By on October 26, 2016

2016 Chevrolet SS blue

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:

IMG_3597

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 [email protected], or follow him on Instagram and Twitter

[Image: General Motors]

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129 Comments on “Ask Bark: What’s The Best Sporty Sedan For Me?...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Honestly, if the Lexus GS works for you, get a used one. It’s still cramped in the rear versus the Chrysler LX/LY and SS, but is such a nice car otherwise.

    Another option might be the Q70 or prior M45. I suspect many an Infiniti dealer would love to unload a long-sitting Q70 on you for a good bit off sticker.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I was just thinking that the poster might be able to sneak in a long-sitting Q70 5.6 at the upper end of the price range.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      A 410 horsepower, 2014 XTS VSport can be had for mid-$30’s mostly loaded with Haldex4 AWD on all versions.

      With just some torque management loosening in a Ecu tune, it’s a 500+ lb-ft of torque beast that’ll run away from everything listed above. I have seen 32+ mpg on a 6- hour, 2-way average from OH to Philly and back at 65 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      nitroxide

      I drive a 2011 Infiniti M37x, which is what the Q70 AWD was known as prior to Johann de Nyscchen needing to rename everything. It’s the exact same car. It’s got 330HP, goes 0-60 in 5.7 seconds and a 1/4 mile in 14. It’s fast, especially when you out it in Sport mode. It’s got a great interior, big back seat and trunk, and it looks sharp. The infotainment unit is aged and clunky but it won’t crash and it’s usable once you get used to it. If you can find one a few years old, you can get it for $25-30k. It’s a steal. It’s also rare enough to be unique.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      This is the answer. CPO Lexus GS. A Lexus with 25k miles and a CPO warranty is more likely to last than any of those domestic cars, including (and perhaps especially) the 300.

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    300S looks nice, but FCA is ranked least reliable? Perhaps that does not affect the 300S because it’s on an older platform?

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      I can’t find it now, but I could have sworn that I read something this week about the Chrysler 300 being one of FCA’s most reliable cars. That may not be saying much for a brand that shows up 27th overall in reliability, though. Earlier this year I briefly entertained the idea of picking up a 300S AWD on the cheap (15-20% off MSRP everywhere, it seems) until I saw the CR reliability ratings for that model in the 2016 new car buyers guide. It’s a shame, because it’s a good looking car with most of the right features, at a great price. But like the 200 the reliability is a deal breaker for me.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      The Challenger/Charger/300 don’t do to badly. Most of the issues they have come back to infotainment systems. Now that could be because all the running gear has been around for a while- which is always both good and bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The running gear includes the newer 8-speed transmission, but the 9-speed is what’s killing the reliability ratings. Apparently the 8-speed is somewhat better sorted with the Pentastar V6. You would have to go back a few years to get the Mercedes 5-speed auto with AWD, unless you get the 6.4L V8. I THINK that still uses the MB 5-speed.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I’m not sure how big you need to go, but with incentives and the usual discounts, a Caddy CTS with V6 and AWD might squeak into your budget. It might not have the muscle of some of the others, but should have much better handling.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I’d get a used Audi S7 or a Jaguar XF with Supercharged V6.

    I don’t think you are gonna find the refined handling you obviously want in an American sedan this side of a Cadillac CTS/ATS.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Sounds to me like he’s really averse to European makes, and having owned several Euro cars, I do not blame him.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      While everyone has personal preferences, the writing off all European cars because of generic reliability issue strikes me as stubbornness more than anything else. A quick search on Autotrader yields a 2014 S6 with 45k miles on it for $47,116. Take the $8k the OP would save under his budget, bank it for repairs, and enjoy having a full-size, AWD car that would stomp a 300S heads up.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “a full-size, AWD car that would stomp a 300S heads up.”

        I’ve always wondered… where and when exactly does all this stomping of rival mass-produced passenger cars take place?

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          I understand that you take pride in your lack of awareness and capability. But, when the dozen or so people tailgating each other behind you either see a dotted line or become so blindly frustrated that they’re willing to pass you on a double yellow, they’ll want to be in that opposite lane for as little time as possible.

