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Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: Automotive Reviews Page 1 of 6

Vancouver Island in the 2021 Nissan Rogue

Covid has set everyone back, from work to play it has changed plans and turned everyone on their axis. Plans I had of travelling internationally, became exploring my local province more intimately this past year. From the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan Valley, and as far as Grand Forks. And pass Whistler and further North to Lillooet. So for my last vacation of 2020, I decided to branch out to the island.

I have been to Vancouver Island a handful of times, so was now excited to visit during a different season. Fall for the changing colour of the wilderness, some fall fungi foraging, storm watching, and late season fishing. The plan was to go with the flow, allowing curiosity and the call of adventure to take us to all corners of the Island. Skipping the metropolis of Victoria, our travel started at the ferry terminal of Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay. (This was before the non-essential lock down mind you).

Our vehicle of choice, the new 2021 Nissan Rogue. This would be our primary mode of transportation and place of rest. So the right vehicle was essential. And the Rogue fit the bill. We would be the first to set her through her paces; from a mere 555km on the odometer to more than quadruple that by week’s end. With the ever changing terrain and we travelled from muddy roads to steep watersides. From gravel paved and pothole filled pathways, to wet highways, and even snowy mountainsides. And for all of the above, the 2021 Nissan Rogue had a mode for that. Off-road, snow, eco, and sport. The ability to adjust with a twist of a knob as needed kept us comfortable and safe.

Upon landing earlier in the day, we swung by to the nearest city, and the closest breakfast spot. This happened to be Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe in Sydney BC. Across the way from BC’s aviation museum, Mary’s served as the cafe and bar for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. Decorated with historic newspaper clippings and artifacts, the restaurant doubled as a museum dating all the way back to WWII, in its own right.

Equipped with masks the restaurant sat us at our own socially distant table, within the dining area. Breakfast was a collection of classics egg scrambles and pancakes, sprinkled with more innovative options like breakfast crepes and a build your own omelette.

We shared a full order of their Westcoast Benny with smoked salmon, shrimp and lobster on an English muffin. Topped with a perfectly poached egg and their house made hollandaise sauce, enjoyed with crispy hashbrown potatoes on the side. Sadly, the salmon did overpower the other seafood, leaving me missing the lobster. Heck, I got more cocktail shrimp than lobster. It would have been nice to have lobster stock added to their hollandaise as a fun twist.

And despite being able to make such an assembly myself, I find that I still lean towards such breakfast platters when dining out. But more so today given the name was “breakfast of champions”, and boy did I sure did feel like one. Served on a glass fish plate this was bacon, ham, sausage, with three eggs done your way, hashbrowns, and toast. Definitely a classic for a reason. And maybe it was because I was on carefree vacation mode, but each individual ingredient tasted better: fresher than it would have in the big city.

Then it was off towards Campbell River, the capital of salmon fishing, in the world. With a pit stop in the larger city centre of Nanaimo first. There, I took in some local street art and grabbed a coffee and a treat at local hot spot: The Vault. Given the time, I would have found myself here for a meal.

We spent two days and two nights in Campbell, parked by one of the lakes in Elk Park. Our backdrop: warming clouds, thick greenery, and still waters.

We kept warm in the car thanks to a sleeping bag and multiple blankets piled high. The driver and passenger seat proved comfortable when driving upright with its lumbar support. Although the curvature of the seats less so when fully reclined in slumber. Night two was spent in the tailgate with back seats flattened, this proved more ergonomic.

 

There was so much to see just cruising around in the 2021 Nissan Rogue with its panoramic sun roof. We discovered pockets perfect for mushroom foraging. Mossy fields teeming with chanterelles, chicken of the woods, elm mushrooms, boletes, cremini, and hedgehog mushrooms. All of which we cooked and ate during our trip.

There were many more mushrooms that were just stunning, but not to be consumed.

Most amazing were the ones we found on the roadside. The bounty and their available was amazing. Especially considering how hard we have to hunt within the lower mainland for such treasures.

The most memorable moment for me during our time in Campbell was fishing with a mama bear and her two cubs. You could see them across the river way. She caught multiple chums with her paw and snout in the cold water, and I couldn’t even get a bite with my bait.

At Campbell we found comfort in the historic Ideal Cafe, established in 1940’s. One lunch was a soggy Monte Cristo with house roasted turkey breast, shaved ham, and mozzarella cheese. Sandwiched between two pieces of egg battered French toast. It was heavy and on the bland side. I ordered it confusing it with a French croque-monsieur. I hoped a dip in the side of tomato and turkey soup would help add some tang, but alas was disappointed by how bland this was too. In retrospect, I have gotten a bowl of their thick and tasty seafood chowder instead. The fish and chips proved tastier with the house made tartar sauce and fries that the server suggested we add a side of gravy for dipping to. This did not disappoint.

Another meal was spent at A&W. Chicken sandwiches and onion rings enjoyed across the spacious Nissan Rogue’s cabin and arm rest.

 

One dinner had us travelling to Courtenay to take in island night life. A couple flights of beer and a burger with fries at Gladstone Brewery. I fully enjoyed their garage theme that included the up cycled use of old licence plates to holster a flight of four.

Their unique collection of burgers included the “Chrome Dome” a ground pork burger that came in a “Egg in a Hole” Potato Bun. Fun to look at, but hard to eat. The house blended tannadice ground pork was seasoned sweet. It was the dominat flavour profile, whereas I could have used more saltiness from their Natural Pastures Courtenay cheddar cheese or some tang from the Hazy Pale Ale onion relish. But it was the poutine on the side that stole the show with its tasty gravy and meltEd cheese over chewy fries. I always recommend breweries or distilleries as points of interest to visit when travelling, their unique offerings are worth partaking in.

Although, my favourite meal was the one we prepared our self; dry, under the protective tailgate of the 2021 Nissan Rogue. Using propane and camping cookware we sautéed chanterelles with zucchini, pan fried cubes of spam, and boiled up three packets worth of mi goreng. All served up on a plastic plates along side a bottle of red wine.

The day after, our travels took us from Salmon and Kennedy River, to the Pacific Ocean. With a stop and a two night stay in the “Lazy bear cabin” Airbnb in Ucluelet. This was unfortunately amidst of a blackout, due to strong winds blowing down power lines. Luckily our stay coincided with the tail end of it, and power resumed later in the evening. Having been sleeping in the Rogue, we came equipped with our own torches and flashlights; and even had a lamp to keep us warm. Water ran, but it was cold. Therefore our long awaiting shower comprised of a damp rag and boiled water, much like what we were doing before this night.

Nonetheless we made the best out of the situation, keeping warm with layers and warm beverages. Specifically Tofino Distillery’s old growth cedar gin mixed with earl grey tea and ginger ale, for a warm you inside out sorta cocktail.

Dinner was made possible thanks to the barbecue outside and the town’s only grocery store still open. Without electricity they were unable to keep meat cool and therefore dinner compromised of canned corned beef, grilled vegetables and a mix of the chanterelles we collected, along side chicken of the wood. The latter is a type of mushroom, aptly named for its texture that resembles dried chicken. A little too rough for me, but a first experience worth trying nonetheless.

Eventually the power did come back, and we were able to have a late night snack prepared within the warmth of our Airbnb cabin. Snack was toast made with luncheon meat, cheese, and a chanterelle omelette in between two slices of garlic bread. Served along with French pressed coffee and a salted caramel cheesecake slice.

The next day, fresh off of the excitement of having electricity. I made an elm and chanterelle cream of mushroom soup, served along side a different garlic toast sandwich. This time with a sunny side up egg and sautéed elm mushroom filling.

Well fed, it was then off to explore the city of Ucluelet some. Starting with the first look of the Pacific for the week; and a light hike that included a loop around a light house, where winds carried waves and crashed them angrily against large rocks.

As per the locals we grabbed coffee and the Foggy Bean and snacks at Zoe’s Bakery.

And for our last sheltered night in the Airbnb I upcycled leftover mushroom soup into a Parmesan rich, wild mushroom, Alfredo pasta. The perfect side to medium rare steak, grilled tomato, and sautéed hedgehog mushrooms. To drink: wine, was the very same vintage used to make the soup/pasta.

Breakfast the next day was enjoyed on the damp porch outback. Our cabin included its own forest and redwood tree to take in as we ate what we had leftover from the days before.

After a speedy checkout it was off to Tofino and the tsunami hazard done for the last leg of our trip. Here, gentler waves creeping up sandy shores replaced violent ones. Surfers enjoyed the water under them and we the rain that fell above us.

And what is a visit to Tofino, with a stop at the original tacofino truck? There, I recommend their fish tacos for its freshness and the gringa for its lack of availability anywhere else. The chicken gringa, is a 6 inch flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, cheese, salsa, and sour cream; then grilled until gooey and crispy.

Then it was a safe and easy drive back to Nanaimo to catch the ferry home to Vancouver, safe and sound thanks to the 2021 Nissan Rogue. A solid SUV, with enough room to sleep in, even when you over pack. With plenty of comfort and modern features for extended driving. And an amazing fuel economy to get you further and faster than you expected. In short the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a great travel vehicle in our books, and one to consider if you live a similar lifestyle to the one I described above. Thank you Nissan for the loaner and the memories.

2020 Mercedes GLB250 Review

This week was my first time cruising around in a Mercedes, and thanks to this little test drive, I can fully understand the difference a badge makes. Not just luxury for luxury sake, the 2020 Mercedes GLB250 is equipped with enough bells and whistles to justify the price tag you’d expect.

For those reading for the first time, this is my real girl car reviews. I don’t claim to be an automotive expert or even enthusiast. I am just an ordinary, everyday girl. One with relatable questions and loud opinions. So here I put vehicles under the microscope of an every day, regular commuter, just like you.

So as far as SUVs go, I was imagining a behemoth, but walking up to this midsize 5 seater, I found it approachable. Set lower to the ground, with roundness at all its edges it felt compact. From appearance alone, a good size for every day driving. Taking you through narrow neighbourhoods with either sides of the street packed with parked cars, to wide lanes on a highway going 100km/hr. Which by the way, is my commute, and the gauntlet I put the 2020 GLB through. And thankfully the fuel economy was good, enough that I was able to enjoy the drive and afford to eat out that week.

It easy drivability, with multiple modes, and all the modern conveniences of lane assist and turn signal warning aside, the Mercedes comes with several fun features all unique to itself, or at least less common in other-like vehicles on the market. Starting off with the most noticeable and notable is the ambient lighting feature. You have the ability to custom colour code the interior of the GLB to your mood or liking. From a frosty blue to calm your nerves during rush hour, to a fiery red that match the stitching of the suede interior. If the swirling through a colour wheel proves too much, or you are overwhelmed with the possibilities, you can simply select one of their predetermined colour combinations. This includes gradient colour changes across the dash, air vents, and pipping along the driver and passenger door. With names like “jungle green” and “ocean blue”, it certainly add to the vibe.

And speaking of customizations, you can just as intricately customize your seat. From micro movements of it tilting, adjusting, and maneuvering. Worth mentioning is the lumbar, giving you the perfect protrusion to best align to your spine. I strongly suggest giving yourself 30 minutes at minimum to toggling between the above two. I spent 10 minutes alone on colour wheel. Overall the seats are comfy enough, I am just not a fan of the suede; and how it looks against this dressier cabin. It almost played everything around it down.

As for the functionality, it took a while to get use to churning the windshield wipers on the left hand side of the wheel. Whereas all the vehicles I have had before this, it has been a flicking of a handle on the right hand side. Instead, the Mercedes GLB250 has its gear shift on the right. With a flick up you are in reverse, a motion down puts you in drive, neutral is somewhere in between; and park has you pressing the end of the toggle. This definitely put a strain on my three point turn game, and increased anxiety when I had to do quick turns across four lanes of two way traffic. Although towards the end of the week it became habitual, and I was then stuck trying to adjust back to business as usual when I was forced to revert to my regular daily driver.

Similar in learned comfort was the position of my right hand on the arm rest. Built with an island for your wrists, the cushion served as a brace for your hand. You stationary hand, as you toggled through the infotainment system by means of touch pad. If it proves too difficult to use it and look down when driving, you can just as easily utilize the touch screen on the centre console. But with so many options and settings to rifle through, I once again suggest taking the time to read your manual and getting to know your Mercedes GLB250 a little better before hitting the road. And that says something, coming from a woman who is impatient and never reads instructions. A woman who prefers simply jumping it and learning through trial and error.

Sadly, my test drive didn’t happen during summer and I wasn’t able to enjoy ample sun and hot weather with the GLB250’s panoramic sun roof. Although there can be something said about watching the rain beat and bead off it. Similarly, I didn’t get to enjoy the spacious seats or get to invite others to. And it was a very spacious interior, much like the trunk. Extra space as such is great if you have lot to transport, and even better so with the trunk assist. Like placing your hand under an automatic paper towel dispenser, the trunk slowly rises with the motion of your foot under the SUV’s carriage. Great if you are alone and have your hands full, even better as a party trick.

Overall the vehicle certainly impressed, each person who saw me in it, or got the pleasure of riding within it was impressed. The experience was worth it, and now I have a better understanding of the brand and how it’s defined by such detailing as this. Thanks for the ride Mercedes Canada.

https://www.mercedes-benz.ca/en/home

Hyundai Palisade review

The weekends look a lot different now with the landscape of covid-19 and the necessity to stay indoors. I however, am under the employment of an essential service, which forces me to continue my work at this time. Monday to Friday the daily grind with a weekend that you don’t necessarily look forward to, as there isn’t much to do. Luckily, the weather has been better with dry spells, the sun has been punctuating clouds; and it being BC with so much wilderness around, there is plenty to get up to if you have the right vehicle. And this week I did. I was equipped with the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, which I fully maximized my time with.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is equipped with the most up to date features in safety. Lane assist, alarms that warn you when anyone seated isn’t buckling up, and beeps that sound when you are moving too fast or too close to the vehicle or stationary obstacle in front of you. The SUV even takes over and moves the wheel for you, if you are approaching anything too close to any of your corners. All the above, the spaciousness of the cabin, and the proper hooks to strap in a car seat, makes this a great vehicle to bring the whole family out for the day, or the weekend. Equipped with 7 seats and all the conveniences built-in for each passenger. A USB port, cup holders, speakers, and temperature control. With all these modern comforts you needn’t be worried about a long drive. This was definitely the case for our 3 hour voyage in each direction, as we set off to Mission, BC for some off-roading.

The drive there was an easy one; lengthy, but with modes like comfort and sport to toggle through, an enjoyable one. And if gas prices weren’t in the 90 cent range, eco mode would be handy as well. But with time to kill and fuel to burn I enjoyed the cruise; stopping to take in green pastures, wild livestock, and snow capped mountains. The weather was even nice enough to open the sun roof and reveal the sky light. We relished all the warmth of the sun we could get; and when the clouds rolled over we stayed warm with individually controlled climate, heated seats (or cooling, for a more refreshing draft), and a heated wheel.

A stop at a corner store yielded small batch jerky and another at a gas station some energy drinks for the journey ahead. It is worth noting that trips like these may be hard without pit stops. Public places and gas stations that once yielded toilets for all, are now closed off for the safety and necessity of everyone. So be warned, you might need to do as I did, and look in the wild to do your business. Learning the hard way, I can prepared with a roll of bamboo toilet paper.

We would stop for scenic views, climbing down hills sides or traversing across ravines to explore. All while staying away from others and socially distancing in the process. And it looks like others and smaller families had the same idea in mind. We would pass other mud crusted SUV, quads, and dirt bikes that were looking to get away from larger crowds with a trip into the forest. A few families even set up camps, with a lot more pairings opting for a couple of chairs and a camp fire by the water side.

Most memorable of our sightings was the gnome we found bolted on to a tree at the side of the road. A find we spotted by chance when stopping to alleviate ourselves. A tiny capsule hung from it, and after unscrewing it we discovered the world of Geocaching. A treasure hunt of sorts, where you download an app and travel to local parks and nature sites to search for such spots. You uncover and sign each, leaving your mark, along with others who have found it before and then after you. Sadly we didn’t have a pen nor did we think to leave ours name. We simply left with a new hobby to pursue instead.

Our goal was to reach Stave Lake, a 8km drive over uneven terrain. Bumpy and rocky ground that included muddy pot holes, snow covered soil, over grown brush and moss, and road side waterfalls. But with the Hyundai Palisade’s terrain modes it made the ride a lot smoother. We would switch between the mud and sand modes to find the best for a less bumpy ride. But sadly we would never reach our destination. Due to the necessity to help the general public separate and stay distance, park boards have since barricaded up parking lots and closed off access to such sites. Our only solution was the explore the outskirts of the lake, getting as close as we could to the ledge and looking down and the turquoise waters we would never touch. Luckily with the Palisade’s easy handling, handy over head and rear view cameras, and side camera that broadcast on the dash when you signal either right or left; we were able to easily pull over and park at multiple clearings for the photos you are seeing throughout.

And thus ended our day trip. We didn’t get the outcome we desired, but now know of a good locale for future camping trips and a great spot to enjoy some water, sun, and fresh air in Mission. Thank you Hyundai for the safe and comfortable ride to and from.

#HyundaiPalisade
https://www.hyundaicanada.com/

2020 Honda Odyssey review

This week I was cruising around in the 2020 Honda Odessey for my latest “regular girl car review”. Last year this was one of the most memorable vehicles that I drove and wrote about. I was able to tie all of its family focused features into my single household lifestyle by recommending it as the ideal party bus, versus a people transporter able to hold up to 7 at a time. But this year I was determined to evaluate it better, to review it as what it was designed for.

But first, first blush impressions. As I am not the intended demographic, this one didn’t catch my attention like other SUVs might. A long van with all the round edges, it didn’t read speedy or fun, but instead: sturdy and stable with plenty of cargo room. In terms of size, it is a fairly substantial vehicle, I felt very small in the driver’s seat. Although on the same token, I liked all the room that I had within the cabin, unencumbered. With the pull down armrest, all the binning on the centre console and at the side of each door panel. Here was even a place to tuck your handbag right up front; doing so without needing to impede the leg room of yourself or your passenger.

