2014 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Large Cars


Large cars offer abundant cabin space and big trunks, but can be cumbersome to drive in the city. Big engines deliver relaxed performance and good fuel economy on the open road, but fuel mileage can plummet in town. The size and weight of cars in this segment offer enhanced occupant protection.

While they are available with all-wheel drive, both the Honda Accord Crosstour and Toyota Venza are essentially big station wagons, which is why both of them appear in this section.

Except for the Chevrolet Impala that went on sale in the summer of 2013, all the cars are aging rapidly and should be replaced in the next few years. 

A note about mileage: The APA's posted fuel economy figures for 2014 differ from those published by the Canada EnerGuide. Since 2012, the APAhas been using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), numbers for fuel economy, as they better reflect real-world fuel economy. For more information, read APA President George Iny's article regarding the inadequacies of the Canada EnerGuide test cycle

 

Chevrolet Impala  Dodge Charger  Honda Accord Crosstour   
Chrysler 300  Ford Taurus  Toyota Venza   

 

Chevrolet Impala

Specifications

NEW

 

 

 

What’s new
All-new third-generation modern Impala wents on sale in mid-2013 as an early-release 2014 model. 

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 195 horsepower 2.5L four will power the bulk of 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. GM's eAssist hybrid, incapable of running in a pure electric mode, is available, but is priced higher than the stronger 2.5L four.
Unlike the low effort, feedback-free early electric power steering systems, the electric power assistance in the 2014 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 interior of the 2014 Impala is significant upgrade from that of its predecessor.
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 LTZ test car, copious soft-touch surfaces, matte finishes, French stitching and lustrous faux-alloy highlights make for a very luxurious cabin. The LTZ's 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 2.4L mild hybrid, a conventional 2.5L four and a 3.6L V6. Power reaches the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission in all cases. The Advanced Safety package option on the 2LT includes Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic, Lane Departure and Blind Spot warning and rear parking sensors is available. The 2LZ offers an option of Adaptive Cruise Control with automatic braking.   

Pricing
The Impala has moved considerably upmarket compared with its predecessor but the excellence of the car justifies the higher prices. That said, GM faces a big hurdle in getting the affluent buyers it has created this car for to actually consider a Chevrolet and get them into a dealer for a test drive.  Except for the 2LT and 2LZ models, Impalas are powered by 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Good value 2LT and 2LZ trim upgrades. Other packages are overpriced. Reasonable lease terms. 

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:
2.4L-4 H ( 182 HP combined), 2.5L-4 (196 HP), 3.6L-V6 (305 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  12.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: Knee airbags for both front airbags and side airbags for outboard rear passengers.

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/160,000

Country of Origin:  Canada, United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: Good

Side: Good

Roof: N/R

Rear: N/R

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
New Redline edition of the Charger.

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. The Charger SRT8 is seriously fast, and despite firmer suspension settings and sporty demeanour, is still very civilized. 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 versions of both cars are offered. An eight-speed automatic is standard on V6 cars. All-wheel drive, which defaults to rear-wheel drive unless slip is detected, is available on non-SRT8s.
Pricing
300: good value 300C upgrade but all other trim packages are overpriced. All-wheel drive is a $2200 to $3200 option depending on the trim level. Charger: The SXT package is overpriced but the SXT Plus upgrade is priced to reflect the value of its contents. When other equipment standard on the R/T is accounted for, the V8 engine is basically free. All-wheel drive is a $3595 option on the SXT and SXT Plus models and costs an extra $2195 on the R/T. No leasing is available.

Reliability
Average to above average reliability predicted. Unproven V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission. These cars are the most reliable 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 470 HP) 

Transmissions: 5A, 8A* 
Drive Layout: Rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags:: Driver's side knee airbag

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000(SRT only 3/60,000)

Country of Origin:  Canada

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: Good

Side: Good

Roof: Good

Rear: Good

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Ford Taurus

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
No changes of note.

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 290 horsepower or a 365 horsepower turbocharged V6, are available on the Taurus. All-wheel drive, optional on the normally-aspirated Taurus SEL V6, is standard on the Limited and SHO variants.

Pricing
All-wheel drive, standard on the Limited and SHO, is a $2400 option on the SEL. Overpriced SEL upgrade but the price supplement for the all-wheel drive Limited closely reflects the value of its extra content. Very expensive SHO package. The 2L turbo four, optional only in front-wheel drive form, is priced $1000 higher than a normally-aspirated V6 model with the same equipment. Poor leasing arrangements.

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
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags:: None

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: Good

Side: Good

Roof: Good

Rear: Good

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Accord Crosstour

Specifications


 

 

 

What’s new
Model range culled to just one V6 all-wheel drive variant. 

Performance
Driven before the recent plethora of cosmetic and mechanical updates, the Crosstour was a pleasant road companion. Hooked to a smooth and responsive automatic transmission, the Crosstour’s 3.5L V6 accelerates with great verve. With a carefully developed ride-handling balance, communicative steering and firm, reassuring brakes, the Crosstour is one of the nicest driving affordable big cars available. If the Crosstour has a fault, it is that the sloping roofline, small side windows and high tail combine to limit outward visibility. The Crosstour has clear gauges and generally logical controls. The cabin is stocked with large, supportive seats front and rear which combine with generous legroom to welcome a quartet of passengers. Versatile cargo area which could be even more so if it was a bit deeper below the window line.

Comments
All-wheel drive and V6 power are standard on the Crosstour for 2014. Active safety systems include lane departure and forward collision warning. A blind-spot monitoring system using door mirror-mounted cameras and a rear view camera, important in a car with limited rear visibility, are standard. The Crosstour has failed to find a market and it will be interesting to see whether Honda continues with the concept for another generation. 

Pricing
Sold only in all-wheel drive V6 EX-L form, a navigation system is the sole option offered on the Crosstour. The Crosstour EX-L V6 sells for about the same price as the all-wheel Toyota Venza XLE V6
but the Honda is equipped with blind spot monitoring, collision detection and lane departure warning. Good value leasing.

Reliability
Above average reliability predicted. Unproven six-speed automatic transmission.  


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
3.5L-V6 (278 HP)

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

City Fuel Economy:  12.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional Airbags: None

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: Good

Side: Good

Roof: Good

Rear: Good

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: 



Toyota Venza

Specifications

What’s new
New LE, XLE and Limited trim levels conform with those used on other Toyota models.

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
The Venza undergoes a mid-cycle remake that reduces the visual bulk that plagued the pre-faceliftt version. The interior is virtually unchanged and 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 over 12,000 units sold in Canada last year, the Venza has been has been very warmly received by the buying public here.

Pricing
Upgrading from the 2.7L four to the 3.5L V6 costs $1755. An all-wheel Venza is priced $1800 higher than a similarly equipped front-wheel drive variant. The Premium and JBL package are priced to reflect their additional content but the Touring package is an outright bargain. 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
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: Knee airbag for the driver

Warranty: 4/80,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: Good

Side: Good

Roof: Good

Rear: Good

Sml. Front: N/R

NHTSA Rating: