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Consumer Reports 'pluses' Chrysler 300, pans latest Ford Taurus

August 22, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Consumer Reports gave the new Chrysler 300, shown with a model at the Los Angeles Auto Show, a positive review.
Consumer Reports gave the new Chrysler 300, shown with a model at the Los… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Consumer Reports car reviewers gave high marks to the latest version of the Chrysler 300, putting it near the top of the class for large sedans with V6 engines.

Positive reviews and new models have helped Chrysler Group, traditionally seen as the weakest of the three major U.S. automakers, grow rapidly this year.

Through the end of July, Chrysler sales have risen 28% to almost 1 million vehicles. Its share of the U.S. market has grown to 11.4% from 10.2% during the first seven months of the year.

Consumer Reports said the 300’s handling is sound and the steering is reasonably quick and appropriately weighted. The magazine said the cabin was quiet and “nicely trimmed.” Controls are relatively simple and easy to use.

“The 2011 redesign of the 300 put Chrysler’s flagship back on the map in the large sedan category. Though the muscular V8-powered 300C delivers more oomph, most buyers will probably be quite happy with the V6 engine, which contributes to its refined character and helps it score near the top of its category,” said David Champion, who directs the magazine’s testing program.

But CR did not give the 300 its “recommended” endorsement because it doesn’t have enough reliability data for the redesigned model.

The Consumer Reports recommended cars in this class are the previously tested Hyundai Genesis, Nissan Maxima and Acura TL.

The magazine looked at three other large sedans in its latest reviews, but none received a “recommended” rating.

The redesigned Hyundai Azera is improved, especially in its handling, but still is not as agile as some of its competitors, Consumer Reports said.  It knocked the car for “a stiff, unrefined ride, which detracts from the car’s luxury intentions” but "plussed" it for a nicely finished, spacious interior.

The magazine described the Buick LaCrosse equipped with General Motors' fuel-saving eAssist hybrid system as “a sophisticated modern sedan” with a luxurious interior, steady ride and responsive handling, “qualities that haven’t usually been associated with the Buick nameplate.”  But several faults held the car back in the ratings, including its narrow cockpit, a busy dashboard, obscured sight lines and trunk storage that’s compromised by the large battery used to power the hybrid drive.

The Ford Taurus got panned by Consumer Reports.

While the Taurus is quiet and rides smoothly, the car’s interior is cramped for a large sedan and it is prone to blinds spots. The magazine called Ford’s MyFordTouch infotainment and control system so “cumbersome” that it dragged the Taurus’ overall test score down to the lowest-rated model in the category.

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