Best car tech from CES 2018


CES is the biggest trade show of its kind in the world, with the spotlight on automotive innovation growing larger each year.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is on right now in Las Vegas, highlighting the latest and greatest innovations in consumer gadgetry. In recent years, cars have taken up greater exhibition space as the lines between auto and tech become increasingly blurred — CES itself describes the event as “a turbocharged Detroit,” taking a small jab at the Motor City’s big show taking place immediately after. Have a peek at some of the top reveals from 2018.

Toyota e-Palette

Toyota e-Palette Concept

This self-driving battery electric concept vehicle is designed as a customizable, and scalable, mobile solution for businesses. Indeed, Toyota has already announced partnerships with the likes of Amazon, Mazda, Uber and Pizza Hut (think autonomous pizza baking and delivery). The e-Palette will be open source so partner companies can implement their own driving systems tailored to specific needs. Real world testing is planned for 2020.

Honda 3E-D18

Honda 3E-D18

Focusing on robotics and artificial intelligence at this year’s CES, Honda showed off the 3E-D18, an autonomous AI-enabled off-road device designed to support people in a broad range of work activities. The product of Honda R&D Americas, the 3E-D18 is powered by an electric drivetrain and is modular, meaning it can be outfitted with a variety of attachments to make tasks like search and rescue, fire fighting and agriculture safer and more efficient. 

Toyota Platform 3.0

Lexus LS 600hL Platform 3.0

Although the above long wheelbase hybrid LS doesn’t necessarily look like the newest automated driving research vehicle produced by the Toyota Research Institute, dubbed Platform 3.0, that’s kind of the point. One of the goals of the project was to engage “intelligent minimalism,” eliminating the unattractive bolt-on equipment commonly seen on such test cars. The sensors and cameras have all been hidden as much as possible, for example some being relocated into available space in the sunroof compartment.

Toyota Platform 3.0 Lexus LS 600hL

Despite the streamlined appearance, the advanced sedan features long-range 200-metre perception in 360 degrees. 

Comparing three electric vehicle incentives in three countries

Considering an estimated one million battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will be sold globally this year alone, it seems likely that they’re here to stay. Manufacturers are pouring resources into further development of the segment — Honda snuck in the Clarity plug-in before the New Year, and in 2018 there are several anticipated launches like the Jaguar I-PACE crossover and BMW X7 full-size SUV.

Governments around the world, facing pressure to lower emissions, have been onboard the electric bandwagon for quite a while now, some going as far as putting an expiry date on sales of gasoline-powered cars. As such, many, like the three places we’ve listed below, are serving up enticing incentives in the form of cash rebates to tempt consumers to switch over.  


Turns out the Great White North is not a bad place to be for EV lovers. In B.C., the Clean Energy Vehicle Program means buyers can benefit from up to $5,000 off eligible models, which include favourites like the BMW i3, Hyundai IONIQ and Volkswagen e-Golf. In Quebec, it’s as much as $8,000 off a green set of wheels, and even people buying and installing home charging stations get a 50 per cent off break, to a maximum of $600. Those residing in Ontario receive a whopping total $14,000 discount on approved automobiles via the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.

United States

In the U.S. both federal and state governments offer financial assistance to lessen the blow of buying an EV that, particularly at full MSRP, can be quite prohibitive. The Internal Revenue Service provides a tax credit between $2,500 and $7,500 to lower the upfront purchase cost, the exact amount dependant on vehicle class and battery size. On top of that, certain states stack additional credits on top as well.

United Kingdom

Through the plug-in car grant initiative introduced in 2011, our relatives in Europe can see 35 per cent of their EV price tag slashed, up to a £4,500 maximum, on the spot when purchasing an eligible auto. Similar to Quebec, a further grant of £500 was introduced in March for EV owners who install a dedicated charge point in the garage.

Top affordable vehicles available with heated seats

Maybe with the exception of a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night, there’s nothing as comforting as the embrace of a heated car seat during the chilly season. And unlike years past where this feature was reserved for luxury brands and/or range-topping models, consumers will be pleased to hear it’s becoming more common across a wide range of segments and trims. Here are some of the best examples.

2018 Honda Fit Sport

Honda Fit

This past summer, the versatile Fit hatchback received a facelift with new styling and the addition of a Sport offering boasting a body kit and a bright Orange Fury paint option. But even the LX grade, one step above base, receives front heated seats to keep occupants toasty.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen Jetta

The most affordable entry in VW’s lineup is the Jetta packing an ultra-efficient 1.4-litre turbocharged TSI engine, now including standard 16-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights and a backup camera. Bumping the entry Trendline sedan to Trendline+ adds not just heated seats, but heated exterior mirrors too.

2017 Mazda3 sedan


There are a lot of things going for the Mazda3: the lauded SKYACTIV technology, an available precise-shifting six-speed manual transmission and gorgeous KODO Soul of Motion design. The GS tier allows customers to enjoy heated seats, and surprisingly at a starting price of $20,300, also a heated leather steering wheel.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra

If we’re talking about bang for buck, the Elantra wins hands down. At an MSRP of only $15,999, the compact four-door comes with the sought-after heated front seats and door mirrors. Spend an additional $4,350 and level up to the GL model for a heated leather steering wheel, or $6,700 to GLS to extend automatic seat warming to rear passengers as well. 

Cutting edge concepts at Tokyo Motor Show 2017

Honda Sports EV rear

This Honda Sports EV concept was one of many beautifully designed examples unveiled at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show.

Next-level design is what the 2017 edition of the Tokyo Motor Show is all about. We’ve rounded up the boldest of the bunch in the form of concept cars currently on display until Nov. 5 at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre.

Mazda Kai concept

Mazda Kai

Embodying a more evolved form of the KODO design language, this smoothed over compact hatchback might very well be a next-gen Mazda3. Though the slammed suspension and massive wheels likely wouldn’t make their way through production if that really were the case, the combination certainly looks awesome on the concept.

Honda Sports EV front

Honda Sports EV

Remember the boxy Urban EV Concept debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show a few months ago? The Sports EV Concept is the squashed and stretched out fastback version, clearly influenced by iconic Hondas of old such as the S600 Coupe. Don’t hold your breath on picking one up if it’s made however, unless you already live in Japan.

Toyota GR HV Sports

Toyota GR HV Sports

With borrowed elements from the TS050 Hybrid created for the World Endurance Championship auto racing series, the GR HV Sports is purposed as an eco-friendly sports car for the street. Sprayed matte black, this partially electric two-door features a targa top, rear-wheel drive and transmission selection buttons uniquely mounted in series on the centre stack.

Mazda Vision concept

Mazda Vision Coupe

The Hiroshima-based manufacturer makes this list twice with a second unveil at the show: the Vision Coupe, which, surprise, is actually a full-length sedan. It’s considered to be of the same lineage as the RX-Vision concept from 2015 and is meant to show off just how aesthetically appealing Mazda can make a vehicle. The exterior styling is called “one motion,” intended to evoke a sense of elegant speed.

Best of Canadian Car of the Year 2018 program

As is the case every October, writers and broadcasters from all over Canada gathered in Clarington, Ontario last week for one reason and one reason only: the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) program. This is where some of the newest vehicles from several manufacturers were made available in one place for thoughtful evaluation – on regular roads, highways and a high-speed test track — so that the 2018 CCOTY winners can be determined. These are five of the standout models in different categories from the event.

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus

Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus (Small Car)

After a successful release of the Ioniq Hybrid and Electric, Hyundai is releasing the third and final electrified variant of the platform: the Electric Plus plug-in hybrid. Offering the best of both worlds, the PHEV allows up to 40 kilometres of pure electric driving and has an onboard 1.6-litre four-cylinder internal combustion engine ready to provide assistance for longer distance trips.

2018 Infiniti Q60 Sport

Infiniti Q60 Sport (Small Premium Car)

Beautifully sculpted and boasting a trio of powertrain options, the Infiniti Q60 is a worthy successor to the much-loved G37 Coupe. Positioned smack in the middle of the trim range is the Sport, packing a silky-smooth 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 under the hood generating 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Other highlights include standard Dynamic Digital (electronic) Suspension and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

2018 Toyota Camry XSE

Toyota Camry XSE (Large Car)

As good a car as the Camry is, excitement isn’t usually the word people think of when Toyota announces a new version. The 2018 is truly another story as it has experienced a full redesign. The XSE grade is styled the most excitingly of the bunch with large blacked out central mesh grille, body kit, 19-inch machined-finish alloy wheels and features an available 301-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 engine.

2018 Porsche Panamera

Porsche Panamera Turbo (Large Premium Car)

This second-generation luxury sports sedan from Porsche was made to form a closer link, both in appearance and performance, to the iconic 911. With a more coupe-like roofline and front/rear fascias, the twin-turbo V8 Panamera generates 550 horsepower that will take anyone’s breath away during full acceleration. The three-piece active rear spoiler is also a thing of beauty.

