Like many, for years our garage was a storage space for everything except our car. Bikes, lawn mowers, winter tires and other items took up the space a vehicle would have used. Then, the time came to clear it out. Not to make room for the car right away, but for a licensed electrician to estimate how much it would cost to install a Level 2 (L2) charger for our 2012 Nissan Leaf.

I was tempted to simply use a regular 120-volt socket and the cord that came with the vehicle, known as Level 1 (L1), but this trickle charge would have taken half a day (longer in winter) to fully charge the battery. It would be like filling your water balloon with an eye dropper. I also learned trickle-charging in winter could not provide enough juice to warm the vehicle faster than its heater used those precious electrons, costing me valuable driving range.

Most EV owners will opt for a 240-volt, L2 charging station for their garage or driveway, which in general upgrades the whole EV experience. The main benefit is that an L2 charger works two to four times as quickly as L1 charging – the recharge speed varies by EV and charger – and up to 10 times as quick for some Tesla models. Most units typically cost between $400 and $1,300, which some provinces will partially rebate (not Ontario). Some manufacturers will even throw in a L2 charger with the purchase of their EVs, as Mini is currently doing with its Mini Cooper SE.

It is the installation cost where the price will vary most. The more distance between your electrical panel and the vehicle, the more it usually costs. As does whether you hide the wiring inside your walls or need to dig a trench to power an outside unit. Both General Motors and Audi have recently offered programs that cover “standard EVSE installation” up to $1,500.

Was an L2 unit worth it? For us, yes, and likely most owners. Just remember to keep the vehicle plugged in when not in use and that it is set to the recommended max charge. As they say in EV circles, remember to ABC: always be charging.

Michael Bettencourt bought his first EV in late 2011 and has followed the Canadian EV scene ever since. Follow him on Twitter @MCBet10court

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More and more automakers are committing to electrifying their lineups over the next few years, meaning your future vehicle may very well be electric. While the range of these vehicles are increasing thanks to new technology, many drivers still wonder about how they can charge their vehicles while on the road.

“Among those who own an EV in Canada, about 80 per cent charge up at home, and we’ve seen that number is even higher during the pandemic,” said Cara Clairman, president and CEO of Plug’n’Drive, a Toronto-based non-profit organization devoted to educating the public on EVs.

“Another 10 per cent or so charge up at work, and the rest would be public charging stations.

“Thanks to better batteries and broader charging infrastructure, ‘range anxiety’ is becoming a thing of the past,” said Clairman, who adds she has a farm about 100 kilometres away from her GTA home and doesn’t “even think about range anymore.”

Canada has nearly 6,000 public charging stations, she said, many of which are DC Quick chargers – known as Level 3 – that can fully recharge your EV’s battery from empty to full in 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the model.

But how do you find them? Whether it’s in your city (while, say, commuting or shopping) or on a longer road trip, the following apps can help you locate a charging station.


PlugShare is a website and app (for both iOS and Android), and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you can see and access the information on your vehicle’s dashboard screen. PlugShare lets you browse nearby and bookmarked charging locations and find stations along a route (with its built-in road trip planner). You can also search by amenities and charging network, and see station ratings, real-time availability, photos and descriptions. At some locations, you can also pay for charging using the app.

A Better Router Planner

Another recommended platform, A Better Route Planner (ABRP) is a website — along with an iOS and Android app — that has you first create an account, select your vehicle, and then enter your destination details, such as driving from Toronto to Phoenix, Ariz. ABRP will then produce a trip itinerary, complete with suggestions on where and when to stop. You can also use it to search for stations, view maps and directions, read reviews and more.

While the basic functions are free, a premium account ($6.49 per month or $66.99 per year) offers additional features: support for multiple vehicles, the ability to share your routes and see past trips, live weather forecasts, traffic data, real-time charger availability and information on when they are busiest so you can avoid those peak periods.

“Both PlugShare and ABRP are good sites as they tend to have a place for feedback and ratings of the chargers by users and the public,” said Mark Marmer, owner and founder of Signature Electric Contracting & Energy Advisors in Markham. “This often gives you a pretty good idea if a charger has a history of being offline and unreliable.

“Not surprisingly reliability is critical to drivers,” Marmer said.


Another free app and website worth noting, ChargeHub (for iOS and Android) lists all the charging stations in Canada and the U.S., with advanced search features, filter options and customizable notifications, such as being alerted when a new public charging station opens in your area. For some networks, you can even get colour-coded, real-time availability data from EV charge stations.

If you’re going on a road trip, ChargeHub can find the charging stations along your route, along with turn-by-turn directions via Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze. If you opt in, you can also connect with other EV drivers through an in-app messaging system so you can ask questions about a particular charging station.

