- David Mikesell
Once was not enough for the vehicles we drove this year. We recently took drives in different versions of previously reviewed autos. Here is a quick look:
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited
Base price: $42,495. As tested: $48,475
What we liked: How sly the marketers are at Chrysler. Seriously, until this year the Pacifica was a crossover. Who doesn’t like a crossover? Chrysler’s minivan was the well-known Town & Country. Now the Town & Country is gone but the minivan is still going strong. The Limited is the top-shelf of five trims, with pricing beginning at $28,595. Pacificas are as sleek and sporty as a van can be thanks to a heavily raked windshield and rear glass that peeks all the way around each side. Loading is as easy as swiping your foot underneath the sliding side doors or rear liftgate. Inside is an 8.4-inch multifunction color screen in the center dash, heated seats for the first two rows, a heated steering wheel and the Stow ’n Go second and third-row seats that fold into the floor for a flat bed. There is even a vacuum. That makes for a clean Pacifica.
2017 Dodge Challenger T/A Plus
Base price: $32,995. As tested: $48,555
What we liked: Where to start? Our tester came with bright Green Go paint with optional black satin hood, roof and trunk lid, cold air intake system and black hood pins for a visual package way too dynamic for a guy my age. But I’d take it. There has to be an exterior presence to match the 375-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 HEMI engine that will take drivers, passengers and spectators back to a time when muscle cars ruled the earth. And this isn’t the Challenger’s most robust engine. There are also a 392-hp 6.4-liter V8 HEMI and a 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8. Yikes. This is a heavy car at more than two tons but rear-wheel drive with Sport suspension and Sport mode add to the driving fun. Perhaps the most surprising item about the Challenger, though? The trunk has 16.2 cubic feet of space.
2017 Fiat 500 Abarth
Base price: $19,995. As tested: $23,020
What we liked: What a change of pace. There aren’t many cars out there that are 11.7 feet long and fewer that you can have for a little fun. A 160-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine will do that. Combined with a 5-speed manual transmission and wide 16-inch tires this Fiat is a lively drive. Even at its size there is the capability of having two back-seat passengers, albeit tiny ones. Because you are going to be able to stick the 500 in some unconventional parking spaces, the hill-start assist is a plus.
2017 Nissan Rogue SL
Base price: $31,310. As tested: $35,475
What we liked: This is just a great size for a crossover SUV, putting it in a category with competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. We drove a Rogue with all-wheel drive, as you would likely want to do here in the Midwest, but there is also front-wheel drive versions available. Seating for five is good all around thanks to the provided cushioning and support. Best of all is the split/folding rear seat that can slide on nine-inch rails and recline. While our tester did not have the optional third-row seat, there is 32-cubic feet of space in the cargo area.