By Cars.com EditorsDecember 27, 2012
About the video
Cars.com compares six midsize sedans under $26,000 to see which is best for today's family. We were joined by MotorWeek and USAToday, using input from a real family.
<v Presenter>Cars.com Auto Review. Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder, an Executive Editor with cars.com. We're here outside Washington DC with USA today in motor week for a shootout test of midsize family sedans.
Our six models each price no higher than $26,000 include, the Toyota Camry, the Ford Fusion, the Hyundai Sonata, the Honda Accord, the Kia Optima and the Nissan Altima. Let's take a look at the top three. In third place is the 2013 Kia Optima. All of our judges complimented the Optima styling, a classy rich design in a segment often perceived as bland. The impression of quality continues on the inside where the Optima was the only car to provide leather upholstery within our tests price cap and at the lowest as equipped price of the six contenders. Judges also commented on the fit and finish and the simplicity of the various controls. The praise was a little more subdued after some driving time however because several judges found the driver's seat uncomfortable and lacking in basic adjustments like bottom cushion tilt. Numb steering field was another common complaint but overall, the car earned good marks for drivability, notably it's eager and well-behaved powertrain. Our guest family named the Optima as its favorite and we were pleased to see the vehicle we named cars.com best of 2011 holding up so well, two model years along. As it turns out, you can't go too far wrong with any of our top three contenders because their scores were closer than an any cars.com shoot out to date. With 678.5 points less than a whole point ahead of the Optima was the second place 2013 Ford Fusion. If our judges respected the Optima's styling, they practically lusted after the Fusion's new design which would pass at a glance for an Aston Martin. Once that speed, the Fusions dynamics were clearly the best practically unflappable and high speed cornering lane change maneuvers and overall road holding. The Fusion earn points from some judges for its cavernous trunk and the exceptionally large opening once the rear seats are folded. And the parents among us appreciated the Mykey system that can send a text message to tattle on a teen driver who exceeds preset speed or geographic limits established by the guardian. Several judges objected to visibility that's compromised by thick windshield pillars that extend forward into the driver's line of sight. Though, the front seats are quite comfortable, some judges weren't impressed by their shiny upholstery and a couple of people noted that the interior design gives the Fusion a tighter feeling cabin even though it's technically roomy overall. Overwhelming controls also were called out by our guests family and more than one cars.com editor. Overall, not a bad finish for the newly redesigned Fusion. The previous generation of which took last place behind seven other contestants in our 2010 midsize sedan shootout. But in first place with a slim yet more decisive point margin of 8.6 is the 2013 Honda Accord sedan. Though it styling is simple, it has a more upscale look than the previous generation which the 2013 replaces. The interior might have inspired some yawning but we applauded it's good visibility and one of only two backup cameras in the test, the substantially larger one. We dinged the accord for having a one-piece full down backseat when all five other cars had the more versatile 60-40 split. The Accord earned more stripes when we drove it. Though it's a bit noisy, it feels surprisingly athletic and light on its feet, closer to the fusion than the others dynamically but with quick, better weighted steering. What truly impressed was the acceleration, made only more impressive by the fact that the Accords powertrain is a continuously variable automatic transmission coupled with a four cylinder. This pairing is typically a recipe for unresponsiveness droning noises and general driver dissatisfaction. The upshot, high CVT mileage without the familiar trade-offs, very nicely done. Though many Honda's have done well in cars.com shootout tests with a few first place finishes recently, the story was very different in our 2010 midsize sedan shootout where the previous generation accord came in fifth. The 2013 Accord's big finish shows what an automaker can accomplish with a full redesign when it devotes the necessary care and resources. In the end, it's the buyer who wins. For all the rankings, scores and more details come to cars.com. <v Presenter>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog kickingtires.net.