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Category: Automotive Reviews Page 1 of 4

South Okanagan in the 2019 Honda CR-V

I was heading to the Okanagan for the weekend and thought what better vehicle to get me there than the 2019 “Honda CR-V”, with its best in class fuel economy and its Econ mode to help us “drive towards a greener future”.

I was excited to be able to take in the Okanagan this fall. I have never visited during this season, so found magic in the red, orange, and yellow changing leaves. They were sprinkled amongst ever greens and the rocky mountain range.

We were able to easily take it all in with our no hassle ride. The Honda CR-V’s remote start and walk away auto-lock, saved us time during our pit stops and gas pumps. And it was easy to get in and out of with 90-degree door mobility. There was plenty of cargo room with an easy to fold down back seat and two level modes to meet all our storing and hauling needs.

We paused to take in the river, and stopped to explore the damp soil patches for various mushrooms.

When on the road, the Honda CR-V kept us comfortable and safe. Sitting pretty with perforated leather seats that heated. And well secured with blind spot display, and all wheel drive with intelligent system control. It got us there and back on 8.5L of gas at 100km. 4 hours each way, and driving from city to city in between; an amazing feet for an SUV.

Fall in the Okanagan has fruit stands bringing their pumpkin and gourds out to the roadside for sale. Many of the ones in Keremeos included visual displays for travellers to stop and take photos of and with. I didn’t know the extent of the variety of gourds available, before this trip. Here are some of my favourite photos.

We also stopped to watch cows graze on the mountainside, enjoying the ability to interact with livestock; something that you can’t do in the city.

We eventually made our way to Osoyoos, to our accommodations for the weekend: “Spirit Ridge”. For our time at Canada’s dessert resort and it’s new restaurant, visit the link below.

Our visit specifically coincided with Oliver BC’s “Cask and Keg” festival. An adults only event that hosted local South Okanagan beer, spirits, and ciders; for friendly sampling. For the full review of the participating breweries through tasting, visit the link below.

Cask and Keg, Oliver BC

The following day it was time to celebrate local Okanagan wines through a similar tasting program, at the “Festival of the Grape”. For the highlights of the family friendly event, and a few of the participating wineries, visit the link below.

Festival of the Grape, Oliver BC

During our road trip we also spotted and marvelled at “Spotted Lake”. As per Wikipedia, “Spotted Lake is a saline endorheic alkali lake located northwest of Osoyoos in the eastern Similkameen Valley of British Columbia, Canada, accessed via Highway 3”. The silt at the bottom of the lake is exclusively gathered and utilized by the First Nations people for its healing properties. However, over the years of us visiting, we realized its spots are no longer as bold, and the body water has transformed.

And when in the area, we always seem to find ourselves at “Tickleberry’s”. And despite the cold, the ice cream and gift shop was still a popular spot in fall.

I enjoyed a double scoop in a waffle cone. The seasonally inspired pumpkin spice and “Sunday breakfast”, a vanilla based ice cream made with fruit loops and lucky charms cereal with marshmallow bits.

For dinner on our second night we visited “Convivia Bistro” in Osoyoos. A modern restaurant serving Italian and French cuisine; prepared with local ingredients, and created to be complimented by local wines. Here, we enjoyed some house rosé with our pizza and pasta. For the latter we had lasagna with a tomato meat sauce, cream, Parmesan, and mozzarella. It was all in all pretty standard, it just needed a touch more seasoning. But this comfort serving hit the spot for me, on this night.

Out of preference, my partner ordered the “Goat Cheese And Honey” pizza with the goat cheese on the side. He liked everything else the pizza promised: olive oil, mozzarella, goat cheese, parmesan, sundried tomatoes, bacon, basil, and honey. Truly the pizza needed the pop the goat cheese gave, some interest to contrast with everything else.

CONVIVA
8312 74 Ave, Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V0
(250) 495-2223
conviviabistro.ca

For breakfast on our way back home we had brunch at “Jo Jo’s Cafe”, a popular neighbourhood spot, showcasing local art. Here we enjoyed one of their breakfast sandwiches with bacon bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, and egg in an English muffin. A good start, before making our way home.

JO JO’s
8316 Main St, Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V4
(250) 495-6652
jojoscafe.ca

And with that this proved to be a quick and successful trip to the Okanagan, all made possible by the Honda CR-V. Thank you for the smooth ride and the travel memories Honda Canada.

#HondaCRV
Honda.ca

Twilight Drive-In with the Honda CRV

I have never been to a drive-in movie theatre before, so what better a time than during the last bit of dry season, to check out the “Twilight Drive-In” in Aldergrove. Although, regardless of weather, all movies scheduled for the day will still play: rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

Our vehicle of choice: to get us there and to sit and enjoy the movie in was the “2019 Honda CRV”. With its best in class fuel economy, even though the drive was far, our wallets didn’t suffer too much. Which meant more money spent on movie-viewing snacks.

Your choice in movies are posted online, a few days before the start of the week. Originally we were planning on visiting during a Tuesday, when general admission is only $10, and you save $3.50 per person. But for fall, they are only open from Friday to Sunday. And this week it was a marathon of clowns. Either the new “Joker” movie at 7:30pm or “IT 2” at 9:40pm. But you needn’t choose, because admission allows you to watch both movies. It is worth noting that they only accept cash or debit at the box office, and cash at the concession. Although there is an ATM on location, so should you need it.

The box office opens 45minutes before the start of the movie. Ushers with reflective jackets and flashlights help guide your way. Each vehicle is given a plastic garbage bag, and encouraged to use it instead of littering. It is first come first serve, and you park where ever you want. We drove to the very front as to not have the view of any other cars in our foreground. Individual spaces are marked with a white pole, well aligned to ensure that each vehicle has plenty of room between one another. The overall ground is flat, but each “stall” has a little mound of dirt that you can use to perch your vehicle atop of.

Many of the SUVs present, reversed into their stall. With an opened tailgate, passengers bundled up to watch the movie, cozy with pillows and blankets surrounding them. Had we known this before arriving, we would have dressed warmer and done the same. After all our “Honda CRV” came with plenty of cargo room, and two-level flat luggage compartment. A “full flat mode” and a “capacity max mode”, both designed to fit your storage needs, or in this case two grown adults.

For audio you need to tune into a specific FM station, within your car. Meaning you can set the volume to how loud you like it. I enjoyed being able to talk over the movie, to engage with my guest, snack loudly on our food, rustle with careless abandon when I wanted some candy, and turn on the light if we dropped anything. And not encouraged, but possible, is playing with your phone during the movie as well.

To access the audio it is recommended that you turn your key to the “Accessory” position, to consume as little power as possible. You also leave your headlights and brake lights off during the movie (as to not distract from other’s experience). Cars with daytime running lights usually can be turned off by applying the emergency brake.

For food, you get out of the car to purchase what ever you like from their indoor concession stand. This is also where the washrooms are. There are only 2 tills, and the clerk that takes your order is also the one that assembles it. Everything minus the burgers and fried food, which comes from the kitchen. So be warned and come early, as there is a wait to get in, let alone order. I didn’t mind the extra time, to look over the lengthy menu. I was delighted that they offer a lot more than most normal movie theatres do. Fountain drinks in plenty of flavours, bottled drinks, energy drinks, ice coffees, and hot beverages. If you are looking for something more substantial they have plenty of sweet snacks to munch on: a variety of chocolates, gummies, and candies; ice cream bars, and even sno cones. For savoury there was the classic buttered popcorn, corn dogs, burgers, hot dogs, fries, poutine, onion rings; and nachos.

We feasted in the comfort of our Honda CRV cabin. Where we were able to sprawl everything across the central console. Convenient, as we stayed in the front seat for the duration movie, lowering our perforated leather seats back for the perfect recline. The only hiccup, not being able to run our vehicle fully meant no heated seats or rain sensing wipers. So with the gentle rain coming down, there was the need to turn on the car in order to clear the wind shield of moisture now and again. Had we watched from the tailgate, the above wouldn’t have been an issue.

As for the aforementioned food, the following is all that we shared and it was all better than we expected. The “Nachos supreme” came with some assembly required. A sealed bag of corn chips that you pour out into a cardboard box and top with sliced jalapeño. All to enjoy with a dip into hot nacho cheese and/or a scoop of juicy tomato salsa.

The large order of popcorn came with multiple pumps of butter. A couple mid way through, and more, once filled. The ideal snack for any movie goer.

The onion rings had a good crispiness to them, but I wanted more crunchy batter and less gummy onion.

I liked the use of actual cheese curds in the poutine, but not so much the gravy. It was flat and I could have used some more pepperiness to it.

The chicken bites came with your choice of sauce. We went for the honey garlic, which was two sauces combined in one dish. They did what I wanted, adding some salty and sweet to these breaded nuggets of white meat.

The hot dog was exactly as expected. A regular wiener in a plain bun, which you dress as you like at the condiment bar.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Double burger”, I added cheese to this stack of burger patties, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles. It just needed more ketchup for my taste.

And for dessert, our favourite candy to leave our meal on a sweet note. I thought about ice cream or a sno cone, but didn’t want to visit the concession stand mid movie or in the little time you have between movies.

Between the double feature there is an intermission, a video plays inviting your to visit the concession stand. It is basically food coming to life in games and dance. Gum and liquorice jumping rope, a popsicle leading cups of ice cream in a march, and a bag of popcorn juggling its fillings. And when the hot dog wiener takes the stage and eventually lands in the bun, everyone honks their car horn. The honk serves no other purpose, besides you acknowledging that you have been to the drive-in before and know of this ritual.

As for the movie, I don’t review cinema; although as a longtime Batman comics fan, I can say that this Joker’s origin story holds up and satisfies. And as for “IT 2” I am a notorious scaredy cat, so couldn’t stomach most of it without closing my eyes tight and plugging my ears with my finger tips.

Overall, I highly recommend this experience. This was a great way to enjoy a newly released movie, in the comfort of a car, with surprisingly tasty food to boot. And done even better if your vehicle of choice is the 2019 Honda CRV.

HONDA
#HondaCRV
https://www.honda.ca/

TWILIGHT DRIVE-IN
3350 260 St, Aldergrove, BC V4W 2B1
(604) 856-5063
twilightdrivein.net

Luxury & Supercar Weekend 2019

The first weekend of September marks another “Luxury & Supercar Weekend”. And this year the weather was on our side. With a bold sun and cloud free skies we made our way down to VanDusen garden for this year’s set up and roll in. A behind the scenes look and guided tour by Vice President, Nadia Ladisernia. She led us around the site, introducing us to key manufacturers. The following is a look at the highlights, and a few of the luxury vehicles you can expect.

For its 10th year, the “Luxury and Supercar Weekend” has become a “pinnacle occasion” to showcase the world’s most lavish supercars. A one of a kind stage that includes gourmet food trucks, a champagne vending machine, pop up restaurants and bars, and a live Supercar auction. The 17 acres of the botanical garden gives ticket holders much to see and much more to explore, as the most exclusive outdoor event in Canada.

For 2019, the following will be firsts for Canada. The first time in Canada you can lay eyes on and get close to the 2020 PININFARINA BATTISTA, the 2020 PAGANI HUAYRA BC ROADSTER, the PORSCHE 992, the KARMA REVERO GT, the BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT, the JAGUAR XE PROJECT 8, the RANGE ROVER SV AUTOBIOGRAPHY, the MCLAREN GT; and a limited edition, unique to Canada BMW.

For the cinematic recap and manufacturer speeches, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Our tour began at the “BMW Canada” and the unveiling of their unique-to-Canada vehicle. The “M8 Individual Manufaktur Limited Edition” is the first of 20 released in and for Canada. Canada holds a special place in BMW’s heart, given we are one of the top 5 countries for BMW sales, internationally and globally. An impressive stat considering our population. This speaks to the loyalty the brand holds in Canada.

Right across from it was the “Karma” booth, showcasing the 2020 Revero GT, with a BMW motor and the title of “most elegant luxury EV”.

It wasn’t there when we were, but make sure you stop by the “Lamborghini Vancouver” booth to witness the Pininfarina Battista. A full electric supercar named after its founder Battista Farina; the man better known for designing the most beloved and well received Ferraris to have ever hit the road.

We did get to take in the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ though. “With its enhanced aerodynamic profile, a fully redesigned front, larger side skirts, the omega-shaped rear wing; and lighter, higher exhaust outlets implanted into the featherlight carbon fiber chassis.”

At the Ducati booth their line up included the Diavel 1260s, Scrambler, and the Panigale.

Rolls Royce had their Phantom with its long wheel base, valued at 3/4 of a million. Their flagship model that is synonymous with luxury.

The Cullinan was humoursly described as the “Rolls Royce of all SUVs”. It is the most luxurious SUV, named after the largest raw diamond found in South Africa. The names a tribute to it being a diamond in the rough, with its ability to go anywhere. Any where in comfort with a glass partition between driver and passenger, starlight ceiling feature (as with the phantom), and a tailgate with an electronic pull out seat.

Pagani gave us the official Canadian public launch of the 2020 Pagani Huayra BC Roadster. A track vehicle with a body kit and spoiler befitting of it. To be an eligible owner of one, you must have had to already own a Pagani in the past.

And this is the street version of the Pagani Huayra roadster. This one is on loan from its owner, who only just received it 3 months prior. It is a special order, manufactured to your specifications, with a 2-3 year wait for completion. Each one is considered a work of art.

