When it arrived last spring, the stylish 2005 Chrysler 300 single-handedly woke the collective car market from an SUV stupor. It changed the way people think about full-size sedans, which for years had been written off as fuddy-duddy transportation for the geriatric crowd.
Turns out cars with modern mechanicals, upscale amenities and fresh styling make great cars for people under 50. Especially if they've got a killer commute or a family of 6-footers.
But the 300 is no longer the only game in town. Noting the excitement in the air, Ford wasted little time in rolling out its all-new, but classically named Five Hundred, while Toyota readied a completely redesigned Avalon for the second half of 2005. Meanwhile, Buick quietly introduced the LaCrosse, its most palatable sedan in years.
To help you decide which one deserves a spot in your driveway, we traveled hundreds of miles in each, hauling our friends and families around against their wills, all in the name of research. Then we took the sedans to the test track and gave their engines, suspensions and brakes a real workout.
Torquey V6s are the standard of this sedan crowd, as is front-wheel drive, although the Chrysler shakes things up with its rear-drive layout. Leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and heated seats can be found in every one of these sedans. And of course there's plenty of wood trim — sometimes real, sometimes not. Safety features go beyond the basics; stability control and a full menu of side airbags are expected, at least as options.
2005 Buick LaCrosse CXS
The most civilized sedan in the Buick lineup, the LaCrosse is lined with soft leather and powered by an overhead-cam V6 in CXS form. It's also a quiet car and it's as smooth as they come on the highway.
Unfortunately, the LaCrosse rides on an old platform and no amount of tuning updates can hide that on back roads. Slow reflexes give the car an elderly persona, and forgettable exterior styling drives that point home. The Buick also had the smallest backseat of the group, with barely adequate legroom for taller occupants. Yet, it was the second most expensive car in the test with a $33,650 price tag.
2005 Ford Five Hundred Limited
Based on a platform shared with Volvo, the Five Hundred is the longest sedan in the group and, accordingly, offers a spacious cabin and one of the world's largest trunks (21 cubic feet). A tall seating position provides excellent visibility and easy entry. And eight cupholders and a folding front-passenger seat assure maximum functionality. Plus, the Ford came to us in fully loaded Limited form with a sticker of just $27,930.
The Volvo genes pay off, too, as the Ford is smooth-riding on the highway and surprisingly agile in the corners. The drivetrain, however, is a letdown. Ford's 3.0-liter Duratec V6 and an unrefined six-speed automatic team up for a performance that ranges from adequate to lethargic.
2005 Chrysler 300 Limited
The only rear-wheel-drive sedan in the group, the 300 is the only real athlete. Even with just a V6 under its hood (a Hemi V8 is optional), it wants to do things quickly, responding eagerly off the line and in the corners. The Chrysler weighs more than the others, but Mercedes-designed suspension bits manage the extra pounds without sacrificing ride comfort.
Style is the 300's other major asset. Its classic yet modern body lines get plenty of second looks wherever it goes. Too bad the car's ultrahigh beltline compromises the view from the cockpit. The sharp styling continues into the cabin where you'll also find simple controls and roomy seating. You also get plenty of features for the car's $33,115 MSRP.
Weak points include a lack of stamina for climbing grades and inconsistent fit and finish.
2005 Toyota Avalon Limited
Toyota's third-generation Avalon is the honor student of this test. It can't match the 300's raw athletic talent, but it beat the Chrysler in the measurable performance categories, thanks to a new 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and one strong set of brakes. And it was the quietest car in the test with the lowest recorded decibels under full throttle and at 70 mph.
Inside, the Avalon blurs the line between Toyota and Lexus products with its top-quality materials, plush seats and long list of amenities. It also had more "real-world" space than the others, including a near-flat floor in the rear that allows three adults to sit side-by-side in comfort. At $37,928, the Avalon was the priciest full-size sedan, but less expensive trims give you most of the good stuff for thousands less.
Toyota Runs Away With It
Full-size sedans cater to buyers who want lots of room and a little of everything when it comes to performance, luxury and amenities. The perfect heavyweight sedan would feel like a luxury car but wouldn't be priced like one. Toyota's ultrarefined Avalon comes closest to fulfilling that mission. In fact, it finished with a comfortable 10-point lead over the Chrysler 300.
Although not as well-rounded, the Chrysler is our pick for enthusiast drivers, while the bargain-priced Ford is worth a look if your spending cap is low. The Buick brought up the rear because of its sloppy handling and cramped rear seat.
Fourth Place: 2005 Buick LaCrosse
Forget what you know about Buicks, GM public relations officials might be heard to say, the 2005 Buick LaCrosse is in an altogether different class. And compared to the brand's recent tradition of middling performance, quality and refinement, the LaCrosse is a few steps up.
Unlike other Buicks, it's available with a modern aluminum-block V6 with overhead camshafts and variable valve timing, albeit only on the top CXS trim level. On the road, it's a serene car with no ruckus from the engine bay and minimal wind and road noise. Inside, it's lined with genuinely soft leather and all the panels line up with convincing precision.
In spite of its all-new name, though, the LaCrosse is built on an old platform — a liability when you're up against fresh-out-of-the-box competitors. Compared to the others, the LaCrosse's handling characteristics are crude and its backseat cramped. These deficiencies, along with unsupportive front seats, a short standard equipment list and a relatively high price tag, proved to be the Buick's undoing.
Quick on its Feet
While lower-line CX and CXL models make do with GM's old-tech 3800 V6, the LaCrosse CXS comes with a 3.6-liter DOHC V6. Rated for 240 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque in the Buick, this engine first appeared in the Cadillac CTS and is noted for its broad power band and smooth delivery.
Unfortunately, the LaCrosse didn't get a sophisticated transmission to go with the new engine and sticks with a tried-and-true four-speed automatic. The wider gear spread softens up the acceleration a bit, but the tranny shifts when it needs to, giving the LaCrosse CXS driver plenty to work with in most situations. Our test car turned in a quick 7.6-second 0-to-60-mph time — second to only the Toyota. Mileage ratings are 19 city/27 highway, and our test car managed 20.4 mpg over 600 miles.
Smooth Ride, Sleepy Reflexes
On the highway, the LaCrosse rides smoothly and soaks up the bumps without transferring the impact to occupants — the mark of any good full-size sedan. In fact, one editor thought it was more composed than the Ford during straight-line cruising.
But there's no hiding the aging chassis when you hit a winding stretch of road. Here the Buick napped while we drove, its body rolling woozily into each turn, its steering disconnected from the whole experience. GM says the suspension tuning is "80-percent new" this year (compared to the Regal). If that's the case, it's time to start fresh.
Even parking maneuvers are not as easy as they should be. The same steering that feels overboosted at 50 mph inexplicably tightens up as you approach full lock — not a sensation you associate with a refined automobile.
The brakes are nothing special, but they get the job done in everyday traffic. A 125.9-foot stopping distance from 60 mph placed the LaCrosse just behind the Chrysler 300 in this category.
Getting into the LaCrosse is easy, thanks to wide door openings and broad, flat seats. But sit in one of those front seats for more than an hour and you'll have an aching back according to a couple of our editors. We appreciated the telescoping steering wheel adjustment, but manual seat-back recline is not cool in a $33K car. The sightlines from the driver seat are good, but the side mirrors have an inexcusably small range of adjustment.
The dash design is simple with one long expanse of faux wood and an easily readable set of gauges right in front of the driver's face. The fake wood isn't bad, but the stuff in the Ford and Toyota is more convincing. More troublesome are the cheap adjustable vents and the brittle, glossy plastic on the center console. All of the controls are within easy reach, but there are way too many small buttons of similar size. Adjust the fan speed at your own risk. Also, the driver window is auto-down only — stingy for this class.
Although it's just as big as the others on the outside, the Buick has the lowest passenger volume (99.4 cubic feet), and when you hop in back, there's less room in every direction. The rear bench itself is properly angled for comfort — provided the front occupants don't steal all the legroom.
On the plus side, there is plenty of storage throughout the cabin. Trunk capacity is a healthy 16 cubic feet.
