Automotiveness®: A Tale of Two Sedans
Seems we don’t want sedans anymore. Americans fled station wagons – once the mainstay of suburban driveways – decades ago, of course. Chrysler minivans and Ford Explorers sparked that migration. Now US drivers have turned a scornful eye toward mainstream sedans – which fueled Detroit for over a century – as we flock to “crossovers.” Ironically, domestic sedans have never been as terrific as they are today.
In the past few weeks, I’ve rented two current offerings – a Ford Fusion and then a Chevrolet Impala – to make trips to the East Coast for client meetings (so much more soul-satisfying than flying). Spoiler alert – these affordable, stellar 4-doors are proof that American OEMs are at the top of their game when it comes to sedans.
Each displayed its own distinct automotive personality. The Ford is resoundingly the fruit of Dearborn’s globally savvy product DNA. Said another way, while the Fusion is unmistakably Yankee in character, there is a delightfully European suppleness in its athletic chassis.
The current generation of Impala will, almost certainly, be the last Chevrolet to wear that 60-year-old nameplate. Impalas have (almost) always been big, proud cars, and this 2018 version is all of that. It exudes the confidence of being ample in every respect, but it isn’t overly so in any way. And it moves like an All-Pro fullback – powerfully, and with grace.
Differences aside, the Ford and the Chevy share a long list of significant attributes, including:
Great lines – these are tightly drawn, handsome vehicles that will age well.
Silky and potent direct-injection engines – a sinewy four-cylinder turbo in the Ford, and a turbine-like V6 in the Chevy.
Spacious cabins and trunks – heck, the rear seats even fold down to create vast SUV-like cargo expanses when needed. Sedans never used to do that.
Impressive driving dynamics – low centers of gravity pay dividends on twisty roads. And steering this good was the exclusive domain of two-seaters not long ago.
Supreme Interstate serenity – they devour miles effortlessly, by the hundreds. And both always seem eager to cruise 10 mph faster…
Astounding fuel economy – for all their performance, they easily return 30+ mpg highway. On regular unleaded.
When asked what he thought would make a smart investment, Will Rogers reportedly said, “Buy land. They ain’t making any more of the stuff.” An update of that advice might be, “Buy an American sedan. They might not be making them much longer.”