Though their popularity has waned as American buyers shift to crossover SUVs in ever-greater numbers, midsize cars still account for a significant portion of U.S. sales. The Toyota Camry is typically the best-selling car in America, and the Honda Accord and Subaru Outback aren’t too far behind. Because midsize cars have traditionally been so popular, most major mainstream manufacturers offer one. A couple even offer two.
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 is one wagon to be found, and there are five vehicles available with all-wheel drive.
Four-cylinder engines dominate the class; in recent years, turbocharged 4-cylinder engines have taken the place of 6-cylinder engines as the optional higher-horsepower powerplants of choice. The only midsize cars currently offering a V6 engine are the Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Camry. Fuel-saving hybrid powertrains aren’t particularly numerous either; there are just three models available as hybrids, and no plug-in hybrids are offered.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2022
The biggest news in the midsize car class for 2022 is how the category is continuing to shrink: The Honda Clarity and Mazda 6 are both discontinued, and 2022 is the final year in the U.S. market for the Volkswagen Passat. The Honda Clarity’s pure-electric version was dropped last year, and now the plug-in-hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell versions follow. The Clarity will continue to be available for lease through the 2022 calendar year. The current-gen Mazda 6 is dropped, but Mazda may return to the midsize-car market in the future with a new sedan based on its forthcoming rear-wheel-drive, inline 6-cylinder vehicle platform. To commemorate its swan-song year, the Volkswagen Passat gets a special Limited Edition model with 15-spoke wheels, unique exterior details, and leather upholstery.
The Subaru Outback gets a specially trimmed Wilderness model that adds off-road-focused enhancements such as a higher ride height, all-terrain tires, beefier matte-black body cladding, and a ladder-type roof rack.
The rest of the class sees modest updates. The Chevrolet Malibu loses its base L model, and an electronic parking brake is now standard across the line. After its debut last year, the Kia K5 adds an available 360-degree surround-view camera system. The Nissan Maxima’s top-line Platinum trim level now comes standard with heated rear seats.
Black-trim special-appearance versions abound. The sporty N Line version of the Hyundai Sonata now offers a Night Edition appearance package with blacked-out trim and unique wheels, badging, and rear spoiler. The Nissan Altima gets a Midnight Edition package for its SR trim level, and availability of the Toyota Camry’s Nightshade model is expanded to the Hybrid version.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
With its station-wagon body style and SUV design elements, the Subaru Outback is probably the most conceptually unique vehicle in the class. The Nissan Maxima aims for an upscale sports-sedan feel that makes it stand out as well. The Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry all offer hybrids. The Kia K5, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy sedan, Outback wagon, and Toyota Camry all offer all-wheel drive.