I'm about to buy a new car in the next few weeks. I test drove a number of
cars yesterday and I'm torn between the Chrysler 300C AWD and the Acura
TL. Here are my impressions of the cars that I drove, listed in the order
that I tried them.
Toyata Avalon. Good driving experience but nothing special, great gas
mileage for a car this size. Horrible ergonomics, the CD player and NAV
system use tilt out control panels. The user interface to the NAV system
was the worst of any car I drove. To put a CD into the player involves
having a front panel lift itself up and then having to reach over it. The
UI issues are a deal breaker.
Toyota Camry. Driving experience not as good as the Avalon. Better Nav
system then the Avalon. Not a particularly interesting car.
Chrysler 300C AWD. I drove a 300C last year but I'm afraid of owning a RWD
car in New England, they now have a AWD version which is what I tried
yesterday. The high on this car is the driving experience, it's in a
completely different class then everything else I've driven. The handling
is awesome, it's quiet and smooth and the performance is incredible, too
good in fact, the acceleration is so quick and the feel is so smooth that
you risk going to prison. With every other car I tried when I put my foot
down a little (I didn't floor any of them) they jumped up to 80MPH and
they got a little rough. When I touched the gas on the 300C I was at
100MPH and I only knew it because I was looking at the speedometer. The
other high point is that it's comfortable, by far the most comfortable
seat of any car I tried. The NAV system is better than the Avalon's but
not as good as the TL's. It lacks a touch screen and uses a joy stick
which I don't like. Unfortunately the 300C has some down sides. One is the
looks, it's a pimp car there are no two ways about that. Another is the
visibility which is very poor towards the rear and mediocre in the other
directions. However that didn't feel as bad to me this year as it did when
I test drove a 300C last year. Also this seems to be a common problem
these days, the Avalon also had a tiny rear window. Finally there is the
fuel consumption issue, the demonstrator that I drove was averaging 16MPG.
The car is rated 17City, 25Highway, and it needs premium gas. One way to
rationalize this is that I figure the 300C will consume an extra 200
gallons a year over a TL which is only $500 at todays prices and is only
$1000 if the price of gas goes up to $5 gallon.
Honda Accord and Honda Accord Hybrid. These are terrible cars. I was very
surprised, I was expecting that they would be superb. The engines in both
are very rough and noisy. The acceleration was good, especially in the
hybrid, but I couldn't get over how rough they felt. The seat was also
just terrible. There is a lumbar support mechanism that was out and out
painful even with it cranked down as far as it could go.
Acura TL. Even though it is related to the Accord it's a vastly better
car. The driving experience is very good but not in the same class as the
300C. The seat shared a little of the same problems as the Accord but it
was tolerable. The NAV system is great. It has a touch screen and voice
recognition. The car also comes with bluetooth standard. Overall they did
a great job with the electronics, these are the features that I like best
about the car. The downside is that it's a little on the small side. Also
it doesn't come in all wheel drive but my current car is FWD and it's
handled our winters just fine. The gas mileage is OK, not great for a car
this small, but respectable especially considering the fact that it has a
fairly powerful engine.
Acura RL. The driving experience is very good but overall I didn't like
the car as much as the TL. The NAV system is placed higher up on the dash
where it is harder to see and which precludes the use of a touch screen.
It does have voice recognition but overall it's a step in the wrong
direction. The RL is AWD which is it's one plus over the TL but I don't
think AWD is worth an extra $15K.
I'm interested in hearing from owners of the 300C and TL. For 300 owners
I'm especially in if you have found the poor visibility to be a problem.
How hard is it to parallel park? What gas mileage are you getting? How
reliable has it been? From TL owners I'd like to hear you general
impressions. How well does it handle snow, 270HP is a lot in FWD car, is
this a problem in the winter?