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As much a commuting conveyance as it is a smile generator.

IMG_2985-2When people think of cars that cause a smile to spread across one’s face, it’s usually an image of something sporty. Something that looks the business and has the power and performance swagger to match; maybe it’s even a convertible, or maybe something with a ridiculous amount of horsepower. Either way I’m sure the Mazda2 isn’t high on most lists, nor does it conjure up tasty images of storming a coastal highway or clipping apexes, yet it must be mentioned in the company of cars that produce the widest grins – but for much different reasons.

With each passing year, cars get bigger and more complex (read: fatter.) The Mazda2 is lean and mean, clocking in at a feathery 1,051kg. There are championship Holsteins that weigh more, but they aren’t nearly as fun to drive. The M2 is a car you can drive safely all the way up to 10/10ths while negotiating your way around the city. It is a car that rewards carefully executed inputs and those that can keep the momentum they generate at a boil. So it’s the automotive equivalent of a fly; small, darty and responsive.

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Tesla Model S Performance front 3/4 view

The 2014 Tesla Model S (photos by Dan Heyman)

Tesla Model S Performance grille badgeToronto, ON – The Tesla Model S may be the second model released by North America’s most talked about car brand, but there’s a reason it’s the car that is really putting Tesla on the map.

Tesla’s first car, the Roadster, was a big surprise when it arrived in 2008. It represented a turn to all-electric motoring, which was little more than a future parable at the time. Heck, even hybrids hadn’t really made it to the mainstream yet.

Having said that, its Lotus Elise-based underpinnings—and its price—meant it would always be for enthusiasts only.

The Model S, on the other hand, has seating for five (even seven, if you wish), a fully-fettled infotainment system, a luxury sedan-like ride and a sub-70 grand starting MSRP.

In short, it’s viable as a daily driver.

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It just might be the best car going.

IMG_2949When you decide to look for a new car chances are that like the majority of folks, styling, efficiency, driving enjoyment and practicality are all on your list. The idea is to hit as many of those targets as possible while (hopefully) staying within your budget. Everyone knows that meeting these criteria is a delicate balance of compromise, because there isn’t a car that delivers- nay, excels- in all those areas.

Or is there?

In a world full of clogged roads, mind numbing schleps to and fro and running all manner of commutes, the Golf Wagon TDI just may be the perfect car. What makes it so good?

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2014 Scion xD

The Scion brand is targeted at people looking for a car brand that identifies with their personality. And more often than not it’s a cool and hip personality. Scion vehicles come with funky designs and funkier names, which suit their buyers just fine.

Introduced in 2008, the Scion xD is one of two entry level cars in the Scion lineup. It is just a touch pricier than the city slicker, iQ. But the lineup is already affordable and it’s backed by the reliability of Toyota.

The xD is a mixed bag in terms of competitors. The Kia Soul, Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Sonic could all be on the same shopping list.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 front 3/4 view

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (photos by Dan Heyman)

I hear you asking already: “how much can you actually say about a van?” It’s a fair question, but as it turns out, more than you may think.

For this is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and it’s the harbinger of a paradigm shift in the van world as a whole. In fact, both Ram and Ford are coming to market with similar takes on what vans are today, and that’s a far cry from the boxy, inefficient Econolines and Chevy Express vans we’ve seen here for years.

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MustangSummer is coming and it will be the perfect weather to go for a ride with the cockpit open to the elements.  Here are Carpages.ca’s top picks for topless cruising this summer.

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2014 Nissan Altima 3.5

The 2014 Nissan Altima 3.5 finds itself in a segment that has some tough competitors. The Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Chevy Impala are all attractive options.

But the 2014 Nissan Altima 3.5 has carved out a nice spot for itself where function and form intersect.

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No more flower vase jokes…this is a genuine ‘Bahn-Bred-Bug.

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Considering the Volkswagen Beetle’s impressive resume, it doesn’t get the respect it probably should. The first generation was produced from 1938 to 2003 and during that time over twenty one million were sold, cementing the Beetle’s place in history as one of the most important cars of all time. Movies like Herbie the Lovebug and nicknames like “punch buggy” certainly didn’t help things move towards respectability, however.

Adding a flower vase as standard equipment to the second-gen car was meant to brighten up the interior but instead gave fodder to those who might send a discouraging word the Beetle’s way. Lets get one thing straight folks; the Beetle has always been a (mostly, save for the air cooled stuff) reliable, uniquely styled mode of transportation. The modern versions are underpinned by the Golf/Jetta platform, so we know them to be of sound engineering. Except for the Beetle RSi (a V6 powered, four-wheel drive racer special) back in 2001, there really hasn’t been a Beetle to light the fires of enthusiasts to speak of.

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2014 Kia Forte5 SX twins

The 2014 Kia Forte5 SX (photos by Dan Heyman)

Huntington Beach, CA – The Honda Civic Si is target #1 for the 2014 Kia Forte Koup, and while that may seem like a big hill to climb some key factors play into Kia’s favour.

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2014 Dodge Grand Caravan Blacktop

It takes a special kind of man to happily give up his two-door coupe and swap it for a minivan. While Dodge has always done their best to make the transition an easy one with features like seats that fold flat into the floor and the like. It’s still tough to trade a toy car for a car full of toys. And diapers. And last month’s juice box.

With that in mind, Dodge introduced the Blacktop line of vehicles and in 2013 the Dodge Grand Caravan got the treatment.

The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT model can add the Blacktop package for $1,395 and with it help dads feel a little bit manlier behind the wheel of a soccer mom mobile.

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How to Get Your G2 License

April 2, 2014 Automotive News

You’ve gotten your G1 license and spent the past 12 months getting your driving skills to the point where you’re ready to take the test and pass. As in our earlier post on preparing for your G1, the test to move to your G2 is a basic road test on turning and parking skills. The [...]

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2014 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T Highline and GLI Review

April 1, 2014 Car Reviews & Road Tests

A tale of two Jettas. Here we have two extremes of Jetta; on one end, you have the basic, entry-level model- on the other, the full on spicy GLI. Which one is right for you? That depends on what your priorities are. If you look at every on ramp as a perfect opportunity to test [...]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG S-Model 4MATIC Review

March 31, 2014 Car Reviews & Road Tests

Saying its name takes a lot longer than getting it to 60 mph. The CLS-Class is arguably the pioneer of the new four-door sports coupe segment that seems to be growing by the year. Mercedes started it, and now Porsche, BMW, Audi and to a lesser degree, VW, have all jumped into the fray. Why [...]

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Four crazy options that have been offered on cars

March 26, 2014 Top 10 / 5

If you think back up cameras and satellite radio are pretty intense option decisions then check out a few options that have been available on cars throughout the years.

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2014 Volkswagen Jetta Turbocharged Hybrid Review

March 26, 2014 Car Reviews & Road Tests

It must be sexy to have a hybrid in the lineup because everyone seems to be doing it. Volkswagen already has lots of fuel efficient vehicles. Thanks to the diesel models already in their lineup. However, they introduced the Jetta Turbocharged Hybrid in 2013

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2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review

March 25, 2014 Car Reviews & Road Tests

From Also-Ran to Best-in-Class. It’s just a guess, but I figure you can find literally millions of reviews on Hyundai products that read something like this: “…was chock full of quality and features with a price geared to put as many butts behind the wheel as possible. Pretty remarkable from the car company that brought [...]

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