Achievable Indulgence: 2015 Lexus ES 350

Your pathway to luxury in a Lexus ES 350.

2015 Lexus ES 350

Like other premium brands, Lexus has been working diligently to attract and capture new customers. Unlike its competitors, it now has four lines of vehicles to get the job done. Specifically, you can choose a CT200h hybrid hatchback, an NX crossover, a rear- or all-wheel drive compact IS sedan or the larger front-wheel drive ES sedan to make the transition to Lexus.

Certainly, a fair number of customers upgrade from the Toyota brand, but this Japanese luxury marque also captures customers from the European and American brands.

2015 Lexus ES 350

2015 Lexus ES 350

A 2015 Lexus ES 350 was a recent weekly driver. It wasn’t the first time I’ve tested this large, front-wheel drive sedan, but its most recent visit follows the earlier model by about a year and the subsequent premium sedans that I’ve also driven. With a base price of $37,550 and nicely optioned at $45,230, the ES remains an important gateway to the brand and may be where you will make your own transition to the domain of luxury.

***See: 2014 Lexus ES350: Luxury for Americans***

 

For an entry-level vehicle, the ES 350 offers what a lot of first-time luxury buyers want: very good value, ample interior room and a high-quality build. The ES is one of the earliest Lexus models as the ES 300 hit the market in 1992 and remained in production through 2003. From 2004 through 2006 there was the Lexus ES 330 and beginning in in 2007, the Lexus ES 350 made its debut.

Incidentally, the model name corresponds to the engine size with 300 (3.0 liters), 330 (3.3 liters) and 350 (3.5 liters) representing the V-6 engine of choice. The current interpretation is the second generation model, introduced in 2013. In any case, the ES family has judiciously represented Lexus well for nearly a quarter of a century.

Indeed, that representation has Lexus articulating that the ES has “flagship style and amenities” even as it is dwarfed by the GS and LS sedan lines. Truly, Lexus has constructed a model that complements the larger sedans without leaving customers wanting. The current model retains the naturally-aspirated 268-horsepower engine that has powered it since its inception, and has added a new multimedia system, making available Lexus Enform infotainment with smart control, and continues to point to its roomy rear passenger compartment featuring 40 inches of legroom.

2015 Lexus ES 350


2015 Lexus ES 350

View manufacturer details and pricing


Model Year Upgrades

For 2015, Lexus has also made its NuLuxe upholstery standard. You may insist that it is leather as it feels and breathes much like the real thing. However, Lexus’ engineers endeavored to create a synthetic material that simulates leather and has largely succeeded. The result is seating that looks and feels like the real item, yet harms no animals in the manufacturing process. It comes in lighter than leather too, providing the ES 350 with important weight saving characteristics.

Also new is Lexus Enform Remote, the most recent update to the brand’s infotainment and connectivity family. This subscription-enabled service provides the owner with remote view and control of the sedan. Specifically, you can use your Android- or iOS-compatiable device to connect with your Lexus. With it, you can remotely lock or unlock the car, start or stop the engine, adjust climate control, and use other services, including vehicle finder. A related Enform app suite can be tied in with IHeartRadio and Slacker, the latter an interactive Internet radio service.

2015 Lexus ES 350
2015 Lexus ES 350

Additional changes for 2015 brings in an all-new standard display audio system utilizing a seven-inch touch-screen, what includes HD Radio, Bluetooth audio, automatic phone book transfer, a vehicle information display and complimentary traffic and weather data by means of HD Radio. For instance, if a treasured tune comes on the radio while you are occupied with another matter, then select the cache radio feature to pause it for as many as 15 minutes, then listen to it later.

Further, the ES’ screen can be split into two or three sections to showcase functions simultaneously. For example, when the car is equipped with available navigation, you can examine the navigation/map as well as the audio, compass or other functions. Moreover, you get a 3D map with bird’s eye views with the navigation system. Furthermore, Lexus upgraded the navigation system to help you reach your destination faster with state-of-the-art and foretelling traffic data, such as detour preview, estimated time of arrival calculation and a low-fuel orientation featuring available fuel stations. The Lexus Enform App Suite is automatically included with navigation.

2015 Lexus ES 350

Siri Has Eyes For You

A feature added in 2014, Siri Eyes Free mode, can now be synched with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 models, what places choice Apple Siri technology at your service. Specifically, Siri makes its possible for you to call contacts, choose and execute music from iTunes, obtain turn-by-turn navigation through Siri and Apple maps, and govern other tasks.

As delivered, the ES 350 offered nine options and upgrades, what added nearly $7,000 to its price. Stylish 18-inch wheels with an enhanced graphic finish ($880), a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert ($500), and a power rear sunshade ($210) were included. This model also added intuitive parking assist ($500), rain sensing wipers with deicer ($155), and a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel and knob ($330).

However, the more significant upgrades each topped the millennium mark and included a lane departure warning and automatic high beam package ($1,015), a luxury package — real leather and wood trim — ($1,370), and a hard-disk drive navigation system with Lexus Enform upgrade ($1,795).

2015 Lexus ES 350

On the Road

The Lexus ES 350 travels from 0 to 60 mph in about seven seconds — not bad considering the size of the sedan and the engine offered. The engine is entirely suited to the sedan with generous amounts of power evident as you get started and while on the road. Torque steer, the bane of larger, front-wheel drive models, was minimal. Had Lexus gone with a turbocharged model, that negative characteristic would have been evident. Wisely, they left the standard-bearing V-6 alone as it supplies ample power as needed.

The cabin is quiet, the ride is soft and the interior has the amenities people expect in a Lexus. That threesome provides perhaps the best enticement people need to consider Lexus, with the ES 350 upholding its part of the market with precision.

2015 Lexus ES 350


2015 Lexus ES 350

  • Sticker price from $37,550
  • Price as tested: $45,230
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 gasoline engine
  • 268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
  • 248 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,700 rpm
  • 3.70 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10.8-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 111 inches
  • Length: 192.7 inches
  • Width: 71.7 inches
  • Height: 57.1 inches
  • Passenger volume: 100.1 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 15.2 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NR
  • EPA: 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 17.2 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,594 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Good — moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints & seats
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 6 years/70,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 6 years
  • Vehicle assembly: Miyata, Japan

See AlsoNatty Sport Coupe: Lexus RC 350


2015 Lexus ES 350 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.

Sport Sedan: 2015 Dodge Charger SE

Dodge’s brawny sedan also has a more subdued side.

2015 Dodge Charger

I am an enthusiast of traditional rear-wheel drive sedans. Large ones too: my first two cars were a Chrysler Newport Convertible and a Dodge Polara, although I admit having left that palatial reservation for about 10 years to drive econocars. Never again.

That my initial experience was with all things RWD had a decidedly MOPAR bent probably doesn’t matter much. That the same company that once manufactured the Newport and Polara currently makes large, rear-wheel drive sedans does matter, especially as its Chevrolet and Ford competitors are not building homegrown RWD models nor at prices the regular car buyer can afford.

FCA, better known as the Chrysler Group, delivered a Dodge Charger SE edition to my driveway earlier this month. That they surrendered a base model speaks volumes about the company’s confidence as the SE is the polar opposite of the much-heralded, entirely buzz worthy “Hellcat” edition that is gradually glissading its way to customers. Plunk down north of $60,000 and you will get the works.

2015 Dodge Charger

The SE most certainly is not a Hellcat, but it imbues the same muscular persona as the over-the-top sedan with its robust shoulders, sinewy lines, rakish roofline and handsome rear track LED lighting. Moreover, with its $27,995 base price ($30,580 delivered), the Charger SE contributes a bargain in the full-size segment.

Modest, But Noteworthy Changes

The last substantial change for the Dodge Charger took place in 2011 when the Chrysler Group overhauled its entire product line. Granted that the revisions were more evolutionary, than revolutionary, yet the current model has improved engine choices, an updated interior and as some would argue: superior handling characteristics.

For 2015, the Dodge Charger has received a consequential mid cycle refresh, one that removed the gaping grille and replaced it with a crosshair design, available LED fog lights, a new turn signal and daytime running light composition and a more vigorous profile.

The C-pillar was pushed rearward, giving this sedan a fastback expression. Indeed, the Charger is one of the more coupe-like sedans on the market, but it does so without compromise to headroom: Chrysler’s engineers conscientiously and deftly designed the rear seat so that rear passenger heads are just below the rear window, not the headliner. That brilliant styling verdict makes the already capacious cabin seem even larger than it is.

2015 Dodge Charger


2015 Dodge Charger SE

View manufacturer details and pricing


Pentastar Power and an 8-Speed Automatic

We’ll look at the interior later, but first the powertrain. Under the hood is Chrysler’s intrepid 3.6-liter, V-6 engine. It is the go-to Pentastar engine for all larger Chrysler vehicles and a capable one at that Some models, such as the Jeep Cherokee, are now powered by a 3.2-liter variant; an even smaller 3.0-liter V-6 is available in China.

For the Charger SE, this engine makes 292 horsepower at 6,350 rpm and an output of 260 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm. Those numbers are competitive and engineered to provide the right balance of performance and fuel economy. Truly, this model succeeds in both departments as it is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, the latter achieved for the singular reason that it is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. For example, I averaged nearly 28 mpg for my week-long tenure.

2015 Dodge Charger

Granted, there will be naysayers who won’t be satisfied with anything other than a V-8 engine. But that isn’t the purpose of the Charger SE. Rather, Dodge wanted to provide a car that is attainable, fuel efficient, yet preserves its suave demeanor. Mission accomplished.

Besides potent V-8 power, Dodge also makes all-wheel drive available to the Charger line. I was happy with rear-wheel drive as I wanted to experience the same driving characteristics as I have found in pricier and more sophisticated models such as the BMW 5 Series. Happily, I was not disappointed as the Charger delivered very good power and nimble handling all throughout that entire week. The engine wasn’t strong enough to cause tremendous oversteer, but I still managed to work the rear tires without an ignominious spin.

That being said, I’m much happier to negotiate rear-wheel drive oversteer than to do business with front-wheel drive understeer. And as for all-wheel drive, it is best left for the likes of pursuit vehicles and snow commanders.

2015 Dodge Charger
2015 Dodge Charger

Spacious Interior Room

Inside, the Charger SE offers excellent room for five. Sure, the middle rear seat passenger is relegated to the hump-worthy center area, but it isn’t especially dreadful. The Charger sits on a 120.2-inch wheelbase, an infinitesimally larger size than the spacious Hyundai Equus. Surely, the Dodge Charger’s full-size bona fides are beyond dispute.

Up front, sport bucket seats provide the support, including bolstering, that you would expect in this sport sedan. The standard cloth seats are comfortable, with generous amounts of head, shoulder, hip and leg room. To the rear is a split folding bench seat with a fold down center armrest. Surely, ride with two in the back and you will have plenty of space — not quite limousine-like room, but certainly a sedan service rival.

The instrument panel is marked by a pair of analog displays — tachometer and speedometer — with a digital driver’s information center located between the two. The expected cruise and secondary driver controls are stationed on the steering wheel, itself wrapped in leather.

The center stack has the UConnect display on top, one of the better infotainment systems in the industry. It actually works as intended, although I admit that this time I did not play with the voice controls. Widely desired, but notoriously scorned for lack of effectiveness — my take is that customers will get used to most systems…in time.
2015 Dodge Charger
Knobs and switches manage climate control in the Dodge Charger and that is a good thing. Below that is an open storage compartment for your smartphone with a 12-volt outlet also at the ready. USB and auxiliary input connections are located in the storage compartment between the front seats. The transmission stick is found between the seats and can be operated in manual mode with forward and backward clicks for shifting purposes. No paddle shifters with this model, but hey….

Dodge Charger: More Power at the Ready

In truth, there is a lot more that you can do with and to the Dodge Charger than what I experienced in the SE. This model also offers a Road & Track edition; a scat back package with larger tires, six-piston Brembo brakes and a flat-bottomed steering wheel; and three beefy HEMI V-8 engines displacing at 5.7-, 6.2- and 6.4 liters. Those changes add weight, enhance steering turns, and can boost the suspension system for track-ready driving. Further, those upgrades boost the price considerably, even doubling it in some models such as the Hellcat.

Where the 2015 Dodge Charger SE will most likely find much interest is with the driver who wants the model’s virile looks, plenteous power, fuel efficiencies, and superior value — what makes for a complete sedan for not just a few new car shoppers.


2015 Dodge Charger SE

  • Sticker price from $27,995
  • Price as tested: $30,580
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.6-liter 24-valve V-6 gasoline engine
  • 292 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
  • 260 foot-pounds of torque @ 6,350 rpm
  • 3.78 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 10.2-to-1
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 120.2 inches
  • Length: 198.4 inches
  • Width: 75 inches
  • Height: 58.2 inches
  • Passenger volume: 104.7 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 16.5 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds
  • EPA: 19 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,934 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Good — moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints & seats
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/100,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 3/5 years/36K/100K miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Brampton, Ontario Canada

More Car Reviews

Ford Transit: Work Van, Family Wagon or Fleet King

Quiet Diesel: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI

Compact Luxury Crossover: 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport

Sportwagon: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design


2015 Dodge Charger SE photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.

Quiet Diesel: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI

A diesel for Audi’s smallest range.

Audi A3 TDI

A quiet diesel powers this A3 sedan.

With gas prices falling below $2 per gallon in most states it can be difficult to argue for the benefit of purchasing any fuel-efficient car, including diesels. Besides, diesel prices remain about 75 cents higher than gasoline and may still keep some people from even considering these models.

Myopia is not just a condition of the eye. It is also a malady that we consumers must contest when making purchase decisions. When it comes to fuel prices, short sightedness can lull us into thinking that temporary gains will lead to a permanent advantage. Consequently, such purchase decisions are often deeply regretted once the stage has been rearranged. In this case when elevated fuel prices return, they will do so with a budget-busting vengeance.

Audi A3 TDI

Select This: Gasoline or Diesel

In the Audi A3 Sedan you have a choice of turbo gasoline or diesel engines. Auto Trends reviewed the gasoline-powered A3 2.0T in September 2014, finding that the “second generation A3 meets an important price point.” With a starting price of $32,600 ($43,295 well equipped), the turbodiesel edition brings an attainable and highly-efficient entry-level model to the luxury segment.

Certainly, 31 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway for a combined 36 mpg are numbers most of us can only dream about. In the Audi A3 TDI, a numeric nirvana has been attained.

The Audi ethos is not much different from other luxury manufacturers. Indeed, the A3 as well as the A4 provide an ideal gateway to the brand. Once you have been sufficiently wooed, Audi has entire lines of sedans, coupes and utility vehicles to maintain your allegiance. Granted, there are styling differences between entry and high-end models such as the A8, but the overarching theme endures.

Audi A3 TDI

Power to the Front Wheels

My test model was a front-wheel drive A3, the very first FWD Audi I have driven. Every vehicle sent to me hitherto was all-wheel drive. And Quattro all-wheel drive at that. For most buyers it does not matter if power is sent to the front wheels, to the rear wheels or to all four wheels — there are other considerations that matter more to them, such as, style, fuel efficiency and price.

Although BMW and Mercedes-Benz have fleets that are rear-wheel drive biased with available all-wheel drive, Audi’s design approach is standard front-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive pushed as the preference. But in the A3 TDI you have no such choice: front-wheel drive is the singular offering. And if you are looking for the previously offered hatchback model you will be disappointed to discover that only the sedan is available with this model year. Reportedly, a hatchback will be added in 2016.

There is no need for me to rehash the exterior styling and the cabin amenities for the A3 covered in my earlier review. Without doubt the most important issues here are the engine, transmission and front-wheel drive, what combine to make the forenamed model the fuel efficient beast that it is.

Surely, the A3 TDI lives up to its fuel efficiency billing. After one week of driving, I estimated my mileage came in just under 40 mpg. That high number was reached through extensive, almost exclusive highway and back road driving where posted speed limits ranged from 45 to 70 mph. To that end activating cruise control for long stretches helped matters too.

Audi A3 TDI

Clean and Efficient Diesel

Kudos to the Volkswagen Group for making a turbo diesel that is not only clean and efficient, but relatively quiet. Its clatter has been hushed through a variety of engineering upgrades, including shortening the injection lines with fuel delivered in pulses, what no longer relies on solenoid or mechanical actuation. Under hood sound baffles and improved cabin insulation help muzzle noise, but it just may be the delicious Bang & Olufsen sound system that does the best job of noise cancellation, especially if you are prone as I am to turn it up to savor every wondrous note.

To that end you will get the premium sound system by choosing the Prestige edition, an $8,450 upgrade that also brings in 18-inch spoke-design wheels shod within all-season tires, heated seats, a navigation system and a parking system with a rear view monitor and other enhancements. Other upgrades included an $800 sport package featuring S Line trim with sport front seats, drive select controls, sport suspension and a three-spoke sport steering wheel.

The Audi A3 TDI’s engine is activated by pushing the start/stop button. It isn’t an immediate start either, especially on cold mornings. Simply press the brake, push the button, wait two or three seconds, and the engine will come to life. When the ambient temperature is lower, the heating up process is slightly longer. It is at idle when engine clatter is more discernible; you might also take in a whiff of diesel that generally is not noticeable while driving.

Audi A3 TDI
Audi A3 TDI


2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI

View manufacturer details and pricing


A3 TDI Performance Amplification

Turbo power makes all the difference for diesel engines, what have notoriously make them laggards from the start, but offer desirable boost once you are moving. A slight turbo lag is felt, but it quickly dissipates. The A3’s proportionate weight is most definitely a factor, what helps power this sedan with confidence.

