Test Drive: Thrills Per Miles

VW Golf GTI

Way back in 1964, Ronny & the Daytonas sang the praises of the original factory hot rod, the Pontiac GTO. You might find yourself doing something similar after a spin in the latest Volkswagen Golf GTI.

As with all factory high-performance models, the main attraction of this four-door hatchback is under the hood. There you’ll fi nd a gutsy 241 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder, mated to an excellent close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox (a seven-speed automatic is an option) and front-wheel drive.

The eighth generation GTI’s compact dimensions and sport-tuned suspension add greatly to the fun quotient, especially when the pavement turns curvy. Better still, the ride quality remains comfortable enough to make it
a realistic daily driver.

Strong brakes instill confidence. Supportive front seats and a thick-rimmed steering wheel give the driver an ideal place from which to command all this sporty goodness. About the only issue we had with the interior was the touch-sensitive switches that controlled the climate and infotainment systems.

Starting Price: $30,530

MPGe (city/highway): 24 city / 34 highway

Safety: N/A

Ford F-150 lightning

Think “environmentally friendly” and “practical” are mutually exclusive? Meet the Ford F-150 Lightning.

This full-size, all-electric pickup is the best of both worlds. It will seem familiar to anyone who’s spent time in the F-150. The Lightning has two electric motors that give it standard all-wheel drive and zero-to-60 mph times on par with many high-performance cars.

On the road, the Lightning feels less truck-like than its gas-powered siblings. Noise levels are low and ride quality and handling are more refined, thanks to the steadying weight of the battery packs mounted underneath the floorboards.

There are two battery setups available. A standard 98-kilowatt version gives the truck 452 horsepower and a range of up to 230 miles. An optional 131-kilowatt battery pack carries a steep price tag, but bumps output to 580 horsepower and range up to 320 miles.

Add unique features like the ability to power an average house for days, and the Lightning is environmentally friendly and practical.

Starting Price: $59,974

MPGe (city/highway): 76 city / 61 highway

Safety: N/A

Visit AAA’s Electric Vehicle platform for more information on these cars of the future.

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews online. AAA.com/TestDrive

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