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

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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 (37)

What Midsize Sedan Gets the Best Mileage?

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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)

$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)

2015 Hyundai Accent: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: Bluetooth available at lower cost

Price change: $100 increase on all models

On sale: Early- to mid-November

Which should you buy, 2014 or 2015? 2014

For 2015, the subcompact Hyundai Accent gets a midlife exterior freshening and new option packages for GLS sedans with the optional automatic transmission that make Bluetooth hands-free capability available at lower cost.

Bluetooth is included in the new $600 Popular Equipment Package with cruise control, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with built-in audio controls and a sliding armrest storage box. Previously, those features were lumped in the $1,400 Option Group 2 with 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, projector-style headlights, upgraded interior trim and other items. Those latter features are now available in the new $800 Style Package, and you have to buy the Popular Package to get them.

By Rick Popely | November 11, 2014 | Comments (3)

2014 Chevrolet Impala Ownership Costs: Third Quarter

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Regular maintenance costs remain zip, zilch, nada, zero for Cars.com's long-term 2014 Chevrolet Impala test car. We've gone through two rounds of oil changes and tire rotations after 13,808 miles — once at 6,000 miles and the other at 12,000 miles — and Chevrolet's two years/24,000 miles of complimentary maintenance have kept those services freebies so far. That leaves two remaining services before we reach our maximum service frequency (four) of the service plan.

Related: More on Our Long-Term Fleet

The Impala spent unscheduled time at the dealership after we noticed a dull vibration pulsing through the floorboards and seats above 60 mph. The pulsing was worrisome enough to warrant one editor pulling into a service center during a road trip to have the car inspected.

By Joe Bruzek | October 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Chevrolet Impala: Road Trip Report

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Long-haul road trips have helped Cars.com's long-term 2014 Chevrolet Impala register nearly 14,000 miles in just nine months of ownership. The Impala is a staff favorite when it's time to hit the road and log miles because its seriously comfortable ride and cavernous interior are perfect for the needs of a traveling small family, carload of adults or a nice solo trip across the state.

Related: More on Cars.com's Long-Term Fleet

Comfort and cargo room aren't all the factors that make a good road-trip ride. Fuel economy and keeping passengers occupied contribute to an enjoyable road trip; for some, a bangin' stereo also should be added to the list. The Impala is no doubt a comfy car, but does it have everything it needs to be a successful road-tripper?

By Joe Bruzek | September 24, 2014 | Comments (6)

2015 Honda Civic: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: New SE trim level

Price change: $100 increase for LX, EX, EX-L and HF

On sale: Sept. 17 for LX, EX, EX-L and HF; later in the fall for Si, Hybrid, Natural Gas and new SE

Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? The 2015 SE is a compelling value choice

With the exception of a new Special Edition trim level, most of the 2015 Honda Civic coupe and sedan lineup remains unchanged for 2015 except for a $100 price increase across the board for the LX, EX, EX-L and HF trim levels, which go on sale today.

Related: 2014 Honda Civic Expert Review

The all-new SE trim level joins the lineup slotted between the base LX and higher-content EX. It's a Special Edition without pinstripes or gimmicky stickers. It takes a bunch of content previously only available on the more expensive EX and offers it with LX-like pricing. Honda says the new SE includes $1,100 worth of optional equipment for only $700 more than the Civic LX sedan.

By Joe Bruzek | September 17, 2014 | Comments (7)

How Much Can You Stow in the 2014 Chevy Impala's Cubbies?

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The 2014 Chevrolet Impala's 18.8 cubic feet of trunk space is downright massive for a sedan, but it's not the only impressive storage feat inside our long-term test car. The front seats are a compulsive organizer's dream with treasure trove of big and little storage spaces within easy reach. There's a hidden storage compartment behind the retractable touch-screen, dual umbrella holders and numerous other ways to store cellphones, wallets, music players and more.

Related: More Long-Term Test Car Coverage

There are so many cubbies that we wanted to see just how much stuff can seamlessly fit in the Impala's large collection of storage areas.

By Joe Bruzek | September 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Honda Fit: Real-World Cargo Space

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The subcompact Honda Fit is a marvel of space efficiency considering its small exterior dimensions hide an interior that rivals the cargo capacity of larger SUVs. All 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the backseat folded and 16.6 cubic feet with the backseat upright are easy to use with a low cargo load floor and the large dimensions of the cargo opening.

Related: 2015 Honda Fit Expert Review

Redesigned for 2015, the Fit's cargo area is 3.1 inches longer than before, though maximum space is down slightly compared to the previous Fit. A trick up the Fit's sleeve is the front seat's ability to recline all the way and fit cargo up to 7 feet 9 inches long. See how well the 2015 Fit handles common cargo below.

By Joe Bruzek | September 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Honda Fit Handles Wedding Shower Haul With Aplomb

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My fiance and I have one car between the both of us; really, zero, because mine is more of a toy for the drag strip than anything practical, so we looked to the Cars.com test fleet for a cargo-friendly ride for our wedding shower. Despite having an extended-wheelbase Land Rover Range Rover in Cars.com's test fleet at the right time, I wasn't too worried — or bitter — about having to haul a full load of wedding gifts away from our prenuptial party in the hugely versatile, yet still quite small, 2015 Honda Fit.

Related: 2015 Honda Fit Expert Review

The family, however, was skeptical and still pulled two SUVs behind the subcompact Fit just in case we couldn't secure every last oven mitt and spatula in the 52.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.

It was a delicate game of Tetris with roasters and toasters, but the Fit handled the task like a champ. The low cargo floor, tall cargo height and wide opening were keys to our successful loading. I didn't even have to adjust the front passenger seat to create a few last ounces of space. I don't think Cars.com's long-term Cherokee would have handled the task any better either. It has just 2.2 more cubic feet of cargo space.

Cars.com photo by Joe Bruzek

By Joe Bruzek | August 26, 2014 | Comments (1)

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