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Global debut of the 2018 Hyundai Accent to be in Toronto

Global debuts are few and far between at the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) in Toronto, but this year Hyundai will treat visitors with the world premiere of the all-new 2018 Accent. 

The subcompact segment-leading Accent did circles around its competitors in the sales department by more than doubling its closest competitors in the Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Nissan Versa. And now for 2018, it should only get better.

Hyundai has released two teaser images and a video that according to the South Korean brand shows off, “a fresh, confident interpretation of the brand's signature design language.” A trimmer makeup appears to be the way Hyundai is going with a slim rear bumper complemented by slim and sporty rear combination lamps. Features that will be retained are its signature cascading grille, as well as its sweeping roofline.

The 2018 Hyundai Accent will be unveiled on February 16 during the media day, and will stay on for the course of the auto show. A live broadcast of the unveiling will be aired on Hyundai's Facebook page.

 

Toyota sets the bar high for new Camry

 

Detroit, MI - The Toyota Camry is on a roll, as the best-selling passenger car in the United States and the best-selling mid-size sedan in Canada. At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, the upcoming 2018 got a whole lot better.

The new version was highly anticipated thanks to Toyota's New Global Architecture (TNGA) that will transform not only the Camry, but many of its other vehicles with a new dynamic, athletic and wide stance – a refreshing change away from its more conservative styling. The new construction increases the wheelbase by two-inches, as well as over an inch in the hood and roofline.

In developing the next-generation Toyota Camry, we were able to start with a clean slate, which allowed us to create a true driver’s car,” said Masato Katsumata, the Chief Engineer of the new Toyota Camry.

Under the hood will be three options: a new 2.5-litre inline-four, a retuned 3.5-litre V-6 and a hybrid version that will utilize that 2.5-litre unit along with its own electrification system. The two gas versions will be matched to a new eight-speed automatic transmission; while the hybrid will be connected to a continuously variable transmission that has a Sport Mode for quicker gear shifting when needed. Numbers haven't been released yet for the powertrains, but Toyota claims that the new engine will have higher torque, power and reduced fuel economy. In addition, the chassis will possess increased handling skills that can even be found on the hybrid, as the battery pack has moved from the trunk to below the rear seat.

As far as looks go, the Camry features a two-piece grille that works well with its lowered hood design. The whole package comes off as sleek throughout with sharp lines in the body to add to its character.

On the inside, the Camry will have Toyota's Human Machine Interface with the latest technologies added. Three interlinked displays will show off the upgraded look with a 10-inch colour Head-Up Display, a 7-inch multi-information display that's capped off by an 8-inch infotainment screen.

Not lost on the Camry is Toyota's Safety Sense P that comes standard. This suite of safety technologies enhances the value of the mid-size sedan that includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams. Other optional features include Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The 2018 aggressively-styled Toyota Camry is expected to arrive in showrooms in late 2017.

 

 

 

Nissan Qashqai to arrive in Canada in the spring

Windsor, ON – The Nissan Qashqai compact crossover was revealed as the latest addition to the Nissan roster in an exclusive unveiling at the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association in Windsor, Ontario. The reveal occurred a day before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and Nissan Canada couldn't have been happier to finally let the cat out of the bag. 

“We're convinced it [The Qashqai] will be a game changer in the compact segment,” explains Christian Meunier, Senior Vice President, Nissan Sales & Marketing and Operations, Nissan North America and Chairman of Nissan Canada. 

Meunier was on-hand with the current Nissan Canada president Joni Paiva to tell the journey of the Qashqai finally being approved for both the Canadian and American markets. In the United States, the Qashqai will be known as the Rogue Sport, but will essentially be the same vehicle slotting in-between the Juke and Rogue crossovers. 

The Qashqai may be new to North America, but it has been around since 2007 where it quickly has risen to be one of Europe's best-selling SUV/crossover vehicles. Now, with the compact crossover segment being the fastest growing in sales, it only makes sense for Nissan Canada to add another vehicle for consumers, and as its president Paiva explains, “fill the void in the market.”