Charge Hub

Other sources

Along with these apps, there are other ways owners can find a place to juice up their vehicles. All automotive brands have downloadable apps for their EV drivers, including BMW, General Motors, Audi, Hyundai, Nissan, Ford and Volvo. Some vehicles, like Tesla models, have charging station maps embedded in their dashboard screens. Simply tap the desired supercharging station name on the display to receive turn-by-turn directions. The information is updated frequently.

Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation partnered with Ivy Charging Network to become Ontario’s largest electric vehicle fast-charger network. In a joint agreement that also includes Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation and retailer Canadian Tire, DC fast chargers are rolling out across ONroute locations on Ontario’s 400-series highways, with a couple of dozen expected by summer 2022.

Individual charging station networks, such as ChargePoint, usually have their own apps that show all the company’s locations on a map, with real-time availability updates. Additionally, there is often the added ability to pay for charging though the app.

GM goes 360

First announced last April as part of its “zero-emissions future” mandate, General Motors has now launched its Ultium Charge 360, which integrates various charging networks, GM mobile apps (like MyChevrolet, MyCadillac, MyGMC or MyBuick) and electric utilities and government agencies to simplify how and where GM owners can charge their EVs. The app can also be used to check EV charge status and level details, and access helpful videos about EV charging.

“What we’ve built is a comprehensive yet easy way to get to more plugs across Canada and the U.S.,” said Michael MacPhee, brand director for Chevrolet Canada. “We also have 450 dealers across Canada and they’re going to help to build out that public charging infrastructure, as well, and not just in major metro market areas where EVs are big.

“We need to make sure charges are in the right places for everyone, at service stations, at your hockey arenas, in your community,” MacPhee said.

Charge 360

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Bronco Raptor

Ford launched the Bronco Raptor this morning, giving the SUV seriously upgraded off-road capabilities. Starting with a new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 making 400 hp, Bronco Raptor has 37-inch tall tires and is almost 250 mm wider than the standard version. A strengthened body and chassis support the new Fox adaptive shocks and long-travel suspension. Even the tie rods are tougher on this one. Drive modes include a tow/haul mode that lets it tow 4,500 lbs, and there’s a Baja mode that has anti-lag for the turbochargers. Body changes are equally chunky to hold the wider tires and wheels (and stronger axles), with special Ford Performance orange trim inside to help make it special. Order books open in March.

Coquhihalla opens

More than two months after closures caused by extreme flooding, BC’s Coquihalla Highway has reopened. Devastating storms destroyed seven bridges and more than 20 roadway sites on Highway 5 (the Coquihalla) as well as closing all other major routes leading through the province. The highway reopened to commercial traffic, with restrictions, last month, but is now open to all with temporary repairs. DriveBC warns that a trip from Hope to Merritt will take 45 minutes longer than normal and that there are travel pattern changes and reduced speed limits.

New Sequoia

Two big SUVs were teased last week, one from Toyota and one from Cadillac. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia is a long-awaited replacement for the brand’s three-row Tundra-based SUV, largely the same vehicle that debuted back in 2007. With an all-new Tundra pickup on sale, there will be an all-new Sequoia coming to match. Expect the Tundra’s new 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 with hybrid option as well as extensive cabin and chassis upgrades.

Toyota Sequoia

Escalade goes V

Cadillac’s tease was the 2023 Escalade V-Series. It’s the first time Cadillac has applied its performance badge to the big SUV, which is, frankly, a surprise. Cadillac didn’t give us much information about the new SUV, saying we’ll have to wait for the spring. Cadillac did let us hear the sounds of a very powerful engine under the hood, one that bears a striking audio resemblance to the 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that makes 668 hp under the hood of the CT5-V Blackwing.

2023 Cadillac Escalade

Hydrogen charging stations

General Motors is looking at combining its hydrogen fuel cell tech with EVs, but not in the way you might think. This isn’t an in-car solution, instead, GM has built a prototype that would allow a remotely located Mobile Power Generator to use hydrogen to generate electricity and provide fast charging to EVs without bringing in heavy electrical infrastructure. It could allow existing fuel stations to add L3 600 kW charging without new power lines, but also put charging stations in remote areas. It could also replace gas and diesel generators in temporary settings where those are used.

GM Charging Stations

BMW iX range

BMW has reported official range figures for its iX and i4 EVs, coming in much higher than the company’s own internal estimates. The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50, with 516 hp and 20-inch wheels has an official figure of 521 km, up 46 from BMW’s estimates. It puts it just shy of a Tesla Model X Performance’s 549 km. Get 21-inch wheels and expect 491 km while 22s should give you 507. The xDrive40 and M60 do not yet have official figures. The i4 M50 offers 435 km with 19-inch wheels, while the 355 hp eDrive40 offers 484 km. The two EVs should hit showrooms next month.

