Though their popularity has waned a bit over the last few years as American buyers shift to crossover SUVs in ever-greater numbers, midsize cars still account for a tremendous portion of U.S. sales. The Toyota Camry is typically the best-selling car in America, and the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford Fusion are always in the top ten.
Because midsize cars have traditionally been so popular, virtually every major mainstream manufacturer offers one. Some even offer two. In all, the class contains 14 contenders.
Considering those numbers, there really aren’t many variations available in the class. The majority of the cars are only offered as 4-door, front-wheel-drive sedans. However, there are two wagons to be found, and there are three vehicles available with all-wheel drive.
Powertrains are slightly more diverse. Four-cylinder engines dominate, but V6s aren’t far behind. There are also eight models that offer a hybrid.
The two sales leaders of the midsize-car class—the Honda Accord
and Toyota Camry—are both redesigned for 2018. The Accord loses its available V6 engine and its two-door-coupe body style, but gains sleeker styling, a host of new technology features, and two new 4-cylinder powertrains in addition to its carryover 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain. The Camry also gets dynamic new styling, along with plenty of new features and three freshened powertrains—including a 301-hp V6.
After the eco-focused Honda Clarity sedan’s debut for 2017 as a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and a pure-electric vehicle (both of which are limited-run versions available in California and, for the pure-electric model, Oregon), the Clarity line expands for 2018 with the addition of a plug-in-hybrid version that is offered nationwide. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid has an all-electric range of 42 miles and achieves an EPA rating of 110 MPGe.
The Hyundai Sonata gets a refresh that includes an exterior facelift highlighted by a bolder “cascading” grille, retuned steering and rear suspension for a sportier feel, and an 8-speed transmission instead of a 6-speed for its available turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Newly available features include lane-keep assist with driver attention alert, wireless cell-phone charging, adaptive LED headlamps, and a standard blind-spot monitor. The Subaru Legacy and Outback get mildly refreshed exterior styling, redesigned climate controls and other updated interior elements, retuned steering and suspension, and addition noise-reduction measures. The Volkswagen Passat gets a new base engine—a 174-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder—and adds a sporty GT model powered by the 280-hp 3.6-liter V6. The Mazda 6 is refreshed with a redesigned interior and a revised grille. A 227-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is newly available, in addition to the existing 184-hp naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder.
The rest of the premium midsize-car class is either unchanged or sees minor revisions such as updated infotainment systems and/or changes in standard equipment and option packages. The Chrysler 200 and Toyota Prius v are discontinued.
With several of the cars available in hybrid form, it’s hard to call any of them “out of the ordinary.” But the Ford C-MAX is the only wagon in the hybrid group, so maybe it qualifies. The Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy sedan and Outback wagon all offer all-wheel drive. The Volkswagen Passat formerly claimed the only diesel-engine offering in the class—though due to VW’s diesel-emissions-rigging scandal of 2015, the engine was pulled from the market; it’s unlikely to be offered again anytime soon, if ever.