Compared to the Rogue, the Qashqai sits 2.3-inches shorter in wheelbase and 12.1-inches shorter in overall length. It has similar stylings to the rest of the Nissan crossover/SUV lineup featuring the signature V-shaped grille, swept-back headlights and boomerang-shaped taillights. 

In the second row, versatility and functionality becomes apparent with a maximum cargo capacity of 1,730 litres when the second row is folded fully flat. Those seats can also be configured to hold one passenger in the back and drop only one side in a 60/40 split. Trunk cargo space sits at 648 litres, more than enough to fit luggage for a family vacation. 

 

Under the hood is only one offering: a 2.0-litre inline-four that produces 141 hp and 147 lb.-ft. of torque matched to either a six-speed manual transmission (only available in the base S trim) or the Xtronic continuously variable transmission. All-wheel-drive is available with front-wheel-drive being standard. 

For Canada, there are a couple of unique features that include the aforementioned manual tranny that won't be found south of the border. In addition, heated front seats are standard, while a heated steering wheel and remote control start functions are available.

The 2017 Nissan Qashqai is expected to be released in Spring 2017 and will immediately compete with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax, Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Crosstrek.

 

A Nissan Titan rally to setup the Grey Cup

Toronto, ON – There's nothing more Canadian in sports than the Canadian Football League (CFL). You can talk about hockey or lacrosse, but everything about the CFL is Canadian. Compared to American football, CFL fields are larger and wider, while goalposts are stationed in the front of the end zone (ridiculous, if you ask me, but that's the way it's always been). There's even a term called a 'rouge' known as a single point in the CFL, and unheard of in any other league.

A cornerstone of Nissan's current sponsorship plan has to do with sports, and for the points above, that is exactly why Nissan Canada got involved with the CFL back in 2007. A 10-year relationship has grown beyond giveaways, posters, or simply being the 'official vehicle of the CFL,' and into one that is focused on creating a grassroots football movement throughout the nation.

For the past three years, Nissan Canada, the Nissan dealership network, and the CFL have worked together to form the Nissan Kickoff Project – a project that involves aiding football school programs in need across the country, whether than means jerseys, cleats, helmets, etc. Through the program, the Nissan Kickoff Project has been able to assist more than 75 schools to the tune of $435,000.



For 2016, Nissan Canada wanted to add to its CFL partnership and created an inaugural event called, 'the Rally of the Titans.' To understand more on this, they invited a select group of automotive journalists to not only learn about it, but be involved as well.

The Rally of the Titans kicked off on Nov 12 with 10 Nissan Titan half-ton trucks representing each CFL team (well really nine and one that represents the Grey Cup), and they would visit every mainland province in Canada, totaling more than 9,000 kms. The task was for the West and East regions to group off in teams of two (BC, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg versus Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal and Grey Cup), and compete in challenges daily in different cities for points. The winning team would be announced on Saturday, November 26 ahead of 104th Grey Cup in Toronto.



My challenge on the second last leg was simple: drive the Titan half-ton from Nissan Canada's head office in Mississauga to the University of Toronto's Varsity Stadium. I was provided the keys to the Edmonton Eskimos Titan truck and paired up with Kaitlyn, the Edmonton brand ambassador. We chatted about her rally thus far and certain challenges along the way. She took a liking to the camaraderie felt within the team and exceptional memories that involved food bank deliveries, meeting CFL alumni and one cold polar bear dip.

Upon arrival at Varsity Stadium. It was the journalists turn to compete over a number of skill competitions: 40-yard dash, side-shuffle sprints, kicking and catching. We were all paired up with a CFL coach, mine was Hamilton Ti-Cats receiver and all-around high energy guy Chad Owens.



Yours truly fared well in most of the activities save for a one-handed catch attempt from Owens. But somehow, this competition would come down to a CFL trivia contest, where I was no match for a CFL-guru in attendance.

