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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Are you sure? robertsmx seemed pretty confident that if you put a larger wheel and tire on a car, everything else being equal, handling isn't improved and in fact could suffer (heavier wheels etc.). So for example, I didn't lose anything getting a MPV LX with base 15" rubber rather than the upmarket 16" or 17" wheels/tires. Apparently.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    I think you already know the answer, ;) so I'm not going to explain it to you.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Frankly, I could do w/o the underbody kit and rear spoiler on the Mazda6i VE, but they're there, so I'd take them.

    I am an anti-wingite, also. Spoiler is not standard on the Sedan VE, only the hatch. My VE Sedan is wingless :) .

    I thought the same about the "underbody kit" (which is just side sill extensions). I initially thought I'd just as soon not have that, too. But after seeing the car without, I decided I much prefered the looks with it. Of course, even better would be to have the sheet metal shaped to eliminate the "need" for the add-on sill extensions.

    Just the better looks (due to alloys, side sills, smoked headlights,dark tail lights, and sport grill) of the VE made it well worth the $500 or so extra over the base version. Then getting the bonuses of 6 CD and power driver's seat made me wonder how they sold any base models at all...I suppose they were mostly sold as loss-leaders.

    And, yes, the 17 inch alloys look very nice...much better than the standard steel wheels with fake alloy-look wheel covers. 16 inch alloys would have been fine with me, though. I can even live with steel wheels, but just hate the fake alloy wheel covers...wheel covers should just cover the wheel, like these do:

    image
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    if you put a larger wheel and tire on a car, everything else being equal, handling isn't improved and in fact could suffer (heavier wheels etc.).

    That is all relative to what tire and what kind of rim. It has been proven that a larger wheel and lower profile tire can improve handling, as long as the tire diameter does not change. With a lower profile tire, there is less yaw in lateral motion = better grip.
  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    Could someone explain to me (an old fart) why anyone needs "handling" for a car that will be driven on city streets and straight American highways?
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Could someone explain to me (an old fart) why anyone needs "handling" for a car that will be driven on city streets and straight American highways?

    "Needs", perhaps not...one could maybe argue for some small marginal safety improvement due to greater ability to avoid crashes, all else being equal.

    I want good handling for everything from changing lanes to going around corners and curves, just because I find it more pleasnt to drive such cars. For the many people, who don't care about these things and would rather float down the highway in a vague handling car...well, I guess the Camry works for many of them. Many GM products also seem to be known for soft rides and vague steering.
  • Could someone explain to me (an old fart) why anyone needs "handling" for a car that will be driven on city streets and straight American highways?

    The same reason someone needs 280hp in a family car. Also, not every city street is a straight line, nor is every American highway straight and flat. If you live in Kansas, I could see your point but in California (and even in the midwest) there are hills, valleys, mountains (well, not in the midwest so much) and curves.
    It is also easier to avoid a collision in a vehicle that can corner and provide feedback to the driver.
    If you are going to spend $20k on a car, can't it be fun too?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    If we ignore the fun factor and go for "needs" I'll explain how I felt the need for it in two words:

    Accident Avoidance.

    A crisp handling car can maneuver away from trouble easier than a flabby-handling car can, maybe even avoiding causing a wreck yourself when you swerve/maneuver away from trouble.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Could someone explain to me (an old fart) why anyone needs "handling" for a car that will be driven on city streets and straight American highways?

    Well, not all city streets and American highways are straight. I live in New England, and no highways are straight, and everyone drives quite fast. When I go into NYC, I get passed when I'm driving 80, and some very narrow highways. Accident avoidance is a big thing, too.

    I would say in my neck of the woods, I find it a necessity.
  • goodegggoodegg Posts: 905
    Could someone explain to me (an old fart) why anyone needs "handling" for a car that will be driven on city streets and straight American highways?

    Wants and needs are totally separate emotions.

    Not sure how much time you spend in your ride, but considering I spend more time in mine than my living room, I want the upper end of amenities in my car.

    You don't really need cushions on your couch, do you?
  • urnewsurnews Posts: 668
    Could someone explain to me (an old fart) why anyone needs "handling" for a car that will be driven on city streets and straight American highways?

    I'm with you. The "handling" aspect of a mid-size sedan is a greatly overstated positive aspect that has very little practical application in everyday driving.
  • captain2captain2 Posts: 3,971
    while it is generally true that more rubber on the road = better handling and braking it is almost too easy to screw things up by upsizing your tires/wheels - because the weight or inertial (diameter) increases can and will hurt braking (especially), ride (most of the time). Whenever I see one of those coke can exhaust 'rice rockets' on the road with those 18 or 20" wheels and some 30 or 35% tires, I can't help but think of all the damage that owner has actually done to his car (even to the point of making the car unsafe). The point being that if you want to improve the dynamic character of yor car, do it with better tires - not by monkeying around with your tire/wheel sizes too much.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Interesting that you bought one of the best handling cars in the class then, if you feel that way! A softer ride may suit you better!
  • zzzoom6zzzoom6 Posts: 425
    One aspect of handling that I think is taken for granted too often is good brakes. On more than one occasion I've had to slam on my brakes b/c of some unsafe driving by other drivers... I've read in several tests done by car mags that my Mazda6 has some of the best brakes in this class, and in some instances, if I had been driving a different midsize sedan, I'd probably have had to deal with insurance issues and possibly some injured passengers. I know seatbelts and airbags save a lot of lives, but I also believe that avoiding an accident is my best bet and good brakes (which I think is an important compenent of handling) are critical.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    but I also believe that avoiding an accident is my best bet and good brakes

    Brakes, suspension, and steering responsiveness all contribute to great accident avoidance. Mazda calls ABS, Able to Brake and Steer. The Mazda6 is one of the best at accident avoidance, and handling because of the total package of all three systems.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    In the end, you’re going to do what you want to, and that’s fine. But don’t go too far. Keep them big enough so you don't lose the ability to lap those Indy cars with tiny rims. In fact, go 24", Michael Schumacher will salute you, and you will be every Ferrari owners' envy. :D

    To me, just like everything else, there is a balance to be found, a sweet spot. Going overboard has never been my way. Give me 16" alloys on my family sedan, and I'm okay, as long as the chassis is tuned right. Besides, I don't mind being (at least) $150 richer every time I replace the tires.
  • urnewsurnews Posts: 668
    Interesting that you bought one of the best handling cars in the class then, if you feel that way! A softer ride may suit you better!

