Putting Members in the Driver’s Seat, Part V: Hidden Gems

Editor’s Note: Winter is Auto Show Season in the Pacific Northwest, with major gatherings planned for Portland and Spokane in the coming weeks. It’s also a great time for credit unions to court members with lower interest rates and friendlier loan terms than dealers or banks can offer. With that in mind, Anthem asked John M. Vincent, a nationally-recognized automotive journalist and a longtime Northwest credit union board member, to share his perspective on the latest trends in the auto industry. Look for more of his stories and photos online at nwcua.org/auto-show.

Story and photos by John M. Vincent

The well-built Chevy Sonic RS is a lot of fun in a little package. Its unique technology makes the car a must-see when shopping in this class.

There are some great cars making headlines in the auto industry.

There’s the awesome Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, for example, the upcoming 2015 Ford Mustang and Cadillac’s ELR extended-range electric. But hidden among the hundreds of cars that you’ll find at February’s Portland and Spokane auto shows are some real gems. They aren’t the speediest, spendiest or flashiest, but they’re all cool in their own way.

Kia Forte: While the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla get all the glory in the compact segment, the upstart Kia Forte exceeds them in performance, handling, technology and features. Plus, it comes standard with a 10-year warranty.

Mitsubishi Outlander: Mitsubishi’s new Outlander SUV has outstanding performance and a wealth of features at a price significantly less than its peers. The 7-passenger SUV starts at under $23,000 and gets an estimated 31 mpg on the highway.

Hyundai Equus: Some might find it hard to believe that Hyundai has a sedan that competes in the upper reaches of the luxury car market with the likes of the Mercedes S-Class and Lexus LS. The surprising Equus packs a 429-horsepower V-8 under its hood, a gorgeous interior, and concierge maintenance service.

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class: The least-expensive Mercedes in its U.S. lineup, the CLA 250 is powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that, in a first for Mercedes, drives the front wheels. With a base price under $30,000, it’s poised to compete in the heart of the sedan market.

Headed for the Portland Auto Show starting February 6th? You’re not alone; it’s a great place to check out what’s new and what fits you. Before you go, however, automotive journalist John Vincent says there’s a stop you should make that will save you money: your credit union.

Ford Transit Connect: If you need a car that’s versatile enough to haul your business on weekdays and your dogs on the weekend, you need to check out Ford’s popular Transit Connect cargo van. It’s all new for 2014, and is now available in a passenger configuration with a finished interior and windows all around.

Cadillac ATS: In the luxury sports sedan arena, everybody aims for the legendary BMW 3-Series. With the new ATS sedan, Cadillac has a worthy competitor. But don’t opt for the top engine – you want the exceptionally well-tuned turbo.

Chevrolet Sonic: The little Chevy Sonic is like the Rodney Dangerfield of the subcompact segment.  It gets no respect, even with the smartest application of technology in the class through its MyLink system. Its BringGo app-based navigation system is the least-expensive available in any car, and the sporty new RS trim level is just a blast to drive.

Fiat 500L: Don’t judge the Fiat 500L from photos; they don’t do the largest U.S. Fiat justice. The interior is large, hip and functional, with great visibility. The 500L Trekker model does its best to look rugged, but the European style is best exhibited on the top-of-the-line Lounge model.  

Mazda3: The Mazda3 is Mazda’s most popular model, selling more than 3.5 million units worldwide over its lifetime. Redesigned for 2014, the Mazda3 employs the full suite of the company’s SkyActiv efficiency technology, earning EPA-estimated mileage of up to 41 mpg on the highway. Add in a sexy design and Mazda’s renowned handling prowess, and it looks like another big winner.

Front-wheel drive in a Mercedes? Yes, in the 2014 CLA-Class, the most affordable Benz available in the U.S.

Toyota Prius c: The best Toyota Prius isn’t the one you see most oftenh in Northwest cities. It’s actually the subcompact Prius c model that earns up to an EPA-estimated 53 miles per gallon — and that’s in the city. Plus, the Prius c’s controls are more like a traditional car, and it costs significantly less than a Prius Hatchback.

Dodge Durango: In the blizzard of new-car introductions last year, it would have been easy for the Durango to get lost, but it’s just too darn good to get passed over. Fitting between mid-size and large SUVs, the Durango features Chrysler’s wonderful 3.6-liter Pentastar engine and 8-speed transmission combination as standard equipment. The Durango also features the best interior in the SUV segment, as well as Dodge’s exceptional UConnect Access infotainment system.

Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid: Two words that don’t usually go together — performance and efficiency — are blended perfectly in Volkswagen’s first hybrid. It would be hard to decide whether to opt for the uber-efficient diesel powerplant or the new hybrid, but urban buyers should opt for the latter with its sprightly performance around town.

“Putting Members in the Driver’s Seat” is a special package of five stories, more than 20 photos and videos that credit unions can use to entertain and educate their members during this key car-buying season and draw attention to the lower interest rates and better loan terms that only credit unions can offer. Look for lots of downloadable content here.


Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Marketing & Communications.