These days it seems as if the glare given off by the white-hot popularity of SUVs and crossovers has blinded buyers from seeing any other type of automobile. That's a shame, because while there are certainly a number of fine SUVs and crossovers on the market, in some cases they are automotive overkill; some families just don't need that much automobile-at least not two of them in the garage.
Allow us here at Car and Driver to humbly suggest that there is much excellence and capability to be found in the category of mid-size sedans. We identify the best mid-size sedans with two of our awards. The first is our annual 10Best Cars award, which recognizes the passenger cars we think best achieve their intended mission while offering loads of personality and representing a great value, too. The second is our Editors' Choice award, which we present to the cars we would unreservedly recommend to family, friends, and anyone shopping within a given segment.
How We Chose the Best Mid-Size Sedans
These mid-size sedans are our 2019 award winners, the top of the 12-car family-sedan class. This elite group contains one 10Best winner; the others each earned a spot on our Editors' Choice list of recommended buys. This is a small group, just four cars. All of them offer a special cornucopia of interlocking positives: ample room for people and cargo, excellent fuel economy, handsomely appointed interiors, exemplary build quality, and lots of available driver-assistance tech. In addition, they possess the one feature we value above all others: They drive well. Here we submit our list of the best mid-size sedans you can buy today.
For 2019, the Accord won our top honor-a spot on the 10Best Cars list-for the 33rd time. It's handsome, engaging to drive, and delivers good performance with its base 192-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder-and with its optional 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, it's a rocket. The Accord boasts a roomy interior; the back seat is particularly spacious, and the trunk offers a useful 17 cubic feet. The steering is light, and the ride quality is firm but never harsh, helping the Accord strike a pleasing balance between a sports sedan and a practical family car. You don't have to buy a hybrid to get good fuel economy, and the Accord is an excellent example of this fact. In our real-world fuel-economy test-where we drive 200 miles at a steady 75 mph-we recorded 38 mpg in an Accord Sport with the base four-cylinder and a six-speed manual transmission. Even the bigger 2.0-liter turbo four with the 10-speed automatic turned in a respectable 35 mpg. It's fast, too, recording a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds in our testing. The 1.5-liter turbo is no slouch either; with the manual transmission, it hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds.
The Mazda 6 blends a stylish interior and sleek exterior with some of the most pleasing driving characteristics in this segment. That makes it one of our faves and an Editors' Choice winner. The quality of the interior materials is top-notch, almost up to luxury-car standards in the highest Signature trim, and cargo room is best in class, based on our testing. Fuel economy is quite good, too. The base 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder achieved 37 mpg in our real-world fuel-economy test, while the 250-hp turbocharged version managed 36 mpg. Both engines provide solid acceleration: The 2.5-liter went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds in our testing, and the turbo engine did the deed in 6.4 seconds. While the 6 might not win every contest on objective numbers alone, we admire it for the way it transcends those numbers and pleases the senses far better than its "mainstream mid-size sedan" label might suggest.
While the key specs in this segment all match up fairly closely, the new-for-2019 Altima distinguishes itself as one of only three vehicles in this segment that offer all-wheel drive for those seeking optimum all-weather traction. All-wheel drive comes only with the base 182-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Curious to see how well it would handle our Michigan winters, we ordered an AWD Altima in Platinum trim for a yearlong test. So equipped, the Altima offers the second-best fuel economy in this set, 41 mpg on our 200-mile real-world highway fuel-economy test. A front-wheel-drive Altima equipped with the optional 248-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four saw 37 mpg. We found the Altima to be engaging to drive, with a much improved suspension that proved newly adept at soaking up the worst pavement our Michigan roads had to offer while being crisply responsive to our steering commands. The base engine isn't a thriller, though: The front-wheel-drive version hit 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, and the all-wheel-drive Altima was 0.1 second behind, at 7.7. The optional turbo four is much more feisty, doing the sprint to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds. The Altima's interior is both handsome and spacious, with a trunk that fit six pieces of carry-on luggage with the rear seats in use. Good-looking, roomy, and all-around capable, it earned our respect and an Editors' Choice award for 2019.
If you seek the reliability that the Toyota brand offers, the Camry is the mid-size sedan for you. That's not the only reason the Camry earned an Editors' Choice citation, however. This latest model, introduced in 2018, has gained a dose of style, a helping of luxury, and a dollop of verve. The interior of the base Camry is uninspired, but the more expensive versions are quite posh. They are roomy, too: We fit 17 pieces of carry-on luggage in the regular Camry's trunk with the rear seats folded. The hybrid model, with a battery that reduces cargo room, fit only 12. Both fit six pieces with the seats in use. While the base four-cylinder's performance won't set your pulse racing with a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.9 seconds, it managed a stellar 45 mpg on our highway fuel-economy test. That's 1 mpg better than the Camry hybrid we tested. Equipped with the optional 301-hp 3.5-liter V-6, the Camry has the most horsepower of the bunch here and scoots to 60 mph in a respectable 5.8 seconds. That version also saw a reasonable 29 mpg in its real-world highway fuel-economy test. The Camry is an excellent choice should you want to break the SUV habit.
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