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[REVIEW] 2019 Nissan Leaf

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Can you believe that the Nissan Leaf has been around since 2010? Back then, Elon Musk was still struggling to build up Tesla into a motor vehicle company, but yet Nissan was already quietly promising to provide clean EV motoring for the masses.

Today, the Nissan Leaf is in its second generation, and the world’s all-time best selling highway-capable electric car with global sales totaling well over 400,000 Leafs.

 

What’s new?

The first-generation Nissan Leaf made its debut to the masses with a winning formula – Nissan’s rock solid reputation for quality and reliability, a relatively affordable price, a highway-capable top speed, and national availability through Nissan’s dealer network.

Sure it only had about a 117 kilometre range in the best conditions, but nonetheless, Nissan proved that the Leaf’s familiar five-door family hatchback appearance was appealing to mainstream buyers.

Over the years, Nissan brought out bigger batteries and increased the Leaf’s range, allowing it to compete with newer rivals. However, times are different now and there is tremendously more competition in the marketplace.

Today, Nissan hopes to continue to tap into and expand its customer database of amazingly loyal and satisfied customers with the second-generation Leaf. The new car is further-reaching between charges – with up to 241 kilometres of range, better-looking, and with more driver assistance.

Surprisingly, the motor is the same as before. However, the new heavy-duty inverter – which supplies and controls the electricity going around the car – is significantly more powerful, allowing the same motor to develop much more power. Horsepower is now rated at 148hp, and 236 lb-fts of torque, effectively from rest.


The battery is also roughly the same physical size as the first-generation Leaf, however, new battery management technology and new internal chemistry results in a higher capacity of 40 kWh. An even newer Leaf, called the Leaf Plus, has a more powerful electric motor and 40 per cent better range than the standard Leaf, providing up to 363 kilometres of range.

For the purposes of this review, I tested the less expensive standard range 2019 Nissan Leaf.

Driving Experience

The first Nissan Leaf was an electric vehicle pioneer and the second generation vehicle builds on this with improved range, a better price, and the latest in technology.

Structurally, the Leaf is fairly conventional. However, there are a couple of stand-out technological features which make the Leaf’s driving experience rather unique compared to a regular ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car.

There is a chance that some first-generation Leaf owners may be unhappy to see just how “normal” this new model is, despite its Nissan Z-car inspired tail lamps.

Although the car has some high-tech body lines, the Leaf could be a normal gas powered family hatch. There are a few tell-tale signs, of course, like the slightly awkward-looking hood flap, which lifts to reveal the charging sockets.

Nonetheless they should be quick impressed by how much more improved the vehicle now is in pretty much every area. It is truly a car that you can own as your only vehicle. Indeed, I have a neighbour that uses his Leaf as his sole vehicle for transporting around his young family.

The car is easy to drive, particularly around town with the e-Pedal system, has decent range, and a very impressive amount of tech on offer considering its price. Moreover, it has enough space for the whole family.

What is the ePedal system you might ask? If you’re used to driving an electric golf cart, you’ll understand the concept of driving with just the accelerator pedal. Similarly, with ePedal activated, the vehicle’s regeneration system is dialed up to the maximum aggressiveness and therefore the Leaf starts slowing down immediately as you lift off the pedal.

With practice, the system allows you to drive essentially just using the accelerator without the need to press on the brake pedal till the very last moment. Nissan says that once you get the hang of it, it’s actually possible to boost your electric driving range by being as smooth as possible with the e-Pedal system.


Yes, BMW’s i3 has really strong regeneration as well as do Tesla’s vehicles (which are adjustable), but Nissan’s version goes further by engaging the brake if it needs to when the car comes to a complete stop. On the road, you can instantly feel e-Pedal in action when you turn the system on.

The accelerator pedal immediately has more resistance, forcing you to be firmer with your inputs to maintain rapid progress. Lift off, though, and the speed washes away smoothly but strongly.

Most drivers new to the Leaf will take half hour or so to learn where and when to lift off to come to a halt at traffic lights and junctions. In fact, the braking effect is so strong that, to start with, you’ll stop short of where you’re meant to. But once you’ve adapted to the system, you’ll wonder why more electric vehicles aren’t equipped with something similar.

