2021 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Mid-size

With solid performance, abundant space and good refinement, cars in this segment were once very popular, but sales have steadily cooled over the last few years. Some buyers have downsized to some of the larger compact cars available, others have migrated to luxury brands that generate a similar lease payment, but most have traded in their midsize car for a compact crossover. 

The only new car in this segment for 2021 is the new K5, that replaces the Optima. The Ford Fusion, a once popular entry in the midsize field, was discontinued at the end of the 2020 model year as Ford has left the mainstream passenger car market.    

Most cars in this segment were once available with V6 engines, but high-performance fans will have to be content with turbo fours in all major players except for the Toyota Camry. The turbo fours are easier to package and yield lower fuel consumption figures in the U.S. Government fuel consumption tests, but the benefits seldom translate into better fuel economy for owners and the loss of the silken sound profile of a V6 is very sad, especially as fuel economy is unaffected.  

 

Chevrolet Malibu  Hyundai Sonata  Nissan Altima  Toyota Camry 
Honda Accord  Kia K5  Subaru Legacy  Toyota Prius 
  Mazda 6  Subaru Outback  Volkswagen Passat 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu

 


 

 

What’s new
The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu finally made it to showrooms in March.  

Comments
Shunned by buyers, the undersized 2013-2016 Malibu was replaced by this generation in 2016 and sales increased smartly for a while, however, as this segment has evaporated so have sales of the Malibu. The cabin reprises the twin-cockpit design theme used since 2008, and is fully competitive in terms of style, fit, and finish. Rear legroom, which was a significant shortcoming of the previous Malibu, is quite generous due to a much longer wheelbase. The front seats are supportive but the rear seat is mounted a touch too low for adult comfort.

A 160 horsepower 1.5L turbo four is the base engine, which is hooked up to a new CVT. The 1.5L engine is quick and smooth.

Small-displacement turbo engines flatter the U.S. government fuel economy tests, but the real-world reduction in fuel consumption is likely to be modest at best, and the more complex engine may increase service and repair costs. A 2L turbo four is optional and is mated to a conventional nine-speed automatic transmission.  

The ride of the conventional 1.5L Malibu is reasonably absorbent. Road noise is high for a vehicle in this segment. Pleasantly weighted steering and solid braking.

Pricing

The base LS trim is nicely equipped and would suit the needs of many buyers. Moving up to the RS adds sporty trim and a power driver's seat at a tempting price. Migrating to the LT brings heated front seats, a dual-zone climate control and remote starting, but is expensive.  looks overpriced. With leather seating, navigation, a Bose-branded audio system, the powerful 2L turbo engine and complete active safety suite including autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, blind spot, lane departure and forward collision warnings and a lane keep assist system, at what appears to be an enormous price bump. However, if you don't need the performance of the 2L, the LT Plus package contains the most sought after equipment of the Premier for nearly $6000 less. With just over 3300 sold last year, the Malibu did reasonably well, but was handily outsold by the Honda Accord, and trounced by the dominant car in this category, the Toyota Camry. Chevrolet was not offering leasing for the Malibu in March of 2021.   

Reliability
Not rated. Insufficient data. A few complaints have been received regarding fauity throttle pedals on the current Malibu.  

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD  

Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
1.5L-4 T (160 HP), 2L-4 H (182 HP combined), 2L-4 T (260 HP) 

Transmissions: CVT (1.5L), 9A (2L)
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.2L/100 km.
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.6L/100 km.
Active Safety Features: Optional forward collision warning, including pedestrian, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings and a lane keeping assist system 

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2016
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: M

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: n/r

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Honda Accord

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle refresh includes minor exterior styling revisions and cabin trim updates. The SE model replaces the LX as the base Accord for 2021 and all models gain a wireless version of the iOS-Android cellphone interface, as well as blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors. A heated steering will is fitted to EX and higher models.

Comments
The 10th generation Accord was a radical re-imagining what the Accord could be and totally rebooted the nameplate. Its silhouette has echoes of the Civic but eliminated a lot of the extraneous styling gargoyles of that car, resulting in a sleek elegance. The cabin looks upscale and is constructed from attractive components. A 1.5L turbo four is standard, with a 2L turbo optional. The 1.5L is hooked up to a CVT; with the 2L mated to a conventional 10-speed automatic transmission. A hybrid model is also available. Responding to negative comments about the infotainment system in the Civic and Pilot, Honda developed a new infotainment interface for the Accord that is straightforward to use. The climate controls are not only easy to use but its control knobs turn with satisfying precision. Seating is comfortable, but the very wide centre console is in exactly the wrong spot for drivers with long femurs, resulting in knee pain. The rear seat is supportive, legroom is abundant but headroom may be tight tor the super tall. The trunk of the Accord is spacious. 

