Carmakers upgrading conventional sedans to keep them enticing

Dave Kunz Image
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Carmakers upgrading conventional sedans to keep them enticing
Automakers like Kia are adding new features to keep conventional sedans appealing.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With Americans going crazy for SUVs these days, is the conventional sedan in trouble?

Even though sales have tapered off a bit, the auto industry says no. And some brands are offering up new models to keep the four-door an enticing choice.

Case in point: Ford's new Fusion Sport.

It's the same basic Fusion that Ford sells in other flavors, but with a true performance theme.

Front and center, literally, is a powerhouse of an engine. It's a twin-turbo 2.7 liter V6 churning out 325 horsepower, sent though an all-wheel drive system.

And of course, there's some "sizzle to go with the steak" in the form of handsome up-sized wheels and tires, quad chrome exhaust tips making a healthy note out back, and sporty bucket seats inside.

If you know your cars, this new package from Ford might sound a little familiar. Back in the late 1980s they got a lot of attention with a car called the Taurus SHO. Yes, that too was a family sedan given a performance treatment, thanks to a high-winding multi-valve engine co-developed with motorcycle maker Yamaha.

Today, you can buy a car with more performance than the Fusion Sport, but you'll spend a whole lot more money. This car has a base price of $33,605, and by Ford's estimation, only some cars costing in excess of $40,000 can equal the acceleration and handling of the Fusion Sport.

Here's something really clever for the whole Fusion line this year: automatic pothole detection!

The electronically-controlled suspension can detect a pothole right before the a tire hits it, and literally keep the wheel from dropping into the hole by tightening up the action of the wheel milliseconds beforehand. If your car has ever slammed into a pothole in the past, you'll welcome this bit of technology.

Comfort and luxury is another area where sedans can still shine.

Kia is offering a good degree of luxury in its second-generation Cadenza. It has features you might not expect in a car with a base price of well under $40,000, like a very quiet ride and a good dose of style. Even in top Limited trim, the Cadenza is just shy of $45,000.

And Buick is back with the premium-feeling Lacrosse. The first two generations were a bit of a surprise hit for Buick, with many buyers jumping in from premium European and Asian brands. The new 2017 Lacrosse amps up the style quite a bit, and so far is turning heads on the road. The new Lacrosse has a base price of $32,065, though higher trim levels and option packages can push that price much higher.

Though sales have slipped a little in recent years, the still very popular sedan is definitely not going down without a fight.