I recently test-drove the Dodge Dart Limited and was presently surprised.

I drove the Volkswagen 2013 Beetle and felt rather nostalgic. I drove the Nissan 2013 Altima and enjoyed the ride.

I drove the Juke and smiled the whole time. The SRX AWD Premium collection knocked my socks off. Below is my review of the five vehicles.

dodge dartTHE CAR: Dodge Dart Limited

I must admit, I had a preconceived notion about what the Dodge Dart Limited would look like and especially how it would drive. I pictured a dated car with no funk to it. I pictured my grandmother’s car. Au Contraire! The Dodge Dart Limited is fierce, baby!  It looks modern and has a smooth ride. No more preconceived notions for me!

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: Tigershark 16-valve 2.0 liter engine; five speed powertech Automatic Transmission; advanced multistage front airbags, keyless entry with panic alarm

MSRP: $24,795


THE DRIVE: High-quality!

WHAT’S HOT:  The bright silver metallic exterior and the black interior!

volkswagon beetleTHE CAR: Volkswagen 2013 Beetle

The Beetle is a classic car. Even though it has undergone a slight change, the VW Beetle is still priceless.  Its petite size makes it easy to zip around town.

The 2013 Beetle, which ranks about 14th as an affordable subcompact car, has a diverse engine lineup.  It offers three engines and four transmissions. The base model has a 170-horsepower, five-cylinder engine. There’s also a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine.  The Base Beetle models are equipped with a six-speed automatic average 22/30 mpg. It offers four manual and automatic transmissions, which have five or six gears.

This Beetle has distinctive styling; a commanding turbo engine; fuel-efficient diesel and a high-style interior.

Music lovers will like the Fender stereo’s sound quality. There is also an optional navigation system.  The 2013 Beetle has a competitive amount of standard features, which includes Bluetooth and an iPod interface.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: 2.5 liter manual transmission; 200 horsepower, 5-cyl engine; 207 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional. The Turbo gets upsized brakes, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and 18-inch aluminum wheels; attractive interior with carbon-fiber-look dashboard trim and a dash-top pod with a stopwatch.

MSRP: $28,130


THE DRIVE: Like Beetlemania!

WHAT’S HOT:  What’s Not!

nissan jukeTHE CAR: Nissan Juke

Ok, everyone will not like the shape of the Juke. But, be clear, the Juke is no Joke! If nothing else, it stands out amongst small crossovers.  I’m not usually a huge fan of hatchbacks, but this Juke is off the chain!  Yeah, to some it may look funny. But the car is actually no laughing matter. It drives well. Lively performance; sporty handling; available all-wheel drive.  The Juke also receives a revised Navigation package on SV models that now includes a rearview camera and a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system. A new Midnight Edition package, with special exterior styling details, also debuts.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: 1.6 L Inline 4-cylinder, front wheel drive, Turbo CVT continuously variable-speed automatic; 188 hp @ 5600 rpm; Standard equipment on the entry-level S model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack. The Juke’s cargo area offers just 10 cubic ft. behind the rear seats and 36 cubic ft. with the seatbacks folded down.

MSRP: $18,841



WHAT’S HOT: Have You Seen This Car?

nissan altimaTHE CAR: Nissan Altima 2.5 SL

Get ready to like this car. This isn’t your typical family car. This Nissan looks good, has a smooth and quiet ride. It handles well. It has strong acceleration and fuel economy for both engines.  Currently in its fifth generation, this car is refined and fuel-efficient.

Other highlights include strong acceleration and fuel economy for both engines; gratifying handling; comfortable front seats and user-friendly electronics.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: 2.5-Liter DOHC16-Valve 4-cylinder engine Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), 182 hp @6000 rpm, active understeer control, 17” aluminum-alloy wheels.

MSRP: $30,105



WHAT’S HOT: Performance!

cadillac srx awdTHE CAR: SRX AWD Premium collection

This car has the ‘wow, this car is fabulous’ factor. I like it a lot.  I like the interior and the exterior. I like the way it handles the road and still manages to look chic and classy.  I like the way I look and feel while driving. I like the attention the car gets when I drive it down the street. I love the questions I get regarding the car when I get in and when I get out of it. The six-speed auto transmission upshifts quickly.  Clearly one of the top-selling luxury crossovers in the U.S., the road looks better and feels better when I’m behind the wheel of the SRX AWD.  This is a sexy car!!!

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: V6 cylinder engine, l6-speed auto w/OD, locking rear differential, all wheel drive, engine type: gas/ethanol V6, displacement: 3.6L/217, Horsepower (Net @ RPM): 308 @ 6800 torque (Net @ RPM): 265 @ 2400, transmission: automatic w/manual shift, turning diameter: 40.3, navigation system, wireless cell phone hookup, keyless start, sun/moon roof, cargo: 61.1 cu. ft.,  0-60 in 6.2 seconds

MSRP: $50,730


THE DRIVE: Classy!

WHAT’S HOT: Everything!

 Darlene Donloe is a seasoned entertainment and travel journalist whose work has appeared in People, Ebony, Essence, LA Watts Times, Los Angeles Sentinel, EMMY, The Hollywood Reporter, Rhythm & Business, Billboard, Grammy, CYH, BlackVoices.com and more. Contact her via: [email protected].

darlene donloe

Darlene Donloe