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 significant portion of U.S. sales. The Toyota Camry is typically the best-selling car in America, and the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima aren’t too far behind.
Because midsize cars have traditionally been so popular, virtually every major mainstream manufacturer offers one. Some even offer two. In all, the class contains 13 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 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 6-cylinder engine are the Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Camry. Fuel-saving hybrid powertrains are a bit more numerous; there are six models available as hybrids.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2020
The midsize-car class sees three redesigned models for 2020: the Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Outback, and Subaru Legacy. The new Sonata gets dramatic new styling, a choice of 2.5-liter or turbo 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engines, and a Digital Key feature that allows locking and unlocking via an Android smartphone app. The Legacy and Outback are based on the same architecture and share engine choices; the Legacy is a traditional four-door sedan and the Outback is an SUV-flavored station wagon with a raised ride height and rugged-looking
body cladding. Both offer the choice of 2.5-liter or turbo 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines, and are available with new safety and convenience features such as an 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen, reverse automatic braking, and a driver-attention monitor.
The Volkswagen Passat gets a thorough refresh that includes all-new body styling and a redesigned interior. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry’s updates are detailed in their respective Best Buy reports. The Chevrolet Malibu loses its hybrid model. The Ford Fusion loses its performance-oriented, turbo-V6-powered Sport model. Ford had initially planned to stop building the Fusion in the 2020 calendar year, but now plans to continue production at least into the 2021 calendar year.
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 Clarity is an eco-focused vehicle that comes only in plug-in-hybrid, pure-electric, or hydrogen-fuel-cell forms. The Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Toyota Camry all offer hybrids. The Ford Fusion and Kia Optima offer plugin hybrids, and a plug-in-hybrid might be added to the redesigned Hyundai Sonata lineup in the future (the previous-generation Sonata offered one). The Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, and Subaru Legacy sedan and Outback wagon all offer all-wheel drive, and the Toyota Camry gets available AWD as a mid-2020 addition.