Representing McLaren are two versions of the Senna. One is in their champion’s livery in red. “Inspired by one of McLaren’s greatest racing drivers, the McLaren Senna is utterly dedicated to allowing the driver to be the best they can possibly be.” It is most extreme road legal car from McLaren.

And new is the Mclaren GT. “Engineered for continent-crossing capability, combining power and performance, to create the lightest, quickest accelerating car in its class”.

And at Porsche they had two of the brand new porsche 911, 992 generation to get close to and in to. And for those who visit their hospitality space this weekend, not only are there beverages and furniture for guests to enjoy. But at their “Exclusive Manufaktur” area, they will be embossing pieces of leather with their logo, for fans of the brand.

For more information and how to get tickets to this weekend’s event visit the link.

www.luxurysupercar.com

 

Getting Outdoors with the Honda Civic Sport Coupe

Every year for my birthday, my partner takes me for a weekend to the Okanagan, an easy drive eastward to escape the city and our every day lives. And this year we would made our getaway in the Honda Civic Sport Coupe.

Civics have continue to be the best selling car in Canada for a reason; and many of us have owned one, one time or another. For my partner and I, our first car was a Civic, in one of its past reincarnations. So the shared four hour drive up and down, also served as a ride down memory lane.

The Honda Civic is known for its reliability, a necessity when driving great distances, in areas with no cell phone reception. And it boasts a great fuel economy, thanks to its small engine displacement; ideal when fill ups can cost you an arm and a leg with Vancouver’s gas prices. It is also agile because of its size, making winding roads and the need to change lanes more fun, than a challenge. And a two door coupe spoke to our personal family dynamic, no children, nothing but storage space needed in the back seat. Thus, giving us the look of a sports car without the premium.

So off we went with our adventure-mobile! Our first day out we decided to go camping, and joked that the sporty coupe was more a street vehicle, then one you take when venturing out doors. But during the ride to and from on the highway, having a sports mode made the drive more enjoyable. The winds, the curves, the loops, and the turns tested the handling, and the Civic Sport Coupe rose to the occasion.

I was especially surprised to see how much we could pack into the truck and back seat. We were able to fit all that we needed for a comfortable camping excursion, as well as the supplies needed for a beach filled getaway, the days after.

Two hours breezed by and we were at Manning Park Resort, heading towards Lightening Lake’s campsite. We were limited in choices thanks to the long weekend, but were more than happy with our lot. It was a short walk to either the out house; or the facilities with running water, hot showers, and flushable toilets. We were only at lot 107 for the night. Many more families booked for the entire BC Day long weekend.

I must preface this by saying I don’t take to the wilderness well. But my partner pushes me out of my comfort zone, so that I can grow. We don’t camp often: one day, once a year and that is plenty. Therefore we haven’t found the need to spend much on our equipment. A cheap tent with 3 rod installation, an air mattress that you can manually pump with your foot or hands, and foldable chairs to sit by the fire pit with. All easy to set up and take down, but not necessarily the most comfortable or spacious.

Our tent was cramped and cold with very little room for more than our queen-sized air mattress. There was barely a boarder between us and the wilderness in our flimsy tent, and our mattress loss air steadily. My partner woke up several times during the night, uncomfortable from the lack of support. He found himself needing to pump with vigour in to re-inflate. I managed to sleep through this. He was also kind enough to borrow a sleeping bag so that I could be warm and cozy, to get a good night’s sleep. So I couldn’t really complain as he slept directly on the air mattress with a comforter wrapped around him like a burrito.

I also get bitten easily and often from mosquitoes and bugs alike. But this year I came equipped with a bug repellent lotion, an aerosol spray, and coiled incense that is proven to ward off mosquitoes with its unique smell. I ended up lighting them and surrounding myself with three of them. And for the most part they worked, I walked away the next morning with only 2 bites. But I am sure the smoke from the fire we huddled around helped too.

Thankfully, our BC summer has been wetter than usual and there aren’t the same fire bands as they were in summers past. So we were able to take advantage of the fire pit, stationed at our camp site. This also doubled as the heat source we needed to cook our dinner and breakfast over next day.

We grilled buffalo and sweet garlic chicken wings and a beef and souvlaki chicken skewer for dinner. And followed it with a toasted marshmallow for dessert.

And for breakfast my partner had miniature boxed cereal and hot buttered toast. And I had a grilled hot dog with our choice of condiments in mayonnaise, ketchup, and/or relish.

Camping just wouldn’t be the same without a campfire. We purchased wood at the local gas station and supplemented what else we needed by foraging. We then parked ourselves in front of our crackling fire for the night, stoking it, watching wood burn to ash. It kept us warm as we drank and talked, pausing to look up at the dark sky and the stars sprinkled throughout it.

The next day we woke with the rustling of nylon from our neighbours, who decided to get an early start. It is hard to sleep in with the light and heat of the sun transforming your tent into a sauna.

Lightening Lake was a 5 minute walk from our campsite so we decided to take a morning stroll to it. It was a nice body of water to take a dip in, paddle a boat across, or simply catch some sun by.

Check out was at 11am, and after a rough morning we headed out. There was only one sink running in the women’s washroom. So I made do by brushing my teeth and spitting the excess tooth paste over a bush. I passed on lining up for the one shower altogether. I figured it was only 2 hours to our air bnb in Naramata, and I could just clean myself there.

Our next 3 nights would be spent in a more luxurious setting, comparatively. This was newly refurbished studio that gave us the privacy of an individual home, with the adjacency to the city and its social life, that we as tourists were looking for.

It has a new kitchen and washroom. The former was furnished with a coil-less stove and all the equipment you need to make a meal, and the dishwasher to clean it all afterwards. Coffee maker, toaster, microwave, and kettle. The only thing we would have liked in addition was a barbecue.

The washroom was very modern, a smaller space that was well designed. The only downside was the door that hesitated to close and lock and the fact that if you didn’t, a window aligned with its door way, meant the neighbours could get an unobstructed view of you on the toilet.

The suite had an air conditioning unit that was quick to cool the smaller space. And best of all, when it got to cold or noisy at night, you could simply straighten up and turn it off from the bed in its alcove, overlooking the living room.

But hands down the reason to rent this lake side studio is for it patio. A step out of the living room gave you an elevated and unobstructed view of the farm land and fruit orchards below, and the lake in the distance. We would spend most of our time here eating meals, playing the available board games, and simply enjoying the scenery from sunrise to sunset. You can see the water by day and all the stars at night.

Our air bnb hosts also let us borrow their kayaks and their pick up truck to transport them and us down to the Okanagan Lake, which we had been admiring above. Our kayaks allowed us to enjoy the water in a different way. We kept dry as we sat slightly reclined, cutting through the water with our paddles. We were also invited to borrow their bicycles and helmets, although we ran out of time during this visit.

