2015 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Large Cars

Large cars are a rapidly diminishing market segment, with collective sales of our large car quartet failing to breach the 15,000 unit barrier in 2014. Larger midsize cars offer enough comfort and luxuries to buyers that they see little reason to spend more money. In addition, those who really must spend more money generally seek a luxury badge to go with it.
While some view the Toyota Venza as an CUV, the APA believes it is just a tall wagon, and have included it in the Large Car section of Lemon-Aid.
There are no new cars in this segment this year but the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger have undergone pretty comprehensive makeovers for 2015, especially considering that they are so late in their current life-cycles. Honda's Accord Crosstour, long a mainstay in this segment, is no longer for sale in Canada, although it continues in the United States. Toyota has announced it will stop selling the Venza in the U.S. after this year but will continue production of the car for other markets. Like the Matrix that remained on sale in Canada for a year after sales ceased in the U.S., we may see the Venza back again for 2016.

A note about mileage: The APA's posted fuel economy figures for 2015 are from he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as figures from the Canada Energuide were not available as this information was being compiled. 
 

Chevrolet Impala  Dodge Charger  Toyota Venza 
Chrysler 300  Ford Taurus   

 

Chevrolet Impala

Specifications


 

 

 

What’s new
OnStar can now turn the Impala into a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. 2.5L Impala now equipped with start-stop technology.

Performance
The Impala's direct-injected, twin-cam V6 lays down a strong, flexible stream of power from idle to the redline, accompanied by a soundtrack than runs from near silence to a pleasing melodic snarl when extended.
Like a faithful servant, the Impala's six-speed automatic transmission operates discreetly in background, upshifting seamlessly and downshifting promptly with a gentle prod on the gas pedal, making its presence felt only by the lack of drama its operation conveys.
The six-speed automatic is standard regardless of which engine powers the Impala. The 3.6L and a 196 horsepower 2.5L four will power Impalas in equal numbers. With active noise cancellation measures, the 2.5L is, according to Chevrolet, as refined as the 3.6L V6. With 110 fewer horsepower, the 2.5L four may not supply the type of acceleration buyers in this segment expect.
Unlike the low effort, feedback-free early electric power steering systems, the electric power assistance on the Impala is a delight. With reassuring heft, quick, but not nervous responses, excellent highway stability and even some road feel, the steering in the new Impala is just plain good.
GM's Epsilon II architecture (seen in the Regal and LaCrosse from Buick and the Cadillac XTS), has, with a number of enhancements such as stiffer suspension mounting points, provides a sturdy platform for the new Impala's suspension. With MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link system in the rear, the Impala's suspension specifications read like those of dozens of other cars. However, with good turn-in, little noticeable lean in corners, unflappable highway stability and an absorbent ride devoid of any trace of wallow, the Impala provides the kind of reassuring steadiness and cosseting ride its intended buyers will find most pleasing.
Various sound-abatement measures, including extra thick glass in the windshield and front windows, triple door seals, various foam-filled body cavities acoustic mats, has resulted in a remarkably serene cabin environment. The clunking rear suspension which cursed various versions of the Epsilon I platform, seems to have been banished from the updated version of the architecture.
Speaking of sound, the name-brand audio system in the APA's top-end test car was massively powerful and capable of delivering distortion-free sound, but its lack of adjustability rendered a sound quality too muddy for some drivers to derive any pleasure from.
Impala drivers enjoy good visibility to the front and generally, to the sides. However, a high trunk line and small rear window makes lane changes in close quarters more angst-inducing than they should be and vision for reversing is such that a backup camera borders on necessary equipment.

