Buying Guides

The Best Big Sedans

The large sedan might not be in vogue but it's still incredibly nice

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

The crossover craze has driven many would-be sedan buyers away, but the fact of the matter is that there are still some excellent vehicles in the large sedan segment. These are cars that offer a smooth ride, comfortable interiors with generous room, large trunks for cargo, and a near perfect mix of efficiency and power from a variety of engines. The modern large sedan is packed with amenities and technology to make driving around even more enjoyable whether you're just going down the street or all the way across the country. If you don't need the utility that a CUV or SUV offers but still want generous cargo space and a comfortable cabin, look no further than the venerable large sedan.

2017 Nissan Maxima

  • PROS: More luxurious interior than most of its mainstream competition, strong standard V6 engine, easy to use infotainment system.
  • CONS: Polarizing exterior styling turns away some buyers, must use premium fuel, less trunk space than others in its class.

Nissan calls the Maxima ($32,610 base MSRP) a four-door sports car but that isn’t really the case. It just a very good large sedan with a powerful engine, an adequate 14.3 cubic foot trunk, and enough amenities to challenge many premium brand sedans. The Maxima’s styling is a bit polarizing, but the car makes up for it with good driving dynamics, plenty of power, and a long list of standard and available features, including an 8-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, Apple Carplay, a 7-inch screen in the instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, predictive collision warning, and a surround view camera.

While many cars are offered with a variety of engines, the Maxima only has one. The 3.5-liter V6 offers 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque no matter what trim level you buy. Fuel economy for the engine is rated at a respectable 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. If you're looking for power and efficiency, the Maxima has both.

2017 Chevrolet Impala

  • PROS: Built in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot technology, spacious trunk, refined and non-polarizing styling both inside and out, good driving dynamics.
  • CONS: Base engine is a little wimpy, fuel economy could be better, starting to show its age.

The Chevrolet Impala (27,500 base MSRP) is a well-rounded sedan that offers owners a little of everything. It has a spacious 18.8 cubic foot trunk, a split folding rear seat, attractive exterior, simple controls for technology, and a ride that balances comfort and performance well. Its cabin is spacious and attractive and the model can be had with quite a lot of features, including USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with an 8-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Impala comes with a couple different engine options. There’s the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 197 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque or the 3.6-liter V6 that manages 305 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. The Impala does a decent job on efficiency, too. The 2.5-liter engine makes 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway and the 3.6-liter engine makes 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

2017 Toyota Avalon

  • PROS: Hybrid option makes for great fuel economy, handsome interior design, comfort for the long haul.
  • CONS: Not a sporty car, CVT suffers from rubber-banding at times, infotainment could use some new features.

The Toyota Avalon ($33,500 base MSRP) has been a go-to for many American families now for decades. Although the sedan market seems to be shrinking, we have a feeling that the Avalon isn’t going anywhere. It’s smooth, Lexus-like ride and comfortable interior mean it’s one of the most pleasurable vehicles to helm as long as you don’t have too sporty of intentions. It has a spacious 16 cubic foot trunk, and it also comes with plenty of modern standard and available technology and features, including a backup camera, leather seats, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and an Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen.

Under the hood lies your choice of a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque or a 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain that’s good for 156 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Obviously, if you’re after efficiency, the hybrid is the way to go. It manages 40 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. However, the V6 engine doesn’t do too bad, making 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

2017 Buick LaCrosse

  • PROS: Top-of-the-line tech features, strong and fuel efficient V6 engine, available all-wheel drive, best-looking Buick in a while
  • CONS: Poor throttle response, stiff ride on big wheels, smaller trunk than rivals, weird gear shifter, other vehicles offer more for less money.

Buick redesigned the LaCrosse ($32,065 base MSRP) for 2017 into a sleek and attractive large sedan. While the model looks twenty times better than the 2016 model what’s really great about it is its luxurious interior, its competent driving dynamics and modern technology features. The LaCrosse comes with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, keyless entry, push-button start, a backup camera, parking sensors, heated/ventilated/massaging front seats, wireless phone charging, and a head-up display. Also, the LaCrosse comes with a smaller than average 15 cubic foot trunk.

Under the hood sits a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 310 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque. The V6 manages to get 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway when the car has front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway when it has all-wheel drive. If you want a LaCrosse that handles very well, then the all-wheel-drive system is something you should definitely consider.

2017 Kia Cadenza

  • PROS: Beautiful exterior and interior styling, excellent controls layout, near luxury car level of materials.
  • CONS: Trunk is on the smaller side, not very sporty feeling on a twisty road, longer stopping distances than some competitors.

Now in its second generation, the Kia Cadenza ($31,990 base MSRP) continues to put other automakers on notice. The car was decent in its first generation, but now it’s better-looking, better to drive, and has a beautiful and extremely comfortable interior that’s fitting of an entry-level luxury car. The trunk is 16 cubic feet which falls about in the middle of its competitors, but the spacious cabin and long list of features set it apart. Standard and available equipment includes dual-zone climate control, push-button start, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Harman Kardon audio system, UVO infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, GPS navigation, and Nappa quilted leather seats.

There’s only one engine for the Cadenza. Under the hood, Kia places a 3.3-liter V6 that’ makes 290 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque. The 3.3-liter makes 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. It’s not the most powerful or efficient but it’s still a satisfying motor nonetheless.

Why should you buy a large sedan?

  • Spacious and comfortable cabin.
  • Near-executive style at affordable prices.
  • Reasonably large trunk for all you cargo needs.
  • Smooth ride and powerful engine options.