Win-or-lose, it's all about the journey and the fun times along the way. Those stories derived from the brand ambassadors that piloted these Titans from the furthest west and east regions of Canada. The pride in the CFL and their respective cities/provinces were shown, and I was simply happy to be a part of that.

Nissan Canada will be continuing its efforts in promoting the CFL, the Grey Cup and its Titan pickup throughout the week with kickoff parties at BMO field, concerts at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a Nissan Titan Tailgate from 12-5pm on Sunday before the game begins.

BMW Films back for some 5-Series action

15 years ago, BMW Films created a big buzz with a short film series called, “The Hire,” which had eight short films released between 2001-02. These films starred actor Clive Owen as “The Driver,” and featured plenty of action involving various BMWs in exhilarating chase scenes.

It was a unique way to brand content: providing BMW Films more than 100-million views online. In this YouTube age, that's good, but nothing to brag about; however, back then it was a brilliant marketing success.

Well, if you've longed for more action-packed excitement from the people at BMW Films, your prayers have been answered with a new short feature called “The Escape,” that brings Owen back in his role behind the wheel.



The 13-minute feature has a new director in Neill Blomkamp, a past Academy Award-nominee, but they made sure to also bring back Creative Director, Bruce Bildsten, and Executive Producers Brian DiLorenzo and David Carter. The film also stars Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Famiga.

I'm not going to ruin the film for you, as it won't take up a small part of your day to watch. What I can tell you is that the car chase begins three minutes in and it doesn't let up until the very end. Owen shows some driving skills and throttle action, but let's the BMW 5-Series do much of the work as it battles a pack of hummers, machine guns and even, a helicopter.
The film is exclusively an online production that will start out on BMWFilms.com beginning on Sunday, October 23 at 6:00pm ET, and will later be shown on BMW's YouTube channel. It will be interesting to see how its views compared to the hype that was achieved at the turn of the century.



Regardless of the outcome, BMW is going back to its roots and getting creative with its content and marketing message. This production couldn't be cheap (the budget was not revealed) given the star power of Owen and Fanning, but what's clear is BMW has focused in on what the German brand does best – create a lot of excitement from driving like hell.

Next-gen Honda CR-V revealed in Detroit

 

Detroit, MI – In an exclusive reveal in downtown Detroit, Honda showed off its new fifth-generation CR-V. For 2017, the CR-V raises the bar with more performance, space, ride comfort, safety features and fuel efficiency. The 2017 model will build off an already prosperous 2016 version that has seen its sales rise by 16.2 per cent thus far in Canada and 1.5 per cent in the United States, where it's the No. 1 selling SUV. 

The all-new CR-V is new from the ground up as it sits on a new platform that showcases a broader, wide stance with a more bold appearance. From the front, you will immediately notice its two-layer chrome grille with standard LED headlights. LED lighting continues in the rear for its taillamps.

The 2.4-litre direct-injected four-cylinder engine is carried over and is joined by a 1.5-litre direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 190 hp and 179 lb.-ft. of torque. The new, turbo engine is the same one featured in the Civic, and Honda is saying it will provide the CR-V with best in-class fuel economy. 

The inside will possess a more spacious area that includes a top-class total interior volume, a two-inch increase in rear leg room, and 10-inches more rear cargo with the second row down. But the most important addition might be a simple volume knob. For the past two years, Honda has toyed with a sliding touch feature for volume adjustment, and based on the reaction from the crowd of journalists that gave this announcement a resounding ovation to the new volume knob, it was clear that Honda listened to its critics. 

In addition, Honda will be improving its suite of safety technology known as Honda Sensing, and we will find out exactly what will be added shortly. The one safety technology that was demonstrated at the event was a foot-activated tailgate that comes standard with the vehicle. 

The Honda CR-V will be assembled in three plants: the lead one being in East Liberty, Ohio, Alliston, Ontario and Greensburg, Indiana. 

Pricing is to be announced closer to the launch date later this fall.

 

Land Rover's fifth-gen Discovery shown to the world

The all-new full-size Discovery embodies the Land Rover brand’s drive to go Above and Beyond, combining British desirability with an unstoppable spirit of adventure. It’s an authentic, three-row, seven-seat(1) SUV that brings new levels of capability and versatility to the Discovery family.

