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Toyota-Lexus again dominate Best Retained Value list

The Toyota Prius was the first hybrid to be recognized with the best resale value in its segment after four years, when the Canadian Black Book announced the 2013 winners of its Best Retained Value Awards on Wednesday.

Toyota and Lexus once again dominated the awards, with vehicles topping eight of the 19 segments measured; Chrysler and BMW were the next closest with three awards each.

Besides the Prius, all of the other Toyota-brand winners were trucks, minivans or SUVS: Tacoma, Tundra, Sienna, FJ Cruiser and Sequoia; while at Toyota's luxury brand, the Lexus LX 570 and GS series prevailed.

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Curiously, the Prius won in the hotly contested compact car category, even though Toyota and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency both regularly list the gas-electric hybrid hatchback as a mid-size car, based on its interior volume. Coming in second in this group was the Mitsubishi Lancer, followed by the Toyota Corolla.

For Chrysler, resale recognition went to repeat wins for the Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Sprinter (which is now sold at Mercedes-Benz dealerships as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter). For BMW, its winners included the 1-Series and X6, also repeat winners from last year, as well as the 6-Series.

Canadian Black Book determined the awards by comparing the current value of 2009 model year vehicles compared to their original MSRP, as calculated in early January, 2013. Those with the lowest spread were determined the winners, a process that typically favours brands and vehicles in low supply, or ones offering limited rebates and incentives.

Other 2013 CBB award winners included: Honda Fit (Subcompact), Subaru Outback (Mid-size), Hyundai Genesis (Full-size), Nissan GT-R (Premium sports car), Infiniti EX35 (Compact luxury SUV).

In past years, the top three finalists in each category were listed on CBB's website at, under CBB Awards. It's a handy reference, especially if you're considering leasing a vehicle, where a higher predicted resale value should translate directly to lower monthly payments. Although really, so would a decent discount/incentive, rate cut or healthy trade-in on your current car.

Sonata gets longer warranty, 30-day 'money back guarantee'

Hyundai Canada will offer a month-long money-back guarantee on most new Sonatas – but, if you return it for a full refund, you have to show proof of intent to buy another new vehicle from a non-Hyundai dealer.

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As part of the limited-time offer, Hyundai is also offering to extend its already-healthy warranty, from five-years/100,000-kilometres to seven-years/120,000-km, the company said in announcing the cross-Canada marketing initiative this week.

Yes, there are some restrictions, but surprisingly few. The program is offered on regular and 2.0T turbocharged Sonata models (not hybrids) to finance customers, provided the vehicle has been driven less than 2,000 km, shows no significant damage, has not been in a collision, and the customer can then prove they intend to purchase a replacement new vehicle from a non-Hyundai dealer.

Buyers have the option to return their Sonata between seven and 30 days after picking it up, for a full refund of their first month's payment, plus any taxes, deposit and fees they paid upon delivery, the company says.

Nissan chops price for Frontier

The refreshed, but still aging, 2013 Nissan Frontier pickup will see its MSRP drop by an average of $4,300, a significant discount on a mid-size pickup truck that now starts at $20,898.

That base price is for a bare-bones, rear-wheel-drive, King Cab model with a 152-horsepower, 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and a manual five-speed transmission, a decrease of $3,580. A top-line Crew Cab that's more realistically equipped with Nissan's potent V-6 and five-speed automatic now starts at $31,018, a decrease of $4,580.

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Nissan says the fuel consumption of such V-6- and auto-equipped models has been cut by up to 12 per cent, through reduced engine friction and improved aerodynamics.

That's a major improvement for what is essentially engineering "tweaking," and those aerodynamics likely won't be helped by the large optional roof rack.

Kia unveils Forte 5-door, Cross GT concept in Chicago

The five-door hatchback version of Kia's upcoming all-new Forte was unveiled at the Chicago auto show last week, along with a large Cross GT concept that indicates that Kia wants to enter the market with a larger and more high-end crossover than the Sorento.

But first the real stuff. Kia Canada confirmed last week that the Forte five-door would arrive in the third quarter of this year; the sedan version is expected to arrive in dealers this spring.

But the five-door will take a more sporting bent than its four-door counterpart, with the hatchback base engine the direct-injection, 173-hp, 2.0-litre four that's the uplevel engine in the Forte sedan. And the Forte SX five-door will have an even more powerful engine: the same turbocharged 201 hp engine as in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

Forte prices haven't been announced yet, but the Forte five-door will obviously come in above its more sedate sedan counterpart, while also offering surprisingly luxurious touches such as a heated steering wheel, an air-cooled driver's seat and heated front and rear seats.

The Cross GT concept picks up where Kia's widely lauded full-size GT sedan concept started off in 2011, the full-size luxury design exercise signaling Kia's more upscale intentions. The Cross GT adds all-wheel-drive and a taller driving position designed at Kia's California design centre, which also penned the 2014 Forte sedan.

The Cross GT features a hybrid gas-electric 3.8-litre V-6 drivetrain, as well as Rolls-Royce Phantom-style clam-shell doors, with the former much more likely to appear in production than the latter.

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