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CarTest! features hundreds of pages of car reviews and automotive resources to assist you in making a decision about the best vehicle to drive. Our logo photo of Continental Flying Spur foot pedals is  courtesy of Bentley.
Vol. 14
Issue No. 330
ISSN 1703-535X
© 2002-2016

Bill Roebuck

Bill Roebuck
Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan
Mark Derry
Dennis DesRosiers
Malcolm Gunn
Stephen Hess
Norm Mort
Doug Neilson
Katie Roebuck

Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC)
CarTest! reviewers are voting members of AJAC, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.

Buckle up! Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.

With a little something for everyone, the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow is a great place to come out and celebrate Family Day on Monday, Feb. 15 -- or anytime the show is open from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21. The event is taking place in downtown Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The show offers exciting activities, prizes for the whole family and exclusive giveaways. -more-

Future automonous vehicles will drive naturally, not like robots.Jaguar Land Rover is investing in a multi-million-dollar research project that will help future autonomous vehicles drive naturally like human drivers, rather than like robots. -more-

Although consumers identify safety as a priority when purchasing a new car, the majority of Canadians reportedly have limited awareness of how vehicle safety features work. In an effort to change that, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and the Toyota Canada Foundation developed Brain on Board, a public education program to engage Canadians to learn more about modern vehicle safety features, dispelling myths about how they work and reminding drivers that knowing more about their vehicle's safety technology will help them to be safer drivers. -more-

With a range of up to 138 kilometres between charges, the smart fortwo electric drive combines zero-local emission motoring and agile handling.The second annual AJAC Eco-Run, conducted recently by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), produced some eye-opening results with respect to the relative merits of different fuel-saving technologies and the effect of driving style on fuel economy. The overall average fuel-consumption for the 22 vehicles in the Eco-Run was just 5.27 L/100 km. Significantly, that figure is below the average combined official fuel-consumption figures published in Natural Resources Canada's Energuide for the same vehicles. One interesting finding is this: While hybrids excelled in city operation, when comparing vehicles of similar size and type, the best of the gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles were as good as or better than some of the hybrids on the highway.

2013 Lexus ES.By Bill Roebuck
More style. More substance. More fuel economy with a new hybrid model. Lots of luxury goodies (and even so, lots of expensive options too). But wait, is the 2013 Lexus ES simply a tricked out Toyota Camry? After all, it shares the 268-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 used in the Camry, and the new hybrid drivetrain is also from the Camry hybrid. Having witnessed Toyota and Lexus models being manufactured in the same plant, the Lexus marquee does get special treatment - a separate production line in the plant and separate, specially trained assembly workers - that really do make the it a step better. With a starting price of 44 large, it well outprices competitors such as the Lincoln MKZ and the Cadillac CTS. For Lexus fans - and there are many - the new ES is likely to simply enhance an already loved model. 2013 Lexus ES

2013 Chevrolet Spark (rear view with hatch open). The rear opening is crowded by the bumper and taillights and, of course, by the rear seat when it's in the upright position. There are no miracles here: the Spark is a small runabout, not a minivan.By Bill Roebuck
Chevrolet's mini-car for Canada, the Chevy Spark, launched for the 2013 model year, had already on sale in Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico and South America, where it had received several styling and safety awards. It's interesting that the Spark looks like a three-door hatchback, but it's actually a five-door. The designers cleverly disguised the rear doors by integrating the handles into the C-pillar area. It's well done. And with the destination charge, it starts at $15,000 (it's just over 21 large with all the coveted options). The term 'ignites' in our headline is a bit misleading when you consider the Spark's engine produces just 85 horsepower. But that may be enough for an economical-to-drive city car. How brightly do we think the Spark's light will shine in this newly competitive market? Read on. 2013 Chevrolet Spark

Ford Fusion Electric (front view).By Bill Roebuck
You think electric cars have been around for only a couple of years? No, longer than that. Interestingly, the 2012 Ford Fusion Electric looks a lot like a regular 2012 Ford Fusion, except it gets a distinctive front end. The charging port door on the front fender on the driver's side is a giveaway that this is not a gas-powered hatchback. The quick charging time is impressive -- but that's only using a 240-volt system, otherwise it's tediously slow. The big question is how this electric model will stand up to a Canadian winter.  2012 Ford Fusion Electric

2013 Nissan Altima.By Bill Roebuck
With its slick new design, a more glamorous presence, less weight, nicer materials inside, more horsepower yet much better fuel economy, and the innovative Easy Fill Tire Alert -- what's not to like? 2013 Nissan Altima

By Bill Roebuck
2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.We have the Dodge Challenger at 470 hp and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 at 550 hp. With bragging rights on the line, you just had to know that Chevrolet would eventually retaliate, thus the new-for-2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at 580 hp is on the market. And this is no ordinary Camaro with more horsepower. It's been beefed up top to bottom to handle the power. Read the details about the forthcoming reincarnation of the ZL1 (you may never have heard of the original, as only 69 were built for 1969 ... but you're sure to hear about this one -- or at least hear its rumble down the road). 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

When buying a used car, choose a model from the most reliable brands and one that will age gracefully over time. However, any vehicle can become a clunker if it has been neglected or has sustained damage from an accident or flood damage. See the list of 7 Ways to Avoid a Lemon.

