Category Archives: Auto

2017 Acura MDX – Safety, Room and Performance

Taking the Acura MDX for a Spin or Two!

We drove our fair share of cars last year, sometimes just about town, but usually on one of our frequent road trips, and we certainly found a few favourites. Our number one was the Acura MDX, both around the city and on the highways; it was the hardest loaner to give back.

2017 Acura MDX

We drove the newest model last month up to Sun Peaks Resort in rather advanced snow conditions, and the vehicle certainly made the trip more comfortable and possibly saved our lives. I know that sounds rather dramatic, but the we had a near miss when an eighteen wheeler came around the corner, far too far over in our lane, and the car in front of us braked suddenly. We had full snow tires on and the grip combined with the Vehicle Stability Assist stabilized the vehicle and maintained traction, and prevented us from a full slide off the road.  The MDX now also has the AcruaWatch safety system across the whole MDX line, not just in the Elite, so all models are also aided by forward collision warning, auto-emergency braking and lane-keeping. The lane-keeping can be a bit abrupt and we chose to disable as it sort of jerks the car if you veer off slightly and it’s a bit distracting.2017 Acura MDX

The Acura MDX is in the luxury three-row crossover category, with a price range from around $54,000-$66,000, and there’s plenty of room for passengers, or in our case luggage. The engine is 290-horsepower, 3.5-litre V6 engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission, with variable cylinder management, meaning it runs on only three cylinders when full power isn’t needed. Our model included auto start/stop, shutting off the engine at idle, but I prefer to disable this. The fuel economy is great for such a roomy vehicle.

2017 Acura MDX

Driving the MDX, you’ll find it responds amazingly, and the ride is smooth, you can opt to drive it in comfort, normal or sport settings, depending on how aggressively you’d like to travel. In Canada all MDX come with the Acura’s SH-AWD (Super Handling all-wheel drive) system; which increases or reduces torque to individual wheels as the car accelerates or turns. There’s also the adaptive cruise control, a low-speed follow system that allows you to set a desired speed and also maintain a desired interval from the car ahead so you enjoy the benefits of cruise control in light traffic

2017 Acura MDX

There are two screens in the dash to control the stereo, heating, navigation, etc. and we liked the way the one screen can stay in navigation mode, while you adjust the temperature in the other. There’s a lot going on there though, with heated seats, a premium stereo and rear-seat entertainment too, so you do need to take some time to get to know the system and if you are solo when driving, I’d recommend pulling over for some of the more complicated functions.

2017 Acura MDX

The 2017 is a bit sexier than the previous year with a new streamlined grille and reshaped LED headlights, hood, rear bumper, and dual exhaust outlets. It looks sleeker, wider and slightly lower, and still parks easily in tight spots, assisted by the rear view cameras.

The Acura MDX is a great choice for families that need both room and safety, and for couples who road trip. We’re definitely booking this one again this year.

Safety First for 2017 – Winter Tire Testing With Kal Tire

Winter Tire Testing Proves Vancouver Road Conditions Call For More Than All Seasons This Year

Sometimes we talk food, sometimes, wine and sometimes cars and driving. Since we opted out of owning a car, we’ve had the opportunity to drive all sorts of different models and compare everything from seat comfort to the effectiveness of anti-locking braking systems and fancy headlights. We’ve become acutely aware of tires and have driven on a number of different tire types, from summer passenger to all seasons and winter. One official road test we’ve done involved side by side comparisons of summer and winter tires, in summer driving conditions (see Driving Tips with Carl Nadeau, Michelin), and it was obvious the winter tires must come off for summer or performance and safety suffers vastly. This time we tested out 3 seasons and winter tires, both new and worn.

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The Course Part 1

Kal Tire invited me out to take the driver’s seat to experience first-hand the differences in the performance of new versus worn winter tires and a new versus worn three-season tires on a driving course in Pitt Meadows with winter-like road conditions. To prepare for the drive event, dry ice was placed on the road to lower the road’s surface temperature and then shaved ice was placed on top of the cold surface to replicate the same type of snowy conditions that a driver would encounter when braking or cornering on a snowy road surface. We also drove on a track that that was not snow covered, but was cold and wet due to rain.

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Worn tirer….obviously.

As you can imagine when driving with the worn tires, both winter and three seasons, there was far more slipping on corners, and even skidding (yikes) and when the brakes were slammed fully on the snow, the car slide far further than with the new tires.

The surprising thing for me, though, was the new three season vs the new winter tires. With the colder roads, even the snow free parts, the three seasons lacked the grip that the winter tire exhibited and when the tires hit the snow, the winter tires stopped many feet ahead of the three seasons, sliding far less horizontally as well, even when both were brand new.

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Checking Tires Out

In the past I’d relied on the all seasons to get me through, well, all seasons. I wasn’t into spending a lot of money on things as boring as tires, and thought that it really didn’t make a ton of difference, but really, I was so very wrong. With Vancouver’s weather in January remaining both cold and snowy, and the forecast continuing on for a few months, I’m encouraging you to check your tires and re-think them, if they are all season, as it could mean a literal difference between life and death.

mdx

We recently drove up to Sun Peaks and on the way home a huge truck came towards us far over the line on our side of the road. The car, the Acura MDX, had a new set of solid winter tires on, and those, combined with the superior handling of the vehicle, kept us on the road, although I wasn’t entirely sure there for a minute.

If you haven’t got them yet, get them winter tires now, or please stay off the roads, even just around Vancouver. There’s a long road ahead of us this season.

*Post sponsored by Kal Tire, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Premium Tires For Safety – Michelin Premier LTX

Taking Michelin Premier LTX Tires For a Spin

Not sure about you but as I’ve gotten bit older my choices of how to spend money have changed and I’ve opt for a “safer” lifestyle all around (I’m so grown up). When I was in university I remember having a terrible car accident and totaling my car and it was likely preventable should I have replaced my tires regularly with something with a descent tread. However at the time I seem to have had more pressing needs, like dining out, or drinking wine. Now that I’ve now tested a variety of tires, though, and know how differently they perform, I wouldn’t play so recklessly with car safety. I’d be forced by my adult-like sense to completely skip the dinners out, stay home and eat some ichiban, and invest the money in tires.

michelin premium tlx

Recently Michelin offered us a chance to try some tires, and we decided to give the Premier LTX a spin (pun intended) on the Honda Odyssey that my friend drives.  These tires are Michelin’s crossover/SUV touring all-season tires that are great for Vancouver as they’ve got super wet grip when new and when worn. They’re known for their all-season traction on wintry roads, even in light snow, making them ideal as long as the car doesn’t need to take the Coquihalla or travel the backroads.

We chose Kal Tire to install the tires, as there’s many around, they’ve got a great track record, and their rates are good. Their service was excellent and when the tires had to be torqued, as they do after you drive on them for a bit, we were able to do it in Abbotsford on the way out of town instead of back at the original location; super convenient. The tires hugged the road and we all felt a lot safer driving the vehicle; you don’t have to know the technology to understand and feel the safety good tires make.

72 gallery hero premier as

Premier LTX tires use extreme silica and sunflower oil enhanced tread compound to increase traction in wet and cold temperatures. The mould the compound into a light-truck-size-tuned symmetric tread design featuring a continuous center rib flanked by notched intermediate ribs and linked shoulder blocks to combine straight-line tracking with responsive dry-road handling. Michelin adds Expanding Rain Grooves around the tire’s circumference and Emerging Grooves across its shoulders, so as the tire wears, the Expanding Rain Grooves widen while Emerging Grooves open up, providing more traction in wet and wintry conditions.

premierltx persp

While all-season tires are meant to keep you safe in occasional, transitional weather conditions, you need winter tires to safely ride through our Canadian winters. Winter tires feature unique tread compounds, like the flex-ice compound in Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tires, which allow them to remain more flexible in colder temperatures, providing better traction than all-season tires. All-season tires are less flexible and less effective when the temperature drops consistently below freezing, and especially when precipitation is added to the mix

*Sponsored by Michelin.

Test Drive – Acura TLX

The Acura TLX On The Road to Adventure

Next up in test drives was the 2016 Acura TLX which is a pretty slick looking car, above the price-point of the Honda sedans, but fairly comparable to the higher priced BMW and Lexus but with a much lower cash outlay. 

This car comes with 2 types of engines, the 2.4-litre, 16-valve, Direct Injection DOHC, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine with 206 hp @ 6800 rpm and 182 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm and the 3.5-litre Direct Injection SOHC i-VTEC® aluminum-alloy V6 engine with 290 hp @ 6200 rpm and 267 lb.-ft of torque @ 4500 rpm. The former comes with Precision All-Wheel Steer system and  an 8-speed dual clutch-transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters; the latter with a Super Handling All-Wheel Drive  (SH-AWD®)  that replaces Precision All-Wheel Steer system and 9-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift® paddle shifters.

