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[REVIEW] 2020 BMW M340i



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.

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, since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all. When he’s not reading or writing about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town. You can contact him at Andrew (at)

Food & Drink

Here’s the best bubble tea in Surrey



Drinks from Presotea and Gong Cha (@presoteabc @gongchasurreycentral / Instagram)

Whether you call it bubble tea or boba, everyone loves the sweet drink with those irresistible tapioca pearls. If you live in Surrey, then you’re in luck! Surrey has so many different bubble tea options. So here’s our list of the best bubble tea in Surrey.


Boba Boy


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Boba Boy has all of your classic bubble tea options. Whether you like milk tea, fruit tea, or smoothies, Boba Boy has got you covered. We’d recommend trying the Dalgona coffee with oat milk and grass jelly. They also have some yummy dessert options like their mini donuts covered with cinnamon sugar. 

Address: 15127 56 Ave Unit 104, Surrey


Leaf Tea Lounge


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Leaf Tea Lounge is a hip bubble tea spot with a super aesthetic interior. This is the perfect place to snap your next Instagram pic while enjoying some delicious bubble tea. If you’re feeling like some food with your bubble tea, they also serve unique varieties of fries. We enjoy the Tokyo fries which are covered in matcha with Japanese mayo, sesame seeds, and seaweed.

Address: 1618 152 St, Surrey



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What we love about Presotea is their Milk Tea Triple Combo. It comes with pearls, grass jelly, and pudding. So if you’re a fan of bubble tea toppings (or if you can’t decide which one to order), visit Presotea. 

Address: 10355 152 St #1046, Surrey


Bubble World


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Sure, Bubble World has some great bubble tea options like their milky mango ice cream slush or their taro oreo slush, but that’s not all. Bubble world also serves delicious food. If you’re looking for somewhere with great drinks and food, Bubble World is the place. We love the baked fried rice with fish cutlet and white sauce. 

Address: 10090 152 St #137, Surrey


Gong Cha


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Gong Cha makes our list for the best bubble tea in Surrey because of how many different drinks they serve. We enjoy their honey rose Tie Guan Yin tea latte and Oreo milk foam earl grey tea.

Address: 10294 City Pkwy Unit 104, Surrey

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[REVIEW] 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63s coupe



My favourite marketer, Seth Godin has always purported the notion of marketing to the outliers. To paraphrase his saying, average companies make things for average people.

The key to success is appealing to appeal to the edges of the bell curve, whether it’s very cheap or very expensive, to get a minimum viable audience that will absolutely love your products.

Case in point is my test vehicle for this review, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63s coupe.

What is it?

As Porsche has very successfully proven with its line-up of 911 sport cars, you can convince customers to pay for more while giving less “stuff”.

From a pure financial or practical standpoint, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63s coupe might not make a whole of sense. For about $2,000 more money, you get less cargo space, less rear passenger headroom, and less metal compared to its traditionally shaped SUV stablemate, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63s SUV.

The GLE coupe has about 2.55 inches less rear headroom and 779 versus 954 litres of cargo space with the second row seats up.

What your extra dineros buy with the GLE63s coupe versus SUV though, is less of a soccer mom or dad image and more of a crossover vehicle with a sporty character that will be different than that of your neighbours. For better or worse, it’s the classic case of keeping up with the Jones.

Like the GLE63s SUV, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 coupe comes in two flavours. Powerful, and even more powerful. Both trims are powered by Mercedes-AMG’s latest evolution of their twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, paired up with a 48-volt high powered electrical system and a “EQ Boost” mild-hybrid starter-alternator system integrated between the engine and the nine-speed AMG Speedshift auto transmission.

To distinguish the GLE63s from its non-AMG brethren, Mercedes-AMG has updated the exterior with what they say is “the embodiment of hallmark AMG Driving Performance”.

What this marketing speak really means is that there is an AMG-specific Panamerica grille, a jet-wing designed front bumper, prominent power domes on the hood, as well as unique side skirts, mirror housings, and flared wheel arches.

The rear bumper features an AMG-specific rear apron, a diffuser, and a chrome trim strip to further accentuate the GLE63s coupe’s width. The twin AMG tailpipe elements round out the package.

My vehicle was also fitted with the AMG Night package, where the front splitter and front apron trim, inserts in the side skirts, mirror caps, and window frames were finished in black. In addition, the twin tailpipe trim elements were also finished in high-gloss black.


In “standard” non-“S” fair, the GLE63 coupe already outputs 571 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. The addition of the “S” bumps this up to a whopping 603 horsepower and a staggering 627 lb-ft of torque between 2,500 to 4,500 rpms. The two twin-scroll turbochargers are arranged between the cylinder banks in a “hot inside V” design to increase responsiveness versus an exterior turbocharger configuration.

