When you think of a traditional family sedan perhaps your mind wanders to idyllic childhood journeys with your family on Sunday afternoons. Or perhaps you remember arguments, fights and stony cold silences in the front seats but that is a topic that is best left to your therapist. At least everyone can agree that they have at least some memory of riding around in a traditional six-cylinder family sedan. Again, if you can’t play along go see your therapist.
The mainstream six-cylinder family sedan has been under fire of late what with Hyundai deciding not to even offer one with the new 2011 Sonata. There are many reasons for this among them the fact that four cylinders engines with direct injection and turbocharging routinely can match naturally aspirated 6 cylinders for power all the while getting far better economy. Six cylinder engines are also usually heavier than their four cylinder counterparts and this can negatively affect handling and (again) fuel economy.
But then there is always something to be said about the smooth thrust of effortless power that a six-cylinder engine provides. While turbocharged four cylinders can be fun, their power delivery can come across as somewhat manic to frazzled commuters. Seriously, some of these engines need to take their Ritalin and calm down. So if you are looking for an effortlessly smooth 6-cylinder mainstream family sedan here are five of the best.
2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6REnlarge Photo
The 2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R, what with its pancake flat 256 horsepower 6-cylinder engine (a design only used elsewhere by Porsche) and full-time symmetrical all-wheel drive, is easily the bargain of this group. It’s best, however, to invest an extra $1,000 into your new Subaru and buy the Premium edition as it adds heated power seats, nicer touch points and the option of a moonroof or a lovely Harmon/Kardon audio system. Just be aware the basic Legacy comes with a pretty weak four-speaker CD player so the Premium edition can make a lot of sense.
2010 Honda Accord SedanEnlarge Photo
With a standard 271 horsepower 3.5 liter V6, solid Honda build quality and ample room for five people with their luggage it is no wonder that the Accord is always in contention for best selling family sedan each year. But the Accord sets itself apart from the pack thanks to its unique ability to entertain and soothe the driver in equal measure. This is evidenced by how smoothly the Accord glides over bumps yet how much feedback you get from the power steering system on tight mountain roads. That is the Honda magic. And only the Accord EX-V6 has it.
2010 Nissan Altima HybridEnlarge Photo
The Nissan Altima may not be quite as refined and polished as opponents like the Accord but it makes up for it in sex-appeal and the noise that V6 engine makes when it is on the boil. At high RPMs the 270 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 in the Altima turns into a screamer doing its best impression of an Italian sports sedan. Except without all of the breaking down and oil-covered mechanics named Luigi. The 2010 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR is a great performance family sedan buy as long as you keep it light on options.
2010 Ford TaurusEnlarge Photo
Although the most basic Taurus SE models are pretty much relegated to the rental fleets that does not by any means suggest that this solidly built American family sedan is anything but world class. Powered in base form by a 263 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 or a turbocharged variant of that engine in SHO trim that pumps out a whopping 365 horsepower, the Taurus always has enough power in reserve. Add in a gorgeously detailed cabin (yes, in a Ford) and enough room for five 6-footers and their basketball equipment and you have the recipe for one great American family sedan.