Acura TLX

There’s lots of energy saving when you drive the TLX, the engine stops when you do and start back up when you hit the accelerator, a feature which actually annoys me somewhat as I am yet to get used to this, and the 6 cylinder cuts down 2 cylinders when you don’t need them all.

Acura TLX

The cars have an Integrated Dynamic System (IDS) which has four modes, the economy mode, holding the rpm’s lower, the normal mode, a sport mode allowing higher rpm’s and the sport plus with full manual pedals with a good reaction time. The cars steering is also quicker in the full control mode.

The car is smooth and quiet with quieting foam and a quieting windshield and the seats are comfortable and adjustable. There’s 13.2 cubic feet of cargo space, fold down back seats for more room, and a hidden compartment in the trunk for even more storage. The drivers seats are comfortable and the advance package seats are heated and ventilated with a 10 way adjust driver and an 8-way passenger, along with a tilted steering wheel. The backseat room is 34.5 inches and seats also come heated, authentic leather and wood finishes complete the package.

Acura TLX

There’s two screens for viewing navigation and the parking sensors  on the top and a touch screen for audio, climate control and more. The 4 cylinder comes with 17 inch wheels and the V6 with 18 inch.

There’s lots of safety features, even in the standard, such as tire pressure alerts, anti-lock brakes, 7 air bags, vehicle stability assist, and brake assist.  The advanced adds parking sensors, collision mitigation, seat belt pretension, and the tech version has lane keeping, forward collision, parking sensors, road departure mitigation, and collision mitigation braking.

Acura TLX

With a comfortable cabin, a wack of power and a high-end look, we’d like to be in this car more often. We’ve driven it twice now, over to the Island above with lots of highway time in sport mode and around town this summer where economy was the better choice

*Acura provided the TLX for our review purposes.

Hitting the Road with the 2016 Acura RDX Luxury SUV

2016 Acura RDX – Travelling in Style

We’ve been testing out several cars this year and as far as SUV’s go, the Acura RDX has been a favourite and has gotten us up to the Osoyoos Oyster Festival and around Vancouver in style. Michael’s posing above the Okanagan Valley.

It’s starts at $41,990, and comes with a ton of features that keep us safe and comfortable.  The engine is powerful, getting us effortlessly over the Coquihalla, it’s a 3.5 liter V-6 engine,  and the RDX’s comes standard with all-wheel-drive system with Intelligent Control, stability and performance. There’s a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift® paddle shifters.

Acura RDXThe RDX has AcuraWatch, a suite of technology including
Adaptive a Cruise Control (slows the RDX down to match the speed of the vehicle ahead of it), Collision Mitigation Braking System  (detects slow-moving or stopped objects ahead and warns the driver to apply the brakes)  and Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warning (guides the auto back in lanes). The rearview camera and it’s relatively compact size make it easy to park and it’s crash safety design is top notch.

Acura RDX

The interior feels luxurious and their navigation system got us to our destination with no wrong turns. there’s even air conditioning in the back seats and great passenger seat control, eight-way in fact. Standard features on the RDX include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch dashboard information display and a seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a USB audio interface.

Acura RDX

With great fuel economy, partly due to the cylinder deactivation system and lots of cargo space, the RDX is an excellent choice for road trips.  Bonus points for looking so slick too! Traveling in style!

acura rdx

*Acura loaned us the RDX to test, but we’d keep it if we could! See how nice it looks in our neighbourhood!

Honda Accord Coupe Touring V6 2016

We test drove the Honda Accord and didn’t want to return it!

This year we’ve tested out a couple different rides so far and when we were on our way to Semiahmoo Resort, we booked the latest Honda Accord Coupe Touring V6 2016.

Honda Accord

This is a zippy number with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine; 278 hp, 252 lb-ft and a 6-speed automatic transmission.  It looks expensive, but comes in around around $30,000-$35,000 depending on features. The car has the standard 2 doors, seats 5 passengers, and gets 21/32 mpg city/hwy. Great on gas and lots of room for luggage and shopping purchases on our road trips.

honda 2016

With a key-less entry and push start you can get going quickly and there’s lots of great safety features that I can’t believe I ever had to live without. The lane keeping assistance, forward collision warning, electronic stability control, Honda LaneWatch Right Side Camera, and back up camera are literally life-savers.

honda

This model has an stellar entertainment system, great sounds, with SiriusXM, touch-screen features, and bluetooth syncing for your phone so you can go hands-free. Heated front bucket seats and a 2-position memory for when you’re not the only driver add to the super-comfy driving experience. Seats fold down in the back for extra cargo room and there’s an Integrated Navigation System w/Voice Activation  and even a Voice Activated Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning and 2 Power Outlets.