Instead, we would spend most of our time at Skaha Lake, the other lake that feeds the Okanagan Valley, and sandwiches the nearby town of Pentiction. Here, its smooth orange sands, ample parking, and plenty of convenient concessions make it out favourite beach in the Okanagan.

During this year’s trip we also visit several restaurants and wineries, but those will be covered in their own posts. For all those reviews, check out the “Travel” section of the blog, under “Okanagan”.

In short, another great annual trip to the Okanagan, all made possible by the Honda Civic Sport Coupe that got us there safely and back.

#HondaCivic
Honda.ca

Victoria in the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder

This weekend our party of three packed ourselves into the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder for a weekend trip to the island. I am typically apprehensive about driving larger vehicles, having only owned smaller sedans, so when the opportunity came to try my hand at the largest SUV I have ever laid eyes on, I thought it would be worth practicing. After all if I nailed this one, all others will be easy. And to my delight it was an easy drive and we got to Victoria safe and sound because of it.

We stayed in a comfortable suite with two queen beds. The kitchen with coffee marker and mini fridge, shared a sink with the bathroom. The sick is located adjacent to the kitchen counter, you would do you business behind closed doors and walk out to wash your hands clean. Awkward placement, but space saving.

We spent the evening and morning after exploring Victoria the touristy way. We hit up Chinatown marked with plenty of red brick and strung up yellow and red lanterns.

Taking time to especially explore the corridors of “Fan Tan Alley”.

Stopping at “Kid Sister” for some of their small batch ice cream served in homemade cubby waffle cones. I paid $1 more for organic vanilla versus regular.

We strolled by the water, taking in the marina.

And stopped in front of the parliament building in awe.

We even contemplated a horse and carriage ride, but passed on the novelty.

We took a pause to take in the iconic and majestic “Fairmont Empress”. We missed the cut off for high tea, so instead enjoyed their lounge decorated with the Queen’s portraits with a splash of graffiti.

Naturally, when in this setting one needs to enjoy their signature spirit: a pretty purple gin. We tried it three times, in three different purple cocktails. Each strong and refined.  “Q1908”. Empress gin, lemon juice, sugar, egg white, and butterfly pea flower. “Empress 75”. Empress gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, sugar, veuve clicquot, and grapefruit pearls. “Auxiliary”. Empress gin house vermouth and laphroaig.

As we sipped, we snacked on complimentary bowls of popcorn seasoned in charcoal. Both original and delicious, salty like hickory bbq.

And followed it up with one of their desserts. The “Floating island” is finished at the table. Bourbon vanilla bean creme anglaise, fresh raspberries, meringue chips, and wild roses. This was a great textural dessert, lots to sift through. With perfect meringue, like off a freshly baked lemon pie. Shards that melt in your mouth while adding crunch. And the pear gel offered a nice fruity balance.

And for dinner we visited “Canoe”, a seafood restaurant by the water. They boasted a multilevelled patio facing the marina with the sun setting in the distance. For the full restaurant review visit the link below.

The next morning we waited 30 minutes for breakfast at “Blue Fox Cafe”. A popular cafe with over 50 menu items, 12 of which are just bennies. For the full review that click this link.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting some more tourist hot spots. At the “Bug Zoo” we were the oldest children in the tour groups. There are plenty of bugs in plastic cages to look at, with descriptions by each so that you can learn a thing or two.

For the daring there are opportunities to hold a few of these creepy crawlies like the giant stick bug or the hairy tarantula. My favourite displays were the ant tunnels and the cockroach box decorated to look like a cottage home.

At “Miniature World” you explored themed displays built small with vivid detail. It took you to space and through Canadian history from Victoria to Newfoundland following a train Coast to Coast.

You learned your world war history and relived your childhood through their fairy tale dioramas. And got to play a peeping Tom when you looked through the tiny windows of tiny Victorian homes. Each accurately portraying life long, long ago.

“Circus world” was my favourite theme, it gave you all the carnival fun from the big top to the Ferris wheel. And with a push of a button it came to life with motion. King Arthur had his full story told through miniatures. From the meeting of Merlin and the pulling of the sword to the retrieval of the holy grail.

Our last stop was Beacon Hill for some nature. They are best known for their wild peacocks, whom have taken over the park at 80 plus strong. They can be see strolling around the walk ways and begging for scraps from picnickers.

But for majority of them and more animals make your way to their petting farm. There, they strut their stuff and mark their territory with tail feathers flexed. They walk amongst the farm’s pigs, goats, llamas, and fancy chickens and ducks.

For those who want to get closer to the animals there are baby goats, rabbits, and guinea pigs that like a good cuddle and pet.

From here it was time to catch our ferry home. This was a success trip in the Nissan Pathfinder, a spacious SUV that easily transition from rocky roads to smooth highways, and congested city streets.

NISSAN PATHFINDER, Rock Creek Edition
https://nissan.ca/

Vancouver Island in the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

This weekend our party of three packed ourselves into the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder for a weekend trip to the island. I am typically apprehensive about driving larger vehicles, having only owned smaller sedans, so when the opportunity came to try my hand at the largest SUV I have ever laid eyes on, I thought it would be worth practicing. After all if I nailed this one, all others will be easy. And to my delight it was an easy drive.

And with plenty of trunk space we had no difficulty cramming in three nights and four days worth of clothing and toiletries for three people. Three full luggage and bags with their contents spread out and all over the eight passenger seats. In fact during the 1.5 hour ferry ride to and from I found myself comfortably taking a nap across the back seat. And even more comfortably napping after I dropped the very back seat down and spanned myself across all that trunk space.

We drove in and lived in our spacious van, which we fondly named “The Hulk”, given his size and dark green hue. The Nissan Pathfinder drove surprisingly well given this size and girth. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep it in the lines, but I did just fine. And the brakes were so touch sensitive that they reacted to any small motion. Great for busy streets with plenty of stop and go’s I just wished that the wheel gave me a little more resistance, some stiffness to give me the feeling that I was truly steering.

The drive was easy going, along all the smooth roads we travelled. There was just more strain each time I had to stop and start it or we took a turn quick. The weight of SUV and my passengers meant I had to put the pedal to the metal and push down hard. Thankfully it was more highway driving, which also helped to reduce are gas cost. Because at $100 a fill up, and when gas in Vancouver can get up to 152.9, fuel conservation is an important factor.

After we got off of the ferry, our first stop was Parksville for lunch. A quick Google search lead us to the cafe “Bread & Honey” for some soup and sandwiches. For the full review, click the link.

