|2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco.|
|The 2015 Toyota Camry XLE.|
Beyond that, Toyota is marketing the Camry with models that have their own distinct personalities. We've driven three of them, very nearly back-to back, recently.
|The 2015 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan.|
Just days ago, I gave a positive review of the 2015 Honda Civic Si sedan, praising its 205 horsepower V-TECH engine and six-speed manual transmission. Seven months ago today, I wrote a review of the 148-horsepower 2014 Honda Civic EX-L sedan with a continuously variable transmission and said that, playing with my own money, I'd buy a new Corolla instead.
As I've said before, though, an awful lot of how you feel about a car has to do with where and under what conditions you drive it. Last summer's '14 Civic EX-L was driven in and around town, to and from work...a 70/30 mix of urban freeways and city streets. The '15 racked up a bunch of highway miles. And showed a completely different side of its character.
|The 2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.|
|The 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Trail Premium.|
|The 2015 Honda CR-V Touring.|
The CR-V is still powered by a 2.4-liter, 185 horsepower four-cylinder engine (now with i-VTEC). The transmission has changed from a five-speed automatic to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and because of that change, the EPA mileage figures have improved. What was 22 mpg city is now 26 and what was 30 highway is now 33.
But the big news for 2015 is a new top-of-the-line trim level.
Hip-hop and minivans do not usually mix, but Toyota got laughs and accolades for its 2010 music video when it introduced the 2011 Sienna "Swagger Wagon", and now that the Sienna's been refreshed, they've enlisted Busta Rhymes for a new "Swagger Wagon" video:
Call me old school, but I preferred the original video. The 2015 Sienna, on the other hand, is much improved.
|The 2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan.|
Here's a TireKicker Top Tip: Plunk down an extra $280 at the Honda store and get the 2015 Civic Si sedan.
|The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T.|
|The 2015 Infiniti QX70.|
Beyond the name change, the mission is the same: To build a crossover that competes directly with the Lexus RX 350 with more power and far more flamboyant styling.
|The 2015 Kia Soul EV.|
Secondly, it seems either the EV itself is a pain in the backside (Mitsubishi i-MIEV, Nissan Leaf) or the fellow EV drivers on whose decency one depends to get re-charged and back on the road are (Honda Fit EV).
The Kia Soul EV is a breath of fresh air.
|The 2014 Ford Fusion (Titanium model shown).|
Chalk it up to the Aston-Martin inspired nose and the slick bodywork trailing it that debuted for the 2013 model year. But the Fusion's beauty is more than skin deep.
|The 2015 Lexus RX 350.|
I thought not.
|The 2015 Toyota Yaris.|
Blame that on a four-speed automatic transmission as opposed to the Versa and Fit's continuously variable transmissions. Four gears equates to higher RPMs at speed, which means worse fuel economy, and a higher level of noise and harshness.
|The 2015 Honda Fit.|
This is why I started TireKicker seven years ago...to stop the madness and to evaluate cars on their own merit, in a way that is actually of some use to the people who spend their own money to buy them. And for those people, the 2015 Honda Fit is still a solid choice and a strong value proposition.
|2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T.|
|2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid.|
|1968 Ford Brochure.|
In the C-Max Hybrid, Ford's Toyota Prius V-fighter, it has a different idea. Better? Let's see.
|2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In.|
|The 2014 Toyota Venza.|
Over the past few years, we've made our admiration known for the Toyota Venza. It's the closest thing extant to a Camry wagon, and looks a lot slicker than the last iteration of those.
Venzas don't get a lot of love from the enthusiast automotive journalism community, but for those few of us who write from a more everyperson perspective, Venza's about as solid as they come.