Midsized sedans offer buyers one of the most amazing values in all of the automotive kingdom. No segment except perhaps pickups has been more competitive and more refined by makers over the past half-century. Every time we test a new midsized sedan, by any automaker, we come away thinking the same thing. "How can this amazing vehicle cost so little?"
The Camry and Accord trade places for the top-selling model in this segment. The Camry often tops the Accord, but as Honda always likes to point out, Honda does not court the fleets the way that Toyota does, and thus, more of its sales are to families and individual private buyers. The Altima is also no slouch and enjoys some pretty impressive sales months. We threw in the Legacy and the Mazda6 to give the lower-selling models a look, and because we think they both have a lot to offer buyers in this segment based on our own testing.
To determine which models owners love and which they don't, we looked only at a source that reports what owners say. Not the opinion of editors or testers. The only opinions here come from folks like you who buy these vehicles. We also are looking primarily at model years 2013-2018. That five-year span is the window that good data is available for these models and it also represents the used car market for these vehicles well. Current model year vehicles have not been in the hands of owners long enough to give them ample time to form and report an opinion.
We have leaned on the owner reported satisfaction from Consumer Reports, a subscription-only advocacy publication. We feel that the data for midsized sedans is particularly valid since this is not an enthusiast-focused publication, and midsized sedans are not enthusiast-focused vehicles (like a Corvette or Boxster is).
If you want insight on the current model year, we suggest reading reviews of an outlet like Torque News, BestRide, or iSeeCars that take the approach of testing a vehicle in the context of its mission. If you want to know why an affordable midsize sedan on our list is "not as good" as a BMW M3 costing twice as much, motorsports enthusiasts writing for publications like Car and Driver and Road and Track will provide you with a long list of opinions.
Midsized Sedan Ranking - Most Improved - Mazda6
The Mazda6 has low owner satisfaction scores in 2013 and 2014 of 2/5. However, that kicks up to a 3/5 for 2015-2017 and the highest score of 5/5 in 2018. If you are looking for a sedan that has been matured and refined in its latest generation, this is your pick. Be aware that the older years were not much loved by owners.
Midsized Sedan Ranking - Most Loved - Toyota Camry
The Camry was the only vehicle on our list that had only 4/5 ownership ratings. The 2015 Camry also has the highest percentage of owners who report that they would buy another, and based on the Camry's sales, that rings true. Owners also shower the Camry with praise regarding its driving pleasure. “Great touring car very comfortable,” wrote one owner. “Handles like a sports car. Holds the road. Nice ride and feel at the wheel. Not wonderful in snow,” wrote another. That snow comment is one of the reasons the Legacy is on our list.
One other thing we noticed in our research is that Toyota Camry scores a perfect 5/5 from 2008 all the way through 2017 for reliability and the 2018 earns a 4/5 reliability rating. Looking for a reliable car that owners say they love? The Camry is the answer in this segment.
Midsized Sean Ranking - Least Loved - Nissan Altima
On our list of midsized sedan, the Nissan Altima is clearly the least loved by owners based on Consumer Reports' owner data.
Nissan Altima has scores of 1/5 for years 2013 and 2014 and just 2/5 for 2016 and 2017. Its highest scores of 3/5 are for model year 2018. Yikes. Less than half of owners of model year 2014 Altimas say they would buy one again.
Midsized Sedan Ranking - Subaru Legacy & Honda Accord
The Subaru Legacy is loved by many owners. It scores a strong 4/5 in years 2016, 2017, and 2018. It has a 3/5 rating in the years preceding that run. That is roughly the same as the Accord's scoring. We would place both of these sedans mid-pack. They also have roughly the same reliability ratings.
The midsized sedan market is filled with amazing models that offer a value that is hard to beat in any other segment. If there is a model you would like to compare yourself, head on over to Consumer Reports if you are a member and check the rankings. If you are not a member, start at CR's landing page to find information on subscribing.
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John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. Presently at Torque News he has a focus on Toyota, Lexus, Ford Midsized Trucks, Tesla and Mazda. In the early 1990s he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. You can follow John on John Goreham Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.