Bread & Honey Food Company, Parksville BC

 

Then it was time to check in to our accommodations of the night. Accommodations like no other at “Free Spirit Spheres”. A unique outdoor hotel that is featured in many international travel guides, located here in our own BC backyard. You eat and sleep in a handmade pod suspended in the air, and there you live out your childhood, tree house, slumber party fantasies.

For the full review in video check out my latest travel vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Free Spirit Spheres

And for the detail blog recap click the link.

For dinner we ventured to Coombs, home of the famous “Old Country Market”, where goats live on the roof. We visited too late in the day to shop or dine within, but came at the right time to interact and take photos of the goats. There were no customers and/or crowds and the 3 live in goats were resting. One was especially friendly, approaching us in hope of food.

We also got an opportunity to explore the “Coombs Emporium”, a garden of stone statues and and antiques. Curious without context, but it made for a great photo opportunity. A farm of stone animals including lions, fish, and giraffes; oh my.

Dinner was at “Cuckoo”, a popular restaurant amongst locals serving Italian cuisine and pizza. The food was pretty standard, but the setting is the reason you would visit anyways. For the full story on “Cuckoo” click the link.

Cuckoo Trattoria & Pizzeria, Coombs BC

 

There isn’t much to do in the area, so we headed back to our sphere for the night. There, we enjoyed the space with the board games made available, while sipping wine from glasses they had in the cupboards.

The next day we made our way to Victoria, with some pit stops along the way, pausing at points of interest. Like “Ladysmith”, Canada’s “greatest street” with historic buildings and artifacts, and the placards to explain the significance of each. Ore hand carts and rainbow crosswalks and benches.

While there we stopped by an old town bakery for one of their many varieties of cinnamon buns. This is the berry and ginger.

Next we stopped at “Damali” farm and winery to check out their lavender fields. Sadly, it was not as expected. Not enough purple in the fields, and the labyrinth maze turned out to be only small ridges raised from the ground. The gazebo was not well kept, and the remainder of the crops have yet to really bloom. So this ended up being a quick visit. A few photos and a bottle of their lavender flavoured wine to go.

 

From there we continued our adventure in to Victoria for a two day and one night stay. For the continuation of this trip, click part two!

Comox Valley in the 2019 Mazda CX-5

We set off for Victoria Island, Father’s Day weekend, and had the “Mazda CX-5” to get us there. It was a good sized SUV for our lengthy drive. Plenty of room for ourselves and our over packing. With safety and comfort in mind it got us to our destination and our check-in.

We stayed at the “Holiday Inn Express” in Courtney, conveniently located in the hub of all our weekend’s worth of activities. Our room was equipped with two firm, queen sized beds with cloud-like sheets, a television, mini fridge, and coffee maker. Everything that we would need for a 3 night stay. And best of all, it included access to their complimentary breakfast bar. A buffet style offering with juice, toast, bagels, cereal, yogurt and a pancake making machine. The hotel also has a gym, swimming pool, hot tub, and water slide to take advantage of, but we were far to busy for any of it.

We came to take in the seafood festival, but also took the time to explore what one might do if not visiting during the festival. So for more on the actual BC Seafood Festival, check out my vlog for the highlights, and the blog for all the details.

 

BC Seafood Festival 2019, Events & Tours

 

When looking for places to eat outside of the festival, there are two restaurants worth considering for their view alone. “Blackfin Pub” and “Ocean 7”.

“Blackfin Pub” is nestled by the beach, overlooking the Comox marina and all of its boats. It offers slushed drinks and a bevy of bar favourites.

The “Louisiana Chicken wings” were tangy with a vinegary zip and a dull hot sauce flavour.

The two pounds of dry ribs seasoned in sea salt, cracked pepper, and lemon were extra meaty and surprisingly not dried out like they are at other pubs.

The lightly floured calamari was kettled fried and topped with red onion and tomato chunks. It was crispy with a nice chew, but on the blander side without a dip into tzatziki sauce.

I wanted rice with the “Thai coconut curry clams”, but made due with the grilled focaccia. A delicious warming broth to enjoy the fresh seafood in.

“Ocean7 Bistro” is located at “Kingfisher Resort & Spa”, their property boasts an unobstructed water side view and delicious ocean inspired dishes, best enjoyed on their scenic terrace. During the BC seafood festival run they were voted as the “BC seafood on your plate” winner by judges and fans alike. For more on this dining experience, visit the link below.

Ocean7 Restaurant, AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar

 

We also stopped at “Liquid” in Courtney for some late night eats, which we would learn was the Friday night hot spot. Bumping music, a fully seated bar, and a patio that stayed opened late.

There, we enjoyed the “Bourbon BBQ Makers Mark Ribs”. Baby back slow braised pork ribs, bourbon bbq sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. A class with fall off the bone meat and a lick your fingers clean sauce.

We partnered this with some slushy cocktails: a Bellini and what the restaurant has fondly named a “Bubblini”. It had the same house made peach slush as in the bellini did, but mixed with a mini bottle of sparkling wine.

We left long before the party ended, only to head to another, just as busy spot. Apparently Courtney’s local “Dairy Queen” is the place to go for some late sugar. There aren’t many dessert options in a small town, so this is where we and everyone else visited for some ice cream on a warm night. And it was here that I finally got to try and fully enjoy “DQ’s” new orange dreamsicle dipped soft serve cone.

But my favourite spot for ice cream on the island was “Love’s” in Cumberland. A cute little blue and white trailer parked permanently in out front of a house, using its lawn as their make shift patio seating area.

This was so good that they are now my new favourite ice cream place, with plenty of gluten and dairy free options. It is just a shame that they are all the way out in Cumberland and requires a ferry to get to. What sets them apart is their ability to swirl hand scooped ice cream. First you choose your base between coconut milk or vanilla cream, and then the frozen fruit you want to flavour it with. Wild blueberry, strawberry, mango, or a berry mix. Together they go into their special machine and what comes out is a perfect swirl. And best of all you can mix two flavours together for a double scoop. Or do what I did, and get a regular hard scoop of their “backyard mint chocolate chip”, and top it with a swirl of their wild blueberry with a vanilla ice cream base. Both ice cream flavours weren’t too sweet, just creamy and tasty, I can see why the line was forming well before they opened, and continued at a steady pace throughout our time there.

While waiting for them to open, we grabbed a couple of tacos from their neighbour, “Old Library Taco”. From what I gathered, the building was converted from an actual library to this cute little tacoria. The chicken and al pastor tacos were colourful, but not as tasty as they looked. I liked the space, but wouldn’t revisit for the price alone. $6 a bland taco seems steep.

Most of our free time in Comox Valley was spent exploring the sights and taking in the scenery.

Like every Saturday from April to October, Comox hosts its own farmer’s market from 9am to 1pm. This is a great way for locals to support small businesses in their community, and for visitors to try something homemade or home grown.

