Automobile

1991 American Performance Sedan Comparison Photos

The Ford Taurus SHO is the perennial winner in domestic sedan comparos. But Chevy and Dodge have new competition for Ford’s Yamaha-engined sleeper, in the form of the Lumina Z34 and Spirit R/T. Both bring manual transmissions and more than 200 horsepower, just like the Taurus, but their approaches are decidedly different—3.4-liter V-6 for the Lumina, 2.2-liter turbo four for the Spirit. Can either one dethrone the champ? We take to the twisties in Southeastern Ohio to find out.

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It’s red, white and… red at Hoover’s Country Kitchen.

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Besides being unable to score a blue car, we couldn’t get a four-door Lumina, either. But: close enough.

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The Lumina is the most outrageous, the Taurus the most low-key, and the Spirit the most K-car of the trio.

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The Lumina’s 3.4-liter V-6 makes 210 horsepower, but only with the 5-speed. Automatic cars are detuned to 200 horsepower.

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The Spirit ran 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, quicker than a Nissan 300ZX Turbo.

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Unfortunately, the rest of the Spirit isn’t on the level of its 224-horsepower engine.

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On back roads, the Spirit had a hard time keeping up, despite its advantage in straight-line speed.

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The Dodge 2.2-liter four delivers 224 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque.

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The Spirit interior looks like it belongs to the least-expensive car here. Fortunately, it does. A/C is standard, though.

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The Z34 isn’t shy about its performance aspirations.

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In a happy surprise, the Lumina’s excellent handling doesn’t come with a terrible ride.

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The 3.4-liter DOHC V-6 makes 210 horsepower and some nice noises.

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The lack of an airbag is a demerit and the Z34’s interior pieces looked and felt cheap.

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There it is, the best front-drive American sport sedan.

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The Taurus SHO interior evokes more-expensive European sedans.

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Best-looking intake ever? The Taurus’ 3.0 V-6 has a case.

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