New testing for driver assistance systems

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a U.S. group best known for its crash testing and safety awards, is launching a new set of ratings to evaluate what it calls partial automation systems. This means advanced driver aids, hands-on (like Tesla’s FSD) as well as hands-off (like GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s Blue Cruise). Deliberate misuse of the systems, IIHS says, like drivers watching movies and playing games behind the wheel, has spurred the new test. Criteria include handling of lane changes, and emergency operation, as well as the ability to monitor the driver. It expects the first scores from

GM Blue Cruise

Ford will begin offering its new BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system to customers later this year after 500,000 miles of development testing and fine-tuning the technology on a journey across the United States and Canada. Mustang Mach-E pictured.

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Every week, selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.

For years, there have been arguments about the choice of luxury-branded automakers choosing to offer vehicles with approachable price tags. Some say it cheapens the overall brand, while others point to these ‘gateway’ models representing a steppingstone to something more aspirational. After all, the thinking goes, hook ‘em early and you’ve got a customer for life. The extra profits and sales volume these less-expensive models bring to the corporate bottom line are also welcome, it should be noted, and potentially provide the cash needed to continue producing so-called ‘halo cars’ which are desirable but tend to sell at a glacial pace.

Notice your author used the term ‘less expensive’ and not ‘cheap’. This is thanks to the (recent, if not historical) tendency of manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to craft even their entry-level machines with similar zeal as their more expensive brothers. While the GLC isn’t the lowest cost Benz in their lineup of crossovers – the GLA and GLB are $8,000 and $4,000 less, respectively – it does represent a very popular size class, one which can fit the whole family without too much folding and bending.

A price of $50,900 grants entry to the GLC 300 4MATIC, providing a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four making 255 horsepower and clocking a run to highway speeds in about six seconds. All-wheel drive is part of the deal, so make sure to factor that consideration when cross-shopping some of its competitors which make do with front-wheel drive as their base offer. The quad-bar grille and jumbo Mercedes badge give the GLC an upscale schnoz very similar to far more expensive models in the stable, though and colour other than white or black is an extra-cost item. If you want the dot-matrix AMG grille and front bumper, that’ll be a further $1,800.

Moving inside, eager beavers will note the Mercedes configurator offers up six different upholstery colours at no charge. However, the eye-catching Cranberry Red and Saddle Brown require the selection of certain option packages, meaning they do actually cost extra. Heated seats are standard (ventilated chairs are $1,300) as are heated mirrors and dual-zone climate control. That’s a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, smaller than some other offerings, but Mercedes does include a USB-C port for every passenger so there shall be no complaining about not having anywhere to charge a device on road trips. The rear seat has convenient buttons in the cargo area for power-folding duties.

What We’d Choose

Spending just $250 on open-pore interior wood trim is recommended to ward off a lifetime of fingerprints which will surely accumulate on the standard-kit piano black trim. A heated steering wheel should be standard at this price but isn’t; at least it’s available as a stand-alone $250 option with no other additions required. Also, it is infuriating that Mercedes charges an extra $475 for satellite radio capability but it’s worth the cash compared to enduring the incessant natter of irritating DJs on terrestrial radio.

We’d leave the $4,300 Premium Package on the factory floor, since it represents a pricey way to simply get a bigger infotainment screen with smartphone integration and a panoramic sunroof. Binning this package also means the rear hatchback is manually-operated but we’ll consider reaching for that panel after removing our groceries as our daily workout.

2022 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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The call at home would have been considered an unusual one if you didn’t know the guy as well as the person who answered the phone did.

“Dave? I’ve got a deal from a guy in Maine,” the familiar voice on the other end said.

“It’s a custom Volvo 960 station wagon, OK? But it’s different. He’s going to take a small-block Ford V-8 racing engine, strip out the transmission and suspension, then supercharge it. My guy’s gonna make it for me. Would you like one?”

David Letterman was stunned.

“Well yeah, Paul,” Letterman told the caller. “Wouldn’t we all?”

So, Letterman, one of America’s most famous talk-show personalities and a car nut, told Paul Newman, one of America’s most famous actors and a car nut, to go for it.

Supercharge the Volvo. Swedish safety be damned! Go nuts!

“So, Paul eventually brings the car over, drops the car off and this is the kind of car that people would stare at at streetlights,” Letterman told his TV audience after Newman’s death in 2008. “It was like an atomic furnace under the hood. I used to love driving it. It would go 170 miles per hour (270 km/h) and underneath the exhaust system would glow bright orange.”

Then one day Letterman was in the Volvo on a New York Interstate with his girlfriend when she asked: “What’s that smell?”

Letterman turned to her and said, “Raw power and speed, baby.”

Wrong. The Volvo was on fire.

“We had to pull over, the car was shooting flames everywhere. It couldn’t handle the power,” Letterman said. “I call Paul and say ‘ . . . Everything is on fire.’ But, wow, what a car. Paul Newman and I were the only ones with this car.”

Unique and Newman usually ended up in the same sentence.

He’s remembered as an actor, a colleague, a friend, and most importantly, perhaps, a towering philanthropist. But leave it to Letterman to pay the most respect to the car legend.

“A guy who knew how to live life.”

In a 1991 interview with the New York Daily News, Newman said: “I had no natural gift to be anything, not an athlete, not an actor, not a writer, not a director, a painter of garden porches, not anything. So, I’ve worked really hard, because nothing ever came easily to me.”

Newman, however, was the real thing.

He died on Sept. 26, 2008, at age 83 in his Connecticut home, fittingly close to Lime Rock Raceway.

His career in acting could fill one end of the internet to the other; more than 100 movies, TV shows and stage plays. But what most people wouldn’t know is that he lived cars. He breathed cars. He could have only done cars and would have been happy.

He was a world-class race-car driver as well as one of the most successful team owners in the sport’s history. Historians said that had he never acted, his racing career alone would have garnered him great fame and fortune.

Those who knew him remember that he was always easy to spot in the garage. Shorter than expected. Movie star thin. Blue eyes searing the darkness of the garage. And always accessible.

Newman began racing after starring in “Winning,” a 1969 movie about Indy-style oval-track, open-wheel competition. He loved the taste of a racecourse and the smell of ethanol. He took to road racing on long tracks where he could use his skill on left and right turns.


He began racing professionally in 1972 at age 47 and would continue for another 30 years, first with Datsun (later Nissan), and was a regular in Victory Lane. Newman as a racer was affiliated with Bob Sharp Racing (Datsun and Nissan) and Dick Barbour Racing (Porsche). He finished second in 1979 at the 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race in France, in a Porsche. He won his class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona, Fla., endurance race, at age 70. He was the oldest driver to win a major professional racing event.

But most of Newman’s success came as a co-owner with Carl Haas, a sports-car driver, team owner and Lola racecar and parts importer. In 1983, they formed Newman-Haas Racing on the open-wheel circuits and enjoyed enormous success in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) open-wheel series.

Newman and Haas signed two ex-Formula One World Champions — Nigel Mansell and Mario Andretti — and compiled 107 Indy car race wins.

Newman was also a partner in the Formula Atlantic Championship team Newman Wachs Racing and owned a NASCAR Winston Cup (now called the NASCAR Cup Series) car before selling it to Penske Racing.

His movie bosses were never happy with his racing so he would enter events with a pseudonym or as PL Newman. But he was always afforded privacy and respect at the racetrack, usually walking or riding a mini motorcycle alone with no security.

Personally, I will never forget the day some years ago when I met him in Cleveland, Ohio, 24 hours before a race.

I was walking through the pit area, a young reporter in search of a story, and there he was.

In the moment, I asked for an interview.

“Sure, kid,” he said. “I’ve got two minutes, but you probably have 20 questions. Give me your best question and I’ll answer it.”

What’s your greatest moment in racing, I asked?

“Tomorrow,” he said. “And, if not then, next week.”

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At this time of year – sometimes earlier, often later – we go to Naples, Fla. for a week or 10 days of sunshine and warmth. Nothing beats walking in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico, out on the 134-year-old Naples Pier and through the streets of the old southeast city that’s primarily famous for golf, tennis and swamp buggy races.

Many well-known athletes and artists live in Naples. Singer Donna Summer died at her home there a few years ago. Members of the band Sly and the Family Stone live just up the line, in Ft. Myers.

The last time we were in Naples, we walked to a part of town that was new to us. It was near the harbour and there was a small mall there with all the stores pretty much selling the same stuff: men’s and women’s summer shirts and shorts, black-and-white photos of “old” Naples, and the like. There was one small restaurant, specializing in – surprise! – seafood. It’s name: Schitt’s Creek (now closed).

But that was then and this is now. We crossed back into Canada in March 2020, about a minute before they closed the border. We’ve been wearing masks and getting vaccinated ever since, it seems. Our mid-winter-vacations now consist of staying home, reading books and newspapers, debating the topics of the day and watching TV news, movies and documentaries.

One night, I was watching a panel discussion on TV in which the topic was plant-based “meat” and “chicken.” I like drumsticks and I like steak. I am not a fan of cardboard, which is what a lot of this “food” tastes like. One of the panelists noted that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore had gone vegan, was an investor in a meatless breakfast-patty company, and had said recently that eating vegan burgers can help to reverse climate change. I heard this and I thought to myself:

“Why do some people just want to take the fun out of living for everybody else?”

This reminds me of Leonardo DiCaprio and when he won an Oscar. It was 2016 and when he went up to give his acceptance speech, we got a lecture about climate change. The fact that many of his personal cars are not electric (OK, they’re hybrids) and that he flits around the Mediterranean in a yacht that burns diesel fuel doesn’t seem to matter – although I’m sure he buys lots of carbon credits to salve his conscience.

