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Expert advice | The automobile in question: completely yours



Q. My question may be innocuous, but I’d rather ask your column than a salesperson at a dealership. I want to buy a vehicle with all-wheel drive, like a Subaru. I see acronyms on different models like AWD, TI, 4WD… is it the same type of traction? Are there differences between different car manufacturers?

—Carole D.

R. Your question is quite relevant. Not all of these systems are created equal. The performance of each still varies greatly from one manufacturer to another. This is largely due to the quality and quantity of processors and calculators used. Some react faster and analyze several factors at once.

There are several systems on the market, the most common of which is the temporary one. As the name suggests, it drives all four wheels only when the need arises. On traction, for example, part of the torque is sent to the rear axle only if the front wheels lack grip.

On the contrary, the constant-mesh device, called all-wheel drive, drives all four wheels at all times and, in doing so, generally results in higher fuel consumption. Finally, there is a third device, the one found mainly on 4x4s, the real ones. More rustic, this one is generally devoid of a central differential and requires the intervention of the driver to route some of the power to the wheels which are not normally driven.

A few years ago, the debate between the constant-mesh cog and the temporary-mesh cog was cut short. The first was, by far, considered the most efficient. However, the device with temporary hold has progressed a lot in recent times. The reaction time of the sensors responsible for redistributing the torque and the addition (or improvement) of complementary electronic crutches, such as the torque vector, have made it possible to reduce, or even eliminate, the gap between these two systems.



Hyundai Kona

Q. I have been living in the Eastern Townships since the fall, and I currently have a 2016 Honda Fit which, unfortunately, has a lot of difficulty in the mountains; a few times I had difficulty climbing the hill to our driveway. I’m looking for a small hatchback or a very small four-wheel drive SUV. My current choice would be a Kona four-wheel drive or an Impreza (2022). What would be my best buy and do you have any other suggestions? I want a small size, that’s what I’ve always driven.

— Louise R.

R. Both of your choices make sense, but if you’re looking for superior traction, Subaru’s device emerges as your best bet.


Q. My 36 month lease on a 2019 Mazda CX-9 is coming to an end soon. I’m satisfied with the car (despite the rear brake discs which wear out a little too quickly) and, importantly for me, I like the way it drives. So I plan to buy it ($23,600 plus taxes and “transaction fees” of which I don’t know the amount). Do you think this is my best option, especially given that (from what I’m reading lately) the market value of the vehicle is likely to be much higher than the buyback price? Also, is it true that I could then obtain reimbursement of the $960 that I allowed myself to be persuaded to pay for a “Mazda cosmetic protection” contract which I admit I do not understand much and which will ultimately not used?

—Serge T.


Mazda CX-9

R. Indeed, the market value is currently higher. However, you do not specify the mileage of your vehicle or the version. But the amount requested for its purchase (even including taxes) appears to be lower than market offers. As for your aesthetic protection contract, it is refundable only if it is specified in the initial contract. Otherwise, you will not be able to claim this amount. Now should you buy it? Yes, but should you keep it? Only if this vehicle still meets your needs. Otherwise, resell it and you will experience as much, if not more, pleasure driving a CX-5, or even the future CX-50.


Q. After a New Beetle and a Mini Cooper, you suggested the Golf 2.5 L to me in 2010 and I still love it! It will be time to change it for a car that I will keep just as long and with a gasoline engine, please. A durable and comfortable hybrid would seem to me a good choice in the long term, but I am totally out of phase… and the offer seems very standardized to me… The Honda Civic interests me, but I kept the impression of being seated to the floor on an older model; however, I have confidence in Honda. I like Nissan less, however… I would like to know your choices, please!

— Sylvia B.


Honda Civic 2022

R. The Civic received a complete overhaul last year and is still one of the best choices in its class. Only a test on your part will make it possible to have the heart net as for the driving position, but this one should please you. You should also take a look at the Corolla hybrid, a comfortable, reliable and economical sedan.

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