2018 Honda Civic Type-R

Honda Civic Type-R (Sports-Performance Car)

Believe they hype — the first Type-R to grace North American shores is the real deal. The 306-horsepower turbocharged i-VTEC mill, Brembo brake calipers and adaptive damping suspension system should be a clue as to how the CTR was able to achieve the title of world’s fastest production front-wheel drive car at Germany’s famed Nürburgring racetrack. 

Highlights from 67th Frankfurt Motor Show

The 2017 International Auto Show is happening right now in Germany, and OpenRoad has brought you some of the hottest cars on display in Frankfurt.

2018 Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona

Better late than never, Hyundai enters the competitive subcompact crossover arena with the introduction of the Kona. The aggressively styled four-wheel drive vehicle adopts the brand’s new Cascading Grille design, comprised of a mesh centre flanked on both sides by fender arches that bleed onto the front bumper. Powering this little SUV are two powertrains — a 2.0-litre mated to six-speed automatic, and a turbocharged 1.6-litre with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The third generation Porsche Cayenne is serious business — it’s powered by a biturbo 4.0-litre V8 capable of getting the vehicle from 0 to 100 km/h in under four seconds, and all the way up to a 286 km/h top speed. The Cayenne sits on an adjustable three-chamber air suspension system that can be adjusted to six different height levels, and the rear liftgate features a neat active spoiler inspired by its sports car siblings.

Honda Urban EV Concept

Honda Urban EV

Setting the direction for a future battery electric Honda car expected to launch in Europe in 2019, the Urban EV Concept almost resembles an ultra-futuristic version of the first Civic hatchback. Where a grille would traditionally be on the tiny hatchback is a customizable panel for displaying greetings or charging status. There is also backlit blue Honda emblem soon to be a signature item on other EVs to come.

Honda Urban EV Concept interior

The concept’s interior is simple and uncluttered. There’s seating for four, a main panoramic display screen and supplementary screens on both door panels acting as digital side mirrors.

Top three minivans for parents

As September has rolled around, parents will once again be turning into a transportation service for their kids taking them to school, band practice and wherever else their extracurricular activities will take them. With their sliding doors and plethora of other modern conveniences, there is still no better vehicle to accomplish the task than the minivan. Below are three models that deserve some special attention.

2018 Toyota Sienna

2018 Toyota Sienna

A perennial favourite, the Toyota Sienna just received a brand new powertrain last year. It consists of a new 3.5-litre V6 engine, rated at 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which was an upgrade from the previous six-speed.

For 2018, the seven seater (or eight, depending on configuration) receives Toyota Safety Sense P pre-collision safety system across all trims. The front grille and foglight recesses have been enlarged and side sill rockers added for extra swag points. There are now five USB ports in the cabin for charging electronics, and Limited grade owners enjoy a 360-degree Bird’s Eye View camera.

2017 Mazda5

2017 Mazda5

This mini-minivan provides an option for those who would like a family vehicle with a slightly smaller footprint. Mazda calls the six-passenger Mazda5 a “Multi-Activity Vehicle” with lots of neat features not commonly found in the segment, like the availability of a six-speed manual transmission and fold-out storage trays inspired by bento boxes stashed underneath the second row sliding/reclining captain’s chairs.

2018 honda odyssey

2018 Honda Odyssey

It’s true, the redesigned 2018 Odyssey has been covered in a previous post, but we simply couldn’t leave out this modernized offering from Honda. Unique technologies make it easy for parents to keep tabs on their little passengers in the back.

For example, CabinWatch relays real-time images from an interior camera pointed at the rear seats to the eight-inch infotainment screen, and CabinTalk allows the driver to speak to people sitting in the second and third row through the stereo speaker system or rear entertainment headphones.

Top new cars for students going back to school

The month of September can mean only one thing: back to school. That means many students (and parents) will be shopping for a set of wheels that is safe, economical and of course, looks fantastic. The news is that manufacturers have been busy putting the finishing touches on refreshing favourites like the Toyota Prius c and Honda Fit.  These are our top picks for this year’s latest back-to-school rides.

2018 Toyota Prius c

2018 Toyota Prius c

The smallest hybrid in the Toyota lineup gets some fresh duds for the 2018 model year. The front and rear fascias have been facelifted leaving the hatchback looking the sportiest it’s been since being introduced in 2012. The headlamps are more contoured, and black aero strakes surround the foglamps. In addition, a new lower front spoiler and a hatch wing have been fitted for better airflow.

Interior pieces like the instrument panel, air conditioning controls and steering wheel have also been redesigned. A backup camera is now standard making entering and exiting parking spots a cinch. Under the hood, the familiar Hybrid Synergy Drive continues to provide a stellar 5.1 L/100 km fuel economy rating.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

How do you make the already great VW Golf even greater? By turning it completely electric, that’s how. The EV version of the popular compact is finally available in Canada and boasts a 35.8 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery, which allows a maximum travel distance of up to 200 kilometres on a single charge. The e-Golf receives the same styling changes found on the gasoline models like LED lighting, revised bumpers and an upgraded infotainment system.

