CAR REVIEWS

The Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan lives up to the luxury automaker's reputation with a high-quality design.

Owning a Mercedes is a goal of many upwardly bound car buyers; the name has a certain buzz around it and it’s associated with elegance and quality.

But is that buzz justified or just hype?

I spent some time recently in a 2015 Mercedes C-class sedan, which underwent a major redesign for this model year, and I’m back with a full report on whether this Mercedes offering lives up to its brand’s lofty name.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan
  • Price as tested: Base price: $40,400 Price as tested: $52,295
  • Best feature: Stylish design inside and out; smooth ride
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury sedan buyers looking for a high-end vehicle that lives up to its reputation and offers some cool new tech features
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The 2015 Audi A8 L is the luxury automaker's flagship large sedan, and it holds up very well in the segment

Luxury vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, from speedy little 2-seat sports cars to rare ultra-luxe imports that only sultans and kings can afford.

Toward the upper end of what I’d consider vehicles the average affluent person can afford is the full-size luxury sedan category -- These vehicles have starting prices in the $60K to $80K range, and with added packages some of them can jump over the $100,000 mark.

But for that price, what are you getting?

I recently drove one of the strongest entries in this category -- a diesel-powered version of the 2015 Audi A8 L sedan -- and I’m back with a full report. Quick hint: There’s a lot to like.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2015 Audi A8 L TDI
  • Price as tested: Base price: $85,100 Price as tested: $98,575
  • Best feature: Luxurious interior design, high-end tech features
  • Rating: 5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Buyers who want a sharp exterior look, sharp interior, strong mpg and sharp ride in a full-size luxury sedan
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The 2015 Toyota Corolla is roomy inside for a compact vehicle, but lacks power compared to others in its class

Even with relatively lower gas prices recently, people still like to keep their money in their pockets and out of the hands of oil barons, so compact cars will always be popular to some extent unless gas suddenly becomes free.

That’s where vehicles like the Toyota Corolla come into play. They’re bigger than tiny rides like a smart car or those baby Scions that look like golf carts, but still smaller than the midsize vehicle that dominate the market (think Camry, Fusion, Accord). It’s a sweet spot for many car buyers who want some room but don’t need a lot, and the under-$20K pricetags are enticing.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2015 Toyota Corolla
  • Price as tested: Base price: $16,950 Price as tested: $20,895
  • Best feature: Affordable price, exterior and interior design
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Compact car buyers on a budget who seek a spacious ride and are not focused on power
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The 2016 Mazda6 aims to gain market share in the midsize sedan segment.

When you’re battling established names in the automobile business, it can be tough sledding. You’ve got to come out with guns blazing, with a strong vehicle with impressive specs and performance that can battle those giants without fear.
 

That’s what Mazda is aiming to do in the midsize sedan market, as its new 2016 Mazda6 aims to shoot down some of the biggest vehicle nameplates in the business with its looks and performance and overall driving experience.
 

I recently spent some time in a 2016 Mazda6, and I’m back with a full report on what the vehicle has to offer and if it’s up to the task.

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2016 Mazda6 Touring model
  • Price as tested: Base price: $24,995 Price as tested: $29,315
  • Best feature: Great gas mileage, good price, in-car tech system among the best in the business
  • Rating: Four out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Folks looking for an affordable midsize sedan with decent speed and a strong design
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2015 Kia K900

Kia has been poking its nose into the luxury vehicle marketplace in recent years, first with the 2014 Kia Cadenza, and now with the even more impressive 2015 K900 full-size luxury model.

I recently spent some time in this new ride, which is making a bold march in Kia’s effort to battle established full-size luxury sedans from automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and others, and I’m back with a full report.

 

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The BMW 2-series is among the luxury automaker's most affordable options, and drives like a rocket

BMW is one of those automotive brands with a certain image, so many folks have preconceived notions about their cars.

For example, many folks think that all BMWs will cost them close to 100 grand -- that’s a false notion. For example, the vehicle I’ll be writing about here, a BMW 2-series model, starts out at $33,900. If you want to get that Bimmer experience and not bankrupt yourself in the process, there are some smaller models that us mere mortals can try to get into more realistically, and this is one of them.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2015 BMW 228i xDrive Coupe
  • Price as tested: Base price: $33,900; Price as tested: $41,375
  • Best feature: Superb engine and handling; so much fun to drive it could get you in trouble
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Anyone who is looking for a fun, sporty ride to take on the open road and is considering an entry-level luxury coupe
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2015 Hyundai Genesis

Yes Virginia, there are high-end Hyundai vehicles.

While the Korean automaker is traditionally known for its smaller, more affordable rides, Hyundai also isn’t shying away from its efforts to reach customers at the higher level of the spending scale -- battling behemoths from Asia, Europe and the U.S.A. with their offerings.

In addition to Hyundai’s full-size Equus sedan, an excellent vehicle which I recently tested, they also offer another high-end vehicle in the mid-size range -- the Hyundai Genesis. I recently spent some time in a Genesis and I’m back with a full report on this redesigned-for-2015 luxury model from Hyundai.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2015 Hyundai Genesis
  • Price as tested: Base price: $38,000; Price as tested: $52,450
  • Best feature: Classy design and high-performing engine
  • Rating: Four out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Folks seeking an upscale sedan, and are seeking more affordable alternatives to traditional luxury vehicles
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2015 Volkswagen Jetta

Germany’s national soccer team won the World Cup title last year in a brutally efficient manner. They were unassuming, just operated like clockwork and ran down and decimated their opposition -- including host Brazil in embarrassing fashion.

The Volkswagen lineup of cars is a lot like their home country’s soccer team -- not flashy in appearance or style, but great when it comes to delivering what you want under the hood and in your driving experience.

I recently drove one of VW’s most popular products on this side of the pond, a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta, and I’m back with a full report..

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta
  • Price as tested: $26,160
  • Best feature: Excellent acceleration and handling; a joy to drive
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Folks who want a fast, safe sedan but don’t need a flashy-looking ride
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