Midsize sedans are the automotive equivalent of the refrigerator: They are appliances, and you need yours to work well, and work reliably. If you want one in avocado green, you can get that, but being successful at its mission is the top priority. This is the best-selling car segment in the U.S., and the competitors are better than ever. Our judges, and our family, valued features and drivability over flash and sizzle.
We arrived at this group of midsize sedans by taking the top three cars from our 2014 Midsize Sedan Challenge; we then added models with significant redesigns or refreshes along with the segment sales leader. To be included, cars had to have automatic transmissions, get an EPA-estimated rating of 28 mpg combined and cost $28,000 or less.
2016 Hyundai Sonata (our 2014 champion)
2016 Subaru Legacy (2014 runner-up)
2016 Volkswagen Passat (2014 third-place finisher)
2016 Chevrolet Malibu (redesigned)
2016 Honda Accord (refreshed)
2016 Kia Optima (redesigned)
2016 Mazda6 (refreshed)
2016 Nissan Altima (refreshed)
2016 Toyota Camry (segment sales leader)
We put those cars through a week’s worth of testing:
- We drove them on a 220-mile real-world mileage course in and around Atlanta.
- We had our judges drive them back-to-back-to-back on the same pavement to evaluate ride, handling, comfort, acceleration and more.
- We brought in an in-market couple to test the cars for ride, handling, acceleration and more.
From all of the points we awarded in those tests, we found our winner. Our judges were:
- Aaron Bragman, Cars.com Detroit bureau chief
- Jennifer Geiger, Cars.com assistant managing editor, news
- Fred Meier, Cars.com Washington, D.C., bureau chief
- Brian Robinson, PBS’ “MotorWeek” producer
- Katie and Ryan Small, our in-market shoppers. Katie is an opera singer, and Ryan is an auditor. They live near Atlanta, and both drive Honda Pilots, one a 2003 and one a 2006, so they’re looking to update their fleet and find a car that gets better mileage.
The scoring broke down this way:
- 72 percent from the judges’ scoring
- 18 percent from our shoppers
- 10 percent from the mileage drive