Last week, I flew to western South Dakota for a wedding and drove back to Washington, D.C., with my boyfriend, who had just bought a used 2000 Chevrolet Impala. The 2,000-mile trip lasted three days and took us through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. After spending so much time in this affordable large car and comparing it with the 10-week, 14,000-mile road trip I took in my 2004 Ford Ranger last summer, it was abundantly clear that the big, comfy Impala was a better way to travel.
Reviewers generally favor sportier cars, dismissing large cars like the Impala or the Toyota Avalon for being boring to drive. In 2000, Edmunds wrote, “It may be called the Impala, but this dreadful front-wheel-drive family sedan has little in common with the V8-powered rear-drive models of the past.” That’s the kiss of death for enthusiast drivers, but it’s hard to beat a boat like the Impala if you value long-haul comfort and an easy drive on your road trip. Usually, when a car is sporty, it’s tuned to perform better during dramatic driving. Drivers can get more feedback through the steering wheel and the pedals, and sports cars’ tightly-tuned chassis amplify every bump in the road. If you’re driving fast on twisty roads, these are all good things, and will help you drive faster and more confidently. Around town, though, a sport-tuned car can make for a bumpy ride.
So, if you’re looking to buy a car that will coddle you and your passengers on a long commute or road trip, don’t be dissuaded by reviewers who say affordable large cars aren’t fun. If it’s comfortable for you and you don’t plan to drag race your new ride, a large car can handle your commute and a 2,000-mile road trip.