          Or, if you’re a normal person, there are situations where you know someone’s going to create an awkward situation a few hundred yards down the road; so the safest thing to do is to make enough space that everyone has plenty of room to do what they need to do, without creating the situation above.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “I understand that you take pride in your lack of awareness and capability.”

            Hey, they’re all I got!

            Your scenarios do appear to make a comparative brand/model study difficult, though.

            Maybe I can help; next time I notice a long line behind me I’ll see if I can bring us all to a stop long enough for people to fill out a survey form before blowing by me.

            Heck, I’ll even collect, tabulate and report the data to TTAC. THEN we’ll know who’s Más Macho and who secretly menstruates!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Stomping grounds outside of town.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    “You’re dead on with your nose-heavy assessment, as well.”

    This an artifact of the LX platform’s origins as a further development of the longitudinal/front wheel drive LH platform isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I’ve always understood the LX was originally a Mercedes platform with a 120 inch wheelbase. The LH had a 113 inch wheelbase.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        NO the LX was all Chrysler and ready for tooling when the “merger of equals” happened. The company that was more equal then told the engineers from the less equal company to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to use their components to avoid the tooling costs. The original LX design was nothing more than dusting off the parts of the original LH design that never made it to production. Little known fact is the reason that the LH got the longitudinal drive train was to make it possible to offer it as a v6 FWD, V6 AWD, V6 RWD and V8 RWD. The windshield forward design was part of that, to hide the fact that the bell housing sat miles away from the firewall in the V6 FWD versions to leave room for those 2 extra cylinders for the RWD application. If you look under a LH you’ll see the space reserved for the rear diff and half shafts that never made it to the tooling stage.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “It’s an old car based on an even older platform.”

    I do not see how this is a bad thing. Old, pushrod, V8-y, and RWD is my wheelhouse.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Too bad you can’t get the Genesis G80 with the V8 and AWD here in the ‘States (you can in Canada), and the V6 is sort of weaksauce for what you’re wanting in a sporty sedan. But that’d be my pick. HTRAC AWD (which I’m sure will be rebranded now that the G80 is no longer a Hyundai) is superb.

    Maybe you could go with the RWD Genesis G80. Or, better yet, find a discounted 2016 Hyundai Genesis. No one’ll ever know the difference if you swap the badging over.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’m more bullish on the SS than Bark is. The interior is certainly not competitive with luxury brands or even with the 300, but it’s not bad for GM and it’s better than anything you’ll find in a Charger. The car is really more satisfying to drive than any LX-based car, being several hundred pounds lighter and less nose-heavy. Especially if you want an automatic, you’ll find killer deals out there. Go drive one and see what you think.

    Where Bark is right is that the challenge with the SS is getting non-powertrain parts in from Australia. The powertrain is quite reliable but the cars have been known to suffer suspension and electrical issues. I owned a G8 GXP, and it had no disabling issues during my six years of ownership, but I did have to wait a few weeks for parts to fix a couple of minor problems.

    The GS F is a terrific car but is not full-size by any means. The difference between RWD midsizers and fullsizers is really in the back seat. If a full-size back seat is important to you, you’ll need to get a full-size car, especially in RWD.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If you are more into the luxury side the Genesis/G80 5.0 or MKZ AWD 3.0T would be worth a look. I also bet that you’ll be able to get a Continental AWD 3.0t for $55k in a few months.

    On the sportier side, I’d still lean SS.

  • avatar
    rjg

    Sorry – this advice makes no sense.

    In exchange for not having to look at a few dodge logos you give up great v8 , better brakes, better suspension and much better styling?

    The plastics on the 300 don’t seem any better than the dodge and in fact, the interior comes off as cheesier due to its luxury aspirations. Plus, talk about looking old- the 300s basic shape is almost the same as when it introduced 10 years ago. You also get the same 8.4 uconnect system.

    If you really think v6 + AWD is the better way to go you can get that on the dodge as well. And you can spec a sportier suspension even on the v6 cars.