Everyday ingenuity has been at the heart of the Discovery for the last 27 years. The new Discovery signals the transformation from cogs to code with more than 1.2 million owners with us on every step of the journey.

The fifth-generation model benefits from the strong and light full-size Land Rover SUV architecture, delivering comfort and adaptability like no other.

The all-new Discovery is ready for the digital age. Smart technology features keep families connected and confident on a variety of surfaces, terrains, and weather conditions; ensuring their destination is reached.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Design Officer said: “The all-new Discovery redefines the large SUV. The Land Rover design and engineering teams have revolutionized the Discovery DNA to create a highly desirable, extremely versatile and hugely capable premium SUV. We truly believe the result is a radical departure in design that will introduce the Discovery Family to a new, wider customer base.”

Revolutionary design

The all-new Discovery was previewed by the Discovery Vision Concept, which showcased the future direction of the entire Discovery family when it debuted at the New York Auto Show in 2014; it represented a radical departure for the most versatile SUV from Land Rover. The revolutionary design gives Discovery a dynamic appearance with sophisticated surfaces and precisely engineered details designed to resonate with customers on an emotional level.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Design Officer said: “Design creates an emotional connection between our customers and our vehicles. Our clear design strategy means our vehicles are instantly recognizable and communicate the values of Land Rover that our customers love. The flawless volume and proportions, sophisticated surfaces and precise detailing of the all-new Discovery, beautifully combine with engineering integrity to create a premium SUV that will resonate with today’s customers.”

The Discovery family has always had a spirit of adventure. The new model provides a dramatic reinterpretation of the 27 years of heritage and practical DNA Discovery is best known for, and combines it with a sophisticated design that pays homage to previous models without being restrained by them.

Trademark design features include the stepped roofline, which has identified each of the four previous generations of Discovery and provides an elegant solution to a practical need. The stepped profile optimizes headroom for passengers travelling in the third row of seats(1). It also accommodates the customary stadium seating configuration Discovery is best known for, which sees each row of seats positioned higher than the one in front, ensuring every seat is the best seat in the house.



Design and engineering integrity from Land Rover ensures the fifth generation Discovery is able to accommodate seven full-sized adults in an SUV body measuring just over 16 feet in length (4,970mm). Most similar-sized competitors provide 5+2 seating, but the new Discovery is designed for 95th percentile adults to sit comfortably in its rearmost seats, providing complete interior flexibility. Each of the third-row seats(1) incorporate ISOFIX mounting points (four in total), so families with children have the freedom to put child safety seats in the most appropriate location for any journey(13).

Inside, the all-new Discovery continues the design revolution started by the Discovery Sport, where customers can specify a range of premium materials including luxurious Windsor leather upholstery and natural oak veneers.

A limited-run ‘First Edition’ model showcases the very best of the new model. Only 529 examples will be available in the United States with exclusive features including unique etched map detailing on the aluminum trim for the doors and dashboard, unique badges, bold color choices and a comprehensive list of standard equipment. 3

The optional Dynamic Design Pack gives the fifth generation Discovery a more purposeful, clean appearance both inside and out, with features including a contrast roof, athletic front and rear bumper designs, luxurious leather upholstery and a sports-inspired steering wheel and pedals setting it apart.



Connecting every generation of the family

The all-new Discovery offers an available world-first Intelligent Seat Fold technology, allowing owners to reconfigure the second- and third-row seats with minimal effort; using controls at the rear of the vehicle, the central touchscreen, or even remotely – via a smartphone app – as part of the Land Rover InControl® Touch Pro services(2,5).

The innovative feature allows owners to rearrange the seats from inside the store while they wait to pay for large or bulky items, ensuring the vehicle is perfectly configured to accommodate their purchases when they go to leave.
All three rows are available with heated seats – heated and cooled in rows one and two – while massage seats are available for the driver and front passenger to optimize comfort on long journeys.

