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The Kings of the Big Family Haulers
Until the mid-1980s, those with large families usually bought station wagons with a who-cares-about-safety rearward facing third row of seats. But then the minivan was introduced and everything changed. For the next fifteen years, troops of kids were transported here and there in these pragmatic boxes on wheels. As is often the case though, consumer taste’s changed.
Today the three-row station wagons rival the mountain gorilla on the critically endangered species list while the minivan has become more passé than bridge clubs. Now there is a new king of big family transport – the three-row crossover utility vehicle (CUV).
And the Crossover Takes Over
After a brief foray with three-row body-on-frame SUVs in the early 2000s, the vast majority of auto manufacturers have settled on unibody crossovers to handle passenger duties of six or more. Last year, more than 1.7 million of these CUVs were sold in the U.S. compared to less than 525,000 minivans.
With nearly two million annual sales up for grabs, manufacturers are constantly tweaking their products to entice customers. Over the last year alone, all-new versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander hit the market while the Kia Sorento and Dodge Durango received significant updates. To see which CUV is the best value for the money, we gathered these five crossovers along with three older models; the large Chevrolet Traverse, the best-selling Ford Explorer and the eight-passenger Honda Pilot. Which one emerged as the victor in this stacked field? Read on to find out.
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Ask AutoGuide No. 39
Midsize sedans represent a massive slice of the automotive pie. These four-door cars almost single handedly (or wheely?) form the backbone of America’s personal transportation network, shuttling people practically everywhere they need and want to go. Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal, and as a salute to these hard-working automobiles they’re the subject of this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide.
A Battle of Five Luxury Sports Sedans
The compact luxury sedan market is an interesting place. When designing a new entry, manufacturers are constantly trying to find the perfect balance between sport and luxury. Although most cars end up skewed one way than the other, these vehicles typically offer a plethora of trims and options that allow potential customers to tailor their rides with as much sport or luxury as they want.
Given a choice, we’d select maximum sport. We’d rather evaluate a car’s ability to clip an apex than by how coddled our mothers-in-law feel in the passenger seat. What better way to do this than collect a group of the latest and greatest offerings and see which one is the best? Now, we aren’t talking about the ultimate in sport luxury sedans like a C63, M3 or IS-F as they can get quite pricey. Instead, we have grabbed a more affordable group of contenders playing around the $50,000 mark.
First we sent an invite out to Cadillac. The all-new ATS seriously impressed us since coming out last year; it was a car of the year finalist after all. Next, we brought along the BMW 3 Series. If we are going to be testing luxury sport sedans, how could we not bring the vehicle that has defined the class for decades? While on the topic of German sedans, we also had to include a Mercedes-Benz and an Audi. Finally, to complete our quintuplet of test vehicles, there’s an oddball, the Volvo S60. Now, before you cry foul that the S60 is not a sports sedan, take a look at what we grabbed; the 325 hp S60 T6 R-Design.
A FEW CONTENDERS ARE AWOL
There are a few notable vehicles missing from this comparison test. Lexus didn’t have an all new IS ready for us, nor did Infiniti the all-new Q50 or Lincoln the MKZ. Finally, the Acura TL was left out because, although a great car, it is too large for this class of vehicle (a foot longer than most of the competitors here).
With the cars collected, pencils sharpened and score sheets firmly attached to clipboards, it was time to put these cars through their paces and see which is best.
It’s Friday and another work week is slowly… drawing… to… a… close. Like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical CATS, this string of five days feels like it’s never going to end. At least people aren’t prancing around the AutoGuide offices in leotards and leg warmers. Meow!
Top 10 Large Sedans With The Biggest Trunks
America is the land of the free and the home of large sedans. With miles and miles of miles and miles, drivers don’t have to contend with congested urban parking or dreadful highway traffic like their European counterparts. We’re free to relax and stretch our legs clear across the continent if we so desire.
U.S. Interstates and two-lane back roads were the breeding ground for a unique automotive species: the large sedan. Spacious, comfortable and smooth, Detroit’s Big Three created the original recipe for these highway cruisers, but foreign automakers have a thing or two to say about how to prepare them.
Trunk space is one of the most important metrics to examine when comparing big four-door cars. How many golf bags can be crammed into a cargo hold? What about suitcases for a weekend road trip to Atlantic City? People need to know! Here’s a list of the Top 10 large sedans ranked in order of trunk volume.
Ask anyone older than 55 how cars have changes since the ’70s and they’ll probably mention, among many other things, that they’ve shrunk considerably.
Imagine you are able to bring together some of humanity’s great minds for a dialogue, but you then end up having them give you their picks for who will win the World Series. Motor Trend‘s new video of a Lexus LFA drag racing a Nissan GTR is similarly anti-climactic and a little silly, but we can appreciate where Motor Trend is coming from.
Getting a press car comes with some obligations; including returning the car in the condition you found it, and in the case of very high end press cars like the Lexus LFA, a whole host of other rules accompany them. We understand that taking the $375,000 LFA on a road course might not be such a good idea, considering how there’s only one in the entire country, but the LFA and GT-R are two cars that are supposedly the pinnacle of performance driving, and a road course rather than a drag race would be the true test of what these two can do.
Regardless, the video is bound to cause a flurry of online shouting matches from various fanboy camps. In the mean time, us civilized folk should crank our speakers up to 11 an bask in the glorious V10 soundtrack, as its likely the closest that mere mortals will ever come to an LFA at full blast.
Video after the jump
[Source: Motor Trend via Youtube]