Car Review: 2013 Dodge Dart GT
After test driving a 2013 Dodge Dart GT, we were reintroduced to an all-new Dart that is a thoroughly modern vehicle that’s beautifully designed and crafted and is loaded with state-of-the-art technology. The 2013 Dodge Dart compact car is redefined performance with an agile, fun-to-drive experience, compliments of its Alfa Romeo roots and confidence not normally found in a car in this price range.
The Dodge brand dug deep into its rich nearly 100-year history to name its all-new compact car, the 2013 Dodge Dart, and is again drawing on the storied history for the newest Dodge Dart model. The aggressive design is eye-catching and smooth as silk, from the projector fog lamps to the 18-inch aluminum wheels. The header orange cleat coat paint screamed attitude on the road and garnered compliments from folks of all walks of life. Looks matter, and the Dart GT delivers with cues like unique performance front fascia with black accents and hyper black grille, black projector headlamp bezels, body-color door handles, class-exclusive integrated dual exhaust with bright exhaust tips and class-exclusive racetrack LED tail lamps.
Our 2013 Dodge Dart GT was loaded with premium standard features including perforated heated Nappa Leather seats, an 8.4-inch touchscreen and 7-inch TFT. The GT model adds standard features like unique premium Nappa perforated leather seats in black with ruby red stitching or two-tone black/ruby red, class-exclusive heated steering wheel (which was welcomed in colder Midwest weather), heated front seats, dual-zone automatic temperature control, remote start (with automatic transmission), universal garage door opener, ParkView rear backup camera, and a class-exclusive 7-inch TFT (Thin Film Transistor) reconfigurable instrument cluster display.
Other features include premium door trim panel with soft-touch upper surfaces, leather steering wheel with audio controls and speed control, accent stitching on the instrument panel, power 10-way driver seat including power lumbar support, driver and front passenger seatback pockets, overhead console with sunglass holder, front passenger in-seat storage, illuminated front cup holders, illuminated vanity mirrors, temperature and compass gauge, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet in console, speed-sensitive power locks, power windows with express one-touch up/down front windows, ambient LED interior lighting and automatic headlamps. Clearly one of the sportiest cabins in the compact segment with style you’d expect in expensive sports cars.
Read the rest of this entry »
Car Review: 2013 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4×4
For those who are in the market for a full-size pickup truck, don’t overlook the 2013 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4×4, as this could be one of the best trucks ever built. Yes, that’s a bold statement, but the folks at RAM have been doing work to design and build something special.
The new 2013 RAM 1500 retains its ruggedly handsome appearance with all-new interior and exterior design aesthetics, improved aerodynamics and all-new segment-leading technology, and every RAM 1500 truck benefits from new content specifically designed to match each model’s unique style. RAM Truck brand designers started with the RAM grille, making it not only larger with the same overall width, but approximately one inch taller “saddled” within the new upper fascia panel for a more integrated appearance. The classic RAM crosshair horizontal and vertical grille bars are now flush at the top and bottom of the grille surround. The new front bumper design supports the “saddled” RAM grille theme with new vertically oriented fog lamps for improved light spread, distance and more lumens. Larger openings around the front tow hooks (four-wheel drive models) allow for easy access to the hooks.
The 2013 RAM 1500 quad headlamp design has improved light spread, pattern consistency, distance and 30 percent more lumens. An all-new premium headlamp lighting system is a bi-functional halogen projector design with 15 amber LEDs for park/turn/position lamp and three amber LEDs for the side marker. For 2013, the RAM 1500 offers 12 different colors, including five new shades. Black Gold, Copperhead, Maximum Steel Metallic, Prairie and Western Brown are all new and available in a monotone and/or two-tone depending on the model.
