I’ve come to accept and embrace our beautiful Winnipeg winters. I don’t mind the blowing snow or the frostbite warning windchill temperatures. In fact, I don’t complain about the lovely weather we’ve been receiving lately in our fine city. I’m pretty hearty when it comes to dealing with this year’s long and cold winter. However, I do want winter to end now.
So where am I going with this? Well, first to say that driving conditions in Winnipeg change on a daily basis. One day, I’m driving on freshly fallen snow and the next day, I’m stuck in one lane because the ice/snow ruts on the road are too high. Traction control is pretty much standard on most vehicles and during this winter, I’ve been pretty good at activating the traction control warning light. I blame the slippery roads and maybe, a sporty and aggressive driving style. Traction control and solid winter tires definitely take away a lot of the frustration that comes with winter driving.
In this instalment of my regular auto review, I’m going to take slightly different approach to my week behind the 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL and the 2013 Toyota Avalon XLE V6 sedans. Driving a vehicle in the winter time brings on a whole new set of challenges. Challenging questions like, how long does it take for the car to warm up, or how fast does the rear window defroster kick in and why did I not get the option for heated seats? As a hockey player, my favourite is “can it fit my hockey bag in the trunk?”
2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
Let me start off by screaming, “heated steering wheel!” Yes, the Altima comes with a heated steering wheel and I can’t being to explain the ridiculous amount of joy this feature adds to driving in the winter. The heated leather seats have two settings – hi and low. They should change it to “scorching hot” and “not as scorching hot.” The heated seats were pretty hot enough for me to turn them off just cool off my underside.
Large knobs and buttons on the climate control and centre stack made things easy to control and adjust while wearing leather gloves or Olympic mittens.
When it came to throwing my average sized wheeled hockey back into the trunk, it barely fit. This was due to the odd trunk compartment shape with the rear wheel well. Pulling down the 60/40 rear seat gave me a bit more room to store my hockey bag and meant I wouldn’t be able to carry any passengers in the rear cabin.
Under the hood, the Altima comes equipped with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that cranks out 182hp 180ft-lb of torque with a gas rating of 7.4L/100km in the city. Price of the test vehicle was $32,528 and included the Tech Package. For an extra $3,000 I’d upgrade to the 3.5L V6.
2013 Toyota Avalon XLE
Sadly, the Avalon did not have a heated steering wheel and I was left to warming up my frozen hands between my thigh and the variable heated leather seats. There was no “scorching hot” option and I was fine with that.
Getting my hockey gear into the truck was relatively easy and with the small passthrough compartment, I was able to slide my hockey sticks into the rear and still have passengers in the back seat.
Large knobs for the entertainment controls were easy to use with gloves on. Climate controls were touch sensitive and easy to use.
Under the hood, the Avalon is equipped with a 3.5L V6 268hp engine and rated for 9.9L/100km (city). Price as tested was $36,800.
My favourite feature on the Avalon: paddle shifters, and make sure you turn off traction control.
Photos by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal