“Vancouver International Auto Show attendees will have the chance to win Grand Prize vehicles, including an all-new 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum Midnight Edition and an all-new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. “

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Geneva, Switzerland –The second largest auto show on the European calendar is staged in scenic and historic city on the lake bearing the same name.

Typically, many cars are unveiled here that just don’t make it to our side of the pond but this year was different – several notable reveals will make it here.

Subaru Crosstrek

The Subaru Crosstrek has been a huge hit for Subaru with the highest satisfaction among Subaru owners ever since the original arrived in 2013. The all-new Crosstrek is built on the same Global Platform as the recent Impreza. The goal was to make a much more sophisticated driving car with world class safety. Another major selling feature of Subaru cars is the advanced safety suit called Eye Sight which is available, plus the introduction of dynamic headlamps with auto high beam and low beam. The goal was to achieve the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus with these new features. The new platform is much more rigid and with a 2.0L direct injection 4-cylinder, standard all-wheel drive and an impressive 220mm of ground clearance, this go anywhere crossover is targeted for city dwellers who like to head out of town on the weekend. The new Crosstrek arrives this summer.

VW Arteon

VW is back in the big car market with a stylish GT sedan with impressive design and a practical layout. The Arteon is a mid-to-full-size four-door sedan with a coupe-like roofline and hatchback layout; like Audi’s A7. Built on an elongated platform shared with the Golf and upcoming Atlas SUV, the Arteon is a foray into the premium space. The Arteon will go on sale in Europe later this year with standard AWD and six available engines. For the Canadian market expect to see the Arteon arrive next year. Engines have not been announced for the Canadian market but a good bet would be a turbo 4-cylinder base engine and an optional V6, as has been announced in the Atlas SUV.

Range Rover Velar

The Velar is based on the same platform as the F-Pace Jaguar cousin but has a design that is all Range Rover. This stunning SUV is placed between the Evoque compact SUV and the Range Rover Sport. For the Canadian market it will be priced, starting at $62,300, which is $12,000 more than the F-Pace. It will be available with a turbo 4-cylinder diesel or a 380hp supercharged V6. Unlike the F-Pace the Velar will be available with an adjustable air suspension for off-road duties. The interior is much more polished than the F-Pace featuring two 10-inch centre screens for car controls and infotainment readouts. The rather sparse interior of the F-Pace is replaced with cloth and quilted accents that do look more upscale. The exterior of the Velar is like the Range Rover Sport and due to the popularity of that vehicle, this smaller option will be a massive hit for Range Rover. The Velar will be available this summer

Volvo XC60

Volvo has been on a vehicle renaissance lately with the highly successful XC90 crossover winning the North American SUV of the Year award last year. For 2017 Volvo hopes to capture lightning in a bottle twice with the smaller XC60. This new version will be available before the end of the year and should be a hit because it looks and shares many of the same components with the award winning larger sibling. The same turbo and supercharged 4-cylinder engine is standard with an available plug-in hybrid model. The interior features the same layout and the same level of finish is present. With a smaller and more agile footprint, plus Volvo’s reputation for advanced safety features will help accelerate the rented interest in the Volvo brand.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Some might remember the Mitsubishi Eclipse name on a car but the trend these days is to crossovers, so the name has been resurrected on the latest model called Mitsubishi Cross. This all-new crossover will sit between the RVR and Outlander models in size. With a turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission, the target might be the Honda CR-V with similar tech. The design is sharp and looks like a fastback from some angles. The rear styling is edgy and might be a bit polarizing. The interior is a major step forward with a touch-pad controller for the new centre screen and the materials look fresh and upscale. The Eclipse Cross will arrive towards the end of this year.

zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Volkswagen has reimagined VW’s adventurous spirit through a custom-built display made of more than 20,000 LEGO bricks. 

Making its debut at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, the 2 foot by 3.5 foot display highlights the evolution of Volkswagen design and the journey of VW vehicles with families through the decades.

The VW journey is set against a landscape that transitions from city life to outdoor scenery. A beloved VW Microbus takes drivers back to the family camping trips of yesteryear, while the new Atlas stands ready to transport the modern family through new terrain.  

Like the original Microbus, the LEGO interpretation has a two-tone exterior, built with blue and white LEGO bricks. The replica stays true to the iconic model of the 60s with a distinctive “V-shaped” front fascia design, rounded headlamps, silver round side-view mirrors, silver baby moon hubcaps, a curved bumper in white, and a bold VW badge, placed front and center.

Made up of white LEGO bricks, the Atlas model highlights the seven-passenger capacity and utility of the actual vehicle. The model features a characteristic grille, accessorized black rims, roof rails, a rugged trailer hitch for hauling needs and unmistakable front and rear VW badges.

The 2018 Atlas goes on sale later this year.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

PULL QUOTE: “There was a parade of new sport/crossover utes from virtually all manufacturers, all scrambling to get a share of this hot market segment.”

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Detroit, MI – It’s been a while since I last attended the annual North American International Auto Show media preview so the invite to the 2017 edition was a treat.

The crowded media feeding frenzies were just the same as ever but the new vehicle intro events, however, tend to be tamer affairs these days. The emphasis is largely on corporate business not show business, which, of course, is sensible … yet, I do miss that old razzle dazzle!

Not here in person, but the Donald Trump-effect was evident, following the president-elect’s unpleasant utterings about manufacturers who shift production outside of the USA. Almost every auto industry spokesperson talked about American vehicle production numbers, American production content, American employment numbers or planned future growth in America, etc. Oddly enough, Chrysler (aka FCA) did not host an auto show press conference this year, in its home city!

The Ford media presentation was another low-key affair, with top executives mainly talking about future mobility, sustainability and autonomous driving. An updated F150 (all-new 3 years ago) was paraded but the big news for Ford fans is that Ranger, a midsize pickup truck, is back in 2019 and an all-new Bronco will follow in 2020. Both will be produced in a Ford assembly plant in Michigan, USA.

My favourite auto industry speaker was Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.. During his articulate and insightful keynote address he clarified the difference between an autonomous vehicle and a driverless vehicle. He expects there will be various levels of autonomy offered by auto makers, including Nissan in 2021. A driver will be able to choose when he/she wants it to operate this vehicle in an autonomous mode. The Ghosn definition of a driverless vehicle, on the other hand, is one that has no steering wheel or driver controls. Basically, it’s a robotic transportation appliance on wheels.

Volvo introduced us to the Hains family from Gothenburg. They are the first of 100 families who agreed to take an autonomous Volvo XC90 SUV and be part of Volvo’s long-term Drive Me research program. It will be the world’s largest autonomous driving test on real roads and with real people, according to Volvo. Volvo is also working with Uber on an autonomous ride-hailing program.

Volkswagen really set the room abuzz was the I.D. Buzz. Another microbus concept from VW and this one is autonomous and full-electric.

Bucking the driver-less trend of this year’s show, Kia introduced Stinger, a stylish driver-focused rear-drive (or all-wheel-drive) sports sedan. Its 3.3-litre V6 engine can produce 365 horsepower and get Stinger to 100 km/hour in less than 6 seconds.

The Four Rings rang with the world premiere of the company’s latest utility vehicle addition: the 2018 Audi SQ5.

Boasting new suspension and a powerful update to the power train – a 3.0L V6 that claims to blast the compact crossover from zero to 100 in 5.1 seconds with its 354 horses (and 369 lb.-ft. of torque) – marshalled by an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Audi also showed the Q8 Concept vehicle, billed as the “first full-size SUV in coupe design”, is the basis of what will become, they say, a production vehicle that will be launched for real in 2018 as a powerful (and of course luxurious) hybrid that are already looking forward to here at Driveway.

Mercedes Benz kicked off with a musical quartet that culminated in the German manufacturer’s personable chairman Dieter Zetsche taking the stage. The 2018 GLA compact SUV gets a new face for the new year, and redesigned bumpers. The E-class Coupe made its world debut, adding to an already comprehensive array of recent new models from Benz.

bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Keith Morgan picks five trendy faves from Ford, Infinity, Lincoln, Hyundai and Chevy at the L.A. International auto show

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By Laura Ballance

‘Rookie’ might be overstating it, more like a novice.

I’ve been RV’ing before, but wouldn’t call myself an expert. Experts don’t have to read manuals to empty the sani dump. I, on the other hand, am an expert at reading the manual while directing my husband on that task. But I do love the idea of a hotel room on wheels that allows families to vacation almost any weekend of the year.

There is no doubt that as British Columbians, we live in one of the most beautiful and exciting regions of the world, perfect for exploring. So when my husband Rick and I, along with my 12-year-old stepson Kaleb, had the opportunity to head out in a 22-foot Adventurer from Fraserway RV in Abbotsford, we jumped at it.

The destination was set, three days at the Rockin’ River Music Festival in Merritt, but the journey was the real point of our adventure. British Columbia in summer – what’s not to love!

The upsides of RV vacationing are many. Today’s RVs are priced competitively – you can buy a trailer for under $20,000 and, of course, the sky is the limit for those mansions on wheels! And, of course, renting is a great option.

RVs allow families to take weekend vacations throughout the year and our three-day adventure was a perfect mini break. Complete with kitchen’s RVs are also a cost effective solution to constant restaurant eating during most hotel-based vacations.

Other huge pluses include having your own bathroom; room for video games and miscellaneous ‘must have’ teenager electronics and enough snacks to keep an almost teenager fed.

Surprisingly, driving an RV is easy. Our Adventurer is a Class C, which means drivers do not require a special drivers license, it’s essentially like driving a truck. The biggest things to get used to are the height and length of the vehicle, and giving yourself extra turning radius.

Packed up and ready to roll, we set out from Abbotsford heading east to Merritt. The drive was fantastic. British Columbia really is spectacular, and today’s RVs are equipped all the modern devices such as GPS and Bluetooth, making the conversion from my daily driver SUV to RV surprisingly easy.

We stopped in Hope for supplies and a coffee refill for me. There seems to be camaraderie within the RV community, and even on a short stop we met lots of fellow travellers headed further west.

The convenience of having your own bathroom, kitchen and all your personal items along for the ride makes impromptu stops and meandering routes very possible.

The ride to Merritt reminded me how lucky we are here in BC, the scenery is beautiful and seeing it roll by through the RV window made us all look a little closer – we weren’t commuting, we were vacationing.

Arriving at the family camping area of the festival I started to notice little tricks the expert RVers use.  A rug just outside the door for dirty shoes.  Storage containers that fit the RV shelves.  Solar lights for the ‘patio’.  I filed this information away because someday soon we’ll have an RV of our own.

The festival delivered as promised, great country music ranging from the country music of my teens (John Michael Montgomery) to today’s most popular artists (Sam Hunt). There were also some great Canadian acts like High Valley and local up and coming band Me and Mae.
It was a great weekend, and one that I would highly recommend. The best part of our trip was the freedom to do what we wanted, when we wanted.

If this piqued your interest, check out the Snowbird RV Show this weekend at Tradex in Abbotsford. It opens at 10 a.m. daily, closing at 9 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for youths (13-19). Children 12 and under, free
The Family Pack – $20, includes 2 adults and up to 4 youths and the Multi-Day Pass is $10 adults or youth.

A stunning reconstruction of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car from the hit children’s movie has been one of the star attractions at the National Motor Museum in the UK this summer.

This reconstruction of one of the most memorable film cars is certainly was set up as a photo op for young families visiting the museum at Beaulieu.

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang reconstruction was built by an ardent fan of the classic film and uses some authentic parts from one of the Chittys that was used for filming.

Several Chittys were built for filming, including one in racing guise which was used for the motorsport sequence in the film’s opening credits. As part of the story, this car was crashed and burst into flames.

Some authentic parts from the wrecked car were used to build the Chitty reconstruction, including three body panels, part of the elegant radiator cowling, one of the headlamps, wheels and leather straps. The boat builder who created the original wooden ‘boat tail’ bodies has also made a new version for this Chitty reconstruction and a V6 engine has been installed to give this stunning machine power.

The car made its eye-catching Beaulieu debut at this year’s Beaulieu Village Fete, when it stylishly delivered Lord Montagu, Eastenders actor Stefan Booth and his son Benjamin for the celebrity opening and ribbon cutting on the lawns of Palace House.

Visitors also got an eyeful of a variety of veteran and vintage vehicles being driven around the grounds by chauffeurs in period costume. Car buffs were also treated to a new Driving Change display, which explores motoring innovations, technology and safety throughout history and makes motoring predictions for the future.

In the World of Top Gear, machines built for the challenges on the TV motoring show are displayed. In On Screen Cars are featured TV and film favourites including the flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Mr Bean’s lime green Mini and Wallace and Gromit’s Anti-Pesto Van.

If you have trip to the UK planned, check out www.beaulieu.co.uk.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

This year’s event will introduce a new element – a live supercar auction operated by ADESA auctions that will see $10 million worth of luxury and supercars, offered for sale.

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