The 1.5L turbo four powering the Accord is quick, flexible and quiet when cruising but drones annoyingly at low speeds and when gentle acceleration is needed. The CVT harnesses the power of the 1.5 turbo very well. While numb, the steering is precise and nicely weighted and brake pedal weighting and feel are excellent. Honda has done a good job at reconciling ride and comfort on the Accord. Driver's sit low in the new Accord and the high beltline results in less than panoramic visibility. The fastback-like rear window gathers snow quickly and the rear defroster could be more effective. Driven in very cold weather, the engine never seemed to warm up, heating was deficient, as was defrosting. Mixed fuel economy of 13L per 100 km was very high but might reflect both the extreme cold during our time with the car as well as the extended idling necessary to clear frost from the windows. The APA has received a number of complaints about the cold weather operation and poor heating from Accord owners.  
Pricing

The new SE base model, with alloy wheels, L.E.D. headlamps, a power driver's seat, heated front seats and the Honda Sensing safety suite, is very nicely equipped. The Sport trim upgrade, which includes an upgraded audio system, sunroof, heated steering wheel and wireless cellphone charging, is very good value. The EX-L, which adds leather seating, parking sensors front and rear, a power passenger seat and heated rear seats, is also well worth taking if you like the equipment. The 1.5T Touring trim is significantly overpriced.

Opting for the 2L turbo four costs $3005 on the Touring trim and $3200 on the Sport, but the Touring trim also includes an adaptive suspension system in addition to the engine. The 1.5 T versions constitute the majority of Accords sold, with the 2L turbo finding few buyers. The Touring trim is the only place the 1.5T and hybrid Accords cross paths; with the hybrid priced $4000 higher. Few hybrids have been sold and are available only by custom order. The Accord used to have one of the best resale values in its segment but the market has become wary of the problems experienced with 1.5L turbo cars. Honda sold 6757 Accords last year, about half of what they sold when the current car debuted in 2018 but other cars in this segment have seen sales fade as well. The Accord is a good lease value for 2021.  


Reliability
Above average reliability has been a feature of previous Accords. However, reports of engine failures and poor heater output on 1.5L turbo models have been received and it is unknown at this point whether Honda has addressed the issues satisfactorily. Unproven CVT and 10-speed automatic transmissions. The three-star rating of the Accord is largely due to the issues experienced by owners of 1.5L Accords.    

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
1.5L-4T (192 HP)*, 2L-4T (252 HP), 2 L-4 H (143 HP gas, 181 HP electric, 212 HP combined) 

Transmissions: CVT*, 10A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  7.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.5L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and a lane keep assist system. 

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2018
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: A

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Hyundai Sonata

 

 

 

What’s new
A wireless iOS-Android cellphone interface is now standard on the Preferred, Sport and Luxury trims. A safe exit warning is included on all models this year. A hybrid is now on sale and a new 2.5L gasoline turbo four, sold as the N line model, is now available.


Comments

Most Sonatas feature crisply marked conventional gauges but the Ultimate trim replaces them with transistor film technology (TFT) instrumentation. Other controls are logical and  straightforward, a Hyundai hallmark. Cabin materials on the top-spec model examined are well up to the standards of the current class leader, the Honda Accord. Comfortable seats are installed front and rear and legroom is good for all riders. The low-slung roofline adds to the elegance of the new Sonata but makes getting in and out more difficult than it is in taller cars like the Toyota Camry and Subaru Legacy.

Initially a 1.6L turbo four was supposed to be the sole engine for Canada but a normally-aspirated 2.5L four has emerged as the base engine for the car here. The 1.6 turbo produces 180 horsepower, 11 less than the normally-aspirated 2.5L four, making it look like something other than the upgrade Hyundai thinks it is. Power to the front wheels via a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. The "N" model, with a 290 horsepower 2.5L turbo four,  hooked up a new dual clutch eight-speed automatic transmission, was phased in during the 2021 model year. The hybrid combines the efforts of a 2L four and an electric motor to create 192 total system horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels via a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. 

