The $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown


It's been two and a half years since we conducted our very first multi-car comparison with USA Today and "Motorweek." That showdown featured eight midsize family sedans competing against each other, with the Hyundai Sonata taking first and the Ford Fusion coming in last.

A lot has changed in that amount of time, with four of the six contenders in this year's contest sporting completely new designs.

How did they do?

Read the full showdown to find out.

Related $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown $26,000 Midize Sedan Showdown: Mileage Results
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It would've been interesting to see the actual mileage difference between the top players. In other comparos there is no big gap between the mainstream players in observed mileage regardless of EPA figures. In fact, in Motortrend and Car and driver comparos the Passat avoided being at the back of the pack in observed FE in spite of it's EPA numbers. Conversely, the Korean sedans have consistently been at or near the bottom in observed mileage in spite of decent EPA figures. Ruling out Malibu and Passat strictly based on EPA ratings doesn't make sense. How much money does one save if they buy an Accord vs a Passat or Malibu in a year? Someone that likes a particular car isn't going to avoid that car because it may cost an extra $200 a year in gas.


It is crazy how good the Ford, Hyundai, Honda, and Kia look compared to the Camry and it still outsells them all despite them also being arguably better cars. The Altima looks good in photos, but every one that I have seen in person looks cheap and somehow unfinished.


Any reason the 2014 Mazda 6 was left out? would be interesting to see how it stacks up against the competitors?


I think they just cars that consumers can in fact purchase now were used. The new Mazda can't be sold until after Jan. 1.

Most people people who purchase midsized family sedans buy them to haul families and commute. Not to be seen or look cool or carve corners which is what the Camry usually ranks lower in. They buy them because they are very dependable and have low cost of ownership and good resale.

When you have a good experience with a brand and the car fits your needs one tends to go back to that brand/model. I don't own a Camry but I can understand why a lot of people like them and buy them year after year.

Anonymous Coward

The electrically assisted power steering on the Accord is awful and has no feel to it at all. I liked it other than that.


the camry has a strong rep, a huge ad budget and it's pretty cheap- that's why it sells big. And of course unlike the Accord Toyota does a big fleet business with the camry. Its a commodity, its the Walmart of family sedans. It doesn't have to be the best and consumers likely don't care if it's the best. It's just the default family sedan for people who don't like shopping for cars.

Trey B.

I recently helped my cousin test drive each of these cars and he ended up buying a Honda Accord Sport. To be thorough we test drove each car at least three times and also added the Chevy Malibu and VW Passat. If the Malibu was included in this test I'm confident it would have come in last place by a wide margin. I've never driven such a horrible car. Even with the dealers offering huge discounts the car is just plain bad. One Chevy sales rep told us the Malibu was being redone because they can't sell them. He also added that if he was spending his own money he'd buy a Passat or Accord. The Accord just drove better than every other car and was very affordable. My cousin liked the Fusion but the 2.5L engine is a dog and the 1.6L is not very powerful and raises the price substantially. If the Fusion or Passat had the Accord (or Camry) drive train they'd sell a lot more of them.

geo L

Safety....The recent crash tests done by the IIHS, Toyota Camry and Prius V FAILED!...
Doesn't matter, I guess. Little Things like Safety only applies to other Auto Makers.


The Camry is no cheaper than most other midsize cars so that is not the reason for it's huge sales. Of course it has a big ad budget. Sell a lot of cars and it creates money for more advertising. There are lots of midsize cars that are big in rental fleets. Actually, I believe the Accord may be the exception. There are tons of Malibus, Fusions, Sonatas, etc in addition to Camrys. These cars all commodities including the Accord. They are all pretty good cars but they don't try to fool anybody into thinking they are buying something like a Porsche. I also think there are a lot of people that don't really like the routine of buying cars that buy Fords, Chevys, Hondas, Mazdas, etc, etc. It isn't just Camry. Extreme bias will always taint ones view of reality.


geo L is clueless as the Toyota Camry is listed as a 2013 IIHS Top Safety pick.


@ RS4 you are clueless get on youtube type in camry small overlap crashtest. camry and prius is horible compared to the other cars.


Based on your name reading comprehension is clearly not one of your strengths. The IIHS named the 2013 Toyota Camry a Top Safety pick. Have your Mommy click on the link and read it to you.



