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How We’d Configure 10 of Our Favorite Cars

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/15/2015 Christian Seabaugh

I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m procrastinating ahead of a deadline, more often than not I’m configurating new cars on automaker’s websites. I’ve spent countless hours configurating cars I like every which way to meet every conceived need and every imaginable budget. The fact that I’ve got the configuration for my “dream” Ford Transit Connect Wagon down to a science speaks a lot to that. With so many interesting vehicle configurations to choose from, I thought I’d have a crack at showing you, our readers, how I’d configure 10 of the Year and comparison test winners. You, I’m sure, have some thoughts of your own.

Research

2015 Volkswagen Golf

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI S© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI S Pedigree:2015 Car of the Year

Trim Level: GTI S 4-Door

Base Price: $26,205

Price as Configured: $26,205

Hey! Volkswagen finally got rid of that awful “Find a Match” feature and brought its configurator back! I was really, very tempted to spec out a 2015 Golf TDI for this one because it’s an exceptional jack-of-all-trades vehicle, but I ultimately decided to go with a Golf GTI. Why? Because the Golf GTI is an icon; it manages to balance good fuel economy and exceptional hot-hatch performance in a tidy, attractive, and comfortable package. My Golf GTI is about as bare-bones as it gets. I started with a base GTI S four-door and added red paint to go with the gorgeous plaid cloth seats. Although many of my cohorts love VW’s DSG gearbox, I instead kept the manual. The reasons are twofold: The GTI is more fun with a manual, and keeping the standard six-speed gearbox means you also get the neat golf ball shift knob. There are two options available on the GTI S: adaptive front lighting and park distance control. I skipped them both, bringing the total to a reasonable $26,205.

2015 Honda CR-V

2015 Honda CR V Touring© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Honda CR V Touring Pedigree:2015 SUV of the Year

Trim Level: Touring FWD

Base Price: $32,525

Price as Configured: $32,755

Speccing out our 2015 Sport/Utility of the Year was far easier than configuring our Car of the Year. One of the features we most loved about the Honda CR-V during of the Year testing was its incredibly useful active safety gear, which includes lane keep assist, forward collision alert, and radar cruise control. Although a fantastic-driving crossover, the fact that the family-oriented CR-V could essentially drive itself on long highway trips was just icing on the cake. All that neat active safety tech is only available on the top-level CR-V Touring trim, so that’s the version I went for. It was initially tempting to go for all-wheel drive, but I have a hard time imaging the CR-V’s front-biased all-wheel-drive system making a difference for drivers in wet and snowier areas of the country, so I left it out. Seeing as the CR-V Touring already includes every option you’d want, the only choice left was exterior color, so I went with the handsome Obsidian Blue Pearl, which on our long-termer, paired with a gray leather interior. Crossbars for the roof rack ($230) were the sole accessory I added, bringing the CR-V’s total to $32,755.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab Short Box WT 4WD© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab Short Box WT 4WD Pedigree:2015 Truck of the Year

Trim Level: Crew Cab, Short Box WT

Base Price: $25,205

Price as Configured: $31,740

A loaded Colorado Z71 is tempting, but for this build I opted to keep things affordable. Trucks have gotten hideously expensive these days, so I set out to build all the pickup that I’d need and not necessarily what I’d want (the latter being a fully optioned model). So I started things off with a short-bed crew cab, as the larger cabin makes the truck more versatile for passengers or precious cargo, and the short bed would be enough for motorcycles and other things I’d be likely to haul. I then added four-wheel drive and opted for the base WT trim. Already at 30 grand, I was careful with the rest of the options: standard 16-inch steel wheels and black paint to hide the black plastic exterior trim. Every other option added was purely functional: automatic locking rear differential ($325), trailering equipment ($250), spray-on bedliner ($475), and GearOn cargo tie-downs ($110). The total? Only $31,740, which isn’t that pricey, all things considered.

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Pedigree:Compact Crossover Big Test Winner

Trim Level: 2.0i Premium

Base Price: $23,145

Price as Configured: $23,145

A recent Big Test winner, this Subaru XV Crosstrek build was pretty easy. Like Honda, Subaru doesn’t really do standalone options, instead opting to include certain features in different trim levels. For the XV Crosstrek, I wanted the best-equipped version possible with the standard five-speed manual, as the manual shaves off more than 2.5 seconds from the Subie’s 0-60 time. In this case, that meant going for a midlevel XV Crosstrek 2.0i Premium, which includes the All-Weather package (and its heated seats) as standard. With no options to choose from, the only choice I get is color; although Tangerine Orange Pearl is intriguing, I went for Desert Khaki and its black cloth interior, making my total $23,145.

