Drive! 2014: Simply the best

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 6:30am

Our preview of the best new models for 2015

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On the highest of high-ends, the 2015 Bentley GTC V8 S, top, is a convertible that oozes sex appeal and power; much more affordable is the Jeep Renegade, left, with its removable roof and off-road sensibilities; the Nissan Murano, right, balances roominess, safety and design smarts.

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

This time every year, automakers roll out their hottest new automobiles for the upcoming year. Some will set performance standards on the track while others tackle extreme off-road obstacles or are built for beauty.

No matter the size of your purse or man bag, there’s an exciting ride that will look suave in your garage, parking space, or pulling up at your favorite valet stand. Check these, then go drive ’em!

2015 Honda Fit. Still cool and frugal, Fit sports it up with a chiseled body and sophisticated handling. An additional 4.8 inches of rear legroom, stitched dash, heated seats, Bluetooth, USB and keyless entry/starting step it up. Fit’s flip-up rear Magic Seat remains. Get it with the 130 horsepower four cylinder engine and six-speed manual; fuel economy rates 29/37-MPG city/hwy. Add the Lane Watch camera for safety. Base price: $15,525.
2015 Jeep Renegade. Built in Melfi, Italy, the Renegade shares architecture with the Fiat 500X. Cute styling with removable roof panels and taillamps inspired by Jerry cans are a delight. Engines include 160 horsepower/1.4-liter and 184 horsepower/2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines — both with 9-speed automatic transmissions. Trailhawk packages employ a crawl mode and skid plates for adventure. If compact crossovers are hot, then Renegade is a toasty ember. Base price: $20,000.

2015 Ford Mustang. The original pony car marks 50 years all new. It’s more aerodynamic, but looks faster and more muscular. Enthusiasts will expect a base 300 horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and optional 435 horsepower 5.0-liter V8, but may be surprised at the new 310 horsepower turbo-four that achieves 32-MPG hwy. For the first time ever, an independent rear suspension comes standard and gives Mustang the refinement needed to gain new fans here and abroad. Base price: $23,600.

2015 Subaru Outback. The always-versatile, always AWD Outback gets a makeover. Choose between 175 horsepower/33-MPG Boxer four-cylinder and 256 horsepower/26-MPG six-cylinder engines. Technology includes Subaru’s EyeSight crash-avoidance system, Harman/Kardon audio and SMS text messaging. Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist reinforce off-road prowess. Base price: $24,895.

2015 Nissan Murano. Murano re-captures its original impact with design based on the Resonance Concept. It achieves an efficient 0.31 coefficient of drag with grille shutters and underbody air deflectors. Four cameras and three radar systems help avoid crashes. Passengers enjoy rear seat heaters and USB, panoramic moonroof and Bose audio. Move out with a 260 horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Base price: $29,000.

2015 Acura TLX. Honda’s luxury brand combines its mid-size cars for 2015. The new TLX flaunts athleticism with torque-vectoring AWD and a choice of engines — a 206 horsepower, 2.4-liter I4 with an 8-speed transmission or 290 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with 9 speeds. Fuel economy reaches 35 MPG. Styling is smooth and chiseled, but a bit of a snore. While comprehensive, the two-screen infotainment system is baffling. Base price: $30,995.

2015 Lincoln MKC. Lincoln’s Escape-based crossover combines a crafted interior and ’40s Continental style with technology like MyLincoln Touch infotainment, THX II Certified Audio, foot-activated hatch, collision avoidance systems and automated parking. Step out with a 285 horsepower 2.3-liter turbo-4 or 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo engine. A drive proves Lincoln can blend tradition with technology. Base price: $33,100.

2015 VW e-Golf. Over 30 million Golfs have been sold, but none like this. The e-Golf takes the car’s iconic utility and fun-to-drive factor and combines them with zero emissions. Charge lithium-ion batteries to 80 percent in 30 minutes, 100 percent with a wall charger in four hours, or 20 hours with a household plug. Expect an 80-mile range fully stoked. Touchscreen navigation, dual-zone climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel come standard. Base price: $35,445.

2015 BMW 2-Series Convertible. The re-designed 2-Series sticks with the elegant simplicity of a soft top that can retract in 20 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. Those speeds come quick with a 240 horsepower turbo-four or 320 horsepower turbo-6. Driving modes adjust for Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. LTE navigation updates and apps for Facebook and Twitter add technology. Parking Assistant eases the car into parallel spots, but it’s best enjoyed on autumn roads. Base price: $38,850.

2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Unholy, ungodly, demonic, slithering serpent of evil! Hellcat will run 0–60 mph in 3 seconds flat, and reach 200 mph with its supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 producing 707 horsepower. Driven reasonably (yeah, right), it achieves 13/22-MPG. Selectable drive modes adjust the chassis and drivetrain for sport, tour and track. Icon muscle car style coexists with the world’s easiest to use infotainment system. Base price: $59,995.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Putting Mercedes back at the top of compact luxury is the C63 AMG. Flowing lines convey speed while a new interior lavished with wood and leather features a graceful center control stack. Burmester audio and cloud-based infotainment are available. Built in the “one man, one engine” AMG tradition, the 4.0-liter biturbo V8 produces up to 503 horsepower. Drive modes adjust the suspension and
drivetrain from “tour” to “race.” Base price: $65,000.

2015 Bentley GTC V8 S. That’s a lot of letters, but they represent the quintessential Beverly Hills Bentley convertible. Bespoke interiors spoil with hand-sewn leather, book-matched veneers and real chrome. Naim audio is divine. Under the aluminum hood is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 delivering 521 horsepower through AWD and 21-in. wheels. Personalize with massaging front seats and carbon-ceramic brakes. Roll up anywhere and you’ll get respect! Base price: $219,925.

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Every red-blooded American boy has lusted for a Mustang at some point in his life, and the 2015 models, top, remind us why; Dodge’s Challenger Hellcat shows why muscle cars are always in fashion; the new BMW 2-Series offers a soft-top with staggeringly beautiful lines.

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… And 2 sneak previews for 2016
2016 Chevy Volt. You’ll have to wait a year for the next plug-in, extended-range Chevy Volt, but we’ll see a preview during January’s Detroit auto show. A completely new design wraps all-new batteries that will be smaller, lighter, and enable greater driving range than today’s fossil-free 40 miles. A larger 1.5-liter gasoline engine kicks harder when electricity depletes. The car that taught us how to plug in should really turn us on. Base price: Think $30,000.

2016 Fiat 500X. Bound for more than 100 countries, Fiat’s larger 500X will be built alongside the new Jeep Renegade in Melfi, Italy. Six gasoline and two diesel engines match with up to nine speeds (depending on market). Output reaches 184 horsepower for the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Lane departure and blind zone warning systems will be optional. If you wanted a cute little Fiat, but needed more space, your car is coming. Base price: Around $20,000 (available spring 2015).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 7, 2014

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