06-21-17

CANADIAN SALES MORE NUMEROUS THAN EVER IN MAY 2017; CANADIANS PAID MORE THAN EVER, TOO

2017-Honda-Civic-hatchback-1977-honda-civic-hatchback-1-610x407

By Timothy Cain - Canadian auto sales surged to record levels in May 2017, surpassing the previous monthly record from April of last year by an 8-percent margin and topping 200,000 units for just the second time in history.

You know it's going well when, in a virulently anti-car market, passenger car sales increase, year-over-year.  And in the fifth month of 2017, car sales did indeed improve, growing 3-percent beyond May 2016 levels.

You know it's truly going well when, in a market that had already seen pickup truck market share climb to 20-percent, pickup truck sales jumped 38-percent to form 22-percent of the industry's volume.

And you know it's going exceptionally well when, in the span of just one month, the relatively small Canadian market purchases and leases 217,000 new vehicles at significantly higher prices than in the past.

According to Desrosiers Automotive Reports, Canada's auto industry climbed above 200,000 sales for just the second time in history.  Up to 11-percent, year-over-year, Canadian sales improved by roughly 22,000 units despite outside-the-norm declines from BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Volkswagen.

While losses at a handful of its brands - including a 30-percent dive at Jeep and a 25-percent downturn at Chrysler - clearly diminished some of its potential, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles still says the automaker sold more vehicles in May than ever before.  FCA volume was up 5 percent to 33,186 units.

The Ford Motor Company led all automakers with 34,475 sales, a 17-percent year-over-year improvement that drove the company to its best May since 1989.  General Motors' 36-percent improvement to 31,149 sales produced the best May for GM since 2009, including the best month in Cadillac's history.  Record sales were a common theme at numerous other auto brands as well, from Audi to Honda to Porsche.

That incentives are high is not news to Canadian car buyers.  According to J.D. Power figures revealed by Automotive News Canada, the average new vehicle discount in May 2017 measured $5,800 2-percent higher than in May 2016.

But the typical new vehicle transaction price grew by roughly $1,400 in May 2017, driving the average transaction price above $37,000.

Selling more vehicles, and selling them at a higher price?  Automakers will take that.  Not only are Canadians optioning up existing vehicles, but redesigned vehicles are arriving in Canada with base prices that reflect the weakening Canadian dollar.  The 2018 Honda Odyssey, for instance, sees its MSRP rise 12 percent.

At the heart of the market, where affordability is key, the Ford F-Series - Canada's leading line of vehicles - reported its second-best month ever in May.  Ram P/U sales reached record levels, nearly catching the No. 1 Ford.  The Honda Civic, Canada's top-selling car, was up 5-percent to 8,616 sales, 11-percent of all car sales.  The Ford Escape, a historic Canadian favorite, reclaimed its old position and led all SUVs/crossovers thanks to a 26-percent jump to 5,397 sales.

Meanwhile, May's extraordinary Canadian auto sales achievements, particularly in the light of steady incentives and rising ATPs, have led forecasters to increase their annual forecasts.  Canadian auto sales reached record levels in each o the last four calendar years.  Through the first five months of 2017, Canadian auto sales are up 5 percent.

If that rate of growth continues, Canadians will, for the first time every, buy and lease more than 2 million new vehicles in 2017.

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Cruze Hatchback

FIVE-DOOR ADDS A SPORTY OPTION TO THE CHEVY FAMILY

By Michael Accardi, AutoGuide.com - In the perpetual renaissance city of Detroit, Chevrolet has introduced a car it hopes will spark a five-door renaissance in North America: the 2017 Cruze Hatchback.

This marks the first time North American shoppers are offered the Cruze in multiple body shapes, and Chevrolet is hoping the hatch's 47.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, coupled with the brand's commitment to connectivity, will help introduce the Cruze to a new set of buyers.

The Mexican-made five-door gives the Cruze lineup a functional and sporty-ish choice that the brand hopes will appeal to a more male, more affluent and more urban-centered user base than the sedan.

Further aiding Chevy's drum for new drivers is the addition of a 1.6-liter diesel engine in 2017, which will be available at multiple price points across the Cruze family in the hopes of courting spurned Volkswagen TDI lovers.

Premier shoppers can go one further and opt for the Driver Confidence II Package, which adds IntelliBeam automatic highbeam control, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist.

The 153-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder carries over from the sedan, as does its 106.3-in wheelbase, the biggest change - besides its new found booty - is an eight-inch shorter overall length, which conspires to change everything.

Inside, the new hatchback posts its most significant gains over the four-door in carrying capacity, dwarfing its sibling by almost double with the seats up, and triple with the seats down.  I was told the sedan and hatch actually share rear doors, as evidenced in the modest headspace gains, but the five-door does add a feeling of airiness along with improved rearward visibility.

The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback isn't a car that will make memories in and of itself, but instead, it's a tool that Chevy hopes will offer shoppers the freedom to make new memories wherever the road may take them.

No, it's not a Focus RS, Civic Type R, or even a VW GTI, but that doesn't mean the 2017 Cruze hatch doesn't have plenty of smiles-per-miles potential.  It's just a different type of smile, one that doesn't come from the visceral thrill of driving, but from the warm and fuzzy memories of a time well had.

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04-28-16

cruze-3FOR 2016, THE CHEVROLET'S TOP-SELLER, THE CRUZE GETS A COMPLETE MAKEOVER

By Costa Mouzouris, Driving.ca - The Chevrolet Cruze is GM's best-selling car in Canada, despite stiff competition in the compact segment.  In fact, the Cruze is good enough to entice many owners of other brands to switch teams; GM claims that more than half of Cruze owners are new to the brand.

This is Chevy's bread-winning car, available in more than 75 countries worldwide.  It has sold more than four million units around the world since its introduction in 2008, and more than 170,000 units in Canada since arriving here in 2010, though those numbers pale in comparison to the Honda Civic, which sells twice as many units.

Chevrolet has given this next-generation Cruze a complete makeover for 2016, and it features much more than just a more aggressive new look.  The windshield and back glass are at shallower angles for a more streamlined, Euro coupe-like roofline, and the car now has an almost fastback silhouette.

Built at GM's Lordstown, Ohio plant, the Cruze has gained 1.5 centimetres of wheelbase (now at 270 cm), is 6.8 cm longer, and the roof is 2.5 cm lower.  The extra length contributes to additional interior space, especially for rear passengers.  Taller passengers will find headroom a bit cramped, a drawback of the lowered roof.

An all-new 1.4-litre, direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder is the only available engine, replacing the outgoing model's 1.4-L turbocharged and the 1.8-L naturally aspirated engines.  As before, it is mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

This new, lighter engine produces 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, up from the former turbo's 138 horses and 148 lb-ft.  The new engine's claimed combined fuel consumption is 6.8 L/100 km when coupled to the automatic transmission with the standard start/stop function, and a best of 5.6 L/100 km on the highway.  That's about a litre better than the former 1.4-L engine.  After an 80-mile ride in an automatic LT, the trip computer displayed an average consumption of 41 mpg U.S., or 5.7 L/100 km.

If you prefer forfeiting sparkplugs in the interest of even better fuel economy, you can wait until 2017 when GM will reintroduce the diesel version.

Four trim levels are available, from the $15,995US L model ($180 less than the 2015 model) to the $23,995US Premier.  The enticing entry price won't get you basic conveniences such as cruise control, a rear-view camera or air conditioning, but you do get Bluetooth connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and available LTE Wi-Fi.  You can add the RS package to the LT for $695US, which adds fog lamps, a sporty front fascia and rear spoiler, or to the Premier for a $995US premium, which also adds 18-inch wheels (16-, 16-, and 17-inch wheels are available on various trims).  Heated front seats are standard from the LT model upward.

A new chassis is 24 kilograms lighter and boasts a 27 per cent increase in rigidity.  The lighter engine and chassis, as well as other weight-saving measures, combine to drop about 113 kg from the curb weight.  From the driver's seat, this translates to a ride that feels taut, with bumps and road noise well isolated from the interior.

The L, LS and LT models feature a torsion-beam rear axle, while the Premier is equipped with a Watts Z-link.  Despite this relatively modest suspension design (front struts; rear torsion beam), GM engineers have tuned it to feel much more sophisticated.  At low speeds it feels firm, yet lacks any harshness, even over a series of moderately sized bumps.  If pushed through tight turns at higher speeds, though, it becomes evident that the suspension is tuned for comfort, returning modest body roll.

Steering effort is light and feedback is somewhat muted, in contrast to the 2016 Civic our hosts made available for comparison.  The Cruze, however, is smoother and quieter, especially from the engine compartment.  While not quite as serene as the Buick Verano, even the lower-end LS model is above par in its class.

The manual transmission has moderate lever travel and requires a light touch, but it's not best suited for the engine's powerband.  Pushing the gas pedal down results in a very lethargic climb of the tach needle until the revs pick up, after which the turbocharged four lights up considerably.

The automatic transmission downshifts more obediently than a lazy hand on the manual stick, therefore it feels much livelier.  This keeps the engine in the strong part of its powerband more effectively, while transferring less engine vibration and returning a smoother ride than the manual transmission.  Whether equipped with two or three pedals, the brake pedal seems unusually high.

The Cruze's interior has been refreshed with more soft-touch and textured materials, and it has a slightly upscale look and feel.  It might fall short when compared to luxury offerings in the segment, but it is finer than most cars in its price range.  A seven-inch colour touch screen is standard, and an eight-inch screen is optional.  The instrument cluster is similar to the outgoing model, though there's now a 4.2-inch high-definition screen between the gauges.  The shift lever has also moved to the left side of the centre console, closer to the driver.

Ten airbags are standard, and there are many driver aids available.  A rear-view camera is standard from the LS model up, and park assist and rear cross-traffic alert are available on the LT.  If you must have all the driver aids, including lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, collision alert and a following-distance warning, they're available only on the Premier model.

The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze is available now, and it appears to be popular with second-time buyers: about 58 per cent of Cruze buyers already own one.  Chevrolet aims to entice at least some drivers away from the Civic, so a five-door hatchback Cruze will be available later this year.  But even without the fifth door, this lighter, larger and more dynamic Cruze will probably attract many more converts.

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