Best roomy sedans

These roomy cruisers are all about comfort

Published: May 12, 2014 11:30 AM

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If you want extra room to stretch out and don’t mind giving up some fuel economy, a large sedan could be the answer. They usually provide plenty of space for front and rear-seat passengers, and a roomy, luggage-swallowing trunk. Large sedans focus more on comfort than on agile handling, with a comfortable ride, an upscale cabin, and plenty of features. They also cost more than midsized sedans, with most priced in the mid- to upper-$30,000 range when typically equipped.

Drawbacks: Larger sedans aren’t known for being fun to drive. The best provide responsive handling that belies their size and weight, but others can feel like old-school luxo-cruisers. And you can count on more stops for gas; the thriftiest conventional  models get fuel economy that’s similar to the average midsized sedan.

Best overall

Toyota’s flagship sedan has long been a model of comfort and roominess. The 2013 redesign sharpened its handling somewhat but stiffened the ride a bit too much. Still, the Avalon boasts a spacious, well equipped cabin with a lush, luxurious ambience. The front seats are wide and comfortable, and the rear seat leaves plenty of room to stretch out. The lively 268-hp V6 delivers a commendable 24 mpg overall and the hybrid version gets an impressive 36 mpg. An unfortunate byproduct of the redesign, however, is that some controls got more complicated.

Price as tested: $40,670 (Limited, V6), $42,501 (Hybrid Limited)
Overall mpg: 24 (V6), 36 (Hybrid)

Quiet, stately, and luxurious, this cruiser is one of the top sedans from Detroit. It provides a very comfortable ride and responsive handling. And the interior is nicely appointed and packed with features and amenities, including a well-designed touch-screen infotainment system. We prefer the strong, refined V6 version; it’s like a bargain luxury sedan. The muscular 5.7-liter V8 is strong and punchy, but notably thirstier with fuel. Both engines are coupled with a silky-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

Price as tested:
$38,335 (Limited, V6), $44,730 (300C)
Overall mpg 22 (V6), 18 (V8)

Best for fuel economy

Buick LaCrosse

Toyota Avalon Hybrid 36 mpg overall
Buick LaCrosse 26 mpg overall

You can expect about 22 to 23 mpg overall from most large sedans. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is the clear exception in this category. It squeezes more miles from a gallon of gas than all but the most efficient midsized sedans. That helps make it the least expensive model to own in this class. The Buick LaCrosse comes standard with a four-cylinder engine that’s mated to GM’s eAssist mild-hybrid system. It costs less but is also less fuel efficient than
the Avalon.

If you need all-wheel drive

Dodge Charger

Chrysler 300
Dodge Charger
Buick LaCrosse

As with midsized sedans, there aren’t a lot of large-sedan models that offer all-wheel drive. You can get it on most versions of the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger for an extra $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the trim level. AWD is also available on the V6 Buick LaCrosse. It’s standard on the Ford Taurus SHO and optional on other V6-equipped versions, but there are better choices.

Most comfortable

Chrysler 300
Chevrolet Impala
Buick LaCrosse

Most of the models in this class are geared for comfort, but the 300, Impala, and LaCrosse stand out for their inviting blend of roomy cabin, comfortable seats, and cushy and plush ride. The 300 has a quiet, well-furnished, and luxurious interior that’s packed with useful features, including the optional Uconnect 8.4 touch-screen system, one of the best available. We found the front seats to be firm and well-shaped, with generous padding. Two adults can sit very comfortably in the large, well-shaped rear seats. Highway cruising is composed and serene. We would stick with the 18-inch wheels and tires for a better ride. You feel more bumps and thumps with the optional 20-inchers. The Impala’s spacious, quiet cabin sets a new standard for Chevrolet fit and finish, with generally high-quality materials and trim. It’s plush and very comfortable, and the ride provides a serene highway cruise. That’s particularly impressive given the low-profile 19-inch tires on our LTZ. The cabin has a solid, almost vault-like atmosphere that isolates most ambient noise. The front seats are roomy and supportive, with generous head and leg room. Two adults will be very comfortable in the Impala’s well-shaped and supportive rear seat, where there is plenty of knee, foot, and head room. The LaCrosse is also quiet, roomy, and luxurious, with a steady and composed ride. The front seats are well-padded and comfortable. Optional leather seats are much more supportive than the standard cloth seats. The spacious rear seat is comfortable and well-shaped, but the low roof robs head room and hurts cabin access. In addition, thick windshield pillars severely block forward visibility, and the driving position is somewhat narrow.

Model to avoid

The Taurus is quiet, rides comfortably, and has lots of features. But the interior is ridiculously cramped for such a large car, and the styling significantly compromises driver visibility. Fuel economy from the 3.5-liter V6 is a mediocre 21 mpg overall. Moreover, the controls for its MyFord Touch infotainment system are complicated and distracting to use while driving. On top of that, reliability has been subpar.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the April 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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