Demystifying prepaid maintenance plans

Reliability is often one of the top buying points in people’s minds when it comes to new car shopping. These days, all new cars come with strong warranty plans to offset the cost of unexpected repairs.

However like all things mechanical, in order for that great reputation for reliability to hold true, regular maintenance still needs to be performed.

If your new car does not come with a free scheduled maintenance plan, such as what BMW Canada offers on their new cars, your dealer’s service department may still offer a pre-paid scheduled maintenance plan.

Prepaid maintenance plans make it easy to keep your vehicle running at its best by ensuring it gets the recommended scheduled maintenance as outlined in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

By by pre-paying, you can take advantage of the significant savings compared to a pay-as-you-go approach.

But are these plans right for you? Let’s take a closer look at some examples.

This is not an extended warranty

First of all, it’s important to understand that a prepaid maintenance plan is not an extended warranty. Typically, prepaid maintenance plans cover only the regularly scheduled maintenance listed in the vehicle’s service manual. Unless specified, wear-and-tear parts (such as brake pads, rotors, or clutch) are not covered.

If the prepaid maintenance plan you purchase is for 60,000 kilometres and three years, then you have prepaid for just what is listed in the plan’s contract — usually comparable to the maintenance listed in the owner’s manual.

It can save you money if you drive enough

This convenience and piece of mind factor is one of the key benefits as to why these plans are increasingly popular.

A pre-paid maintenance contract can often be rolled into the monthly payment, spreading fixed maintenance costs across the life of the car loan or lease.

If you expect to reach the mileage that is covered by the prepaid plan, it makes sense to invest up front and pocket the savings over the long haul.

Additionally, by prepaying for all the required maintenance, you never have to worry about paying for an oil change or budgeting for any other maintenance item for the duration of the maintenance plan.

Since the cost of the plan is fixed, you also are sheltered from any parts or labour rate increases.

BMW Service Inclusive and Service Inclusive Plus

All new BMW vehicles purchased from an authorized BMW Retailer in Canada are covered by No-Charge Scheduled Maintenance or four years or 80,000 km, whichever occurs first.

Coverage begins on the date of the first retail sale, or the date the vehicle is first placed in service as a demonstrator or company vehicle, whichever is earlier.

If you plan on keeping your BMW past the four year or 80,000 km mark, BMW’s “Service Inclusive” extension option allows you to prepay for the same scheduled coverage up to eight years or 160,000 kms.

BMW’s “Service Inclusive Plus” kicks it up another notch by also covering wear-and-tear parts, including wiper blades, brakes, and the clutch, up to the same eight years and 160,000 kms.

BMW Canada’s website offers a handy cost calculator for their maintenance plans. Prices will vary depending on the model.

Audi Care

Audi Canada’s Audi Care Plan also covers the manufacturer-required regularly scheduled maintenance services at 25,000 km, 40,000 km, 55,000 km and 70,000 km, or five years from the original vehicle in-service date, whichever comes first.

The plan may be purchased any time within 12 months of the original vehicle in-service date or 20,000 km, whichever comes first, after you purchase your Audi.

All scheduled maintenance services covered under Audi Care must be completed within 5 years of the original in-service date of the vehicle.

Here is an example of the savings that are offered:

On on a 2015 Audi TT Quattro (S-tronic transmission) if the customer chooses to pay for the maintenances separately, the total cost will be $2,314.00+tax versus $945.00+tax (price of the package). The savings will vary based on the model but are still significant ones.


Infiniti Elite Prepaid Maintenance Plan

Infiniti Canada offers two levels of coverage within their Elite Prepaid plan.

The first level includes basic oil and filter changes and tire rotations which you can prepay up to 7 years or 112,000 kms, whichever comes first.

Upgrade to their Platinum pre-paid plan and the benefits are a lot more comprehensive.

In addition to the basic plan’s oil and filter changes, and the Platinum plan also covers wear-and-tear parts, rental car coverage during servicing, and includes a tire road hazard warranty coverage of up to three years or 36,000 kms.

