By David Thomas on May 21, 2014
The midsize sedan remains one of the most popular types of cars on sale today. In the next year, redesigned versions of the Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry will hit dealerships, illustrating just how competitive the segment is.
That's also why we're picking it as the first group we'll discuss in terms of real-world affordability. We took the field and compared what each car would cost when equipped with several popular features and five years of fuel expenses.
Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan
Our list of equipment was the nearly the same as last year's, but we discovered three features continue to drive costs and force buyers higher up the trim-level ladders and options lists: an automatic transmission, a power driver's seat and a backup camera.
We also included five years of gas costs at the current price and driving ratio provided by the EPA.
The results were illuminating.
Nissan moved up from No. 2 last year to the top spot, but the new No. 2, the Hyundai Sonata, moved all the way up from No. 11.
Gas prices (up 7 cents a gallon versus 2013) didn't alter the rankings significantly and once again, this year the hybrid version of the Ford Fusion ranked as more affordable than its non-hybrid counterpart.
Here are other findings from our latest analysis:
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David