Story by John LeBlanc
Are there any drivers on Canadian roads and highways that deserve more respect than hockey parents? (or skiing, speed skating, curling, luge, bob sleigh or ringette parents?) Battling before-dawn wakeup calls, rush-hour traffic, four-season driving conditions and unruly passengers — not to mention the transportation of toxic cargo known as the "hockey bag" — hockey parents have one of the toughest chauffeuring assignments on the planet. As a reward for their tireless work, I've pulled together the top new 2014 models for Canadian winter sports parents:
2014 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro
The $46,500 (all starting MSRPs) all-wheel-drive five-passenger Audi Allroad A4 Quattro wagon is for all those hockey parents who want the performance and handling of one of world’s top sports sedans, but room for goalie pads in the back as well.
The A4 Allroad comes with Audi’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And while there are only 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet on tap, the Audi is quicker in a straight line (0-100 kilometres per hour in 6.7 seconds) and gets better fuel economy (10.4 L/100 km city; and 7.4 L highway rate) than its Volvo XC70 rival.
2014 Dodge Durango
While hockey parents could spend tens of thousands of dollars more for a luxury SUV, seven-passenger, the all-wheel-drive $39,995 Dodge Durango makes for a fine replacement. With a powerful (290 hp) yet efficient (“best-in-class” 8.3 L/100 kms highway fuel economy) 3.6 L V6, the base Durango SXT will leave some extra money for your kid’s carbon-fibre hockey stick budget.
The Dodge SUV is based on the same platform as the upscale Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. So whether you’re driving to a local league game or hitting the road for an out-of-town tournament, the Durango feels more luxurious, solid, quiet and composed than any of its domestic rivals.
2014 Honda Odyssey
There's a reason why your local rink's parking lot is jammed with minivans: hockey parents love their low step-in sliding doors with room for the starting lineup, the backup goalie and their gear. And my favourite is the front-wheel-drive, eight-passenger $29,990 Honda Odyssey.
The addition of a six-speed automatic transmission to the Honda’s 248 hp V6 means class-leading 10.9 L/100 kms city and /7.1 highway ratings. Plus, for a minivan, the Odyssey offers great steering and a firm suspension. Throw in excellent build quality and ergonomics, and you can see why the Odyssey is the perfect conveyance for you and your little stars of tomorrow.
2014 Kia Rondo
All-new this hockey season, the compact, front-wheel-drive, $21,695 five- or seven-passenger Rondo is shorter, narrower and lower than the last model, but sports a longer wheelbase, which results in more player and equipment space. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. But even if you opt for the optional six-speed autobox, the Kia scores with excellent 9.2 L/100 kms city and 6.3 fuel economy estimates.
Like all recent Kias, the Rondo looks upscale on the outside, and can be optioned with state-of-the-art infotainment and luxury features on the inside. It also strives for European-brand levels of quality, comfort and refinement, a great way to prep your kids for the playing pro hockey in Switzerland.
2013 Mazda Mazda5
Since its introduction in 2005, the front-wheel-drive, six-passenger Mazda3-based $21,995 Mazda5 mini-minivan has been popular with hockey parents who need more room than what a compact car offers, but don’t want to pay the higher price, poorer fuel economy or bigger size of a standard minivan.
All Mazda5s come with a 157 hp, 2.5 L four-cylinder gas engine. There’s an optional five-speed automatic gearbox, but the standard six-speed manual is not only a unique proposition for this segment, it also offers a modicum of driving fun when you’re late for those early morning hockey practices.
2014 Nissan Rogue
Small crossovers have become very popular with hockey moms and dads. Which means the redesigned-for-2014 $23,498 Nissan Rogue, with its up-to- seven-passenger seating and upgraded road manners and interior, should be on every hockey parent’s new vehicle shopping list.
Despite being more accommodating, the 2014 Rogue is also more fuel-efficient. Using a 170 hp, 2.5 L four-cylinder gas engine mated to a continually variable automatic transmission, both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Nissan cute-ute score better fuel economy estimates than its Honda and Toyota rivals.
2014 Porsche Panamera 4S
Just like the Subaru Impreza (see below), the $112,500 Panamera 4S is an all-wheel-drive hatchback — perfect for hockey parents with fat wallets. And replacing last year’s naturally aspirated 4.8 L eight-cylinder, the 2014 Panamera 4S sports a twin-turbocharged 3.0L six, allowing the Porsche to scoot from rest to 100 kms/hr in just under five seconds yet sip 18 per cent fuel.
Sure, the Panamera 4S costs about six Imprezas. But the Porsche can also go over 280 km/h (on a track, of course) But if you're a well-off hockey parent who's perpetually late, the Panamera 4S is perfect for getting you to the rink on time.
2013 Subaru Impreza 5-door 2.0i
For less coffee money than our Kia, Mazda or Volkswagen compact picks, the $20,895 Impreza 5-door 2.0i offers hockey parents room for five passengers, a practical hatch body AND traction at all four wheels.
Like a pair of freshly sharpened skates, instead of power going to the front wheels only (or to one of the those slip-then-grip systems normally found in this price range), all Imprezas get Subaru's symmetrical full-time AWD — one of the most sophisticated systems available. Plus the Impreza’s 2.0 L four-cylinder gas engine scores decent fuel economy (7.5 L/100 kms city; 5.5 highway) with the optional CVT.
2014 Toyota Prius V
For all those hockey parents who also want to be friends with the environment, what better way to get to the rink than a Prius V, the front-wheel-drive, five-passenger wagon version of the iconic Prius Liftback gas-electric hybrid.
Using the Prius’s 134 hp 1.8 L gas-electric system, the larger V is rated at a miserly 4.3 L/100 kms city and 4.8 highways. And with a longer wheelbase and taller, more squared-up rear roofline, the Prius V's rear seating is more accommodating and versatile than the regular Prius.
2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI
Almost as much as we like chasing a puck on frozen water, we Canadians like diesels too. Especially turbocharged ones, such as the 140 hp and 236 lb-ft 2.0 L unit fitted in the $26,375 front-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact VW Golf Wagon TDI.
With a nicely screwed-together interior made from quality materials, German road manners and an inherently frugal (6.7 L/100 kms city; 4.6 highway) diesel engine, the Golf feels like a little luxury wagon. Plus, the VW's elongated cargo bay, with a 40/20/40-split rear seat is the perfect setup to carry a few hockey sticks without compromising rear seat room.
02.04.14 | 2014
, top 10's
| Comments Off on Top 10s: New vehicles for Canadian hockey parents