Cars were the first production vehicles to employ unitary construction, where the structure of the vehicle is integrated within the body rather than requiring a separate frame. This led to lighter, stiffer, more space-efficient designs with enhanced ride and handling characteristics.
Today, new advances in materials science and suspension design, along with a more discerning consumer base, have given rise to a flock of smooth, cozy production cars, many of which won’t break the bank with gargantuan price tags.
Below is our list of the top ten most comfortable cars on the market in 2019:
While its platform is quite long-in-the-tooth, the full-size Chrysler 300 continues to impress with its cushy ride and spacious interior.
When we say “long-in-the-tooth,” we mean it; the 300’s current LD platform is little more than an updated version of the LX platform from the mid-aughts. LX, mind you, borrowed heavily from Mercedes-Benz’s W211 (early-aughts) and W220 (late-1990s) platforms, while Chrysler was still under Daimler control. Yet despite its antique underpinnings, so long as you don’t select a trim with standard 20-inch wheels, the Chrysler 300 still manages to provide superb ride comfort.
The cabin continues to be a surprisingly nice place to sit, with a luxury mentality informing the design and choice of materials. We even appreciate the (somewhat gimmicky) analog clock mounted high on the dash. It’s a nice touch.
The Honda Accord is one of the most respected, winningest nameplates in recent automotive history for very good reason. It continues to serve as a benchmark for affordable comfort, style, reliability, and all-around passenger car virtue. The current tenth-generation model builds on Honda’s successful formula with a longer wheelbase that’s paved the way for more rear-seat legroom, and a nicely damped ride that manages to be comfortable while still offering competent handling. The interior benefits from some well-chosen materials and a neat, tidy appearance that belies the plethora of comfort-enhancing features. The list of available creature comforts includes heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, and an adaptive suspension system.
Ask many in the industry and they’ll tell you that Cadillac’s flagship CT6 sedan was a flop; sales have been paltry ever since its introduction for 2016, and the nameplate has garnered very little recognition. That makes it an under-appreciated gem in the full-size luxury sedan category, largely thanks to its advanced body structure; the CT6’s effective, clever use of steel and aluminum—in some places welded together using cutting-edge technologies—results in the solid, lightweight (for its size) body that gives it such a magnificent ride. Interior fit and finish isn’t quite up to snuff, as General Motors still hasn’t quite figured out how to give Cadillac the freedom to select higher quality materials and switchgear, but that’s made up for by its top-notch chassis engineering and world-class features. Those features include available 20-way adjustable front seats, quad-zone climate control, active noise cancellation, front and rear massaging seats, and a Bose Panaray audio system with an astonishing 34 speakers.
A car doesn’t necessarily have to land in the full-size category to be comfortable, but as our list is demonstrating, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Of all the cars we’ve highlighted here, the Toyota Avalon might the easiest to overlook, despite it being a surprisingly nice place to reside. The design is all-new for 2019, benefiting from Toyota’s New Global Architecture, simple and elegant interior design, and a slightly bigger body. On the road, it’s well-insulated from harshness, of both the sonic and rough pavement varieties, proving itself as refined and polished as one would expect from the world’s largest automaker and its army of engineers.
Boy, have South Korea’s car manufacturers ever come a long way from their humble beginnings. The Kia Cadenza represents the best of what Korea’s second-largest car marque can do with regard to serving up affordable, competent sedans to the discerning commuter. Interior materials look and feel as though they’ve been pulled from something much further upmarket, and the design is handsome and thoughtful without being flashy. Better, leather upholstery comes fitted as standard, along with an auto-dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone climate control. Such things are rarely standard equipment among products from mass-market brands, and there are premium options—power-folding side mirrors and 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio among them—that extend the luxury experience even further.
Get it while it’s hot; the Buick LaCrosse is not long for this world, with General Motors announcing that the model line will be discontinued in North America after the 2019 model year. It’s a decision unlikely to leave many in a state of panic, despite the fact that, for the money, the LaCrosse is one of the most comfortable accessible mass-market cars currently available. Buick’s consumer base in the U.S. has long had a reputation for being a bit, erm, “mature,” and that’s no doubt largely due to the brand’s gift for gracing its wares with smooth, floaty suspensions that don’t threaten to rattle dentures loose. The LaCrosse upholds this virtue, gliding over the road without subjecting its occupants to jumps and jostles.
Volkswagen Jetta is all-new for 2019, and it handily gives some weight to that old stereotype about German engineering being among the best in the world. Volkswagen has long positioned itself as sort of an up-market mass-market brand, peddling affordable cars with more quietness, comfort, and polish than customers necessarily expect at the price point, and the new Jetta exemplifies this nicely. The cabin is quite spacious for the class. It’s nicely insulated against unwanted noise intrusion, and presents a precise, tidy appearance with no flimsy, cheap kinks in the armor. Plenty of upscale comfort-enhancing features are available, like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, and a fully digital gauge cluster borrowed from Audi.
What happens when you take the Ford Fusion’s mid-size car platform, stretch it, and drop a luxury car on top? You end up with the Lincoln Continental. Today’s Continental, first launched for the 2017 model year, emerged into a very different automobile market than the one its last predecessor left behind some 15 years prior, but its mission is essentially the same: deliver a quiet, sedate luxury experience more cheaply than those German brands can do. In that, it is successful, exemplifying Lincoln’s “quiet luxury” ethos with a whisper-quiet cabin, refined ride, and a bevy of sophisticated comfort-enhancing features that includes 30-way adjustable front seats; heated, ventilated, massaging seats front and rear; open-pore wood dash trim; a 19-speaker Revel audio system with gorgeous machined aluminum speaker grilles; and power-closing doors.
In contrast to Lincoln, which has largely forsaken performance to concentrate more fully on swathing its customers in “quiet luxury,” Toyota’s luxury brand does have an eye on performance. That extends to the latest Lexus ES model line, which offers a performance-oriented “F-Sport” variant for the first time—but it doesn’t mean that the ES is devoid of comfort. In fact, the new ES shares much in common with the Toyota Avalon, which also made our list. Relative to its Toyota-badged cousin, the Lexus ES is even more refined, devouring road imperfections and feeding minimal harshness through the floor and steering wheel, all without losing its handling confidence. The ES 350’s powertrain is a master class in refinement, too, with a silky smooth 3.5-liter V6 sending power through a very polite eight-speed automatic. There’s even a pair of electronic vacuum-controlled engine mounts that smooth out vibrations under idle.
While the majority of our list has focused on the more attainable end of the car market, no list of the most comfortable cars would be complete without the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The S-Class is, simply put, the industry benchmark when it comes to poise, sophistication, build quality, ride comfort, safety—essentially all the hallmarks of a properly good commuter car. Just what lengths is Mercedes willing to go to in order to hang onto those honors? The current-generation car features a “Magic Body Control” system that uses a stereo camera on the windshield to look at the pavement ahead, and communicates information about the road surface to the active ride control system. Yes; the car can literally “look ahead” and prepare its suspension for whatever road imperfections it’s about to come across. That, in conjunction with an air suspension and one of the most over-engineered chassis on the market today, makes the Mercedes-Benz S-Class an outstandingly comfortable car in a market full of competent competitors.