Car Review: 2015 Mazda 6 i Touring

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We’ve been big fans of the third generation Mazda6 since we first drove the 2014 model when it was introduced several years ago. In a midsize sedan segment that’s crowded with plenty of quality options for consumers, the Mazda6 still stands out for its styling and sporty handling.

Not much has changed for the 2015 model, though you’ll find some upgrades in the Touring trim level with keyless entry and ignition and a new option package that includes an upgraded sound system, sunroof and satellite radio.

The 2015 Mazda6 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. We had the 2015 Mazda 6 i Touring for a week and were very happy to have the manual transmission version. We expected it to be fun to drive and it was.

Exterior

Our tester came in Deep Crystal Blue with Sand interior, which works very well on this well-designed vehicle. The design is both aggressive and more refined than previous models, so we expect it to be very popular with a younger demographic. This design should also have staying power as well. Our Touring package offered 19-inch alloy wheels add to the overall appeal of the exterior.

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First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano

If you’re looking for beauty and comfort in a vehicle, the Nissan Murano was created with you in mind. Nissan created a distinctive vehicle with the first Murano in 2003 and they’ve aimed high for the all-new, third generation Murano that enters a much more crowded and competitive market for 2015.

Nissan has a very specific demographic in mind for its flagship crossover, targeting empty nesters who will often go out on the town with another couple. The car is designed for adult passengers to interact with one another in a “social lounge” kind of setting, so attention was paid to the experience in the rear seats.

Exterior

Take a look at the slideshow above and you’ll see that this third-generation Murano looks like another design home run worthy of Nissan’s original model. We drove the Murano from the heart of Sonoma wine country out to stunning Goat Rock Park on the Pacific Ocean. You can see the use of glass and the flowing lines of the compelling new design.

Nissan stressed three key elements from the Murano that will show up in future designs – the V-Motion front end, signature lighting and the ‘floating’ roofline.” The roofline in particular stands out along with the boomerang-style headlights and taillights which were originally introduced on the Nissan 370Z. It all comes together beautifully in a package that will certainly appeal to the target demo. The new model also sports a 16 percent improvement in overall aerodynamics versus the previous generation design.

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Car Review: 2015 Toyota Yaris SE Liftback

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I spent a week driving a new 2015 Toyota Yaris SE Liftback and came away impressed with this subcompact. The Yaris comes in a 3-door model along with the 5-door model I tested. It’s a small vehicle, but the extra two doors work nicely from a design and functionality point of view.

EXTERIOR

Toyota has become much bolder in its designs after years of playing it safe, and that shows up in the new Yaris as well, which was designed in Toyota’s ED2 design studio located in the South of France. It definitely has a European flavor. The aggressive new design starts with a horizontal chrome grille treatment that stretches into the headlamps. It also features a large grille opening we’re seeing on other Toyota models.

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Car Review: 2015 Chrysler 200C

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After pictures of the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200C were revealed last year, we started looking forward to test driving this hot new sedan from Detroit. After a week behind the wheel, there is no doubt that Chrysler has a winner on their hands and finally a vehicle that can rack up serious numbers in the midsize segment.

EXTERIOR

We don’t know if it’s the Italian influence that is reshaping the look of Chrysler, but we really like the looks of the 2015 Chrysler 200C. Inspired American design and beautifully crafted inside and out, the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 transforms what customers expect in a midsize sedan. The 2015 200 sedan showcases the new face of Chrysler and incorporates timeless design cues that let the car tell the story.

Clean, expressive surfaces define the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200; it’s a timeless American design based on simple elegance. The 200 sedan, with its muscular yet soulful presence, embodies a strong, sculptured exterior that drivers will want to touch and feel. The restrained design is not ornamental or full of line work, but instead showcases sensual lines and fluid surfaces which highlight the coupe-like appearance.

The all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 debuts the new “face of Chrysler.” The grille and headlamps are integrated for the first time and the updated Chrysler badge has an emphasis on the wing, which is more defined. The signature light pipe or available full-LED daytime running lamps (DRL), LED fog lamps and standard LED tail lamps give the all-new Chrysler 200 a distinctive, recognizable look coming and going. The Chrysler 200S model delivers an exclusive style – darker, more sinister – not found on other models in the lineup, or in the midsize sedan segment. The 2015 Chrysler 200S model features gloss black trim and accent pieces rather than the standard bright trim. The exclusive design of the daylight opening (DLO) trim, the area surrounding the side windows, is gloss black, and the 2015 Chrysler 200 is the only vehicle in the segment with this feature. Integrated dual exhausts are standard and the 19-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels as tested with velvet red pearl coat exterior paint completed the look. The more sinister appearance of the 2015 200S model complements the sportier driving experience the S model delivers.

INTERIOR

The interior of the 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan provides plenty of “wow” factor. Exquisitely crafted with high-quality materials and attention to detail, the 200 sedan’s interior is inviting and comfortable, rewarding drivers and passengers on commutes as well as longer journeys. Using four key principles – an emotional design impact, use of high-quality materials with honest material execution, state-of-the-art technology and clever storage features – and inspired by classic, thoughtful American design, the interior of the all-new 200 sedan is unequaled in the segment. The Chrysler 200 features interior trim and materials that are well-crafted, pleasing to the eye, soft to the touch and comprised of high-quality materials. Attention to detail is paramount and attractive components offer world-class levels of fit and finish.

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First Drive: 2015 Honda CR-V

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Honda called it a major-minor model change. The automaker increased the fuel economy and added another trim line to the 2015 Honda CR-V, but they also improved their best-selling entry level crossover vehicle in 60 other areas.

For 2015, the Honda CR-V has a new grille, new headlights, new front bumper, new skid plate and a tweaked front suspension. The rear end has a new fascia, new license housing and new bumper. It looks wider from the rear and now the crossover can be equipped with 18-inch wheels, in addition to its normal 17-inch rubber.

LED running lights are also available, a power tailgate is now offered and there is an available smart key.

The interior has gone high tech too. It has dual information screens. The center console is configurable, with easily reachable USB ports and the abilityto hold an iPad and large soft drink cups from fast food outlets. The dash has a clean saddle bag look to it as each soft touch layer flows down to a thin wood-like trim that spans across its width.

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