Friday, July 19, 2024

5 new eco-friendly vehicles from AJAC Eco-Run 2023 

Benjamin Yong Darpan, 26 Sep, 2023
  • 5 new eco-friendly vehicles from AJAC Eco-Run 2023 

With the federal government mandating at least 20 percent of manufacturer sales to be zero emissions vehicles by 2026, it's no surprise how quick companies have been to put out a plethora of EVs seemingly overnight. As Canadians begin transitioning from internal combustion power, there will be questions. 

Enter the annual Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) EcoRun, where members are put behind the wheel of the newest battery electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to test them over hundreds of kilometres in different parts of the country. The latest iteration in June took place in BC, and participants relied solely on the same charging infrastructure regular drivers utilize on the route starting in Richmond, snaking through the Okanagan Valley and ending in Kelowna. 

"So why does EcoRun matter? "We've talked about this over the last few days, and now we've seen it. It's the real-world experience, the stuff we can go home and write about and share with consumers to help them make better informed [shopping] decisions. It was also critical that we use nothing but public chargers," says organizer Kyle Patrick at the program wrap-up in mid-June, adding the event shows EV ownership might be a realistic option for many people, whether they live in urban centres or rural areas. 

Out of the 19 models from the 11 brands taking part, here are five favourite (in no particular order) electrified examples currently on the market. 

Mercedes-Benz EQE 

Following the release of the larger EQS sedan and SUV, the luxury German automaker recently introduced a mid-size alternative in the EQE. Close dimension-wise to the CLS, it is sold in 350 and 500 4MATIC variants, which I evaluated. Featuring the signature repeating-star solid black front grille found across the EV lineup, the sleek car has minimal body seams for increased aerodynamics, a big flush-mounted 19-inch AMG Five Twin-Spoke Aero wheels, and a nifty little lip spoiler on the back atop 3-D helix-patterned LED taillights. 

Inside, the 12.8-inch portrait-oriented infotainment display may be upgraded to a 56-inch fully-glass Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) Hyperscreen spanning door-to-door, replacing the traditional instrument cluster and entertainment/vehicle controls. The second-generation voice concierge is smart and can understand conversational speech like, "Is the destination possible," in case drivers get range anxiety. 

The navigation system is equally intelligent, and route planning accounts for current energy reserves, traffic, topography, temperature and even how busy a station is in real time to calculate whether a proposed destination is realistic.

Leather upholstery is standard, and there's a decent amount of storage space — sometimes a rarity in the segment. The powered five-litre glovebox is deep enough to stow a tablet, amongst other items, and the centre console includes a sliding lid to keep small valuables out of sight.

Dual electric motors and a high-capacity 90.6-kilowatt-hour battery yield 402 horsepower, 633 lb-ft of torque and an advertised driving range of approximately 418 kilometres.

The real-world number is often less, especially when all the gadgets are on, and a heavy foot is favoured. Plugged into a 170-kilowatt-capable DC fast charger, going from 10 to 80 percent takes 32 minutes or 9.5 hours via a Level 2 source. 

Built on the EVA2 platform, as is the EQS, handling is sharp despite weighing 2,475 kilograms. Bundling rear-axle steering (+ $1,300) permits the rear wheels to move up to 4.5 degrees opposite the front, so the turning circle is tight, meaning parking and maneuvering in the city is no problem. 


MSRP: $95,000 (base)

Motor: twin electric motors (260-kilowatt combined output)

Horsepower: 402 (net)   

Torque (lb-ft): 633 (net)   

Gearbox: single-speed automatic   

Layout: All-wheel drive   

Fuel economy (highway): 1.8 Le/100 km (observed)


2023 Toyota GR Corolla A new hot hatch is born

2023 Toyota GR Corolla A new hot hatch is born

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2023 Lexus IS 500 Return of the V8

2023 Lexus IS 500 Return of the V8

No longer called IS F, the 500 is the first product to fall under the new F SPORT Performance line. The 5.0-litre engine is essentially an updated version of the unit last offered seven years ago, now sending 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque to the rear axle, representing a massive improvement over the previous 416 and 371, respectively.

2023 Porsche 718 Cayman 4.0, Saving the best for last

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As Porsche already stated last year the 718 is heading for electrification in the near future, enthusiasts should seize the opportunity to enjoy the model’s internal combustion offerings before they ride off into the sunset. And it doesn’t get much better than the Cayman GTS 4.0.


2022 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 Coupe

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A MANUFAKTUR (Mercedes’ in-house customizer) black Dinamica recycled polyester microfibre headliner adds to the sporty-meets-luxury feel of the cabin. The seats are supportive and comfortable, however for a vehicle measuring a rather long 5,012 millimetres in length only 889 millimetres of rear legroom exists. 

2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Age of the streamliner

2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Age of the streamliner

Speaking of design, sustainability plays a big part. The seats are constructed out of plant-based leather and recycled PET fabric, carpets out of recycled fishing nets and the door panels are coated in bio-paint featuring rape flower and corn extracts.

2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring, Sixth-Gen crossover gets partially electrified

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For the first time in Canada, Honda is offering the CR-V in hybrid form. And the all-new Compact Recreational Vehicle is showcasing a huge design change as well, doing away with the rounded shape consumers have grown accustomed to and now mimicking the Passport’s tougher upright profile and squared off features.