    I’m not a fan of the SS looks either but criticizing it for being based on an old platform is kind of strange given that the LX cars are also based on an updated 10 year old platform.

    I don’t own any of these cars btw.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The 300 and Charger interiors are far more different than “a few Dodge logos.” Materials and styling are totally different. The Charger interior is the worst in the full-size segment by a large margin now that the W-Impala is finally gone.

  • avatar
    PM300

    Long time reader, first time commenting. Can confirm the 300 as a great option. Barks rental 300 review a few months ago convinced me to give the car a shot. Thanks to amazing rebates and employee lease discounts from my buddy/sales guy, I’ve had my 300S rwd for 3 months and enjoy it more everyday. The pentastar has good power and can verify Barks 30 plus mpg highway. The rwd has a different suspension for 2015 and up to the and that is reportedly quite a bit stiffer for better handling. I didn’t test drive the awd car though admittedly to compare.

    I also looked at the charger Rt as it was leasing similar but was also put off by the interior like Bark. The 300 interior isn’t perfect but is perfectly acceptable for the deals you can get on them now.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “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.”

    I don’t get it either. add to the above the crowds and noise and flashing lights and anger. I’ve had to go there a few years for CES, and by the end of day 2 I was itching to leave. If you don’t gamble and don’t have time to see any shows, Vegas has nothing for you.

    And what’s wrong with the Charger’s interior? Don’t say it’s “plasticky,” that term doesn’t really mean anything.

    especially in light of its predecessors Nickel-and-Daimler cheapening.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Vegas offers much but it all comes with a roughly $200 or more price tag per activity (with the exception of the Mob Museum which is cheap and worth a trip). If you’re short on time *and* money, I can see the aversion to the city.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I’m in Utah 5 hours from Vegas and go down about 2-3 times a year. You go to the Strip two or three times and for most people it’s enough, and check out Fremont St once or twice and that’s enough.

        But, but there are some very nice places outside Vegas, like Summerlin, west of the strip 15 minutes. Red Rock Casino/Spa Resort is wonderful and you don’t get the “typical” Vegas crowd. There are great golf courses all around west and south(Henderson) of Vegas if you like to golf. Hoover Dam/Lake Mead is well worth seeing at least once in a lifetime, we’ve gone twice on our Vegas trips,it’s a short 40 minute drive from the Strip.

        We never stay on the Strip or go to the Strip other than for a show and I’ve been there enough that I know how get get in and out on back streets and where to park for a show that’s on the strip. We’ve seen Elton John, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Olivia Newton John to name a few over the last couple of years. We gamble very little………No, I don’t work for Vegas tourism or any hotel.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure I get that either from a guy who drives 40K+ focus. I have seen scat pack RT’s around me for sale in the high 30’s so you should be able to wheel and deal.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The Charger’s interior is fine as long as you aren’t really into interiors.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “The Charger’s interior is fine as long as you aren’t really into interiors.”

        a bunch of words which really don’t say anything.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The Charger’s steering wheel, steering wheel controls, console storage lid, electric outlets, seat controls, and audio/climate knobs all feel fine and work properly.

          The overhead sunglass holder is extremely thin and flimsy to the point I don’t use it because I’m afraid it will break from regular use. The speedometer can also be hard to read because the numbers are close together. Those are the only *functional* issues with the interior of my car.

          It is very dark. I happen to like super black interiors but some people don’t.

          The material and build quality isn’t especially good. Like dal mentions below the silver plastic (door handles and trim) in mine is shiny dollar-toy quality. In the newer Chargers it is matte but not really any better feeling.

          Most of the upper touch points are soft material, and the lower stuff is hard plastic. That is pretty standard in the $25K-$35K price class but I can see it being an issue for people spending SRT or Hellcat money.

          The soft touch material doesn’t align very well in any place it meets hard surfaces, the gear indicator is cracking pretty bad (I’ve seen this on other Chargers for sale so it isn’t just mine), and my seatback is forming a gap with the plastic backing. The door lock plungers like to rattle on rougher roads and sometimes the metal trim around the gauges “pops” when the temperature in the car changes.