But his passion had a great effect on a young editor at the Star, whose every second word then became “transit.” We’d go into a story meeting and one suggestion would be to find out how much money it was going to cost to repair the Gardiner and you’d hear her muttering, “transit,” or “people should be riding transit,” or “people should start taking transit.” And then she would leave work and get into her Chrysler Crossfire and drive home on the Gardiner.

When I heard her going on and on about all this, you know what I started thinking, don’t you?

“Why do some people just want to take the fun out of living for everybody else?”

There is nothing wrong with transit; I use it myself. But when you’re packed in like cattle, as I was on a Mississauga bus just last week, and it’s winter and the snow on your coat melts and you’re damp and the guy next to you is breathing directly into your face and you know you’re going to catch a cold, you start thinking to yourself that there are probably more pleasant ways to get to work – like in a car that’s toasty warm. Which brings me to this.

I’m not happy with the prime minister these days. Most of the provincial premiers aren’t near the top of my hit parade either. Not because of COVID-19 – nobody in the world knows how to get a handle on that – but the procrastinating that’s going on so far as electric vehicles are concerned.

In April of 2021 – a little less than a year ago now – Trudeau committed Canada to reducing emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Two provinces, Quebec and B.C., signed on immediately while the remainder were, and remain, lukewarm.

Since then, I have not seen much happening. Yes, we have electric cars coming out of our ears. Auto manufacturers are churning them out, automotive writers review them with regularity; newspaper and TV commercials promote them. But, as you may have noticed, not that many of them are being sold. Why? Because most people aren’t stupid.

Until the feds and the provinces stop talking and start doing things like installing charging stations in large numbers at service stations or on city streets, nothing is ever going to happen. Right now, I can pull into a filling station and be gassed up and on my way within five minutes. Until that happens with electricity, Trudeau and the rest can forget about it.

Of course, maybe it’s just been a case of some people trying to take the fun out of living for everybody else. And where have we heard that before?

Norris McDonald, a past Wheels editor in chief, covers the Canadian automotive and global racing scene for the Star. He is a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. or follow him on Twitter @NorrisMcDonald2.

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Five years after leaving a broadcasting career stretching almost three decades, Barry Davis has re-invented himself as a car salesman and is fronting several tribute bands.

It’s been an interesting transition for Davis, who worked for more than 14 years for Rogers Sportsnet as part of its coverage of the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the in-game reporter and became known for his player interviews, including one instance when he did so while wearing goggles during the team’s wild champagne celebrations after clinching a wild card berth in 2016. He and the company parted ways in 2017 and he’s been selling cars since January of last year.

A colleague at the dealership suggested he set up his desk with photos to reveal a little about himself to customers. Davis then put up a digital display with many images from his Blue Jays broadcast days and it has resonated with potential clients.

“It is pretty cool because it gives us a bit of a talking point, especially if it’s a sports fan,” Davis said. “It’s a nice ice-breaker with customers, at least the ones who are sports fans. I’d like to think the cars and the job that I do as a salesperson are what close the deals.”

Davis began doing sports and music podcasts but struggled financially to make it work. In November 2019 he took a warehouse job at Bass Pro. However, he was laid off two weeks before Christmas in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Davis then thought about working in the automotive industry, which was allowed to stay open by the province. He contacted Toronto Raptors’ superfan Nav Bhatia – whom he knew from having worked on Rogers’ basketball broadcasts – asking him for some advice about working as a car salesperson.

Bhatia, who owns three dealerships, offered Davis a job. Davis got his Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council licence and began working for commission as a sales and leasing consultant at Rexdale Hyundai in January 2021.

Three months later, Davis switched to Georgetown Honda because he was looking for something closer to home and liked the brand, as he’s been a loyal customer for many years. He was told about the Honda job by Joe Pinto, who does the sound for Davis’ music gigs at Spot 1 Grill & Music in Brampton and also works at the dealership.

He was feeling good about his new job, but COVID-19 impacted him again. Dealerships are operating with few new vehicles because some factories that produce semiconductors, which are a major component in building cars, shut down during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.

A second wave of closures in the fall further exacerbated the problem, even though there is strong consumer demand for new cars. Customers seeking to make purchases are being told it can take several weeks or months for the cars to be delivered. Normally they are available for pickup in just a few days or a couple weeks.

“It’s becoming much harder for the consumer and becomes a much bigger challenge for the salesperson, especially when you are working in a commission business, where you don’t get paid until the car is delivered,” said Davis, adding he does receive a small-guaranteed salary.