As the “touring” model, this came with all the top of line bells and whistles. And you definitely get that impression right away, just by looking down from the driver’s seat. There were just so many more options than what most vehicles consider “standard”. Like a front climate and a rear climate function, which makes sense considering how long the vehicle is, and how far the air flow must travel. Individual head phone jacks, cup holders, and USB ports for each individual seat. And a built-in DVD player, that I never got to experience as the sole commuter. Of note is the speedometer display. Where others pay extra for such an after market feature, this comes standard in the Odessey, giving it the look of an aftermarket dash display; like that of a race car. And it only happened once, but to my surprise the infotainment system started speaking in a very soothing female voice, letting me know that there was a hazardous driving condition reported in at a specific road. It was not near my route, but I thought that was still a very kind gesture of the car.

The 2020 Odessey also had all the standard features you come to expect from a modern vehicle: Econ and sport mode, lane and parking assist, and adjustable lumbar support that you can customize. Of note, I made the mistake of not setting my preferred seat, wheel, and mirror position as a favourite when I exited the car for the first time; so make sure that you. Because be warned, the time you take to set it perfect is all for nought when the driver seat pulls out when you exit, and readjusts itself naturally to the second driver’s specifications when you come back in. A bit of a hassle, but in contrast features like the heated and cooling seats stay hot or cool, so that when you return to the vehicle you need not toggle those preferences again.

As for the way it drove: There was plenty of body rolling on turns, but on the straightaways it was smooth and stable, like you were driving a tank. It was good on rainy days, the weight had it sticking to the ground, and with its size you barely felt the speed bumps you glided over. Although, the car does jerk a bit after you stop and lift your foot from the brake, here using the E brake is recommend. I definitely didn’t get the speed and acceleration from this, that I am used to with other vehicles on the highway. It was very difficult for me to overtake cars and change lanes like I normally do. Even with a double tap on the drive button to put it in sport mode, it still left sluggish. I found myself mashing down on the gas pedal, trying to get additional more power and it just wasn’t there. I could feel the vehicle struggle under me.

Every time you stop you have the option of pushing down hard to turn off the engine to save fuel. A gauge tells you the distance you’ve driven, your average fuel consumption, and the range you have left. For safety it had all the precautionary assists: lanes, braking, and parking; including the words “brake” flashing across the dash when the vehicle thinks you are going to fast and might collide with something in front of you. And when it came to parking, reverse stall is my specialty, however in the Odyssey it did take some getting use to. All the visual sensors and sounding beeps do help, although they also do a good job scaring you away from hitting anything. There was also a weird sputtering noise I heard from under the hood, it didn’t effect my drive, just something unmistakable.

Once again, I am definitely not the intended demographic for this vehicle, therefore I reached out to someone who is. A mother and daughter duo who would appreciate the comfort and space of the 2020 Honda Odyssey, therefore the second half of this post is written in their perspective. All the points I found troublesome above, made it the ideal vehicle for a family of 4 or more. We planned a trip to a farmer’s market to be able to test out the utilities of the mini van, including the tailgate.

Our journey began with me picking them up, and the install of our littlest passenger’s car seat. The seatbelt buckle dangling from the roof that once beguiled me, now made sense. I saw mom pulling the strap down and using it to secure the seat securely in to place.

I now also had reason to open the side doors that self slide open with a pull of the latch or a push of a button. Its ease helps busy moms with full arms, load and unload kids and goods into the van. Similarly, the foot release tailgate helped in loading handfuls of grocery and assorted gear when you could use another set of hands.

Once situated and comfortable in the Honda Odessey, Mom asked how many soccer kids could fit in the backseat and how much hockey equipment we could haul around with our minivan. She was satisfied with the conclusion, and I definitely found the right buyer for such a vehicle.

And with my new passengers’ consideration, all the power outlets, USB ports, and headphone jacks in the backseat were ideal in keeping little hands and little minds busy on longer trips. There was even a pull down sunshade to keep things cool.

Up front, Mom becomes command centre with all the buttons and features at her finger tips. She can open the doors to allow kids to rush in or out, without leaving her seat. Or give them the perfect cool down climate at the back, while she is toasty up front. And with the Odyssey’s larger gas tank, it helped to avoid the necessity of frequent fill ups. perfect for the daily commute and driving around the team to all their after school curriculars.

As for our planned tailgate, there was plenty of sprawling space at the back, enough to lay down a mattress, or in our case a picnic for three. And when we were done eating our particularly messy meal, clean up was a breeze with a built-in shop vac to help vacuum up all the crumbs.

In short, it isn’t the sexiest car to look at, or the one you want to arrive at a scene with. But it is very functional and very practical, and it definitely hits the demographic it was created for: moms and growing families. Thank you Honda Canada for the experience and to my friend for letting me play mom briefly for the day.

HONDA Canada
www.honda.ca

2020 Genesis G70 review

This week for regular girl car reviews, I climbed into the more luxurious, 2020 Genesis G70. A stylish sedan that had my passengers confusing it for a Bentley, given the badge with wings and the premium interior with light brown leather. I, myself was enamoured with its image, impressed walking up to the lower profile, and again having the supple leather cup my body and stimulate my eyes with its creaminess. I squealed with excitement during my first drive. This definitely made my commute more interesting, and my need to be seen in and with it more intense.

I found myself doing things with the Genesis that I don’t normally do. Like I am not one to take note on how the engine sounds, however it is hard to ignore the roar of the G70. And I have to admit it sounded good. It sounded as high end as it looked.

And I don’t typically find the need to toggle between drive modes, simply keeping comfort in mind and on the dial. However, given the pedigree of the G70, I wanted to toggle through everything and find the best drive for my any route. Here, “comfort” mode delivered on a smooth ride befitting of a fine estate car. On “eco” it didn’t loose any of its zip, while saving you on gas consumption. But hands down the “sport” setting won my heart. Just shifting the dial back and forth, you could feel the increase in energy and power that came over the G70. It felt like it just took an energy drink and was ready to play. A little boost that shot you forward. This made up hill climbs a breeze and straightaways feel like you were on the track for a second. But be warned you can easily get caught up on how solid it feels at higher speeds, that you accidentally disregard the speed you are at. But at least with safety sensors the Genesis lets you know if and when you are approaching another vehicle too fast, and on any side.