The EQ Boost starter-alternator setup combines a starter motor and an alternator in a single, powerful compact electric motor producing an additional output of 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The 48-volt on-board electrical system serves as both an alternator and is also responsible for the hybrid functions.

In addition to the temporary power boost, the system works absolutely seamlessly in allowing for virtually imperceptible restarting of the engine when the start/stop function is active.

Although AMG owners might not prioritize fuel efficiently, Mercedes-AMG nonetheless equipped with the GLE63s coupe with a cylinder deactivation system. When set to “comfort” drive mode, the system functions between 1,000 to 3,250 rpms.

A display in the instrument cluster shows when the system is in four-cylinder mode. Unlike other systems on the market where it’s immediately apparent when four cylinders have been shut down, the GLE’s is almost completely transparent.

Interior accoutrements

If you’ve been in recent Mercedes-AMG models, you’ll feel right at home in the GLE63s coupe. Similar to the SUV version of the GLE, you’ll find comfortable thickly bolstered heated, ventilated AMG front sports seats covered in nappa leather and alcantara.

These seats can even be optioned out with active dynamic side bolsters to hold you better during hard cornering maneuvers.

Count me in as a big fan of the fat alcantara/leather AMG three-spoke heated steering wheel with satin-finished aluminum paddles and buttons. I also love the configurable AMG steering wheel buttons that allow for the driving dynamics to be adjusted on the go with a twist of the dial or a press of either one of the two buttons.

The centre console houses an AMG-specific control unit with additional switches that are used to regulate the 3-stage ESP stability control system, the manual transmission mode, the Adaptive Damping System, the AMG Performance exhaust system, and the GLE63s coupe’s air suspension ride height level.

Also benefitting from the 48-volt electrical system is the AMG Active Ride Control roll stabilization system. This system responds faster than the usual hydraulic-based system, adapting to the conditions within milliseconds.

The system uses two independently operating, electromechanical actuators at the front and rear axles, each with their own integrated planetary gear. This not only reduces body roll when cornering, but also allows for more precise tuning of the cornering and load cycle properties.

The GLE63s’ MBUX infotainment system has a few AMG-exclusive bits and bobs including a “Supersport” view that provides extensive AMG-specific information such as upshift prompts in manual mode as well as a few new visualizations.

I was most impressed with the animated presentations of the driving assistance programs, particularly the gradient/incline displays, and differential lock graphics when the Trail and Sand modes are activated.

How does it drive?

In a nutshell, the GLE63s coupe is blisteringly quick, engaging, and certainly has all the sounds, character, and excitement expected from a full fat AMG vehicle. There’s no lack of theatre when you want it, if you want it.

And yet in comfort mode with the exhaust system toned down, you can easily carry on a conference call thanks to the excellent noise cancellation algorithm for phone calls integrated into the MBUX Infotainment / Burmester sound system.

In comfort mode, the GLE upshifts early and the vehicle is set-up for full comfort and economical motoring.

On the other side of the spectrum is Sport+ mode, where the computer even double-declutches the gearbox on downshifts and targets torque interventions on upshifts with cylinder deactivation for optimized shift times. The idle speed is raised for faster pulling away and there is an even more dynamic setup for the suspension, steering and powertrain.

In the unlikely event that you wish to take your GLE63s coupe to the track, Mercedes-AMG’s engineers have you covered with a dedicated “Race” mode for dynamic driving on closed circuits. In this drive program, efficiency is completely thrown out the window and all of the parameters are configured for max performance.

While there are too many other technical systems to cover in this review, the 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system deserves special mention. This system is different from the non-AMG GLE coupes in that it has an electronically controlled locking rear differential as standard equipment and is integrated into the multi-mode stability control system.

Final thoughts

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63s coupe combines two classes of vehicles, each with its own distinctive style, to make a new model.

The sporty nature of the coupe dominates the vehicle’s silhouette, imbued with the traditional box shape of an SUV. With its flowing side contour, elongated and low greenhouse, and the striking Panamericana AMG grille, the GLE coupe shares many styling features typical of sport Mercedes-Benz coupes.

So now comes the $150,000+ question. How does it compare with its main rival, the 2021 BMW X6M coupe?

Surprisingly, the Mercedes is somehow snortier, more raw, more visceral than its rival from BMW. Although the X6M’s driving position is arguably better, mainly thanks to a lower dash, as far as sights, sounds, feel, and quality, the Mercedes has the slight edge over its rival from Bavaria.

