2016 Midsize Sedan Comparison: Accord, Malibu, Altima, Optima or Passat?
The 2016 model year has been a big one for midsize sedans, with six of 11 entries having been completely redesigned or significantly updated. The all-new Chevy Malibu is roomier and more stylish than its underperforming predecessor, and the impressive new Kia Optima already took home our Midsize Sedan Best Buy Award earlier in the year. The updated Honda Accord, Mazda6, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat all received varying degrees of styling tweaks, but infotainment, convenience and safety upgrades were also key themes.
Having already tested the early-arriving Mazda6 in last year’s midsize car comparison, we wrangled the remaining five sedans and set off on a 600-mile road trip that took us from our home base in Southern California to Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada. We swapped cars and notes along the way, evaluating each vehicle in key categories ranging from highway driving to infotainment to rear seat roominess.
We’d driven each of these entries before the comparison test, but there’s still no substitute for back-to-back and side-by-side testing, not to mention sheer time behind the wheel. What we learn during these annual comparison tests informs not only the test itself, but also our popular 10 Best lists and annual awards.
The cars are listed below in order of overall score, but it’s important to know that the first four spots were separated by a total of 0.2 points in the numerical component of our test. These are all good, recommendable cars, and more than ever the differences are in the details. For instance, three of these cars were rated highest in one category and lowest in another. Your job is to find the midsize sedan that offers the mix of tangible and intangible qualities that speak most clearly to both your head and your heart, and our job is to make your job easier.
Unchanged from Last Year
We evaluated the five cars below as part of last year's midsize sedan comparison test, and all remain virtually unchanged since.