughts. More
While many Canadians have large families that necessitate SUV’s or Minivans, we also live in a vast nation that requires many people to drive long commutes to and from the job. Maybe that’s why small, European style hatchbacks have often been more successful here than they have south of the border. While we tend to be a bit more conservative than European consumers, we still enjoy a bit of excitement when we drive. For both of these reasons, the 2011 Mazda2 is an important car for our market.
The company that builds a little bit of Zoom-Zoom into all of their products is about to hit our market with the funky little 5 door you see up above. In this case, most of the Zoom comes in the form of content vs. price point. With an entry price of just $13,995 for the GX model offers seating for 5, power locks, power windows with one touch up and down for the driver, tilt steering and am/fm/cd player with mp3 compatibility.
We’re all concerned about safety, especially when driving a small car and the Mazda2 has safety content galore. Airbags abound, with the safety cushions residing on both sides of the dash and beside both front passengers. There are also side curtain air bags to protect occupant’s heads in a side impact. Traction control and Dynamic Stability Control help driver’s keep things under control should conditions warrant. This is a lot of technology for not a lot of money!
Thanks to the misfortunes of another Traditional Import, Brake Override technology has come to the forefront of the media lately and the 2 has in even in base form. What this does is ensure that the brake pedal effort override any throttle inputs should a driver inadvertently apply the brake and gas pedals at the same time.
Motivation comes from a 1.5l 4 cylinder that breaths through 16 valves that produces 100 horsepower and . Big news for those of us who enjoy the Zoom is that the standard transmission is, well, a 5 speed standard. The lazy among us may opt for the $1,100 4 speed automatic but why not go back to basics, save money and become a better driver. In preliminary tests, the 5 speed combo uses 7.2l/100km city and 5.6l/100km on the highway.
The current trend in economy priced vehicles is to put the emphasis on fun and function by offering a wide range of personalization options. If the display at the Detroit auto show is any indication, Mazda is right on the ball with a wide variety of extra goodies. One item of importance to Ontario drivers is bluetooth connectivity. I noticed it was absent from the features list, so I asked. Buyers who are inseparable from their phone will be able to choose between a pair of options, one being a stand alone dash mounted unit or selecting an upgraded audio system that will have bluetooth built in.
Some of us want more features and for that, there is an added convenience package for the entry level GX and the GS model that adds more visual and comfort features. Full details are after the break in today’s press release from Mazda. More
Magazine-thin laptops, MP3 players and bite-size candy bars are just a few
examples of good things that come in small packages. Now, for the first
time in North America, Mazda is introducing its own affordable, fun-sized
creation – the 2011 Mazda2. A stylish, eco-friendly, fun-to-drive
five-door hatchback, the Mazda2 is Zoom-Zoom in its most concentrated form
– compact and efficient, yet packed with style and substance. It will
launch into the North American market in late summer, 2010.
Mazda2 is the latest in a line of stylish, insightful and hugely
fun-to-drive small cars from Mazda, and will bring an all-new level of
refinement to the segment, as Mazda3 did for the compact C-Car market.
Mazda2 is a car that only the engineers at Mazda could have created. It
was designed and engineered from scratch to be a pure Mazda, offering the
sort of driving experience that could only come from the company that
developed the timeless MX-5 two-seat roadster, and it brings a combination
of athletic design and dynamic performance to the subcompact class that
simply does not exist at this time. More
The Canadian launch of the VW Golf family began when we left the hotel in downtown Montreal headed north west towards the track at Mont Tremblant. My driving partner for the day was a Montreal native so our journey through town in the 2.5L Golf 3 door hatch was a breeze. Our tester was a Trendline or base model with the 5 speed manual transmission. With this setup, the 170 horsepower was perfect for zipping in and out of traffic on Montreal’s busy Rue St Laurent.
