Large-amplitude motions, particularly internal rotations, are known to affect substantially thermodynamic functions and rate constants of reactions in which flexible molecules are involved. Up to now all methods for computing the partition functions of these motions rely on the Pitzer approximation of more than 50 years ago, in which the large-amplitude motion is treated in complete independence of the other (vibrational) degrees of freedom. In this paper an extended hindered-rotor model (EHR) is developed in which the vibrational modes, treated harmonically, are correctly separated from the large-amplitude motion and in which relaxation effects (the changes in the kinetic-energy matrix and potential curvature) are taken into account as one moves along the large-amplitude path. The model also relies on a specific coordinate system in which the Coriolis terms vanish at all times in the Hamiltonian. In this way an increased level of consistency between the various internal modes is achieved, as compared with the more usual hindered-rotor (HR) description. The method is illustrated by calculating the entropies and heat capacities on 1,3-butadiene and 1-butene (with, respectively, one and two internal rotors) and the rate constant for the addition reaction of a vinyl radical to ethene. We also discuss various variants of the one-dimensional hindered-rotor scheme existing in the literature and its relation with the EHR model. It is argued why in most cases the HR approach is already quite successful.