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  • September 22, 2014

Four Wheel Drive Sedans - Ladue News: Special Features

Four Wheel Drive Sedans

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Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:23 pm, Thu Sep 26, 2013.

Sedans offer a practical way to transport your family economically with the availability of several attractive attributes, including luxury, performance and all-weather mobility. Several sedans offer all-wheel-drive, which means that power is distributed to all four wheels to improve handling, as well as traction in wet conditions.

Probably the most fun-to-drive all-wheel-drive sedan is the Subaru WRX. Originating as an off-road rally car, the WRX has earned a cult following in America amongst those who value performance above all else, but also need a reliable vehicle with four doors. The WRX’s performance pedigree is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that it only comes with a manual transmission. That’s right: If you’re not a 'true' driver who knows how to shift with a clutch, this car is not for you. The big functional hood scoop that feeds the turbocharger’s intercooler and a rear spoiler are blatant clues that this is one mean boy racer.

As you enter the cabin, the heavily bolstered sport seats covered with a durable fabric are designed to help hold you in place during spirited driving. A premium package can add heated seats and a sunroof. A large tach takes center place in the gauge cluster, just like in a Porsche, and an easy-to-use sound system is complemented by a three-dial automatic climate control system. Interior trim is not fancy, and seats are manually adjustable--but this is as it should be, as extra power amenities just add weight and decrease performance. However, it does have the amenities of electric windows, locks and mirrors. Rear-seat room is surprisingly roomy, with a generous amount of leg room. The trunk is fairly large, and though the bi-level floor decreases its utility, the rear seats fold down to greatly increase cargo-carrying capacity.

The best part of the WRX is its performance: Driving it is just a blast. Steering through the leather-wrapped steering wheel is tight and precise, and the taught suspension keeps the WRX flat as Kansas during hard cornering. The 5-speed manual transmission has a nice mechanical feel to it, and an easy-to-use clutch. After a second of turbo lag, this thing takes off like a bullet, pressing you in your seat and delivering zero-to-60 times similar to or better than sports cars such as the Porsche Boxster and Nissan 370. Brakes also are excellent. The all-wheel-drive feature not only assures good grip in just about any kind of weather or road conditions, but also aids acceleration grip and high-performance handling on dry roads, while helping minimize understeer on the track.

Gas mileage is 19 city, 25 highway from the 265-horsepower, 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The WRX also comes as a 5-door hatchback, and a 305-horsepower version called the STi.

Chris Johnson, sales manager at Lou Fusz Subaru, loves the looks and performance of the WRX. “Giving the WRX the body kit from the Sti elevated it from appearing to be an ‘Impreza with a hood scoop’ to a performance car that looks as satisfying as it drives.”

Prices for the WRX start at only $26,500--that’s a lot of performance for the money.

Another fun, but more upscale all-wheel-drive sedan is the Infiniti G37x. The G37x offers aggressive and attractive styling in a well-built package with a smooth and powerful engine and luxurious interior.

The interior is first-rate luxury, with rich leather heated seats with memory buttons, electric tilt and telescoping steering wheel, wood trim and all the modern conveniences you expect in a luxury sedan. A moonroof and navigation are optional. Distinct ventilation controls at the bottom of the dash console make using the dual-automatic climate control easy and don’t require using the console screen, which is used mainly for the navigation and quite helpful back-up camera. Separate hard buttons and steering-wheel-mounted controls for the sound system make it easy to use, as well. Rear seat room is adequate in the mildly bolstered seats, and those in the cheap seats get their own air vents. The trunk is large but irregularly shaped, and the opening is somewhat restricted due to the slope of the rear window, though there is a pass-through to the back seat for long objects such as skis.

The bonus the G37x offers over other luxury mid-sized sedans is its performance, which at its heart is a 328-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine that pumps out power to all four wheels via a 7-speed automatic, or if you can get by with rear-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual, for those who really want to maximize their driving enjoyment. Gas mileage is 18 city, 25 highway. Acceleration is brisk; and the handling sporty and fun, thanks to a taught suspension, good brakes and tight steering. The throaty exhaust note adds to the sporting experience. This is a fun car to toss around.

According to Rob D’Alto, salesman at Plaza Infiniti, “The G37x is much more luxurious than before, with more standard equipment, more comfortable seats, a larger rear seat and greater technology."

Prices for the G37x start at about $40,000 and will go out the door in the low- to mid-$40,000s popularly equipped.

*Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) also is an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.

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