I will try to explain what should be obvious- the Camry has a much stronger brand name that Malibu, Passat or Fusion. Even you know that. While it's true that none of these cars are fancy or object of lust, the fact is that people often default to the best known and most famous brands. The Camry has long been recommended by consumer publications and others and for many folks the midsize car research begins and ends with Camry. None of the people I know who have or have had the car really strongly considered (or even looked at) much of the competition. If you want a midsize car that wont break down you get a camry (or accord) and that's about it. The Malibu, Passat, Mazda6, Fusion, etc. are not the go to cars in this segment that can sell without even being thoroughly compared to the rest of the field. and the camry is cheap compared to Fusion and Malibu if you load it up. Fusion tops out at $38k vs about $32k for camry and Malibu tops out around $35k. The new accord has a higher price ceiling as well.



Who in their right mind could look at the sales of Mazda as a brand say "lots of people" who don't like car shopping automatically by Mazdas. The camry alone outsells the entire Mazda brand. Mazda is a niche brand that appeals to a small segment of the buying public, it's hardly on the radar of the average consumer who knows nothing about cars.


We have a Mazda and while it is not a huge seller it is still a midsized car. I just rattled off a bunch of midsizers and you pick one out as "an example" for the sake of an argument.

There are valid reasons why the consumer mags recommend and the public keeps buying the Camry. They have good experience with it from the viewpoint of their needs. Nobody on here says it was the best car for enthusiusts. But it does seem to be the best car for tons of people. If they didn't have good luck with it they wouldn't buy a new one over and over. Some don't have a clue but you make it sound like all Camry buyers are just sheep led to the slaughter. That is very arrogant of you.

You have it wrong. The Camry is not cheap compared to a loaded Malibu or Fusion. They are overpriced at the their most loaded levels. You can buy new Acuras, Infinitis and base BMWs for the price of these loaded Fusions and Malibus. Most midsize family sedans top out at about $32-$33k except for the Passat, Malibu and Fusion. They are overpriced. The Camry falls in line with all the rest like Accord, Mazda6, Chrysler 200, Altima, Sonatas etc. By the way the Accord tops out at about $33 for the Touring model so it is right there with the Camry. Sorry, but you should check your facts once in awhile rather than your usual shotgun approach.



Don't know if you own Toyota stock or something but I really didnt offer much of a critique of the Camry. It's a decent car, just like its competitors. None of these cars stands out as substantially better than the competition. The camry isn't a much better car than its rivals, it just sells a lot better. That's what brand strength does for you. Most publications rank the passat and accord and altima above the camry and yet all of those cars will fail to unseat the camry at the top of the charts. The camry is not offering anything you can't get anywhere else but consumers don't see it that way so it easily sails to the #1 slot year in a year out. There are plenty of satisfied customers out there but that doesn't prove the camry is superior to anything. It just proves Toyota knows how to sell a lot of camrys.

I just told you the Accord, Fusion and Malibu all top out at $34k or more. The camry is one of the cheapest models in the class- it's right there with the Altima. Part of that is related to lack of content- the Fusion, Accord and Malibu offer more features than Camry, but still overall the Camry is closer to the Koreans in price than the Americans. The 6 hasn't been fully priced but I expect the Grand Touring to come in around $33k-$34k with all options.

Speaking of "facts", I suggest you see the top price of the Accord. It's not $33k.


Oh, wow, the Camry maxes at $33,410 while the Accord maxes at $34,220. A difference of a whole $810. That really makes the Camry cheap....NOT. You exaggerate so much I don't know how you expect anyone to take you seriously.

I never said the Camry was a great car or that it was better than any other midsize car. I was just replying to your comments that it was cheap commodity car and the Wallmart(I assume you are demeaning people that shop there as well with that comment) of midsize cars. Actually, I think the Hyundai twins would more fit your definition but I won't go there. Sure, Toyota markets it and their other vehicles. Isn't that what they are supposed to do? The Camry has built a reputation of solid value over the last 35 years or so and there are tons of people that buy because of that. They perceive value and perception is reality.

And no I don't own one stock of Toyota unless it happens to show up in some mutual funds somewhere. I own some 500 funds so I probably do, as well as GM and Ford. Nor have I ever owned a Camry. Satisfied customers is what car manufactures want because they come back and buy again. They wouldn't be satisfied if they didn't have a good experience with the Camry. Again, you make them sound like they were hoodwinked or something. Again, arrogant.


I'd like to see address why and how the Chevrolet Malibu became the worst car in this segment. Every other car in this segment has surpassed it in many ways AND Chevrolet just released a refreshed version!

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