Musical tributes

Davis has also been working hard in his spare time as a musician, something he did before he entered the broadcast business. After seeing a documentary about Tom Petty, he put together a tribute band called We Ain’t Petty and soon began receiving gigs. He then developed a tribute band for The Cars, an idea he first had in 1984. He dresses up like the band’s lead singer, the late Rik Ocasek. A friend, Ed Sousa— who manages Classic Bowl in Mississauga – suggested the name Driven, and soon started booking him.

Along with Tom Forth, who is a member of Driven, Davis has also put together a John Lennon and Paul McCartney tribute duo called Nowhere Man. Just when he was starting to receive engagements for all his bands, the fast-spreading Omicron variant led to another closure of businesses. While he’s been challenged significantly in his full-time job and part-time career, Davis is trying to look at everything positively.

“The most beautiful, amazing thing that has come out of me leaving Sportsnet is the number of people I have met and have gotten to know and who have become really close friends since I left, not to mention being able to open my doors to music,” he said. “I hadn’t performed in almost 30 years before I went back on stage again and performed in a band (after leaving Sportsnet). I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got back on stage and began performing.

“I’ve been able to find happiness in other ways. It’s not necessarily all about what I’m doing for a living that makes me happy now. I just do what I think is the best thing for me.”

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My Dec. 24 article about daytime running lights and automatic light activation generated several related responses from readers. Here are two of them.

Dear Ask a Mechanic,

I normally have our light switch set to automatic but have learned from experience to check the setting immediately after having the car serviced.  I have found that the service people do not make a mental note of the switch setting before checking all of the lights and so by default just turn it to off when they are finished.  The first time this happened, because the (DRLs) were on, we did not realize there was a problem until another motorist informed us. – Gary Fletcher – Stouffville

Gary, you’re right that techs should remember to return settings to where they were. I’ll admit to occasionally forgetting it myself.

The probable reason the headlight switch is changed in the first place has to do with two things.

The first is that it’s nearly always dark enough inside repair facilities that the automatic lights activate.

The second is that the two most typical situations when performing services tend to leave auto lamps systems on, quickly killing the battery:

  1. The vehicle is not in park and/or the steering lock is deactivated, since many services require techs to be able to move the steering and/or rotate the wheels.
  2. “Ignition on, engine off” as needed for diagnostics/programming or resetting reminders.

To avoid that battery drain, the auto lamps must be switched off.

When I first noticed this, I thought there was an unusually high number of cars that had the “one-eyed” headlight syndrome. Approaching an intersection, a vehicle with its turn signal on had no light on the same side they were signaling. After a while, I figured out it was an intentional feature that the manufacturer had incorporated. I think it’s confusing and at times even somewhat dangerous. Can you explain why this has become a standard feature on many makes and models? – Ken Harker – Tyrone

Ken, you may find it ironic that the entire reason that the DRL (daytime running light) turns off on the side that a signal is flashing is actually to improve safety; it’s written into Canada’s motor vehicle standards. There’s a bunch of “if/thens” involved, but the gist of this requirement is that if the DRL might obscure the light of the signal due to brightness and/or proximity, it must turn off to make the signal more visible.

Ask a Mechanic is written by Brian Early, a Red Seal-certified automotive technician. You can send your questions to These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.

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For the last 11 years George Hugh has been focused on helping people build wealth through his company, Taurus Mortgage Capital Inc. A former banker, the Markham-based mortgage broker works in conjunction with Realtor partners, and regularly drove across the city to meet with clients and attend real estate showings.

When he’s not working, Hugh – who is a proponent of maintaining a healthy lifestyle – played sports, especially golf. To accommodate his needs, he typically sought out the biggest SUVs available.

Hugh had leased the 2017 Volvo XC90 Excellence, a top-of-the-line ultra-luxe crossover SUV. Hugh wasn’t too thrilled with the car, finding that it lacked power, and returned it when the lease was up last August. Unfortunately, Hugh’s new car plans were thwarted by the global semiconductor shortage: Despite having put in an order for an Audi Q8, Hugh found himself without a car until a delayed April 2022 delivery date.

Being constantly on the road, Hugh needed a car and borrowed his mother-in-law’s Toyota RAV4. Although serviceable, the RAV4 wasn’t an exciting ride for Hugh, who also enjoys driving for pleasure.

This continued for three months as Hugh searched for an alternative solution. Unfortunately, he found dwindling market options, especially ones that also satisfied his criteria for ample cargo space. On a followup visit to his Audi sales representative, he learned that its sister dealership, Acura of North Toronto, was bringing in two 2022 Acura MDX A-Specs – one in Liquid Carbon Metallic, the other in Platinum White Pearl. Having owned an earlier generation of the MDX, Hugh purchased the vehicle on the spot (“I was told I had about two minutes to make a decision if I wanted one or it’s gone, so I took it,” said Hugh).

He tells us what he loves most about his vehicle.

