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APA at the January 2017 Auto Shows

The APA's Staff Writer, Ron Corbett, attended both the Detroit and Montreal auto shows. Here is Ron's report on the most significant vehicles revealed at the shows.


Formally known as the North American International Auto Show, the Detroit show is the first all-vehicle event of the 2017 season. Detroit once had January all to itself, but the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held just before Detroit, has become a vehicle technology showcase with significant vehicle product reveals, and is now usurping some of Detroit’s thunder. The following vehicles were exclusive to the Detroit show and did not appear in Montreal.  


Though generally a clean design, the Odyssey has lines that meander over its flanks for no particular reason, disturbing its visual purity  

Most automakers have left the minivan market but Honda is doing steady business in the segment and unveiled the fifth-generation Odyssey at Detroit.

The new Odyssey is powered by a 280 horsepower direct-injected V6 that sends power to the front wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission in most trims, with a 10 speed exclusive to the range-topping Touring model.

Cabin space is very generous, about the same as the last Odyssey, but cabin materials are more luxurious. The so-called Magic Seat centre row seats can either be used as captain seats or moved laterally together to ease access to the third-row seat, and forward to be permit front row occupants to reach second row passengers more easily. Comfort and convenience features include 4G LTE WiFi as well as CabinWatch and CabinTalk that permit the driver to monitor second and third-row passengers visually and communicate with them through the audio system in the van.  

Available active safety equipment includes collision mitigation braking and road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and blind spot with rear cross traffic warnings.

The new Camry looks more distinctive than its predecessors

The eighth-generation Camry, built on the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) underpinning a number of recent Toyotas, should be on sale by this summer.

Engine choices remain a 2.5L four and a 3.5L V6, but Toyota notes the engines are all new. Power reaches the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic. The hybrid model returns.

Toyota’s Safety Sense-P, with pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic cruise control and lane departure warning and assists, is standard, with blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings, optional.


Chic, contemporary 2018 Tiguan is served up in an XL format for North America

After nine years on the market, Volkswagen finally unveiled a second-generation Tiguan at the Detroit show. Built on VW’s MQB architecture, the new Tiguan, is built on a 2791 mm (110 inch) wheelbase, which is more than 178 mm (7 inches) longer than its predecessor and 112 mm (4.4 inches) longer than Tiguans sold in other markets. Power stems from a 2L turbo four with 184 horsepower and a stout 221 lb-ft of torque, which reaches the wheels (front or all four) via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Instruments are located in a dashboard housing logical controls that will be familiar to Volkswagen owners. Attractive cabin components include soft-touch surfaces and luxury touches like flock lining for the door bins. The longer wheelbase results in a very roomy cabin with impressive legroom for second-row occupants. Volkswagen offers a third-row seat but it really is just a catalogue line item, as space is minimal. Cargo space is ample when in two row mode, and next to nil if the third seat is deployed to accept passengers.

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept car references the iconic VW Type 2 bus, but with electric power 


Colourful glass wall of the Montreal Palais des Congres, where the Salon de l'Auto is held

The Salon International de l'Auto de Montreal

Montreal's Salon International de l’Auto, the first show on the Canadian auto show circuit, opened to the public on January 20, 2017. This report follows the reveal schedule of the press day and highlights the most significant vehicles unveiled.


No one can accuse Toyota of dull styling with this very distinctive CH-R

The CH-R, built on the Toyota's New Global Architecture that debuted on the 2016 Prius, shares the same wheelbase as the Prius, but is 110 mm (4.3 inches) longer and a bit lower and wider.

In Toyota speak, the CH-R name translates to Coupe High Rider. Despite looking like a two-door hatchback, the CH-R is actually a four door, with good access to a roomy looking back seat. Though rear seat occupants will be comfortable enough, the swiftly rising belt line and tiny windows will make for a bunker-like travel experience for passengers, and limit outward vision for the driver.

The CH-R's 2L four cranks out 144 horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels via a CVT exclusively. Despite looking like a CUV, Toyota will not offer an all-wheel drive variant of the CH-R, at least not initially.

Even the base model is equipped with a lane departure warning and dynamic cruise control, with the top-spec, XLE premium, adding blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings.

The new Equinox is another example of Chevrolet's renaissance. Its platform mate, the GMC Terrain, will be shown in Toronto in February

Though it debuted at the Los Angeles show last November, the Montreal show is where the Equinox was first presented in Canada. Based on a new architecture, the 2018 Equinox is built on a 132 mm (5.2 inch) shorter wheelbase, spans 118 mm (4.6 inches) less from bumper to bumper. The Equinox has been put on a diet as it is up to 180 kilograms lighter than its predecessor.

