Good ol' four-door sedans are still the top-selling cars in the country, and the U.S. News analysis shows some popular models are also among the reviewers' favorites. In the U.S. News rankings of 25 affordable midsize cars, there are some clear winners and losers. Honda put the four- and two-door versions of the Accord at the top of the list, while Chevrolet, Subaru and Toyota shared a three-way tie for third place.
Top 5 Midsize Cars
The Accord's 2008 redesign made the car bigger and more powerful than ever before. Test drivers praise the strong available V6 engine, spacious cabin and the Honda's reputation for quality, but complain that the trunk's small and the rear seat doesn't fold down to accommodate longer items.
If the four-door is good, the two-door variant can't be far behind, right? So it makes sense that a compilation of reviews would place the Accord Coupe nearly alongside the more practical but perhaps less stylish sedan. Reviewers like the coupe's style and found the cabin unexpectedly roomy for a sporty car, but some say the instrument panel is too busy.
Rookie of the Year and a solid contender for overall MVP is the all-new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu -- which is priced significantly lower than comparable models from the other top finishers. The car snagged the North American Car of the Year award and won praise for its comfortable ride, predictable handling, comfortable front seats and sleek styling. It loses points for a less-comfortable back seat and an inefficient four-speed transmission, which will be replaced this summer.
Drivers love the security of Subaru's full-time all-wheel-drive system (in a mostly front-wheel-drive class) and the expensive appearance of the Legacy's interior materials. An optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of a typical six-cylinder yields better performance but worse gas mileage for the Subaru. The bland sedan won't win any beauty contests either.
Here's a surprise: the best-selling Toyota Camry finished outside the top five in the analysis of all reviews, though the fuel-efficient hybrid-electric version snagged a share of the three-way tie for third place. The hybrid Camry's combination of capacity and frugality impresses reviewers, as does its upscale and roomy interior.
|The Top 5: Vital Statistics|
|Car||MSRP||City MPG||Hwy MPG||Pros||Cons|
|Honda Accord Sedan||$20,360||22||31||Roomy, smooth engine, good overall value||Mixed reviews of new Accord sedan's design|
|Honda Accord Coupe||$21,860||22||31||Hotter design than the Accord sedan||Typical coupe drawbacks -- rear seating, cargo|
|Chevy Malibu||$19,345||22||30||Roomy, comfortable and award-winning||Less powerful and precise as some competitors|
|Subaru Legacy||$20,495||20||27||Standard AWD, award-winner for safety||Price can climb significantly at higher level trims|
|Toyota Camry Hybrid||$25,200||33||34||Spacious, smooth and of course -- fuel efficient||Smaller trunk space to accomodate battery pack|
Bottom 5 Midsize Cars
Underpowered engines, terrible interior materials and a lack of basic features like four-wheel disc brakes lead most reviewers to dismiss the 2008 Chrysler Sebring to the rental fleets. Still, the maligned sedan has comfortable seating and some innovative (but optional) interior features, including the MyGIG infotainment system and cup holders that can heat or cool drinks.
Nothing really stands out about the 2008 Buick LaCrosse, but in a competitive class, that condemns it to the bottom five. Though reviewers like its easy-to-read gauges and calm ride, most those same features make the LaCrosse too boring for anyone out of the blue hair age bracket.
With Pontiac's plastic-clad trailer park special days happily behind, the 2008 PontiacG6 earns good marks for its clean, slippery design. But the quality of the interior materials leaves plenty to be desired, and all but the top engines are underpowered. The flood of late-model used G6s sold by rental fleets means the car has abysmal resale value.
Pontiac hasn't completely escaped its recent past, which is why the Grand Prix draws criticism for mullet-friendly styling. To its credit, the Grand Prix has legible instruments and a powerful engine. Wide door and trunk openings are great, but space inside is cramped. The only real surprise here is that the Grand Prix handles poorly.
Reviewers rip the 2009 Dodge Avenger for its atrocious interior materials, unrefined base engine, stingy trunk space and reliability concerns. At least Dodge has the consideration to not charge too much for the Avenger.
|The Bottom 5: Vital Statistics|
|Car||MSRP||City MPG||Hwy MPG||Pros||Cons|
|Chrysler Sebring||$18,690||21||30||Spacious, value priced||Base model is truly bare bones -- lacks competitive engine and some typical safety features|
|Buick LaCrosse||$23,725||17||28||Quiet, easy ride||Less than inspired design|
|Pontiac G6||$18,225||22||30||Roomy and well designed interior||Underpowered except for more expensive V6 models|
|Pontiac Grand Prix||$22,210||18||28||Plenty of power and cargo room||Cramped rear seat, fairly unrefined ride|
|Dodge Avenger||$18,345||21||30||Sporty looking and a low base price||Cheap interior materials and an underwhelming engine|