As for the way it drives, the sedan handles very well, there is only a little bit of resistance from the wheel to make you feel like you’re in control, with the brakes stopping on a dime.

And obviously toggling between modes and keeping it on sport does come at a cost to your fuel. The Genesis G70 is hard on gas normally and more so when you play around on sport mode. I normally don’t find myself filling up mid week, but with the G70 I did. It is hard on gas, but at least it takes regular, which is just as impressive and it is surprising, given the power. However, if I owned the vehicle you would see me filling it up with 91, just so that it runs better on sport mode.

For finer details, I appreciated the fully electric seat and wheel adjustment. It is less common for the steering wheel to be electric, but wonderful to be able to get a precise setting for the most comfort. Every body is different so simply being able to move the wheel an inch up or forwards isn’t often enough.

And as a driver who does get confused by the windshield wiper setting: as in do I push it up or is it down? It is nice that in either direction you go, you get a read out on the centre dash. From here you are able to scroll through the settings whether its off, auto, high, or low.

The only negative in terms of comfort is specific to my build. I found the driver seat a little too long, and given that my legs are shorter, they were left dangling. Not problematic for my everyday commute, but not ideal for longer trips. Not that I would take the G7 on a road trip. For profile and gas consumption alone I would look else where.

Fun fact, you needn’t worry about dropping your phone between the seats.
People often complain about losing their phone between the cracks of the seat and the centre console, and not being able to find it or fish it out without getting out of the seat, on their hands and knees to search. However, this is not a problem with the G7, there is plenty of finger room to find and reclaim any dropped items. True story: my horror of the hassle of a hard search was quickly nullified realizing the above.

In summary this is a great addition to the Genesis line, and a treat to drive. It is well worth the extra you would be paying for it. Not your daily ride, but the one you take for weekend cruises and to nicer dinners downtown. Thank you Genesis for the long weekend with the 2020 G70.

#GenesisG70
https://www.genesis.com/

2020 Mazda 3 Sedan review

Not the brand or the label, not what’s under the hood. Reviews written by a regular woman for other regular folk. I don’t care how many horses it has under the hood, what I care about is how it drives for my needs. These reviews are my personal experience, I am not pulling from any expertise or any manual or technical review. These are just things that I notice as a regular driver, one that commutes over two hours a day. Additionally, I don’t care if something comes standard or may be considered a minute detail, if I think it is interesting and worth mentioning, I will be doing it here. Like do the seats raise high enough. Can I see past the front of the car, can I reach all the buttons on the centre console and dash with ease? And how do I feel when I am behind the wheel? Powerful? Professional?

This week I was in the front seat of the 2020 Mazda 3 Sedan, having driven the sport edition just a couple of weeks ago I knew what to expect for the automatic version.

For me Mazda’s are a great staple, no real out standing hits or misses, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I get in to one I know exactly what to expect from it, and it delivers. Simple easy driving, reliable comfort; that car that brings you from point A to B without issue. Therefore, this is going to be short one because I don’t need to oversell it, I don’t need to talk it up, the Mazda 3 is just a solid vehicle.

When it comes to getting into a new vehicle, I don’t invest time in reading a manual. I simply adjust the driver’s seat, sit down, and begin pushing buttons. Tuning the sound system to the way I like it, favouriting my preferred satellite radio stations, and getting acquainted with all the features I will need to use for the week. And considering this, upon first blush impressions the Mazda 3 is easy.

Its standard features include lane assist, seat and wheel heating, automatic windshield wiping, and your speed and the limit projected on to the windshield for easy viewing. Along with keyless entry the vehicle is effortless. You don’t feel like you are exerting yourself in the least bit when you are driving, giving you easy and effortless commuting.

Although if you are planning on carpooling you might have issues. There is no room in the back seat. I ended up shooting and impromptu taste test video back there, and had to move the front seats as far up as the could go in order to do so. Meaning either the driver has leg room or the back seat passengers do. Similarly, if you had a car seat back here, you won’t be able to fit in the front seat. Thus, making it not very practical as the family sedan.

But as a single person vehicle it works, especially with the great fuel economy. A week worth of work and extracurriculars only had me filling up once, and even then it wasn’t over $60.

In summary, comparing it to the restaurant reviews that I also write, there isn’t anything out of sorts with the Mazda 3, but at the same time it isn’t necessary your favourite restaurant or the one you are excited to recommend. This is the one you go back to time and time again because it’s by your house and inexpensive. Like your comfortable, local neighbourhood pub. Thank you Mazda Canada for the wheels of the week!

#Mazda3
https://www.mazda.ca/en/

2020 Hyundai Kona review

This week I was behind the wheel of the 2020 Hyundai Kona. This would be my first electric vehicle assessment from my new “regular girl review” series. I haven’t had too much experience with fully electric vehicles, so was excited to put this one to the test.

As with many, I get anxiety relying on a battery to fuel my transportation needs. Is one charge enough to get me where I need to g? Will I be able to find a wall charger at my destination. Will it charge my vehicle fully and within the time I allot it? For many, hybrid vehicles are the way to go. You get the best of both worlds as they offer a little from both the battery powered world and the fossil fuel solution.

But I can confidently say that I got around well just fine being fully electric, and without the need to charge the Kona for the week. I did end up doing so on 3 separate occasions. But between low volt wall outlets and limited timed parking, it really didn’t make much of a difference. At 400km, the range is tremendous. My 60km (to and fro), daily work commute put a dent into this, but the Kona still had plenty of juice left to get me around for grocery shopping and social outings. And doing so with comfort and ease.

This is a smaller SUV, and as such, it might as well be a coupe. Despite the luxury of a generous arm rest equipped with cup holders, your passengers don’t get a lot of room in the back seat. With the front rows adjusted comfortably, leaving enough leg room to do some stretching, you take away all and any such room for your passengers at the back. Not to mention there are head rests and belts for 3, but nothing more or in addition to being able to sit 3 well for an extended period of time. There are at least compartments and binning on the doors, to be able to store what you need, leaving as much room as possible for the people.