“I used the car to pick up clients,” said Hugh. “More recently, I’ve been meeting clients more than picking them up, but I fully expect the times to change back to where I would actually drive them in my car. So, I want something that’s spacious and comfortable for them – where they’re not cramped in my backseat, and I wanted a seven-seater in case they had kids or others who want to join.

More than space, Hugh had many praises for the fourth generation MDX.

“They’ve changed the shape on the MDX, and it seems a little bit more aggressive. The lines on it looks more like one of the big sports cars. There are two packages with MDX. There’s the regular MDX, which looks nice, but I like wider rims, lower profile tires and stuff which I was told you get with the A-SPEC trim. So, I got the [racing-inspired] A-SPEC package, which is just esthetics, but it makes the car look sportier, and the rims are nicer.

“There’s no chrome on the car – it’s an all-black build. Because there’s no chrome it looks more rugged, which I like. You know, it’s funny that the mirrors on the car are not painted the same colour as the car. I asked [the dealership], ‘Why aren’t the mirrors painted the same color?’ and I was told that it’s the style now where they’re not painting the mirrors on the side of the car (but the mirrors on the regular cars are painted the same color).

“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the ride, the drive, comfort, and everything. I bought the car because it was available, and I’ve had experience with it before, but this car has a lot of features that [my old MDX] didn’t have. The interior is a lot nicer. There’s a control pad just like a computer where you select everything, and you can split the screen into two screens: one for your GPS and one for your music, or other stuff. It’s very easy to use. You can change the color of the interior accent lighting [with IconicDrive]. It’s just all these little things. The seats are very comfortable. The middle row is big enough to be three seats but has a console, so it becomes like two bucket chairs, and there’s three more seats in the back. So, it’s a comfortable ride that’s not only spacious and meets my needs, but the handling and stuff is pretty good.

“The performance is nicer, and I’ve enjoyed just driving it around. In the first week, I drove 1,700 kilometres! [Laughs] It’s been a surprising experience so far. I like the sound of the engine when you press the gas: It sounds a little sporty. It’s very good around corners, like it sticks to the road, and it has some pretty good power in it – it’s much better than a bigger engine Volvo, to tell you the truth.

“The reason why I was so quick to buy the MDX again without really test driving it is because I know Honda, [Acura’s parent brand, produces] very reliable cars. I’ve had some problems with my Volvo (it actually shut off on me while I was driving!) and I had to get a flatbed tow truck for it twice. So, one thing that was very important to me was reliability. I’m very comfortable with Hondas from that perspective. I’ve never had problems with them as long as I change the oil every once in a while. That’s a good thing.”

Even though the MDX is serving him well, Hugh is still on the waitlist for the Q8.

“I might still get [the Audi] when it comes in,” said Hugh. “So, I will just transfer this car to my son or something. [But if it takes longer], I’m happy with the MDX.”

This article was edited for space and clarity. Want to be featured in Why I Love My Vehicle? email us at

Renée S. Suen is a Toronto-based lifestyle writer/photographer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rssuen

A CLOSER LOOK: 2022 Acura MDX A-Spec


“It’s a new grey that came out this year,” said Hugh of his car’s paint colour and trim details. “The Liquid Carbon Metallic colour makes the car look great. Even the interior has the ebony leatherette trimmed with Ultrasuede seats and dashboard. It’s the A-Spec package has red stitching that’s nice and tight.”


“The car can take premium or regular gas,” said Hugh. “I really like that I have the option. The price of gas today is crazy and premium gas prices can be 30 cents more than regular. That’s a $20 difference in gas. I’ve filled up a couple times putting in premium once and regular another time, and didn’t really notice any major difference. The dealership rep says that the difference would be in the performance, but it’s winter now and I’m not driving crazy out there. The gas mileage seems to be around the same. So, for casual winter driving, I have that option to put in regular, which is nice.”


Being roughly 5.5 cm longer than the previous generation, the 2022 MDX’s new design provides an extra 181 litres of passenger room, or 2,690 litres of room when both the second and third row seats are folded down.

“I love the size,” said Hugh. “It feels bigger [than my previous model].”

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There are two top-calibre sports car racing teams in Canada – Multimatic Motorsports of Markham and Pfaff Motorsports of Vaughan. Both adhere to the motto of the famous Roger Penske American racing team: effort equals results.

Today’s story is about Pfaff, which won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class a year ago and announced this week that it was moving up to the IMSA GTD Pro division with pretty much the same team but an all-new driver lineup.

Porsche works drivers Matt Campbell of Australia and Mathieu Jaminet of France will drive for the full season; two-time IMSA DPi champion Felipe Nasr of Brazil will fill out the team for the four endurance races, one of which – the Rolex 24 at Daytona – will go to the post a week from this weekend.

Campbell, Jaminet and Nasr (on occasion) will be racing the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R, which will once again be decked out in plaid livery.  (It gets cold in Canada; hence the plaid.)

Considered one of the strongest driver lineups in the series, Campbell and Jaminet have an extensive history of working together and Formula One/GP2 veteran Nasr boasts one of the finest resumes of any driver in the championship. All have won WeatherTech races or IMSA classics in the past and Nasr won the DPi drivers’ championship in 2019 and ’20.

Moving up to the GTD Pro class, a big step, means they are in it to win it, said Pfaff general manager Steve Bortolotti, in an interview. “We’ve got a great team and a great driver lineup and amazing support from Porsche.  Obviously, to have to compete against two-car teams that have the ability to split strategies is going to be a new challenge for us but at the same time we’re very confident in ourselves as a team.

“Our move to GTD Pro signals Pfaff Motorsports’ commitment to become an elite privateer effort, worthy of factory consideration for future opportunities. We are appreciative of Porsche’s support with factory drivers Matt, Mathieu, and Felipe. They have a proven track record of success individually, and we look forward to working with them and seeing how they gel this season.

“I don’t like to be too bullish because, in racing, anything can happen but I certainly think we have as good a shot as anybody at winning a championship.”

Bortolotti said that Pfaff decided last June or July to run the Plaid Porsche in the Pro series. As well as the challenge of moving up, they didn’t want to leave their GTD-class championship driver, Zach Robichon of Ottawa, in the lurch.  (Robichon shared the trophy with co-driver Laurens Vanthoor.)

“We have a great relationship with Zach Robichon so we wanted to give him as much notice as we could so he could make plans for his future. So while we were running and winning the GTD title, we were planning and preparing as best we could for the move up to GTD Pro.

“At the time we were winning one championship and thinking about the move up to Pro, we decided not to defend the GTD championship. We looked at the possibility of running two cars, one in GTD and the other in GTD Pro but, to be blunt, it would have been too expensive.

“The cost of equipment like trailers, pit equipment, that sort of stuff is just so high right now because racing has got a bit of a renaissance going on – cars counts are really high, so demands for the stuff is so high that we didn’t want to pay that kind of money to field a second car. It just didn’t make financial sense. We do a good job doing one thing and doing it really well so we just decided to leave it at that.”

Bortolotti was quick to point out that Porsche didn’t desert Robichon and arranged a ride for him with Wright Motorsports as the third driver in the four endurance races scheduled in the GTD class. “Porsche is keen to keep him in the fold; they’d rather race with him than against him. But he has a full-time job – he runs his own business – so he’s busy and to race in a higher category would mean a greater time commitment.”

Auto racing at the upper level is enormously expensive. Motul, for instance, will return as a major partner. The French lubricants manufacturer supplies its 300V motor oil, RBF 700 brake fluid, and other lubricants. Pfaff will continue to offer Motul products over the counter at select dealerships. The insurance company Hagerty also returns to the Plaid Porsche, as will Orlando Corp. and the Pfaff Porsche and Porsche Markham dealerships.

Bortolotti has his fingers crossed that IMSA will be able to run a race in Canada this season after being kept out the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be a big problem, if we can’t (race),” he said.

“Sponsorship often depends on where the races are held,” he said. “Nobody will ask for their money back but it might be harder to get in the future. And that’s what we’re concerned about. In 2020, everybody was understanding, and they were still understanding in 2021. Now, with the border being open – and the health and safety of Canadians is very important to all of us – but we really hope that we’ll be able to run a race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.”

The owner is excited about the upcoming season. Said Chris Pfaff, President & CEO: “2022 will be just our third full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and in that short time, I’m incredibly proud of what the whole Pfaff Motorsports team has accomplished, winning four races and the GTD championship in 2021. We’re excited to be taking the next big step, and are grateful for the confidence that Porsche has shown in us. With an amazing driver lineup and a great team behind them, all of the ingredients are in place for a successful season.”

All three drivers expressed their enthusiasm for their ’22 rides. Driver Campbell, for instance, said that the team will be a force to be reckoned with in 2022. “Having driven with the team previously, it will be an easy step already knowing the majority of them, which has a great group of characters. Mathieu (Jaminet) and I have been driving together for two years now in most championships we compete in – we like the same things in the car and have the same feedback, so I expect our partnership to only grow further with the team.”

Added Nasr: “The prototypes have a special place in my heart, having won two IMSA championships, (but) as a racer, I’m always up for a new challenge.”

The Pfaff team is in Daytona now (the transporter drove through that East Coast storm that hit us early this week; everybody else flew down Wednesday night). Now they’re hard at work preparing for the WeatherTech season, which starts at the Roar before the 24 preseason test at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.

Round one, which is also the biggest race of the season, gets under way a week later when the Rolex 24 gets the green flag on Sat., Jan. 29.

For news and behind-the-scenes content, follow @PfaffMotorsports, @Pfaff_Porsche, @Porsche_Markham, and @PfaffAuto on Instagram and Facebook.

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