$27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge: What the Judges Said

FamilySubaru

To evaluate our midsize sedans, we put them through a battery of tests in and around Baltimore:

  • We took all 10 cars on a mileage drive of about 180 miles to judge real-world fuel economy.
  • The experts drove all 10 over the same course, back-to-back, to judge ride and handling, acceleration and braking.
  • Then we brought in a real-life family, Amit and Michelle Kapoor, both 34, and their two young children (above), to help us evaluate these cars. Amit works as a defense contractor, and his wife works for the federal government. They live in suburban Washington, D.C.

$27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge
Index | Results | Mileage Test

The Kapoors joined our judges:

  • Aaron Bragman, Cars.com Detroit bureau chief
  • Jennifer Newman, Cars.com assistant managing editor
  • Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor
  • Fred Meier, auto editor for USA Today
  • Brian Robinson, producer for PBS' "MotorWeek"

We set a maximum price of $27,000, including a destination charge, and each car had to get at least 28 mpg in combined EPA ratings. Ten cars fit that bill (in alphabetical order):

  • 2015 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 Limited (all-new)
  • 2015 Ford Fusion SE
  • 2015 Honda Accord EX
  • 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport (all-new)
  • 2015 Mazda6 iTouring
  • 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
  • 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium (all-new)
  • 2015 Toyota Camry SE (refreshed)
  • 2015 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SE

Here's how the scoring broke down: The experts' scores accounted for 75 percent of the total score; 15 percent came from the family's scores; and 10 percent was based on fuel economy.

Here is what the judges had to say about each car, in order of how the cars finished:

By Patrick Olsen | November 17, 2014 | Comments (16)

What's the Best Midsize Sedan for $27,000?

Sedangroupshot2

Midsize sedans remain the best-selling category of cars in the U.S. With this class remaining hot, the competitors have more to offer than ever before, with advances in technology, features and mileage making them more desirable and livable.

$27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Test

We focused this Challenge on midsize sedans that cost less than $27,000, including the destination charge, and achieve at least 28 mpg in EPA combined fuel-economy ratings.

We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for midsize sedans that came with the features we know are popular with families. After four days of testing outside Baltimore with experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life family, here's how the results broke down:

By Patrick Olsen | November 17, 2014 | Comments (36)

What Midsize Sedan Gets the Best Mileage?

Altima2

Part of the scoring in our big 10-car $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge comes from observed mileage over a drive route that consisted of close to 180 miles of both city and highway driving in and around Baltimore. The winner, the Nissan Altima, reported 32.4 mpg.

$27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge
Index | ResultsWhat the Judges Said

We made no effort to mirror the EPA test cycle, but more highway driving should benefit all the cars, and it didn't do so, at least not equally. One sedan hit its EPA-estimated combined mpg figure exactly, two fell short and seven exceeded their ratings.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | November 17, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Hyundai Sonata Photo Gallery

2015 Hyundai Sonata

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata finished first in our $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge. "Rather than fixate on the redesigned 2015's looks, inside and outside, shoppers should explore a car that does many things well, has loads of space, more refinement than most of the sedans in the test and still offers plenty of value," said one of our judges. Check out our Sonata photo gallery below.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

By David Thomas | November 16, 2014 | Comments (2)

$27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge: Features Video

"When you spend $35,000 or more on a midsize family sedan, you expect it's going to come packed with all kinds of technology and safety goodies, but when you're a little bit more budget-friendly, around $27,000 … can you get anything good at that price?" Cars.com Aaron D. Bragman wonders aloud in the video above. The answer is yes. Watch the video for five examples — and check back Monday for our full coverage of the $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge.

Watch on YouTube

By Matt Schmitz | November 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Hyundai Sonata: Car Seat Check

15Sonata_main

The Hyundai Sonata has a new look — both inside and out — for 2015. This midsize family sedan leaves its curves behind in favor of sharper angles. For families with young kids, this redesigned Sonata made easy work of car-seat installation thanks to its exposed Latch anchors, and it managed to improve on its previous generation's scores. The 2015 Sonata nearly fit our three child-safety seats across its backseat. Narrow car seats might allow parents to fit three across.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Newman | September 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

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By Matt Schmitz | August 31, 2014 | Comments (1)

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By Matt Schmitz | August 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

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By Matt Schmitz | August 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

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