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Best and Worst Midsize Cars

2008 Honda Accord

2008 Honda Accord

Good ol' four-door sedans are still the top-selling cars in the country, and the U.S. News analysis shows some popular models are also among the reviewers' favorites. In the U.S. News rankings of 25 affordable midsize cars, there are some clear winners and losers.  Honda put the four- and two-door versions of the Accord at the top of the list, while Chevrolet, Subaru and Toyota shared a three-way tie for third place.

Top 5 Midsize Cars

#1 Honda Accord Sedan

The Accord's 2008 redesign made the car bigger and more powerful than ever before.  Test drivers praise the strong available V6 engine, spacious cabin and the Honda's reputation for quality, but complain that the trunk's small and the rear seat doesn't fold down to accommodate longer items.

#2 Honda Accord Coupe

If the four-door is good, the two-door variant can't be far behind, right?  So it makes sense that a compilation of reviews would place the Accord Coupe nearly alongside the more practical but perhaps less stylish sedan. Reviewers like the coupe's style and found the cabin unexpectedly roomy for a sporty car, but some say the instrument panel is too busy.

#3 Chevrolet Malibu (tie)

2008 Chevy Malibu

2008 Chevy Malibu

Rookie of the Year and a solid contender for overall MVP is the all-new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu -- which is priced significantly lower than comparable models from the other top finishers.  The car snagged the North American Car of the Year award and won praise for its comfortable ride, predictable handling, comfortable front seats and sleek styling.  It loses points for a less-comfortable back seat and an inefficient four-speed transmission, which will be replaced this summer.

#3 Subaru Legacy (tie)

Drivers love the security of Subaru's full-time all-wheel-drive system (in a mostly front-wheel-drive class) and the expensive appearance of the Legacy's interior materials.  An optional  turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of a typical six-cylinder yields better performance but worse gas mileage for the Subaru.  The bland sedan won't win any beauty contests either.

#3 Toyota Camry Hybrid (tie)

Here's a surprise: the best-selling Toyota Camry finished outside the top five in the analysis of all reviews, though the fuel-efficient hybrid-electric version snagged a share of the three-way tie for third place.  The hybrid Camry's combination of capacity and frugality impresses reviewers, as does its upscale and roomy interior. 

Bottom 5 Midsize Cars

New cars are generally so good that some of the cars at the bottom of this list still have some things going for them. They just don't deliver a complete package like the class leaders -- which is why these cars end up in more rental lots than driveways.

#21 Chrysler Sebring

Underpowered engines, terrible interior materials and a lack of basic features like four-wheel disc brakes lead most reviewers to dismiss the 2008 Chrysler Sebring to the rental fleets.  Still, the maligned sedan has comfortable seating and some innovative (but optional) interior features, including the MyGIG infotainment system and cup holders that can heat or cool drinks. 

#22 Buick LaCrosse

Nothing really stands out about the 2008 Buick LaCrosse, but in a competitive class, that condemns it to the bottom five. Though reviewers like its easy-to-read gauges and calm ride, most those same features make the LaCrosse too boring for anyone out of the blue hair age bracket.

#23 Pontiac G6

With Pontiac's plastic-clad trailer park special days happily behind, the 2008 PontiacG6 earns good marks for its clean, slippery design.  But the quality of the interior materials leaves plenty to be desired, and all but the top engines are underpowered.  The flood of late-model used G6s sold by rental fleets means the car has abysmal resale value.

#24 Pontiac Grand Prix
2008 Dodge Avenger

2008 Dodge Avenger

Pontiac hasn't completely escaped its recent past, which is why the Grand Prix draws criticism for mullet-friendly styling.  To its credit, the Grand Prix has legible instruments and a powerful engine.  Wide door and trunk openings are great, but space inside is cramped.  The only real surprise here is that the Grand Prix handles poorly.

#25 Dodge Avenger

Reviewers rip the 2009 Dodge Avenger for its atrocious interior materials, unrefined base engine, stingy trunk space and reliability concerns.  At least Dodge has the consideration to not charge too much for the Avenger.

 

The Top 5: Vital Statistics

CarBase MSRPCity MPG
Hwy MPG ProsCons 
Honda Accord Sedan$20,3602231Roomy, smooth engine, good overall value
Mixed reviews of new Accord sedan's design
Honda Accord Coupe
$21,860
2231Hotter design than the Accord sedanTypical coupe drawbacks -- rear seating, cargo
Chevy Malibu
$19,3452230Roomy, comfortable and award-winning Less powerful and precise as some competitors
Subaru Legacy
$20,4952027Standard AWD, award-winner for safety
Price can climb significantly at higher level trims
Toyota Camry Hybrid
$25,2003334Spacious, smooth and  of course -- fuel efficient
Smaller trunk space to accomodate battery pack

 

The Bottom 5: Vital Statistics

CarBase MSRPCity MPG
Hwy MPG ProsCons 
Chrysler Sebring
$18,6902130Spacious, value pricedBase model is truly bare bones -- lacks competitive engine and some typical safety features
Buick LaCrosse
$23,725
1728 Quiet, easy ride
Less than inspired design
Pontiac G6
$18,2252230Roomy and well designed interior
Underpowered except for more expensive V6 models
Pontiac Grand Prix
$22,2101828
Plenty of power and cargo room
Cramped rear seat, fairly unrefined ride
Dodge Avenger
$18,3452130Sporty looking and a low base price Cheap interior materials and an underwhelming engine

 

Check the complete Affordable Midsize Car rankings at rankingsandreviews.com.