Safety equipment includes Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection. The system alerts the driver visually and sonically of an impending obstruction and will apply the brakes if no action is taken. Active cruise control with stop and go is standard equipment as well. Lane following assist will maintain the car in the centre of its lane in town or on the highway. Safe Exit Assist alerts occupants when a vehicle is approaching from behind, preventing accidents caused by open doors. Blind spot, driver awareness and and rear cross traffic monitors are all standard. A 360 degree monitor is fitted on models starting with the Luxury trim. The Sonata went on sale in early 2020. 

Pricing

The base Essential trim, with an active safety suite, L.E.D. headlamps, heated front seats and steering wheel and alloy wheels, is nicely equipped. The Sport trim upgrade adds a dual panel sunroof, a power driver's seat and dual-zone climate control, looks overpriced. The Sport includes the 1.6L turbo, but that engine is not really an upgrade from the normally-aspirated 2.5L engine. With leather seating, heated rear seat, a power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, and a name-brand audio system, but is overpriced. The range-topping 1.6T engined car, the Ultimate, includes a head up display system, navigation and remote parking, is priced to reflect the value of its addition features. The Luxury trim, which features leather seating at a lower price than the Ultimate, is the most popular model. The N model adds a 290 horsepower 2.5L turbo as well as about $2200 in additional equipment but it is priced less than the 1.6T Ultimate. The conventional hybrid, sold only in Ultimate trim, is priced $2050 higher than its 1.6T  equivalent.  . 

Reliability
The Sonata should exhibit average to above average reliability during the warranty period.  

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
1.6L-4 T (180 HP), 2.5L-4 (191 HP)*, 2.5L-4T (290 HP), 

Transmissions: 6A (hybrid), 8A, 8 DSG (N-Line)
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.4L/100 km
Active Safety Features:
Standard forward collision warning including pedestrians and cyclists. Autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic, lane departure and driver awareness warnings, a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control with stop and go
Warranty: 5/100,000. Hybrid: 8/160,000 on all hybrid system components.
Current Generation Debut:  2020
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: M

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Kia K5

 

NEW

 

 

What’s new
All-new replacement for the Optima that is based on the components that debuted on the 2020 Hyundai Sonata.  

Comments
Built on a 45 mm (1.8 inch) longer wheelbase than the Optima, the K5 is 50 mm (1.9 inches)  longer overall, the same width and 20 mm (almost an inch) taller.The new K5 is fronted by a slim grille in Kia's unique Tiger-mouth shape twinned with a large air intake below the bumper. Complex headlights are complimented by L.E.D. accents on their outside edges and rest above the very au courant jagged triangular shapes containing fog lamps. The side profile of the K5 is very sleek, with a interesting bright accent that flows from the top of the windows and trails down the roof pillar and join up at the end of the trunk to form a horseshoe shape. The driver faces a free-standing gauge pod with crisply-marked conventional gauges in most models, with the GT model having a wide-field, configurable transistor-film-technology (TFT) screen. A free-standing screen flows off the right side of the gauge pod. The rest of the cabin features some interesting shapes and textures and, if the Sonata is anything to go by, will be roomy and comfortable.

The K5 was launched with a 180 horsepower 1.6L turbo four, which sends power to all wheels via a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive gives Kia a unique market position compared with the front-wheel drive-exclusive Hyundai Sonata. On the GT-DCT model, Kia offers a 290 horsepower 2.5L turbo four that is now making its way into various Hyundai-Kia-Genesis vehicles. The 2.5L turbo hooks up to an eight-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. Kia makes a big point in saying the the dual-clutch transmission features "wet" clutches. Dry clutches were a factor in the poor performance and durability of the Getrag-Ford dual clutch unit in the Ford Fiesta and Focus. The 2.5L turbo is exclusively front-wheel drive. Kia notes that forward collision, blind spot, rear cross traffic and driver alertness warnings are standard, as are autonomous emergency braking and a lane keep assist system. Collision Avoidance Assist with Junction Turning, which will stop the car if a left turn that would result in a collision is about to happen, is optional, as is active cruise control.

Pricing
With all-wheel drive, a power driver's seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, wireless iOS-Android cellphone link and a good level of active safety equipment, the base LX K5 is nicely equipped. The EX upgrade, with a dual-panel sunroof, heated windshield, wireless cellphone charging, active cruise control and rear parking sensors, is good value. The GT-Line adds a power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, navigation, and a variety of other comfort and convenience features, for a price that reflects the value of the content. The GT-DCT adds the high-power 2.5L turbo and an eight-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission, but deletes all-wheel drive. The GT-DCT adds a Bose audio system, head-up display and a larger infotainment screen, but at $4000, looks very expensive when the deletion of all-wheel drive (a $2000 to $2500 option on other cars) is deducted.

Reliability
The K5 should exhibit average to above average reliability during the warranty period.

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines: 2L-4 H (192 HP combined), 2L-4 PHEV (202 HP), 2.4L-4 (185 HP)*
Transmissions: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.2L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.9L/100 km

Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and a lane keep assist system. Active cruise control with stop and go is optional


Warranty: 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2016
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: P

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Mazda 6

 


 

 

What’s new
Numerous small adjustments with trim level equipment for 2021, its eighth year on the market. The turbo is now offered only on the new Kuro special edition and the Signature range-topper. The GS-L model loses its leather upholstery. Smart City Brake Support/Rear, and a driver alertness warning have been added to the Signature trim and the GT model gains wireless Apple CarPlay.

Comments
The 6’s normally-aspirated 2.5L four is flexible and delivers good urge and acceptable refinement. The six-speed automatic transmission works unobtrusively and is particularly smooth in stop-and-go traffic, where other automatic transmissions can turn indecisive. Crisp handling but supple ride, solid brake feel, nicely-weighted steering and good overall refinement. Small windows translate to limited outward visibility.
Despite substantial exterior dimensions, the 6’s cabin space is noticeably less roomy than the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata. Elegant conventional gauges are set in an attractive horizontally-themed dashboard that features an aftermarket-looking stuck-on infotainment screen. The 6’s cabin design, assembly quality and the rich look of its interior components are all impressive at this price point. Audio quality is very good on the GT model driven. A large, but shallow trunk is accessed through a small aperture.

Pricing
With alloy wheels, a power driver's seat and heated front seats and low-speed autonomous braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, L.E.D. headlamps, dual-zone climate control and Keyless Go, the base GS trim is nicely equipped for the money.

Moving up to the GS-L adds a sunroof, heated steering wheel, active cruise control with stop and go, a lane departure warning, a lane keep assist system and a windshield wiper de-icer, at a price that reflects the value of its additional equipment. 

With a Bose-branded audio system, navigation, leather seating, adaptive headlamps, a 360 degree camera system, a power passenger seat, heated rear seats, wireless Apple CarPlay, ventilated from seats, a head-up display system, among other things, the GT trim is a bargain. The Kuro special edition, based on the GT, adds the turbo engine and some minor trim changes for a fair price.

In Signature trim, the Mazda 6 is a super-luxurious car with Nappa leather, ultrasuede on the doors and lower dash, real wood trim and a plethora of other items, plus a turbo engine, at a reasonable price. Weak resale value, particularly on high-end models. 

The 6 is not a big seller in Canada but it has its fans, with high-end models doing well and the turbo proving very popular. Limiting the turbo to the Kuro and Signature trims this year may reduce the turbo take rate for 2021. The 6 is a reasonable lease value for 2021. 

 
Reliability
Not rated due to insufficient sales. Very few complaints have been received regarding the current car that debuted for the 2014 model year. The cylinder shut off system on the normally aspirated 2.5L four is unproven and previous Mazda turbo efforts have been unsuccessful in the hands of owners. Mazda's unlimited mileage warranties are a plus for high mileage owners.    

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.5L-4 (184 HP)*, 2.5L-4 T (227 HP, 250 HP on 93 octane fuel)

Transmissions: 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.1L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.7L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings. Optional lane departure and driver awareness warnings, a lane keep assist system and adaptive cruise control with stop and go

Warranty: 3/Unlimited, 5/Unlimited
Current Generation Debut:  2014
Country of Origin:  Japan

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: A

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Nissan Altima

 
 

 

 

What’s new 
The Platinum range topper returns but the S and SV trims have been replaced by the SE and SR models. The reconstituted model range has resulted in numerous packaging and equipment changes with comprehensive safety equipment standard on all models this year. 

Performance
Nissan’s normally aspirated 2.5L four is the sole engine offered in the new Altima. Except when accelerating very slowly or while cruising, the 2.5L sounds coarse. It is especially unrefined when moving from a stop in fast-moving suburban traffic situations when quick acceleration is required. The throttle requires a determined push to engage any meaningful acceleration and makes the car feel lethargic most of the time.

The Nissan CVT is programmed to mimic the operating style of a conventional hydraulic automatic transmission and generally works very well.

Steering is engaged by a thick-rimmed, small diameter wheel that is a pleasure to hold. While the steering is nicely weighted, accurate and holds its line well, if feels detached, a Nissan trait.

The Altima’s ride-handling compromise is pretty well sorted for a family touring car but some APA drivers thought the car felt loose and they detected some creaks from the suspension. Unlike some cars, which reveal their excellence as you become more familiar with them, the Altima makes a good first impression but then starts unveiling its deficiencies the more you drive it.

Visibility to the front and out the front side windows is very good but the triangular rise of the rear door belt line and the high rear deck limit the view for reversing and lane changes.  

The minimum possible temperature for the climate system is 18 centigrade, too warm for some drivers in really hot weather. 

The Bose-branded audio system in the Platinum range-topper delivers unimpressive sounds. 

Comments
After a bizarre styling mis-step with the previous Altima, Nissan joined the contemporary mainstream with the latest iteration of the nameplate.

The interior is clean and modern and features class competitive space. The iOS/Android cellphone interface is standard and the car can sync up to the iOS and Android watches as well.

With direct injection and 80 percent of its internal components redesigned, the 2.5L four is virtually new. The Altima is exclusively all-wheel drive. The 2L turbo four, offered in the U.S. with front-wheel drive, is not available in Canada. 

The Platinum range-topper, with leather seating, a name brand audio system, is well equipped but its leather upholstery does not project the aura of luxury expected. 

Pricing

All-wheel drive is standard, but this feature is no longer as big a selling feature as the Subaru Legacy and Kia K5 now include this feature. The SE, with a power seat, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, alloy wheels, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, including pedestrians, rear object detection and auto-stop and rear parking sonar, is nicely equipped. The sporty-themed SR adds 19 inch wheels, a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, navigation, air vents for the rear seat passengers and a heated steering wheel, is very good value. Stepping up the the range-topping Platinum adds leather seating  a Bose-branded audio system, Nissan's ProPilot 360 safety system, that incorporates a lane keeping system as well as active cruise control with stop and go, a 360 degree camera, an acoustic-laminated windshield and a power passenger seat, at a very good price. Below average resale value. Nissan sold about 1500 Altimas in Canada last year, outselling the Mazda 6, Subaru Legacy and approaching the sales of the Volkswagen Passat. The Altima is a reasonable lease deal for 2021.

Reliability
New vehicle, not rated. Below average reliability is likely. CVT failures can occur on heavier Nissans at high mileages.   

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.5L-4 (179 HP) 

Transmissions: CVT 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.1/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.5L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, including pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure warnings. Autonomous emergency braking in reverse, optional adaptive cruise control and a self-centring system. 

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2019
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: A

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Subaru Legacy, Outback. 2022 Legacy,Outback

 

 

 

What’s new
2021: Active L.E.D. headlights are standard on all trims this year and a heated steering wheel is fitted starting from the Touring trim. 2022: The Outback Outdoor XT has been renamed the Wilderness XT. 

Comments
Following Subaru’s philosophy of gentle design evolution, both cars bear a strong resemblance to their predecessors.
Compared with the previous Legacy and Outback, the new cars are marginally larger overall but still trim for a cars in their class. The new Subarus are the last mainstream Subarus to move to its Global Platform that debuted on the current Impreza. Subaru notes that the platform of the new cars is 70 percent stronger than its predecessor. The new Legacy and Outback are once again powered by a 2.5L flat-four, but Subaru says that 90 percent of the engine internals are new and it gains direct fuel injection this year as well as a stop-start system. The 2.5L engine produces 182 horsepower. The previously-available flat-six engine has been discontinued in favour of a 260 horsepower, 2.4L turbo flat-four that debuted in the Ascent. Power reaches all wheels via a CVT transmission regardless of engine choice.
Like the exterior, the design of the cabin of the new Legacy and Outback is one of gentle evolution rather than significant change. The biggest departure from the past is the 11.6 inch touchscreen that dominates the dash centre stack on higher-end models. Subaru made a point at the Legacy reveal that while the touchscreen can perform a variety of functions, knobs and buttons are still available for those more comfortable with them. Subaru touted an upgrade in the look of cabin materials for the new cars and the cars are very luxurious. The new cars have very roomy cabins, with a commanding driving position and big windows to aid outward vision. The trunk on the sedan is commodious, and while the cargo bay on the Outback is long and quite wide, it is shallower below the windows than some other competitors. 
Subaru’s Eyesight active safety suite is standard on all trims. Added for this new-generation car is a Driver Mitigation system that uses facial recognition software to detect driver drowsiness or distraction. Adaptive cruise control, long an Eyesight feature, now includes a new lane centring device.