Farm raised beef that is government inspected, grass fed, and hormone free. Various meat sausages and whole roasting chickens. Plenty of pesticide-free, organic fruits and vegetables. Home made chips and salsa, loaves of bread, pastries and pretzels. Honey, barbecue sauces, spreads and preserves. Even ointments, soaps, and creams. It had everything including live music and food trucks for lunch.

We enjoyed getting up close to the fighter jets and all the rescue planes at the “Comox Air Force Museum Heritage Air Park”. You walk the laid out paths that bring you to each plane and a written description of it and its accomplishments. This self guided tour is offered Tuesday to Sunday from April to October.

For more on these planes and others, the Comox Air Force museum is nearby, marked with a statuesque fighter plane.

Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park was where majority of the seafood festivities were held, but outside of the annual affair, the space hosts beautiful views, and a bit of history.

Here, water side scenes unfold before you, best enjoyed on a quiet bench. And you are able to enjoy a self directed tour of Filberg Heritage Lodge, which also serves as a gift shop filled with antiques.

The house was decorated with photos and plaques offering explanations on the first floor. And on the second, bedrooms and bathrooms with collections of dishes, flatware, tea cups, soaps, creams, and vintage jewelry for sale.

But for views of green, water, and mountains in the background there are plenty of options. Most of which we found by using the Mazda’s built in navigation system, using it to exploring the unmarked roads.

On our drive we saw plenty of marshland during high tide, and the birds that dwelled there.

And plenty of beaches. Rocky beaches with stones covered in barnacles and seaweed.

Sandy beaches revealed during low tide.

Beaches with wind blown ridges in the sand.

And all the marine life to explore within the water that got caught in the tide pools. Mostly small crabs and mini fish.

My favourite spot was “Goose Spit Park”, a narrow coastal park with a sandy beach, and walking trails. During the day there were picnics, sandcastles, and folks digging for horse clams.

And during our visit, we just so happened to walk in to the 32nd annual Father’s Day kite flying competition. A family fun event with sign up sheets and prizes to be won.

At night, with plenty of pull up parking to stop your car by the water, “Goose Spit” made for a great place to watch the sun set from.

But for a view of the valley from above, we drove the “Mazda CX-5” up Mount Washington. We sadly didn’t make it in time for the sunset, but did catch a few streaks of colour in the sky.

On the way up the mountain we caught glimpses of deer, but sadly none of the marmots that the caution signs told us to watch out for.

We were too early in the season for their new chairlift, however those visiting the Comox Valley area now will be able to take a ride up and down for spectacular views.

In short, there is plenty to see and do in Comox. So Seafood Festival or not, they are definitely worth your vacationing consideration. And thanks to the “Mazda CX-5” we got to enjoy it all, and in full during our stay.

 

TOURISM COMOX VALLEY
discovercomoxvalley.com

MAZDA
mazda.ca

Steveston in the 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium

Richmond is knowns as the island city and when many think of it, they think of a strong Chinese population, however that only rings true in recent years. In reality, Richmond has a long history that began with its settlement as a Japanese fishing village, and today I would get to experience some of this rich history in this, our self guided tour of Steveston Village in the 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium.

I often take for granted the eligibility of our city as a destination. Throughout the year many tourists flock to our shores to explore all that our Lower Mainland has to offer: from majestic mountains and sparking waters, to towering trees, sprawling cityscapes, and ethnic hubs teeming with diversity. And what better way to appreciate the later than with a drive around Richmond. And what better a time than when Vancouver’s gas prices are the highest in all of North America, and I have a hybrid vehicle for the week.

Standard on the Ford Fusion Energi is the EV button, this lets you switch between 3 modes, giving your the ability to go from EV Now, Auto EV, and EV Later; dictating how your drive and how your fuel is consumed.

Although there aren’t many places to charge and electric or partially electric car. The city has yet to catch up with green vehicle trends; or hear the desire of consumers wanting to spend less on fuel, while helping the planet by running less emissions. None-the-less I was able to find some outlets in my apartment’s unground parking, to fully charge the Fusion Energi daily. A full battery gave me more than enough for my daily commute to and from work, with stops for meals and grocery store excursions in between. And when there was nothing left, the regular gas engine switched on seamlessly to get me that much further. And after the course of a week including all the stops in this post, I only used 1/4 of a tank. And that’s a lot when you are facing a $80 fill up; where in between traffic and fuel economy, you spend more on gas versus groceries.

But back to our self directed tour of Richmond. Our first stop was the Larry Berg Flight Path Park, enroute to Steveston. This is a patch of green designed to best enjoy the view of all the planes flying overhead (YVR, Vancouver’s international airport is located in Richmond). There, there is a recreation of the earth that you can climb, and signs that you can read to better understand the significance of the land you were standing on.

Then it was back in to the car, for a quick zip to Steveston. But on this long weekend, the village was crowded and busy, and parking was scarce and tight. Luckily the Ford Fusion Energi was nimble and equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360™. This is technology that includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Stop-and-Go. They help to detect traffic changes, then responds to them accordingly. The Fusion Energi also comes equipped with a lane keeping system, blind spot warning, pre-collision assist, and a rear view camera to ensure safety when reversing. All this technology takes the anxiousness out of driving for a less experienced, or more cautious driver.

The Ford Fusion Energi Titanium also comes equipped with “SYNC® 3 AppLink™” with “Waze”, meaning it is now easier to use the popular navigation and traffic app, that you didn’t know you needed. And by accessing “Waze” through “SYNC 3 AppLink”, you can collaborate with other users to outsmart traffic and the police, by sharing information for the best routes, and the ones that avoid speed traps. You also receive real-time alerts about accidents, road hazards and traffic jams.

All the above had us driving safely and more strategically. So much so that we lucked out, and found on a spot to park in, right by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which was also our first stop in Steveston. Built in 1894, the cannery was once the leading producer of canned salmon in British Columbia. And today its memory lives on in this museum. It is an interactive way to learn and remember the men and work that went into the Canada’s West Coast fishing industry.

The same equipment that was used back then, is available here. It lays out the cannery process from catch of the day to cans with eye catching labels.

If you get hungry in Steveston, “Pajo’s” is the place to go. They are known as one of Vancouver’s best places for fish and chips. But be warned, expect a line. Everyone wants a taste of the catch of the day, battered and deep fried with a squeeze of lemon.

If you rather prepare your own fish, get some fresh from the fishermen and women that dock their boats at the Steveston‘ Fisherman’s Wharf. Here they offer their spoils of the day over ice.

Covered in tarp, the dock becomes a marketplace. Shrimp, pollock, and octopus; but the most popular was the currently in season, spot prawn. These sweet sea crustaceans are best eaten raw.