The primary gasoline engine for the Equinox is a 170 horsepower 1.5L turbo four cylinder; a 252 horsepower 2L turbo four is optional. In what might be a Too-Late-to-Stop-It move, given the fiasco of the Volkswagen diesel, Chevrolet announced that a 160 horsepower 1.6L turbodiesel engine will be available. The 1.5L gas four and the diesel are hooked up to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, with the 2L attached to a new nine-speed.

The cabin of the new Equinox reflects the current School of Chevrolet design, with a dashboard that looks lifted directly from the Malibu sedan. The rest of the interior is stylish, with pleasing shapes, some attractive colour combinations and matte finished hard surfaces. The shorter wheelbase has not diminished cabin space, with rear seat legroom being ample. The front seats are very comfortable, but cutouts at the outboard ends of the rear seatback leave some occupants feeling unsupported. The cargo area is substantial. 

Long a hit in Europe, the Qashqai comes to Canada this year

Nissan abandoned the conventional C-segment hatchback market in Europe about a decade ago, replacing it with the Qashqai, which has been very successful for them there.

The Qashqai (to be sold in the U.S., as the Rogue Sport) is Nissan’s entry in the micro CUV class inhabited by vehicles such as the Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. The Qashqai is a bit larger overall than the Honda HR-V but usefully smaller than the Rogue, which will suit the urbanites, Nissan’s primary market target.

The sole engine, a 141 horsepower 2L four, sends power to the front, or all wheels, via a CVT; a six-speed manual is also offered on front-wheel drive versions.

The cabin is elegant and uses various familiar bits from other Nissans. Good interior space, including rear seat legroom. The front seats are quite supportive but the rear bench seat cushion is overly firm and the seat itself is mounted too low to the floor. Cargo space is ample.

More imposing than stylish, the Atlas finally gives Volkswagen a competitor in the three-row CUV segment

After a long period sitting on the sidelines while other carmakers booked increasing sales of three-row CUVs, especially in the U.S. where this segment sells in robust numbers, Volkswagen has finally released its three-row Atlas. Built on the same component set that underpins the Passat, the Atlas is built alongside it in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Like the Passat, the cabin of the Atlas is very functional but lacklustre, and interior materials, once a Volkswagen drawing card, are class average at best. However, the seats are comfortable, space is abundant in the first two rows, with competitive room for third-row occupants. Cargo space is generous in two row mode and typical for the class when seven passengers are being carried.

Front-wheel drive variants are powered by a 2L turbo four with 235 horsepower; a 276 horsepower 3.6L VR6 is employed on Atlas models equipped with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

A full suite of active safety features is available on the Atlas, which also offers a Post-Collision system that maintains braking force once the airbags have been deployed.


The e-Golf electrifies the versatile Golf package

Though offered in other markets for a number of years, the e-Golf made its debut in Montreal and should be available in Canada by this summer.

The European automakers were slow to adopt electrification and right now they're playing catch-up.The 35.8 kWh battery of the full electric e-Golf provides a maximum range of 200 km, which is unimpressive compared to the new Chevrolet Bolt. Heated seats, a heated windshield and a heat pump system are designed to reduce heater use during the winter, to extend the range in cold weather when battery efficiency drops. L.E.D. headlamps, taillights and various aerodynamic tweaks reduce drag and enhance range in all weathers. Very good packaging results in no discernible loss of passenger or cargo space compared with those of a conventional Golf. 

The second-generation Compass also replaces the Patriot 

After a ten year run, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has finally unveiled a second generation Compass. It is built on the same platform than underpins its showroom mates, the Jeep Cherokee and Renegade. The redesigned Compass replaces both itself and the current Patriot, which will not be renewed. The new model looks more mature compared to its predecessor, which always had a slightly makeshift aura to it.

The cabin is very much in the FCA corporate style and none the worse for it. It's tastefully conservative, with crisply-marked gauges, logical HVAC and audio controls, copious soft-touch surfaces and attractive materials. The front seats are comfortable and there is plenty of legroom front and rear, but the rear seat cushion is hard and uncomfortable. Rear seat headroom is tight. Good cargo space.

Power is provided by a 180 horsepower 2.4L four that is hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission on front-wheel drive models, with all-wheel drive variants employing a nine-speed automatic. Two all-wheel drive systems, Jeep Active Drive, a full-time all-wheel drive is will suit most buyers, with Jeep Active Drive Low, with a 20:1 crawl ratio, available for the more adventurous. The Trailhawk version adds Selec-Terrain which includes Selec-Speed control and Hill Descent control.

In a move destined to create confusion, the new Compass will be sold as a 2017 model alongside the remaining first-generation Compass, also sold as a 2017.