By Bill Roebuck
The 2013 Dodge Dart looks nothing like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta on which it is based.As an all-new front-wheel-drive compact sedan, the 2013 Dodge Dart is full of surprises. While customers were expecting Chrysler to finally replace its long-gone Neon compact, in fact the company has done much more. That's thanks to its having been taken over by Fiat. And unlike Chrysler's previous unsuccessful marriage to Daimler, it looks like the Fiat-Chrysler honeymoon will last for some years. Especially unexpected from this fuel-frugal compact is the fact it can be impressively kitted up with full luxury accoutrements. Or for those who want their fancy under the hood and not under their butt, enthusiasts can check off a growling 184-hp 2.4-litre four-banger on the option chart. There's also a torquey turbo choice in between, borrowed from the Fiat 500 Abarth. We've sat behind the wheel of the Dart in its fancy trim, and came away impressed with the looks and the roominess inside. Read on for more details: 2013 Dodge Dart.

By Bill Roebuck
The refreshed design is certainly sporty for a Camry and not exactly a radical departure from the previous model. Toyota has never really needed to dramatically change the Camry formula to keep it on top.The refreshed design of the 2012 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid is certainly sporty for a Camry and not exactly a radical departure from the previous model. Toyota has never really needed to dramatically change the Camry formula to keep it on top. The much-improved cabin in the 2012 Toyota Camry stands out against the previous model's. On the road, it's the mid-line SE that's the most fun to drive, with its sporty suspension tuning, steering-wheel paddle shifters, more supportive front seats and a quicker-shifting transmission that blips the throttle when downshifting to match the engine speed to the new gear. Wow, all that in a Camry? We think that's smart. 2012 Toyota Camry

By Bill Roebuck 
2012 Honda CivicTry as they might to be different and innovative, the Honda Civic's designers really are afraid of change. Having best-seller status creates a stifling effect on bending the rules, so the Civic gives us more of the same, albeit in a nicer, bigger package for 2012. Like its predecessors, the 2012 Civic is  one of those compact cars that's a no-brainer decision. It runs really well, it looks nice, it's roomy inside, it's safe, it's got some cool technology -- even a hybrid version -- and it's fuel-friendly in all versions. We also think the interior design is innovative and interesting. What's not to like? 2012 Honda Civic

2012 Hyundai VelosterBy Bill Roebuck
The stuff coming out of Hyundai's design studios just gets better and better. Not only are its newly skinned sedans sweet, the latest model, a three-door hatchback (yes, there's a 'real' third side door) makes it both an stylish oddity and yet a practical contender in the small car market. 2012 Hyundai Veloster

2012 Volkswagen PassatBy Bill Roebuck
I've loved the Passat since the day Volkswagen brought it to Canada. Quiet, solid and uncannily swift, it's also one of those cars that's so smooth, it could take you up to law-breaking speeds without you noticing (I unfortunately report this fact based on a very expensive personal experience). And now it's bigger and classier than ever. 2012 Volkswagen Passat

Use this signal to say you're sorry when you make a mistake while driving.By Bill Roebuck
The problem of road rage never seems to go away. Drivers make mistakes for various reasons, but what do you do if you want to apologize? In our culture, it's nearly impossible! A single hand gesture would do the trick. We have common hand gestures to tell people 'where to go', but what about one that would say 'Yes, I know I made a mistake, and I'm sorry'. Think of the possibilities if there was one. So has come up with one. Try this next time you mess up behind the wheel. Hold up your right hand, flat, fingers apart. That's it. The idea is to have a very simple, easy-to-remember, easy-to-understand hand signal that says 'I'm sorry'. Sorry signal

1931 Auburn 8-98A Phaeton. Photo credit: Legendary Motorcar Co. Ltd.By Bill Roebuck
Inspired by the thousands of readers who have an interest in old cars, classic cars, collectible cars and investment vehicles, CarTest! has launched a new section of descriptions of such vehicles, including their current Canadian prices at the time they were offered for sale. Our purpose is to provide a simple reference point to the value of a vehicle, as well as giving you a few interesting details in the descriptions of the models listed. Classics and collectibles

Advertisement: NTVA, North Toronto Auction


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