Top Reasons to purchase a prepaid maintenace plan

  • Can save you money if you plan on driving the mileage or owning the car for the duration covered by the plan
  • No budgetary surprises if parts or labour rates rise
  • 100% backed by the manufacturer
  • Honoured at authorized dealers in Canada
  • Regular schedule maintenance serviced by factory-trained technicians using genuine OEM parts
  • Helps to ensure that your vehicle is maintained properly by keeping up with your vehicle’s regular maintenance needs
  • Depending on the manufacturer, if you sell your vehicle, the remaining prepaid maintenance coverage may be transferred to a new owner, which can add to the resale value of your vehicle
  • Zero deductible in most cases
  • May be included in your finance or lease contract in most cases

Top 5 Luxury SUVs at the 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

The 2015 Vancouver International Autoshow is bigger than ever before this year. Now in its 95th year, the show boasts 25 per cent more floor space and even more vehicles at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

If you’re in the market for a new luxury SUV, here are my Top 5 Luxury SUV Picks for you to visit before the show shuts down this Sunday at 6pm.

2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport

The new Land Rover Discovery Sport makes its regional debut at this year’s Vancouver autoshow. It stands out from its posh compact-ute rivals for one simple and moderately compelling reason—it can actually go off-road, at least sometimes.

Photo by Andrew Ling

Based on the same platform as the wildly popular Range Rover Evoque, the Discovery Sport can’t match the ground clearance of its LR4, Range Rover, or Range Rover Sport siblings for pure wilderness-challenging ability.

However, the Disco Sport’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance is more than respectable for the occasional jaunt to the campgrounds or the country cottage. Land Rover also claims approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31, and 31 degrees for the Sport, plus a wading depth of 23.6 inches.

In other words, that’s better offroadability than your typical BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK competitors.

Land Rover is also setting the Discovery Sport against its German rivals with the option of “5+2″ seating, with the ability to carry up to 7 passengers. No other compact luxury SUV offers such a feature. The “+2” is essentially a child-only fold-down third row that slides beneath the cargo floor when not in use.

2016 BMW X5 M / X6 M

The BMW X5 has the distinction of being not only one of the first true luxury SUVs, but also one of the first seriously fast SUVs.

Now BMW is launching the second iteration of the X5 M, which is based on the third-generation X5, alongside its less practical X6 M Sport Activity Coupe sibling.

With a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 567 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, the X5 M (and X6 M) is even quicker to trot than its predecessor with its official 0 to 100 km/hr sprint taking just over four seconds. That’s faster than many pure two seater sports cars!

Like the X6 M, the X5 M wears massive 285/35 tires up front and 325/30 rubber in the rear; 21-inch wheels are standard equipment.

As is usual in the latest BMW M models, the driver can fettle with the adjustable shocks, steering, transmission program, and throttle mapping through multiple modes using dedicated buttons for each.

Inside, the X5 M and X6 M both feature bespoke M-specific bits from the steering wheel and seats to the onscreen M Drive menu.

The exteriors of both vehicles also wear unique M front and rear styling cues, setting them apart from their more pedestrian non-M models.

2015 Lexus NX200t / NX300h

And now for something smaller (and more affordable).

With the new Lexus NX, Lexus is looking for a younger demographic than its RX mid-sized SUV.

The mid-sized RX is too big and pricey to attack the growing number of compact luxo utes and this is where the NX fits in.

Instead of the rounded and conservative silhouette associated with the RX, the NX breaks through with its brand-identifying Lexus “spindle” grille and aggressive body creases and folds.

There are two models available, the NX200t and the NX300h, available with front or four-wheel drive.

The 200t marks Lexus’s first turbocharged gas engine, in this case a 235-hp 2.0-liter four. It also will be available in mildly sportier F Sport guise.

The 300h is a hybrid with a gasoline 2.5-liter four cylinder engine and an electric motor combining to deliver 194 horsepower. You can even test drive the Lexus NX300h yourself in the Green Drive program running outside the Vancouver Convention Centre till this Sunday.

2015 Infiniti QX80 Limited

The Infiniti QX80 was substantially updated for the 2014 model year and remains as one of the few full-sized SUVs on the market with the ability to tow up to 8,500 lbs while still being able to transport 7 or 8 passengers in luxury.

Recently introduced is the QX80 in a new “Limited” trim level, offering subtle exterior upgrades and a sophisticated interior evocative of an executive boardroom.

Available in limited numbers only starting from May 2015 and exclusively as a 7-passenger model, the QX80 Limited’s exterior features dark finished, 22-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, dark chromed exterior trim, and unique stainless steel running board caps with rubber grips.