Don’t like fish and chips? Or looking for something different, try “Steveston Pizza Co.”, better known for their over the top pizzas. Traditional trick crusts piled high with the likes of shrimp, crab, and lobster. These babies do get outlandish with a price tag to match. For more details, visit my restaurant review below.

Steveston Pizza Co.

 

Our next historic tourist attraction was the “Steveston Interurban Tram”. An actual tram car that you could enter into and explore.

Built in 1913, this and other such trams contributed to the development of Richmond’s city centre. But this would only last for 45 years, as the time of the tram came to an end with the explosion of automobiles on the roads, coupled with the expansion of new suburbs not serviced by rail. As of today, there are only 7 BCER operated interurban trams left. Of the 28 original, 1200 class tramcars, 5 survive today including Car this one in Steveston.

Steveston is also known as the backdrop for the popular tv drama “Once a Upon a Time”, and fans flock to the seaside town for photos with their favourite landmarks. Like the Steveston Antique Mall, which moonlights as Storybrooke’s clock tower. And “Granny’s Diner” in the show is the “Cannery Café Seafood House” in real life.

Next, we visited the Steveston Museum and post office. It was erected in 1905 during the cannery boom, where it housed Steveston’s first bank.

It now portrays the story of Steveston, as a fishing and farming village with Japanese and Chinese artifacts reflecting the presence of these cultures. I most enjoyed the Japanese zen garden out back.

For more on Richmond’s rich fishing history, you can visit the “Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site”. This is only a 5 minute drive away from Steveston Village. Here, they have guided tours available and actors/historians dressed in periodic wares, recalling history with actual artifacts.

I most enjoyed the full furnished homes that gave you a look at how Japanese immigrants, who came for work at the shipyards, lived. The manager and his 10 children in their more luxurious one bed room home, versus the 15 labourers crammed into one dorm.

In short, if you are looking for something to do this summer, or if you want to explore like a tourist on a budget, the scenic and historically rich Steveston deserves your consideration. All of the above attracts were free to view, and all I had to pay for was the food I consumed. And if you have a great hybrid like I did, you save even more, by not having to pay for gas. Thanks Ford Canada for the inspiration and the fun long weekend exploring Steveston like a tourist.

https://www.ford.com/

New and Noteworthy at the 99th annual Vancouver International Car Show

From March 19th to 24th, 2019 the Vancouver International Auto Show is back for its 99th year. Held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, it allows attendees the ability to get up close and learn more about their favourite vehicles, or find a new favourite; all under one roof. Which includes the latest rides from over 40 manufacturers. Everyday drivers like Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Ford. Luxury sedans from Genesis, BMW, Acura, and Rolls Royce. And supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Mclaren.

This weekend the Vancouver International Auto Show is the ideal destination for car enthusiasts and for those looking for their next vehicle. The latter is especially the case, as they are not able to sell you anything on the show room floor. Serving as an exhibit to walk through and ask questions, without the pressure of purchasing.

Today I arrived bright and early to take part in the press tour. A guided tour of what is new and noteworthy at this year’s show. This is just a recap of what we were shown, but there is so much more to see and do. For a more visual experience, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Our time began with a self serve breakfast buffet featuring savoury pastries, eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon. A great hearty start to the long day ahead. Many of us would spend the day here, taking advantage of the later opening for the public, and the ability to take unobstructed footage.

The tour began with opening remarks from event show runners, a panel discussion highlighting the emphasis of electric vehicles and the move for all car manufacturers in this direction, as well as the rebates the province was providing as an incentive. Like the “Scraping program”, where car owners are encouraged to discard their old vehicles and get a new more environmentally friendly one. You can get a new electric vehicle (EV) for $6000 or $3000 for used.

We were also reassured of the relevance of this car show being held in Vancouver. From the dynamic backdrop of the convention centre to the sales stats: BC accounts for 19% of total car retail sales in Canada.

We witnessed the Ajac awards presented by the Automobile journalist association of Canada. Professional journalists, writers, photographers and corporate entities whose focus is the automobile and the automotive industry. They test drive and report on new vehicles, in various forms of media across the country. The awards bestowed are designed to inform Canadians about which are the best suited to Canada’s unique driving conditions.

This year the “Canadian Green Car of the Year” award went to the Nissan Leaf, with a representative claiming the trophy and speaking on behalf of the company.

The “Canadian Green Utility of the Year” went to the Jaguar I-Pace.

At the Subaru booth they unveiled the 7th generation, 2020 Subaru Legacy, which features more tech, performance, and safety than ever before. The former refers to their state of the art system that utilizes facial recognition software to monitor driver fatigue or lack of attention, triggering audible and visual preventative alerts as needed. This won them the 2019’s Best safety innovation award.

At Genesis they too had something new to share: the Genesis G90 with a new redesign, but with the same dedication to the sales experience. At Genesis they come to you for the whole purchasing process, from test drives, to credit checks, and every maintenance visit in between. Here, we also learned of the future for Genesis, including expansion, with 30 distributors across Canada and even more retail experience centres. As well as the launch of very first SUV, something to look forward to at next year’s auto show.

Next on the tour was the Lexus booth where we went to “experience amazing”. Here, one of their directors spoke to the brand continuing to look into the future while having fun in the present. The focus was on the trill of the drive, head turning style, and the exclusivity of Lexus ownership. He brought with him a first North American and Canadian unveiling.

There are only 12 Lexus LC to hit the Canadian market. With flare yellow paint, a carbon fibre roof, 21 inch aluminium wheels, and leather seats with trim accents in yellow; this is a vehicle sure to grab your attention.

The Lexus IS was presented in stealth black. Various shades of black inspired by calligraphy, curated by Japanese calligraphy masters. The IS with its black seats and red accents, and custom built self heated steering wheel is only available for 150 guests in Canada starting April.

We took a pause to learn about Hydrogen fuel and how car manufacturers are embracing a greener future, such as Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda. Fuelling with Hydrogen means you do so faster, while get a further range. Air (oxygen) is taken in, it is supplied to a fuel cell stack along with hydrogen. Electricity and water are then generated through a chemical reaction. The result, electricity is supplied to the motor, the motor is activated, and the vehicle moves. Then the water is emitted outside the vehicle. Currently Vancouver is the first in Canada to have a hydrogen fuelling centre, located on South Granville, with more new locations coming soon.

The goal is to have many more zippy electric vehicles with no emission driving around our city streets. Car share programs like Moto are jumping on board and even two new 7-Eleven locations will host hydrogen fuelling pumps in the near future. Along with this cleaner fuel source, 7-Eleven is dedicated to supporting the community with its “Renew program”. Each fuel up is marked with the planting of a tree. M

Next we headed to the upper floor of the convention centre, where the exotics and supercars were on display. The set up included 3 Mclaren Sennas from a private collection and the all carbon fibre model, curated and customized from Mclaren’s bespoke division.