Although the Leaf’s ride is firm, only really sharp imperfections punch through to the cabin. The firm set-up is probably because anything with such a big and heavy battery pack requires that approach to keep body control in-check. Consequently though, the Leaf doesn’t roll too much in bends.

It’s not difficult to see why so many electric vehicle owners never go back to ICE. Aside from a bit of tire noise, the Leaf is immensely quiet. Nissan actually claims that it’s 30 per cent more hushed than similar sized vehicles with conventional engines, and it’s not difficult to see and hear why.

My top-trim Leaf was also equipped with Nissan’s latest Pro-Pilot Assist system which bundles together a whole suite of semi-autonomous and active safety systems. The cruise control button on the Leaf is labeled with blue, offset concentric circles, using Nissan’s Pro-Pilot Assist logo. Turning it on automatically activates the full suite of Pro-Pilot assist functions, dynamic cruise control and lane guidance.

I should note that forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking is always on. However, you can de-activate the steering assistance using another button low on the left side of the dashboard.

As you drive, you can feel the system tugging at the wheel should you stray too far towards the lane markers. Pro-Pilot Assist does a better job than most at keeping the car between the lines without weaving down the lane like a bowling ball between kiddie bumpers. Particularly in stop-and-go traffic, Pro-Pilot Assist helps to keep the driving experience relaxing by taking over a significant amount of steering and throttle pedal action. It works marvelously and the system can impressively negotiate some of the more aggressive curves unlike many others on the market.

But keep your hands on the wheel though. If you keep too light a touch on the steering wheel, it will trigger an alert and eventually shut off the steering assist, thinking your hands aren’t on the wheel—its interpretation that you aren’t paying attention.

If you leave your hands off for too long of a duration, the system will even resort to aggressively vibrating the steering wheel, followed by stabbing the brakes to jolt you back to attention. If all else fails, the four way blinkers are turned on and the car will gradually slow down to a complete stop.

Charging Experience

Even if you don’t opt for the Plus version, there are plenty of good reasons to consider the standard Leaf. 240+ kilometres is plenty of range and I didn’t have any problems meeting the demands of any of my commutes for daily errands, as well as to and from work.

Even a drive up North from Coquitlam to Squamish proved to be uneventful without any range anxiety, especially with a super fast 50kW Level 3 DC charger in downtown Squamish, BC.

BC Hydro continues to expand their Level 3 High Speed DC charging network in the province, making it easier than ever before for electric vehicle owners to quickly top up their vehicles. Many existing stations have been upgraded to support both CHAdeMO and CCS plugs. The CHAdeMO plug design was introduced by the Japanese way back in 2010, whereas the North American high speed level 3 charge plug design is known as SAE Combo (aka CCS). CCS plugs can be found on plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles including BMW and VW.

Charging times vary, of course, and if you are just charging using a domestic household plug, a close to flat battery will take a grueling 21 hours to recharge for just the standard range Leaf. At the other end of the spectrum, a 50 kW DC fast charger will get the same battery from 20 to 80 per cent charge in about an hour.

As with other electric vehicles,I found that keeping the battery topped up every time I parked ensured that range anxiety truly is a moot point for most of the time.

Interior design and technology

As with the inside, Nissan’s engineers have tried to make it as easy as possible for new owners to seamlessly transition to the electric vehicle life.

Apart from the odd flash of backlit blue, the layout, plastics and finish are as they’d be in any contemporary mid-sized hatch. But, there are still some familiar sights, such as the gear selector from the original Leaf between the front seats, and Nissan’s regular infotainment system in the centre of the fascia.

Quality is a mixed bag. The plastics across the top of the dash and door are a bit cheap and some of the switches aren’t exactly premium-looking. This is perhaps my only real disappointment with the vehicle, that from a quality and style point of view, it’s not as appealing as a Volkswagen e-Golf.

Every Leaf comes standard with a touchscreen infotainment system as well as a customizable 7-inch driver display screen next to the traditional analog speedometer. Nissan’s smart ConnectEV system links your Leaf to the internet, allowing you to remotely control your vehicle via your smartphone. Unfortunately I found the system rather slow to react at times, probably because it runs off a 3G cellular connection.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are available, and Nissan’s built-in navigation system can help to plan your EV journey, even showing places where you can charge up if need be.