Honda Accord

The wheels on this model are 18-inch and the brakes are 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control, for super fast stopping. The Accord’s ride is fluid and acceleration is relatively seamless.

This is a great car for a road trip and we were sorry we weren’t going further and certainly didn’t feel like returning this one!

Road Tripping with the Honda HR-V

I’ve been driving a few sporty vehicles lately, but when I decided to take a trip over to Salt Spring Island I needed to bit of a larger ride to carry the inevitable excess of luggage, along with my friend Tess (and her bags), ample room for two others that I’d had planned to take with on an apple festival adventure, and possible purchases. More on our apple festival adventures here.

Honda has a new vehicle out this year, and it fit the bill precisely, without the price tag you’d expect from a ride with such attractive and sporty design. The Honda HR-V comes in a basic model, the LX starting at $20, 690, and there’s an EX-L Model in between but we test drove the EX-L Navi model which has features that drives it to the $29,990 price tag; a bit more, but the trims are worth it. The EX-L is all wheel drive and has a continuously variable transmission. All models of the HR-V have a 141 horsepower, 1.8 litre 4-cylinder 16-valve engine and 127 lb.-ft of torque.

Honda HR-V

The safety features of this car earned it the highest overall score for collision safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and fortunately we had no chance to test this out.  The Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning came in handy though, especially on the ferry, and the expanded view driver’s mirror meant far less blind spots.Honda HR-V

The interior is rather elegant, with lots of well-thought out details inside, and the HR-V seems far roomier than I expected from a vehicle that is billed as a subcompact SUV. The wheelbase is 102.8 and the car 169.1 in length and the driver seats are super comfortable. There’s a moon roof for sunny days and heated seats for cooler ones. The second row is also ample for two and the seats fold flat should you want to load up the car from the back, and rotate up if there is something taller to pop behind the driver and passenger seats; like a big plant or IKEA furniture.

The Honda starts with a button, which I drastically missed on the next car I drove as I kept leaving the keys in my purse. If you go for the LCD screen you can control everything within reach there, and there’s also controls on the steering wheel, but I didn’t figure them all out. Multiple USB ports meant both our phones stay charge and the camera helped us avoid any back up accidents.

The HR-V hugs corners and zips around precisely. It’s got power but not enough to tow and I wasn’t in need of towing anything, anyhow. Parking is a breeze in this model, even when we were back in the city, and the HR-V barely sips gas; not a guzzler here.

The 2015 Honda Fit – It’s a Fit for me!

I’ve been testing out cars again, and I don’t think I’ll stop, even if I have found one that I love! I have to say this Honda Fit’s colour was really what I was initially and fully excited about. This particular ride is bright YELLOW, although, of course, it comes in less prominent colours, but why would you not want to be able to find you car so easily in the lot? And there’s a lot more going on in this subcompact ride than just the colour.

Comox Shellfish Festival

I took this vehicle over to Vancouver Island, so got some good highway rides in, plus scouted in and out of parking spots and did some city driving. This is me driving a boat, not the car; that dashboard is far more modern. As I was solo on the trip it would have been unsafe to get a picture of me driving the car!

There’s a lot of new features in the 2015, and I was surprised at the amount of power in this model; it’s now got a 1.5-litre engine with 130 horsepower and 114 pound feet of torque, and still has that great fuel economy the fit is known for. The interior is far from sparse and feels quite luxurious with larger seats and more leg room. It’s looks and feels sporty , and is super fun to drive with a nice smooth and now even quicker acceleration. The 2015 Honda Fit is available in six colours, including my very vibrant option.   The Blue backlit instrument dials are stylish and functional and the Display Audio touchscreen interface and available leather seating  increase the premium feel of this new Fit.

Also of note is the Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®,   Smart Entry Push Button Start, a one-touch operated moonroof, 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio with next-generation HondaLink, heated front seats, and leather seats if you choose these upgrades.

The car is super safe with traction control, side curtain airbags and the highest available crash-safety ratings, which thankfully I did not have to test.  The 2015 Honda Fit – It’s a Fit for me! Sad to return this one.

Pricing: MSRP, + $1995 freight & pdi

Model Trim MT AT/CVT
Fit DX $14,495
LX $17,295 $18,595
EX $19,195 $20,495
EX-L Navi $21,295 $22,595

Disclaimer: The vehicle was loaned to me by Honda, but unfortunately I didn’t get to keep it!