The new, polished stainless steel running boards have a sturdy box cross-section design. Also, the new wheel-to-wheel exclusive running board design offers aerodynamic improvements over the current version and provides customers’ improved access to the forward portion of the truck bed. A new 6-ft.-4-in. bed option is now available on Crew Cab models, giving customers the ability to combine RAM 1500′s largest available cab with the largest four-door/bed combination. All-new premium tail lamps are standard and consist of 15 red LEDs with three red LEDs for the side marker. Our test model added even more features with the Longhorn edition including lower two-toned paint and 20-inch aluminum polished wheels with gold inserts.
As good as the exterior looks on the 2013 RAM 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition Crew Cab 4×4, the interior space is just as special. For 2013, new features and technologies create opportunity for a redesigned interior with material upgrades; improved fit and finish; all-new interior themes with different colors and materials; all-new HVAC controls and new multimedia systems. The 2013 RAM 1500 also features an exclusive 8-speed transmission with a new rotary e-shift dial design. Rear occupants can enjoy the same quality, fit and finish as the driver. With points of contact a priority, new premium materials, colors and designs are now on all four doors. Soft-touch materials enhance armrests and upper bolsters with expanded use of premium surfaces.
Read the rest of this entry »
Car Review: 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4×4
With the onslaught of crossovers hitting the North American car market, Jeep has kept true to its SUV heritage, and the nimble 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4×4 is no different. For 2014, the Jeep Patriot boasts improved on-road performance with compliments of a new six-speed automatic transmission. With unmatched Jeep capability in all weather conditions and favorable fuel economy, we were anxious to spend a week behind the wheel of this Jeep.
Our test model looked serious in maximum steel metallic clear coat paint and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The overall body design is still all Jeep, and with the black side roof rails, halogen headlamps, fog lamps, deep tint sunscreen glass and power heated mirrors, this is one good looking SUV. The 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude model offers the standard features of the Sport model, as well as the following exterior standard features like illuminated keyless entry and body color exterior door handles.
The cabin of the 2014 Jeep Patriot Latitude 4×4 is straightforward and to the point with a no-frills feeling. In addition to the standard features, the 2014 Jeep Patriot offers an array of clever features consumers will appreciate whether commuting to work, exploring out-of-the-way places or driving in challenging weather conditions. A Uconnect Media Center with iPod interface, SiriusXM Radio, navigation with SiriusXM Travel Link, power sunroof, a premium audio system with nine Boston Acoustic speakers, articulating lift gate speakers, and fold-flat rear seats are some of the available features that make the 2014 Jeep Patriot the perfect compact SUV, enabling drivers and passengers to enjoy any adventure.
Read the rest of this entry »
Car Review: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
There is no question that Volkswagen has been on a sales tear in North America, and with new offerings like the Jetta TDI, one can see a bright future indeed. We had the opportunity to spend a week behind the wheel of a 2014 VW Jetta TDI to see just how far clean diesel has come in the past few years.
The Jetta remains Volkswagen’s best-selling car three years after the sixth-generation car was introduced to the U.S. market as a 2011 model. When you take a look at this Volkswagen, it’s clear that they never rest on success and are continuously striving to make its vehicles even better. The platinum gray metallic with 17-inch alloy wheels on the 2014 VW Jetta TDI we tested looks very modern with a clean and upscale look. Marketing experts call it “class-up appeal.” It’s the offering of more, for less. Which is why, when Volkswagen completely redesigned the Jetta, it crafted a bigger car, with a longer wheelbase and 2.9 inches added to the overall length.
The increased dimensions allowed designers to incorporate clear, precise lines and muscular surfaces to impart a timeless elegance, giving the impression that this is a car from a higher class. At the front, the coupe-like incline of the windscreen and the consistent use of horizontal lines define the Jetta’s design. The horizontal blades in the grille, together with the blades in the lower intake, are designed to make the Jetta appear wider and more dynamic. To give visual weight to the lower part of the Jetta and impart a sense of the car being ‘planted’ to the road, the base of the doors is eased outwards. The pronounced wheel arches also add visual width and weight to the car.
