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Full-Size Family Sedans: The Fight Is On

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A lot has changed in the full-size family sedan class in the last few years. Most of the major players have been refreshed with new styling, updated powertrains, and more technology. There are even some new vehicles in the class, and the Chevrolet Impala just finally joined the 21st Century. So how do all these new vehicles stack up, and which ones are winners?

The new 2014 Chevrolet Impala is finally a worthwhile option. In fact, it's one of the best-looking vehicles in the full-size segment now, and it has infotainment options that are as good if not better than some of the competition. The Impala has a better ride and handling than the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera, but it falls short when it comes to fuel economy when compared to the the Dodge Charger V-6 and Toyota Avalon Hybrid. Overall it's a worthwhile entry in this class, and it's been a while since we've been able to say that.

Toyota recently refreshed the Avalon with a new design, and for the first time ever, a hybrid model. It's a leader when it comes to fuel economy in the full-size sedan segment with the hybrid model hitting 40 mpg in the city and combined. While the exterior is quite sharp, it's the interior that is glitzy, with capacitive buttons and a fluid design. It's a comfortable choice with a history of reliability.

The Hyundai Azera is a fine-looking large family sedan, but it's not setting the sales chart on fire. It's certainly not because it lacks style or technology. And while the V-6 powertrain isn't the most fuel-efficient in its class, it's also not exactly a gas guzzler. We wonder if it has something to do with the Sonata mid-size sedan and Genesis full-size sedan sitting next to it in the showroom confusing customers.

A new entry to this segment is the Kia Cadenza, and for some, it'll give sticker shock. That's because loaded up it's a Kia that costs more than $40,000. But it's a darn nice car. The infotainment system is one of the easiest to use, and the seats are quite comfortable. Unfortunately the steering requires lots of minor corrections on the highway, which can become tiresome quickly.

The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger both received powertrain upgrades recently with an eight-speed automatic transmission and powerful V-6 engine. This setup is good for more than 30 mpg in some configurations, and they are still fun-to-drive.

And then there's the Ford Taurus, which is poorly packaged and has much less interior passenger space than it should for how large it is. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine feels overworked, and struggles to get its advertised fuel economy ratings. While the trunk is large, and the car is comfortable, the flaws are glaring and make it difficult to recommend over the competition.

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