I’m not used to riding shotgun, but I found the ride comfy enough. The cool, practical thing about this little ride is the amount of space they’ve jammed inside. We had a VW guy along for the ride and he had hopped in to the back seat behind me. Access to the aft seat isn’t bad, even for an adult and back seat rider had more than enough room to get comfy. We had our travel bags and coats stuffed in the rear cargo area with tons of space to spare. Looking around the cabin, the fit and finish would be considered more than adequate for a car that cost twice what this one does. For a 3 door hatch that rings in at just a tick over 20 grand, the interior is outstanding. The engineering squad have used all manner of lightweight sound deadening tricks, combined with an extra thick laminate windshield to keep interior and exterior noise down and it has worked. The car is as quiet as a few luxury boats I’ve driven costing 3 times as much. Nice job. Following the prescribed drive route, we switched drivers just in time for me to enjoy some gentle curves as we got off the highway and on to the rural roads. The 170 horsepower 5 cylinder is smooth silk and offers consistent power throughout all 5 gears of the slick shifting manual box. The engine also offers a hint of that VW/Audi heritage with a nice 5 cylinder snarl from the exhaust. On the open road, the ride is smooth and the handling reasonably crisp. More
(TORONTO) – Toyota is committed to continuous improvement and in bringing cutting edge innovation to society, spending over $1 million an hour in global R&D efforts. Toyota’s extensive in-house safety research boasts the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan, one of the world’s largest experimental facilities in creating situations close to that of actual driving scenarios, and the recently opened Toyota Technical Center’s (TTC) new R&D facility in York Township, Michigan. This new campus handles TTC’s product planning and engineering design operations, and serves as TMC’s first collision-safety testing facility outside Japan.
As part of Toyota’s ongoing efforts to deliver a safer driving experience to all, the fuel-efficient Toyota Yaris, winner of Natural Resources Canada’s ecoENERGY award for best-in-class fuel efficiency every year since its introduction, is filled with attitude, space, energetic performance. New for 2010, the following features are added to Yaris Hatchback and Yaris Sedan:
* Toyota’s Antilock Braking System (ABS) now standard, while Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) are available options on the 2010 Yaris Sedan
* Toyota’s VSC and Brake Assist systems now standard on the 2010 Yaris 5-Door Hatchback RS
* A 60/40 split rear bench added as standard equipment on Yaris Hatchback 5-door LE models
The 2010 Toyota Yaris is on sale at Toyota dealers across Canada today, with Manufacturers Suggested Retail Prices starting at $13,620 for the 3-Door CE Hatch, $14,750 for the 4-door Sedan with a trunk, $14,920 for the 5-Door LE Hatch and $20,180 for the 5-Door RS Hatch. More
While the folks across town have been experiencing drama worthy of Dynasty lately, Ford has been plugging away at creating the next wave of Ford. There are financial controls and staff reductions, but there has also been an incredible focus on building cars that are not only relevant to buyers, but also match the quality offered by the imports. This quest to sell vehicles that consumers actually want is what landed the Euro spec 2010 Ford Fiesta in our driveway a couple of weekends ago.
No sooner had it arrived home than we affectionately nicknamed it The Raspberry.
North American enthusiasts have been feeling neglected for years by Ford’s reluctance to bring Euro models to our shores, practically begging the blue oval to bring their small cars here. While it isn’t wearing a Cosworth badge, the Ford Fiesta is undeniably a step in the right direction. More
I keep on saying this and I’m gonna say it again: With all the doom and gloom in the auto industry these days, we all need to have a little bit of fun with our cars!
The Kia Soul might just be one of the most fun vehicles I’ve driven. Ever. Why? Because it makes people smile!
Few cars have had this universal effect: Everyone loves an original Mini. It is tough not to love the Bugeye Sprite’s smiling face. Is there anyone who doesn’t feel a bit happier when they see an original Beetle? Of course each of these cars broke new ground and made people think of transportation in a new way.
The Kia Soul makes people think of transportation in a new way.
From a style standpoint, the box on wheels is not a new concept but hip and boxy is definitely new. Sure, the old volvo 240 was boxy but it never drew admiring stares from North American teenagers. In recent years, we have seen the little shoebox concept work for Scion south of the border but those cars still haven’t made it to Canada. Kia has launched the Soul at absolutely the right time for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is the first wave of wickedly fun little boxes that combine hip style, functionality and economy. Scion Xb and Cube might just seem like copycats to the general public when they arrive. More
While some may disagree with me, I have always felt that the first generation Toyota Matrix was revolutionary. It was a small vehicle that offered tons of utility in an edgy, sporty package at a time when Toyota wasn’t known for being overly daring. In fact, shortly after Toyota launched the Matrix, I became the service manager of a Toyota store and spent 3 months driving one. Not long after, my step father bought his own dark blue XR model. I have recommended the Matrix to more consumers than I can count. When the 2nd Gen version launched last Spring, I wondered if they could retain all of that goodness that I fell in love with. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get behind the wheel of one until this past week.
Visually, designers have kept the original’s dna intact. While the curves have softened somewhat, there is no mistaking the current body for anything other than the Matrix except for possibly it’s cousin from Pontiac, the Vibe. Sliding behind the wheel, many similarities from the original car remain. From the functional plastic cargo area with plenty of tie downs to the funky dash, the heritage is definitely evident. They’ve even kept the oh so deep looking nautical Blue Metallic paint that seems to bump the visual up by a few thousand dollars. More