The driver faces a wildly-shaped gauge nacelle, which contains the crisply-marked main instruments and crystal-clear trip-computer readouts. This, in turn, is topped by a gently-arced hood under which the fuel and temperature gauges rest.
The dashboard itself is a dramatic piece of sculpture that flows toward the driver but does not intrude upon the space for front passengers. While some controls (like the audio system tone settings) force drivers to consult the navigation screen, most climate and audio functions can be manipulated by straightforward dashboard controls. The navigation screen glides upward electrically to reveal a large storage compartment with a USB port. Chevrolet notes that a "valet" mode in the new Impala locks the storage compartment and also blocks access to information like the navigation history and phone contacts stored in the computer system of the car.
Aside from the unconvincing fake wood on our test car, copious soft-touch surfaces, matte finishes, French stitching and lustrous faux-alloy highlights make for a very luxurious cabin. Leather upholstery with contrast stitching is very attractive as is the vinyl with mock suede seating combination on the LT variant.
The large, supportive front seats are very comfortable and succeed in properly locating those riding in front without pinching them. Even the tallest front occupants in the Impala should find ample legroom. The proper height seat cushion, comfortably raked backrest, thick padding and generous legroom pamper rear seat passengers.
Despite being a very early production car, the Impala was carefully assembled, with no detectable squeaks, rattles or rustling trim noises.
In Impala tradition, the trunk of the new car is enormous. It is not only wide and long, it is also very tall inside. While conventional gooseneck hinges are used, they glide in designated channels and will not damage luggage as the trunk is closed.

Comments
The Impala can be powered by a 2.5L four or a 3.6L V6. Power reaches the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission in all cases. Despite its excellence, only 3400 Impalas found homes in 2014.

Pricing

Overpriced 1LT and 2LZ trim upgrades .The 2LT is priced $1500 higher than the 1LT but includes the silky 3.6L V6. The $935 Advanced Safety package contains a number of active safety features for not much money. Good value leasing.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. An extended warranty from GM is recommended if you plan to keep the Impala past the warranty period.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.5L-4 (196 HP), 3.6L-V6 (305 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  12.4L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  8.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Available forward collision, lane departure, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings.
Additional airbags: Knee airbags for both front airbags and side airbags for outboard rear passengers.

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000
Current Generation Debut:  2014

Country of Origin:  Canada, United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: N/R

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: N/R

Rear: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle updates including revised cabins and revised exterior styling. Active safety features are now optional. Mechanical updates include electric power steering, the eight-speed automatic transmission is now standard on all models. Revised all-wheel drive system. Hellcat high-performance version of the Charger is new for 2015.  

Performance
The 3.6L V6 creates ample power and works smoothly in conjunction with the responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. The powerful V8 is much quicker than the V6 but is totally unnecessary. Astonishing handling for such a massive car. Smooth, absorbent ride. Impressive refinement. Nicely weighted and geared steering. Comfortable seats and lots of space, front and rear. Logical controls, with the dash touch screen being particularly logical and easy to work with. 

Comments
The 6.4L V8 SRT8 and supercharged 6.2L Hellcat models are exclusive to the Dodge. An eight-speed automatic is standard on all models in 2015. All-wheel drive, which defaults to rear-wheel drive unless slip is detected, is available on mainstream models but not on the SRT8 or Hellcat high-performance variants or the Charger. Collectively, these two platform mates sold 7800 units in 2015, roughly matching the number posted alone by the Toyota Venza.
Pricing

300: Upgrading form the Touring, to the 300C, to the and on up to the Platinum are all good value. The all-wheel drive is a $2200 option on all trim levels. The 5.7L V8 is not an option on the Touring trim line, but costs an extra $2850 on the S and $2500 on the 300C and Platinum. No leasing is available.
Charger:
All-wheel drive is priced $2200 on the SE and SXT trim levels. Good value SXT and R/T trim upgrades. The R/T Road & Track is overpriced. The Hellcat performance upgrade is more theoretical than real as the order books closed for them in the early winter of 2015. No leasing available.

Reliability
Average to above average reliability predicted. Unproven V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission. These cars are the most reliable vehicles built by Chrysler. 


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
3.6L-V6 (292 HP, 300 HP)*, 5.7L-V8 (363 HP 300, 370 HP Charger), 6.4L-V8 (SRT 485 HP Charger only), 6.2L-V8 S (707 HP Charger Hellcat) 

Transmissions: 8A* 
Drive Layout: Rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  8.7L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Standard
Additional airbags:: Driver's side knee airbag

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000 (SRT only 3/60,000)
Current Generation Debut:  2011

Country of Origin:  Canada

 

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: N/R

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Ford Taurus

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Standard rearview camera on all models. SEL trim gains rear backup sensors for 2015.