There were times when I forget I was behind the wheel of a front-wheel drive car. No, not entirely. Torque steer surfaces on occasion, but it is largely of little consequence. Credit Audi’s engineers with fusing the right combination of electronic-assisted steering, suspension dampening and Continental tires with keeping this sedan planted, even while cornering. Specifically, steering is precise and handling is responsive — there is no ambiguity present as you navigate the bends. And as for brake fade, that’s not an issue either.

The Audi engineering stratagem pairs turbocharged engines with dual-clutch automatic transmissions. Operate the gearbox in manual mode and you will achieve a measure of control, but it isn’t the same as with a manual. Whispers of a manual gearbox with the upcoming hatchback have been regularly repeated. if those rumors prove true, then your dream powertrain combination may come to pass. Granted, it may be offered with the 2.0T only, if at all.

Audi A3 TDI

Competition From Mercedes-Benz

This sedan has much to offer, provided that your priorities are based on Audi’s styling, quality and fuel efficiency attributes. That Mercedes-Benz now has the entry-level GLA-Class provides additional evidence that the segment is a growing one. If you can do without Quattro all-wheel drive, then the TDI may be a logical step in that direction.
Audi A3 TDI


2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI

  • Sticker price from $32,600
  • Price as tested: from $43,295
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 2.0-liter 16-valve inline-four cylinder turbo diesel engine
  • 150 horsepower @ 3,500 to 4,000 rpm
  • 235 foot-pounds of torque @ 1,750 to 3,000 rpm
  • 3.19 inches bore by 3.76 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 16:2-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 103.8 inches
  • Length: 197 inches
  • Width: 75.4 inches
  • Height: 55.7 inches
  • Passenger volume: NR
  • Storage volume: 12.3 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NR
  • EPA: 31 mpg city, 43 mpg highway
  • Diesel fuel
  • Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,341 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+ (2014)
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 12 years/Unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Gyor, Hungary

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.

Sportwagon: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

A new Volvo V60 from Sweden with love.

2015 Volvo V60

Following a dearth of models from Volvo, three models appeared as weekly drivers in my driveway in about eight weeks time. The Swedish automaker has been working diligently to ensure that it is not an afterthought with media folk and car-buying consumers alike, by serving up a succession of “60” models beginning with the XC60 crossover, the S60 and the V60 sport wagon.

Driven: 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

It was a 2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design model that was entrusted to me for the final week of 2014, a five-passenger all-wheel sport wagon that reminded me of the Volvos I regularly saw during my teenage years decades ago. The current crop of Volvo models are thoroughly modern in comparison to those earlier conveyances, yet the emphasis on safety remains. Indeed, you will be hard-pressed to find a line of vehicles with stronger safety features and ratings than you would in a Volvo. People may have other reasons for buying one, but Volvo’s safety attributes are always a leading purchase consideration.

Volvo is in a transition, what will bring several new and updated models to the market in the next few years. The Volvo V60 is a midsize wagon, introduced to the US market at the beginning of 2014. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional and four-, five- and six-cylinder engines are currently offered.

2015 Volvo V60

Multiple Models and Permutations

You may need to maintain a scorecard when discussing the Volvo line, especially some models, including the V60. Models with a T5 delineation are either front- or all-wheel drive. If equipped with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, this front-wheel drive model offers 240 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. It is priced from $35,750.

The T5 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbocharged engine delivers 250 horsepower and 266 foot-pounds of torque. This model is all-wheel drive and is priced from $37,250.

Select the T6 and you receive all-wheel drive, a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine and 325 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of torque. This model is priced from $45,510. Opt for the platinum edition and you will pay about $50,000 for the privilege of owning one.

The four-cylinder engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the other engines are mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. One significant commonality between all three is that each one has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. That makes for a decent towing number if light-duty trailering is essential to you.

2015 Volvo V60

Within the next year or two you will be able to tear up the Volvo scorecard. Due to a recent change in corporate policy, Volvo will soon offer a fleet of four-cylinder only models. That means the future Volvo V60 models will be powered by turbocharged or supercharged and turbocharged versions of its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. No more five- and six-cylinder engine choices in a bid to provide optimum performance and fuel efficiency from a smaller footprint. Diesel engines will be added as well.

Volvo’s inline six-cylinder engine is its largest motor and a marvelous one at that. Turbocharging certainly helps matters and absolutely puts the “sport” in the sport wagon. The only enhancement that would have sealed the deal in my mind would be an available manual gearbox. Volvo does not make one available, but you do have paddle shifters at the ready. Consider the shifters a consolation prize for the driving enthusiast.

Iconic Meets State-of-the-Art Design

The V60’s design is at once familiar as it is contemporary. How do you modernize a traditional appearance without losing what is so easily recognizable? By relaxing some of its more upright features, including the grille, windshield and pillars.

Volvo’s designers put forth muscular shoulders, modernized the headlights and outfitted this wagon with stylish LED daytime running lights. Its portrait is familiar, but a modern interpretation is at hand. To the rear you have a diffuser flanked by a pair of exhaust tips. The expected oversized tail lamp assembly is there with bells on — the latest interpretation of an emblematic design.

Within, the Volvo V60 provides the expected seating comfort and accessibility that the brand is known for. Five adults can ride in comfort, although folding down the rear center armrest provides two cup holders, a place to hold your smartphone and additional space to squirrel away your energy bars and other snacks. You can fit one-liter drink bottles in each in-door storage compartment if the prized middle row position is too valuable to give up.

I like the work that Volvo’s designers put into crafting the seats. Both the driver and front passenger benefit from contoured bucket seats with intelligently-shaped headrests. Each front headrest resembles a Star Trek design — far advanced and offering the safety protection the company represents. All controls are ergonomically placed and easy to comprehend. I like the body-shaped buttons in the center console that show you how to direct air flow — long live buttons and switches and make use of infotainment displays without confusing the user. Volvo’s success here should be duly noted and appreciated.

