In the 1950s, “large” was the only size car many makes offered. Since then—mostly due to cost and fuel economy—small cars all the way down to “tiny” have been made available. But some people still like ’em big.
For those buyers, the pickings are rather slim these days—at least compared to other automotive classes. We count just seven vehicles in the Large Car class, a number that has gone down significantly in recent years.
Pickings are also pretty slim when it comes to body styles. All the cars come only as 4-door sedans…no exceptions. V6 engines are standard in all but two (the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Impala both come standard with a 4-cylinder), and only two (the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger) offer an optional V8.
Though there has been some recent activity in this class—the Buick LaCrosse and the Kia Cadenza were both redesigned for 2017, and the Toyota Avalon is redesigned this year—the future of the category doesn’t look bright at this point. In April 2018, Ford announced that its future product line would be transitioning away from passenger cars toward SUV-type vehicles, and that the company would not be investing in future generations of its traditional sedans—that means the Ford Taurus will be phased out in the near future. Similarly, the current generation of the Chevrolet Impala is likely to be the last, and the long-term future of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger seems a bit hazy as well.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019
As mentioned above, the Toyota Avalon is redesigned for 2019. Both the new Avalon and the 2019 updates to the Buick LaCrosse are detailed in their respective Best Buy reviews.
The Chrysler 300 gets an available “Black Noise” wheel finish, while the Dodge Charger lineup sees several revisions. All-wheel drive is now available on the base Charger SXT model, and the GT (which was formerly AWD only) is now available with rear-wheel drive. GT and R/T models get a number of upgrades, including standard performance suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, retuned steering, performance bolstered seats, and new 20-inch wheel options. The R/T Scat Pack gets an optional Bilstein adaptive damping suspension with Auto, Sport, and Track modes, as well as an available satin-black hood. Both R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat models receive a new performance grille with dual air inlets and standard Launch Assist and Line Lock. Those last two items are high-performance, track-focused driving aids—Launch Assist uses wheel-speed sensors and modulates engine torque for optimal traction in high-speed launches, and Line Lock engages the front brakes but keeps the rear wheels free for “burnouts” at a drag strip. The SRT Hellcat also gets some additional high-performance hardware, as well as new options such as a satin-black hood and an Alcantera interior package.
The Chevrolet Impala sees no changes of note for what could be its last, or second-to-last, model year. The Ford Taurus Limited model now comes standard with blind-spot alert. The Kia Cadenza gets some additional standard equipment and a slight repositioning of its optional equipment packages.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
The Buick LaCrosse and Toyota Avalon offer the choice of a hybrid powertrain. The Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus offer all-wheel drive in place of front-wheel drive.
Then there are the similar Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, which also offer all-wheel drive, though in these cases, it’s in place of rear-wheel drive (the 300 and Charger are the only RWD vehicles in the class). But their real claim to fame is that they offer a V6, a V8, and really stompin’ V8s. A healthy 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 is offered in standard models (it makes 363 hp in the 300 and 370 hp in the Charger), but the potent Charger R/T Scat Pack comes with a 485-horsepower 6.4-liter V8, and the Charger SRT Hellcat packs a supercharged 707-hp 6.2-liter V8. These are executive hot rods that can rival some far more expensive premium sedans for performance.