Pricing 2021

With Eyesight, the iOS-Android cellphone interface, auto climate control, heated front seats and L.E.D. headlamps, the base Convenience trim is nicely equipped. The Touring, with alloy wheels, a sunroof, Keyless Go, auto-stop in reverse, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, dual-zone climate control and a power passenger seat, is a bargain. The Limited, with leather seating, heated rear seats, a Harmon-Kardon branded audio system and a power passenger seat, is a bargain. The Premier, with Nappa leather and a CD player, is overpriced. Equipped in a similar manner as a Legacy, the Outback commands a $4700 supplement over the Legacy. The Outback Convenience, with heated seats and a power driver's seat, is nicely equipped. The Touring and Limited trims are priced to reflect the value of their additional features. The Premier trim is overpriced. The turbo 2.4L engine, offered in the Limited and Premier trims, is priced $2900 higher than the normally-aspirated 2.5L-powered cars of the same trim. Resale value is average for the Legacy and good for the Outback. These cars are very good lease value for 2021. 

The Outback is by far the volume seller of the two bodystyles, selling over 10,000 units in Canada last year compared with just under 1100 Legacies. 

Pricing 2022
Legacy. With the Eyesight safety suite a good level of equipment, including a power driver's seat, the base Convenience model Legacy is well equipped and avoids the large touchscreen that incorporates the fan speed and air distribution controls into the screen. Moving up to the Touring trim adds alloy wheels, a sunroof, fog lights, the larger touchscreen, dual-zone auto temperature controls and a variety of other comfort and convenience items, at a price that reflects the value of the additional content. The Limited trim adds leather seating, a Harman-Kardon branded audio system, navigation and more soft-touch cabin surfaces, and is reasonable value. Adding the turbo engine to the Limited trim adds $2900. Moving up to the Premier range-topper adds Nappa leather, a CD player, ventilated seat power-fold door mirrors, at a reasonable cost.

Outback: the Outback parallels the Legacy lineup for trim upgrades. The base Convenience lacks alloy wheels but is otherwise well equipped and allows buyers to avoid the larger touchscreen that incorporates fan speed and air distribution into the screen. Moving up to the Touring adds a sunroof, alloy wheels, a power tailgate and dual-zone auto climate controls, at a price that reflects the value of the content. Upgrading to the Limited adds leather seating, a Harmon-Kardon branded audio system, navigation and a host of minor features that is reasonable value. The Premier trim includes Nappa leather, ventilated seats and power-fold door mirrors at a price that is fair. Upgrading to the turbo engine costs an extra $2800 on the Limited and Premier trims. The Wilderness trim is, with multiple skid plates and an "X-Mode" terrain system as well as a very interesting specification that delivers a nicely-equipped car powered by the powerful turbo engine. If you allot $2800 or the $6600 price bump form the normally-aspirated Touring model to the turbo Wilderness, $3800 is for the additional equipment, which looks overpriced.

If you accept that the station wagon body style of the Outback is worth about $1500 more than the sedan format of the Legacy, the Outback, at $4400 to $4700 more expensive that a Legacy of the same trim level, must be a highly profitable vehicle for Subaru.

 


Reliability
Predicted reliability is above average up to around 100,000, after which engine durability problems with the mainstream 2.5L four could become a factor. Subaru claims the oil leaks and expensive head gasket failures have been addressed, but only time will tell whether they have been fixed.  

Specifications


Body Style:  4SD, 4SW*
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.5L-4 (182 HP)*, 2.4L-4 T (260 HP) 

Transmissions: CVT 
Drive Layout: All-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  9.0L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  7.1L/100 km

Active Safety Features:  Standard forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and a lane keep assist system. Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors


Additional airbags: Front passenger seat cushion airbag and a driver's side knee airbag


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2020
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: G

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Toyota Camry

 

 

 

What’s new
2021 marks a mid-cycle update for the Camry that includes a minor exterior and cabin changes. The Nightshade package move to the all-wheel drive powertrain for 2021. A heated steering wheel is added from the SE Upgrade trim and above. Blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors are new to the TRD model for 2021. The Toyota Safety System 2.5+, with left turn intersection support, risk avoidance for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles, curve speed assist and enhanced lane departure assist and lane trace systems, is standard. All XLE models, the LE Upgrade all all-wheel drive and all V6 models are available only on a confirmed sale basis only.

