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5 Big Sedans: Looking at the Cream of the Detroit Crop

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
May 17, 2011
4 min. Reading Time
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If there’s one thing Detroit has consistently done well throughout the years, it’s design big, comfortable sedans. The Ford, General Motors and Chrysler families of automobiles have produced a host of full-size and large mid-size four-doors that offer an outstanding ride and engaging styling. Recently, many of these sedans have also gained a performance flair, providing drivers with acceleration and handling that defy their hefty curb weights.

Whether you need a large sedan to transport the entire family on a long road trip, or whether you just enjoy the feeling of safety and smoothness that comes with a big four-door car, the domestic brands have you covered. Let’s take a look at 5 big sedans that represent the cream of the domestic crop.

01: 2011 Dodge Charger

The 2011 Dodge Charger has been substantially updated for the current model year, a fact that is immediately obvious due to its much more aggressive exterior styling. The Dodge Charger’s canted headlights, bold and broad crosshair grille and beefy front fenders give it a definite snarl, while its redesigned taillights are reminiscent of the look found on the iconic 1969 Charger. The vehicle’s interior has also been outfitted with a higher grade of plastics that are not only softer to the touch but also easier on the eyes.

Underneath its skin, the 2011 Dodge Charger offers up a host of changes intended to improve the overall driving experience of the car. The vehicle’s suspension system has been updated in order to better balance a smooth ride with responsive handling, and the vehicle also gains an all-new V-6 entry-level engine. Dubbed the “Pentastar,” this motor displaces 3.6-liters and generates 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and offers fuel economy of 18-mpg in city driving and 27-mpg on the highway. A 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is of course still available with the Charger, and its 370 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque go a long way towards waking up the sedan’s acceleration and passing capabilities. Each engine is matched with a five-speed automatic transmission, and the V-8 also brings with it the option of all-wheel drive.

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02: 2011 Cadillac CTS

The 2011 Cadillac CTS might be the smallest vehicle in the current Cadillac lineup, but the sedan has almost grown past its mid-size market position and nudges at the full-size segment. The Cadillac CTS offers unmistakable angular styling as well as good interior room and a long list of luxury features, such as dual automatic climate control, available heated leather seats, an optional panoramic sunroof and several different packages designed to enhance the sedan’s performance.

A pair of V-6 engines are offered with the 2011 Cadillac CTS. Base models are motivated by a 3.0-liter unit that puts out 270 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque and which also delivers fuel mileage of 18-mpg around town and 27-mpg on the highway. Upgrading to the optional 3.6-liter unit sees drivers benefiting from 306 horses and 273 lb-ft of twist, with fuel economy matching that of the smaller motor. Each engine can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is also available for buyers seeking additional traction.

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03: 2011 Ford Taurus

The 2011 Ford Taurus is still basking in the reflected glory of the recent redesign that saw the full-size sedan move from the “good” to the “great” category. The Ford Taurus features more memorable styling than previous efforts, losing its rental car fleet looks, and its interior also provides driver and passengers with extensive amounts of leg and shoulder room, a huge trunk and the availability of a number of high tech options. These include features such as the SYNC vehicle interface and a touchscreen navigation system.

The 2011 Ford Taurus starts out with a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 263 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard and all-wheel drive is optional with the motor, and the entry-level edition’s fuel economy checks in at 18-mpg city and 28-mpg on the highway. The Taurus can also be found in the high performance SHO edition, which comes with all-wheel drive right out of the box and mates it to a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo EcoBoost version of the base model’s V-6. This unit is tuned to churn out 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, and with a six-speed automatic transmission the Taurus SHO almost matches the fuel economy of the standard Taurus.

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04: 2011 Chrysler 300

The 2011 Chrysler 300 – like its Dodge Charger cousin – has also been put through the ringer in order to update and improve its platform and styling. Less slab-sided than in years past, the new Chrysler 300 throws a few curves into its overall presentation, softening the vehicle’s design without sacrificing its inherent visual strength. A significant effort has been made to up the luxury quotient of the 2011 300, and as a result the sedan is now quieter, rides on a suspension system that better handles various road insults and can be equipped with high end features such as heated and ventilated leather seats, a surround sound audio system, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, adaptive HID headlights and a blind spot warning system.

The 2011 Chrysler 300’s entry-level 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is a new addition that replaces the mix of six-cylinder motors offered the previous year. The Pentastar offers 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and comes with fuel mileage of 18-mpg in stop and go driving and 27-mpg on the highway. A five-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox with the 300, and it is shared with the 300C model’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. This motor grinds out 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque and can also be combined with optional all-wheel drive. Fuel mileage for the larger motor is a healthy 16-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.

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05: 2011 Buick Lucerne

The 2011 Buick Lucerne is a full-size sedan in the mold of traditional Detroit premium offerings. The Buick Lucerne counts plush, spacious accommodations and an isolated ride amongst its selling points, and the vehicle can eat up the miles with aplomb while coddling passengers with available equipment like heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, an adaptive suspension system and a navigation system.

The 2011 Buick Lucerne is initially offered with a 3.9-liter V-6 nestled between the front fenders. This unit is good for 227 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque, and returns fuel economy of 17-mpg around town and 27-mpg during highway cruising. A 4.6-liter V-8 is also available, and it bumps production up to 292 ponies and 288 lb-ft of torque while lowering fuel economy to 15-mpg city and 23-mpg highway. Each engine comes with a four-speed automatic transmission.

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