Missing Nuts and Bolts
For $33,650, the LaCrosse skimps on the amenities. Our test car came to us without a CD changer, a sunroof or adjustable vents for the backseat. Head-protecting side curtain airbags were part of the deal, but torso-protecting side airbags for the front seat are not even an option.
The passenger-side rear door on our test car seemed to be missing a few nuts and bolts, literally. It was so sloppily installed that it wouldn't latch unless slammed. Even then, it was an eyesore that would dampen the enthusiasm of any new LaCrosse owner.
Not There Yet
Powerful is good. Quiet is good. But you can't get away with clumsy handling and cramped seating in this class.
Third Place: 2005 Ford Five Hundred
Based on a platform shared with Volvo's S80, the 2005 Ford Five Hundred is the longest sedan in the group and, accordingly, offers an airy cabin and one of the world's largest trunks (21 cubic feet). A tall seating position helps wean SUV groupies off the habit, providing excellent visibility and easy entry for passengers.
Value is another of the Five Hundred's assets. Our top-of-the-line Limited model came with every possible feature, except for a sunroof, and still cost less than $28K — over $5 grand less than the Chrysler and $10 grand less than the luxo-liner Toyota. If space and price are your main considerations in buying a full-size sedan, the Ford may find its way to your heart.
Where's the Power?
Of course, if horsepower and torque are what get your pulse up, it's going to be a loveless day at the Ford dealership. Looking for ways to cut costs, the company's product planners decided the 3.0-liter Duratec V6 would be enough engine for a 3,664-pound sedan. We don't agree. The Duratec generates only 203 hp, 207 lb-ft of torque and, when pressed, feels and sounds like it's straining to move this big, heavy car.
Acceleration is adequate for cruising around town and on the highway, but head for the mountains or load up the family and the pace is leisurely at best. During instrumented testing, our test car brought up the rear with an 8.5-second 0-60 time. It also earned the lowest scores in the engine category on editors' evaluations. Our test car was front-wheel drive, but Ford also offers all-wheel drive on the Five Hundred for those who require maximum traction in the winter.
The V6 is paired with a six-speed automatic that's not as refined as we expected. Its timing is generally on target, but smoothness eludes it. Manual access to gears is also limited as the shifter only offers "D" and "L" for forward motion. Fuel economy, at least, isn't bad. The Five Hundred's 21 city/29 highway rating is second-highest in this group; our test car averaged 20.4 mpg.
The drivetrain is a letdown, but the Five Hundred has redeeming qualities elsewhere. One of these is its ride and handling characteristics, as Volvo genes give it a pleasant blend of comfort and agility. A soft highway ride takes priority, but the big sedan settles down in the corners and has nicely weighted steering. And, despite its lack of torque, the Five Hundred tied with the Avalon for the highest slalom speed (58.9 mph). You'll want to take it easy on public roads, though, since stability control is not available.
As much as we liked the tuning and response of the 500's suspension, our test car was plagued by creaky underpinnings. Every time we drove over bumps and ruts, we heard noise from the suspension. Not a good sign on a car with less than 3,000 miles.
Otherwise, the ride is mostly quiet, though the Five Hundred's 18-inch tires created more road noise than the 17-inch rubber on the other cars.
Brakes Could Be Better
Although the Five Hundred handles like a Volvo, it doesn't brake like one. Pedal feel is decent, but a couple of drivers noted that there didn't seem to be a lot of power behind our test car's brakes.
This was borne out during instrumented testing. After stopping from 60 mph in the high 120s on the first three runs, which was on par with the other three cars, the Ford suffered the worst brake fade on the fourth run — yielding a not-so-good 140-foot stop.
Pleasant Cabin Ambience
There's nothing revolutionary going on inside the Five Hundred's cabin, but the layout is attractive and functional. The cream-faced gauges are classy, and the wood grain trim is reminiscent of real maple. Storage for maps and sunglasses is plentiful, and with eight large cupholders, the Five Hundred can accommodate even the thirstiest families.
Most drivers found the front seats supportive and comfortable, but taller buyers should note that the higher seating position eats up some of the foot room. The lack of a telescoping wheel makes it harder to find that perfect driving position, but optional adjustable pedals assure safety for shorter drivers.
As in the Buick, there are too many buttons competing for the driver's attention, but the climate controls are better organized. At least you won't get distracted fiddling with the stereo. With only four speakers and virtually no bass to speak of, there's nothing you can do to make the Wu-Tang Clan sound good. Stick with talk radio.
Put three passengers in back and you won't hear any complaints about the headroom or legroom. The seat bottom is a tad short, but its raised height assures good thigh support nonetheless. Side airbags are an inexpensive option, and you get both front seat-mounted bags and full-length head curtains with a rollover sensor.
Both the rear seats and front-passenger seat fold to give you flexibility when you need it. The trunk itself is better suited for hauling bulky stuff than the cargo bay of most midsize SUVs.
The quality of the materials in the Five Hundred is generally good. You certainly won't confuse it for the well-dressed Avalon, but designers matched the grain pattern of the dash and console to that of the leather upholstery. Plastics are a bit rough but have a matte-finish. Build quality is acceptable as well. Gap tolerances aren't as tight as we'd like but they are consistent.
Bland but Practical
Without much power, the 2005 Ford Five Hundred is a tough sell to anyone who likes to drive. However, the Ford's functional cabin and rock-bottom price make it worth a look for families on a budget.
Second Place: 2005 Chrysler 300
If you want to make a fashion statement with your full-size sedan, the 2005 Chrysler 300 is the one you want. If you want behind-the-wheel entertainment, this is also the car for you, even if you can't make the leap to Hemi power.
Fact is, our nicely equipped 300 Limited model was as luxurious as any V8-equipped 300C. It was also a favorite with editors, who ranked it number one on their personal picks lists.
So why didn't the Chrysler win this test? It simply couldn't match the extreme refinement and opulence of the Avalon. Nor was it as spacious as either the Ford or the Toyota. And as much fun as we had with it on twisty roads, the 300 didn't post the best numbers at the test track.
Rear-Drive and Proud of It
Everyone's talking about the return of rear-wheel drive, but only Chrysler has dared put it in a mainstream car that middle managers can afford. Even with a V6 pulling around its hefty 3,800-pound body, the 300 accelerates smartly off the line and storms out of corners. You just can't get these sensations in a front-wheel-drive car.
Of course, rear-drive presents its own challenges in bad weather, so Chrysler wisely made stability control standard on all but the base-model 300.
Good Power, Not Enough Gears
The base 300 comes with an undersized 2.7-liter V6, but Touring and Limited models, like our test car, step up to a larger-displacement 3.5-liter V6. It's rated for 250 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a four-speed automatic with wide gear ratios.
This combination works fine on flat ground. It takes the 300 8.1 seconds to hit 60 mph — not fast but respectable considering its weight. And the transmission is alert, dropping a gear when necessary to give the 300 vigorous passing power.
However, at higher elevations, the tranny has trouble keeping the V6 in the fat part of its power band, causing a drop-off in thrust. This is also an issue in the slalom: The Chrysler ended up with the lowest speed (57.2 mph), not because its handling wasn't up to the task, but because it didn't have enough torque in third gear (while second was too short). A switch to a five-speed automatic would really help. (Buyers who opt for all-wheel drive do get a five-speed, along with an additional 270 pounds of curb weight.)
Plus, the transmission in our test car would clunk when shifted between reverse and drive. Considering the car had 1,500 miles on it, this was not good.
Fuel economy is comparable to that of the front-drive cars. The 300 is rated 19 city/27 highway, and our test car averaged 20 mpg.
The Perfect Blend
Although its ride quality is a bit firmer than that of the others, the 300 is still plenty comfortable on the highway. It's also quiet with just a touch more road noise than the Buick and Toyota.
The Chrysler's girth is apparent in the turns, but the suspension does an excellent job of managing all that weight. It didn't matter who was driving the car, the 300 inevitably pulled away from the pack on twisty stretches.
The steering is well weighted at any speed. It can't match the feedback you'd get in a full-on sport sedan, but it's the sportiest setup among big sedans in this price range.
Pedal feel could be more progressive, but the brakes themselves are quite strong. The 300 turned in the second-best stopping distance from 60 mph — 125.8 feet.
Good Looks, Lousy Visibility
The cockpit greets drivers with a crisp two-tone ensemble, silver-faced gauges and a sparing application of walnut trim (yep, it's real). Ergonomics are the best of any Chrysler product — simple knobs for the dual-zone auto climate control, a well-organized stereo head unit and one-touch windows in front. Sure, we could do without the spindly cruise control stalk in the 10 o'clock position, but that's one of only a few flaws.
A super-high beltline is one of the Chrysler 300's signature styling cues, but it definitely restricts visibility from the driver seat. The front seats offer a wide adjustment range, but with the car's small windows, it's easy to feel like you're running out of headroom. A bigger problem is the fact that you can't get reverse sensors. It's all guesswork when it's time to parallel-park.
Aside from this annoyance, the cockpit offers plenty of shoulder, hip- and legroom. If you're big, you'll like the 300. And most editors found the seats supportive.
The rear seat is similarly generous in size, though there's not as much legroom as in the Ford and Toyota. Additionally, the 300's rear-drive layout forces a sizable hump in the floor, which is large enough that only a small child would be comfortable in the center position. As on the Ford, both front side-impact and full-length head curtain airbags are available as an inexpensive option.
Storage space is ample in front and nonexistent in back, while the cupholders are way too small for an American family. The 15.6-cubic-foot trunk is larger than the Avalon's on paper, but a narrow opening, a sloped floor and massive wheelwells make it harder to use the space.
Details Need More Attention
Material quality varies. All of the grain patterns match, but the soft-touch material on the doors and dash is rubbery and the plastic on the console is brittle. The walnut trim looks great, though, as does the patterned faux metal on the center stack.
Build quality is also inconsistent. Some of the interior panel fits were off in our test car; others were nice and tight. Most exterior panel gaps were precise, but the hood was grossly misaligned.
The Enthusiast's Choice
The 2005 Chrysler 300 isn't the best all-around full-size sedan. But if you like to drive, this is your kind of ride.
First Place: 2005 Toyota Avalon
Americans may have invented the full-size sedan, but leave it to Toyota to figure out what we like and build a car that knocks the wind out of the domestics
again. And since the 2005 Toyota Avalon is assembled in Georgetown, Kentucky, by U.S. workers, even those with Old Glory tattooed on their chests will have little reason to deny themselves this excellent car.
Inside, the Toyota is a luxury liner with room to spare in every direction and refinement oozing from every surface. Of course if you're a serious enthusiast, the Avalon will never deliver the back-roads thrills of the rear-drive Chrysler 300, but it did beat the 300 in every measurable performance category.
Redesigned from the ground up, the Avalon now rides on a stretched version of the current Camry platform. Its sheet metal is crisp and modern, yet unremarkable next to the Chrysler 300's. The Toyota looks like a pleasant car, but not a fast one.
Looks are deceiving. The Avalon was the only full-size sedan to break the 7-second threshold during instrumented testing, recording a 6.93-second 0-to-60-mph time. A 3.5-liter DOHC V6 is new to the Avalon this year, and its numbers are impressive — 280 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque and a class-leading EPA rating of 22 city/31 highway. Our test car averaged 21 mpg, the highest of the group.
The Avalon's V6 might not have the off-the-line snap of the 300's steed, but it never tires as it winds up the tach. Better yet, power delivery is smoother and quieter than any of the other sedans could imagine; this engine will unquestionably see duty in the Lexus line. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, and it's much quicker on the draw than Toyota automatics usually are. It's also the only tranny in this group with a manual-shift mode.
Not Athletic But Capable
All big sedans like a good road trip, but the Avalon swallows up highway miles with the utmost of ease. It floats airily over bumps, yet you can feel the precision with which the suspension controls body movement. The Avalon is also the quietest car of the bunch with a decibel reading of 66 at a 70-mph cruise.
On winding back roads, it's quickly obvious the Avalon is no athlete. The body rolls plenty and there's no sense of urgency as the car exits corners. But much like the Camry, the Avalon is highly predictable. It's as if the car knows it could be a better handler but chooses not to be. If you really do want a firmer setup, opt for the sport-tuned Touring model.
The steering is too light to feel sporty, but the rack has a slick, precise feel. The Avalon also has the smallest turning radius of the group (36.9 feet) and, considering its size, is downright nimble in the parking lot.
The Toyota also stops the shortest from 60 mph, in just 123.8 feet. The brakes are easy to modulate in everyday traffic, such that you never really have to think about them.
Who Needs a Lexus?
The Avalon makes you feel like you're driving a luxury sedan from the moment you settle back into its soft driver seat. In addition to the usual power adjustments, our Limited tester had a seat-bottom length extender and perforated leather upholstery that allows for the heating or cooling of your backside. Keyless start-up was also part of the deal.
The graceful dash encloses a set of electroluminescent gauges and a navigation screen under a single hood. It's an extremely clean layout, because most of the controls hide under handsome silver-tone covers when not in use. Most controls are easy to find and use; if you don't have a free hand, just press the voice control button. Our test car had optional laser-based adaptive cruise control, which saves you the effort of monitoring your speed.
There's wood everywhere you look in the Limited model — on the dash, doors, console, even the steering wheel, and you'd swear it was bird's eye maple. It's not real. But it sure looks real.
The rest of the materials are equally high in quality. The leather is soft, the plastics low in gloss, the dash trim beautifully textured. We noted a few minor fit-and-finish issues that could be attributable to our tester's preproduction status.
In back, the Avalon has more legroom than your typical limo, and a near-flat floor makes it possible for three adults to sit comfortably. The seats even offer a manual recline feature, so that outboard occupants can stretch out on long drives. Storage areas are distributed throughout the cabin (there's even a cell phone holster up front), and a full menu of side airbags is included on every Avalon.
The rear seats do not fold as in the other sedans, but there is a ski pass-through. The Avalon has the smallest trunk capacity (14.4 feet), yet it feels second only to the Ford in size due to the wide opening and deep compartment.
The Ultimate Big Sedan
A high level of amenities is expected when you run up a bill of almost $38,000. We adjust for price disparities in our scoring, but it's easy to look at our loaded-up Avalon Limited and think, "No wonder it won." So we compared an unoptioned XLS model ($31,340) feature for feature, and guess what? It still comes with seven of the 10 items we consider important for a full-size sedan and would also have won this test by a wide margin.
The 2005 Toyota Avalon is our top recommendation to anyone shopping for a full-size sedan. Size, luxury, power and refinement — this car has it all.
2005 Buick LaCrosse
"This car is sleek, rides well and is very comfortable. The 3.6 V6 engine is powerful and has great throttle response. The sport suspension corrects the old stodgy Buick handling. The backup sensor on the car is very helpful. The personal setting with each individual key is a great feature. Suggested improvements: I would provide some sort of a grip to pull the trunk lid up." — e alvarez, January 15, 2005
"First GM product in 35 years. Opted for a fully equipped CXS. Impressed with comfort, quietness, great ride, with great handling. All controls easy to use. Fit and finish is exceptional. Got 3 months free XM radio. Did not really think I would use it, but it is Awesome! Good power with 240-hp 3.6 VVT motor, but hope highway mileage improves. Great quality car and I feel good about buying an American car again. Favorite features: XM radio, quietness, comfort, handling, ergonomics, leather heated seats, large trunk, side curtain airbags, tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Black exterior with ebony leather interior with 17" chrome wheels. Suggested improvements: Need an 8-way power seat in a car this expensive. Better mileage — 20 mpg highway mileage on the first tank — hope it gets better." — Philip T Behm, December 12, 2004
"The Buick LaCrosse is a great driving car. No other vehicle can match the quality and feel of the vehicle for the price. It's the quietest car I have ever had. I'm 35 and think it's a car with style and it's American. Favorite features: Great ride and feel. Love the start feature. Suggested improvements: Needs more power." — AMERICAN, December 15, 2004
2005 Chrysler 300
"Bought the car in Sep '04, have about 4,500 miles on it, no regrets! A great car at a good price. Excellent handling, lots of power (even without the Hemi), lots of room, comfortable, great looks. Everything is laid out well and interior seems very durable. Car will fit anybody with seat, pedal and steering wheel adjustments. It is a BIG car
much more so than it looks from the outside. Interior noise is minimal and the ride is ultrasmooth. Easy to speed in this car as it rides so smooth and quiet. I would highly recommend this car to anyone looking for a lower-cost luxury car with good looks, lots of room and lots of power. Favorite features: Adjustable pedals, styling, Sirius Satellite Radio, large wheels, smooth, quiet ride. Suggested improvements: Visibility is a bit hampered because of the forward dash." — Paul, January 23, 2005
"It is a beautiful-looking car. I am disappointed with it, however, and it is the little things that are adding up. My ride is not as quiet as it is being advertised and dealer does not offer any suggestions other than that it will be different than my previous vehicle. I feel like I am in the cabin of an airplane. I am also having electrical problems: various lights on the dash come on and off — parking brake, traction system. (It does not happen when brought to dealer.) Favorite features: I am very pleased with how the vehicle handles in the snow given that it is RWD. I did purchase snow tires (4 as the manual suggested) and it handles beautifully. It was a pleasant surprise given my overall disappointment with the vehicle. Suggested improvements: Visibility is a bit of a challenge. The sideview mirrors block me from seeing what is actually there. It is as if I were wearing a hood. I've tried adjusting seat to various heights/forward etc and does not alleviate visual problem." — Joanne, January 1, 2005
"I have only had the 300 3.5 V6 a little over a month, but must say I am impressed. I have driven it 2,000 miles on all types of roads and love the handling. I am impressed with my mileage because much of my driving is 12 mi. short trips, but average over 23 mpg. It continues to catch my eye as I see it in my driveway. This car knew my name and I drove by it on the lot for 4 weeks before buying it. Also I am happy with the V6, but then I am not a dynamic driver. Favorite features: I am impressed with its exterior 'good looks.' The interior is beautiful, roomy and comfortable. Even my 260-pound husband is comfortable when I allow him to drive it. I was concerned about miles per gallon because I went from a PT Cruiser to a large car. It does as well. Suggested improvements: I cannot see stoplights when I am first in line and find that annoying." — Jeanne G. Bleiler, December 29, 2004
2005 Ford Five Hundred
"My experience thus far is excellent. I am a 59-year-old disabled man who traded in a 2001 Lincoln LS V8 for this vehicle. I love the increased level of height which allows for easy entrance and exit. All controls are at my fingertips. The cabin is quiet and the ride is smooth. I do not feel the lack of performance some magazines criticize the car for. My experience so far is one of praise in nearly all areas of ownership. Favorite features: Ease of entry and exit, controls at my fingertips, ride height, appearance and a quiet cabin. Suggested improvements: Add more options like auto-steering wheel adjustment and auto-sensing wipers. Make the door panels look less plastic than they do. Improve appearance of faux wood on dash and console, give the hood a system that holds itself up rather than that terribly outdated stick thing." — Robert Hinson, January 5, 2005
"I traded in my 2004 Expedition due to gas prices. I drove the 500 and it was amazing. Feels like I am still riding high. Plenty of room for my Sam's Club shopping. I feel like I am driving a very expensive car. I lowered my payments over $100 a month." — Dazziegirly, December 8, 2004
"I have had the Five Hundred for about a month and have 4,500 miles on it so far. I have found it to be a very comfortable road car with many creature comforts. I travel 25-30K miles per year for work and the Five Hundred is a good-looking sedan with tons of room in the rear seat and trunk. Favorite features: The exterior styling is fresh and European-looking for Ford. The interior is comfortable and well appointed for the price range. Overall I am very pleased with my purchase. I find many people on the road looking at it trying to figure out what it is. Yes it is a Ford!! Suggested improvements: The only downsides I have found is it needs more power under the hood and more stability in higher-speed maneuvers, such as highway entrance ramps. But neither takes away from the overall enjoyability of driving the car. I would still recommend the 500 as solid sedan." — KPG, January 3, 2005
2005 Toyota Avalon
No one has reviewed this car yet. Check out our forums for the latest word from owners.