It’s brawnier than the X6M, if that’s what you’re looking for. But as far as finesse, the BMW is still a more entertaining vehicle to drive at speed.

Ultimately, while nobody “needs” a two-ton SUV coupe that can challenge some supercars in a straight line. But if you’re shopping in this upper end of the market, which vehicle you choose will likely come down to some minute preferences to bring maximum smiles per kilometre driven.

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[REVIEW] 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel



As far as SUVs are concerned, the Dodge Durango has been one of the O.G.s, as the kids would put it today.

Now in its third generation, the Durango has stuck to its formula of being a mid-sized three-row V6 or V8 SUV since it was introduced by Dodge for the 1998 model year.

Despite being a bit long in the tooth, the Durango still exemplifies the bold muscular styling of the Dodge brand, wrapped in a capable and functional package.

Sharing the same platform as the previous generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango is longer in order to accommodate a reasonable sized third row seat.

What’s new on the outside for 2021?

Although the Durango has been in its current generation for almost a decade, it has received multiple refreshes and upgrades inside and out to help it to remain competitive.

For 2021, Dodge has nipped and tucked the Durango’s look with new LED headlamps, a handsome new upgraded front grille, a revised rear spoiler, and a new front bumper. These small exterior changes have succeeded in keeping the Durango looking surprisingly current, even when compared to the other three-row SUVs on the marketplace.

Dodge has been careful in retaining the machismo / muscle-ute styling in order to help distinguish the vehicle from the “softer” crossovers in the marketplace.

Yet, the Durango further stands out in this comfortable class of vehicles due to its available V8 engine, making it perhaps the best choice in class if you want to pack everyone and everything into a mid-sized SUV while still being able to tow a mid-to-large boat or trailer.

Cargo room is generous sand the Durango tows 1,000-2,000 pounds more than competitors, depending on how you spec it out.

What’s new on the inside?

Inside, the 2021 model year changes are more immediately pronounced with a dashboard that is slightly angled towards the driver for more usability, as well a significant update to the UConnect infotainment system. There new controls include dedicated heated and cooled seat buttons and a more intuitive gear selector.

My top-of-the-range Citadel-spec luxury-orientated Hemi Durango was equipped with this new 10.1-inch infotainment system running the latest version of the Uconnect interface. This system is one of the best, with intuitive menus and a nice mix of hard and soft button controls.

UConnect systems with this larger display also include a long-awaited wireless smartphone charging pad, bringing the Durango up to snuff with its competitors.

Infotainment-tech aside, the Durango is still spacious, quiet and comfortable, impressively blending workhorse utility with a lot of creature comforts.

The interior is well-finished with room for up to seven, and cargo space is generous. Drivers sit high in big, supportive front seats, and the second row can be ordered with individual captain’s chairs or a three-position bench. My test vehicle was equipped with the former.

Either way, outboard passengers have a roomy and comfortable seat, but the bench’s cushion is a bit low, presumably to accommodate the fold and tumble mechanism.

The Durango is wide enough to comfortably fit a third person in the center rearmost bench seat, but the low cushion lacks thigh support. While three adults can fit in the third row, it’s not the place for a long trips and is best suited for smaller adults or children.

The Durango gives you lots of options for carrying people and cargo. Most of the time, you’ll likely have the 50/50-split third-row seatbacks folded flat into the floor. While that gives you a large cargo floor, it gets just a bit narrow near the third-row seat armrests.

If you need to haul lots of people and have all seats in use, there’s still room for a large suitcase and two duffel bags behind the third-row seat when it’s up

How does it drive?

The 2021 Durango’s ride is composed and comfortable despite the large 20-inch wheels on my Citadel model. The overall feeling is one of sophistication and the composure, though not sportiness. The ride is supple enough with some underlying firmness particularly at low speed. Handling is surprisingly responsive for a vehicle this big.

While most buyers will be satisfied with the 295 horsepower 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine, my Citadel Durango was equipped with the 360 horsepower 5.7-litre Hemi V8. Equipped with this engine and all-wheel-drive, the Durango Hemi can tow up to 7,200 pounds. SRT V8 Durangos offer even more, with a whopping 8,700 pound towing capacity.

A slick eight-speed automatic helps make for smooth and prompt power delivery. Acceleration is smooth and effortless with both the engine and transmission well matched together. There is a nice V8 exhaust burble, but the Durango Citadel is clearly tuned for comfort versus sportiness.

The Hemi V8 also includes a cylinder-deactivation system that turns off half of the cylinders when cruising on light throttle. While not new, the system has been refined over the years and is almost seamless with only a small indicator indicating when it is in 4-cylinder mode.

