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 (32)

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 (1)

$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 (8)

2015 Volkswagen Passat Photo Gallery

2015 Volkswagen Passat

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat finished third in our $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge. "The oldest design in this group is still a leader in space and handling," said one of our judges. Check out our Passat photo gallery below.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

By Matt Schmitz | November 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta, Passat

2015VolkswagenJettaRecall

Vehicles Affected: Nearly 400 model-year 2015 Volkswagen Jetta and Passat sedans manufactured between Sept. 23 and Oct. 9 and equipped with manual front seatback recliners

The Problem: The seatback recliner retaining bracket may not engage correctly, resulting in unexpected movement of the seatback; this could distract the driver, increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Volkswagen began notifying owners in October, and dealers will inspect the assembly of the seatback recliner retaining bracket, correcting it as necessary for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call VW at 800-893-5298 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | November 14, 2014 | Comments (1)

$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 Volkswagen Passat: Car Seat Check

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When it comes to Car Seat Checks, some cars are memorable because of how easy it is to install child-safety seats in them. The Volkswagen Passat is one of those cars. With its roomy backseat and easy-to-access lower Latch anchors, this midsize sedan made quick work of the car-seat installation process.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

More Car Seat Checks

By Jennifer Newman | November 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

2014Mazda6

Every year hundreds of new-car models are introduced and enter the research process for millions of car shoppers. The dizzying number of choices sometimes shrouds from the masses what are good cars.

More Top 10s

Here are 10 cars that Cars.com's editors agree are overlooked due to no fault of each vehicle's own substantial merits.

 

1. 2015 Mazda6

The Mazda6 is one of the rare family sedans that is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient; it's rated as high as 28/40/32 mpg city/highway/combined with an automatic transmission and the optional GT Technology Package, which includes regenerative braking and active grille shutters. But even the base automatic gets 38 on the highway. Good cabin quality, intuitive controls, comfortable seating and a striking design also fall into the Mazda's favor.

By David Thomas | July 23, 2014 | Comments (10)

2015 Volkswagen Passat: What's Changed

2015VWPassat1.8

Most significant changes: More power, better fuel economy for TDI models

Price change: TBD

On sale: TBD

Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? 2014 gas, but 2015 diesel

Volkswagen's midsize family sedan receives only a few minor trim and package changes for 2015, with the most notable to the base model S and Wolfsburg Edition trims. An optional Technology Package is available for the two trims and includes a backup camera and a touch-screen stereo system with eight speakers (instead of the current six). Satellite radio also is part of the Technology Package on the S trim; it's already standard on the Wolfsburg.

Related: What Is the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan for 2014?

All TDI diesel models get a new 2.0-liter engine that comes with a 10-horsepower bump to 150 hp as well as increased fuel economy. The Passat TDI now gets an EPA-estimated 44 mpg highway for the manual transmission and 42 mpg highway for the automatic.

By Aaron Bragman | July 22, 2014 | Comments (41)

Recall Alert: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Passat

2014VolkswagenPassat1.8T

Vehicles Affected: About 26,452 model-year 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible and Passat cars equipped with a 1.8-liter turbo engine and torque converter automatic transmission.

The Problem: The O-ring seals between the oil cooler and transmission may leak fluid, which could contact a hot surface and result in a fire. The automaker said it is not aware of any fires, injuries or accidents attributed to this issue.

The Fix: Volkswagen began notifying owners earlier this month, and dealers will replace the O-ring in the transmission oil cooler for free. On April 9, the automaker issued a mandatory stop-sale order on all of the affected models manufactured between Feb. 1, 2014, and now.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Volkswagen at 800-822-8987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov for more info.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | April 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

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