          Here are some pictures (my car has 19K miles and is garaged):

          oi63.tinypic.com/2q1xi14.jpg
          oi67.tinypic.com/29vi3py.jpg
          oi68.tinypic.com/nyh1k1.jpg
          oi63.tinypic.com/s58vic.jpg

          In the first picture, it is kind of hard to tell, on the right side the upper and lower panels are flush but as it goes left the upper soft touch panel is protruding out.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Most of the upper touch points are soft material, and the lower stuff is hard plastic. That is pretty standard in the $25K-$35K price class but I can see it being an issue for people spending SRT or Hellcat money.”

            that’s pretty standard in $50k BMWs and Audis too, you know.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “And what’s wrong with the Charger’s interior?”

      It looks and feels cheap.

      It starts from a base of plain black plastic everywhere, and gets worse from there.

      There’s no excuse for shiny silver or gray plastic anymore, and the Charger has a bunch (of both colors). Including the shifter, one of the primary touch points of the car.

      The blank black plastic space surrounding the climate controls is in a different grain of black plastic than the dash cover surrounding it.

      The typeface on the instruments and the red trim look like an ’85 Monte Carlo.

      Basically, compare the Charger and 300 interiors, and pretty much everything that looks decent-ish on the 300 is obviously, visibly cheapened on the Charger.

  • avatar
    Car Guy

    If $55K is a hard limit look at the XF V6 AWD. 340HP, 20/28 MPG, good seats front and rear (I sat in one). A few thousand less than a comparable A6 or 5 Series. The reliability is a valid point but you give a very narrow set of criteria to follow and the European brands check a lot of your boxes….

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      The Jag dealer around me is moving these at crazy cheap prices. They’re offering “CPO” models that were clearly just dealer loaners with 2000-5000 miles for ~15k under sticker on their website that are the new 2016 model. I’m sure they’re actually moving for even less.

      Just checked their site, they have the basically fully loaded R-Sport listed @ $54k with 4500 miles. I’m sure other Jag dealers have similar offers with how slowly big sedans are selling lately.

      IMO this car or a CPO CTS V-Sport would be the way to go.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    AWD TTv6 Caddie, that’s your best option. Then visit trifecta for a 91 octane tune, a 100 octane tune.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I keep coming back to the 300 as well. With very few miles they are so steeply discounted it wouldn’t be hard to buy a really comprehensive extended warranty which would be good if your local dealer has a solid reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I agree. A 300C Platinum with the Hemi would be awesome, and a good set of winter rubber would make it unstoppable in the snow. The open pore wood trim interior is very, very nice, particularly with the quilted leather. If you really wanted go-fast stuff, I’m sure a decent wrench could bolt on some SRT392 hardware as well.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    “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.”

    There’s a Mimi’s Cafe out on Fort Apache, and one on Durango. They make some of the best creole stuff you can get in a chain restaurant.

    Once you get out that way, far away from the casinos, there are wide roads with lots of room between lights. You can take your rev-happy cheap-and-cheerful rental car (For me, last time, a Chevy Cobalt) and just rev that thing to max. Everything far away from the casinos is like a quaint western city – not California, but not Ohio.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Thank you Bark for acknowledging me. I think you have erred, I really don’t stalk.

    There might be a plus with the SS. My gut feeling is they will appreciate over time in value. Unlike Australia where HSV’S are a dime a dozen the US will tell a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I tried to tell myself this when I was looking hard at an SS, but resale markets just don’t bear it out. Maybe in 10 years it might inhabit a G8 GXP world, but there is simply no demand for these things.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’m just gonna say it. Lincoln MKZ 3.0T.

    *ducks*

    The Fusion Sport actually might be a better bet if the asker is willing to slum it with a paltry 325hp. If C&D is to be believed it’s a better package than its upmarket brother.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      I don’t think it’s crazy.