My Leaf was also fitted with a premium Bose sound system with seven speaker. However, it should be noted that the Bose amplifier is stashed behind the 2nd row seats, obstructing an otherwise relatively low (but not flat) load floor when the seats are folded down. The load floor and 2nd row seatbacks are not flush either, so some space for longer objects is restricted.

The one thing you might experience if you’re in the back, is that you sit a little higher than you might expect. So, rear-seat passengers do sit with their knees a little tucked up, but the car will take four six-footers with no problems.

With a generous cargo, the Leaf continues to be one of the most practical cars of its size and type. Indeed at 435 litres, it’s way bigger than what you’ll find in electric versions of the Golf or Focus.

As a result, there is more than enough room for a couple of suitcases for the family vacation. There’s certainly space for the thick charging cables EV drivers store in their trunk, and Nissan even provides a couple of nets on either side of the cargo area to tidy those cables away.

Final Verdict

Hop into a Leaf and you’ll quickly discover that this is not a car designed for the enthusiast driver. The driving position is set high, the seat cushions are relatively flat, and some drivers may struggle for the perfect driving position due to the steering wheel adjusting for rake alone.

However, spend some more time behind the wheel and you’ll discover that the upright driving position is actually fairly comfortable and the cabin layout throws up no surprises. Despite what I just wrote above, I dare say that the Leaf is fun in its own right. With oodles of instant torque, improved steering responsiveness, and excellent visibility all around, there is little to fault as a commuter car.

It’s not a particularly exciting cabin and it’s less distinctive than the old car, but at this stage in the lifecycle of electric vehicles, customers seem keen to play it safe. You can see Nissan Canada’s thinking here.

Therefore, the second-gen Leaf is a substantial improvement in most areas. It’s easy to drive, easy to live with, and comfortable to commute in daily. For many people, having only two-thirds of the Chevy Bolt’s range may not cut it. However, with the addition of the longer range Leaf Plus, you can now have your cake and eat it too.

Andrew is a proud car and tech geek who has worked in Surrey for over the last 10 years. He comes from a communications/marketing background and has worked for automotive-related companies such as Edmunds.com, BenzWorld.org since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all! When he’s not reading about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town.

Automobiles

North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex Hosts Official Grand Opening

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Surrey, BC – The North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex marked its official grand opening today, with a community event attracting over 500 guests to the state-of-the-art facility in the Bridgeview community. The celebration included free skating and rentals, access to the fitness centre, family entertainment and an artist talk with Katzie Nation artist Trenton Pierre.

“The North Surrey area of our city has long been underserved when it comes to having recreational facilities and programs close at hand,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “With the opening of this new complex, that all changes and I invite everyone to take the opportunity to visit and make full use of this state-of-the-art facility. This new complex is also an illustration of how Surrey is combining thoughtful and advanced design to ensure that our spaces provide accessibility for all ages and ability levels. The City of Surrey is continually pressing forward as one of Canada’s most accessible and livable cities, offering recreational opportunities for everyone.”

The North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex features three sheets of ice, spectatorship opportunities for large-scale events, a state-of-the-art fitness studio and weight room, outdoor activity areas, multi-purpose room programming, rentals and food services. First Nation artist Trenton Pierre’s public artwork, Guardian Spirits, wraps the building exterior, which is mirrored inside the facility from the windows of the modern fitness studio.

Accessibility features include:

  • Level access to the ice from dry surface, built to para ice hockey standards
  • Players boxes and penalty boxes made of clear lexan, instead of regular puck board, allowing para ice hockey players a clear view from their sledges
  • Removable benches in the players boxes, allowing for para ice hockey players to remain in their sledges when off the ice
  • Universal hook heights and depths of benches in dressing rooms
  • Fully accessible change rooms, referee rooms, sound room, multi-purpose and fitness studios
  • Fully accessible washrooms
  • Vehicle drop-off area accommodates side-loading vans

Utilizing the three sheets of ice, large-scale spectatorship seating capacity and meeting rooms at the new facility, Surrey will host Olympic Gold Medalist Hayley Wickenheiser’s WickFest Tournament from January 30 to February 2, 2020. This is the tournament’s second year in Surrey, which has now expanded from hosting 800 young female athletes to 1500, as a result of North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex’s increased capacity for ice and meeting space.

Click here for a message from Hayley Wickenheiser about WickFest 2020 at the North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex.

For more information, visit surrey.ca/arenas

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[REVIEW] 2020 Nissan Armada Platinum

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Nissan has had a storied history when it comes to building four wheel drive vehicles. The company’s first such vehicle started with the Japanese domestic market-only 4W60, which had overall styling similar to the Willys Jeep.

In 1958, the first use of the “Patrol” nomenclature appeared with the Nissan 4W65 Patrol. The four wheel drive vehicle had a “Nissan” badge on the grille and “Patrol” badges flanked the sides of the bonnet.

Fast forward over 61 years and the iconic “Nissan Patrol” lives on as the “Nissan Armada” in North America, having been launched in its current second generation in 2017.


Known for its durability, reliability, premium design, safety, comfort features and unmatched all-terrain performance, the Armada remains the flagship of Nissan’s extensive 4×4 and crossover lineup.

Engineered from the wheels up to tackle the most demanding driving conditions on the planet, over the years, the Nissan Armada has more than earned its reputation, providing the same outstanding level of comfort cruising on the Trans Canada Highway, or negotiating rocky mountain terrain.

It is interesting that Nissan Canada has decided to continue to bring the Armada here despite the fact that it is almost identical to its much more expensive twin, the Infiniti QX80. This platform sharing has both its positives and negatives.


Updates to styling and cabin technology…just not in Canada just yet.

In late September 2019, Nissan unveiled the new 2020 Nissan Patrol in the Middle East, its largest market, with a facelifted model and upgraded infotainment system.

These changes have not carried over yet into the 2020 Nissan Armada, which remains unchanged since the 2017 model year. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Nissan’s V-motion grille and strong angular front still look surprisingly bold and in line with the rest of the company’s products.


The Armada may not be the most popular large SUV on the Canadian market, but Nissan’s reputation for quality, the vehicle’s attractive bold exterior and serene interior are underrated compared with more mainstream vehicles such as the Toyota Sequoia, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and the Ford Expedition.


Inside, the Armada’s classy outer shell, its cabin is extremely well insulated from outside noise.

Material quality is almost indistinguishable from its QX80 twin, a boon for owners.

My top-of-the-range Platinum model added top grain leather surfaces and a lot of chrome surfaces among other things.


Unfortunately, some of the glossy wood trim looked as dated as the infotainment system.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are not yet available, nor is a colour driver’s info display in the gauge cluster.

If you’re a hater of touchscreens but a lover of hard buttons to control the climate control and infotainment systems, you won’t be disappointed as there are plenty.

Pushing some of these control buttons will also reveal the thunderous 13-speaker Bose audio system.


My three-row Armada Platinum test vehicle easily accommodated seven passengers with its second row captain chairs and massive centre console. The chairs folded easily and quickly with a handle that springs the seat forward.


Third row seats are power folding on the Platinum model, controlled via buttons in the cargo area or on the third row’s armrests. Just don’t plan on doing this action if you’re in a rush as the motors move at a snail’s pace, if not slower.

Nonetheless, when you’re back in either the second or third row, you’ll find competitive amounts of legroom and cargo space.

My vehicle was also equipped with the rear-entertainment system option with wireless headphones, sure to be a hit for whomever is occupying the rear seats on long road trips (or for wary parents sitting up front).


Active safety systems

The 2020 Nissan Armada also stands out for its extensive suite of advanced safety and security technologies.

In addition to the Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies already available, the Armada is also equipped with Nissan’s latest Intelligent Emergency Braking system with pedestrian detection, Intelligent Cruise Control, and an Intelligent Forward Collision Warning system.

Like its more expensive Infiniti counterparts, just a push of the steering wheel button activates the majority of the systems whether or not you actually have a cruise control speed set. One could conceivably drive the vehicle with just one pedal in stop-and-go traffic, making the day-to-day driving tremendously more relaxing.

New from the 2019 model year onwards is Nissan’s Rear Seat reminder feature. Also found in other Nissan vehicles, Nissan’s system detects if a rear door was opened or closed before the car was started, but then wasn’t re-opened again after the vehicle was put in park and turned off. The system notifies the driver with display notifications in the instrument panel of the car.

If the driver still fails to open the rear door, the car will then emit subtle but distinctive chirps of the car horn.

The idea came from Nissan engineers Elsa Foley and Marlene Mendoza who wanted to find a way to remind drivers to check the backseat before leaving the vehicle. It is part of a growing effort by automakers to help tackle the problem of children dying of heat stroke from accidentally being left in vehicles.

Drivetrain and NVH

One engine choice remains, a smooth running 5.6-liter “Eudurance” V8 producing 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. Both work through a very civilized seven-speed automatic transmission.

However don’t look for paddle shifters or selectable drive modes, such as with the Ford Expedition, as you won’t find any. Fuel economy was also below average even for a big SUV with me averaging a high 19L/100 kms in mostly city driving.

However, what the Armada lacks in engine options it makes up in acceleration. 0-100 km/hr runs take only 6.1 seconds with the powertrain making hearty exhaust rumbles while doing so.

For comparison, this 0-100 km/hr run is roughly equivalent to what you will find with the Nissan Maxima sedan.

There is a selectable “tow” mode on the transmission which holds the shift points to higher revs, and the Armada is capable of towing a trailer up to 8,500 pounds.

You will have to add an aftermarket trailer brake controller though as there isn’t an option for an integrated OEM unit.

Also unchanged for 2020 is the Armada’s excellent all All-Mode 4X4 system with high and low range. As before, the advanced system lets the driver select various modes which have been designed to handle different on- and off-road conditions.

Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control ensures a more comfortable ride thanks to the improved suspension and vibration reduction.

Despite what its size suggests, the Armada handles surprisingly well. Sure, its soft suspension has an air of floatiness, but that doesn’t negatively affect the driver’s sense of control. My test car had a very comfy and quiet ride even though it rolled on large 20-inch wheels fitted with softer compound winter tires.

While it is far from sporty, the Armada feels more refined than its GM rivals; those alternatives, however, have much better steering feedback than the Nissan’s slow and imprecise steering rack.

Parting thoughts

The 2020 Nissan Armada has the content and capabilities to deserve some attention for those in the market for a big three-row SUV. These customers will likely be looking for the small choices of SUVs on the market that that can carry a load of cargo and seating for seven or eight while still towing a boat or a trailer.

The Armada’s quality cabin is a nice and quiet place to chew up some highway miles as long as you don’t mind passing up on the latest in driver technology.

Nissan’s solid predicted reliability will also attract those who have been burnt in the past by domestic brands who haven’t fared quite as well in this category.

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[REVIEW] 2020 BMW M340i

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The British statesman Joseph Chamberlain is known for his famous quote, “we are living in most interesting times”. The father of future Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain and future diplomat Austen Chamberlain, Joseph’s speech in 1898 assigned a complex meaning to “live in interesting times” with connotations of opportunity, excitement, anxiety, and danger.

And indeed we are living in most interesting times when it comes to the future of sports sedans. Once Munich’s bread and butter car, the BMW 3 Series invented this category, blending versatility, balance, power, rear-wheel-drive, and most of all fun.

But times they are a changing and the question that will be is whether anyone still cares about such factors. Long a stalwart support of the manual transmission, BMW was one of a diminishing number of car manufacturers that held onto their manual gearboxes.

As consumer preferences evolved though, one by one, BMW started dropping it from their models.

With the arrival of the seven-generation 3 Series, the manual is gone in North America. It’s difficult to blame BMW though. Statistics don’t lie and not only do a lot of great cars not have manual gearboxes anymore, but people simply aren’t buying them anymore.

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as dealers aren’t willing to take the chance to stock manual transmission cars as they take longer to turn. Therefore, willing customers find themselves having to likely wait months for special ordered manual transmission vehicles, which likely will cost more as dealers are less likely to offer discounts on special ordered rarer vehicles. And so most customers conceded and opt for automatic gearboxes and thus the vicious cycle continues.

Why the “M” in front of “340”?

