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American Dreams – Chrysler 300/Buick LaCrosse

Two homegrown models from U.S. automakers make buying American easy to achieve.

Performance comes with the Chrysler 300. (Photo: © FCA US LLC.)

What’s in a name? When it comes to the Chrysler 300, about six decades of American motoring history.

Not surprisingly, that original 1955 300 was a large automobile, albeit one with an unexpected performance edge. Much the same can be said about the current 10th-generation of this full-size sedan.

I drove both the upscale 300C and the sportier 300S, and came away with some very distinct impressions. While the C model’s comfort-tuned underpinnings deliver a true luxury car ride, the S variant gets the nod by virtue of its firmer suspension and recalibrated steering that make it a much more enjoyable car to drive.

Though both come standard with an adequate 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood, I suggest taking a spin in a model equipped with the available 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. This is a big car after all, and the 363-horsepower engine’s added oomph makes for much more satisfying response when you get on the gas.

Then there’s a roomy interior fi lled with the latest technology, including an 8.4-inch center touch-screen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto smartphone integration. All of which makes this latest Chrysler 300 the pinnacle of a long, proud nameplate.

Base Price: $28,995

MPG: 19 city, 30 highway

Crash Test: 4 stars

The Buick LaCrosse has athletic styling. (Photo: © GM Heritage Center)

I ADMIT THE idea of road-tripping in a big American sedan is likely to cause fl ashbacks (“Mom, he’s touching me again!”). But hang with me while I make it clear just how far the new Buick LaCrosse is from that old landyacht you may remember from your childhood.

While it’s true this second-generation LaCrosse is a full-size sedan, it lacks both the boat-like styling and handling you might associate with the Buick name. In fact, it’s a rather athletic-looking car, with driving dynamics to match.

As you’d expect, front seats are extremely comfy, providing good support without the sporty pretenses of some competitors. This latest model’s longer wheelbase gives rear seat occupants just enough added room to help nip some of that sibling kvetching in the bud.

A heads-up display (standard on the Premium model I drove) is another nice bit of kit, projecting speed and navigation directions within the driver’s line of sight.

Add a spacious 15-cubic foot trunk and you’ve got a full-size American sedan worthy of reinventing the family driving vacation.

Base Price: $30,495

MPG: 25 city, 35 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

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