2015 Volvo V60


2015 Volvo V60

View manufacturer details and pricing


Volvo on Call Smartphone Integration

Volvo understands the importance of smartphone integration with the V60 and other models. Consequently, prior to you taking delivery of your new car, you will receive notification from the company on how to to prepare for connectivity.

The process is straightforward with those instructions beginning by downloading the Volvo On Call app to your smartphone — iOS, Android and Windows Phone are each supported. Once you download the app you will create a Volvo ID by entering your preferred email address, then clicking “order activation” email. Next, you will receive an email with further instructions, including a prompt to click on the Volvo ID and to enter your first name, last name and to create a password.

Another email will follow and a four-digit personal identification number or PIN will be sent. Enter the vehicle identification number (VIN), log on to your app and pick the correct region (North America, for instance) to support your effort. Complete a few more steps and you will be connected with Sensus Volvo On Call, opening up a world of expanded features for Volvo owners.

Once installed, Volvo On Call makes it possible for you to control your car with a touch of a button. If you have a flat tire or get into an accident, roadside assistance or emergency support is sent. Moreover, automatic collision alert and theft alert are included. The app also allows you to remotely control the climate with your smartphone, raising the heat on cold days or activating the air-conditioner during a summer swelter.

2015 Volvo V60
2015 Volvo V60

On the Road

Count me as a fan of the R-Design. I am a wagon lover anyway, preferring the lower-profile and utility these vehicles offer. Notably, a significant number of Volvo shoppers like them too, otherwise this model would have never made it stateside.

The V60 R-Design provides sufficient kick, taking this sport wagon from standstill to highway speed in just over five seconds. Yes, it is quick. Moreover, it does that with nearly 3,800 pounds of heft to haul. Rather impressive, huh?

The V60’s ride quality is superior to the majority of models and may be a significant reason why people seek out such vehicles. Smooth, comfortable and relaxing, the V60 performs as well as many other vehicles on the road. In other words, you will not need to consider that utility vehicle you have been eying all along.

Handling is fairly positive with the sport wagon, but it could be enhanced. Body roll is present, on the other hand it is not nearly as noticeable as you would find in a front-wheel drive model. I do not particularly like front-wheel drive in any model larger than a compact, therefore keep that in mind when shopping in this segment — all-wheel drive offers the improved handling characteristics some buyers demand.

2015 Volvo V60
2015 Volvo V60

Parting Shots

Personally, a sport wagon is not on my list of potential buys. Nevertheless, it meets the requirements of enough shoppers to make this model worthy of consideration. All-wheel drive makes the Volvo V60l a particularly attractive one to consider and the inline six-cylinder engine has plenty of kick. Perhaps its only deficiency is a lack of a rear view monitor, an especially strange omission from safety-conscious Volvo.


2015 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design

  • Sticker price from $45,150
  • Price as tested: from $48,225
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.0-liter 24-valve turbocharged V-6 gasoline engine
  • 325 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
  • 354 foot-pounds of torque @ 3,000 rpm
  • 3.23 inches bore by 3.67 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 9:3-to-1
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  • Length: 182.5 inches
  • Width: 73.4 inches
  • Height: 58.4 inches
  • Passenger volume: NR
  • Storage volume: 43.8 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
  • EPA: 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 17.8 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,790 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 48 months/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 48 months/50,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 144 months
  • Vehicle assembly: Gothenburg, Sweden

2015 Volvo V60 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.

Coupe or Convertible: Lexus IS 350 C F Sport

Up and down fun with a Lexus IS350 C.

2015 Lexus IS C

Is it a coupe or a convertible? Well, both if you choose the Lexus IS C.

Lexus has three entry-level lines to attract customers to the brand. Its ES 350 is a large, front-wheel drive sedan. The CT 200h is a compact hybrid hatchback and the IS represents a family of vehicles that target BMW’s vaunted 3/4 Series.

Lexus’ unique approach to the luxury market explains why it routinely competes with BMW and Mercedes-Benz for sales leadership in the United States. For 2014, Lexus finished in third place, yet it has won the top position several times as well. The rear-wheel drive IS is a strong competitor, offering a family of vehicles for your consideration. The Lexus IS 350 C F Sport is one such model — a hard-top convertible that doubles as a coupe — and was a recent Auto Trends weekly driver.

Lexus IS 350 C

We Are Family

Before we examine the model at hand, you should know that the IS line is fragmented, but not in an objectionable way. The IS 250 and IS 350 sedans, including F Sport editions, were all new for 2014. The sedans had not been updated in eight years and received a much needed transformation. The C or coupe models were introduced in 2009, but still have the same design. New models are likely on the way, although they won’t appear before 2016.

I have driven both the previous and most recent versions of the sedan and now have the coupe under my belt. Both lines are powered by V-6 engines, the lesser one displacing at 2.5 liters (IS 250) and the larger engine at 3.5 liters (IS 350). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the model line.

Both engines are naturally aspirated and produce 204 horsepower in the IS 250 and 306 horsepower in the IS 350. I must state emphatically that the base engine is comparably feeble and will disappoint anyone who places value on performance. Auto Trends has learned that a turbocharged four-cylinder engine is being readied to replace the base engine and that motor cannot come soon enough.

The larger V-6, however, is a different animal. Whereas the smaller engine is akin to a pussy cat, the bigger engine is a mountain lion. Both models offer available F Sport packages that up both the luxury and handling quotient. Nonetheless, the F Sport line should not be confused with F Performance, what represents the potent power offered in the delicious RC F coupe.

Lexus IS C

The Stealth Convertible

One of the fun things about the IS C is that at first glance it fools the masses that it is a hard-top convertible. That is certainly not apparent from the front and only when you run your eyes from the leading edge of the roof to the trunk do you see the cut outs whereby the roof folds itself section by section into the trunk. Similarly, the now defunct Chrysler 200 Convertible also offered a hard-top design; admittedly this Lexus is a superior vehicle.