A couple of years ago, BMW introduced their M Performance line-up of vehicles. While not the full tilt hardcore BMW Motorsport models, M Performance vehicles were still factory designed and spec’ed, offering greater performance than standard BMWs.

Fast forward to present day and the M Performance line-up has proven to be so successful that it has grown to include not only the M550i, but also the X2 M35i, the Z4 M40i, the X5 M50i, etc., and of course the M340i.

The M340i xDrive actually is the only remaining model in the current 3 Series line-up with six-cylinder gas power. With BMW’s M division still applying the finishing touches to the next-generation M3, this is currently the hottest member of the new G20-generation 3 Series.

This M-tweaked hot halfway house joins the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C43 and the Audi S4, all of which serve as understudies to more established more powerful flagships.

Like BMW, those companies also have had their top engineers applying parts and development from their esteemed performance divisions, making this an interesting time to be a customer.


Beyond the name badge

While the 330i puts out a respectable 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, the M340i offers up a significant bump in power to 383 horsepower thanks to its new turbocharger and particulate filter among other detailed changes.

The B58 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine offers up a healthy dose of torque too, 369 lbs-ft to be precise, between 1,600 to 4,500 rpms.


With peak torque tuned to be available throughout such a large portion of the rev range, the M340i always feels eager and ready to go.

Combined with BMW’s tried-and-true ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox, the vehicle never feels breathless, no matter what the situation.


Paired with xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive, the M340i is the perfect sports sedan for all-round use in Canada, be it sunny, wet, or snowy conditions. According to BMW, the M340i just edges out the Audi S4, Genesis G70 3.3T, and Mercedes-AMG C43 in 0-100 km/hr runs by about 1/10th of a second.


The M Performance badge doesn’t just buy you an uprated engine combo. Improving upon the standard 3 Series’ platform, the M340i gets a standard torque-vectoring rear differential, firmer springs, thicker anti-roll bars, a lower ride height, more wheel camber, and adaptive dampers.

The latter has four levels of dampening stiffness via Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes to provide what BMW describes as “sporty and authoritative” handling.


What about the tech toys?

The M340i brings along with it seven generations of legacy, and with it, some high expectations. In fact, there seems to be a setting to adjust pretty much every aspect of the car’s behaviour.


Open the driver’s side door and you’re met by a classy-looking cabin with an upmarket air. There are digital gauges, expensive-looking chrome or satin trim bits, and a 10.3 inch infotainment touchscreen.

While it all feels sporty, the cabin doesn’t feel as special as it would’ve in the past. This is in part because Audi’s and Mercedes’ interiors have caught up in recent years.


Ironically, BMW’s brand new virtual cockpit is less configurable than Audi’s, but overall it still displays an impressive range of information, including a full range of driver assistance systems.

My test vehicle was also equipped with BMW’s latest Assisted Driving Assistant system, which provides semi-autonomous driving.


This impressive system allows for hands-free and pedal-free driving at lower traffic speeds (below 60 km/hr) thanks to a variety of radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors.

There is even an infrared and optical facial recognition camera that is pointed towards the driver to ensure that the appropriate attention is being paid to the road in front.


With the combination of all the aforementioned systems, if the conditions are right, the M340i can even automatically change lanes by the activation of the turn signals when the Assisted Driving Assistant is active.


The G20 3 Series’ centre console and gear lever area now houses the familiar iDrive controller, a wireless phone charging pad, the Driver Experience modes buttons, as well as the engine start/stop button.


The latest iDrive 7.0 operating system is easy to operate and premieres BMW’s new personal assistant activated by saying ‘Hey BMW’. Creatures of tactile habit will rejoice that BMW has still seen fit to include an appropriate number of hard buttons for frequently used functions for the climate controls and infotainment system.

iDrive is now more intuitive (and more feature heavy) than ever, and adjusting the various controls via the iDrive controller or touchscreen soon becomes second nature once you take the time to understand its various menus and submenus.


As before, BMW continues to be the only auto manufacturer that supports wireless Apple Carplay, allowing the system to just work (via WiFi) once you step into the vehicle. Place your phone on the wireless charging mat to keep it juiced up with no cables to fiddle around with.