The overall theme of a clean and modern design carries over into the cabin of the 2014 VW Jetta TDI appearance. Just open any of the Jetta’s wide-angled doors and the quality of materials, the fit and finish, and the clean, simple, refined elegance of the cabin is clearly visible. And in true German tradition, the layout of the fascia, the positioning of the switches and controls, and the clarity of the oversized, round instruments is designed to be ergonomic and intuitive.
Trunk space also borders on the cavernous. The Jetta offers a class-leading 15.5 cubic feet of usable trunk space, and can be increased significantly by folding forward the 60/40-split rear seatback. The rear seatback is also offered with a pass-through to accommodate longer items, like golf clubs and skis.
Read the rest of this entry »
First Drive: 2014 Nissan Rogue
I was on hand on a beautiful fall day in Nashville to drive the all-new 2014 Nissan Rogue. The Rogue is the latest in a series of redesigns from Nissan as the entire lineup has been revamped. With the Rogue we see many of the exterior and interior design improvements we’ve seen in other Nissan models we’ve tested.
The new Rogue has been completely redesigned with a more muscular look. The new vehicle is taller and wider than its predecessor with a longer wheelbase. All new headlamps and front grille replace the harder edges of the front facia of the current model. The high, muscular ridges along the wheel wells also enhance the styling of this compact CUV. The new model also incorporates new design elements like available LED headlights and standard LED signature daytime running lights. Check out the slideshow above and you’ll see how the vehicle looks great from every angle.
The Rogue interior was impressive and comfortable. Soft touch materials and premium trim accents were added in all the right places, and I liked the oversized center console that has room for a 10” tablet computer. Nissan emphasized the “Zero Gravity” seats developed from NASA research on natural-stress-free postures measured in zero gravity. They are designed to optimize comfort and reduce fatigue. I spent the good part of the day in the Rogue and can attest to the seat comfort.
For the first time, Rogue will offer optional 3-row/7-passenger seating. This isn’t intended to have this compact CUV compete with larger models, but it offers younger families some flexibility when needed. The cargo area was well put together with the Rogue’s Divide-‘N-Hide cargo system which helps keep wet/dirty items like muddy soccer gear separate from clean dry items with an easily cleaned lower level. The two-piece cargo organizer has 18 possible configurations, and combined with the back seat folding options offers plenty of flexibility.
I particularly liked the class-exclusive Around View Monitor available in the SL model. The ability to have a 360-view of the space around the vehicle along with the rear-view camera makes maneuvering in tight spaces a breeze. Other available features include Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning.
The Rogue features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 170-horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque along with the Xtronic CVT transmission with a sport mode option. The power was adequate for this class of vehicles though acceleration sometimes lagged. But drivers will get a best-in-class highway fuel economy of 33 MPG. The handling was more impressive as the Rogue easily zips around corners. Also, Nissan has added technology features which help to stabilize the vehicle around corners in slippery conditions. The Active Trace Control technology can automatically engage the inner and outer brakes to optimize the line through turns and I was impressed as we tested this on wet surfaces. Drivers can also decide to turn this off.
The compact CUV segment is growing but it’s also very competitive. With this redesign the Rogue will likely remain a popular choice among consumers and should be on consumers’ test drive list. Pricing for the 2014 Rogue starts out at $22,490 for the base S model with front-wheel drive, and then can go over $32,000 for the SL AWD with the premium option package. However, in order to attract buyers looking at lower pricing options, Nissan will continue to build the 2013 version of the Rogue as a 2014 model called Rogue Select. This vehicle will start at an MSRP below $20,000 and offers an option for customers who want a compact CUV at the lower price point.
Posted in: Car Reviews, Cars
Tags: 2014 Nissan Rogue, auto photos, auto slideshow, automobile photo gallery, autos, autos for guys, autos for men, car info for men, car photo gallery, car photos, car reviews, car slideshow, first drive, first drive automobile reviews, first drive car reviews, first drive reviews for guys, first drive reviews for men, new automobiles, new autos, new cars, nissan