Mid-Size Sedans: Your Favorites for 2001
|The Family Sedan is Growing Up|
Mar 17, 2005 19:41:50|
16 ( -2 -12.5% )|
|Author||Tara Baukus Mello|
Perfect for small families, mid-size sedans provide plenty of space when you don't need to cart around your entire living room and are loads more fuel efficient than sport-utes. The vehicles that made this list are some of the best-selling cars in America because they have developed a reputation for being dependable cars that offer plenty of features without breaking the budget.
With the continuing popularity of super-sized SUVs, it may appear that small cars have taken a back seat on the road. But just because you may not notice them on the road (after all, they usually aren't the ones that cut you off because you're in their blind spot), doesn't mean that small cars are passÃ©. Some of the best-selling cars in today's market are compacts and for good reason---you can get a lot of features in a not-so-pricey package. We took a look at your favorites in this class as well as a couple of new contenders that have entered the scene.
The 2001 Chrysler Sebring sedan, which replaces the Chrysler Cirrus sedan, has been designed to echo the look of the larger Chrysler 300M and it suits this mid-size car well. For 2001, the Sebring gets an additional 32 horsepower, yet improved fuel efficiency, with its optional engine; the new, all-aluminum, 200 horsepower, 2.7-liter, dual overhead cam V-6. Through the use of an active intake manifold valve, the Sebring gets even more usable torque and improved performance in the mid-range. The result is a more performance-oriented mid-size sedan that has lots of character. The base model, which starts at $17,975, has a 150 horsepower, 2.4-liter, dual overhead cam, four-cylinder engine. Standard features on the Chrysler Sebring include air conditioning, AM.FM stereo cassette, tilt steering column, power mirrors, door locks and windows, with driver's side auto down feature, a 60/40 split rear folding seat, variable intermittent wipers and a delay feature on the headlights. Our test model, priced at $24,320, also came with upgraded audio system, anti-lock brakes, side airbags, power sunroof, luxury group package and security package.
The Ford Taurus is largely unchanged for 2001, after receiving a mild makeover for the 2000 model. With a starting price of $18,355, the 2001 Taurus offers a wide range of features that are perfect for families. Calling it the "sedan that families trust," Ford is touting the Taurus's family-friendly features, which include the new LATCH child safety seat system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) as well as an interior trunk release (in the event a child were to become trapped in the trunk) and doors that automatically lock when the vehicle is put in gear. Parents will also appreciate the fact that when the trunk is released with the keyless remote it pops up several inches, making storage much easier when your arms are full, as well as the hooks inside, suitable for hanging grocery bags and preventing spills. The Taurus comes with a choice of three engines, including a flexible fuel version that can run on ethanol, unleaded gasoline or a combination of the two. The base model comes with the 155 horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6, while the more powerful engine is a 200 horsepower, 3.0 liter V-6 with a dual overhead cam. Standard features on all Taurus models include an improved audio system, larger gas tank, air conditioning, tilt steering column, power windows, mirrors and door locks, and a V-6 engine with four-speed automatic transmission. Our test model with side airbags, adjustable accelerator and brake pedals, anti-lock brakes, power driver's seat and leather seats was priced at $23,322.
The Honda Accord continues to top the sales charts year after year, with customers being thrilled with its reliability and strong resale value. With five different models, the Accord comes in several versions and trim levels to suit a wide range of drivers. For 2001, the Accord received a freshened exterior design, which features a sharper front fascia and hood as well as a new design for the trunk lid and taillights. The base sedan, the DX, starts at $15,400, and comes with a 135 horsepower, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, while the LX and EX models feature a VTEC version, which produces 150 horsepower. A 200 horsepower, 3.0-liter VTEC V6 is also available. Our test Accord, an EX, performed very nicely with plenty of pick-up across the torque range and excellent handling. Overall, this was a pleasant vehicle to drive in all situations, although the cookie-cutter shape made it virtually disappear in a parking lot. Our Accord EX test vehicle, priced at $25,100, came well-equipped with a power moonroof, leather-trimmed seats, including a six-way power driver's seat with lumbar support, power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning, audio system with CD-player and steering wheel-mounted audio controls among other features.
Of the vehicles tested, the 2001 Nissan Maxima offered the most distinctive styling and performance-oriented features. In a sea of cookie-cutter Accords and Camrys, the Maxima, particularly its aggressive rearend, will stand out in a parking lot. On the road, the driving experience is anything but sedate and rivals the Volkswagen Passat. Our test vehicle, an SE model, featured the 222 horsepower, 3.0-liter, dual-overhead cam, 24-valve V6, which offers a whole lot of fun if you are the more performance oriented driver in the family. Handling, too, is excellent and the overall driving experience places it more in the range of the higher-priced German sedans without being a drain on your wallet at the $21,259 base price. The styling has a performance edge too. Our test model, an SE, had titanium-faced gauges, racy wheels, and a spoiler. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Nissan is offering an Anniversary Edition SE for 2001, which includes a slightly more powerful engine, bright finish 17-inch wheels, special body cladding, brushed metal interior accents, drilled metal pedals and perforated leather seating surfaces. Overall, the Maxima is filled with an array of luxury features including a one-touch up and down driver's side window and sunroof, automatic headlights and an optional Bose stereo system. Our test Maxima SE, priced at $29,395, came with the comfort and convenience package, leather trim, Bose audio system with six-disc in-dash CD changer and a four-speed automatic transmission.
Since it was introduced in 2000, the Saturn L-Series, Saturn's mid-size sedan, has is largely unchanged for the 2001 model year. New features for 2001 include the optional front and rear head curtain airbags as well as the standard rear center shoulder seatbelt, emergency trunk handle release and a larger fuel tank. With prices starting at just $14,495 for the L100, the L-Series makes its mark as the least expensive vehicle of those we tested. Those who consider the base model will get a 135 horsepower, 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. The wedge-shaped body of the L-Series makes for an attractive design to look at, but the high rear end substantially reduces visibility in the rear view mirror as well as over-the-shoulder when backing up. The interior of the L-Series is spacious and offers air conditioning, AM/FM stereo, cloth seats, child safety door locks and tilt steering wheel as standard equipment on the base model. Our test model, an L300, included a 182-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine with dual overhead cam and a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard features included sport ride suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, AM/FM stereo with cassette and single-disc CD player, lumbar support on the driver's seat and a 60/40 split folding rear bench seat. The test model also included the optional six-way power driver's seat, head curtain airbags, power sunroof and anti-lock brakes, bringing the total up to $23,035.
The best-selling car in the U.S. for the last three years, the biggest change for the 2001 Toyota Camry is the addition of a special edition model, the Gallery Series LE. The Camry is offered in three trim levels, with the CE starting at $17,675. Standard equipment on all models includes reclining front bucket seats, a 60/40 split, fold-down rear seat with separate headrests and an AM/FM audio system with cassette and CD player. The special edition Gallery Series Camry LE offers two-tone paint and seat fabric, carbon fiber and chrome accents, special Gallery Series badging and five-spoke aluminum wheels. Like the Accord, the Camry has consistently high marks for resale value and reliability, making it extraordinarily popular with consumers. The Camry offers a quiet ride due to the suspension components it shares with the Lexus ES300. Base model Camrys are powered by a 133 horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, while the higher models offer a 194 horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Our test model, an LE priced at $24,130, had the V6 engine with four-speed automatic transmission as well as comfort and convenience features including leather seats, six-way power driver's seat, keyless remote entry, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, daytime running lights, power door locks, mirrors and windows.
The Volkswagen Passat has received some minor changes for 2001, and the manufacturer has opted to call models built later in the year 2001.5. The most significant change is the addition of Side Curtain Protection, side airbags that protect the head of both front and rear seat occupants, as standard equipment in all Passats. As with previous models, the current Passat comes with two engine options, a 150 horsepower, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 190 horsepower, 2.8-liter V-6 and each have a choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic with Tiptronic an auto-manual shift option. Both engines are outstanding and offer the option for lots of spirited driving. All Passats, which start at $21,750 for the base GLS model, come with four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, traction control, halogen headlights, electronic cruise control, anti-theft alarm and remote trunk release. Our test model, a GLX priced at $29,825, came with automatic transmission, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats, automatic climate control, a power sunroof, heated windshield washer nozzles, rain sensing wipers, an automatic dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker Monsoon audio system with AM/FM radio, cassette and CD player.
Copyright 2001, Tara Baukus Mello.