      I love radar cruise and active lane keeping assist, and this is a good way to get those features.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Apparently Lincoln slipped a set of performance tires on the MKZ tester C/D had that messed with the ride quality.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        But the same shoes didn’t ruin the Fusion Sport, which makes me wonder if the MKZ would be much better served by different rubber anyway.

        To be honest I kinda feel like the interior of the Fusion is nicer, but then I haven’t actually been in the MKZ.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Could be, but the MKZ is going to have different suspension tuning than the Fusion Sport, so the Lincoln might be better suited for less-aggressive tires.

          Personally, I’m meh on the MKZ. But that Continental looks yummy.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            If you’re trying to hit the HP numbers, why not an MKS Ecoboost? I can’t imagine that it’s terribly sporty, but with a TT V6 and AWD it ought to get it fat ass moving pretty fast. There are a number of tunes to turn the wicks up on those turbos, so you could potentially wring a little more scoot out of the fat bastard.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I have a really hard time believing that 400 hp through that part-time AWD system isn’t going to feel squirrelly and nasty.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        If the Lincoln has some sort of torque vectoring it can be really fun in the snow with electronics off. On the white stuff add throttle to rotate or close throttle to tuck in the rear, it telepathic on my XTS VSport on Pilot Alpins.

        Yes, in the rain at 70+ mph it spins the fronts tires a split second before engaging the rears at full throttle but nothing squirrelly you’ll see in a +550 lb-ft rear wheel drive car.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      The problem with the MKZ is rear seat room. It’s really limited for the size of car it is.

  • avatar
    Nicola

    I agree with Bark’s assessment of Vegas. Pure garbage, but a great point of entry if visiting the national parks in Arizona and Utah.

    I disagree with Bark’s assessment of the SS. I own a 2016. Who cares if it is an old engine in an old platform. If you want a RWD V8 with handling and braking chops, and that can carry a family in comfort, what is as good at that price? I have driven the Charger, and it is not as refined a product. I can definitely do without the NASCAR styling touches on the SS, but they are quickly forgotten when behind the wheel. I am not into hot hatches, I like more old-fashioned muscle. FiST and similar cars smell too much of turbo rice, but that’s me, I tend to be grumpy and want people off my lawn. The SS was a no-brainer given that I still own and adore my 2009 G8 GT (it has held up well thanks to my obsessive fluid changes). Plus, it is oddly amusing to have the SS confused with a Malibu, Impala, or Cruze (yes, Cruz).

    Slow sales are not an issue when only 2,000-3,000 are being built each year. The SS is absent in Chevy’s ad campaigns; I never figured out why, my guess it was a bargain with their unions to bring in a foreign-made product. It is a niche product for a small audience.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Bark’s reasons for writing off the Charger are doo doo

    I have another suggestion… it doesn’t look like used cars are ruled out, so if that’s the case the OP should look at the CTS V-Sport. I’m still confused as to the concept of a 2 ton sedan that can handle that isn’t an E39 M5… but if you can live with CUE and a small for its class back seat that should work.

    I’m not sure how reliable they are, and resale is basura, but a SWB XJ is another idea. Legitimately full size and legitimately sporty. You can get a certified Supersport/Supercharged/R for under $55K with zero effort.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      My indie Jag mechanic says the only thing he sees wrong on the new style XJ’s is sunroof rattles. Seems to only affect the earlier cars.

      The body is aluminium, so quite a bit lighter and more nimble than S class & 7series. Certainly a very different interior ambience to Audi, and quite a bit more reliable. From my experience owning a VW, I found that Jag parts were about 1/3 the cost of VW parts.

  • avatar
    balreadysaid

    Jag xer sport.

    Tech, driving packages

    Black design package

    British racing green

    Black option wheels

    Bad ass!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    XTS V-Sport.

    Lightly used Audi S6.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    New Lincoln Continental? 400HP, AWD, I don’t know the tourque but with the eccoboost it has to be a lot.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    ” I figured if reliability is an issue, I rather go with a Chevy.”