This vehicle certainly takes the word “premium” to another level.

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Canada

The luxurious interior includes semi-aniline Truffle Brown leather appointments with an exclusive quilted pattern, open pore matte finish ash wood trim, an Ultrasuede headliner and pillars, leather-appointed grab handles and speaker grilles, unique floor and trunk mats, and unique silver switchgear trim on the centre stack.

2016 Audi Q7

Among three-row vehicles, few can match the Q7 in terms of style. It is as chic as it is spacious.

The 2016 Audi Q7 debuts as an all-new vehicle with Audi’s next generation styling and impressive weight savings to the tune of 717 pounds. This should pay dividends when it comes to fuel economy and performance.

Even though the 2016 Q7 is virtually the same height as the old one, clever visual tricks like the matte-aluminum trim surface between the front and rear wheels, the gently tapering roofline, and the powerful fender flares make it look lower, wider, and longer. In fact, the new Q7 looks more wagon-like than ever.

The low-rider vibe isn’t merely visual though. Audi’s relocation of the engine lower in the chassis has yanked the Q7’s center of gravity down by a claimed 2 inches, helping to improve its driving dynamics.

Audi has been well known for its impressive use of the latest lighting technology and the 2016 Q7 continues on with that trend. The headlights’ LED daytime running lamps now form pairs of arrow-shaped elements, as do the LED tail lights out back.

As you would expect with most luxury SUVs, there is a load of the latest active safety technology to compliment the latest in driving dynamic enhancements.

Carried over from Audi’s sports cars are systems such as a brake-based torque-vectoring system and an electronically controlled center differential. The latter can vary the all-wheel-drive system’s torque split from the standard 40/60-percent front-to-rear to 70/30 or 15/85 as conditions dictate.

Optional rear-wheel steering promises to enhance stability at higher speeds by slightly turning the rear wheels in concert with the fronts. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn opposite to the fronts to greatly improve parking lot agility on such a large vehicle.

Best green vehicles at 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

2015 Vancouver International Auto Show
Visitors to the 2015 Vancouver Auto Show are treated to a wide assortment vehicles, including many green models. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

The 95th Vancouver International Auto Show (VIAS) is happening right now at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and is quite literally bigger, and better, than ever before. Exhibition space has grown by one-quarter this year, to 290,000 square feet, and for the first time the displays spill over to the upstairs ballroom. Fittingly, since it takes place in B.C., VIAS features a heavy focus on alternative-energy automobiles fuelled by diesel, electricity and even hydrogen. These are the green vehicles you’ll want to see.

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept

You may have heard about Toyota’s production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle already on sale in Japan and about to hit the roads in the United States later this year. While no Canadian expansion plans have been announced yet, Toyota debuted the Fuel Cell Concept (FCV) that provided the inspiration for the Mirai for the first time in Canada.

The Mirai was actually tested in Yellowknife in -30 C weather to evaluate cold-weather effectiveness. The space-age looking sedan creates electricity by utilizing a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, refuels in about the same time as a conventional gasoline-powered car and can drive up to 500 kilometres on a single tank.

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron

The A3 Sportback e-Tron, Audi’s first plug-in hybrid, made its first regional appearance at VIAS.  Besides a few badges and some minor exterior tweaks to the grille and rear bumper, this hybrid looks remarkably similar to the standard version. Power is provided via a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine combined with a 75-kilowatt electric motor making 204 net horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI Clean Diesel

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI Clean Diesel

VW is in Vancouver to prove that even with the crossover SUV craze taking place across North America, wagon’s haven’t quite called it quits. It’s been a good year for the Golf, reaping several industry awards, and the Sportwagon should continue that trend. The diesel powertrain provides plenty of torque and achieves great fuel economy rated at 7.5 L/100 km in city driving at 5.6 L/100 km on the highway.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Although Hyundai also has a plug-in version coming, it is the standard Sonata Hybrid making the trip to Vancouver. As part of the redesign, the engine is a smaller and more efficient 2.0 litre vs. the outgoing 2.4. The battery pack has a 13 per cent bigger capacity, and now fits under the trunk floor so the rear seats can fold 60/40.

