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Early 2022 model preview

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer    

Covid19 delayed but didn't stop the development of new vehicles that started well before the pandemic took over the planet. Of the new cars covered in this report, the Honda Civic is already on sale, the Hyundai Santa Cruz will arrive soon, and the remaining vehicles should be on sale by the end of 2021

2022 Ford Maverick

What’s new
The Maverick name first appeared on a Ford compact car from 1970, as well as two SUV cooperative ventures that Ford sold in other markets. For 2022, the Maverick name returns on a unibody pickup truck that is offered with either hybrid or conventional power.

Consumers who were disappointed by the large and expensive redesigned Ford Ranger when it debuted will be happy with the new Maverick. In terms of size and price, it is more of a direct replacement for the original compact, popular and affordable Ranger pickup. Taking a leaf out of the book Honda used to c
reate the Ridgeline, Ford passed on a traditional pickup truck frame for the Maverick, and employed lighter unibody construction. (The brand new unibody Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup beat the Ranger to the market this summer.) The base powertrain is a 2.5L, four-cylinder hybrid that puts out 191 combined system horsepower. The battery pack of the hybrid will be water-cooled, to ensure consistent performance. On the hybrid, power reaches the front wheels via a CVT transmission. Ford claims that the hybrid can travel up to 800 kilometres on a full tank of gas. Optional is a 250 horsepower, 2L turbo four that sends power to all four wheels via a conventional eight-speed automatic. Ford Co-Pilot 360, with forward collision warning, including pedestrians and autonomous emergency braking, is standard. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane departure warnings, are optional. Towing capacity is 907 kilograms (2000 lbs.) on the hybrid and 1814 kilograms (4000 lbs.) on the 2L turbo.

The Maverick is attractive, with clean lines and nice proportions. Despite its unibody construction, it projects conventional, body-on-frame pickup styling cues, which is the look buyers want. The only body style announced so far is a crew cab with four conventional, front-hinged doors.

The cabin features modular-look door armrests affixed with serious looking visible fasteners. Unique trim accents, like the wrinkled paper look on the door panels above the armrests reflect an industrial-chic vibe. The two-tone, linen-like fabrics used on the seats of the XLT trim examined were novel and look good. The high-contrast cabin plastics (dark blue and a very pale gray) of the truck the APA examined were visually compelling and the bright orange accents on the centre console and doors livened up the cabin considerably. The driver faces a conventional gauge package with higher quality graphics than some recent Fords, including the Ranger. Gear selection is made through a rotary dial on the centre console. There are plenty of storage spaces around the cabin and all the doors have commodious door bins and numerous slots for water bottles. The front seats are rather substantial; they may be a bit soft for long long hauls. If those up front are willing to compromise on their legroom, the rear seat is comfortable and has enough legroom for large adults. 

FLEXBED is how Ford refers to the short 4.5 foot cargo box, a full foot shorter than most small pickups. Ford has incorporated some interesting touches, such as a power outlet and a storage compartment built into the vertical walls of the tailgate, and slots moulded into the cargo bedliner that will accept 2x4 lumber. Ford maintains that the FLEXBED will welcome 4x8 building material, but not in a conventional way. The tailgate can be set at an angle so it rests at the right height to support the 4x8 sheets that are resting on the flat surfaces above the rear wheel wells. The tailgate sides contain slots that can accept tie-down straps to ratchet the 4x8s to the top of the angled tailgate. Don't forget your warning flag as one-third of the 4x8 sheet will extend past the tailgate! Frankly, this requirement which has assumed mythic proportions in the pickup market is of minor importance. For the vast majority of construction projects, consumers can arrange for delivery of sheetrock on the rare occasions they need it for a project. Numerous load bed accessories will be available for the Maverick.  

You can find more photos of the Maverick from the Ford Canada pre-production launch event.

Hybrid power and front-wheel drive are standard on the XL and XLT trims. All-wheel drive and 2L turbo power are standard on the Lariat model and a $2500 option on the other trims.