    Oh boy…

    • 0 avatar
      Quick Double Nickel

      I wouldn’t expect the reliability to be in the Honda/Toyota realm, but certainly better than the FCA products. The major item that you want to be reliable (the drivetrain) will likely never be a major issue with the LS3 and the 6 speed manual and if do need parts for the drivetrain, those will be easy to come by with huge aftermarket support.

      I would, however, share the concern about other components of the car that would need to come from a far off country should they fail. Honestly, that’s about the only thing that would keep me away from the SS (prices are in the mid $30k with Chevy’s incentives now). I agree with other posters about liking the subtle look. The drivetrain on this car almost makes you overlook the relatively small issues. The fact that it is riding on an older platform actually makes me feel better about it, as it should be more tested to this point.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a “sporty sedan”. Sedans are not sporty, no matter what their real performance may be.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    There’s one car that checks all the OP’s boxes, and nobody’s even mentioned it: the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid.

    A true full-size car with a ginormous back seat. 377 HP and 5 seconds 0-60. AWD, with torque vectoring to boot. 28 city/32 highway. All the safety nannies. A street price that should squeeze in around your ceiling. And, it’s an Acura. What’s more, you sure won’t see yourself coming and going, because they’ve hardly built any – there’s about 8 of them in America.

    Owners rave about the car. Pity that Acura typically botched the launch by releasing the complete dog of an FWD version for $50,000 first, so that the public and press had completely tuned out by the time they got the AWD hybrid properly sorted about a year into production.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It’s not really close to OP’s price range. Maybe if he can find an early-build 2016 (there were no 2015 cars) languishing somewhere a deal will be available, but the Sport Hybrids have not been in much supply. There are tons of FWD models out there at a discount but they are super snoozy.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    “do you really want to pay that much money for a car that looks exactly like a $25k SXT to the uninformed?”

    Yes, absolutely. I’d much rather fly under the general public’s radar and have something special but visible only to car guys than drive something inherently flossy.

    I’ve actively de-badged the hot version of a pedestrian cars so as to make them look more like the base model.

    I enjoy Las Vegas because it’s some of the best people watching on planet Earth. Just find someplace comfortable and observe the public for a while, like Jane Goodall with the chimps. Then focus your attention on how well designed the casinos are, and how well the people who design them understand human behavior. It’s actually a really interesting laboratory for exploring why people do what they do.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “Then focus your attention on how well designed the casinos are, and how well the people who design them understand human behavior. It’s actually a really interesting laboratory for exploring why people do what they do.”

      I went to the casino in Niagara Falls, and I was definitely fascinated – but also frustrated: Here I was, in the middle of painstakingly starting a business that sells actual products, and here were some guys who filled a building with machines that have holes in them, and if you say, “Put money in and we might give you some of it back, on average”, people just come and put money in the holes! Good God!

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    The spiritual heir to the loaded hi-power fullsize sedan crown is a 400+HP pickup truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Ford F150 Raptor Supercrew starts at $51,000. It’s in the budget!

      His ideal car is:

      Reliable – sure?
      All-wheel-drive – yes!
      Full-size sedan – sure?
      400-500 horsepower – yes!
      400 lb-ft of torque – how about 510?
      Decent average fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon – lol
      Made by Honda/Acura – nah
      All the safety features – Gonna need to go up to $60K

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Sport sedans can turn. So far, pickups can’t.

      • 0 avatar

        My first gen Dakota turned quite well (better then my outback and xc70 for instance and the last sonata I drove) but then again that one shared much of its front suspension design with the first gen Viper.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Let’s get a 2017 Ford Raptor burgerkingonionring run! We need proof that trucks cannot turn.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        If the letter writer routinely takes turns that exceed the safe limits of a new F-150 on good tires then I retract my statement.

        If he’s part of the other 99% of the driving public then it still stands.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Same mistake Bark always makes: assuming that all cars turn identically unless at or over the limits of grip.

          Go through some twisties at a legal pace in a 340i and a loaded F-150 and see if you still feel that way.

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    1) How can you not like Vegas? Your quibbles about Vegas refer greatly to The Strip, which is actually not in Vegas.