Given its older design, the coupe does not have the now popular hourglass fascia and angular lines of the sedans. It still provides a sporty design and a fetching one at that. In the F Sport you get a few styling embellishments that set it apart from the standard models. A special F Sport grille, lip spoiler and aerodynamically enhanced body elements underscore this model’s already athletic posture.

Lexus IS C

Inside, you have a 2+2 seating formation and the rear seats are not entirely off limits. Long trips for adults will not be especially comfortable, however if you are cruising the boulevard on a summer evening with the top down, you will see and be seen in style.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive, yet there are no seat extenders present. Aluminum pedals, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel column and analog tachometer and speedometer displays are on board. A digital driver’s information center is located between the analog displays; cruise and audio controls are found on the steering wheel.

The center stack display is colorful, but modest, and switches located below that operate same. Both the steering wheel and the transmission shifter are wrapped in leather, the latter of metal construction and matching the center cover. Lift the sliding arm rest and a small-scale storage compartment is at hand. Other storage areas include: the glove box, in-door pockets and the seat back pockets. Two cup holders are found up front and two are located in back. Both sets are found between the seats.


2015 Lexus IS C

View manufacturer details and pricing


Lexus IS C
Lexus IS C

Easy Does It

Dropping the top on this coupe takes a bit of preparation. Here, you are dealing with a three-section aluminum roof, one that folds neatly into the trunk. You need to ensure that your trunk is clear first and that is best accomplished by raising the trunk, pulling an extendable “tarp” into place and locking same.

Only when sensors detect “all clear” will the roof begin its fun-to-watch descent. Simply push the appropriate switch, hold your finger in place and count the seconds for the roof to disappear and the trunk to return to its normal position. Lexus says it takes 20 seconds to complete the fold-down process and it finishes that work as promised. The switch controls everything — no final connection of the roof’s leading edge to the top of the windshield from you. When everything is in place, the instrument panel will confirm same.

Notably, the cabin is whisper quiet with the convertible top in place. It parallels the noise level found in other coupes, making for quite an engineering accomplishment that Lexus’ designers and engineers should be proud of.

2015 Lexus IS C

On the Road

Behind the wheel is where the fun begins. But, with one important qualification: this model deserves a manual transmission. You can get one with the BMW 4 Series, the Cadillac ATS Coupe and in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, yet for some reason Lexus discontinued the manual transmission a few years back. That is a sinful omission for driving enthusiasts and likely has cost Lexus some sales.

Without benefit of a manual, you do have paddle shifters at the ready. In most cars I find them pointless — a half-baked scheme that neither satisfies the desire for engaged driving nor delivers much substance. In the IS C you do benefit from a sport-tuned suspension with all its inherent stiffness included.

Off the line acceleration is about average, nevertheless the IS C does transition to highway speed quickly. Handling and braking is satisfactory — if the vehicle feels heavy it is: weighing just under two tons. Still, it tackles every twist and turn of the road without wandering and not once did I find myself fighting the steering wheel for control.

Hopefully, Lexus will shave about 500 pounds off the next generation model and offer a manual gearbox. One week removed from driving the Cadillac ATS Coupe and I can tell you that Lexus has much work to do. Kudos on the convertible top, however the interior needs updating and the overall experience could be improved.

Lexus IS C
Lexus IS C


2015 Lexus IS 350 C F Sport

  • Sticker price from $49,790
  • Price as tested: from $55,610
  • Seats 4 occupants
  • 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 gasoline engine
  • 306 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
  • 277 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,800 rpm
  • 3.70 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 11.8-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 107.5 inches
  • Length: 182.5 inches
  • Width: 80.5 inches
  • Height: 70.9 inches
  • Passenger volume: 87.9 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 10.8 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: NR
  • EPA: 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
  • Premium grade gasoline required
  • Fuel tank: 17.2 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,872 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: NR
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 6 years/70,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 6 years
  • Vehicle assembly: Miyata, Japan

2015 Lexus IS C photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.

Reinvigorated: 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Rapidly falling gas prices will squeeze Camry Hybrid sales.

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Through 2014, the Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car model in America, outpacing the likes of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and its own compact sibling, the Toyota Corolla. Sales of the standard-bearer Camry routinely top 400,000 units per year, keeping this front-wheel-drive midsize sedan securely on top of its segment each year.

Toyota, moreover, has seen that Camry competition is growing with the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy and Chevrolet Malibu among the other models clamoring for sales. In 2012, Toyota released the seventh generation Camry, but for 2015 it made a significant refresh in response to more recent changes made by its competitors.

The current iteration is its most stylish one yet and although it hardly offers the driving dynamics found in some other segments, it delivers a look, value and dependability shoppers expect. My test drive of a 2015 Toyota Camry was with its hybrid version, itself a sporty and attractive four-door model.

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Steadily Falling Fuel Prices

Before I press on with the hybrid’s review, it bears mentioning that fuel prices have been steadily falling over the past three months, dropping below $2 per gallon in some locations. Car manufacturers that have invested billions of dollars in electric vehicle technology will soon see already tepid demand for all types of EVs fall even further.

Concerns raised by industry experts such as Chris Knittel, a professor of energy economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, point to slow sales ahead. Knittel told the Los Angeles Times, “Low gas prices can undo the progress we’ve made in green technology.” Further, he noted that companies have less of an incentive to pour their monies into new technologies, while consumers look elsewhere.

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Revised Look

Take one look at any Camry — standard or hybrid — and it is evident that its design has been refreshed inside and out.

Its face mirrors the recent changes made to other models, including the compact Corolla and large Avalon sedans, with a trapezoidal grille topped by a distinctive horizontal bar. Hood creasing, boomerang LED lights and sleek headlights combine to give this model a sportier persona. The sedan’s profile characteristics, choice of wheels, wrap-around tail lamps and exhaust ports each contributes to the sedan’s sportier flair.

Cabin Features

Inside, the cabin seems and is more refined. The familiar upper dash is in place, but everything else has been changed.

The hybrid’s instrument panel is dominated by a pair of analog displays — on the left is a hybrid power read out, what replaces the traditional tachometer — to the right is a speedometer. In the center is a digital driver’s information center, customizable to display vehicle, infotainment or navigation information.

The center console is marked by a six-inch display, with buttons and switches surrounding same. Most Camry models offer some version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with available navigation. The screen displays navigation, audio and climate information and also provides such apps as Yelp guides and Pandora radio.

Beneath the display in the Hybrid SE are the dual-zone climate controls, a covered storage compartment, the transmission stick and two cup holders. Between the seats are switches to put the sedan in Eco or EV mode, the latter functioning at crawling speeds.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Overall, the interior look features a good amount of soft touch materials, stitching and bright work trim. The seats in the test model are made of SofTex, a synthetic material that looks and feels like leather. Toyota says that it weighs half as much as regular leather and is easier to clean. Importantly, no animal-based materials were used in the production of these seats.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid offers seating for five — two bucket seats up front and a split bench seat to the rear. The driver’s seat offers 8-way power adjustment with lumbar support; the front passenger has 4-way support.

The rear seat folds down and offers a center armrest with cup holders and a pass through to the trunk. There is ample room for three adults in the back with sufficient amounts of head, shoulder and leg room present.

The driver’s seat is comfortable, offering ample support and very good head, shoulder and leg room. The leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel has audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone controls. An overhead console with map lights and sunglasses storage, a covered center console with storage, an illuminated glove box and in-door storage with bottle holders are at the ready.

This model also comes with power accessories, a backup camera, cruise control, a pair of 12-volt auxiliary power outlets, four cup holders, four bottle holders, and 10 airbags. The exterior includes a sport mesh front grille, projector-beam halogen headlights, a color-keyed rear spoiler and a smoked chrome upper grille. SE Hybrid models also bring in a sport-tuned suspension.


2015 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid

View manufacturer details and pricing


Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota outfits its hybrid Camrys with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and pairs it with a continuously variable transmission. Also at work is a nickel-metal hydride battery pack that stores energy created by the electric motor and regenerative braking. Combined, the engine and electric motor make 200 horsepower and 199 foot-pounds of torque. If you are not familiar with hybrids, the sedan’s net power is comparable to a gas-powered model.

Importantly, the hybrid is rated at 40 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Alternatively, the hybrid’s fuel economy should be compared to the 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway achieved by the base gas-powered model.

Turn this hybrid on and you’ll be met with silence. Keep your eyes on the dashboard as it provides the information you need to know whether this sedan is on or not. Shift into drive, step on the accelerator and more than likely the gas engine will kick in, especially as you put the pedal to the metal.

Not once while I was driving the Camry Hybrid did I feel as if power was lacking. Toyota’s hybrid system shifts seamlessly between gas and electric power, and is especially vigorous on the open road.

This model is equipped with electric power steering and has ventilated disc brakes up front and solid disc brakes to the rear. Handling isn’t particularly involving, but it is hardly numb either. Its braking is as good as you will find among other sedans in this segment.

All models come equipped with a long list of standard safety features. Besides the 10 airbags, you will find: stability control, traction control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and smart stop technology. Choose the XLE Hybrid and your model comes with a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. The advanced technology package brings in a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams.

And if advanced technology is important to you, then the available Qi wireless charging option may be worth a look. Place your smartphone in the eBin storage tray and this $75 accessory will keep it fully charged.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Parting Thoughts

If you are going to look elsewhere for a new sedan, then the standard gas-powered Camry is a good place to begin. The base Camry is priced from $22,970, although a fully-equipped model will set you back by more than $33,000.

Toyota prices the Hybrid LE from $26,790, the Hybrid SE from $27,995 and the Hybrid XLE from $29,980. Choose a top-of-the line hybrid and add in such features as an advanced technology package ($750), diamond cut face alloy wheels with Michelin tires ($1,529) and an Entune Premium JBL audio system with navigation ($1,490) and your price will come in around $33,749.

So, if you really want a hybrid and prefer a well-dressed sedan, your final price will come in at just $750 more than a comparably equipped Camry with an optional V-6 engine. Me thinks that you will also have more wiggle room at the dealership, especially if corporate slaps extra incentives for this model in a bid to stoke sales. It is a buyer’s market for hybrids and scoring a very good deal should be within your reach.

2015 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid

  • Sticker price from $27,995
  • Price as tested: from $32,000 (estimated)
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 2.5-liter 16-valve four-cylinder gasoline engine
  • 156 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
  • 156 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,500 rpm
  • Net 200 horsepower; 199 foot-pounds
  • 3.54 inches bore by 3.86 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 12:5-to-1
  • Continuously variable automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  • Length: 190.9 inches
  • Width: 71.7 inches
  • Height: 57.9 inches
  • Passenger volume: 102.7 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 13.1 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: Not rated
  • EPA: 40 mpg city, 38 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 17 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,565 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 5 years, unlimited miles
  • Hybrid warranty: 8 years, 100,000 miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky

More Car Reviews

Attainable Affluence: 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T

Executive Sedan: 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E

Hot Hatch: Ford Fiesta ST

Professional Grade: 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD


2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Attainable Affluence:
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T

Small Cadillac coupe is substantial on driving enjoyment.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Beginning with the 2013 model year, Cadillac reentered the compact market with its ATS sedan. In the 1980s it sold the Cimarron, a model that best remains forgotten. Where the earlier small car reflected poorly on Cadillac, the new model demonstrates that the brand’s decade-long revival has legs as it builds on the previously successful CTS line.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

For 2015, the ATS Coupe makes its debut and is the first compact luxury two-door from Cadillac. Both models sit on the same 109.3-inch wheelbase, but bodywork differences are apparent. The coupe has its own front fascia and front fenders; its roof, doors, rear fenders and trunk lid are also unique. The ATS Coupe also inaugurates Cadillac’s modified crest — yes, the beloved wreath is gone and not a few Cadillac faithful are happy about that.

