DODGE DART Gt

*THE CAR: DODGE DART GT

Coming in well under $30K, the 2015 Dodge Dart gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It rides as well as can be expected, has lots of room and is surprisingly stylish.

The car, which has received top safety scores, offers optional electronics interface. The sound system is actually quite nice.

The touchscreen adds Android smartphone compatibility for Bluetooth phones and streaming music, as well as USB connectivity to play music from the device. However, the CD player is no longer standard. In fact, it’s now a stand-alone option available on certain trims.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: Engine: 2.4-Liter; Transmission: 6-Speed Powertech Automatic Transmission; advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Disc Power Brakes, Brake Assist, All Speed Traction Control, electronic roll mitigation, remote proximity keyless entry, front seat reactive headrests, Parkview Rear Back-Up Camera; Interior Features: radio 8.4 AM/FM/SAT/MP3, Uconnect Voice Command with Bluetooth, 8.4-inch Touch Screen Display, premium instrument cluster with tachometer, auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone, Sirius XM Satellite Radio w/1 yr. radio subscription, IPod control, Speed Control, automatic headlamps, power 4-way driver lumbar adjust

MSRP: $26,370

FUEL ECONOMY: 26/31

THE DRIVE: Pleasant

THE DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), the Dodge Dart GT gets an O (oh, yeah)

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE ALTITUDE

THE CAR: JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE ALTITUDE 4X4

You can’t look any cooler than when you’re driving a Jeep. It’s called swag! Be the envy of every other car on the street. It looks rugged, while staying stylish and it’s hip. It looks good and handles well. It’s a great, smooth ride! Whether you’re a cowboy or a Wall Street banker, you will look good driving a JEEP. Why? Maybe it’s the inclusion of blacked-out Jeep and Grand Cherokee badging, bumper panels, the grille, or maybe it’s the 20-inch glossy black aluminum alloy wheels. There is an upscale interior and a convincing and fuel-efficient engine lineup. Maybe it’s the full package. Jeep makes it all look good!!!

Ever since 2011 when it was introduced, the JEEP has managed to turn heads while becoming a brand favorite.   This five-passenger SUV has a 290-horsepower and 260 lbs-ft or torque. The Jeep has plenty of towing capability and is perfect for off-roading. The SUV’s competition includes the lower-priced Nissan Murano, Toyota 4Runner and even the Ford Edge.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: Engine: 3.6-Liter Pentastar V6 Engine; Transmission: 8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission; Quadra-Trac I 4WD System, advanced multistage front airbags, driver inflatable knee bolster airbag, LATCH Ready child seat anchor system, electronic stability control, hill start assist, trailer sway damping, cruise control, keyless enter-N-Go, ready alert braking. Interior Features: Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM/BT, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, 6 speakers, 7-inch LCD instrument cluster with Tachometer, rearview mirror with microphone, remote USB Port, towing capacity 6,200 lbs.

MSRP: $40,830

FUEL ECONOMY: 19/24

THE DRIVE: Fantastic!

THE DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), the Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude 4X4 gets an E (Exceptional)

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THE CAR: 2015 GRAND CARAVAN SXT PLUS

Ok, full disclosure! You are not going to look like the cool dad or the cool mom in the Dodge Grand Caravan. However, you will look like a smart driver. That alone may not get you any street cred with your teens, but you’ll be cool amongst the other moms and dads. Surprisingly, this recently updated, behemoth minivan doesn’t ride like a big clunker. It’s actually rides much smoother than I anticipated. The spacious, upscale interior is also pleasant and is perfect for any large group of family. If you want to make the minivan kid-friendly, you can order a Blue-Ray dual-screen DVD system.

When it comes to competition, the Dodge Grand Caravan is an OG (original gangster), going up against the Nissan Quest, the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna.

VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: 3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT Engine. Transmission: 6-Speed automatic 62TE Transmission; power liftgate, right power sliding door left power sliding door, advanced multistage front airbags, driver inflatable knee-Bolster airbag, remote start, power liftgate, automatic tri-zone climate control, LATCH Ready Child seat anchor system, daytime running lamps, anti-lock 4-wheel heavy duty disc brakes, electronic stability control, active head restraints, keyless entry with immobilizer, power door locks, 20-gallon fuel tank, fuel optimizer calibration, trailer sway damping, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome trim around the windows, fog lights, leatherette seats, 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, Uconnect handsfree group, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and Bluetooth connectivity with voice commands.

MSRP: $33,865

FUEL ECONOMY: 20/17

THE DRIVE: Surprisingly smooth!

THE DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), the Grand Caravan SXT Plus gets an O (oh, yeah).

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

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