2014 Full-Size Car Buying Guide

The 2014 Full-Size Car Buying Guide from CarPreview.com rounds up eight spacious sedans that occupy the strata between mainstream midsize cars and large luxury cars. Once dominant on the American automotive landscape, full-size cars now appeal to buyers who want roominess and amenities without shelling out premium-class dollars – and have the good sense to shun an SUV they don’t really need.

Indeed, base prices of the cars in this guide range from just below $30,000 to just above $40,000 – with a couple of throwback muscle machines approaching $50,000. (Base prices in the 2014 Full-Size Car Buying Guide do not include optional equipment but do include manufacturer destination fees, which average around $900). Still, that’s quite affordable, given all the comfort and upscale features on hand. Every car in this guide is available with leather-appointed cabins, heated power seating, and the latest in infotainment system; on several, that level of equipment is standard – just like in the luxury class.

While the SRT versions of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger deliver 470 horsepower and responsive handling, the typical full-size car blends a capable V-6 engine with predictable front-wheel-drive road manners and a comfort-oriented suspension. Along with mainstream versions of the 300 and Charger, the Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus are available with the additional security of all-wheel drive. Fuel-economy ratings range from 17-29 mpg city/highway combined, far better than most similarly sized luxury cars and certainly ahead of SUVs with comparable space. And special mention is due the Toyota Avalon Hybrid for its 40-mpg combined rating.

Here is our 2014 Full-Size Car Buying Guide:

2014 Buick LaCrosse

2014 Buick LaCrosse 1SL AWD

Buick’s biggest sedan gets a modest update for 2014 consisting mainly of exterior styling tweaks and an upgraded interior. LaCrosse is mechanically related to the Chevrolet Impala but targets a more affluent and conservative audience. No shame in that, given this car’s laudable blend of spaciousness, uncanny quietness, and surprisingly pleasing handling. The standard powertrain is GM’s “eAssist” system that augments a 2.4-liter 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine with a small electric motor to deliver adequate acceleration at a rated 25/36/29 mpg city/highway/combined. Those willing to sacrifice a few mpg will be much happier with the smoother and more powerful 304-horsepower er V-6. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines. In a plus for snow-belt dwellers, all-wheel-drive is optional with the V-6 in place of standard front-wheel drive. Newly available for 2014 is an array of high-tech accident-avoidance systems that work in conjunction with General Motors’ Safety Alert Seat to give the driver warnings via vibrations in the seat cushion. Fuel-economy ratings span 20-29 mpg city/highway combined. Base-price range is $34,530-$41,210.

2014 Chevrolet Impala

2014 Chevrolet Impala 2.5L iVLC

Given a full redesign for 2014, the Impala is transformed from a tired rental car to a fully modern full-size sedan. Aimed at the heart of the large-car segment, it shares its basic engineering and most components with the Buick LaCrosse, which targets near-luxury buyers. Impala’s fresh exterior makes a bold styling statement, though ease of entry and rearward visibility are compromised a bit for the sake of optimal aerodynamics. The interior is sufficiently roomy and comfortable, with surprising touches of elegance in design and materials. The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has a barely adequate 195 horsepower. Most Impala buyers will find 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 more appropriate; it’s standard on the top trim levels. Also offered is GM’s eAssist mild-hybrid sytem with a 2.4-liter 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine that’s assisted during acceleration by a small electric motor. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line. On the road this front-wheel-drive five seater is quite capable, though far from sporty. Available features include Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with both touchscreen and voice control and several of the latest anti-collision safety systems. Fuel-economy ratings span 21-29 mpg city/highway combined. Base-price range is $27,670-$36,715.

2014 Chrysler 300

2014 Chrysler 300S

Available with rear- or all-wheel-drive, the 300 plays to upscale aspirations with a stately manner and a roomy, well-appointed cabin. Its blocky styling is classy or dated, depending on your tastes. Performance runs the gamut from capable to commanding depending on the powertrain. The standard 292-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 delivers sufficient thrust and should suffice for most buyers. A 5.7-liter “Hemi” V-8 is offered and puts a rousing 370 horses to the pavement. Like the V-6, it links to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission and is available with the all-weather security of all-wheel drive. A 470-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 teamed with a five-speed automatic and upgraded suspension and seats defines performance-oriented SRT version. It’s rear-drive only and trades the absorbent ride and competent handling of mainstream 300s for a taut feel and sharper road manners. The 300 and the mechanically similar Dodge Charger are set for a midcycle freshening for model-year 2015. Fuel-economy ratings span 17-23 mpg city/highway combined. Base-price range is $31,825-$49,895.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]