$20K-$30K

$20K-$30K

2014 brought the first major redesign of the Kia Soul , but the South Korean automaker treaded carefully and didn’t meddle with the car’s styling too much. A wise decision, if you ask me. Not only because I like the Soul’s unique design, but it also didn’t make sense for Kia to change one of its best-selling models drastically. Sure, I don’t expect all of you to rave about its boxy styling, but the new Soul is quite rewarding when it comes to cargo and interior room, all backed by a comprehensive engine lineup. And it’s highly customizable too for a vehicle in its segment. Which brings me to the latest Soul-related news I want to share with you; the compact just received a couple of new models. These models carry the Mixx and Maxx names and come as high-specification versions of the familiar hatch.

The bad news is that Kia will only sell them in the United Kingdom, with no U.S. availability on the horizon. Still, this is further proof of what Kia is capable of nowadays and we can only hope the Soul range will soon grow in North America as well. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at what the Brits have in their showrooms as of September 2014.

Click past the jump to read more about the Kia Soul Mixx And Maxx.

You may recall my first drive experience with the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata. It took place in the heartland of Alabama, along I-65 at Hyundai’s Montgomery Assembly Plant. There I spent time in with all three Sonata models: the 1.6-liter, I-4 Turbo in the Eco model, the 2.4-liter, I-4 volume engine, and the sportier, 2.0-liter, I-4 Turbo. All three made a positive impression during the short routes over the busy afternoon. A more extended test was in order.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a Sonata 2.0T painted in Urban Sunset, much like the tester I had in Montgomery. Even the options list — or lack thereof — looked the same. Carpeted floor mats costing $125 was the only added extra my recent ride had. That’s not altogether terrible, as the Sonata comes with a healthy list of standard features, including the proximity key entry and push-button starting, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, a five-inch touchscreen in the dash with SiriusXM and Bluetooth connectivity, HID headlights, and LED taillights. The most noticeable feature missing is navigation, but it is available.

The Sonata proved to be a helpful tool in the week’s chore list — a list that included a trip to IKEA, hauling four other passengers around town, and jaunting down the highway while riding solo. So how did the Hyundai handle the week? Click past the jump to find out.

Click past the jump for more on the 2015 Sonata

University of Texas fans can now get their jollies with this UT-branded edition Chevrolet Silverado . The truck is decked out in Sunset Orange Metallic paint and features prominent Texas Longhorn logos above the rear tires and on the tailgate. Onlookers and fans of other teams will have no doubt which college football team this Chevy’s owner is for.

The special edition truck will be sold nationwide for an extra $795 on select Silverado trim levels, but the real story is that Chevrolet is its second year of a multi-year contract with the University of Texas as a sponsor for the school’s athletic program. “There is no more appropriate place to showcase the stronger, smarter, more capable Chevrolet Silverado than in the heart of truck country,” says Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet director of Truck Marketing.

Chevy is also the official truck of Bevo, the Texas Longhorns’ mascot. A Silverado HD gets the honors of hauling Bevo’s trailer around from game to game, all over the country.

As for the University of Texas edition Silverado, the package can only be ordered on two- or four-wheel-drive Double Cab trucks with the LT or LTZ trim package; or the larger Crew Cab version in LTZ trim. The truck also must be ordered with the Texas Edition Package.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado University of Texas Edition.

Abarth’s got a little surprise up its sleeve and it’s called the 500 Track Experience. The new Track Experience package gives customers a chance to enjoy a unique Abarth 500 that comes with a bevy of nice features offered by the Italian automaker, including sleek paint colors, fancy wheels, and a track day experience in Oulton Park, Donington Park, or Brands Hatch. All those tracks are in the UK , which is a bummer for folks in America, but great news for our Abarth-loving, friends across the pond!

The car itself is an important celebratory vehicle for Abarth. It’s limited to just 65 units representing the 65 years since Abarth was founded by Italian Carlo Abarth.

For those interested in the Abarth 500 Track Experience, the automaker is selling them at all 29 UK dealers at a price tag of £14,990, which is about $24,700 as of 9/4/2014.

It’s not often that a limited-edition vehicle comes with its own track-day pass, so there’s a lot of appeal attached to the 500 Track Experience. At the very least, you can buy one and let loose on any of the three tracks available. The track experience alone is worth a nice price bump.

Click past the jump to read more about the Abarth 500 Track Experience.

With all the attention directed towards the unveiling of the next-generation Mazda Miata , Hyundai threw a little curveball our way with the release of this rendering depicting the all-new i20 Coupe. Yes, the little i20 is getting a three-door version to complement the recently revealed five-door model!

Hyundai hasn’t divulged any details surrounding the i20 Coupe, which is probably its way of teasing of what’s to come. Sneaky, sneaky, Hyundai.

To its credit, the Korean automaker did give a brief description of what we can expect from the i20 Coupe. For one, it retains the i20’s long hood while adding a few elements to justify its sports style billing. The Coupe , it turns out, will get a sharply raked roofline and a distinctive roof spoiler. Those two new elements are likely meant to enhance the car’s sporty appearance, which makes me wonder if this model will bear some resemblance to the Hyundai Veloster.

It’s definitely something that we can all look forward to. Hyundai’s promising more details "in due course," which is probably the automaker’s way of saying that the i20 Coupe will find its way to a major auto show soon.

Paris in October, perhaps?

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Hyundai i20 Coupe.

Toyota is turning up the fun factor with the heavily refreshed 2015 Camry, making it more exciting to drive, quieter inside, and more appealing to look at. A new interior includes better materials and even a handy wireless phone charger in the center console. This update comes only two years after the Camry’s last refresh, but in its quest to excite customers with a more upmarket sedan, Toyota is staying poised on its toes, jabbing at the competition.

Though much of the car’s underpinnings are not new, the car will have a fresh feel and character. Revised suspension components make the Camry a better handler while upgraded insulation keeps NVH levels to a minimum. Outside, every body panel except for the roof has been replaced in a effort to liven up the Camry’s demeanor.

While the Camry gets a new look, the greasy bits under the hood will carry over. The 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder and the 3.5-liter V-6 return, as does the six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid trim carries over as well, utilizing the same Atkinson Cycle 2.5-liter I-4 mated to an E-CVT. All three engines are good performers and get impressive fuel economy numbers, though none of them will be setting lap time records or leaving burnout marks up Interstate on-ramps.

The Camry might not be setting records around a racetrack, but it sure has set plenty of sales records, leading the pack as the best selling sedan for the last 12 years. Toyota has sold nearly a million Camrys in the last two years alone. So is messing with success worth it? Click past the jump for all the details on the new 2015 Camry and decide for yourself.

Updated 09/02/2014: Toyota announced prices for the 2015 Camry set to be put on sale in late September. Prices will range from $22,970 for the LE trim and up to $29,980 for the Hybrid XLE version. Details after the jump.

Click past the jump for the low down on the 2015 Toyota Camry

Now that the Hellcat engine and its 707 horsepower has been introduced, it’s safe to say the 2015 Challenger is the most powerful, factory-build muscle car. But while the ink is still wet on the Challenger Hellcat and its outstanding performance figures, a brand-new concept is here to give Chrysler’s muscle car a totally new meaning. Meet the Challenger A/T Concept, the all-terrain pony that could put a Jeep Wrangler to shame.

Created by Joey Ruiter, the man behind several off-road vehicle, bike and even power boat projects, the Challenger A/T is still a concept car. However, the proposition is not just some silly idea thrown around just for kicks, but a highly customized Challenger that’s now capable to run across the desert alongside the Ford SVT Raptor . Will we be able to buy such a contraption at a Chrysler dealership? Not likely, but it’s a great idea to start from if you want to go dirt racing in a massive coupe like Dodge Challenger.

Click past the jump to read more about the Dodge Challenger A/T Concept.

The Scion FR-S and its corporate cousins the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 are still relatively new to the sports car scene, having been launched in 2012. The cars represent an interesting alliance between Subaru and Toyota , two Japanese automakers, with Toyota taking care of the design work and Subaru handling the greasy bits underneath.

Though the cars have been well received by journalist and enthusiast the world over, it seems sales, at least in the U.S., arn’t living up to the hype with just over 40,000 FR-S units moved since 2012 and roughly 18,000 BRZs sold. That’s an oddity considering just how well the cars fulfill the sport car checklist.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a Scion FR-S getting to know its personality. My tester came equipped with nothing more than optional six-speed automatic transmission. No navigation or SiriusXM; just an honest sports coupe with a willing powerplant and skinny tires that made driving anywhere an exciting event.

Click past the jump for the full rundown of the 2014 Scion FR-S

Launched in 2012 for the 2013 model year, the Mazda CX-5 is one of the newest crossovers on the market. Sharing its platform with the smaller Mazda3 and Mazda6 sedans, the CX-5 was Mazda’s first vehicle featuring the new KODO design language and the company’s SkyActiv technology. Available in North America since 2013, the U.S.-spec CX-5 is offered with two engines. The base, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder generates 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.5-liter, four-banger is rated 184 ponies and 185 pound-feet. A six-speed autobox comes standard on three of four trims, while the FWD entry-level model is equipped with a six-speed manual. In Europe, Mazda is also selling a diesel version, powered by a 2.2-liter, inline-four that delivers as much as 173 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Coming into 2015, roughly three years since its debut, the Mazda CX-5 is received its first mid-cycle facelift.

Although the CX-5 is far from being old and still enjoys great success in the U.S. market, the Japanese automaker decided some nips and tucks are necessary in order for the crossover to keep up with its competitors. Changes are anything but wild, but customers will enjoy a couple of significant exterior updates.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Mazda CX-5.

The Kia Sorento was launched in 2002 and went on sale in the United States the following year. The first-generation Sorento was a traditional body-on-frame SUV with off-road capabilities and a four-wheel drive system. The first-gen Sorento was replaced in 2009, when Kia introduced a completely redesigned vehicle. Now built on a car-based platform and relegated to crossover status, the second-gen Sorento began rolling off the West Point, Georgia production line for the 2010 model year. Slightly longer than its predecessor, the updated Sorento gained new 2.4-liter and 3.5-liter V-6 engines on U.S. soil.

The crossover received yet another makeover for the 2013 model year. Although Kia introduced it as a third-generation model with an all-new chassis and redesigned front and rear fascias, the update is commonly considered a facelift rather than a brand-new generation. Going into 2015, Kia introducing a revamped Sorento with hefty updates inside and out, including a longer wheelbase.

Updated 08/11/2014: Kia unveiled the first images of the new generation Sorento, with weeks before after its official debut in Paris. Details after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Kia Sorento.


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