The instrument screen can be modified to show navigation, active safety programs, G-forces, or be minimised altogether. The head-up display, jacked from the 7 Series, is industry-leading for clarity and quality.


Still the Ultimate Driving Machine?

The M340i is one rapid driving machine with the engine revving eagerly up to 6,800 rpms. To be precise, it’s a full 0.5 seconds faster than the old 340i despite its larger dimensions.


To put this in perspective, the M340i is just 0.3 seconds slower than the outgoing fifth-generation M3, whose twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder punches out a greater 425 hp and 406 ft-lbs of torque.

While there is no more manual transmission gearbox, BMW has equipped the M340i’s eight-speed auto with its own unique ratios and an integrated launch control function.


The exhaust note is nicely tuned, goiing from whisper quiet to throaty, depending on which driver experience mode is selected.

While the M340i never feels as precise as that of a true M-badged car, stability and refinement are clearly amongst the car’s strong suit. Challenging roads are where the car shines, and the directness of its handling reins supreme. Until the M3 arrives later this year, this is the most agile member of the 3 Series family.

The M performance brakes are also well worth the upgrade, firm, confidence inspiring but with a strong initial bite and progressive pedal feel.


While some auto critics have criticized the 3 Series for trying to be all things to all people, to me, it simply feels like it has grown up more to suit the tastes of its audience. Those who want something even more engaging can wait for the M3.

Parting thoughts

Times they are a changing. Perhaps what is the most astounding is that no longer does one need to buy the most expensive BMW in the line-up to get access to 90 per cent of the tech gadgets. You can pretty much have it all on the M340i.


While there might not be heated armrests or built-in fragrance pods, you can still enjoy semi-autonomous driving, BMW’s novel “caring car” relaxation program within the iDrive system, Laser headlights, adaptive dampers, self-parking, and even the ability to use the BMW Connected Drive app to check out what is going around your vehicle remotely via your smartphone.

It’s all there…on a 3 Series!


While the M340i may no longer be the only player in the sports sedan segment and the BMW design language has arguably evolved to be a bit derivative, the M340i still feels polished, confident, and the one of the best combinations of status, performance, tech, luxury and value.

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REVIEW – 2019 Ford Expedition

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The 2019 Ford Expedition is a great choice for those with a small family or perhaps just want a mid-range SUV for camping and other outdoor activities. The 2019 Ford Expedition weighs in at 5,900 pounds and offers you up to 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. It seats up to eight people comfortably and has plenty of storage in the back and even more when the seats are folded down.

Performance

The 2019 Ford Expedition comes with a 3.5L EcoBoost engine that feels the most responsive of any sport utility vehicle on the market today. The direct injection helps maximize the amount of power squeezed out of the EcoBoost engine and it even has twin air-to-air intercooled turbochargers for a boost of power when you need it.

The 3.5L EcoBoost gets up to 375 horsepower and produces a stunning 470 pounds per foot of torque.

The 2019 Ford Expedition also has a best-in-class towing ability with up to 9,300 pounds of towing capacity when the Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package is installed.

Trim Levels

The 2019 Ford Expedition for sale at a new car dealership comes in three available trim levels — the XLT, Limited, and Platinum. Each of these trim levels comes with a six-cylinder 3.5L EcoBoost engine with twin air-to-air intercooled turbochargers. The XLT, Limited and Platinum trim levels all seat eight people and all come with a 10-speed automatic transmission. There is also an extended-wheelbase version of the XLT and Limited called the Max.

The XLT is already equipped with 18-inch alloys, running boards, an 8-inch touchscreen, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and the choice of four-wheel drive. There are four USB ports and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio as standard.

Move up to the Limited for 20-inch wheels, parking sensors, heated seats throughout, and an upgraded Bang and Olufsen 12-speaker audio system.

The Platinum builds on the Limited and adds interior wood accents, an improved leather trim, noise cancellation, and the ability to increase horsepower and torque when 93 octane fuel is used.

There is also a variety of small upgrades such as aluminum wheels as opposed to hubcaps that can be chosen on the Limited and Platinum models.

Interior

Every part of the interior is classy and looks immaculate. The tasteful chrome accents and light tan leathers make the 2019 Ford Expedition a pleasure to be in.

