The staff and contributors at Driving.ca drove a lot of fantastic new cars this year, models that we’d heard lots of hype for during 2021 and absolutely adored after a turn behind the wheel in 2022. In fact, we rounded up our favourites in this handy list looking back at the highlights of the past 12 months.
That said, not every car could live up to the hype we’d heard, or the hopes we’d had for it. Along with those aforementioned greats were some cars that unfortunately let us down after we gave them a spin. We run down these sad-sigh-inducers below.
Brian Harper’s Worst Pick: 2022 Honda Passport Trailsport
2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport Photo by Honda
OK, there is nothing inherently bad about the Honda Passport TrailSport. On its own, it’s a decent enough mid-sized family-oriented sport-ute. What burned my biscuits was Honda’s marketing spin on the new trim level, to wit: the TrailSport edition “further highlights the off-road capability, versatility, and durability that has been engineered into the brand’s light trucks for more than two decades.” How? It’s just a cosmetic upgrade!
Orange TrailSport badges on the grille and liftgate “inspired by nature’s beauty and the spirit of exploration,” other badging painted a gloss black, and unique 18-inch wheels. Inside, orange contrast stitching on the steering wheel, door panels, and seats, with the TrailSport logo embroidered on the front-seat headrests and moulded onto the rubber floor mats.
No lifted suspension, skid plates, tougher 4×4 system, or any of the assorted paraphernalia that lets one go bashing about in the boonies, just front and rear track widths increased by 10 millimetres to improve stance and stability. What’s that cowboy expression? Oh yeah, “all hat and no cattle.”
Matthew Guy’s Worst Pick: 2022 GMC Terrain
2022 GMC Terrain AT4 Photo by GMC
It is unusual for a modern vehicle, especially one in the brutally crowded and competitive compact crossover segment, to utterly whiff at bat — especially fresh off a comprehensive redesign. There are plenty of bright spots in the GMC line, ranging from the new Sierra with Super Cruise and a dandy interior; to the upcoming Canyon, in which every trim is equipped with the strongest variant of GM’s 2.7L turbo engine.
But the Terrain, with its sad-sack 1.5L engine making just 175 horsepower, brings a knife to this gunfight. Acceleration is painful, taking forever as if one were trying to drink the Atlantic Ocean through a straw, accompanied by a thrashy engine note which sounds like roofing nails in a Cuisinart blender. With the rest of GMC’s lineup pulling its weight, the Terrain desperately needs a better powertrain.
Renita Naraine’s Worst Pick: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo by Toyota Canada
Look, I understand using old nameplates, whether it’s for nostalgia or sales — but automakers need to back it up with something awesome. What’s more, if you’re going to attach a current nameplate to a new vehicle, it better be well worth it. And if you think I’m talking about the Ford Mustang Mach-e, you’re wrong — that was my disappointing vehicle for 2021.
This year, it’s the Toyota Corolla Cross. I genuinely think there’s no need for it in the lineup, nor did Toyota need to brand it as any type of “Corolla,” but it did, which automatically gives the car large shoes tires to fill. It does not fill them. Furthermore, it doesn’t comfortably fit three car seats in the back seat; it’s giving me nothing new to work with.
Jil McIntosh’s Worst Pick: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
The all-new two-row 2022 Jeep® Grand Cherokee 4xe Photo by Jeep
The Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe has a lot going for it. The interior is extremely comfortable and luxurious, it handles well, and it’s a plug-in hybrid — if you charge it regularly, including from a household socket or home charger, it’s possible you could do some or even most of your driving on electricity alone.
Alas, while it does run smoothly on its battery, its gas-and-electric hybrid system needs some work. The 2.0L four-cylinder turbo engine is harsh and buzzy, and there’s often a rough bump as it automatically starts up when the system switches from battery to gasoline. It uses regenerative braking, and most hybrid automakers have long since figured out the brake-pedal feel with this, but the 4xe’s brakes are stiff and touchy, as other hybrids used to be a very long time ago.
Everything else is great, but the powertrain is simply far too rough and unrefined for the luxury sport-ute segment this vehicle is in. My tester and its options came to almost $90,000, and the driving experience should feel a lot more premium for that.
Stephanie Wallcraft’s Worst Pick: 2022 Mazda MX-30
Mazda MX-30 2022 Photo by Mazda
I so badly wanted to like the Mazda MX-30; generally, Mazdas are among the easiest vehicles to like. But releasing an EV with a sub-200-kilometre range in 2022 was a recipe for disaster from the get-go. Mazda’s logic, mind you, remains perfectly sound: few people commute more than 50 kilometres per day, and some 80 per cent of electric vehicle charging happens at home, so the Mazda MX-30’s 161-kilometre range would work just fine as a second commuter car for many families.
Unfortunately, two things happened. One is the pandemic, which turned the idea of what constitutes a “typical commute” on its head. The other is a universal, aching desire for more mobility and freedom, and a car that doesn’t even let you get far enough for a weekend away without having to find somewhere to charge doesn’t leave much room for its owners to dream. This could have been forgivable for a lower starting price, but when the MX-30 has an MSRP of more than $40,000, not even federal or provincial incentives are enough to make it seem desirable. Here’s hoping Mazda can capitalize on these lessons in its next round of EV development.
David Booth’s Worst Pick: Moto Guzzi and Aprilia
2022 Aprilia Tuono 660 Photo by Aprilia
My most disappointing experience this year — and for the past few — is not actually a car but a motorcycle. And not only a bike, but an entire brand. Anything that falls under the Piaggio umbrella seems simply ignored here in Canada. That includes Moto Guzzi and Aprilia.
Their lack of concern for independent reviews here in the Great White Frozen North is absolutely stunning and, since a motojournalist presumably has some mojo — I hesitate to say “power of the press” — compared with mere owners, I can only imagine that it’s even worse for consumers. Actually, I know it is, since I hear more complaints from Aprilia owners than pretty much any other brand. Great bikes, not such great follow-up.
Brendan McAleer’s Worst Pick: 2023 Honda HR-V
2023 Honda HR-V EX-L Photo by Honda
Understanding why a company makes a particular product isn’t the same as having to like it. Honda’s HR-V makes perfect sense, slotting into the company’s range as a crossover alternative to the perennially-popular Civic. It is, however, a bit of a letdown.
Really, there hasn’t been a Honda truly infused with the spirit of the company since the first-generation Honda Fit. What a clever little car that was, making the most of its teeny-tiny footprint, sipping fuel thanks to a small-displacement engine, yet still being genuinely fun to drive.
The old HR-V was based on a later Fit, and was still a bit clever. This new one is just a jacked-up Civic, but comes fitted with the Civic’s base 158-hp 2.0L engine. It simultaneously gets slightly worse fuel economy than the larger CR-V; and is also less fun to drive than an equally practical Civic hatchback would be.
But it’s a crossover with a Honda badge up front, and that’ll be good enough for some. The HR-V will sell just fine – but Honda could have put in a little more effort to make it special.
Graeme Fletcher’s Worst Pick: 2022 Chevrolet Equinox RS
2022 Chevrolet Equinox RS Photo by Chevrolet
The disappointment of the year was – hands-down, by the way – the Chevrolet Equinox RS. Heading into 2022, it got a stylistic update and the addition of the sportier-looking RS model. The changes brought refreshed bumpers and LED headlights and daytime running lights, along with a new grille. After the drive, there were no complaints with the handling, interior, or utility, as all proved to be just fine.
Unfortunately, however, whenever the engine was cranked to life, it missed the mark by a wide margin. You see, the lone choice is a 1.5-litre turbo-four that twists out 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. These are decent numbers for a small vehicle, but in the 1,600-kilogram Equinox the engine felt overwhelmed — the 8.9 seconds needed to get from rest to 100 kilometres an hour and the 6.8 seconds required for an 80-to-120-km/h passing move says more than words.
It also works with a yester-tech six-speed automatic that uses a shifter-mounted toggle switch for the manual mode. It needs the nine-speed its GMC twin, the Terrain, enjoys. Giving the RS (Rally Sport) designation a stronger engine would really help it to live up to advanced billing. Ironically, that solution was proffered, but sadly that 252-hp 2.0L turbo-four was dropped heading into 2021. Go figure.
See More Articles From This Author