• Image Credit: Lexus

In The Autoblog Garage The Week Of March 15, 2015

As you probably know, many sets of keys pass between the team of editors at Autoblog. We do our very best to share impressions with every car we drive, with the aim of helping consumers and new-car shoppers like you decide what new models best suit your individual needs.

This week, our virtual garage runs the gamut from luxurious fullsize SUVS to funky hatchbacks and even a sport sedan that won't be available to purchase for several more months.

Follow along as we share important facts and driving impressions about five of the latest cars and trucks we've been driving this week.
  • Image Credit: Lexus

2015 Kia Soul !

– Brandon Turkus

BASE PRICE: $20,700
AS TESTED PRICE: $26,715
FUEL ECONOMY: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway
WARRANTY: 10 Yrs / 100,000 Miles
ENGINE: I4 2.0L
TRANSMISSION: 6-Speed Automatic
PERFORMANCE: 164 hp, 151 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 8 seconds (est.)
SEATING: 5 people
COMPETITORS: Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V

PROS:
– High-class interior, with sound materials
– Extremely comprehensive set of optional equipment, including air-conditioned seats,xenon headlights and a panoramic sunroof
– Smooth, refined powertrain, and a reasonably comfortable ride

CONS:
– Not available with all-wheel drive
– Fuel economy could be better
– Exterior styling may not be for everyone

CLOSING THOUGHTS: The second-generation Soul is a huge improvement over its predecessor, possessing a more upscale, grown-up interior without breaking the bank. That said, the lack of all-wheel drive hurts it, particularly for customers north of the snow belt who, right or wrong, won't consider a vehicle without four driven wheels.
  • Image Credit: Toyota

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T

– Adam Morath

BASE PRICE: $29,995
AS TESTED PRICE: $35,970
FUEL ECONOMY: 17 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway
WARRANTY: 5 Yrs / 100,000 Miles (Powertrain)
ENGINE: 3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT Engine
TRANSMISSION: 6-Speed Automatic 62TE Transmission
PERFORMANCE: 283 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds
SEATING: 7 people
COMPETITORS: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona

PROS:
– Competitively priced
– More powerful than competition
– Various seat configurations
– R/T trim comes with performance suspension and interior upgrades

CONS:
– R/T trim comes with same powertrain as other Grand Caravan trims
– Slightly less cargo area than Honda and Toyota competitors

CLOSING THOUGHTS:
There's not much new on the Dodge Grand Caravan for 2015, but I'll take any opportunity to rep for the minivan segment – especially the one that started it all. Our press fleet variety of the Grand Caravan came in the top-of-the-line R/T trim, which was packed with winter-friendly features, including a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote start and remote power sliding doors. Spending a long weekend with the Caravan, you realize there is truly no substitute for the minivan bodystyle if your situation calls for third-row seating and the ability to haul lots of cargo. More spacious than a station wagon, more seating than a truck, and easier to access and larger cargo areas than most SUVs, the minivan is a truly indispensable tool for many families. And, with a competitive price and sportier looks and specs relative to the competition, the Grand Caravan should make your shortlist.
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz

2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic

– Jeremy Korzeniewski

BASE PRICE: $54,000 (EST)
AS TESTED PRICE: TBD
FUEL ECONOMY: TBD
WARRANTY: 4 Yrs /50,000 Miles
ENGINE: 3.0-liter Bitirbo V6
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: 362 hp, 384 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds
SEATING: 5 people
COMPETITORS: Audi S4, BMW 335i M Sport

PROS:
– It's quick. It's fast. And no, those aren't the same things, exactly. There's plenty of power from the twin-turbo V6 engine, enough so that most drivers aren't going to miss the two cylinders it's down on compared to its big brother, the C63. And it keeps pulling well past any sort of legal speed limit in the United States.

– It's practical, too. Four doors means it can be pressed into daily driving duties, if that's what you want, and it has a meaningful trunk. M-B hasn't released fuel economy figures yet, but we'd expect something just south of the outgoing C400's city rating of 21 miles per gallon and 29 highway mpg.

– All-wheel drive isn't absolutely necessary, but it's certainly nice to have. In the case of the C450 AMG, the 4Matic system is tuned at a constant 33-percent front/67-percent rear split, which is supposed to make it feel like a proper sports sedan. It works.

CONS:
– Well... not many, at least not ones that matter in the real world. This sedan may be good enough to stand on its own merit as an AMG product, but it's definitely playing second fiddle to its bigger, brawnier C63 brother. Note that the C63 is a Mercedes-AMG product, while the AMG follows the C450 on this car, which is supposed to be an important identifier. We're not so sure it's that big a deal, but if you're shelling out well over $50,000 to own an AMG, do you really want the second best?

CLOSING THOUGHTS:
– Brand dilution concerns aside, the 2016 Mercedes C450 AMG is a great car. I drove it back-to-back with the latest C63 in Portugal, and I didn't leave thinking the lesser AMG was a better AMG, but I wasn't disappointed, either. Far from it, in fact. I can't imagine that anyone who buys the C450 AMG is going to regret their purchase, and in the end, that's what really matters, right?
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