Cadillac had the BMW 4-Series in mind when creating the ATS Coupe, a model that replaced the previous BMW 3-Series Coupe. As an entry-level luxury car there are any number of models from Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, Audi, Volvo, Lexus and others that might be shopped, but it is the sales-leading BMW that provides the benchmark for the segment.

The ATS Coupe offers two of the same three engine choices found in the ATS Sedan. Only the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is excluded — in the coupe Cadillac wanted to stress this model’s performance characteristics and with an output of just 202 horsepower the basic four just would not do.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Engine, Transmission and Drive Choices

What Cadillac does offer is your choice of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 272 horsepower or a direct injected 3.6-liter V-6 engine making 321 horsepower. The turbo has a greater output of torque, coming in at 295 pound-feet to the V-6’s 275 pound-feet. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, but the turbo can also be had with a six-speed manual.

My test model, however, was an ATS Coupe 2.0T edition with the automatic transmission. For much of the 300+ miles I drove it, I had the transmission in manual mode with traction control off and sport mode activated. Two other modes, touring and snow/ice are also present, but the combination I selected brings out the best driving characteristics for this model.

Indeed, my weekly driver was also equipped with standard rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available with the turbo only). I prefer rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive and both choices to front-wheel drive. It also sported 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza summer tires all around with different width and aspect ratios between front and back rubber. The weather conditions were cool that week, but not so cold that the tires felt heavy.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

On the Road

Step on the accelerator and you’ll experience turbo lag, what represents a slight delay in throttle response. If you are part of the cohort of driving enthusiasts put off by that sensation, then only the larger engine will do. Both engines will get you from 0 to 60 mph in under six seconds with the V-6 coming in around 5.5 seconds.

The ATS Coupe has a few other attributes that help make it a performance thoroughbred. A rigid chassis, Magnetic Ride Control suspension and rack-mounted electric steering supplied by ZF provides the road connection drivers in this segment crave. Body roll is negligible, steering is nicely balanced and every flick of the wheel provides an immediate and satisfying response.

It is on twisty roads where cars of the coupe’s caliber are best tested. Fortunately, there are quite a few in my area where traffic is not an issue. The ATS handled with precision although it did feel a bit rough at times, not entirely unexpected given that it comes with the summer tires. Swapping out for normal radials would likely ease that feeling, but at a slight sacrifice in overall handling.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe


See AlsoA Trio of Cadillac Crossovers


Model Highlights

The coupe’s sleek exterior styling is matched by a clean, nicely proportioned and upscale interior. But be forewarned: this is a 2+2 coupe, one with a sloping headline that makes the rear seat uncomfortable for anyone tall. Children and your smaller friends won’t have a problem — me thinks that most buyers will be singles or couples sans children or if youngsters are in the mix then their other ride is a utility vehicle. Please, no fighting in front of the children over who gets to drive what!

Wisely, the two-place rear seat is a 60/40 split-bench design, providing additional cargo room when needed. You may need that extra space at times because the coupe’s trunk is small.

Cadillac’s designers went for a handcraft and sewn interior with leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood inlays, aluminum and carbon fiber trim. No cheap materials found therein and the entire environment is as refined as you’ll find among its competitors.


2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T

View manufacturer details and pricing


Both front seats offer 12-way power adjustment with lumbar support and each one has a seat extender, although I would have liked it to have pulled out slightly longer as it does in the BMW. The seats offer good bolstering and support — no fatigue on my part, but then the seat heating elements also assisted in providing comfort.

Keyless entry and push button stop start are standard. Behind the steering wheel is a customizable “driver information center” or instrument panel to include a tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge and whatever other information you choose related to your infotainment system. I had it set up when I plugged in my drive coordinates, what frees up the center display for other information, including the audio. The panel was easy to read and the guiding voice continued to supply the directions I wanted.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

The ATS Coupe included Cadillac User Experience (CUE) and a display panel with large, colorful apps. After a handful of Cadillacs equipped with CUE have come through my fleet rotation, I must concur that it is one of the better systems available. The occasional misunderstood direction or dropped call was not a surprise — it was annoying at times, but typically remedied by simply trying again.

Other features of note with the coupe included: a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, Bose surround sound stereo, sport alloy pedals and power outside heated mirrors. Included safety features ranged from front and rear park assist to a rear vision camera. A driver awareness package brings in a safety alert seat that vibrates your back side to warn you of potential collisions, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and rain sense wipers. A head up display is also available.

I particularly liked the coupe’s outside lights, what provide an extra measure of lighting as you make your way from your car to your home, store or office. The door handles illuminate, the head lamps stay on, puddle lamps are activated and special rear lighting engages. Combined, you get a safety and security feature that enhances the ownership experience. No worries — the lights turn off in about two minutes or you can shut the system down when you lock your doors.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Pricing Considerations

I’ve test driven both the BMW 4 Series and now the ATS Coupe and am impressed by what Cadillac has accomplished. I also took the Cadillac to a “Cars and Coffee Raleigh Grande” event for a “show and tell” and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from mostly everyone who stopped by.

You should know that pricing for the ATS Coupe ranges from $37,995 to nearly $60,000, the higher price point is reached when nearly every conceivable option and accessory has been chosen. My 2.0T Performance edition retailed from $44,935 and with the upgraded wheels, paint, interior and CUE infotainment pushing its final price to $49,600. That puts this small Cadillac smack in the middle of the price point among competing models.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe



2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T

  • Sticker price from $44,935
  • Price as tested: from $49,600
  • Seats 4 occupants
  • 2.0-liter 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine
  • 272 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
  • 295 foot-pounds of torque @ 3,000 to 4,600 rpm
  • 3.39 inches bore by 3.39 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 9:5-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
  • Length: 183.6 inches
  • Width: 72.5 inches
  • Height: 54.8 inches
  • Passenger volume: 83.9 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 10.4 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: Up to 1,000 pounds
  • EPA: 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
  • Regular grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 16 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 3,418 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: New Car, Not Tested
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 48 months/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 72 months/72,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 72 months, unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Lansing, Michigan

See AlsoCadillac CTS Vsport: Twin Turbo Performance


2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.