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

In addition to the Hybrid, the majority of the public had their first chance to get an up-close look at the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, the first mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle available to Canadians. Available to limited consumers through a lease program, the first lucky owners are a local couple living in Surrey.

Porsche 918 Spyder at 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

Porsche 918 Spyder

Some visitors to Porsche Centre Langley have already experienced the spectacle that is the $1.3-million Porsche 918 Spyder in person. The hybrid supercar, one of three sold in B.C., uses two electric motors and a 4.6-litre V8 engine to achieve a top speed of 340 km/h.   

The 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show runs until March 29. More pictures below:

2015 Vancouver International Auto Show entrance

Stephen Beatty vice president, Corporate Toyota Canada

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept rear

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept side

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron rear

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron interior

BMW i3 and i8 at 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid rear

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid cutaway

Hyundai Blue Drive

Highlights from 2015 Canadian International Auto Show


Lexus RC F GT3 Concept
The face of the Lexus RC F GT3 concept vehicle, introduced at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. Photo by Benjamin Yong.

Yesterday marked the official start of the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS), the Great White North’s largest automotive event held every year in Toronto. As always, some crazy stuff was presented to audiences, as well as more mainstream examples that consumers might actually be able to get their hands on. If you aren’t able to make the trip out east, scroll down below for a taste of CIAS 2015.

Lexus RC F GT3 Concept

Lexus RC F GT3 Concept front

In case the recently released RC F coupe isn’t already impressive enough for you, Lexus introduced the RC F GT3 concept car to Canadian audiences for the first time. It’s based on the production version but boasts bigger wheels and tires, aerodynamic add-ons, a faster engine and has hopes of racing in the FIA GT3 European Championship.

Lexus RC F GT3 Concept rear

Toyota i-Road Concept

Toyota i-Road

CIAS visitors were treated to indoor demonstrations of the Toyota i-Road concept, a three-wheel, single-occupant electric vehicle. With a range of 50 kilometres, it’s only 870 millimetres wide meaning four of them can fit into a traditional parking space. The i-Road has already been tested on public streets in Japan as well as France.

2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot

A completely redesigned Honda Pilot, a three-row SUV, will be available this summer looking and feeling a lot different than the previous generation. The Pilot goes high-tech with available LED lighting, a Blu-Ray disc player with HDMI input and an Earth Dreams Technology Powertrain consisting of a fuel-efficient V6 engine and first-ever nine-speed automatic transmission.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration

Alfonso Albaisa, executive design director at Infiniti, used the description “progressive, audacious and ingenious,” as he unveiled the range-topping Q80 four-seater fastback. “The Q80 Inspiration represents Infiniti’s vision of category-breaking, supreme luxury driving,” said Albaisa. It features autonomous driving capability with a hybrid powertrain producing 550 horsepower.

2016 Jaguar XE

The British car company is getting set to launch yet another four-door sports sedan in 2015, slotted below the mid-level XF and XJ flagship. It will be the first Jaguar equipped with electric steering, and is designed to look and drive like a sports coupe with a low and wide profile, partially aluminium construction and a supercharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder powerplant.

Audi TTS Coupé

2016 Audi TTS Coupe

The Audi TT has been reborn for its third generation. The extra S stands for sport, or speed, or probably both: it’s got a 265 hp TFSI turbo engine, Quattro all-wheel drive and a fancy Audi Magnetic Ride Suspension that continously readjusts the dampening settings to match the driving conditions.

The Best All-Wheel-Drive coupes to survive Canadian winters

Now that winter is officially upon us, you may think that your days of piloting a sporty two door coupe are over. Typically, coupes are banished into a garage or parkade till the clear spring time weather arrives, nary a threat of snow or ice.

These days, increasing number of luxury auto manufacturers are offering their formerly rear-wheel-drive only coupes with all-wheel-drive variants.

No longer does owning a sports coupe have to be an oxymoron to the word “winter”. Just swap out the all-season or summer tires for a set of good snow tires, and you are set to go!

Here are a few examples of all-wheel-drive two door luxury coupes with different price points to suit your budget.

Infiniti Q60 coupe

The 2015 Infiniti Q60 AWD coupe

The 2015 Infiniti Q60 AWD coupe. Photo courtesy of Infiniti Canada.

