A spring lineup

From the April 2020 print edition

The Canadian International Auto Show 2020 provided plenty of budget-conscious fleet options

February is a welcome reminder that the long winter is coming to an end and spring is finally on its way. The month also heralds the arrival of the Canadian International Auto Show. The country’s largest celebration of the automobile, held annually in Toronto, is a showcase of exotic concept vehicles and the latest new technology. The CIAS is also one of the most valuable resources to those considering new fleet purchases. The new crop of 2020 arrivals offer plenty for the value-minded buyer.

Nissan Kicks
Nissan’s subcompact crossover is surprisingly practical, making up for its tiny footprint with a versatile interior offering as much cargo space as some larger rivals. Powered by a 122hp four-cylinder, the Kicks isn’t big on passing prowess, but is peppy enough for around town. Standard are continuously variable transmission, blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking and forward collision warning. Higher trim levels offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 17-inch wheels, hill start assist, Bose sound system, heated front seats, remote start, enhanced gauges, rear parking sensors, and two-tone paint.

Kia Forte
The Kia Forte returns for 2020 with a new turbocharged GT version. Only we lucky Canadians get the hatchback. The Forte features a sharper, sportier ride, with new GT models offering an even sportier tuned suspension setup. All regular Fortes are powered by a 147hp, four-cylinder motor, GT models boast a 201hp, turbo-charged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Standard features include heated side mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, split folding rear seat, leather trimmed steering wheel, air, eight-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth. Higher trim levels add LED headlights and daytime running lights, heated steering wheel, rear seat air conditioning vents, wireless smartphone charging, lane keeping assist, LED taillights, sunroof,adaptive cruise control, advanced collision avoidance, power driver’s seat, heated rear seats, premium sound, and navigation. GT models add paddle shifters, front sport seats, sport wheel and pedals, 18-inch rims, ambient lighting, red accented grill, spoiler, rear diffuser.

Mazda 3
Mazda’s stylish compact offers an engaging and refined driving experiences. Available in sedan or hatchback, the Mazda3 delivers excellent fuel economy despite being one of the sportiest vehicles in the compact segment. For 2020, the Mazda3 now offers as standard the same driver safety features once found only in upper trim levels, including adaptive cruise control, auto high beams, lane departure warning, automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. Its cabin feels upscale with options likeBose Audio, heated and power adjustable front seats, Sirius XM Satellite radio. All Mazda 3 come with a 186hp, 2.5L four-cylinder, mated to standard gearbox on the hatch, or automatic on the sedan. All-wheel drive is optional, and available only with automatic transmission.

Hyundai Elantra
The only change to the Elantra for 2020 is an optional continuously variable transmission in place of the six-speed automatic. It’s offered in five trims, all with a 147hp four-cylinder, except Sport models, which have a 201hp turbo-charged four. Standard are 15-inch steel wheels, five-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, six-speaker audio, intermittent wipers, air, heated and adjustable side mirrors and adjustable cloth seats. Midrange trim levels offer auto transmission, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, leather trimmed and heated steering wheel, passive keyless entry, auto headlights, forward collision warning, avoidance assist, lane departure warning and assist, dual zone climate control, hands-free trunk, and satellite radio seven-inch touchscreen. Upper trims add pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, heated rear seats, eight-way adjustable power driver seat, wireless smartphone charging and 4.2-inch LCD information cluster.

Chevrolet Spark
Chevy’s subcompact hatch returns unchanged for 2020. At $9,998, the Spark is hands-down Canada’s most affordable car. Available in three trims, the Spark comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, manual transmission, rear spoiler, four-speaker audio, intermittent wipers, seven-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth, and tire pressure monitoring. Higher trim levels add auto transmission air, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, heated seats, sunroof, chrome trim, leatherette upholstery. All Sparks get a 1.4L, four-cylinder that returns 7.9/6.2L/100km (city/highway) with auto transmission, and 8.0/6.2L/100km for manual.

Honda Fit
There are no changes to the Fit for 2020. The Honda Fit is the champion of interior flexibility. Its main claim to fame is its “Magic Seats” which can fold in a variety of configurations to accommodate cargo. The modestly powered engine (130hp with the manual gearbox and 128hp with CVT) is responsive, so the Fit feels fast, even though it isn’t. Standard are Bluetooth audio and steering wheel controls, six-speed transmission and backup camera. Upper trims feature seven-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, six-speaker sound, and a CVT automatic that also includes the Honda Sensing package of automated braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Toyota Corolla
The Corolla returns in 2020 with an all new hybrid. Joining the lineup is a new battery-assisted variant featuring the same hybrid powertrain as the Toyota Prius. The Corolla offers terrific value with standard 1.8L, four-cylinder, six-speed, seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, keyless entry, and the Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver’s assistance, including Radar Cruise Control. Higher trim levels include CVT gearbox, heated seats and steering wheel, power moon roof; and a 169hp, 2.0L four-cylinder engine and sports tuned suspension for sporty SE models. Range topping XSE models include heated front and rear seats with eight-way driver’s seat adjustment. While gas-powered Corollas boast fuel-efficiency as low as 6.0L/100km, the Hybrid claims 4.4L/100km for city driving.

Mitsubishi Mirage
Mitsubishi’s three-cylinder is one of the least expensive cars in Canada. Although it offers less power and refinement, the Mirage is a fuel economy champion, returning 6.6/5.6L/100km (city/highway) when equipped with the continuously variable automatic transmission. Available in two trims, both powered by a 78hp, three-cylinder engine, the Mirage comes standard with five-speed manual transmission, backup camera, auto climate control, AM/FM/CD audio, auto off headlights, 60/40 folding rear seat. Available are CVT, air, remote keyless entry, tilt, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and Rockford Fosgate audio. Lacking are driver assistance features: lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, or automated braking.