As we enter model year 2020, Torque News decided to look back at the reports owners of midsized sedans have generated and try to determine which is the safest bet in the midsized market, the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, or the Hyundai Sonata. We investigated these models by looking at two model years, 2014 and 2015. That gives us a glimpse of used cars that are roughly five years old. It also gives each manufacturer two shots at getting it right.
As for our sources, we relied on two. The first is CarComplaints.com. This is a public website you can access right now at zero cost. The data CarComplaints uses to generate its evaluations come from owners of the cars. The second source is the nonprofit advocacy publication Consumer Reports. Torque News has networked with the managers and content providers from both of these publications over the years and know them to be truthful, factual, and reliable sources of owner data. Do we always agree with their opinion editorials? Heck no. But they sure don’t lie about what owners report.
As any used car buyer knows, a summary like this one is no substitute for having a used car evaluated by your trusted mechanic, a very close look at the maintenance records, and all the research sources you can put to use on the individual vehicle you are considering purchasing. Let’s think of this summary as a guideline. Here are our results from worst to best.
2014, 2015 Nissan Altima – Beware
The Nissan Altima for model years 2014 and 2015 has serious and very abundant owner complaints about transmission problems. So many, that CarComplaints has tagged this model with the “Avoid Like The plague” and “Beware of the Clunker” stamps. Consumer Reports’ data seems to back up this rating. Both the 2014 and 2015 earn a 3/5 for overall quality at Consumer Reports.
2014, 2015 Hyundai Sonata Reliability– Choose Wisely
Look at the CarComplaints owner reports for the Hyundai Sonata and you will see a world of difference between the 2014 and the 2015. The 2015 Sonata has engine defect issues widely reported by owners. The 2014 is almost entirely trouble report free, but has had an engine defect class action settlement of its own. Consumer Reports data has the two years listed as a 4/5 for reliability in year 2015 and a 3/5 for year 2014. Neither is a glowing vote of confidence and neither earns the “green” arrow of reliability overall.
2015, 2015 Honda Accord – Choose Wisely
Interestingly, the 2014 Honda Accord earns the “Beware of the Clunker” stamp from CarComplaints owners. Electrical hobgoblins being the main concern. By contrast, the 2015 Accord earns the “Seal of Pretty Good.” A fair number of owners did report uncomfortable seats that year, so try them before you buy them. The folks at Consumer Reports report that both years of the Accord have a 4/5 reliability rating.
2014, 2015, Toyota Camry – Best of the Bunch
Let’s start with Consumer Reports this time. For both 2014 and 2015, the Camry earns a 5/5, the highest possible overall reliability rating. Sounds pretty solid. Over at CarComplaints, the Camry earns the “Seal of Awesome.” It is sure hard to top those two combined ratings. Based on our analysis of these four popular used midsized vehicles, the 2014 and 2015 Toyota Camry emerged as the hands-down winner in terms of being the overall safest bet.
If you would like to analyze another model sedan in this class, you can do so yourself at CarComplaints right now. However, Consumer Reports is going to want you to subscribe to see its data. To do so, start at the group's landing page.
In addition to covering green vehicle topics, John Goreham covers safety, technology, and new vehicle news at Torque News. You can follow John on Twitter at @johngoreham.