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So my wife is having our first kid and I need a larger car. There really has been nothing out there that excites me though as a daily driver. I have an 07 Mazda 3 hatch right now that I love. Handles extremely well, is not a beast with power but extremely nimble with the lightweight wheels and ultra performance summer tires I have on it. Just too small of a back seat and it is getting up near 200k miles now.

I really would have preferred to stick with Mazda, but they are unfortunately focusing a ton on cars that handle well but really do not have take your breath away power. We bought a 2016 Subaru Outback for my wife, with the 3.6 liter flat 6 engine, and that thing really hauls. Compared to my current car, that thing feels like a rocket ship. Handles like the 10" ground clearance lifted crossover it is though.

I thought I would just buy some used generic family sedan for now while I wait for better options, but she had an offer from Acura to come test drive a car and get a gift card. So we test drove a V6 TLX. I liked it well enough, but I was not blown away by any means. It definitely had power (I think it is rated about 290 HP) but the version I tested did not have the Honda SH-AWD system. Many of the features were carried over from the used Honda Accord Touring I had previously test driven. It kind of felt like a luxury Accord with all wheel drive basically. The shifter was funny though, its push button, and the absurd 9 speed transmission has been dinged by just about everyone that reviewed it. I know a CVT would have eaten up the performance a bit, but it almost seems like they might as well have just used a CVT instead.

Recently I looked into Ford and found the new Fusion sport has so much power and all the same features basically for about 5k less than a similarly equipped Acura. I plan to test drive one this weekend hopefully, but I am curious as to how the real world handling is in the Fusion Sport? I drive my Mazda basically like a go-kart with a high revving engine. I know a larger family sedan simply would not be on the same level, but I dont want to have to compromise THAT much. I also dont want to shell out a ton for an S4 or a 5-series or a Lexus GS.

I have read through the forum and the impression I am getting is that the test drives dont exactly reflect the true potential of the car. Can anyone comment on the real world handling and cornering? Is the steering tight and responsive? Is there good steering feedback? We already have the Subaru that can push you back into your seat in a straight line. I want something that can push you back into your seat and then sweep into a corner without feeling like the car might roll over.
 

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Your requirements are going to be tough to meet: large car that handles like a go-kart. It just does not exist, I'm afraid.

With that said, the three cars I am personally going to test drive are: Fusion Sport, Jag XE, BMW 340i. Yes, very different price points, but if one of them speaks to me more than the other, I will make it work from a financial standpoint.
 

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You can add Audi S4/S6 and Mercedes CLA/GLA 45 to that list-both about the same size and both exemplary performers. True cost to own is between $10-20k more over 5 years vs the Ford, if that's an issue. The new Lincoln MkZ with the 400 hp/AWD combo coming out in September or so will be a little bit faster and about $10k more as well...
 

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Well I really haven't had a chance to say autocross in my Sport, and unlike you I came from a Chevy Malibu, but I feel the suspension on the Sport is quite good. Car stays flat around the corners thanks to the adaptive suspension. Significantly better than the standard fusions. As far as the test drive issue: I do believe there may be something there, as a couple of us owners have said, but I think it mostly centers around the transmission. If you test drive one I think you may get a good feel for it's handling. I hope you get a good opportunity to really test out the handling, and give us your opinion on how it compares to the Mazda.
On a side note I think Mazda could really do well here in the US if they put in some more power. You know us crazy Americans we always want "more power" as Tim the tool man would say.
 
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