    Vegas is a great town, and as I’ve said for awhile now, “There’s life outside of The Strip”. I would encourage you (and others) to go explore the town…just stay away from the north and/or the east side.

    2) There’s quite a few WRs that are better than Crabtree. Although good, I wouldn’t put him in the elite category.

    Anyways, as far as what you’re looking for goes, I’d go used/CPO. I think that you’ll come closer to what you’re looking for.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Macayo’s. That’s all I have to say about Las Vegas.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      ” I would encourage you (and others) to go explore the town”

      I’m not an explorer. tell me what I should go look for.

      • 0 avatar
        zip94513

        Moved out of Vegas in June to take care of my father. Can’t wait to go back. I lived there four years and rents are cheap, there is no income tax, nice condo’s are cheap, and you’ll never be bored. Locals never go to the strip except to work, see shows, entertain family from out of town, and to hopefully watch the Raiders soon.

        If you’re bored in Vegas you’ll be bored anywhere. Except for surfing, there is almost nothing you can’t do in Vegas or within 60 minutes drive or flight. The airport will take you most anywhere on direct flights. There is skiing in the winter at Mt. Charleston, ATV’g and off-roading 5 miles out of town, fishing & boating at Lake Mead, and plenty of inexpensive places to eat. On certain occasions you can drive your vehicle at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

        I’m currently in California and can’t wait to get back to Vegas. I will admit 50% of the town is trashy and the summers are a bitch, but the rest is good or great. Population is 1/3 relocated Californians, 1/3 locals, and 1/3 snowbirds, mostly from the northeastern USA, and is growing at about 100,000 yearly. Except for high auto insurance & gasoline costs, I love it.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “There is skiing in the winter at Mt. Charleston, ATV’g and off-roading 5 miles out of town, fishing & boating at Lake Mead, and plenty of inexpensive places to eat. On certain occasions you can drive your vehicle at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.”

          I can do all of that in Michigan.

          ” Population is 1/3 relocated Californians, 1/3 locals, and 1/3 snowbirds,”

          none of those are pluses.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            I lived in Michigan for 5 years, it is extremely flat and the terrain is in no way comparable to the area around Las Vegas.

            Fun fact: the largest skiing resort in southeast Michigan is “Mount” Holly, a literal trash pile that was converted into a ski slope. If you’ve ever been skiing on an actual mountain a landfill is a poor substitute.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            there’s an entire state outside of Southeast MI. You probably should have tried seeing some of it before flinging crap.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            I did travel throughout the state, it’s flat and the skiing is crap.

            The highest point in Michingan is under 2,000 feet and is a ~9 hour drive from where most of the people live.

            That same 9 hour drive from Vegas puts you in Aspen or Telluride, where the skiing is excellent. Or you can drive half as far and have a great time in Utah.

            While you can do something that meets the legal definition of “skiing” in Michingan it’s just not comparable to what’s readily available out west; or even in the Appalachians.

          • 0 avatar
            zip94513

            The population description is a plus, for those of us who chose to relocate to Las Vegas. Older folks, myself included, make up the majority of people relocating to NV, and no one I’ve met has any regrets.

            So while you’re enjoying New Years Eve in nice warm Michigan, I’ll be on the strip watching the best fireworks show in the USA at midnight.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I was going to get my popcorn out for the SS rage… but, much like SS sales, it is far below what I expected.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I dunno. I still feel like the SS is calling my name.
    Family friendly, MT, 20% off deal gets the entry point below 40k.

    Everyone i look at is hard loaded, heated and cooled seats nav sun roof etc. Seems lime a decent value to me.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    2013 GS 350 with F-sport, heated steering wheel, 12 speakers, and 34k on the clock listing for $31,685 in my area looks tempting.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Bark, why do you care if strangers think you have a $50k car or a $25k car?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    If you’re ok with reconsidering a Euro barge if it comes with a cpo warranty, what about a V8 panamera from 2011 or 2012? It fits in the price range, gives you some peace of mind for a few years and it looks great from the inside. Just be sure to run up to it and run away from it when you’re getting in and leaving to avoid looking at it too long.