Upgrading from the XL to the XLT, which adds a power tailgate lock, alloy wheels and upgraded cloth, is expensive. The Lariat, with dual-zone climate control, thermal-touch entry, a leather-wrapped steering, power driver's seat and a number of other minor comfort and convenience items, is very expensive for what you are getting.

The Maverick should be on sale in Canada by late 2021

2022 Honda Civic

What's new
The 11th-generation Honda Civic sedan went on sale in the summer. A hatchback arrives later; it will be built in North America instead of England this time. 

Built on a 35 mm (1.4 inch) longer wheelbase, the 2022 Civic is 33 mm (1.3 iches) longer than its predecessor and is essentially the same width and height. Two familiar engines return, a 158 horsepower, normally-aspirated 2L, and a 1.5L turbo with 180 horsepower. An idle-stop system has been added for 2022. So far, only a CVT transmission will be available. Honda states that the new body employs more aluminum, including the hood, and is stiffer. New for 2022, is a brake-hold system Honda calls Traffic Jam Assist. The Honda Sensing active safety system returns, with a forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow as well as blind spot and lane departure warnings. Rear cross traffic sensing is included on the Touring trim. The new Civic is equipped with 10 airbags.

The lines of the new car are much cleaner than its predecessor, resembling the elegant Honda Accord that debuted for 2018. About the same size as before, cabin space is quite good, like the outgoing Civic. All models are equipped with L.E.D. headlamps.

Except tor the Touring which boasts an LCD gauge cluster, Civic drivers face crisply-marked conventional instrumentation. Civics feature a standard seven inch touchscreen mounted on the dash; the Touring has a larger screen. The dashboard is horizontally oriented and adorned with a perforated mesh grille that disguises the air vents. Infotainment functions can be manipulated via knobs for volume and tuning and hard buttons for other functions. The interior looks tastefully conservative. The iOS-Android infotainment interface is standard on all trims; with the connection being wireless on the Touring; it also includes wireless cellphone charging.

Carmakers held the line on pricing for modest cars for a very long time as many buyers moved upmarket into very profitable crossovers, but that time may be over now. The 2022 LX is priced over $1000 higher than the previous-generation 2021. That said, with an active safety suite, including blind spot monitors, and abundant standard equipment, the base LX has everything to meet the needs of most users. The EX upgrade adds alloy wheels and a sunroof, but looks overpriced. The Sport trim, which offers little of value except for the "go-faster" accents, seems expensive for what you get. In contrast, the Touring range-topper, with leather seating, navigation, Bose-branded audio, power front seats, rear cross traffic monitors, a larger 10.25 inch infoscreen and a plethora of minor comfort and convenience features, is a standout bargain. Unfortunately, the Touring forces you into the 1.5 turbo engine, which experienced engine problems in 2017-2019 and complaints about slow heating in the winter. Presuming Honda has finally addressed its engine issues, the Civic Touring could be a viable alternative to luxury-brand compacts such as the Mercedes A-Class.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

What’s new
Hyundai has unveiled a unibody, front-wheel-based pickup named the Santa Cruz. The new "truck" is roughly the same size as the new Ford Maverick.

The Santa Cruz is upscale, with a high-power turbo four, all-wheel-drive, a full active safety suite, moulded composite bedliner and a factory-installed tonneau cover. For now, the powertrain is Hyundai's new turbocharged 2.5L four, hooked up to an eight-speed, dual-clutch, automatic transmission, sending power to all wheels. Other markets offer a less expensive normally-aspirated 2.5 L engine and front-wheel drive variant, which may migrate to Canada once the intiti
al flurry of sales starts to slow.

The Santa Cruz is fronted by a design that shares a direct link with the Hyundai Tucson SUV. The rest of the vehicle is curvy, stylish, and unique. It is surprising Hyundai chose this path, because pickup buyers favour conservative, truck styling. The Santa Cruz is equipped with a moulded bedliner that contains a covered compartment with a conventional household electrical receptacle as well as a Honda-Ridgeline-like covered bin under the cargo floor. The cargo bed, which is only four feet long, is covered with a retractable, roller-blind-like tonneau cover. Like the Ford Maverick, the tailgate can be locked at an angle to act as the last perch for long items, like 4x8 sheets of plywood, the forward end of which rest on the flat surfaces above the wheel wells.