Lincoln MKC 2015

We’re currently car-less, so have been testing out numerous models as a result. Our latest one was very hard to return.

As Lincoln moves further into the luxury market we’ve see some upscale features in new models such as the Lincoln MKC that we recently took for a spin. This model has a sophisticated look, performs well, has lots of cabin space and some cool new technology, all for a less than similar models from other manufacturers. We felt quite posh stepping in and out of the MKC!

Lincoln MKC 2015 interior

Opening the car with the remote and getting seated in the driver’s seat, I found push buttons instead of a shift lever to activate the car and a nice big screen to control the entertainment, heating and navigation; the MKC feels luxurious inside and out. Under the hood you’ll find a 2.0-liter EcoBoost Engine, with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque or a can upgrade to the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque; the later means you  can go from zero to sixty in seven seconds.  All-Wheel Drive is standard and steering precise. The car handles with a nice sense of control and is also super quiet inside as Lincoln employs Active Noise Control technology.

In all models you’ll find a heated driver’s and passenger’s seats; the MyLincoln Touch system, two USB ports (great for charging both our phones), an SD card reader, keyless entry and push-button star, cruise control, remote start, HID headlamps, reverse sensors, heated mirrors, and more. When a car is in your way if you were to change lanes, a little light lights up on the rear view mirrors to alert you to remain in your lane until it passes. There’s also parallel parking assist and a camera for when you back up as well as the loud beeping in case you are about to back into something. Good for me as I am often in a tight spot.

This was a vehicle we did not want to return, but when we had to, were pleased with the mileage, meaning less money out of pocket for gas. Prices vary, but start around $35,000. Build your Lincoln MKC here.

 

Driving Tips With Carl Nadeau – Michelin

The courseSince I do a ton of road trips in the summer, I jumped at the opportunity to hang out with professional race car driver, Carl Nadeau to pick up some driving tips for summer conditions. This event involved testing out a variety of different tires on dry road conditions and then wet ones (they flooded the parking lot to simulate) on a course out at the PNE. This wasn’t the course for anyone who likes to take it easy as Nadeau kept pushing me to speed up, slam the brakes, take the corner faster; I was sure I would crash, but didn’t.

The most important take away from the event was that if you are trying to use winter tires in the summer, just don’t. I tested out winter tires vs all seasons on the same vehicle and the performance was vastly different. Winter tires don’t allow the car to stop anywhere near where all seasons are when you slam on the brakes and they slip all over the road when cornering. The other difference was less drastic, but indeed noticeable. We put the Michelin Premier A/S tires against the most highly rated of the competition and I did notice a difference in performance as I stopped sooner and slid less. I did this twice just to be sure I wasn’t being unduly influenced as the event was indeed sponsored by the tire company. MICHELIN® Premier™ A/S tire promises shorter stopping on wet roads, hydroplaning resistance and increased grip, and I certainly felt safer in these.

Here’s some tips for driving as well. I learned a lot about keeping two hands on the wheel.Michelin Premier AS Tire

Check Your Tires: After all, tires are the only part of your car that touches the road.

  • Check your tires for wear – Using the “Penny Test’’, put the edge of the coin into the tread with the Queen going in head first. If the top of the Queen’s head is covered by tread, that’s good. If the top of her head is entirely visible, it’s time to replace the tire.
  • Check the air pressure – Tires have been known to lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure every month. Use a proper pressure gauge to check pressure when tires are cold (before driving or three hours after driving). Make sure your tires are inflated to the psi on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your car. DO NOT compare to the psi on your tire’s sidewall.
  • Don’t mix tires – If you’re replacing only two new tires instead of four, be sure they are the same size and type as the current ones. Always install the new tires on the rear axle of your vehicle, which will reduce the risk of fishtailing and loss of stability in wet conditions.

Wet Driving: Wet road conditions present dangers like less grip and longer stopping distance.

  • Slow down. Slowing down dramatically decreases the risk of accidents in rainy conditions.
  • Always drive with two hands on the steering wheel.
  • Slow down before turning and maintain a consistent speed throughout the turn.
  • While turning, don’t make sudden steering wheel movements.
  • Only brake in a straight line before the turn and do so gradually. Do not brake during the turn.
  • Increase your following distance from other cars to allow for more stopping range.
  • If hydroplaning, do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Keep your foot lightly on the gas and steer the car forward until your tires regain traction.

For more tips on safe driving, visit http://www.michelin.ca/tires-101/driving-and-safety-tips/driving-tips.page

Pre-Crash Phase