And what felt like a spacious cabin, was actually just as tight. The proof was in the number of times I found myself accidentally poking or jabbing my front seat passenger. A couple of times this was due to me trying to use the cup holders, and more when togging between music and the settings on the centre console. I kept thinking that I had more clearance than I really did. And it didn’t help that the centre console was set further back than with most vehicles. So in order to use it you seat yourself awkwardly, positioned with the need to almost turn around and look back and down at it. And these were buttons that I found myself using often enough to find this positioning a nuisance, like the seat warmers and sport mode. As for the buttons themselves they felt a little cheap in plastic with the push down.

Turning the vehicle on is as simple as pushing a button. It lights up and shuts down with melodic tones, much like a computer or game console would. A nice warning tone, it begins to ramp up as you slowly accelerate, it climaxes when you hit 30 and you can’t hear it any more. This is an audio cue that let’s you know that your vehicle is running, given that you don’t actual hear or feel the roar of an engine. This is not to be confused with the back up sensors that sound a lot more jarring, on purpose.

And when driving you don’t miss a normal gas engine. Start and stop the car is very responsive, you get a whole lot of power accelerating just with a little tap. On the line at a red, I beat a BMW easily. And I kept my acceleration speed, so that I didn’t even realize I was clocking in over the speed limit. But luckily when it came to breaking, the Kona stopped at a dime. The perks of a computerized engine means no delays or moving parts to have to go through the emotions with. No resistance working against you.

But at some points, I did feel out of control, between the body rolls and the shaky wheel, certain speeds on the highway were a little sketchy. With normal conditions, the drive is incredibly smooth. It almost feels like you are gliding, there is no friction between you and the road. No movement in the car from the changing or switching of gears, it is just simply running. It all felt easy. Like the intuitive windshield wipers. It is nice to have a car that knows what to do, it knows it is raining before you do, and reacts accordingly so you don’t have to.

Although with the beating rain came the noise. The cabin echoed with all the sounds of the water sloshing on to and under the car. The sounds made it feel more intimidating than it actually was. That and you could feel all the individual bumps on the road like it was multiplied. The easy remedy for the unwanted sounds is to crank up the music to drown it out. And luckily the speakers are great, and there is a nice echo in the Kona for some the good acoustics.

But now for the most important part, the actual charging. As with all electric vehicles, the outlet you choose effects the speed in which you charge. I was able to find a normal outlet in my underground, but finding where to plug the cable from the wall to the car was another story. Luckily, with all the references of the internet at my fingertips I was able to do a quick search to locate the panel. Given that the Kona didn’t need a grill to help cool down the engine, it was covered and used to hide the charging outlet. A single push on the left side popped open the hatch. A practical decision, but one I didn’t like for cosmetic reasons.

The plug in process is pretty self explanatory, you match the “female” part to the “male” part and they click into place. Removing it on the other hand is a different story. This required another internet search, and the patience required to watch a 4 minute YouTube tutorial. Here it is summarized. There is an lock button that ensures that if you leave the cable plugged in and the vehicle unattended, no one can remove it. Any amount of tugging won’t release the cable, you would sooner move the entire car, true story. To be able to unplug you have to unlock all 4 of the doors.

There is also an Auto Unlock button that unlocks the cable when it is done completely changing. This is helpful when you are at a charging station, and don’t want to hold the plug up. This way another person can come and use it after you.

Or you can simply avoid having to charge your vehicle for as long as possible by utilizing the Kona’s auto regeneration feature. In laments terms, when you feel the resistance from the car (almost like it is breaking, but it’s not), you use the paddle at the side of the wheel to down shift. This action allows you to help in the regeneration of the batteries. With the dash showing you by how much.

In summary, there is just something about driving an EV vehicle that just makes you feel like a better person. You want to be seen walking up to your car, to be acknowledged that you are doing something right for the longevity of the world. And that you don’t have to worry about fluctuating gas prices or when to fill up for the best deal. The only worry is the eventual need to replace a larger and heavier battery that will no longer hold its charge. EV vehicles are the future, and if they are built like the Kona, I can tell that we are going in the direction. I honestly would like an EV in the future, but more realistically when my home supports super charging. A method that isn’t timed or costing me anything in addition. As for which EV, I will need to test out a few more before I make that decision. But in the meanwhile it was nice of Hyundai to allow me to use the 2020, fully electric Kona as my guinea pig.

2020 Mazda 3 Sport review

As I continue with my “regular girl car reviews”, this week I was seen “sporting” around in the Mazda 3 Sport. But to be honest I didn’t drive it as I did my usual loans. That’s because the Mazda 3 Sport is a manual vehicle.

I know how to drive manual, but let’s be honest, not well enough to take my regular 45-60 minutes commute in the dark, through pounding rain, and over the high way. I have enough danger to worry about, I don’t need the added pressure of remembering to clutch and shift for myself. Not to mention the roll backs on hills, and the possibility of stalling after every full stop I make.

The reality is manual vehicles are not created for most, or to be your daily ride, although they can be. They are designed with a certain driver in mind. Those, who understand the inner workings of an engine, and how one part moves after another, coming together to propel you forward. Behind the wheel and gear shift of such a vehicle you have full control. If and when you shift, and how you choose to dole out your fuel intake (and therefore consumption).

And you might ask, how do I know this? My partner is such an enthusiast and is the one who taught me how to “drive stick”. When we first met his only vehicle was the Honda S2K. And there was always the fear that if I needed to take control of the wheel, I would not be able to. So I learned (and believe me it was just as difficult learning from him and it was learning how to drive automatic from my father all those years ago, before). The result, one of my first trips driving the “S” was down a mountain, with low visibility and in the pelting rain. Since then, learning and perfecting my skill on dry days has been a cake walk.

So from that experience, I can say with much confidence that it is way easier learning how to shift in the Mazda 3 Sport. In fact, due to a few of its features, if you are wanting to learn how to drive manual yourself, this is a great set of “training wheels, so to speak.

The Mazda 3 Sport has an anti-stall mode. So basically instead of turning off and having to restart when you don’t let go of the clutch with your left and add enough gas with your right; the car remains idle, waiting for you to do it right and move along. But be warned if the vehicle does end up stopping, the emergency break will automatically turn on; and you won’t be able to start again without turning it off. An easy motion, but one that might be hard to miss if you aren’t aware, are just learning, or are not watching the light come on, on the centre console.

As for appearances the Mazda 3 looked the park, sleek and lean with its hatchback. And inside, I liked the burgundy leather finishes. They stood out in the compact, yet spacious cabin. There was plenty of room, especially with the seat sinking down and back, giving you the option to be lower to the ground; much like it would be for a race car driver.

However, I personally like a clear view around my vehicle. I want to be raised high above it all, to the point that the crown of my head ends up being inches away from the roof of the car. So because of my own preference, and the fact that my legs are shorter than my torso, I couldn’t get comfortable in the driver’s seat. I kept having to overextended myself when pushing down on the clutch, a position and motion that had my leg growing tired and cramping quick. That and with the wheel at the highest set position, it was still low enough to keep obstructing my leg. I honestly couldn’t see myself driving this for an extended period. Although this is probably a commentary on my relationships with all manual vehicles.

Worth noting is how good on gas it was. You got the agility and control you want in a sport car; but with the easy handing you know Mazda to be. Especially when across the dash splashes alerts, signalling you when to shift. Numbers and arrows and the direction to shift up or down based on the speed at which are going, and the projected speed at which you will be taking. Helpful, when you can’t just “feel it” yet. (Those better experienced can feel a stopping point within the car, and the need to shift or downshift.) And this is another friendly feature that makes the Mazda 3 Sport a great manual car to start off with.

Although with the lack of overall visibility, and smaller rear view window, it does make it challenging to see out of. Which in turn might provide another hurdle to over come for new manual drivers. Though when reversing, the Sport is equipped with back up cameras for easier parking. The appearance choices for the above, does gives the Mazda its sports appeal. When driving it feels like you are going a lot faster than you actually are, because you can feel everything on the road and within the car, thanks to its stiff suspension hugging the road.

As an overall conclusion, the Mazda 3 Sport doesn’t have the juice to compare with more sport car-like sedans. The transmission feels good, but it isn’t as smooth as the Mazda Miata, comparatively. And manual is fun for those who know how to handle their clutch. But admittedly, I am not one of those people. Being a connivence, “make my life easier” sort of driver I don’t normally gravitate towards manual cars, although I do and see the market for them. After all, if you shift and clutch hard and quick, you can make believe and pretend like you are driving “Fast and Furious” style. Though ironically, this never happens in real life, as shifting, stepping, and releasing the clutch should actually be a very smooth motion.

In short, this is the right car built for a specific driver in mind, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to practice my manual driving, with as much ease and comfort as it allowed. Thank Mazda Canada.

 

#Mazda3Sport
https://www.mazda.ca/

Surviving the Vancouver Snowmageddon in the 2020 Mazda CX-3

For 2020 I have decided to take a new approach to my car reviews. Here, I will not be spouting jargon or spewing quotes from car manufacturers. You don’t need another blog reviewing specs you may know nothing about, nor know what they mean anyways.

Instead, I will use my experience in critical writing to give you the ins and outs for the latest models and everyday rides (with a few luxury labels sprinkled in between). Details on the the look, feel, and drivability during my every day, hour long commute. A daily drive that takes me across bridges, over bumpy terrain, on the highway, then back again.

And what better way to review my latest weekly ride than during 2020’s “Snowmageddon”. 10 days in January where the white stuff dumped, and as per history past, the Lower Mainland knew not what to do with itself. Roads weren’t salted in preparation, despite the weather warnings, and the lack of plows in local areas meant side streets became treacherous. And then there were the drivers without snow tires and the know-how to transverse in snow. They created unnecessary accidents: an abundance of collisions, impeding traffic that was already slowed to a halt.

But I digress, all that can be a post all on its own. This week I had the 2020 Mazda CX-3, and what better time to put it through its paces, and write a thorough review of the experience, than today. A morning where I found myself parked on the highway, inching ever so slowly along the chalky streets, stuck in gridlock. And given all my time sitting and idling, I made plenty of observations, and have plenty of insight to give.

But let’s rewind a little, and start with first impressions. This is a really compact car, waking up to it, it looked a little on the small side; like a baby sedan. There isn’t a lot of room in the back for passengers. Seat belts for three, but only enough room for two small adults. In fact, I would suggest using the back seat to transport groceries and goods, rather than any one with legs. I do push my seat up fairly close to the wheel, but for those who don’t, and need the leg room up front; those in the back will definitely suffer. Stepping in, the front cabin was just as tight. I had to adjust the driver seat, as they felt very sunken into the floor, giving me less visibility out the front window.

And speaking of windshields, the one at the back is very limited. When the back seat passenger head rests are lifted up and the single blade wiper is going, you lose a lot of your visibility. You get a similar experience while left shoulder checking, (at least the way I am seated, I did). The panel that separates the front and rear side windows obstructs your view, so a body twerk is necessary to get it back.

But at least with the Mazda CX-3 being a hatchback, you know where it ends, and you don’t have a lot to worry about bumpers that jut out while reversing. A fact, further helped along with its back up camera. This comes standard for most modern vehicles, but with this week’s extra challenging drive, any little convenience helped. Just like how I really appreciated having heated seats and a heated steering wheel. Both helped to warm me up quickly. And because the cabin is so small, the entire vehicle heats up relatively quick as well. Meaning everything I cranked up, I soon turned down and off, and the temperature remained. I imagine that this is also the case with warmer weather and air-conditioning as well. (But today, summer and the sun feels so far away).

But back to the heated steering wheel, it actually encourages proper hand to wheel placement. You find yourself holding steady at 10 and 2, as the sensors only heat the side of the wheel. Helpful for learners, but not great for drivers like me: those who hold their wheel lower, with their hand resting on their lap.

As a whole, I would classify the Mazda CX-3 as a more simple car. It isn’t too busy visually, there isn’t more than what is necessary in terms of buttons and their functions. A single cluster, a display for your mode, speed gage, temperature reading, and fuel consumption metre. Even the pulldown mirror from the back of the sun shade doesn’t have a light to it. This does make your face check harder in the dark. Although the cabin lights work just fine, albeit harsh.

But despite the simplicity of the vehicle, it does still come with many modern conveniences. Little perks like lumbar support, lane assist tracking, jacks for multiple USB cables, satellite radio, and a touchscreen infotainment system. There is even a small clear screen that pops up when you turn on the car. It broadcasts your speed limit and the speed in which you are traveling, discretely. It does not obstruct your peripheral, you only need to look down slightly to notice it. Therefore it is just as easy to ignore, should you choose to.

As for the way the Mazda CX-3 drove.. because of its narrower framework, it didn’t give me the same fear I usually get when travelling across narrow bridges and lanes. And I imagine in better weather conditions, when the roads aren’t icy, it would be fun to zip around. It is agile and nimble, given its size and lack of weight to maneuver. Similarly, it is extremely easy to park, even for those who fear the dreaded parallel. Although I did have to use quite a bit of a muscle in order to accelerate as fast as I wanted it to go, and even at a faster speed it did not feel like I had any power beneath my feet.

Although as a whole, the Mazda CX-3 has the smooth driving and easy feel that I know Mazda vehicles for. Great as a daily driver, when you want no fuss or muss, getting from “A” to “B”. Especially nice in rush hour and snow driven gridlock. When you find yourself starting and stopping regularly, the last thing you want is the additional movement of a clutch or anything remotely intricate. Today, I was literally moving half a car’s length forward every minute; pushing the shifter up to park, then down when I had drive an inch more. And thankfully this was a hassle free motion in the CX-3. (I wasn’t keen on keeping my foot down on the brake for two hours.)

Given the size and lack of space in the cabin, I wouldn’t recommend it for a road trip. There isn’t a lot of sprawling room; and you can feel quite claustrophobic, if stuck in the car for 4+ hours. I mean on this snowy day I found myself, alone, trapped in it for 5 and felt like I need to stretch after 2. I am not very big, but even I found myself cramped in terms of elbow placement. I had to make myself more narrow, in order to fit both elbows between the door handle and the middle console.

Not to mention, the car is so low to the ground and intentionally light, that you hear and feel everything from the road. There is little insolation blocking out the noise of the world around you. You hear everything: like all the debris that gets caught up in the under carriage. Every speck of sand or gravel gives off a little rustling noise. Un-nerving in general, but made much worse on snow laden streets. The clumps of gathered ice scraped the bottom, like the car was lowered and you were going over a speed bump. However, if you turn your music up loud enough, you can tune out most of it.

But when the roads were relatively clear the CX-3 drove steady. I had no issues skidding with the all season tires. There was no swerving, it just felt like normal driving, but in snow. Thus, making it a great vehicle for learners or novice drivers, (during dry weather conditions). There are less features, less buttons, less dials, and less options to get distracted with. And the inability to speed up quick means that they are safer behind the wheel.

In short, I felt much closer to the Mazda CX-3 after today. It kept me warm, comfortable, and safe during my 5 hour commute. A commute that had me making it half way to work, only to have to turn back when a jack knifed semi prevented me from going any further. I felt in control behind the wheel and proud of the little car that could. Although I would love to get a redo on spring or summer when I can fully appreciate it for what it was built for, and when. Thank you Mazda Canada for this week’s wheels!

#MazdaCX3
https://www.mazda.ca

Scroll down for some photo highlights of today’s 10-15cm snow drive. Including a lone plow, halted traffic, accidents, and bridges.

 

2020 Mazda 6 review

A regular girl’s guide to cars~

For 2020 I am introducing a new type of car review. In this series, I am not going to give you jargon, there will be no technical terms; because this isn’t a buyer’s guide. What I will be bringing to the table is an honest review from a regular, everyday driver. The outlook of a simple woman on her daily commute, gearing towards other drivers looking for a vehicle that can take them from point A to B. What does the car mean to me and how I felt driving it, every feature and detail that resonated.

And in this week’s review, I was behind the wheel of the new 2020 Mazda 6.

Approaching it for the first time I was already impressed. I like sportier sedans, something smaller and easier to transverse the city in. To be able to barrel down narrow streets, without the anxiety of crossing into neighbouring lanes. And the ability to easily park in a stall, when the car of the person next to you hasn’t done a good job of staying within the lines of their’s. (The latter happens more often than not in my experience). Simply put, this was a good looking vehicle with handsome exterior styling. The kind you are proud to pose beside or in front of, and want to be see cursing around downtown within.

Inside, the cabin gives you a similar feel, every day approachability with a glossy finish and a premium presence. The quality look and feel of the cabin is what you would expect from a more expensive vehicle, here before you, at a price much less than you would think.

Everything was laid out subtly before the driver. Together, the infotainment system and centre console didn’t feel loud. Its designer opted for the less is more approach: less dials and smaller screens with more breathing space in between each; all accented with leather finishes and metallic trim. I felt like a teenager driving in a car built for sophisticated adults. The kind of adult who would drive it to their 9-5 job on weekdays, and then dinner parties with friends on the weekends. Overall, dressier without being pretentious.

But for those looking for more bells and whistles, more gadgets to fidget with and more settings with which to customize, the Mazda 6 might not be fore you.

As for the way it drives: My job takes me all the way to Delta, and within this daily commute, I get a great assessment of any vehicle. Travelling over highways, across narrow bridges, through giant puddles, and over hidden speed bumps; the Mazda 6 took it all in stride. Therefore, I would classify it as a great daily driver. And like majority of the other Mazda vehicles I have drove before it, the handling was there. It wasn’t the quickest, but it was one of the smoother drives. The wheel glided and the brakes were springy. Given how easily I maneuvered the vehicle, and how much I enjoyed being behind its wheel, I just wish the fuel economy could have been a little better; to be able to do more of the above for less.

Overall, the Mazda 6 is a standard, easy to drive vehicle with the aesthetics of a luxury sedan. I highly recommend it for the city commuter between its comfort, optics, and average fuel economy, (comparatively). Ideal for those who want less is more, and comfort and ease above all. Like a sweatshirt you throw on last minute to head out for a quick errand, this was a comfortable and familiar ride. Be it 6am on a cold morning with heated seats, or during rush hour where traffic stands still, but you are reclined in ease, within your peaceful cabin.

Thanks for the ride and the great time Mazda Canada.

#Mazda6
https://www.mazda.ca/

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