The Q60 is a well-appointed coupe that combines the Infiniti brand’s blend of value, performance, and luxury. It’s powered by a 330-hp 3.7-litre V6 engine and available with a seven-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed downshift rev matching manual transmission.

Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system can adapt to the changing conditions by constantly monitoring wheelspin, throttle position and vehicle speed. In dry conditions, the system is able to send 100 per cent of the power to the rear wheels for more responsive road performance. However it can automatically divert up to 50 per cent of the available power to the front wheels to enhance traction and control in adverse conditions.

Price for the Q60 AWD coupe starts at $51,800

Shop the New Infiniti Q60 at OpenRoad

Audi A5/S5/RS5

The 2015 Audi A5 Quattro. Photo courtesy of Audi Canada.

Audi was the company who pioneered all-wheel-drive in a road going car for performance reasons. For many years, they were the only choice on the market if you wanted a coupe with the year round safety and security of all-wheel-drive.

Unlike some of the vehicles in this article, the Audi A5 coupe (and its higher performance S5 and RS5 variants) is solely available with Audi’s famed Quattro all-wheel-drive system; two-wheel-drive versions are not available in Canada.
With standard Quattro all-wheel drive, the A5 coupe is a comfortable and stylish car that will perform well on pavement or in rain and snow.

Shop the New Audi A5 at OpenRoad

BMW 228i xDrive Coupe and M235i xDrive Coupe

The 2015 BMW M235i xDrive Coupe and the 1968 BMW 2002. Photo courtesy of BMW Canada.

In the late 1960’s, the BMW 2002, spiritual forerunner to the BMW 2 Series Coupe, set new standards in dynamics and design and established the BMW tradition of sporty coupes.

Today, the BMW 2 Series Coupe combines exciting dynamics and a design with reminiscences of the legendary 2002 coupe in BMW history. However unlike the rear-wheel-drive only 2002, the 2 Series is now available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system for the 2015 model year.

Available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, the 2-series is a sporty coupe with tons of charm and fun.

Price for the 228i xDrive coupe starts at $39,750, and $48,750 for the M235i xDrive coupe.

Shop New BMW 2 Series at OpenRoad

Lexus RC350 AWD

The 2015 Lexus RC350 AWD. Photo courtesy of Lexus Canada.

The all-new Lexus coupe aims to bring back a blend of styling and performance that has been unseen in many of Lexus’ product offerings until recently.

The RC350 is equipped with a 306-hp 3.5-litre V6. When equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive system, it’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Price for this all-new Lexus coupe starts at $54,000.

Shop New Lexus RC at OpenRoad

Jaguar F-Type with AWD

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD. Photo courtesy of Jaguar Canada.

For model year 2016, the beautifully-styled Jaguar F-Type coupe receives substantial upgrades, including the addition of the company’s Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive system.

This system is engineered to maintain the rear-drive character that is important to Jaguar sports car DNA while offering even greater dynamic capability.

Operating on the torque-on-demand principle, Jaguar Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive has been programmed to send 100 per cent of the engine’s output to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions. However in slippery conditions, the system can transfer up to 50 per cent of the engine’s torque to the front axle to mitigate the loss of traction.

Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive will be optional on all F-type S models (with a 380-hp supercharged V6), and standard on all V8 R Coupes (now upgraded from 495-hp to 550hp).

Prices have not yet been announced but are expected to start at above $85,000 for the F-type S with AWD.

Shop New Jaguar F-TYPE at OpenRoad


Porsche 911 Carrera 4 / Turbo

The 2015 Porsche Carrera 4. Photo courtesy of Porsche Canada.

Over the course of its 50 year life cycle to date, the iconic 911 has retained its unmistakable look and design while being constantly updated with the latest technology. To many, the 911 is one of the best sports cars available.

While all of the 911s still maintain their signature rear-engine configuration, a sophisticated active-all-wheel-drive system is available on Carrera and Carerra S models, and standard on all 911 Turbos.

This system distributes engine power between the permanently driven rear axle and the front axle by means of an electronically variable multi-plate clutch. Porsche Stability Management and enhanced Porsche Traction Management work together to ensure the optimum distribution of drive power for maximum traction depending on the driving and road conditions.

Price of the Carrera 4 starts at $103,900.

Shop Porsche 911 AWD at OpenRoad