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2014 Midsize Sedan Buyer's Guide

By Editors on March 10, 2014 4:59 PM
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2014 Chevrolet Malibu2014 Chrysler 2002014 Dodge Avenger2014 Ford Fusion2014 Honda Accord2014 Hyundai Sonata2014 Kia Optima2014 Mazda62014 Nissan Altima2014 Subaru Legacy2014 Toyota Camry2014 Volkswagen Passat

Today's midsize sedans are an amazing group deserving of special recognition. Top sellers like the Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima were all redesigned for 2013, the Mazda6 is all-new for 2014, and there are three new-for-2015 models set to arrive this year. With more great choices than any other group of car buyers, midsize sedan shoppers aren't facing an easy task. But we've driven them all, and we're here to help.

A Dozen Choices
If only it were as easy as picking the one that looked best. Click on a car below for easy access to our full review, Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own figures, expert and consumer ratings, and everything else you need to make your best decision.

Typically Equipped

Most of these 12 midsize family sedans start in the low $20,000 range and top out in the low- to mid-$30,000 range. Some offer V6, turbo and hybrid powertrains, but all of them offer a 4-cylinder base engine and that's what most buyers choose.

What's New?

The Chevy Malibu got a new face and some interior upgrades for 2014, the Kia Optima was also updated, and the Honda Accord lineup added hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

What's Next? (Part 1)

A fully redesigned 2015 Chrysler 200 (pictured below) was unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show in January, and Chrysler says it will go on sale this spring. Midsize sedans are typically redesigned every five years.

2015 Chrysler 200

What's Next? (Part 2)

One month after Chrysler revealed the all-new 200 in Detroit, Subaru pulled the sheets off the all-new 2015 Legacy (below) at the Chicago Auto Show.

2015 Subaru Legacy

What's Next? (Part 3)

We expect to see a fully redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata at the 2014 New York Auto Show in April.

New Features

The list of features now offered on these middle-of-the-market vehicles still reads a bit like science fiction: text-to-speech message reading, blind spot detection, cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, push-button start and one-touch Pandora internet radio (via your smartphone connection) to name a few.

Broad Appeal

You'll find five of these midsize sedans on this year's list of 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000, three of them made our list of 10 Best Hybrids Under $30,000 and two are among our 12 Best Family Cars of 2014

Resale Value Recognition

The Honda Accord is a perennial resale value standout, and the 2014 model is this year's Best Resale Value Award winner in the Mid-Size Car category. Following in the second and third spots were the 2014 Kia Optima and 2014 Ford Fusion.

Honda Accord or Toyota Camry?

The rivalry is older than some of the people driving the cars, and even though the midsize sedan segment has grown from a two-car race to a six- or eight- or 10-car competition, Accord and Camry are still the dueling gold standards and the two best-selling cars in the country. Which of the two should you buy? That depends, but here's the short answer.

Image is Everything

Not really, but it can be pretty powerful. We wondered how car shoppers saw the segment from a performance perspective, so we asked them. Here are the results:

2014 Midsize Sedan Buyer's Guide 26

We were surprised by the Altima's second-to-last finish -- although Nissan isn't pushing performance as strongly with the new Altima -- but thought our visitors otherwise nailed it. The Mazda6 is our fun-to-drive favorite, the Optima looks more fun than it is, and the Accord, Fusion, Passat and Altima each have their strong points.

Record-Breaking Reinvention

Smaller and pricier wasn't working so well in America, so Volkswagen rethought it's approach in designing its most recent Passat. To get better acquainted with the new model, we added a Passat to our long-term test fleet. In its first full year of sales it became the best-selling Passat of all time, and this year we again called it one of the 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000.

Interesting Alternatives

Want the amenities of a midsize sedan but don't need all the room? Today's compact cars offer an increasingly compelling array of features for less. Or for greater versatility and a higher driving position, check out this year's compact SUV lineup.


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