You know that feeling when you’re not really in the market for a new vehicle, but you feel compelled to check out all the new cars anyway? A great way to get your hands on a lot of new (and custom and upcoming) vehicles without the pressure of dealership showrooms is at the Vancouver International Auto Show. So, that’s exactly what we did.
Like so many other Canadian families, we drive a small to mid-size SUV. It suits our needs. But prior to this SUV, I’ve only ever owned coupes and hatchbacks and other more compact vehicles.
I miss the nimble and sporty feel of a smaller car, which is probably why the subcompact SUV has become such a popular subcategory. People want the “utility” of an SUV in a smaller package with better fuel economy. Really, this class of vehicle is coming to replace the sedan and wagon for a lot of people.
Remember when I was first introduced to the Ford EcoSport and subsequently drove it in Newfoundland? That’s a great example of this trend. More recently, Ford has given the ST treatment to the Edge… and I feel like there was a lost opportunity to rebadge this as the Ford EDGIEST.
It’s mostly with a kind of “small SUV” mindset that we approached our visit at the Vancouver International Auto Show. We got to check out the Acura RDX A-Spec, for instance, and it really demonstrated to me how much has changed since I was booting around in my Integra. The interior has way more buttons and features.
That being said, the RDX is decidedly larger (and more premium) than many of the other subcompact CUVs. What I really wanted to see was if these smaller, more affordable vehicles could really meet our needs. I looked at the Hyundai Kona, which is also offered as an EV. (And yes, that neon green color scheme carries through with interior highlights.)
From seeing the Mazda CX-3 on paper (or rather, on the computer screen), I was intrigued. Seeing it on the road and in parking lots, I grew more skeptical about its size. Getting up close and personal with the CX-3 at the auto show confirmed these concerns. It’s stylish, but possibly smaller than a Mazda 3 Sport. Trunk space is really minimal. If we were to take this route, we’d have to get the CX-5 instead.
Mazda is a brand I’ve admired for some time though, so I am happy to hear that the Mazda 3 will be offered in all-wheel-drive. And then there’s the gorgeous MX-5, possibly the kind of “affordable” rear-wheel-drive roadsters with a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
Maybe I’m a bit partial to Honda. Compared to the Mazda CX-3, the Honda HR-V seems to offer a lot more cargo space in the back. It’s basically a Honda Fit in a more crossover kind of body, which also means you get those great “magic” seats for all sorts of configurations.
The 2007 Fit we owned felt much larger on the inside than it appeared on the outside, and the Honda HR-V seems to continue with that. It won’t be the most powerful thing in the world, to be sure, but I’d like to take one on a test drive to see if it can retain some semblance of a nimble, sporty feel about it.
While I was looking at more “practical” vehicles for our family, Addie was busy “driving” a Tesla Model S and an Audi R8 Spyder. Honestly, how can you blame her?
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got something like the Nissan Micra, which starts at right around $10,000. It ain’t fancy, but it’s certainly responsible and practical for a city dweller. And the new Leaf Plus gets an extended range compared to its non-Plus cousin, helping to quell some of those anxieties surrounding electric vehicles. Or you can get that other Leaf by Nismo.
If we’re going to daydream, we may as well imagine driving around in a Felino CB7 (Felino is based out of Montreal) and the 2020 Toyota Supra too. Just as Acura brought back the NSX, Toyota is bringing back the Supra. It’s like the ’90s all over again.
Or maybe I’ll just appear on The Grand Tour with a trio of boffins. POWAAAH!
The Vancouver International Auto Show runs until this Sunday, March 24 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (West Building). Adult admission is $17 today and $20 from Friday to Sunday, with discounts available for seniors, students, military, children, and families. Refer to the official website for more information.