Comments
The eighth-generation Camry is now in its third year after a successful debut. Power stems from a 2.5L four or a 3.5L V6, both of which mate to an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission. Also available is a hybrid model using a 2.5L four hooked up to a CVT. The Camry is about the last volume midsize passenger car to offer a V6 engine. 

The all-wheel drive Camry uses the multi-link rear suspension and drive system from the conventionally-powered RAV4. The sole engine available is the normally-aspirated 2.5L four. An "on demand" system, the all-wheel driveline defaults to front-wheel drive until it detects wheelspin, when it will send up to 50 percent of available torque to the rear wheels. The drive to the rear wheels will cease once wheelspin has been eliminated.  

Toyota’s Safety Sense-P, with pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic cruise control and lane departure warning and assists, is standard, with blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings optional.

With an expressive dash centre stack and some wild shapes, Toyota pulled out all the stops when they designed the new Camry’s cabin. Clear instrumentation and logical controls are a snap to use. Substantial seats and good room welcome riders. The front seat headrests tilt forward more than some drivers will be comfortable with and could be a deal breaker. Large windows lend an airiness to the cabin and deliver visibility which is exceptionally good in an era plagued by limited glazing.  

Driven briefly, the large capacity normally-aspirated 2.5L four delivers a smooth, linear flow of power and strong acceleration. The conventional eight-speed automatic transmission impresses by its ability to function totally unnoticed. Once a very soft riding car with slightly nautical handling, the Camry, with nicely weighted steering, a good ride-handling balance and solid-feeling brakes, now mimics the performance parameters of the Honda Accord. Tne Camry hybrid was a strong performer and very economical. The normally-aspirated 2.5L model was very abstemious with fuel in steady-state cruising in the 80 to 100 kilometre per hour speed range.  

Pricing

The Camry is marketed in L (uxury) and S (port) trim streams in what looks like a needlessly over-complicated model range. The base model of the L-themed trims has air conditioning but is a fairly basic car for vehicle in this segment and gains few buyers. The LE adds alloy wheels, a power driver's seat and heated front seats, at a good price. The LE Upgrade includes dual-zone climate control, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, Keyless Go, wireless cellphone charging and an auto-dim mirror, at a price that reflects the value of the additional equipment. The XLE adds leather seating, premium audio navigation, a heated steering wheel and a plethora of other features, but is overpriced. Moving up to the XLE V6 costs $5140: about $2000 of which is for additional equipment, the rest is attributable to the engine.

The SE, the base car of the S lineup, equipped with alloy wheels, heated front seats, power driver's seat and a body kit, lacks nothing, at a good price. The SE Upgrade, with a sunroof, dual zone climate control, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and a host of other features, is a bargain. The XSE trim adds a power passenger seat, a dual panel sunroof and leather seating, but is a bit overpriced. Compared with the XSE 2.5L, the XSE V6 includes about some tempting equipment such as a JBL sound system, with about $3000 attributable to the V6. TRD version of the S V6 range lacks leather seating but is a comprehensively equipped car for less than the price of an XSE V6. All-wheel drive, only offered with the 2.5L four, is priced at $1800 higher than a front-wheel variant of the same trim level. The hybrid models are priced $2000 to $2240 (compared SE upgrade 2.5 versus SE Hybrid) higher than a conventional front-wheel drive version of the same trim level. About 10 percent of all Camrys sold are hybrids but that is more due to restricted availability than due to actual demand.


Reliability
Predicted reliability is Above Average as the engine is normally-aspirated and the automatic transmission is a conventional, hydraulic design. The previous Camry hybrids have been reliable and durable. 

Specifications


Body Style: 4SD
Occupants: 2/3

Engines:
2.5L-4 184 HP)*, 3.5L-V6 (267 HP), 2.5L-4 H (208 HP combined)
Transmissions: 8A*, CVT
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy: 8.1L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy: 6.1L/100 km

Active Safety Features: Standard forward collision warning, including for pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a lane departure warning. Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 (hybrid system components)
Current Generation Debut: 2018
Country of Origin: United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: A

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Toyota Prius

 


What’s new

2021 Prius
All models except for the eAWD Tech Advanced feature a seven-inch infoscreen this year. 

2021 Prime
Blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors were added to the Upgrade package. The Android Auto cellphone interface is standard on models with a seven inch infotainment screen. 
Comments
The cabin of the Prius, with high, centre-mounted readouts, continues the Prius tradition but the quality of materials, with lots of soft-touch surfaces and matte finishes, is quite good now. Despite lowish fuel prices and no government rebates for hybrids, the hybrid-only Prius remains popular as it still carries a lot of Green street cred. Driven briefly by the APA, the current Prius, with sharper steering, crisper handling and a more controlled ride, is a big improvement in terms of vehicle dynamics than the last Prius. Outward vision is very good to the front but the rising window line of the rear doors places metal where the windows should be, forcing drivers to rely on their mirrors for making lane changes. The tailgate glass is bisected by a solid bar where the horizontal and vertical sections meet, which can block the mirror view of a vehicle following the Prius. The bigger batteries of the Prime plug-in model use up more trunk space than the conventional model.  