2015 Kia Sedona

2015 Kia Sedona Limited© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Kia Sedona Limited Pedigree:Minivan Big Test Winner

Trim Level: Limited

Base Price: $ 40,595

Price as Configured: $43,295

Minivans get a bad rap for being boring, pedestrian family vehicles, but the Kia Sedona is one family van that bucks that trend. We were quite impressed with the Sedona during our last round of Car of the Year testing, and even more so during our Minivan Big Test, which it won. The way I see it, if you’re going to have a minivan, you ought to get the one that treats its passengers best, which is why I opted for the top-level Sedona Limited. The Sedona Limited not only has an incredibly luxurious cabin, but it also sports creature comforts such as the reclining “First Class” second-row seats and dual-panoramic sunroofs. After going with white paint on a black and tan leather interior, I selected the Limited Technology package for $2,700, which includes radar cruise control and a 360-degree camera system, making this van’s total $43,295.

2015 Ram 1500

2015 Ram 1500 Tradesman Regular Cab 4 4 8 Box© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Ram 1500 Tradesman Regular Cab 4 4 8 Box Pedigree: Two-time Truck of the Year winner; Half-Ton Pickup Head 2 Head winner

Trim Level: Regular Cab, Long Bed, Tradesman 4x4

Base Price: $30,130

Price as Configured: $37,290

Let me get this off my chest real quick: The Ram 1500 may be the best half-ton pickup on the market, but the automaker’s online configurator is one of the worst. It’s slow, looks old, and doesn’t always work properly. With that said, I decided to keep this one simple. Trucks are tools, yes? This black Ram 1500 Tradesman 4x4 gets a regular cab and an 8-foot bed. Like the Colorado, almost all of its options are functional. On the mechanical side, there’s the Ecodiesel V-6 and eight-speed automatic for a hefty $5,220, limited-slip rear diff for $325, skidplates for $150, and trailer mirrors and brake control for $330. The Popular Equipment group replaces the vinyl bench seat with cloth and adds carpets and satellite radio for $500, and on/off-road tires for $250 and a sliding rear window for $140 complete this $37,290 package.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum 4WD© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum 4WD Pedigree:Luxury SUV Big Test Winner

Trim Level: ESV Platinum 4x4

Base Price: $95,870

Price as Configured: $97,970

This big, bad Big Test winner is a pretty easy one to spec. With “space” a luxury in its own right, I started things off with a top-level extended Escalade ESV Platinum, equipped with four-wheel drive (after all, it’s not my pretend money I’m spending). Already incredibly well-equipped in Platinum trim, my Escalade also gets power-retractable side steps ($1,695), black roof rack rails ($210), a chrome exhaust tip ($135), and a retractable cargo shade ($195).

2015 Porsche 911

2015 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Pedigree: Because so many people get it wrong

Trim Level:Carrera GTS

Base Price: $115,195

Price as Configured: $115,195

I can’t even begin to tell you how many Porsche 911s I see around MT HQ in Los Angeles with all the wrong options. What makes these 911s “wrong,” you ask? They’re fully loaded. If you ask me, a 911 is best enjoyed with a manual transmission, rear-drive, and a naturally aspirated engine. So L.A., New York, Chicago, and other denizens of America’s big cities — are you buying a 911? Buy a 430-hp 911 Carrera GTS, pick your color (I chose red), keep the stock seven-speed manual, and call it a day. That’s $115,195 well spent.

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan Pedigree: You can probably afford it

Trim Level:Sedan SE Ecoboost

Base Price: $17,065

Price as Configured: $17,065

We get a lot of flak here for reviewing cars the “average” person can’t afford. So here’s one you probably can: a Mitsubishi Mirage Ford Fiesta. (I started this off building a Mirage but then remembered there’s a far better, if slightly more expensive, cheap car for sale in the U.S.). With the express intent of keeping things cheap, I opted for a Fiesta SE sedan, as the SE trim is the only version with the frugal (and fun!) 1.0-liter, turbocharged I-3, and the sedan is a couple hundred cheaper than the more attractive hatchback. Although I was tempted to splurge for Green Envy paint ($595) and heated seats ($290), I decided to keep the bottom line in mind and went with Race Red paint (free) and “light stone” upholstery (also free), keeping the total to $17,065 before incentives.

2015 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

2015 Ford Transit Connect XLT Wagon© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Ford Transit Connect XLT Wagon Pedigree: I like these

Trim Level:Wagon XLT SWB

Base Price: $24,740

Price as Configured: $29,465

Last but not least, here’s one I’ve spent more time than necessary building: a Ford Transit Connect Wagon. I can’t quite explain why I like the current-generation Transit Connect so much, but to me it strikes the right balance between the iconic Volkswagen Microbuses of yesteryear and a hot hatch. I really like the proportions of the short-wheelbase van, so that’s where I started. From there, I ticked the $795 box for the 178-hp, 1.6-liter, turbo I-4, the $620 box for the great-looking 17-inch wheels, and $195 and $395, respectively, for a roof rack with crossbars and the trailer tow package. Given the van’s dimensions, I also spent $495 on parking sensors. Interior options are light: $95 Aircraft-style overhead storage and $1,165 for MyFord Touch. The total for my “sport” van? $29,465.

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