Enjoying the spacious interior of the all-new Discovery is made easier by another thoughtful Land Rover innovation. On vehicles equipped with air suspension, Auto Access Height technology reduces the ride-height by up to 1.57 in. as passengers prepare to enter or exit the vehicle.

Alongside the spacious and flexible seating layout, the other key to the new model’s versatility is the optional Land Rover InControl® Touch Pro infotainment system(6,11). Vehicles equipped with InControl Touch Pro benefit from a large 10-inch touchscreen positioned high on the center console(5,8). This development enabled Land Rover designers to reduce the number of switches on the center console by a third, delivering a clean and uncluttered appearance.

Crisp graphics and easy-to-navigate menus incorporate the latest navigation and entertainment technologies including door-to-door navigation, which can share directions to a paired smartphone to help owners complete journeys on foot8. Seamless iOS and Android connectivity combine with a 17-speaker Meridian digital surround system and 3G WiFi to provide the ultimate listening experience, whether streaming songs online or playing music directly from a connected device.

Up to six 12V charging points ensure the new Discovery is perfectly equipped to cope with the demands of the most connected owners and their passengers, while as many as seven USB sockets (up to nine when the rear seat entertainment is fitted) allow passengers in each row to power their smartphones or tablets simultaneously.

Another technology feature for active families is the Activity Key wristband – first debuted on the 2017 Jaguar F-PACE – which allows customers to enjoy sports and active hobbies without having to carry the standard key fob and worry about the risk of damage or loss. Holding the waterproof Activity Key up to the ‘D’ in the Discovery badge on the rear tailgate simultaneously locks the vehicle and disables the ordinary key, which can be left safely inside. This leaves customers free to run, swim, ride or play without worrying about the security of their vehicle.

Storage addiction

At every stage of its development Land Rover has designed the all-new Discovery around the needs of its customers. This is evident when you look around the cabin. Design and engineering teams at Land Rover have an addiction to storage; this resulted in a host of convenient interior storage solutions for owners, including:

- Storage in the central console capable of holding pair of two-liter beverage containers.
- A central armrest cubby large enough to house five tablet computers with a lid that hinges through 180 degrees to function as an armrest even when open
- Small-item stowage behind the fold-down Climate Control panel
- A flush-fitting, push-operated, bag hook in the front passenger footwell capable of securing shopping bags

The effort put into developing the first-rate cabin storage in the all-new Discovery has been matched by the thought put into its luggage space. The premium SUV provides 82.7 cu. ft. of load capacity, or 45 cu. ft. behind row two, and the new optional dual-purpose Powered Inner Tailgate provides all the versatility expected from a vehicle wearing the Discovery badge. 4

When raised, the fold-down panel at the leading edge of the load area operates as a practical load restraint, but when lowered, the 11-inch overhanging section doubles as a useful bench for event seating or changing muddy footwear, all under the shelter provided by the new one-piece tailgate. This simple device replicates the functionality of the horizontally split tailgate fitted to previous Land Rover vehicles.

Comfort and capability

The all-new Discovery retains renowned Land Rover all-terrain capability thanks to its combination of excellent off-road
geometry and advanced driver assistance technologies4; together, they enhance the everyday usability of the new model.

Ground clearance is rated at 11.1-inches – an increase of 1.7 inches from the LR4 – while a maximum wading depth of 35.4-inches – an increase of 7.9-inches – provides unrivalled confidence when tackling waterlogged trails(4).

A comprehensive suite of available off-road driving technologies ensures the all-new Discovery maintains its supreme all-terrain capability and is easy to access for even inexperienced drivers. The Land Rover multi-mode Terrain Response® 2 system optimizes a range of settings, from throttle sensitivity to gear change characteristics, suiting the driving conditions at the turn of a rotary controller(4). Terrain Response 2 can even select the optimum setting automatically if drivers are unsure of the best choice.

When tackling particularly challenging terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can be programed to maintain a suitable crawl speed as chosen by the driver. The clever technology allows the driver to concentrate solely on steering the vehicle as they negotiate obstacles, without the distraction of operating the throttle or brake pedals, and can also be used from a standstill to help when pulling away on slippery, low traction, surfaces(4).

The all-new Discovery also benefits from lightweight and durable Land Rover aluminum architecture. Similar to the construction on Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, the all-new Discovery cuts more than 1,000 pounds from the weight of the outgoing LR4, which used steel ladder construction(3). This weight savings, coupled with an advanced integral link rear suspension, delivers improved handling characteristics and on-road performance without compromising the superb ride comfort that has defined generations of Land Rover vehicles.

Another Land Rover trademark carried over into the all-new model, is a Command Driving Position which helps owners enjoy the vehicle’s enhanced breadth of capability with confidence, on variety of surfaces, terrains and weather conditions, by providing excellent visibility(4).

This confidence extends to towing capability, which has been a hallmark of every generation of Discovery since it was used to tow a train at its original launch in 1989. In the US, the all-new Discovery has a maximum towing capacity of 8,201 pounds3. This figure is enhanced with the introduction of some clever technology developed to make the towing with the Discovery more accessible than ever.

Advanced Tow Assist allows owners to complete potentially difficult reversing maneuvers when towing trailers with ease4. The driver’s assistance feature manages the tricky counter-steering required to position trailers accurately when reversing. The driver simply guides the trailer into the desired space with the rotary controller for the Terrain Response 2 system; this is done using responsive guidance lines overlaid on the rear-facing camera feed which are displayed on the central touchscreen, taking the stress out of an otherwise tricky task(4).

A choice of powertrains



The all-new Discovery is powered with the option of both a petrol and diesel engine familiar to the Jaguar Land Rover line-up; each of which is paired with a smooth and responsive ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. They include:

- The 340-HP supercharged 3.0L petrol V-6 carried over from the LR4. With 332 lb.-ft. of torque on demand, the petrol V-6 delivers high-end responsiveness and excellent passing power.

- Shared with the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, the all-new Discovery benefits from the introduction of a 254HP turbocharged diesel V-6 that delivers 443 lb.-ft. of torque from as little as 1,750 rpm.


Kia unveils new Rio in Paris

The all-new, fourth-generation Kia Rio will make its world premiere on 29 September in Paris, at the 2016 Mondial de l’Automobile. With a progressive new exterior and interior design, the Rio is revealed for the first time globally today through an exclusive set of images.

Design of the new Rio was led by Kia’s design centers in Germany and California, in close collaboration with the company’s global design headquarters in Namyang, Korea. The appearance of the new Rio is defined by straight lines and smooth surfacing, giving the car a distinctive, confident new look.

Progressive exterior design

At the front, the Rio wears the latest evolution of Kia’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille, now thinner in height and wider across the front of the car. Integrated bi-function projection headlamps – again, thinner and more sculpted than those of its predecessor – project a new U-shaped LED light signature. Changes to the front of the car, including moving the fog lamps’ position outwards within the front bumper, are designed to add greater visual width for a more stable overall look. The new Rio grows by 5 mm in width (to 1,725 mm), further adding to this effect.

In profile, the fourth-generation Rio’s lengthened, more balanced stance is achieved with a long bonnet and longer front overhang, a 10 mm longer wheelbase (up to 2,580 mm), a thinner, more upright C-pillar, and a shorter rear overhang. Overall, the new car is 15 mm longer than its predecessor (now 4,065 mm long), and 5 mm shorter in height (to 1,450 mm). Straight, clearly-defined lines run down the full length of the car’s shoulder and along its doors, further stretching the appearance of the car for a more stable, confident look.

The rear section of the Rio is now more upright, with a near-vertical rear windscreen and a shorter overhang. The straight line that runs from the grille, through the headlamps and along the top of the doors, continues around the back of the car, paired with thinner, more sculpted rear lamps, which now feature a new arrow-shaped LED light signature. Like the wider-looking ‘face’ of the car, the rear design of the new Rio gives it a stronger overall appearance.

Modern, driver-oriented cabin

The new Kia Rio will offer motorists a modern new cabin design, featuring sculptural forms and a more ergonomic layout than its predecessor.

Like the exterior, straight lines running the width of the dashboard characterize the shape of the interior, giving the cabin a wider appearance and increasing the sense of space for occupants.



The dashboard itself is now angled towards the driver, and at its center is a new infotainment system, a ‘floating’ HMI (human-machine interface), with a high-resolution touchscreen to power the Rio’s audio, navigation and new connectivity systems. The new HMI has allowed Kia to reduce the number of buttons on the center console.

The new Rio is available with a choice of black or grey cloth seat upholstery, or with black or grey artificial leather. A ‘Red Pack’ for the Rio gives buyers black with red artificial leather-trimmed seats throughout the cabin. The cabin itself features gloss black and metallic trim throughout, for a more modern finish.

Production starts at the end of 2016

The all-new Rio will offer buyers class-leading practicality and safety technology, the latest connectivity features, and more assured and engaging ride and handling characteristics.

The Kia Rio is the Korean manufacturer’s global best-selling model, with more than 473,000 sold around the world in 2015. The next generation will enter production towards the end of 2016 for Europe, with production timings for other regions to be announced closer to launch.

Ford prepares for autonomous decade

 

Dearborn, MI – Whether you agree with it or not, the automotive industry is shifting its rhetoric towards autonomous driving. For the past few years, many automakers have started to showcase semi-autonomous aids within its vehicles with the mindset to eventually launching full autonomous versions starting in the year 2020.

Ford, like many other automakers, are trying to be on the forefront of the autonomous movement, but it's taking a different approach to the situation. An announcement has been made that the Blue Oval by 2021 will be rolling out a fully-autonomous Level 4 (where passengers never have to be prepared to take control of the gears or pedals) ride sharing program to assist both consumers and the cities they live in. It's part of a shift in the Ford business model from simply selling cars to selling and servicing clientele through a sharing perspective.

Ride sharing is not a new practice, but with the meteoric rise and consumer acceptance of ride sharing programs like Uber, the practice hasn't been lost on Ford.

Autonomous technology is expensive to produce, and that would make personal ownership difficult in the future,” said Raj Nair, Executive Vice President, Product Development at Ford Motor Company.

In order for this ride sharing project to become successful, Ford has teamed up with a number of start-up companies to develop its upcoming autonomous system. We don't know yet in what form this vehicle will take in 2021, but we were able to experience some of that technology in an autonomous Fusion Hybrid around the Ford Research and Engineering Center in Dearborn, Michigan.

The drive loop was short and uneventful – exactly what Ford wanted from this event. Two Ford employees managed the operations of the vehicle, but only for precautionary and explanatory purposes, as I sat in the back seat. From that vantage point, I was able to watch this trippy ride, while simultaneously viewing a laptop that showed a 3D mapping of the area with live data including stop signs, street lights, other vehicles and pedestrians, as well as the full landscape of the area. The 3D mapping provides 360-degrees of coverage from cameras and radar that surround the vehicle.

The car started to move without any hands on the wheel or feet on the pedals, allowing the Fusion to do its thing in full-autonomous mode. Naturally, safety appeared to be first and foremost in every instance. Whether it was at a stop sign, four-way intersection or pedestrian crossing, the autonomous vehicle stopped and deferred to the pedestrian or vehicle, regardless if the other car arrived at the stop first. It even waited for the pedestrian to fully exit the crosswalk, as per the official rules of the road.

As for the speed limit, it's programmed to obey it at all times, which means it can go at or below, but never above. Obeying the speed limit to its full extent may be irritating to some, but a necessary precautionary measure given the pushback the technology would get if something were to go wrong. On the flip side, we are only in the early days of this program, and advancements are expected to be made with time.

Limitations are expected, but the only drawbacks noticed came down to its camera range. The technology at its current state can only see a 360-degrees view of 80 metres, but the next-generation lidar is expected to be around 200. It's an ongoing engineering challenge, but one that will have to be improved upon by Ford's Virtual Driving Systems team in Dearborn with assistance from the group in Palo Alto that recently saw their employee count double.

Driving in an autonomous vehicle is a refreshing experience that provides a glimpse into the future and a step beyond rhetoric. But as fun and mind blowing as the drive is, it comes with questions. The first thing that pops in my head, which was also articulated throughout the four information sessions in Dearborn is simply, why? Why now deviate from a successful business model to an auto and mobility company?

The answer was summed up by Mark Fields, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company with a Canadian reference many times stated by hockey icon Wayne Gretzky.

You got to skate where the puck is going to go.”

And with that, Ford is working on all current and future products by analyzing not only what's best for today, but also for tomorrow. That's not to say that the present is being neglected; it's just a matter of performing today at its maximum capacity without compromising the future.

Building autonomous vehicles comes with its challenges, but there are many more hurdles beyond building the technology, and I'm not just talking about the economics of the project that have to be allocated for. After that, there are major obstacles that include both consumer and state/province adoption, as well as the conundrum faced in the legal sector.

All of the autonomous technology is incredible to experience, and Ford's was no different. The autonomous ride was successful and without issue, yet short lived. The technology is there and by 2021, we can only expect it to get more advanced; however, that doesn't mean it will be well received by the public. Who's to say that it's something society needs – only the automakers are currently telling us that and using traffic congestion and poor driving as a reason to pursue it.

I can't say what the future will hold, but it looks like Ford is on the right path for autonomous driving via a ride sharing program. The technology is expensive and not practical for each individual to own, unless technology costs were to come down drastically. For now, all we can say is that Ford is being practical in its assessment, and if they're right about that, maybe they will be a leader in the autonomous quest at the turn of the decade. 

 

Ford Pass app now available – here's how it works

We've heard a lot of talk about Ford Pass – a mobile application that can remotely manage your Ford vehicle – and now it's ready to download throughout Canada and the United States. In Canada alone, it already has over 10,000 user downloads.

To get a more in-depth understand of this product, as well as others, Ford put together a technology day at their Oakville offices. On hand, was a 2016 Ford Escape – one of the vehicles where Ford Pass is active – and we went through the various ways the application can be used with Max Farley, Digital Engagement Manager at Ford Canada.

Farley first showed off how we could remotely start the Escape by a simple click of the button on the app.

“Even if the vehicle is in Canada, you can start your car from Tokyo!” explains Farley. He didn't advise this practice, but it was merely an exaggerated showcase of how good this technology is. And it's able to send those signals across the globe, because it connects through a cellular network using a 4G modem, similar to making a call on your iPhone.

Starting up a car from an application or device is nothing new, but Ford Pass also offers something for those of us that get sidetracked and never get to our vehicles in the time we said we would. If you need more time, the app will ask you if you want to extend for another 10 minutes or start it up at another time.

There are other features that can be useful such as checking fuel levels, roadside assistance and locating your vehicle – all peace of mind practices, especially the latter, when your kid is using your car. But the other functionality that stood out was its ability to locate parking spots and their prices.



In bigger cities, parking can be a headache to deal with and a reason why people may not venture out. With Ford Pass, you're able to input your destination area and check where the parking lots are situated around that area. Through this search, you're able to pin your parking location and navigate directly to it.

However, as good as it sounds, Ford currently uses a parking provider for all of its data, and it appears that the technology doesn't provide you with an accurate showing of available spots in each parking lot. On top of that, price fluctuations aren't taken into account, such as during special events or weekend periods.

In the end, the parking tools aim to assist you during the day and Farley points out that new developments are still coming to Ford Pass' parking functionality and those enhancements listed above could be addressed shortly.

It should be noted that Ford Pass is currently only available in the Escape, Fusion and F-150. It soon will trickle through the rest of the Ford lineup, but it needs to start somewhere. On top of that, Ford Pass comes standard in all top trims of those models listed above, and can be added as an option to some of the other trim levels.

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