The family vehicle segment is on fire right now. Over the past year Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz have rolled out all new models that straddle $30,000.
At the Canadian International AutoShow, we get our first viewing of the latest challenger, the all-new 2014 Mazda6. Incorporating Mazda’s new “Kodo Soul of Motion” design language, it looks give the Ford Fusion a run for its money in the beauty department. The Mazda6 should be a pretty efficient fuel sipper too, if our past experiences with Mazda’s SkyActiv technology are anything to go by. SkyActiv is a suite of engineering solutions that looks at everything from weight reduction, to aerodynamics to drivetrain efficiency. The new 6 is slightly smaller that the outgoing model, but a longer wheelbase means more interior room. It is powered by a new 184 hp 2.5-litre four, with a 2.2-litre diesel version on the way later in the year.
Honda is premiering its 2014 Accord PHEV, a plug-in hybrid version of the sedan that will be introduced the summer of 2013. This is Honda’s first full-hybrid system, and it uses a 137 hp 2.0-litre four working with a 124-kilowatt electric motor. Total system output is 196 hp, and with the 6.7 kilowatt-hour lithium battery pack fully juiced the Accord PHEV has the ability to run 20 to 28 km solely on electric power. You’ll spot this alternately powered Accord by its restyled front end, special 17-inch forged alloys and a rear deck lid spoiler. Will your fuel savings offset the cost of this car? Of course not, especially when considering this plug-in only comes fully optioned with navigation, adaptive cruise and all the associated safety systems.
While we of the Great White North seem to love our VWs with diesel power, Volkswagen is introducing a hybrid version of the Jetta to satisfy a niche market they say exists, probably more south of the border. You’ll find the 2013 Jetta Hybrid in the EcoDrive Showcase Exhibit on the 800 Level of the South Metro Convention Centre. This four-door sedan is powered by a turbocharged direct-injection 1.4-litre four in unison with a 27-hp electric motor and compact 1.1 kwh lithium-ion battery. Combined output is 170 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 r.p.m.
A seven-speed dual-clutch auto is standard on this car, and VW says the Jetta Hybrid is its most fuel efficient (North American) offering. Yes, even beating the venerable TDI diesels.
For small families with a penchant for Euro-chic, Fiat will be showing the 500L, an expanded four-door iteration of the too-cute 500. Advertised as a five-seater, this L version of the Fiat 500 gains 42 per cent more interior space thanks to 660 mm more length and an increase of 152 mm in both width and height. Power comes from a 160 hp turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four. The Fiat 500L Trekking ramps up the attitude with 17-inch alloys and more aggressive body bits.
Making its Canadian premiere at the CIAS will be the Ford Transit Connect Wagon, a new people mover (dare we say minivan?) based on the Transit Connect compact commercial vehicle — although the Wagon’s slick new skin and revised snout give it a decidedly upscale industrial-chic look. Available in either five- or seven-seat configuration, the Transit Connect Wagon’s base engine will be the 2.5L four found in the current Transit Connect. An optional 1.6 L EcoBoost four has Ford predicting class leading fuel economy.
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