The cabin is fronted by the dashboard from the Tucson. It looks good, but the touchscreen which is devoid of buttons is impractical to use while driving. The rest of the cabin is very nicely done. Rear seat legroom looks like tight. 

2022 Kia EV6 

What's new
Due in late 2021, the EV6 is Kia’s spin on the Electric Modular global platform (E-GMP) that also underpins the Hyundai Ioniq 5. 

Like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6 is one of the first of a series of models on a dedicated electric vehicle platform that the Hyundai and Kia combine will issue over the next few years. So far, Kia has announced a 77.4 kWh battery pack with a maximum range of 480 kilometres. Rear-wheel-drive will likely be standard with optional all-wheel-drive, via a dual motor arrangement. The EV6 can theoretically be charged at 800 volts, as well as the 400 volt level 3 chargers that are increasingly available. At 350 KW, the car can move from 10 to 80 percent charge in 18 minutes and can add 100 kilometres of range in five minutes. The ability to recharge quickly is often overlooked and ultimately turns out to be more important than overall range to many drivers. Hyundai and Kia are approaching the type of range and charging rates pioneered by Tesla, although the Korean brands don’t have the advantage of Tesla’s comprehensive and exclusive charging network.

Though sharing the same platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia has differentiated it from its corporate cousin by making the EV6 a bit smaller. Kia has also eschewed the Hyundai’s Giugiaro-Ital Design style for a very clean and modern shape.

The dashboard is dominated by a large, rectangular computer tablet formed in a shallow arc to permit drivers a better better view and easier access to the functions at the right of the tablet. The liquid crystal display (LCD) screen is separated into two fields, with car-related functions in front of the driver and infotainment controls to the right. Climate is controlled exclusively via a touch-sensitive panel below the computer tablet. Cabin photos reflect a minimalist style and a look of Zen luxury. As is with many electric or hybrid cars, Kia has used recycled materials such as polyethylene bottles, plant-based components and eco-tanned leathers in the cabin.

The EV6 should be on sale in Canada by the end of 2021. 

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross

What’s new
Following the unsuccessful front-wheel-drive-only C-HR crossover, the Corolla Cross is Toyota's first entry in the small CUV segment. All-wheel drive is optional and a hybrid version is expected.

The Corolla Cross is built on the TNGA-C platform that underpins various Toyota models. Toyota opted to base the Corolla Cross on the shorter wheelbase of the Corolla hatchback, rather than the wheelbase of the sedan. At 4460 mm (175.6 inches), the Cross is 85 mm (3.46 inches) longer than the Corolla hatchback, wider, and a substantial 211 mm (8.3 inches) taller. The dimensions of the Corolla Cross demonstrate how large the so-called current "compact" crossovers have become, as the Corolla Cross is actually larger than the 2001 RAV4. The same 2L four offered in other Corollas produces 169 horsepower in this application. Power reaches the front wheels, or optionally, all wheels, exclusively via a CVT. There is a conventional low gear to launch the car, after which, the CVT takes over. Front-wheel-drive variants feature a torsion beam rear axle, with a fully-independent suspension supporting the rear on all-wheel-drive variants. Toyota Safety System 2.0, with a forward collision warning, including pedestrians, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, is standard. Towing capacity is rated at 680 kilograms (1500 lbs).

The styling is similar to the immensely popular Toyota RAV4. The Cross re-uses the dash from the Corolla hatchback, and features clear instrumentation, a large free-standing info-screen with practical knobs and buttons, and a reasonable HVAC control interface that perhaps features too many small buttons. Though practical, the instrument and infoscreen graphics are underwhelming. The rest of the cabin is a clean design, constructed from attractive components. Expected items such as the iOS-Android cellphone interface (cordless on premium models) and numerous USB ports, are standard. A power driver's seat and JBL-branded audio equipment will be offered on premium trims. Rear seat legroom and cargo space are very tight on the Corolla hatchback; hopefully the taller cabin of the Corolla Cross will liberate more space for both.

The Corolla Cross should be on sale by late fall 2021.