Archives for January 2020
Late summer of 1984, my family moved to a new neighborhood. I was 11 years old, and soon got myself a newspaper route. One afternoon after school I was delivering the local daily paper and in the driveway sat a car that looked like nothing I had ever seen before. Since the house was on my route, I was able to get up close to this mysterious vehicle and the badge read GTV-6. The red paint was so lustrous, so deep it looked like you could dive into it. The well bolstered front seats were swathed in gorgeous Italian hides in a shade of tan that made tan exotic. The angled steering wheel, the font of the gauges so unique. I was experiencing my first Alfa Romeo.
With two daughters, the GTV-6 later gave way to a Milano, and finally a 164S. So taken was I with Alfa Romeo I vowed I would own one myself. While still in high school, I bought my own 1986 Alfa Romeo Spyder that I daily drove to school everyday in every kind of weather. Looking back now it is incredible how lucky I was to own that car, and it was such a joy to drive. Continental Motors in New Haven was the local dealer. Housed in an old brick garage, even the dealer itself was dripping with charm and character that no other cookie cutter dealership could match.
Here I am in Cape Cod, and there couldn’t have been many cars I’d rather have been driving. In college, I’d drive my Alfa the 250 miles to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One winter in 1994, the area was hit with a blizzard with arctic winds and mountains of snow. It must have taken a week until I could get into my car. Bless her, she started right up, but within minutes the parking lot was engulfed in smoke. A trip to the dealer gave the fatal diagnosis-the engine block had cracked from the cold, and my joyous years with my Alfa Romeo had come to an end. The next year, 1995, Alfa Romeo quietly withdrew from North America.
Thirty five years after falling in love with my neighbor’s GTV-6, Alfa Romeo delivered a Giulia to my doorstep. And yes, I was excited. It is a sedan, yes, but it is a small one. And a rather striking, handsome one at that. From the front, it looks like nothing else on the road. Out for dinner in a sea of 3-series, the Giulia is a breath of Mediterranean air. Like a well designed Italian suit, there is no excess or gaudiness. The Giulia looks sophisticated, and self assured.
Inside, the Giulia is charming, and its own cabin to experience. The main gauge cluster with its hooded tach and speedo recall the Alfa Romeo Duetto. While many luxury cars revert to dark wood accents for a serious look, the Giulia sports light walnut that would have looked natural in a 1960’s Ferrari touring coupe. Leather dash, door caps with aluminum trim and pedals compliment the elegant cabin. Crema hides and our car’s panoramic sunroof combine to provide a light, airy cabin. Tasked with taking me to Atlantic City for Labor Day weekend, the Giulia was supremely comfortable, and the Harmon Kardon stereo was a welcome companion. I appreciated the knobs for the climate control.
However, I do have some reservations. Room in the backseat is at a premium, and getting in and out is not graceful. The trunk looked very small, and with a narrow opening, the Giulia’s practicality seems limited to grocery shopping or a weekend couple’s getaway. The graphics on the 8.8″ screen look hopelessly outdated; the navigation screen would have looked old compared to a ten year old Honda. Thankfully, the Giulia has Apple CarPlay and Andoid Auto, so you can overlook this flaw as long as you hook up your phone.
While other markets have different displacement engines and a choice of gas or diesel, North America gets a 2.0L turbo charged four, rated at 280hp. The wild Quadrifoglio is another story, for (hopefully) another review. All Giulia’s come with an 8-speed automatic. For a brand that is all about passion and driving engagement, I find it disappointing enthusiasts are not offered a manual. Thankfully, the Giulia is an entertaining car to drive. This is the first Alfa Romeo sedan designed as a rear wheel drive car since the 75/Milano was discontinued in 1992. All wheel drive is available, but unless traction is called for on the front axle, the Giulia is always in rear wheel drive. Boasting perfect 50/50 weight distribution, handling is delightful, and well controlled. You’d have to be pretty reckless to upset this car. With a 0-60mph time of 5.3 seconds, the Giulia is sufficiently quick off the line and in passing. Steering and brake feel (Brembo brakes BTW) should satisfy nearly any driving enthusiast. The automatic is a willing partner when it’s in the mood, but there were instances when the transmission software seemed at a loss of what it should do.
The Giulia is available in six different trim levels, each of which offer all wheel drive. Our TI Lusso AWD stands as the Giulia with an emphasis on luxury. While the Giulia comes standard with about what you would expect for a car starting at $42,495USD, our test car had nearly every option available. Including delivery, our Giulia cost $55,290USD. What’s more, the features I enjoyed most of our car-that light walnut wood, the aluminum pedals, Harmon Kardon audio, and panoramic moon roof were all options, and their absence would have taken away from the car. While I liked our Giulia, $55,000 seems just a bit too pricey.
Alfa Romeo’s return to North America is still too recent to predict its outcome. Many Gen X’er’s were still in school when Alfa left our shores, and its dealer network is small. Not known for Lexus levels of reliability when they left, buyers are likely gun shy about what modern Alfa Romeo reliability is like today. For some, however, the Giulia is a compelling alternative when every other small sport sedan on the road is either a 3-series or a C-class. Those willing to take the plunge will be rewarded with an engaging driver’s car, handsome looks inside and out, and of course, Italian character. Will it enrapture an 11 year old the way the first GTV-6 did with me? Probably not, but Alfa Romeo has the 4C for that kind of experience!
MONTREAL, QUE. – The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) announced today the vehicles its members selected as the best in Canada for 2020 in each of 12 categories spanning segments that include cars, utility vehicles, and pick-up trucks.
With this announcement, 10 vehicle manufacturers move one step closer to winning the ultimate accolades of 2020 Canadian Car of the Year and 2020 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. Subaru, FCA and Porsche have all been awarded a pair of wins for 2020, while last year’s big winners, Mazda and Kia, have each scored another trophy this year to add to their collections.
The Best EV in Canada and the Best Premium EV in Canada for 2020 mark unprecedented back-to-back category wins for Chrysler and Jaguar respectively.
These winners were selected from across 51 entries, including last year’s category winners and this year’s next-generation or significantly updated vehicles, and voting data was collected anonymously from more than 1,200 ballots. AJAC journalists, from Vancouver to Halifax, drove the vehicles during a six-month evaluation period on the very same roads and in the same conditions experienced daily by Canadian drivers every day.
“AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year category award winners are those vehicles deemed by our members to be the cars, SUVs, and trucks that are best suited to the realities of driving in Canada,” said Stephanie Wallcraft, President of AJAC. “AJAC members comprise the largest collective group of automotive journalism expertise in the country, and they take pride in providing assessments that are objective, fair, and based on real-world road testing experience. Canadians can be confident that each of these vehicles has been selected as a standout by experts who understand the unique challenges of navigating Canada’s diverse roads and conditions.”
All 12 of these vehicles now qualify to be named 2020 Canadian Car of the Year or 2020 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. These awards will be presented as part of the opening ceremonies for the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto on February 13, 2020.
The 2020 Canadian Green Car of the Year and 2020 Canadian Green Utility Vehicle of the Year awards, bestowed upon those deemed to be the best among fuel-efficient or electrified vehicles available in Canada, will be presented at the Vancouver International Auto Show on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
2020 Canadian Car of the Year and 2020 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year Category Winners:
Best Small Car in Canada for 2020
Best Large Car in Canada for 2020
Best Small Premium Car in Canada for 2020
Best Sports-Performance Car in Canada for 2020
Best Premium Sports-Performance Car in Canada for 2020
Porsche 911 Carrera
Best Mid-Size Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020
Best Large Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020
Best Small Premium Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020
Best Mid-Size Premium Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020
Best Pick-up in Canada for 2020
Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
Best EV in Canada for 2020
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (Repeat winner)
Best Premium EV in Canada for 2020
Jaguar I-PACE (Repeat winner)
Telluride. For a skier, the name conjures up visions of a wild west town in Colorado ski country, known for deep powder and epic parties.
I have never skied at the legendary Colorado resort, but I did stay there once. For one night. The town has matured from the party town I grew up reading about, to a modern corporate resort town, with cookie cutter type upscale hotels being the norm. Not a hot tub party in sight.
Three beers. That was all I had. The combination of those three beers and 8,750′ of elevation made for one of the worst hangovers of my life. My head was huge and my lungs were an absolute mess. Turns out that I wasn’t the only one in the group and after a full day spent above 10,000 feet, a few drinks destroyed those of us who live at sea level.
Some might say that the less mature, cronologically, among us fared better. Like a certain ski town, some of us had become somehow softer, perhaps even pedestrian, with our middle-age creep.
It is interesting then that Kia elected to name it’s largest ever vehicle after a Victorian era silver mining town where the ghosts of past riches have been forgotten in favour of the amenities demanded by modern tourists with too much disposable income. I mean, hasn’t Kia become known as typically a value brand?
Well, sort of.
Kia has built a reputation for offering more bang for the buck, particularly in the modern infotainment amenities arena, than any other manufacturer.
Over the past few years however, as the brand has matured, so have their vehicles. Their interiors in particular have evolved to become somehow more American, in a good way, than at least two of the three traditional North American manufacturers.
Let’s face it, if you are looking at buying any of the three row SUVs on the market, then you really don’t give a fig about driving. You are buying an appliance which allows you to sit up high above the normies in cars, while carting your herd of spawn and their flotsam, with the misguided feeling that you are somehow safer because you are driving the biggest vehicle on the road.
What you likely do care about is the way the overall experience makes you feel when you look at the vehicle and especially once you are inside. This, is where the Kia Telluride stands head and shoulders above much of the competition, with a value added bottom line.
Let’s get pricing out of the way. A base Telluride can be had for forty five thousand bucks, while a fully loaded, every option known to human kind is just nine grand more.
To put that into perspective, a jammed Pilot is $57K. A Durango Citadel V6 is $61K. They aren’t competitors, but it is worth mentioning that if you drop a V8 in a Durango, you can be north of 70 in the blink of an eye.
Typically, traditional domestics aren’t lumped in with traditional imports when it comes to comparisons, but there is a direct link between the Telluride and the Durango which makes them a natural comparison. Dodge is that one company I alluded to above that builds interiors that feel, well, American. I mean that in the best, highest quality way. The crazy thing is that while the Telluride offers a somewhat different flavour of that feel, it too feels like the most American thing on the road.
From wood inserts to real stitching, the Telluride feels like it was inspired by a Doctor’s lounge in an old mountain town. Unfortunately, looking through my photos, I have to say that my shots simply do not do the space justice. The interior of the Telluride is nice.
Centre row passengers were happy to be coddled by their own seat heaters and we were amazed at the number of device charging options. There are no fewer than 6 USB ports and a wireless charger that actually worked with my Samsung Galaxy S9. I mention that because many of the vehicles I have tested this year did not. It is worth checking before you buy any vehicle if wireless charging is important to you.
On the tech driver aid front, the our tester offered pretty much every nanny imaginabile, packaged into a system dubbed “Kia Drive Wise” Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS).
Smart phone users who are so inclined can use an app that Kia calls UVO to control door locks, act as a remote starter and access climate controls. It also allows the user to create road trip data on their phone and then send that plan to the vehicle’s navi system if equipped.
A regular customer in The Garage Cafe, who drives a Stinger GT warns that the UVO app is a data hog, particularly when using the mapping feature, which does not automatically disconnect itself from the vehicle once it pushes the trip info to the vehicle.
Naturally, the Telluride moves people well and with all of the seats down, you could pretty much land a small aircraft in it. Or, you could do what we did and use it to haul enough stuff to feed a couple of hundred holiday partiers.
Our week with the Telluride semi-ironically (given the direction of my story) included the first two snow storms of the season. Fortunately, our tester was shod with a full set of Yokohama iceGUARD G075 Winter tires.
This guy has driven a LOT of vehicles through Winter storms in Ontario over the years, so take note of the following statement. This combo made for the most sure footed vehicle I have ever driven in the snow. Period. The Yoko equipped Telluride offered absolutely exceptional grip on acceleration, but more importantly it also excelled under braking and while turning. Simply amazing.
With 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft, the Telluride has more than enough oomph for dailt driving and is rated to tow 5,000 lb. Our tester was not equipped with a trailer hitch, so we were not able to see how it tows.
Transport Canada rates the Telluride for 12.5/9.6 L/100km . In a mix of city & highway driving, we saw an average of 12 L/100KM. Not bad considering that it also included two snow storms.
Even if your ski trips involve dropping the kids off at the local terrain park and not heading to the mountains, the Telluride’s bang for the buck, combined with sure footed performance on the road and American style luxury make it a must drive for shoppers looking for a substantial family hauler.