Performance
Strong, smooth performance from the normally aspirated V6. Slick-shifting, responsive automatic transmission. The turbocharged V6 in the SHO furnishes blistering, linear acceleration but is heavy on fuel. Good handling. Precise, nicely weighted steering. Smooth, quiet ride. Progressive braking despite mushy pedal feel. Poor visibility, especially for reversing. The swept-back dashboard is a dramatic piece of architecture but it consumes a lot of cabin space. Big, clear gauges. Fit, finish and materials are all very good. Despite its vast exterior size, Taurus cabin space is disappointing, with barely more space available than in the smaller Fusion. Low-mounted front seats restrict toe space for rear seat passengers. Weak air conditioning.

Comments
Two V6 engines, a normally-aspirated V6 with 288 horsepower or a 365 horsepower turbocharged V6, are available on the Taurus. An optional 2L four with 240 horsepower can be substituted for the normally-aspirated 3.5L V6. All-wheel drive, optional on the normally-aspirated Taurus SEL V6, is standard on the Limited and SHO variants. The Taurus sold about 3500 units in Canada in 2014, about the same as the Chevrolet Impala.

Pricing
All-wheel drive, standard on the Limited and SHO, is a $3400 option on the SEL V6. Overpriced SEL trim upgrade. The Limited is good value when compared with the all-wheel drive SEL. The SHO is priced significantly higher than the value of its additional content. The 2L turbo four costs $1000 more than the normally-aspirated 3.5L V6 that is standard on most models. Poor value leasing.

Reliability
Average reliability predicted. Limited sales. Unproven turbo engines. The 3.5L normally aspirated V6 is the best choice. An extended warranty from Ford is recommended. 

 


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2L-4 T (240 HP), 3.5L-V6 (288 HP)*, 3.5L-V6 T (365 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive*, all-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  12.4L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  8.1L/100 km
Active Safety Features: Available adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with brake support, lane departure warning, blind spot warning and lane keep assist. 
Additional airbags:: None

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2010

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: N/R

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Toyota Venza

Specifications

What’s new
Standard rearview camera. Toyota announced that 2015 will be the last year for U.S. sales but like the Matrix that was much more popular here, the car may continue in Canada into 2016.

Performance
The Venza’s big four is quick and smooth, and is the choice of most Venza buyers. The powerful V6 accelerates with alacrity but lacks the sonic qualities expected from an engine with such impressive specifications. Noise from a variety of sources are in excess of what is expected from a car in this segment. The six-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly, but downshifts reluctantly. With a flinty ride over short, sharp bumps (courtesy of 19 and 20 inch wheels) and a lack of composure when roads get twisty, the Venza’s suspension delivers the worst of both worlds. Big, clear instruments. Controls for the heating and audio system look odd at first but are a snap to use once you are used to them. The vast centre console can hold a massive amount of detritus, all accessed via a number of very cleverly conceived lids. With a low floor, a tall roof and big doors, the Venza is very easy to get in and out of. Once in, occupants rest on supportive seats and enjoy abundant space. Cheap looking cabin materials and poor assembly are letdowns. Cargo space, while wide and long, is very shallow below the window line, severely limiting cargo capacity.

Comments
Cabin materials are still sub-par for a vehicle in this segment. Two engines, a 2.7L four and a 3.5L-V6 are offered. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available with either engine. All Venzas are equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. With about 7600 units sold in 2014, the Venza was the best-selling single nameplate in this segment, however, sales were down about 40 percent from 2013.

Pricing
Upgrading from the 2.7L four to the 3.5L V6 costs $1755. All-wheel drive is standard on the Limited, a $1600 option on the LE and is priced $1800 higher on the XLE. The XLE trim upgrade reflects the value of its extra content. Good value Limited package. Take a look at the cheaper RAV4 which can't match the Venza for passenger space but has significantly more room for cargo. Good value leasing.

Reliability
Above average reliability. The Venza's mechanical units have proven reliable in other Toyota products.  


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.7L-4 (182 HP)*, 3.5L-V6 (268 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  11.8L/100 km
Highway Fuel Economy:  9L/100 km
Active Safety Features: None
Additional airbags: Knee airbag for the driver

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000
Current Generation Debut:  2009

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Sml. Front: N/R

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

NHTSA Rating: