What’s Hot for 2016?
What a year for the automobile industry. After a recession a few years back the industry is roaring ahead with total US sales over 16 million for calendar year 2014, and with new cars, trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles that will have you saying ¡Ay, caramba!
No matter your vehicular need, no matter what climate you live in or how many people you need to tote around, the auto industry has your back with some of the finest vehicles ever built.
Decisive Latino looked at our Top Vehicles for 2015, and here are our choices for you, the
consummate consumer. There are many terrific vehicles on the market today, and the Volkswagen Golf, the Chrysler 200, Mazda3, Mercedes C-Class, Kia 900 and Ford F150 cover just about every need and price point!
Let’s start with the Golf, perhaps the pound-for-pound champ in the lightweight division. For the 2015 model year, the Golf combines a variety of available powertrains, affordability, reliability and class leading safety. Starting at just $17,995, the VW Golf represents a true bargain. Why? Well, tick off the list of standard safety equipment, and that tells just one very important side of the story: Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control with Anti Slip Regulation, and Electro-Differential Lock, Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution, Engine Braking Assist, Hydraulic Brake Assist, multiple airbags, crash-optimized front end and foot pedals, multiple airbags, LATCH system for Child Safety Seats, and much more. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the Golf a “Top Safety Pick +” for its outstanding occupant protection in all kinds of crash scenarios.
When it comes to comfort, convenience and even luxury, remember that Volkswagen is part of the Volkswagen Group, which includes stalwart luxury and performance brands Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Porsche. So while one cannot expect your Golf to look like a Porsche Panamera inside, rest assured the sporty hatchback comes equipped with myriad comfort and convenience features.
The Chrysler 200 takes things in a different direction, but is also a great buy. It’s larger and more luxurious than the Golf, as it should be, but it does not take bigger and better for granted. The “200” is also safe, with Anti-Lock 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Advanced Multistage Front Airbags, Driver Inflatable Knee-Bolster Airbag, Passenger Inflatable Knee-Bolster Airbag, Supplemental Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags, Supplemental Side-Curtain Front and Rear Airbags. Yes, there are knee airbags for both the driver and front passenger.
Standard comfort and convenience features include a Rear Seat Armrest with Storage Cup Holder, Overhead Console with, Sunglass Holder, Full-Length Floor Console with Storage, Front Center Sliding Armrest, Keyless Enter ‘n Go, Keyless Entry with Panic Alarm, Passive Entry Driver Door and Trunk, Air Conditioning, Tachometer, Outside Temperature Gauge, Power Windows with Driver’s One-Touch-Down Feature, Speed Sensitive Power Locks, Electronic Vehicle Information Center, Ambient LED Interior Lighting, Security Alarm, Active Grille Shutters (which assist with vehicle aerodynamics, Cruise Control, Touring Suspension, Tilt / Telescope Steering Column, Electric Park Brake, audio jack input for mobile devices, steering wheel mounted audio controls, remote USB port, audio jack input for mobile devices, six-way adjustable front seats, tire pressure monitor with display, two 12 volt power points, electronic parking brake and much more.
Base performance comes from Fiat’s 2.4-liter “MultiAir” engine, a capable unit that outputs 184 horsepower through a 9-speed automatic transmission. The 200 is drop dead gorgeous, super well equipped and priced at a point that competes with the highly contented cars from South Korea.
Another terrific buy is the Mazda3. I like to think of Mazda as the BMW of Japan. Why?
Because Mazda builds their cars, like BMW, with drivers in mind. Suspensions are taught yet compliant, engines are innovative and pump max horsepower out of small displacements, and braking won’t leave you shuddering in fear as you slow from high speeds. The “3” also does everything well. Available in 4 and 5 door guise, the “3” is also like the VW Golf in the sense that it comes stocked with safety technology, including Mazda’s impressive SKYACTIV-Body Ring structure, Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control System, 4-wheel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, available Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, E911 automatic emergency notification, Adaptive Front-lighting System, Smart City Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning System, High Beam Control, Forward Obstruction Warning, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. Chassis dynamics are similar in feel to the awesome MX-5 Miata, which is as pure a sports car as there is available today.