As expected for this class, Dodge fits the Durango Citadel with the latest in active safety systems. These include a superb active cruise control and forward-collision monitoring system. A semi-autonomous steering system is not available, perhaps a sign of the age of the vehicle’s platform.

Final thoughts

The 2021 upgrades to the Durango make a competent SUV even better than before. Luxurious, refined, functional, the Durango Citadel rates near the top of its category and if you need a vehicle that can tow and yet have room and cargo hauling space for up to seven.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Psychologists Should Be Covered Under MSP.



Recently, Premier John Horgan expressed that he would be willing to consider including psychologists under our BC medical services plan coverage. This would mean that those seeking mental health supports would have an easier time accessing those services, regardless of their extended health benefits or ability to pay.

COVID-19 has put British Columbians under enormous stress and now anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are at an all-time high. The Premier’s willingness to consider including psychologists under MSP is an important step towards treating mental health like any other medical issue. Here’s why it matters:

1. It takes a team

Successful medical treatment requires a team of professionals working together including nurses, physicians, pharmacists and specialist healthcare providers. The same is true for successful mental and behavioral health. Now is the time to ensure that British Columbians have all qualified professionals available to be a part of their healthcare team—including psychologists. This will not only improve our overarching standard of health care, but it will improve lives for many individuals as well.

2. Family doctors need support

By integrating psychologists into MSP (or the APP) we can get care for people sooner, treating matters as they arise and not waiting until people are in crisis. Not only is this better for patients but it also benefits family doctors, who are currently bearing the burden of providing the vast majority of mental health and behavioural health services in this province. By being able to refer patients to psychologists, general practitioners will have more hours available, reducing waitlists.

3. Therapy is medicine too

While therapy has long taken a backseat in the medical field it is finally gaining the respect and recognition it deserves. People’s mental health is equally as important as their physical health to their overall well-being. Psychologists are an important part of BC’s mental health care system and the work they do should be covered for those that require their medical expertise in our province. 

4. Not having coverage costs taxpayers money

Investing in people’s mental health before there’s a crisis saves money in the long run. When people have a mental health event, they are more likely to harm themselves or others which puts a much greater strain on our MSP budget than the initial investment would be to protect their mental health. We see this extra money spent on emergency room visits, hospitalizations, prescription medicines and increased sick leave, much of which could be avoided with psychologist coverage.

5. It creates a healthier community

Having access to more psychological services under MSP is a great benefit for everyone living in British Columbia. People who are mentally well have more capacity to contribute to creating safer, happier communities. Increased access to mental health services will result in much-improved quality of life for all British Columbians. 

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[REVIEW] 2020 Cadillac XT5 Sport



When one thinks of Cadillac and SUVs, the company’s first major entry into the SUV market, the Escalade, probably comes to mind.

Introduced for the 1999 model year in response to competition from the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Lexus LX, and Lincoln Navigator, the Escalade has been a resounding success for the Cadillac brand.

Over two decades later, the Escalade is still trucking along. However, no longer is the Escalade the company’s only SUV. Indeed, Cadillac has expanded the range significantly in order to satisfy the different niches that consumers are now demanding.

The Cadillac XT5, a relative newcomer to the brand’s sable of vehicle, is now its best-selling model in the automaker’s portfolio.

What is it?

As the CT6 demonstrates, Cadillac can build some brilliant-driving vehicles. The XT5 is part of parent company GM’s $12 billion dollar plan to revamp the Cadillac brand around the world.

Built on Cadillac’s new flexible architecture for SUVs, which also underpins the XT4 and XT6, the XT5 is designed to compete with the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.

Styling wise, the XT5’s styling is unmistakably Cadillac, unmistakably American luxury. For those of you who know your Cadillac SUVs, the XT5 replaced the quirky-looking SRX in Cadillac’s range from a few years ago.

Originally launched in 2017, the 2020 XT5 has just undergone a refresh gaining a new turbocharged engine, slightly massaged styling, updated trim hierarchy, and new tech features.

Compared to previous model years, the 2020 model receives restyled bumpers, new wheel designs ranging from 18 to 20 inches, standard LED headlights, restyled LED taillights with new graphics, and a newly designed front grille with different mesh textures depending on the trim level.

The new base engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine also found in the XT4. Producing 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, this engine complements the XT5’s naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6. The four cylinder engine is fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharged and a unique three-step sliding camshaft to help the engine optimize performance across the rev band.

My XT5 test vehicle was fitted with the carried-over 3.6 litre 310 horsepower V6 which produces 271 lb-ft of torque. Like the 2.0, this engine also features direct injection, camshaft phasing, cylinder deactivation, and auto start/stop to optimize efficiency.