    The superior handling characteristics of our 2007 SEL AWD Ford Fusion were an added bonus, to be sure, but, yes, I would prefer a bit softer ride. The 17- by 7.5-inch alloy wheels and 225/50/17R Michelin tires are a bit much in my book.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Handling is important, and so is power. But, there is a sweet spot that many manage to overlook in favor of the endless more. A good handling car is a good communicator. It will inform the driver of everything good, and bad. It will also respond to the driver’s inputs and keep unpleasant surprises away.

    Ten years ago when I was shopping for my first new car, Passat and Accord were the finalists. Both offered things most others didn’t, and that was good communication with good ride quality. The Passat did it slightly better than Accord, but I was wary of longevity with the VW and its turbo engine, premium fuel and fuel economy. So Accord was it. Power wasn't the top priority, as both cars were rated at 150 HP, which was actually the lowest of the bunch I test drove.

    I had test driven the two a few times, and during one of the drives in an Accord, the sales person took the car to an empty two-lane back road with curves. The speed limit was 30 mph. He warned me to hold tight, accelerated to 40-45 mph and at a point right after a curve, braked hard while steering the car to the inside lane. He asked me to take note of everything the car did. I was impressed, and more so, after he had me try the same.

    Of course, I didn’t buy my Accord from him since I didn’t want a unit that was abused like that. :P (but there was actually another reason to it, a competing dealer offered better price). At that point I thought it was a good thing to have something I might never use, a car that stopped flat while affording excellent steering ability and ABS worked impressively.

    A few months later, I ended up in a situation that required a maneuver like that, and this was on a freeway, going around 65 mph in traffic (going far enough in history, you may find my post on Edmunds on this incident). One of several cars in front had hit something in the middle lane that sent a Jeep off the highway (and I was surprised it didn’t flip over) and panic struck. I had little place to maneuver with cars all over. When we all stopped, there was a Volvo to my left, the (original culprit) Crown Victoria to the right in the middle lane and I was between them. Not even a scratch. The driver to my left and I looked at each other and smiled, and went about our business. I haven’t had to use it again, but that only increased respect for the car I was driving.

    Besides handling as it is understood in the traditional way, there is another important aspect of it that is not talked about as much. And that is in how chassis settles after going over bumps at high speeds (or even low). If you take an Accord over a bump at high speed, the chassis will only bounce once. It will settle immediately after. Another car will bounce and re-bounce, and sometimes the wheel angle will unsettle that there is some loss in control (and worse, many of these cars isolate the driver so much that they may not know what is happening). You can actually observe this while following different cars and how they respond. The less the rebound, the more control the driver has.

    Yet another example would be from my experience from a few years ago at a slow exit ramp. I prefer not to slow down too much when getting off freeway to allow the rest of the traffic to continue instead of having to brake behind me. Depending on the ramp, I will brake a bit or let the car roll to a reasonable speed thru it.

    My rental Avalon was doing its job until the entry at which point it started to understeer. To correct, I applied the trick that works in my Accord, brake slightly and steer inwards. The Accord’s rear suspension would rise to the occasion providing a gradual passive rear wheel steering to rotate the car and the steering provides enough feedback. But in the Avalon, the understeer changed to snap oversteer and I almost lost control. There was absolutely no feedback from the steering either (which was overboosted to begin with). The suspension wasn’t firm on the ground but doing cha-cha.

    The interesting thing about all this is that nobody would confuse an (American) Accord for a sport sedan. But, its chassis tuning does those little things very well. It will understeer, but it will get out of a situation like that even with throttle applied, rotating the car. And another area where it excels would be cross winds.

    Take a Camry and an Accord on an open stretch with plenty of cross winds, and you just might see how much difference chassis can make. Backy doesn’t like it, and has heard me say this a few times, but I have an unforgettable memory of being overtaken in a Sonata by a minivan while carving the canyons over a freeway in Oregon. This is another story that might still be around in Edmunds from my postings in 2002. Speed limit was 70, and I had the throttle all the way down. I felt like going 70-75 mph only to realize moments later that cars and minivans were overtaking me (I’m not a slow driver). I looked at the speedometer and it was showing 65 mph. There were two problems. One, the engine didn’t offer much (which was a disappointment since it was a 2.7/V6), but more importantly, the car felt faster than it was traveling and that goes down to the car’s handling aspect.

    A good chassis can provide a hunkered down drivability with good maneuverability. I couldn’t care less for more, because I also care for good ride quality. So, handling and strong chassis are always a good starting point, but not the end.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Backy doesn’t like it, and has heard me say this a few times, but I have an unforgettable memory of being overtaken in a Sonata by a minivan while carving the canyons over a freeway in Oregon.

    Yes, I recall your talking before about this experience in a car that hasn't been sold in the U.S. for 2-1/2 years and was designed in the mid-'90s. But I'm still not clear on its relevance to this discussion. :confuse: If you want, I could wax poetic about my experiences driving underpowered cars--including Toyotas and Hondas. But since that was years ago, I won't bother you with them.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    But that car is new enough to be still under warranty (in fact, just half of it). :)
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