The 2019 Ford Expedition is loaded with technology for modern times with a Wi-Fi hotspot build in that can connect up to ten devices at a range of 50 feet, a wireless charging station, and an 8.5-inch infotainment system at an easy to reach level.

The seating arrangement benefits from the added dimensions of the body and the 2019 Ford Expedition is roomier than ever before.

Exterior

One thing that Ford has changed about the 2019 Ford Expedition is the seams and contours of the different panels from the quarter panel to the doors. Now the vehicle feels even more seamlessly connected than before. The great line work in the Expedition shows the level of sophistication that modern sport utility vehicles are capable of.

Newly designed front grilles with LED headlamps cut through the snow and fog.

Safety

The 2019 Ford Expedition is one of the safest vehicles on the market in the sport-utility division. There is nothing but great safety technologies between you and the roadway when you’re driving the 2019 Expedition. The NHTSA has given the 2019 Ford Expedition a five-star overall rating.

Features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go make driving a hassle-free experience and help prevent collisions with its many sensors. There is also a Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection system that will automatically brake in the event that the driver fails to do so. BLIS, or Blind Spot Information System, is another excellent feature that reduces common accidents by showing drivers what is in their blind spot.

It is hard to choose which color looks best on the 2019 Ford Expedition, but if push comes to shove the Blue Metallic is looking like a very nice choice. There are a host of other colors to choose from such as Stone Gray, Silver Spruce, and Ruby Red.

If you haven’t been won over by the 2019 Ford Expedition yet just take one for a test drive and you will feel what it is like to ride in comfort and class without sacrificing any of the power we have come to expect from a sport utility vehicle.

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Automobiles

Is It Safe to Work Under a Car on Jack Stands?

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Any auto owner needs to access the underside of their vehicle, at least occasionally. However, lying under a heavy object poses risks. Manufacturers of modern ramps, as well as jack stands, guarantee safety. But is there truth in advertising?

Of course, nothing can beat a professional hydraulic system. In general, ramps are regarded as more reliable. Consider some of the top low profile car ramps sold on Amazon. Jack stands, though, will also be safe as long as you follow these basic guidelines.

Precautions

Whatever maintenance you are planning, begin by choosing the surface. Your car must be placed on hard and even ground. Under no circumstances is it possible to perform the work on gravel, dirt, let alone a slope! The same gravity that keeps your automobile steady may cause it to roll back down.

If you think lack of hardness may be compensated by sliding wood under the jack, think again. Another mistake that could prove fatal is propping a vehicle with breeze blocks, bricks and similar items that may crack.

Which Jack is Best?

It may be tempting to go with the device that came with your vehicle. Although it may be suitable for tire changes, relying on it for something more complex is precarious. Therefore, always choose a top-quality support system. Never work under a car which is supported by a single jack!

Base your choice on objective criteria, including the weight limit. Remember that you will not be lifting the entire weight of the vehicle. A two-ton device may be strong enough to raise a car weighing two and a half tons. Ensure a certain safety margin is allowed. Generally, use stands capable of supporting no less than half of the weight.

The second dilemma is the choice between low-entry and high-lift models, which are suitable for low and higher vehicles, respectively. Thirdly, remember that a large jack is heavy, so make sure you can carry it from the storage to the car. It may be best to choose a lighter model provided it can support the required weight.

Additional Precautions

Overall, these tools are less safe and more difficult to use than car ramps, as confirmed by reviews on jonsguide. With the necessary precautions, you can ensure a safe working environment. Here are three important conditions.

  1. Extra Support
    Although a jack is supposed to ensure safe access to the underside, it should not be used on its own. Use additional supports, such as a trolley jack. This will prevent potential damage to the sill, even though a standard jack should fit into the corresponding jacking points.
  2. The Right Points
    Refer to your guides for both the car and the supports to identify safe points. Avoid raising the vehicle by placing the supports under its gearbox, engine or plastic undertray. The perfect locations include chassis rail, subframe, and suspension mounting point.
  3. Chocks
    Chocks provide support regardless of their material. They may be produced from rubber, metal, wood or plastic. Once your transmission is in the park or in gear, place two chocks around the wheel on the side opposite to the one being raised. One of them is put in front and the other one behind, so the wheel is firmly secured.
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