Stepping up a bit, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is all new for 2015, and is easily the best C-Class ever, quite a statement when you consider the C and E-Class Benzes have been sales “bread and butter” for the marque. The C-Class was introduced in the US in 1993 as a 1994 model, replacing the popular 190, the first “Baby” Benz. Today’s C-Class is no longer the entry-level model, with the CLA now holding that title. No need to talk about safety when it comes to any Mercedes-Benz product, as for decades they’ve innovated or perfected myriad safety technologies. The widespread application of Electronic Stability Control, now a US Government mandated safety feature, was first introduced by Mercedes-Benz.
So instead of repeating what you know is there, a fully contented safety portfolio, let’s talk about the “Baby S-Class” styling, and about how the new C-Class also takes the model more towards a higher combination of performance and luxury, at a higher price of course. Standard power comes from an impressive 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine outputting 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque (C300). C400 models feature a twin turbo six that will scare the pants off of many V8 powered cars (329hp/354 lb-ft). Both models offer decent fuel economy with the turbo 4 returning 31 highway MPG.
Inside, a touch-pad controller unlocks main comfort and entertainment controls, and you can monitor your fingertip prowess on the gorgeous 7” freestanding dash mounted screen. It resembles and iPad Mini on the dash, but we think it integrates nicely. All C-Class models now feature 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and prices begin at $40,400.
Our final automotive choice is the luxe Kia K900. With the K900, Kia is a serious player in the upper mid level luxury game, occupied mostly with exceptional products from Mercedes-Benz,Lexus, Audi, Cadillac and BMW. Now people still chuckle when they are asked would they plunk down $54,500 for an unproven entity, but that’s typically until they’ve driven the K900.
Yes, Kia has awakened the auto industry with their low prices, 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty and loads of standard luxury equipment. Think of the K900 as a larger, far more luxiourius version of the popular Optima sedan. They are styled similarly, and offer impressive bang for the buck.
With the K900, it’s all about luxury. How does a 9.2” color telematics screen sound? Want premium audio? The K900 offers Lexicon’s Discrete Logic7 Surround Sound System, 900 Watt Surround Sound Audio System with 17 Speakers, External Amplifier and Subwoofer, HD Radio and Sirius/XM Radio. Impressive? Oh yeah. No matter if you’re into Salsa or Tejano, your music rocks on this system.
Really, with the K900, the interior is about the nicest $55,000 place you could be. Perforated leather means your seats are heated and cooled. Dual zone climate control means you can roast yourself while your passenger stays cool. Unlike some luxury sedans, rear seat passengers are coddled in the same level of luxury as front. Yes indeed, please drive the new K900 before you pass judgment on it. You’ll be glad you did.
Our favorite truck for 2015 needs no introduction as it has been the best selling truck in America for 43 years and the bestselling vehicle in America for the past 32 years. These are phenomenal sales numbers, but then again the 2015 F150 is a phenomenal truck.
For 2015, things get lighter with the F150 as the truck is now primarily constructed from lightweight aluminum. Now in its 13th generation, the all-new F-150 derives much of its exterior styling from the 2013 Ford Atlas concept vehicle. In an effort to increase fuel economy, the 2015 model reduces its curb weight by up to 750 pounds through the extensive use of aluminum in the body structure and high strength steel in the frame. The only major component of sheet metal not made from aluminum is the “Quiet Steel” sound-absorbing firewall. Retaining the use of body-on-frame construction, the frame is constructed with 77% high-strength steel (up from 23%).
To showcase the durability of the aluminum-intensive design, Ford entered disguised prototypes of the model in the Baja 1000, which it completed. Some of the powertrain lineup is carried over from the 2014 F150, but a new, 3.5-liter V6 replaces the 3.7-liter V6 as the base engine, joined by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a 5.0-liter V8. Also new for the 2015 model is a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, slotted above the naturally-aspirated 3.5L-liter V6. Ford has officially released output ratings for this engine at 325 horsepower and 375 lb. ft. of torque. Just a few years ago, it was almost unfathomable that a pick-up truck would be powered by a V6 engine. The larger picture at hand is whether traditional truck buyers will be impressed with the lighter weight and better fuel economy of the new F150 (26mpg highway). Class leading features include a remote control power tailgate (thank you!); a 360-degree, split view, review camera; and twin-panel power moonroof. Interior and overall comfort in vastly improved over the 2014 model.
So is lighter better? You’d better believe it!