While sedan sales may be down, our list of 10 Best American family cars takes the traditional route, as it leans towards big 4-door cruisers and contains nary a traditional SUV. (We’ll save that for another list.) Every one of the vehicles is built in North America by one of the Big Three Detroit manufacturers (a.k.a. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler). We did not include any vehicles built in America by Asian or European companies, although there are many (we’ll save that for another list, as well). While some folks will state that Fiat Chrysler automobiles is not a traditional American company (given the Italian ownership), no one can argue their place in the traditional Big Three. Speaking of three, there’s a trio of entries on the list that might be considered as crossovers or station wagons – depending on your point of view – along with one spectacular minivan.
The Dodge Charger is the family muscle car. It’s roomy, comfortable, and can be brutally fast when equipped with a HEMI V8. The cabin is a pleasure, with heated seats offered in the front and rear. Front seat ventilation is available as well. Dodge’s 8.4-inch uConnect infotainment system is crisp and easy to use and the BeatsAudio system pumps out the tunes. All-wheel drive is available on the SE and SXT models, but only with the 292 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The Charger’s 8-speed automatic transmission helps deliver solid fuel economy at 19 city/31 highway MPG with the V6 and 16 city/25 highway with the R/T HEMI. The huge (18.5/19.1 gallon) gas tank provides oodles of driving range.
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid isn’t just one of the most fuel-efficient American family sedans on the market, it’s one of the most luxurious, as well. The EPA rates the MKZ Hybrid at 41 city/38 highway MPG. Even better, the MKZ Hybrid version shares its starting MSRP of $35,010 with the non-hybrid MKZ. The top-of-the-line Black Label edition features Venetian leather upholstery and a 20-speaker Revel Ultima audio system. If going fast is your thing, skip the Hybrid drivetrain and opt for the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. It pumps out 400 horsepower when equipped with all-wheel drive, while delivering a respectable 17 city/26 highway on 93 octane gasoline.
The Chevrolet Impala was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, ushering in the big sedan’s tenth generation. First introduced in 1958, the Impala is the longest running nameplate on our list of great American family sedans. While the previous generation Impala was bland and generic, the newest model is positively superb, with distinctive exterior and interior styling. Power comes from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in the base model, but you’ll want to opt for the beefy 305 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 if you’re hauling a crew. It’s EPA rated at 19 city/28 highway MPG. The Impala received the National Transportation and Highway Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) coveted 5-star overall safety score and a full suite of safety technology is offered. The trunk provides a whopping 18.8 cubic feet of cargo area.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica just might be the greatest American minivan ever built. Chrysler created the segment back in 1984, but sales peaked years back as SUVs and crossovers rose in popularity. With the sleek new Pacifica replacing the venerable Town and Country in the 2017 Chrysler lineup, the stage is set for a renaissance. The Pacifica’s interior was named one of Ward’s 10 Best. Needless to say, it’s positively splendid and packed with amenities. The 3.6-liter V6 delivers 287 horsepower and is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The combo nets an admirable EPA rating of 18 city/28 highway. If that’s not fuel efficient enough for your liking, you’ll have to wait for the upcoming plug-in hybrid version.
While it’s classified as a fullsize crossover, the Ford Flex is the closest thing to a traditional station wagon on our list of American family cars. While some folks are put off by the slab sided exterior design, the interior is remarkably roomy, comfortable and versatile. The optional PowerFold third row seats flip between normal, stow, and tailgating modes with just the press of a button. The biggest downside to the Flex is its appetite for gasoline. It’s a thirsty beast with an EPA rating of 15 city/21 highway with all-wheel drive and the 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6. The Flex hit the market in 2009 and has yet to see a significant redesign. A more aerodynamic exterior design and optional woodgrain siding would be most welcome.
In the market for a 3-row American family car with all-wheel drive on a tight budget? The Dodge Journey just might fit the bill. It’s offered in two powertrain choices: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine saddled with an archaic 4-speed automatic or the 283 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 mated to a slightly more modern 6-speed automatic. Unfortunately, neither one is exceptionally fuel efficient, with the 2.4-liter rated at 19 city/25 highway MPG and the 3.6-liter rated at 17/25 with front-wheel drive. AWD is only available with the all-wheel drive V6 and the combination is rated at 16/24. With a starting MSRP of $26,595, it’s one of the most affordable 3-row V6 AWDs, and may be discounted heavily at the dealer.
The Lincoln MKT is the most luxurious 3-row cruiser on our list of American family cars. The private jet-like interior offers extreme comfort for second-row passengers. While the third row is best suited for smaller (and more limber) members of the family, the Elite option package includes a power 50/50 third-row bench that folds into a sweet tailgate configuration. A naturally-aspirated 303-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 is the base engine. It’s rated at 11 city/25 highway MPG with FWD. If you need AWD and hanker for a bit more scoot, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6’s 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque will get the family there on time and in style, at 16 city/23 highway.
The Chrysler 300 delivers unmistakable style and is one of the most luxurious entries on our list of American family cars. The top-of-the-line 300C Platinum’s interior is decked out with scrumptious Nappa leather-trimmed bucket seats equipped with heating and ventilation up front and optional seat heating in the rear. A dual-pane panoramic sunroof and 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system put the 300C Platinum over the top. The 300 is available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and is built on the same platform as the Dodge Charger, with technology that was inherited from Mercedes-Benz. The base drivetrain is a 292-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 8-speed automatic. It’s EPA rated at 31 MPG highway. Need more ponies? Opt for the 363-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8.
Big ol’ Buicks are among the greatest American family sedans ever built and the newest LaCrosse sets the bar even higher. Now in its third generation, the Buick LaCrosse was completely redesigned for the 2017 model year. With a gorgeously sculpted interior, 4G WiFi connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and a full suite of available safety technologies, this isn’t your grandpa’s Buick. The 2017 LaCrosse rides on the same platform as the Chevrolet Impala and is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Stop-start engine technology and an advanced 8-speed transmission deliver solid fuel economy. The 3.6-liter V6 LaCrosse is EPA rated at 21 city/31 highway with FWD and 20 city/29 highway with AWD.
Ford Fusion Energi
The Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is the most energy-efficient sedan on our list of American family cars. A 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery allows pure electric driving – you can pick up the kids at school or cruise through the drive-thru without idling in line. Once the Fusion Energi’s battery is drained, the Fusion Energi functions as a conventional hybrid. There’s no need to fear the added cost of the plug-in technology. On the contrary, it’s eligible for a substantial federal tax credit and some states offer added incentives. The Fusion is offered with wide range of conventional and hybrid powertrains, as well. Need all-wheel drive? The new AWD Fusion Sport is equipped with a 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine that cranks out 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque.