Volkswagen Golf and Chevy Colorado
2015 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF | STARTING PRICE: $18,000
If European car makers know anything, it’s how to design a hatchback. The Germans, with their VW Golf, may just be the best at it. Function, style, versatility, and yes, in some models — performance — come together in perfect unison. It’s no wonder Motor Trend named Golf the 2015 Car of the Year.
Even remodeled, the Golf still remains the boxy little compact it has always been. Design changes to things like the lights and a line here or there are subtle. It’s certainly not going to turn heads at first glance, but it will draw you in for a closer look – which is how it gets you.Take a seat inside and notice fine stitching details around the leather steering wheel, seats, and dash. Features like a Fender sound system and touch screen navigation kick the upscale feeling up a notch.
Interior passenger volume measures in at 93.5 cubic feet. Just as you’d expect from a boxy and versatile design, the Golf can carry stuff. The opening into the cargo area is 1.9 inches wider than before, and while that seems insignificant, little things can make a big difference. Behind the rear seat, there’s 13.7 cubic feet of storage up to the height of the package shelf, which is plenty of room for a week’s worth of groceries or golf bag or two. Fold down the 60/40 split rear seat and you get 52.7 cubic feet of storage capacity — enough for the minor projects of life.
Start it up and the 1.8-liter turbo hums to life. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, lag time is nearly non-existent and shifting is almost undetectable. Take the Golf out on the road and you’ll wonder at the fact that you’re in a hatchback at all. The Golf delivers 170 horsepower — nothing to shake a stick at. And speaking of sticking, this compact handles like a much more expensive sports car with a bigger, more tightly tuned suspension. It nimbly maneuvers its way through city traffic and feels downright luxury-like when cruising along at highway speeds. Opt for the panoramic sunroof for an even greater high-end driving experience.
When you pull the Golf’s door closed, it feels solid and the cabin does an excellent job of separating you from the outside world. Some small cars are in the habit of reminding you that you spent less than $25,000 or $30,000, but the Golf seems to make you forget. Add in the fact that you’re getting 25/36 mpg, and you’ll be smiling all the way to the gas station.
Ranging in price from about $20,000 to $30,000 fully clad, it’s hard to go wrong with the Golf. The basic vehicle design is the same but more money buys you more performance plus more bells and whistles. Golf also comes in array of models and options including the fuel efficient TDI diesel and Electric, as well as the R-model and performance-tuned GTI. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with the 2015 Golf.
2015 CHEVY COLORADO | STARTING PRICE: $20,000
Small is the new big. Or, more precisely, mid-size is the new big. While the compact pick-up segment has all but disappeared and the full-size segment has enjoyed near total domination, GM has found the hole in the market and redesigned the Chevy Colorado for 2015. The new Colorado is about 80 percent of the size of the big pickups, leaving off the 20 percent you never needed in the first place unless you were a rancher or contractor. But for the rest of us — those who like and need the utility of a pick-up but not necessarily the bulk or brawn of a Silverado — well, that’s where the mid-size Colorado fills the hole.
GM took the global platform Colorado and made it bigger, sportier, and tech-ier for the U.S. market. With higher bedsides, you get increased hauling capacity. With an aluminum hood and active grille shutters, you get better fuel economy. And with three different cab configurations and bed lengths, you can choose the Colorado that best suits your needs.
Inside, the cabin is both rugged and refined. Features like a clean, uncluttered instrument panel, thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel, bucket seats that hold you in place, and a color touch screen make you feel like you’re sitting in a larger, more expensive truck. Upscale models feature USB ports and a 4G LTE hotspot, which means you can have internet connectivity wherever the Colorado takes you.
Two different engine choices propel the Colorado. There is the 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder or the Camaro’s 3.5-liter V6, charging along with 305 horsepower. Base models feature a 6-speed standard transmission, but the more common automatic can be found in most models.
I tested the V6 model, which packs as much punch as, well, a Camaro. It’s quick off the line, accelerates smoothly and with confidence. You can get between 18-26 mpg, depending on your driving conditions. And if that weren’t impressive enough, the Colorado can tow 7,000 pounds.
With a fully-boxed frame, the mid-size Colorado provides a smooth ride, even for a pick-up. Gone is much of the bounciness and jostling, leaving you with a ride that feels noticeably less abusive. The interior remains somewhat quiet, even at freeway speeds. Standard safety features include six airbags, a rear back-up camera, stability control, and downhill ascent control. Also notable is a first for the segment: a forward collision monitoring system, which applies the brakes if a collision seems imminent. The Colorado also features a lane departure warning, which the driver can choose to turn off if he or she chooses.
So if you’re the person who likes to tow a camper or boat on the weekends, needs to haul things around for DIY projects, but doesn’t want the bulk of a full-size pick-up, consider the Colorado. It offers much of the capability of a larger truck, but does so in a smaller package, which makes maneuvering through the city much more attractive. You’ll get better fuel economy, to boot.
Base price starts around $20,000. Fully loaded, expect to pay around $30,000.
For more information on these models, visit MyCarData.com.