Additional Creature Comfort, Colours, Tech and Safety features for 2020

With so many options and choices available to consumers when it comes to shopping a midsized luxury SUV, Cadillac hopes that the sum of all its parts ticks the boxes. For 2020, Cadillac has introduced a variety of updates designed to make its best-selling SUV even more appealing.

In addition to the ubiquitous addition of new colour palettes for the cabin, a new centre console design now offers even more storage.

However, the big change for 2020 is the update to the infotainment system. The latest Cadillac User Experience (C.U.E.) interface continues to handle infotainment, with inputs made by Caddy’s next-gen rotary controller. Drivers are now able to use the controller to “jog” for more intuitive inputs.

Connectivity features also include Apple CarPlay 6 and Android Auto 7 capability, Cadillac Connected Apps and Cadillac 4G LTE with an available Wi-Fi hotspot (includes 3GB/three-month data trial).

The updated system and associated user interface is a huge improvement over the old CUE system. A much more intuitive interface combined with snappy performance makes it as good as the best systems out there. One of the biggest improvements for me personally is the ditching of the old capacitive volume touch bar in favour of a trusty and accurate volume knob.

The biggest change in the new instrument cluster, aside for a rearrangement of information, is the way the driver can now cycle through the available drive modes and engage all-wheel drive.

In the past, the All-wheel-drive menu was a bit confusing in that it was separate from the Mode menu. For 2020, it is integrated in with the vehicle’s four available drive modes: Tour (2WD), AWD, Sport (AWD) and Off Road (AWD), coherent with the rest of Cadillac’s line-up of SUVs.

There are also more standard safety features including forward collision alert with low-speed automatic braking, Intellibeam automatic high-beam lighting and pedestrian detection for front and rear.

The 2020 options list also gets fleshed out with newly available night vision, improved versions of the automaker’s HD Rear Vision rearview mirror and HD Surround Vision camera systems and more.


Further tech updates include:
• One-touch phone pairing with Near Field Communication
• The wireless phone charging now supporting up to 15-watts of charging, the addition of USB-C ports
• Enhanced Automatic Parking Assist with Braking
• Rear Pedestrian Alert system

There are plenty of bins for stashing smaller items, and an easy-to-fold rear seat allows the Caddy to easily transform to a cargo king.

How does it drive?

With a heads-up display, clear forward visibility, and excellent side and rearward visibility afforded by the combination of the excellent digital rearview camera and large side mirrors, the XT5 is easy to drive and composed on the road.

My test vehicle was specified out in the Sport trim, equipped with the 3.6L V6 with 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque connected to a 9-speed automatic gearbox. The Sport trim comes standard with the V6 whereas the lower Premium and Premium Luxury trim lines come with the new 2.0-litre turbo four.

In addition to the standard equipment V6 on the new Sport trim, this line also features adaptive dampers and a new Sport All-Wheel-Drive system with a torque-vectoring, twin-clutch rear differential which is said to improve power delivery and stability while cornering.

The up-level V6 delivers power in a linear and smooth manner. However when compared to the available torque at lower revs offered by some of the XT5’s competitors’ turbocharged engines, it can occasionally feel a bit lethargic. In fact, Caddy’s smaller 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder may actually feel more responsive in daily driving, so be sure to test drive both variants before making a purchase.

Despite its similar looks to the SRX, the XT5 rides and handles far better thanks to being 300 lbs lighter and with a two inch longer wheelbase. The continuously variable damping system and strut/multilink suspension help the XT5 to feel relatively light and wieldy.

Can we say that the XT5 is fun to drive? Probably not. The Caddy is not quite in the same realm as the competition from Germany such as the Porsche Macan, BMW X3 M40i or Audi SQ5. But for normal day-to-day use, there is little reason to complain. That’s perhaps as backhanded a compliment as you can give to a crossover.

When confronted with a twisty road, the XT5 can certainly tackle it with confidence. But if it’s hairs on the back of your neck excitement you’re looking for, you may be a little disappointed. For example, the Cadillac’s steering is accurate with sell weighted responses, but I wish that it had a bit more substantial feedback.

Body roll is well-controlled and the vehicle always feels planted and substantial. Long highway stints are easily gobbled up in large chunks thanks to the impressively quiet and well-isolated cabin.

A V Sport version of the XT5 would likely spice things up a little, but with Cadillac’s large number of other models in the works right now, don’t hold your breath.

Final Thoughts

Modest improvements to the already well-packaged Cadillac XT5 make an already good vehicle even better.

While it doesn’t carry a similar degree of prestige and presence as its big brother Escalade, the XT5 should still appeal to a large group of buyers who are looking for American luxury in their crossover recipe.

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