Pricing

Prius
The base front-wheel drive model is reasonably equipped. Moving up to the Technology trim brings blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, a power driver's seat, a sunroof, Keyless Go and a heated steering wheel, at a price that reflects the value of the additonal content. Except for the base version of the AWD-e trim, the AWD versions of the Prius are not really comparable in regards to equipment. On the base model, AWD costs only $1040 more than a FWD model. On the AWD variants, both the Technology and Advanced Technology upgrardes are overpriced. The AWD version of the Prius account for up to 75 percent of sales, with the base AWD trim being the most popular trim. 

Prime
With heated front seats, steering wheel and alloy wheels, the base Prime is nicely equipped. The Upgrade package adds blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, a power driver's seat, an 11.6 inch infotainment screen and wireless cellphone charging, but is overpriced. The Advanced Technology trim includes a head up display, garage opening system and self parking, but is priced higher than the value of the content. 

The Prime accounts for roughly half of all Prius branded cars sold. Available rebates for the Prime include $1500 from B.C., $2500 from the Federal government and $4000 from Quebec. 

Reliability
Above average reliability with no serious complaints about the complex hybrid system and good service from a dealer network very familiar with the car.   

 

Specifications


Body Style: 4HB*, 4
Occupants: 2/3

Engines:1.8L-4 H (98 HP gasoline, 134 HP combined)
Transmissions: CVT
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  4.4L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  4.7L/100 km

Active Safety Features: Standard collision warning, including pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a lane departure warning. Optional blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings.  


Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, 8/160,000 km (hybrid components)
Current Generation Debut:  2016
Country of Origin:  Japan

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: A

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: A

 

NHTSA Rating:


2021 Volkswagen Passat

 


 

 

What's new
Volkswagen updated the current Passat, first introduced in 2012, for 2020. The base Comfortline trim is no longer available, with the Highline being the base trim for 2021. Forward collision warning, including for pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and a sunroof, are all standard for 2021. Volkswagen has announced the Passat will be discontinued at the end of the 2023 model year.


Performance
Driven before the 2020 updates, the 2L four was very noisy while accelerating but cruised serenely  The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The Passat delivers a compliant ride but allows more body lean than expected of a VW. That said, the car exhibits very neutral handling characteristics, and is unfazed by big dips or significant mid-corner bumps. Though a bit light and numb, the Passat’s steering provides linear response to inputs. Powerful braking despite a spongy brake feel.
Fronted by a dashboard with clear gauges, crisp electronic readouts and logical controls, the interior reflects sober, traditional VW style. Cabin materials are reasonably attractive but certainly can't compete with the high-end look of the Honda Accord.
The prosaic exterior encloses a massive cabin containing the large, comfortable seats VW is renowned for, allied to expansive legroom that makes the Passat the limousine of the mid-size car segment. Good driving position but the space available for the driver's foot is very narrow.  

Comments
A 2L turbo four, hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission, is the the sole powertrain for 2021.  

Pricing 
The base Highline trim, with a sunroof, a full active safety suite including adaptive cruise control, as well as L.E.D. headlamps, is very well equipped. Migrating from the Highline to the Execline adds a power driver's seat, Fender-branded audio equipment, navigation, active headlamps and a host of other features, at a bargain price. Despite its advanced age, Passat sales were quite robust in 2020 and it outsold the Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Subaru Legacy. 

Reliability 
Average reliability predicted for the first four years, deteriorating after that point. High servicing costs as the car ages. Generous four year/80,000 km basic warranty, a year longer than ususal for a mainstream brand. 

Specifications


Body Style:  4SS
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2L-4 T (174 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A  
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  10.2/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  6.9L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Optional forward collision warning, including pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control
Warranty: 4/80,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2012
Country of Origin:  United States

IIHS Ratings:

Sm. Front Driver: G

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Sm. Front Pass.: G

Head/Seat: G

Headlight: M

 

NHTSA Rating: