Family Wheels’ Favourite Cars of 2017
We’ve had a lot of amazing cars in our driveway over the last year. But some really rose to the top. Here’s our annual list of our favourite test vehicles… and a couple of the duds, too.
The Gamechanger Award: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq
Who says a hybrid can’t be fun? When Hyundai set out to create a competitor to the Prius, the goal was to make a car that was a bit more interesting to drive. With excellent suspension, a six speed dual clutch transmission, a far better warranty (for the battery packs, too) and far better interior design, we really enjoyed our week in this car. Sporty AND an impressive 5.1 L/100 kms. The future of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars looks good with cars like the Ioniq entering the fold!
The Biggest Surprise Award: 2018 Honda Accord
The Accord has gone from a boring car we really didn’t like to a really fantastic all-rounder in its latest generation. The exterior lines are far more stream-lined, the interior is well-executed, there’s lots of value in this car, and the second row is far more spacious. If only it came with all wheel drive and as a wagon. This would be our next car, without hesitation
The Best Value Award: 2017 Honda CR-V
For the second year in a row, another Honda has won this award. The company is really upping its game when it comes to standard equipment. All Canadian CR-V trims now include: heated front seats, dual zone climate control, a seven inch infotainment system, rear backup camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, push button start, a smart key and a peppy yet efficient 1.5-litre turbocharged engine. Throw all wheel drive into the mix and you also get Honda’s suite of safety features like adaptive cruise, lane keep assist and autonomous braking. The latest CR-V is also far more spacious and has some great interior design. So it wins out handily.
The Best Interior Award: 2018 BMW 4-series
This generation of the 4-series has been around for a while now but BMW has done a good job of keeping it refreshed and looking good. What a beautiful interior! It’s simple and clean with exceptional materials throughout. The seats are also some of the best we’ve ever tested with all sorts of various ways to make them just right for each passenger. The infotainment system has also seen big improvements and is far more intuitive – shame that it hasn’t been designed to pair with Androids, though. This is a mile-munching cruiser with an interior that makes it hard to get out of.
The Best New Car Award: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek has gotten a fair bit bigger for 2018 and it suddenly is a far more doable vehicle for families. Second row leg room now accommodates car seats very well and the extra bit of trunk space means the family dog will have a bit more room to stretch out. The new design also looks good inside and out. And the introduction of the Subaru’s global design platform makes the Crosstrek’s ride far better while still maintaining that extra bit of ground clearance for a bit of family adventure. This is also my wife’s favourite car of the year. She loved its practical size and solid fuel economy. Be forewarned, though, the only engine available is a 2-litre 4-cylinder than feels a little gutless when you try to stretch the Crosstrek’s legs on the highway.
The Disappointment Award (runner up): 2017 BMW X5 Plug-in hybrid
I just don’t really get the point of this one. While the idea is good – a large, luxurious SUV with an electric vehicle component for daily city driving – the X5 is so big and heavy that its electric range is a dismal 20 kms. After that, you’re dipping into its rather thirsty gasoline combustion engine and it seems really slow to regenerate power during regular driving. Meanwhile, the X5 diesel is cheaper and sees overall better efficiency. So for me, that seems like the far more sensible choice.
The Disappointment Award (1st place): 2018 Toyota C-HR
Yikes! The C-HR is a car I just don’t get. It’s exterior lines are all over the map, the blindspots on the interior are totally unforgivable, the seats are really uncomfortable for long-haul driving, the trunk is strangely unusable, the second row is much tighter than its competitors (like the Crosstrek), it’s gutless and all wheel drive is not an option. Huh?
The Most Fun Award: 2017 Audi RS7
The RS7 is a four door family car with class leading trunk capacity that will totally blow your socks off! This is an example of how much fun you can have in a vehicle that can still cart kids to school or tackle the nastiest of winter roads thanks to Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive system. And the sound! The sound out of the twin turbo V8 is a masterpiece. Who said family cars can’t be fun?! Just be prepared for a hefty price tag. The RS7 starts at $120,000 in Canada.
The Didn’t Want to Give it Back Award: 2017 Ford Focus RS
Here’s a car that lets you have the grins of the RS7 in a much more affordable package. I spent two days sliding and gliding the Focus RS around an ice track in Quebec earlier this year and immediately fell in love. At just shy of $50,000, the Focus RS has some serious bang for its buck with performance tires, brakes, suspension… and the same 2.3-litre engine you’ll find in a Mustang. But it’s been tuned to put out a shocking 350 horsepower, which makes this little pocket rocket absolutely rip! Meanwhile, there’s a second row and room for your dog in the trunk. I want one! I want one!