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First Drive: 2016 Kia Optima

Kia recently brought us out to beautiful Aspen, Colorado to test drive the all-new 2016 Kia Optima on some stunning mountain roads. This sunny landscape with the lovely fall leaves was a perfect setting for Kia to introduce the redesigned version of the most important vehicle in the Kia lineup. The Optima has been a big hit for Kia and sales continued to increase nicely this past year. Naturally, Kia’s goal is to build on the success of this sharp yet practical mid-size sedan which has become one of the staples in a crowded segment.

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First Drive: 2016 Nissan Maxima

I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Several decades ago the Nissan Maxima was one of the few sedans you would think of apart from the German cars when someone mentioned they really wanted a sport sedan. Fortunately for other car brands that has changed in the years since, but for Nissan it puts more pressure to get the new Maxima right in today’s more competitive environment.

The most recent generation Maximas weren’t bad but there wasn’t much that made the vehicles stand out. With the all-new 2016 Maxima we now have the eighth generation and Nissan appears to have another winner on its hands.

Exterior

It all starts with the exterior design, which you can see from the photos is impressive from all angles. I was curious as to what Nissan would do with the front grille of the Maxima after seeing the more cautious designs for the front of the Altima and the Sentra. Instead we see a more distinctive, unique and ambitious “V-Motion” front grille that’s similar to what we saw with the Rogue. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but as our day went on it started to grow on me. It works with the rest of the vehicle which is beautifully designed and it fits the more aggressive image of the Maxima.

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Car Review: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T

I first drove the 2015 Hyundai Sonata last summer when the all-new design was introduced, and I noted then how much I liked the evolution of the Sonata design. The Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language led to a more refined and upscale look for the Sonata that should help the vehicle stand out in the crowded mid-sized sedan market.

I recently had the opportunity to drive the new Sonata for a full week and this experience reinforced the positive impressions I had last summer. I tested the Sport 2.0T which features a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that is optimized for lower-RPM drivability and produces 245 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque. I pointed out in my original review that you could feel the difference driving the turbo over the standard 185 horsepower engine so I was happy to have the turbo for the week. It won’t blow you away with its performance but the consistent responsiveness made this an appealing every day vehicle.

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Car Review: 2015 Acura TLX 2.4L

As we pointed out in our first drive of the all-new TLX, Acura has gone a long way towards revitalizing its sedan lineup with this replacement for the TL and TSX, so I was looking forward to having one to try out for a full week. The TLX model I had for the week came with a 2.4-liter, 206-horsepower i-VTEC inline-4 with 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with torque converter and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS). The TLX is also available with 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower i-VTEC V-6 with 9-speed automatic transmission and P-AWS, and with this version, you can get all-wheel drive as well.

Exterior

You’ll immediately notice Acura’s signature Jewel Eye LED headlights on the TLX. This new look has upgraded the styling across the Acura lineup and looks fantastic on the TLX. The overall design is sporty but classy, and compared to the 2014 TL the 2015 TLX is 3.7-inches shorter in overall length while maintaining the same wheelbase. As you can see from the photos, the TLX design looks great from every angle, and I loved the look of our Crystal Black test model.

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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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