  • avatar
    Loser

    I have a Scat pack Charger, it’s my second Charger. Reliability was also a concern of mine so I leased. Neither car was unreliable. The first one was a ’14 R/T and no problems. My current one has a few minor squeaks over bad roads and the 8 speed has me missing the old 5 speed at times. That said, I would not want to own it passed the warranty expiration, too many expensive gadgets to break. The Scat pack Charger MSRP was over $43,000, with discounts I could have picked it up for a bit over 38.
    I don’t get the negative comments about the interior. People should at least give these things a try/test drive.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    There is the Cadillac XTS with the V-Sport package. Sure it might be a bit too livery like for many folks but the 3.6 Twin turbo 410 hp V6 and AWD seems like a nice package. Plus I’m sure dealers are negotiating the $65k or so price. If not there is the CTS V-Sport.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    Lincoln MKZ fills the bill.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Count me as another SS owner that gives a wholehearted recommendation. Frankly, the reasons given against it seem a bit ridiculous.

    “Ancient interior” – Not entirely sure what that means, but it’s certainly comfortable and well laid out.

    “Old car on old platform” – This is certainly negated by the later recommendation of the Chrysler LX cars. Even so, the handling numbers speak for themselves, and the SS is a class above any of the list of options from the OP.

    “Slow selling/sleeper styling” – Who cares? The people that know what you have are impressed, everyone else thinks its a Malibu. But if this car is on your list to begin with, you know what you’re getting into. The car has a presence in person that is not captured well in photos.

    “Unreliable & long waits for Australian parts” – Have never had a problem with this with my SS or for 4 years/80,000 miles in a G8 GT. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but in my opinion this is a silly reason not to consider a car. The drivetrain is very reliable and the car is fairly simple overall compared to some luxury models. Again it’s strange to me to recommend a Chrysler if reliability is a concern.

    Here is what it came down to for me. 10 years from now, there will be cars like the 300S available. There will be cars like the Q50S, the MKZ, the CTS V sport, etc. After 2017, there will probably not be any more full size, V8 sedans with manual transmission available ever again. Why not take a chance on the best of the breed now, while they are still out there? At the high $30k price point where they are going now, it’s an absolute can’t miss value, and leaves enough in your budget to sell it as a responsible, money saving purchase to the wife. Sounds like a winner to me.

  • avatar
    paulinvegas

    Bark M. hates Las Vegas. Paulinvegas loves you though Bark.

  • avatar
    boohorn

    We purchased a 2016 Chevy SS this past July when Chevy offered 20% off. I had already decided that I wanted this car simply because I was seeking an old-school V8, rear wheel drive, manual transmission sedan. If you are looking for a head-turning, mid-life crisis beast than this is not the car for you. If you are looking for a fun car to drive that can also fit 4 other adult sized humans and offer all the creature comforts, than visit your local dealer to see for yourself. My husband and I love this car, in fact we are so impressed we are purchasing a second one as we are fighting over the one we have now. This will be the last opportunity to purchase a sleeper muscle car like this, as high-end cars are now going to V6 turbo-charged refined sedans and if you prefer the organic driving experience of a manual transmission forget it. Once I realized I was in the car market again thanks to VW TDI scandal (own 2 TDI cars waiting for VW to buy back), I searched for a sedan that offered a manual transmission. At one time the Passat, Maxima, and Mazda M6 all offered a manual transmission, all of which I would have considered, but no longer. This car is definitely not for everyone but for those who enjoy the driving experience, this is a car you should consider.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    SS is the winner. I’d have one if the back seat folded down (or, silly thought, a wagon version).

    Nearly all Bark’s negatives can be equally laid at the foot of the RS, so to each their own.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Acura TLX. It’s comparable to the Q50, only with a lot less ugly added (maybe too little to stand out though) and it’s less powerful than all the alternatives, but Acura needs all the sales they can get XD

  • avatar
    Von

    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.

  • avatar
    orange260z

    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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