The midsize family sedan is many automakers' best-seller, and not without good reason. These family-friendly four-doors by and large are fairly spacious, affordable and fuel-efficient – striking what many find to be the ideal balance between a compact car that's too small or cheap-feeling and a pricier full-size or luxury sedan.
Just within the last few months, quantum leaps in several redesigned models have thrown off expectations for what's reasonable to expect from a big four-door priced from the low $20,000s. Economy-car fuel economy and luxury-car style are newly accessible along with more traditional virtues. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also recently ran midsize sedans through its demanding new small-overlap offset crash test – highlighting true safety winners and losers in a marketplace where top scores are expected.
With the bar as high as it is in the midsize family sedan class, it's hard to find a car that looks like a true loser – or the true winner. That said, the different models were each designed with particular tradeoffs that will fit some buyers better than others – style versus utility, ride versus handling, luxury versus value, and others. Some of these cars, too, have flaws that keep them clearly short of that high bar.
This comparison relies on test drives and analyses of price, safety and fuel economy of 10 midsize sedans at the heart of the market to pick winners and losers for different types of customers, and to rank them from top to bottom overall.
Read see the ranking order and quick-take summary reviews of the 10 cars here, or pick an individual car to read about:
2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT
2013 Dodge Avenger SXT
2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Honda Accord EX-L
2013 Kia Optima EX
2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring
2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited
2013 Toyota Camry XLE
2013 Volkswagen Passat
More from this comparison:
Quick take: Short summary reviews of the 10 cars.
Rating the midsize sedans: How do the cars compare in different ways, such as comfort, safety and fuel economy?
Ranking the midsize sedans: How do the cars stack up for different types of buyers, such as those who prefer sportiness or who prefer value?
Coming soon: Full reviews and photo galleries of each of the 10 cars.
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