The Mclaren Senna represents an accumulation of everything they have learned from participating in Formula 1, and translated it into a street legal vehicle. And what better name to bestow on their masterpiece than that of their most legendary F1 driver: Ayrton Senna. This is one of the most highly anticipated vehicles at this year’s show, and only it’s second time in Canada, but first Western Canada unveiling.

The Felino cB7R is a supercar proudly made in Canada, designed by former Canadian racing driver Antoine Bessette. Bessette is better known for his participation in Formula 3 and the prototype class at Daytona. His brain child is completely customizable, and includes a team to help coach you on how to drive this “beast” as well as maintain it. For now there are only 5 of them in the world, with only 2 spots left if you want to get your own in 2019. During the tour, many media folk compared the Felino to what Batman’s would drive when not using the Batmobile.

Our press tour also included some history. We paused at Terry Fox’s trans Canada marathon of hope Ford Econoline Van. This is only its second time on public display, and will go back into storage soon after this show. The presentation included a speech and question and an answer portion with Terry’s younger brother: Darrell Fox. Darrell was actually on the tour with Terry when he was 17. He noted that this was Terry’s home and bed when he was running across the country in the 80’s; running on an artificial leg with a goal to raise funds for cancer research.

In 2008 this historic Econoline underwent a full restoration by Ford. It took over 1000 man hours to rebuild this history. Currently 80% of the van is original, which includes the upholstery, having taken it apart and doing their best to clean it.

The message and Terry’s story is that anything is possible if we hope and try. An inspiring look at Canadian history, which school kids still learn about and pay respect to by running their own marathons annually. All in memory of this moment and point of pride for Canada by a Canadian.

We ended our tour at the Sonax booth, where the car detailing brand was instrumental at giving fans a close look at Ken Blocks’ iconic Hoonigan drift vehicle. It is no longer your run of the mill Ford Mustang. If you haven’t seen the videos of the “Hoonicorn” in action, goggle it. Its presence spoke to the importance of Vancouver’s auto market, understanding the cost and expense that Sonax paid to get it here.

The following are a few other noteworthy vehicles I documented in photo, when we were given the time to explore the convention grounds on our own. But once again there is just so much to see and capture, that it is advised that you visit yourself.

Acura NSX

The New Honda Passport

Rolls Royce Cullian

Ferrari 488 Pista

NSX GT3

Toyota Supra

 

In short a great time for car enthusiasts and those interested in learning more about cars. And with the nice weather you are sure to see some impressive local rides drive up to the convention centre this weekend. For more on the 99th annual Vancouver International Auto Show and to get your tickets for this weekend, visit the link below.

Vancouver International Auto Show

Honda Insight Hybrid 2019 review

This weekend we were blessed with some sun, so as to not waste a sunny day, my partner and I hopped in to our Honda Insight for the week, and set our horizons on a cruise.

Unfortunately many others were thinking of doing the same and we soon ran into traffic. But thankfully we were in the comfort of our automatic loan. And when you are forced to slow down and speed up, starting and stopping, you really appreciate not needing the extra hand and foot motion. To be able to shut off your brain some and enjoy the breathtaking view that whizzes by as you drive fast. A beautiful backdrop on this beautiful day.

The Insight Hybrid is based on the current Honda Civic Sedan, but more refined. The interior could be confused with an Accord, with a very similar look and feel. They have also borrowed its hybrid system, strapping on an Atkinson-cycle 1.5-litre inline-four gas engine. 129 horsepower and 197 lb-ft, with a total combined power output of 151 horsepower.

Handling and steering wise the Insight feels pretty sharp. Nothing like the a Civic Si or a Civic Type R, but it does come with a sport mode! You wouldn’t consider this a sport car, but the steering has some good feedback to it, and the car doesn’t feel like a boat cornering. Including the sport mode, the insight has two other driving modes: econ and normal.

Like most hybrid cars out there, there are two paddles behind the steering wheel, which Honda calls their “deceleration selectors”. These paddles give you the choice between three different levels of regenerative braking performance, for restoring energy to the battery pack.

Although the view was constantly stunning, the drive did have some challenges. With the Insight, Honda decided to ditch the transmission all together, yes you heard that right, no transmission! This was a design formulated in 2014, spring boarding with the Accord Hybrid. The idea behind this is having a different direct drive gear to propel the car. It all sounds pretty complex, but long story short: at a low or steady speed on the highway the Insight feels the same, if not better than being behind the wheel of a regular automatic transmission car. However when you are trying to go up steep hills, something gets lots in translation. Even though there is no transmission, it still feels just like a regular automatic transmission slip. In other words the engine revs higher, yet it feels like the car isn’t going any faster, like having a hard time doing its job. And as a learned manual driver you are taught that this feeling and sensation means your clutch is broken, but in reality for the Insight this is business as usual.

And the Insight is a pretty quiet ride in general, but during those uphill stints, we wished for earmuffs. Although Honda did take this into consideration by adding “Active Noise Control” to the speakers of the audio system. Thus temper all extra road noise. They also supplemented the engine noise in Sport mode, a difference that can be clearly heard when driving more aggressively.

But realizing the market that this car was built for, and who they are targeting, you can’t blame them for the any of it. This vehicle isn’t your weekend warrior, but it is the wheels for your daily transport. City driving in small bouts, grocery shopping with multiple loads. And here is also where the economy mode shines. Using the stored electricity decreases your consumption of fuel. Meaning less trips to the gas station and less bills left on the counter.

Today it saved us plenty, as we required and guzzled quite a bit going up and down on the Sea to Sky Highway. Our goal was to chase the sun that the fog and clouds were quickly covering. To drive up and up, to get close enough to be in awe of the highest snow capped mountain. There is nothing more humbling than looking up at something and realizing how small you are to it by comparison, and in the world as a whole.

On our travel we encountered various elements. When we hit patches of sun we dawned our sunglasses and had the sunroof to roll down. In the snow, the reverse camera got covered by the excessive splashing from run-off on the side of the road. The clump of flakes obscured the camera and our visibility. But the left and right hand side cameras were left in tact, and continued to relay video images on to the infotainment system each time you land changed. I personally found them distracting behind the wheel. Checking my shoulder and preparing for said lane change, only to be startled by the quick flash of the screen in my peripheral. When it came to the rain, the automatic rain sensors kept the windshield clean and our visibility high. It was most practical in helping to wipe off the spray that was created by the cars in front of us. Spray that occurred as intermittently as the patches of wetness that riddled the road.

In short we enjoyed out time with the Honda Insight and are thankful for the grandeur it was able to take us to see.

HONDA.ca

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