*I recently drove the 2014 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition, the 2014 Dodge Durango Rallye RWD and the 2014 Nissan Versa. What? Yep!
THE CAR: 300C JOHN VARVATOS LUXURY EDITION
If you’re going to drive, you may as well look good doing it. And, if that’s the case, you may as well drive the 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition. It has a style all its own with its redefined design and style. Anyone who knows designer John Varvatos, knows he does everything with style. It’s about the Detroit attitude. Varvatos, who made it his priority to use only the finest materials, equipped his namesake with chrome mesh grille. Poltrona Frau® leather trim elegantly wraps the instrument cluster, door uppers and center console side panels. Napa leather dresses the door armrests, door bolsters and center console armrest.
Premium leather jackets are integral to the John Varvatos brand collection. In honor of his vision, we have given the 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition with leather-trimmed seats embossed with the signature John Varvatos Logo.
If this car was a man, he’d be fine!
The story goes that growing up in Detroit taught Varvatos an important lesson: authenticity is everything. That’s why every inch of his namesake vehicle—including the wood interior accents—is designed to be a real reflection of his Detroit born style.
VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: Electric stability control, , all speed traction control, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, rear power sunshade, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels; driver inflatable knee-bolster airbag, dual pane panoramic sunroof, standard on every trim level, the 3.6L Pentastar® V6 with dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and an eight-speed automatic transmission delivers an impressive 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The standard 8.4-inch Uconnect® system has the largest touchscreen in its class+. But, if you want to keep your hands on the wheel, the Uconnect System allows you to use your voice to select AM/FM radio stations, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio+ channels and make calls.
FUEL ECONOMY: 19/31
THE DRIVE: Brilliant!
THE CAR: 2014 DODGE DURANGO RALLYE RWD
If you want a car with attitude, drive this SUV. Why? This SUV is stylish, handles well, has great steering and maneuverability, towing ability, a comfy ride, idiot-proof tech features, the ability to seat seven, and great performance. The 2014 Dodge Durango is ranked #4 out of 23 in affordable midsize SUVs, #4 in affordable SUVs with three rows an #7 in affordable crossover SUVs. The V6 engine provides ample power, although a V8 is also available. Although the fuel economy isn’t much to write home about, it is comparable for its class. The Durango, with its refreshed exterior styling and even powertrain, comes in five trims: SXT, Rallye, Limited, Citadel and R/T. The Uconnect infotainment system, which has a 5-inch touch-screen display, is user-friendly. Options include an upgraded Uconnect system with a larger, 8.4-inch touch screen, navigation, a nine-speaker Alpine stereo system and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Another option is the safety features, which include adaptive cruise control, parking sensors and rear cross path detection, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection.
VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: Engine: 3.6-liter V6 24-valve VVT Engine; Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission, rotary shifter, keyless go, active head restraints, integrated voice command with Bluetooth, Bluetooth streaming audio, Uconnect 5.0AM/FM/BT, LED running lamps, 12-Volt auxiliary power outlet, electronic vehicle information center, illuminated cup holders.
FUEL ECONOMY: 18/25
THE DRIVE: Smooth!
THE CAR: 2014 NISSAN VERSA
Ok, I’m going to be honest, this sedan doesn’t have bells and whistles. It’s a simple car. It looks simple. It drives simple. That’s it. It’s a family style car. Acceleration is acceptable, but not fantastic. There’s a lot more room in the backseat than one would expect. In fact, there’s a lot more space in the car than one would expect. There is a large trunk. The Versa comes standard with a two-speaker CD audio system and an auxiliary input. Buyers have to upgrade to get Bluetooth or a USB port, which are features that come standard in many rivals. Additional options include a multi-view camera, navigation, keyless entry, push-button start, power windows and door locks, cruise control, an upgraded stereo with satellite radio and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Unfortunately, when it’s sunny, it’s very difficult to see the screen on the console. It hampers the reverse camera, making it difficult to see. Although a driver could go back to the archaic way of seeing behind them by looking in the rear window, or simply looking out the rear window. Go figure! The engine is a bit noisy, but tolerable! There is no razzmatazz in this vehicle. But, if your plan is to get from point A to point B – you will. And, you’ll probably save money doing it. Overall, the Versa is a comfortable ride!
VEHICLE AT A GLANCE: 1.6-Liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine Xtronic CVT® (continuously variable transmission), front wheel drive, front and rear stabilizer bars, power assisted vented front disc/rear drum brakes, 15” steel wheels w/full wheel covers, active grille shutter, 6-way adjustable driver seat w/arm rest, 4-way adjustable front passenger seat, Bluetooth® hands-free phone system.
MSRP: $19, 545
FUEL ECONOMY: 31/40
THE DRIVE: OK
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].