What's the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan?


The midsize sedan is one of the most popular segments in the U.S. It serves as a family car, commuter, road tripper and more.

Because of this popularity, automakers offer a dizzying amount of styles and options for their midsizers. This differing content makes it hard for car shoppers to compare apples to apples from one automaker to the next.

We analyzed the segment for the features most drivers would want in a car of this class and uncovered some surprising results.

Most Affordable Midsize Sedan

To arrive at the specific trim levels for our analysis we wanted models with a certain level of content that most car shoppers desire.

Required were:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Cruise control
  • USB
  • Bluetooth
  • Power windows
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Backup camera

Most midsize-car shoppers are choosing cars with at least this much equipment. Out of more than 30,000 new Honda Accords in Cars.com’s inventory, 67% were the midlevel Sport trim … or higher. For the Nissan Altima, that number was 65%.

We also included five years of gas costs at the current price and driving ratio provided by the EPA. Many midsize sedans are boasting impressive fuel-economy numbers these days, which is helping keep shoppers out of the crossover or SUV camp.

Here are more findings from our analysis:

  • The Kia Optima was $645 less expensive than the next most affordable sedan. 
  • The Kia Optima Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid were more affordable after five years than seven other non-hybrids on our list.
  • The Ford Fusion Hybrid was $1,550 more affordable than the non-hybrid Fusion because it's better equipped at the trim level that fit our criteria and gets significantly better gas mileage.
  • The Fusion Hybrid’s purchase price is $3,200 more than the standard Fusion.
  • Chrysler's 200 and Dodge's Avenger don't offer a backup camera — not even as an option.
  • The all-wheel-drive Subaru Legacy will cost less at the pump than front-wheel-drive Chevy Malibu, Fusion or Volkswagen Passat.
  • The 2014 Passat will go on sale in August; VW promises better fuel efficiency as well as trim levels with more content at lower prices. However, these details weren’t available before we published.

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After MY analysis, the difference in base price to get this equipment or options is around $10K. That's a lot of cash to not even get the top level model. At least you get navigation on the Sonata...


I disagree with everything that is written here


Which one of these 'all look the same' vehicles retains the highest value at trade-in time?


"Which one of these 'all look the same' vehicles retains the highest value at trade-in time?"

Camry and Accord both retain the highest value at trade-in time, and Kia, VW and Hyundai sedans the least (in my area).


Which one of these has original tires that can last through 5 years period?


None of them.


Looks like car manufacturers go in the way of printer manufacturers with "trial version" of OEM tires. Although, my 2011 Mazda3 has a real set. 30K+ and about half life.


With the new formulation of rubber compounds to improve ride, handling and stopping, the tires of today wear faster and are less-resistant to the ravages of sun, salts and urea.

The tires on my wife's 2012 Grand Cherokee lasted a bit over 24K miles before being deemed 'questionable" for high speed driving. (You can tell by wear, rounded edges, thin cracks in the sidewall and abrasion)

The tires on my 2011 Tundra lasted ~ 25K miles before the gravel/dirt roads and hauling/towing duties began to show serious wear&tear on tread and sidewalls.

Best after-market tires for me have been Michelin. They ride good, have lots of grip, and seem to last longer than any OEM tire I ever owned.

Worst tires ever for me have been Firestone. They truly suck and can even kill you if they come apart on you at speed while on the road deck. It's happened more than once to more than a few, resulting in massive recalls.


Let me guess. Your GC came with GoodYear and Tundra with Dunlop. Both cars are 4WD.


And yet, it's the Camry with an average transaction price that's lower than the top 8 selling midsize sedans - $1,700 less than the Optima.


Tony, you are right on both counts, but my Tundra is 2WD, long bed, DoubleCab.

Both vehicles came with 20" alloy wheels. Had to special order the Michelin tires through Discount Tire. Took a week but is worth it.

Ride is more supple. Steering more responsive and feedback less obtrusive with Michelins instead of OEMs.

On our Japan-built 2008 Highlander I put 18" Yokohamas because that's what it came with originally and we got good mileage out of them.

New Yokos, also made in Japan, seem to wear faster. Don't know why. I run them at 33psi all around. Ditto the GC.

On the Tundra, 32psi out front, 28 psi out back empty (loaded = 36psi).


Not surprised that stinkin' diesel is the most expensive sedan to own. All the bragging about great mileage doesn't change the economics of diesel ownership and the news is not good. Camry hybrid is twice the car of a VW TDI and costs half as much to drive in the city.

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