10 Family Sedans That Are Fun to Drive
By Jeff Youngs, December 18, 2013
To identify a roomy family car that's fun to drive, consider the findings of the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM The study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive after the first 90 days of ownership. By isolating those factors that fall within the Driving Dynamics category, J.D. Power has identified the 10 midsize and large sedans that owners rated highest for how enjoyable they are to drive. In some cases, the results might surprise you.
The 10 most fun-to-drive family sedans are listed below, in reverse order, starting with the 10th-highest-rated model in terms of Driving Dynamics.
10. Ford Fusion
The Fusion was redesigned for the 2013 model year and proved itself an instant hit with midsize sedan shoppers. Buyers can choose from several powertrains, including two turbocharged gasoline engines, a gas/electric hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available, too, but only with the most powerful gasoline engine choice, a turbocharged, 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder that produces up to 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque.
9. Ford Taurus
One reason the Taurus rates highly on this fun-to-drive sedans list is because it is offered in SHO (Super High Output) trim, which turns this full-size 4-door into a genuine sports sedan. The other reason is that modern full-size family cars aren't the barges with soft suspension they once were.
8. Volkswagen Passat
Though it wears the badge of a German car company, today's Passat is American through and through. Designed and built in the United States, the modern Passat addresses the unique requirements of U.S. buyers, combining a big interior with fuel-efficient powertrains, all wrapped up in conservative but attractive styling. In terms of driving dynamics, it appears that owners still find the Passat entertaining to drive, despite its "Americanization."
7. Toyota Avalon
With the redesigned 2013 Avalon, Toyota has shifted away from the model's staid appearance and character in favor of greater dynamism, and based on what Avalon owners tell J.D. Power, the result is a full-size sedan capable of generating a grin on the driver's face. Given the V-6 model's paddle shifters and Sport driving mode, this isn't the same Avalon your grandparents drive.
6. Nissan Maxima
Marketed by Nissan as a 4-door sports car, the Maxima offers a powerful 290-horsepower V-6 engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a Sport mode and paddle shifters designed to make the CVT feel like it has gears. Choose the optional Sport package and the car is equipped with structural reinforcements, a firmer suspension, larger wheels, and performance tires.
5. Buick LaCrosse
Buick's full-size sedan is revamped for 2014, but even before the LaCrosse benefitted from a long list of upgrades, owners judged the 2013 model as fun to drive. While the standard powertrain is a basic hybrid system, many LaCrosse buyers choose the available 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine. A real-time damping suspension is optional.
4. Hyundai Azera
Redesigned for the 2012 model year, this full-size family sedan from Hyundai is equipped with a 293-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine and amplitude selective damping suspension components designed to provide a smooth ride and athletic handling. The 6-speed automatic transmission offers manual shifting for a more engaging driving experience.
3. Buick Regal
Though the Regal sees numerous upgrades for the 2014 model year, people who purchased one in 2013 found the car to be quite fun to drive. Based on a European sport sedan sold as the Opel Insignia, the Regal is available with hybrid or turbocharged powertrains, as well as in a GS (Gran Sport) trim level that equips the car with numerous performance-oriented upgrades.
2. Chrysler 300
Available with a choice between a powerful V-6 or two stronger V-8 engines that drive the rear wheels, the Chrysler 300 is one of the most entertaining-to-drive family sedans on sale today, according to the people who own one. Several trim levels and special-edition option packages are offered, and buyers in cold-weather climates can choose AWD as an option.
1. Dodge Charger
While a Chrysler 300 is considered to be a more luxurious offering, its corporate sibling, the Dodge Charger, is marketed as the performance sedan. In SRT trim, this full-size, 470-horsepower, 4-door family sedan is ready for the track, but the more mainstream versions are clearly entertaining to drive on the highways and byways of the real world. That makes the Dodge Charger the most fun-to-drive family sedan you can buy, based on what car owners tell J.D. Power.