2018 Honda Fit Sport

2018 Honda Fit

Recently pulling in to showrooms this summer, Honda has added a Sport trim to the Fit family. The new addition adds some exterior garnishes such as an orange-frosted splitter underneath the nose of the car, side skirts and a rear bumper diffuser, as well as 16-inch gloss black wheels. The inside features an all-black interior with orange stitching.

Both manual and CVT (automatic) transmissions are offered, the latter includes the Honda Sensing suite of collision mitigation and driver assistance technologies. 

Honda launches first ever Civic Type R in Canada

This hot hatch recently set a record at the Nürburgring Nordschliefe racetrack in Germany for fastest lap by a production FWD vehicle. 

The wait is over — Honda has finally released the first ever Type R badged Civic in Canada.

This track-ready beast is also the most powerful showroom model the Japanese manufacturer has sent to our shores, pushing out 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. While we’re on the subject, the Civic Type R (CTR) currently holds the title of the fastest production front-wheel drive vehicle in the world after achieving a lapping record in April of this year at the famed Nürburgring Nordschliefe racetrack in Germany.

2017 Honda Civic Type R three quarter

Although based on the hatchback variant of the current 10th generation Civic, it’s clear the CTR is bred for racing with more prominent body aero parts, bigger and wider 20×8.5-inch wheels wrapped in sticky 245/30ZR20 Continental SportContact 6 tires and a towering trunk spoiler. Three exhaust pipes poke out from underneath the rear bumper diffuser.

Stopping power is provided by four-piston Brembo front brake calipers mounted onto large cross-drilled rotors. The car sits on a specialty suspension system capable of continuously adjusting the dampening settings at all four corners using feedback gathered via three integrated G sensors, four suspension stroke sensors and a steering angle sensor. A helical limited slip differential is standard.

2017 Honda Civic Type R interior

Drivers have a range of tools available to them inside the vehicle to measure various data. There’s throttle and brake application percentage, turbocharger boost pressure and lap time recorder, among many others, displayed on a seven-inch information interface installed inside the instrument cluster.

2017 Honda Civic Type R engine

Under the aluminum hood is a turbocharged 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine responsible for the CTR’s record-breaking performance. Mated to a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, rev-matching downshifts can be optionally handled by the computer. Other user-selectable functions include the choice between three dynamic modes, COMFORT, SPORT and +R, tailoring throttle responses for different environments.

The 2017 Honda Civic Type R is on sale now, with an MSRP of $40,890.

2017 Honda Civic Type R seat

Restyled 2018 Honda Accord features cool looks and three new powertrains

The all-new 2018 Honda Accord is quite a design departure from the previous generation.

Honda’s surprised a lot of people lately, in a good way, offering adventurous redesigns of models across their segment range including the new series of Civics, the Odyssey and the Ridgeline. It’s now the Accord’s turn, with the 2018 example set to be a quite a drastic departure, especially aesthetically, from previous.

The mid-size sedan now embodies a fastback shape and is packaged in a slightly wider (+10 millimetres) shell. However, it is 10 millimetres shorter in length than before, and sits 15 millimetres lower. Wheelbase and wheel track have been pushed out further, giving a more refined stance and lower centre of gravity, as well as maximizing passenger space and stretching out legroom by an impressive amount.

2018 Honda Accord front fascia

One of the most striking details found at the nose of the car, where below the signature winged chrome grille is a gaping central air intake. Everything from the hood, which possesses a slightly raised centre section, to the smooth door panels and upswept trunk lid make this the slipperiest Accord yet, altogether raising the aerodynamic efficiency by three per cent compared to the last version.

In addition to the extra room, the cabin features a driver’s seat mounted in a sportier position with 12-way power adjustability and larger supportive bolsters. The infotainment system is comprised of an eight-inch Display Audio touchscreen and a four, eight or 10-speaker stereo system depending on trim level. And due to public demand, Honda has reintroduced physical volume and tuning knobs.

2018 Honda Accord rear

Three powertrains will eventually be released when the new Accord begins rollout later this year: a turbocharged 1.5 litre (192 horsepower) or 2.0 litre (252 horsepower) i-VTEC gasoline engine, and a two-motor hybrid setup for the partially electrified variant to arrive later. The former pair is either mated to a CVT or 10-speed automatic transmission, respectively, and in welcome news, a six-speed manual gearbox is an option for both.