If you're like me, you probably don't own an American car (or you just bought one) but the styling, power, and price always intrigued you. I've been a German auto guy for a very long time having owned an E39M5, C5S6 and a Phaeton but recently I've been looking ever so longingly at the big American bruisers. I've never been one to buy a car because of a brand, I don't care what brand it is so long as the car is the best car in its class. I have been a stickler for a manual transmission but I'm beginning to realize that that's probably a pipe dream for a big sedan so it boils down to this: All three major American manufacturers make at least one big, brash and powerful full size sedan. All of them range between $40k and $65k and all of them are unquestionably wonderful cars to own. If you had the money to buy a brand new 2014 (or an upcoming 2015) which one would it be? Let's delve into the options!
Ford Motor Company
Ford makes two full size sedans with the chops to be considered in this group, the Taurus SHO and the Lincoln MKS. Essentially twins with two different personalities, the SHO is definitely the more athletic choice but the MKS is the more luxurious one. The Ecoboost engine is a marvelous engine proving that you don't need a big V8 to be competitive. The power isn't as high as most of the other models @ 365hp but when we're talking about 350+ machines you're not really sacrificing now are you? Most enthusiasts would fault these cars for being front wheel drive based all wheel drivers instead of rear wheel drive, and that's a fair criticism but I personally think the styling of the MKS and Taurus are up there with the Cadillac models, aka really damn good. Especially the redesigned SHO, which is in my opinion, the best take of Ford's new "Aston Martin-esque" front grille. The interiors of the two models wowed me as well, essentially the sedan version of the MKT which I just purchased, I really couldn't believe how nice they were. It used to be that you had to buy a German or a Lexus to get the type of quality interior that'd really make you appreciate a car, but thankfully that is no longer true as even the Americans and Koreans makes cars with interiors worth desiring. The SHO sadly dropped the absolutely stunning dark green after just one year (dammit people! Buy different colored cars!) but Lincoln still offers the delicious Kodiak Brown.
GM has three models to choose from in this category, though technically only the XTS VSport and Chevy SS are full size sedans, we'd be remiss not to include the CTS V. The XTS and CTS V both run into the $60k price range which makes them a harder sell than the $45k Chevy SS, but if we account for fit and finish (and at an average price of $50 thousand dollars, of course we do) the price seems almost...justified. I like the CTS V for it's big Corvette V8 and rear wheel drive as apposed to the V6TT and front wheel drive based AWD of the XTS. 410hp is nothing to scoff at and a decade ago it'd be class leading, but now it is middle of the pack. The 556hp of the CTS V, besides being absolutely mental, is the best in class and intoxicating. The CTS V also has a manual transmission which wins my personal choice by default. The Chevy SS is an exciting mix of Australian and American, I like that it's a big V8, RWD car that comes fully loaded as is, but I find it odd that it doesn't come with the option of an MTX considering how few Chevy plans on selling and the highly specific (enthusiast, patriot) customer base it is marketing to. No car better signifies the "America! Fuck Yeah!" mentality of these machines than the Chevy SS which is funny to me because it's also the only one of the bunch that isn't technically American. I also like that Chevrolet has very little say in the interior of the SS. The interior is decidedly "Cadillac-like" in it's fit and finish which makes the $45k price tag of the SS that much more of an overall bargain and not just simply a "performance" bargain.
Chrysler If you like your cars "Imported from Detroit" then Chrysler offers you two big RWD, V8 sedans the 300 SRT and the Charger SRT. As with the SHO/MKS two different takes on essentially the same drivetrain and platform, the 300 is easily the more luxurious model while the charger is the more sporty. Both run the 6.4L Hemi V8 pushing out 470hp and both are pretty similarly priced at $45k starting. I think it comes down to your own personal history, is your family a Charger/Challenger family or are you new to the brand? The 300 definitely is appointed more akin to the Lincoln and Cadillacs but the Charger is clearly the more "bad-ass" looking of the pair. I really like the styling of the 300 SRT versus the Charger though. I'm a firm believer that every car should have a proper open faced mesh or plastic grille, it's why I prefer GMC trucks to Chevy trucks and why I'm so happy that Ford ditched that terrible chrome noggin for the Taurus. The Charger would definitely look better as a Police Interceptor (when they pull behind you, it's terrifying) but as a Gentlemen Cruiser I think the 300, especially in white as below, just has that much more "presence" than the Charger.
So What'll It Be?
If I'm spending the money, I'm having a very hard time picking just one. I really like the SHO, CTS V, and 300SRT. I want Chevy to meet it's sales goal with the SS because I want to see them release a manual transmission model in the future, though with the demise of Holden in Australia that remains to be seen. I also like that there are so many options now in this segment, the big three have finally realized that a big engine is not enough to pry away customers from the Germans. At the end of the day I'd be driving a 300 SRT, the Ford models have the nicer interior but the 300 is just so darn imposing in white that I'd be hard pressed to pick a different model. But if either Ford or GM was to put the 5.8 from the Shelby or the LT1 from the Stingray and a proper MTX in the SHO or SS, I'll change allegiance in a heartbeat. Everyone of these models has an exceptionally appointed interior, technology up to the gills and yes, a big engine. I know many of you are thinking that for between 40 and 60 thousand dollars you could get an Audi or a BMW or Mercedes Benz but when we have so many great domestic options that are as nicely appointed, if not nicer, why do you need too? The argument that Americans make luxury a checklist is no longer valid, and that gets me excited. So again, which one? Which one would you choose?