Introduction
  • Image Credit: Autoblog

Introduction

Mid-sized sedans are the heart of the U.S. car market, and any mass-market automaker needs a strong entry. That's why these vehicles are generally redesigned from top to bottom every five years or so, with some models receiving significant styling overhauls even more frequently. The result is a car that is usually more comfortable, better equipped, safer, and more fuel-efficient. This means it can be worthwhile to wait a year or so for an upgrade -- or be ready to snap up a deeply discounted outgoing model.

Automakers like to keep this information closely guarded, for fear of spoiling sales of the current model if word gets out something better is coming soon. But with the assistance of J.D. Power and Associates, we've compiled a “cheat sheet” of product plans for the top-selling mid-sized sedans, presented here in alphabetical order. Keep in mind that what follows is based on the best evidence out there, but like any predictions, may not prove to be perfect.
Chevy Impala
  • Image Credit: GM

Chevy Impala

Last redesign: 2006
Next scheduled redesign: 2013

The Impala is the same as it ever was: A lowest-common-denominator sedan with the focus on price, price and price. GM sells a lot of them to daily rental fleets, and the rest to people who like to buy their cars by the pound. But for model year 2013, the Impala will get a complete redesign. The Impala will remain front-wheel drive, with slightly bigger dimensions and more features to better compete against the Ford Taurus. The car will also get a new V6 engine with direct injection, and possibly a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain late in the model year.
Chevy Malibu
  • Image Credit: Autoblog

Chevy Malibu

Last redesign: 2008
Next scheduled redesign: 2012

The Malibu is due for a major redesign in model year 2012, adopting the same platform as the Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal. GM will upgrade the interior with better materials, to better compete with the next-generation Ford Fusion, which itself will go upscale. The next Malibu will have a shorter wheelbase than the current version, though it will be taller and wider. For better ride and handling, the top-of-the-line Malibu LTZ will get the upgraded front suspension that debuted in May on the LaCrosse. Under the hood, the Malibu will get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and GM will drop the optional 3.6-liter V-6.
Chrysler 300
  • Image Credit: Autoblog

Chrysler 300

Last redesign: 2005
Next scheduled redesign: 2012

The new Chrysler 300 is set to go into production in November of this year. The new model will be rear-wheel drive, just the like the model it replaces, and will also provide the platform for the Dodge Charger and Challenger. While the new 300 will appear to more like a thorough facelift than a full-on redesign, insiders say the new platform is actually quite good and a good deal more engaging than the old model. The interior has received a major overhaul to appear more refined than the old one, which suffered from cheap and plasticky finished. The company's new Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 will be the standard engine, while 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V8's will also be offered.
Ford Fusion
  • Image Credit: Autoblog

Ford Fusion

Last redesign: 2010
Next scheduled redesign: 2013

The 2010 Ford Fusion received a significant overhaul, adopting a six-speed transmission, an upgraded interior, better sound insulation and an optional hybrid powertrain. It was good enough to win two car-of-the-year awards, but the next generation of the vehicle promises even more. In two years, the Ford Fusion will get a complete redesign when Ford adapts the European Mondeo for the U.S. market. This will move the Fusion more upscale and result in a better-equipped car with improved ride and handling. Ford will dump the Fusion's V6 engine, and instead offer a choice of two four-cylinder Ecoboost engines.
Ford Taurus
  • Image Credit: Ford

Ford Taurus

Last redesign: 2010
Next scheduled redesign: Unknown

The Taurus was just redesigned for 2010, so it will only receive a mild refresh in model year 2012, with a restyled nose and tail. The Taurus SHO will get styling enhancements to better differentiate the car from other versions. Late in 2011, a police car version will go on sale when Ford discontinues the Crown Victoria. The Taurus may get an optional hybrid powertrain in late 2012.
Honda Accord
  • Image Credit: Autoblog

Honda Accord

Last redesign: 2008
Next scheduled redesign: 2013

For model year 2011, the Accord gets an updated nose and tail, while a major redesign is not due until model year 2013. Honda is likely to add a four-cylinder diesel powertrain in the next generation. According to rumor, this new Accord will also have a sportier, more aggressive exterior. The current Accord is significantly larger than past models, and there's a good chance that Honda will rein in the proportions of the next one.
Hyundai Sonata
  • Image Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai Sonata

Last redesign: 2011
Next scheduled redesign: 2016

The all-new 2011 Sonata debuted earlier this year, and it's getting good reviews. Late this year, Hyundai will add a hybrid model with distinctive styling, as well as a turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine making 274 horsepower. As a brand new model, don't expect Hyundai to do much to the Sonata until a minor restyling in model year 2014, in advance of a complete redesign for 2016.
Mazda Mazda6
  • Image Credit: Mazda

Mazda Mazda6

Last redesign: 2009
Next scheduled redesign: 2014

For model year 2011, the Mazda6 sedan gets a minor restyling with a new front fascia, headlights and taillights. Mazda has added a new 2-liter, four-cylinder engine with direct injection for overseas markets, so don't be surprised to see it show up in the U.S. market in advance of a complete redesign in model year 2014. This next generation of the Mazda6 will likely include a hybrid version, though it's unlikely that the wagon version of the Mazda6 will return to the U.S. market anytime soon.
Nissan Altima
  • Image Credit: Nissan

Nissan Altima

Last redesign: 2007
Next scheduled redesign: 2012

In 2010, the Nissan Altima got a minor restyle, with a new front fascia, wheels, grille and navigation system. This came in advance of a major redesign due in model year 2012. Nissan will attempt to further differentiate the Altima and its platform-mate Maxima in this next generation, with the Maxima being made even sportier, while the Altima will continue to play the role of family hauler. As such, it may grow a bit larger, and will likely adopt more of Nissan's safety technology.
Subaru Legacy
  • Image Credit: Subaru

Subaru Legacy

Last redesign: 2010
Next scheduled redesign: 2016

The Legacy was completely redesigned for 2010. It now features a roomier rear seat, an optional CVT transmission, improved fuel economy and slightly larger dimensions. This new Legacy is positioned as more of a mainstream family vehicle than past Subaru sedans. The Legacy will get a hybrid option late in model year 2012, plus a minor restyling in model year 2013. It's not due for a major redesign until model year 2016.
Toyota Camry
  • Image Credit: Toyota

Toyota Camry

Last redesign: 2007
Next scheduled redesign: 2012

The Camry received a minor restyling, with a new front fascia and taillights for 2010, and will receive a major redesign for model year 2012. As the best-selling car in the U.S., don’t expect Toyota to be very adventurous with the formula. The next-generation Camry is expected to remain the same size, neither growing nor shrinking significantly. No major powertrain changes are expected, meaning the venerable 3.5-liter V6 and the new-for-2010 2.5-liter four-cylinder will soldier on.


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