Ask Bark: What's The Best Sporty Sedan For Me?

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Nate writes:

Hi Bark,

I like to know your opinion on the subject matter of the email. My ideal car is a reliable all-wheel-drive, full-size sedan with more than 400-500 horsepower, similar 400 lb-ft of torque, decent average fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon, and it’s made by Honda/Acura with all the safety features (lane keep assist, front collision mitigation, blind spot detection, etc).

However, that vehicle does not exist, and I have a budget of $55,000 out the door.

So my only choices, it seems, are:

1). Chevy SS (negatives are fuel economy and reliability?) I’m leaning more towards this.

2). Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack (negative are nose-heavy when braking and cornering, and reliability).

3). Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400 (negatives are not being full-size, and has oversteer/understeer issues).

If my wife didn’t give me a limit, I would spring for a Lexus GS F. I didn’t mention any European brands due to reading about notorious times being fixed at dealerships with costly repairs. I figured if reliability is an issue, I rather go with a Chevy.

What are your thoughts?

You want to know my thoughts? Sure.

Why do people like Las Vegas so much? I am going to be in Vegas from today through Sunday, and I’m just dreading it. All the trashy people with their giant fruity drinks and their tank tops, the ridiculous traffic, the gross buffets — I just don’t want anything to do with any of it.

Are the Oakland Raiders really a 5-2 team? I can’t figure them out. They look like they can’t stop anybody on defense, and their two losses were miserably bad. Their point differential through seven games is only plus-6, which should make them a 3-4 or 4-3 team. But when Latavius Murray is healthy, their offense is full of young, potent players, and they’ve got unmatched talent at the WR position with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. But when I look at their remaining schedule, I could just as easily see them ending up 8-8 as 12-4.

Oh, you probably meant about your car buying situation. My bad. Well, here’s another hot take:

The Chevrolet SS is fool’s gold.

While the car buyers of America sometimes get it wrong, as a whole, the market is pretty good at picking winners and losers. Did you know that the SS has never sold a thousand units in a single month? In fact, it’s never even gotten close. According to our own Tim Cain, its best sales month ever was 592 in April of this year. Next best? 354 last June. That would be a very slow Sunday afternoon for the F-150. And while 2016 numbers have undoubtedly been slowed by the recently lifted stop-sale, Toyota often sells more Camrys in a day than Chevy will sell SS sedans this entire year.

The numbers look great, yes, but when I drove the SS just over two years ago, the car already felt ancient inside. We’re now coming up on three model years later, and with the exception of the available magnetic suspension and six-speed manual, it’s exactly the same as it was then. It’s an old car based on an even older platform. The interior is loaded up with tacky alcantara accents and lewd SS logos, and you couldn’t fit Verne Troyer through the sunroof. The only thing that makes it even mildly interesting is the powertrain, and there’s nothing revolutionary going on there, either. There’s a reason that GM is offering 20 percent off on them right now — it’s because nobody wants one. Go ahead and think of how many SSes you’ve seen in the wild. I’ll wait. I’ve personally seen about three outside of dealership walls, including this one just the other day:

At first, I thought it was Big Al from Oz stalking me, but then I realized it was actually just a regular ol’ Kentuckian. I just can’t with the nose of this car. Of all of the sedans being offered by Chevrolet, the SS possesses the clunkiest styling. Even the Cruze looks more like money than the SS does.

Finally, I owned a G8 GT, and when things broke on it, it was incredibly inconvenient to get replacement parts all the way from Down Under. I found myself in rental cars nearly as often as I found myself behind the wheel of the LS-powered sedan. So I’m gonna have to say no to your SS idea.

The Charger R/T Scat Pack made it fairly far into my recent car buying decision — until I drove one. It’s just inexcusable for a car that expensive to have an interior that bad. It still screams “DODGE” everywhere that you look at it, and, again, do you really want to pay that much money for a car that looks exactly like a $25k SXT to the uninformed? You’re dead on with your nose-heavy assessment, as well. If the R/T were $7-10k less, then I’d say sure. But at that sticker price, I can’t recommend it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t driven the Q50S Red Sport 400, so I don’t have a specific opinion that I can offer on this one. I’d recommend driving it and seeing if you really need the full-sized space that you’re looking for.

However, there’s a car that’s not on your list that ought to be, and that’s the Chrysler 300S AWD.

It’s a little bit less powerful than the numbers you’ve listed, but even the Pentastar engine provides enough oompf for this former Boss 302/current Focus RS owner. You’ll get the size you want, the AWD you want, and the fuel economy is excellent. Plus, the interior is just a step above its Dodge-branded sibling. Get it with UConnect 8.4, and you’ll have a a sedan that’s as refined and fun to drive as any other full-sizer on the market. In fact, if you can find one that’s a year or two old, you can take the rest of your budget and buy a Fiesta ST, too!

Go, my child.

Bark M. hates Las Vegas. But he loves your emails! Send them to him at, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

[Image: General Motors]

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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  • Von Von on Oct 27, 2016

    Whenever my friends ask me for car advice (because I'm THAT car guy), and have unrealistic expectations on performance, practicality, efficiency, comfort, AND price, I just tell them to get it used.

  • Orange260z Orange260z on Oct 31, 2016

    After spending thousands of kilometres in Chrysler 300s as a rental, I bought a one year-old 2013 300S V6 RWD in 2014. It's been a great car, with lots of bang for the buck. Some positives: * Pentastar V6 and ZF 8AT deliver excellent performance with the potential for unreal highway fuel economy (7L/100kms!!)for a mid-size car, let alone a large car; all while running on regular fuel. Overall, one of the best engine/transmission combos I've encountered in any car. * decent tossability and grip for a large car due to the big wheels & tires, although the steering is very light and stability control very aggressive * excellent UConnect 8.4 system - IMHO this system is very under-rated. Although it doesn't look as slick as some newer ones and the touchscreen isn't the greatest, it is simple, intuitive, and does what it does very well. In two years I haven't had ANY issues with UConnect, while the CUE in my brand-new CTS has been a source of frustration * excellent sound system - yes, I'm talking about the "Beats" - with a little tweaking of the tone controls, IMHO this is superior to any "premium" Bose system I've heard in German and American cars * easy to use (but basic) Garmin nav * interior upper dash materials are "soft touch" and acceptable for the price, lower materials are cheap sh!t * huge panoramic moonroof * unique classy, look (well, unique because we don't see a lot of Bentleys around) * "Billet Silver" paint looks awesome when clean, and clean when dirty * huge first-year depreciation make this an excellent used-car buy That said, there are definitely some significant limitations * interior fit and finish is poor * exterior fit is like it was designed to be assembled by a drunk guy, and probably was assembled by a drunk guy (shout out to my bids in Bramalea!!) * the ride is unrefined - compared to my CTS it clunks and clangs its way over any road imperfections * surprisingly little back seat room for such a large car * some of the options packages are strange, like needing to buy a very expensive automated driving package to get memory seats and auto wipers. If I was buying one of these new at full pop, these negatives would be a bigger issue. But for a one year old used car for CAD25K? Best value on the road.

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