The sedan market in the U.S. has taken a beating lately, thanks in large part to the hot crossover market. But just because there’s a trend, doesn’t mean you should be following it. Below we examine the reasons for why the sedan is still relevant, and provide examples of the ones you should take another look at.
Yes, the CR-V is a bigger seller, but take another look at the Accord. The 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder makes 192 horsepower, while the larger 2.0-liter four makes a V6-like 252 horsepower. This is a big comfy cruiser that can get up to 30 MPG city and 38 highway, huge numbers for a non-hybrid this size. Surprisingly, the crisp steering and flat handling mean it’s rather fun to drive for a big sedan, and it’s an attractive car inside and out. The trunk is large at 16.7 cu/ft, and front-wheel drive means good driving characteristics in most weather. The newest version won pretty much every award, including North American Car of the Year, KBB’s Best Buy Award, MotorWeek‘s Best Family Sedan, Automobile‘s 2018 All Star award, and made Car & Driver‘s 10 Best List an incredible 32 times. That’s not even close to all of them, as the awards the Accord has won could fill this page. Buying an Accord shows you are smart with your money and make solid decisions.
The Camry is the single best-selling car in the U.S. for its combination of reliability, value, and thrifty gas mileage. The most current generation Camry Hybrid adds to the mix with an excellent interior, improved driving dynamics, and Prius levels of gas mileage. It looks great and offers more comfort, space, performance, and unexpected refinement. Take a seat in the quilted leather in XLE trim and you might think you’re in an entry level luxury sedan surrounded by tasteful satin metal trim and soft surfaces. Camry is loaded with tech too, featuring the latest in active safety features covered under the standard package of Toyota Safety Sense. Gas mileage is impressive, up to 51 MPG city and 53 highway from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder working alongside an electric motor for a combined 208 horsepower. No gas or hybrid crossover made can approach those numbers. This is the future of sedans, available right now.
For three decades, every other manufacturer and car review magazine benchmarks the 3 Series as the standard by which all competitors are judged. Since autonomous cars are still years away, every single act of driving matters. The steering feel, braking response, high speed handling, acceleration, interior luxury, and overall feel of the car matters, and BMW nails every single aspect with the 3 Series. It can be whatever you need, from efficient commuter (320i), performance sports car (M3), or capable all-weather cruiser (335i XDRIVE). The BMW X3 crossover is also stylish and seats five, but it weighs approximately 4,100 lbs. Compare that to the 3 Series’ much lighter weight of 3,500 lbs, a difference you can feel. The 3 Series sedan is still BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine.
Formerly known for safe and practical vehicles, Volvo has now added beautiful exteriors and class-leading interiors to their traits. While Volvo’s SUVs like the XC90 have been earning every conceivable award, their sedans and wagons are worth a look too. Volvo makes arguably the best seats of any manufacturer, paired with a modern and classy interior design. Based on the S60 chassis, the V60 shares the same safety and thoughtful ergonomics, a favorite being B-pillar A/C vents for rear seat passengers, instead of awkwardly placed in the center console. There’s a generous 28 cu/ft of cargo space behind the rear seats, or 43.8 if you put the seats down. Who needs a crossover? Efficiency is there too, with up to 25 MPG city and 36 highway from a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making 240 horsepower. And since it’s a Volvo, it’s big on safety, with the highest “Good” rating from the IIHS and five stars from the NHTSA. If you have kids, or drive for Uber, Volvo has your next ride.
Subaru excels in two areas: safety and bad weather capability. If those matter to you, look to the Legacy. Engine options are a 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder making 175 horses, but the performer is the 3.6-liter flat six-cylinder with 256 horsepower. Don’t worry about the “flat” configuration versus your usual V6 cylinder arrangement. That just makes changing your oil a super easy job on a Subaru engine. Legacy can hit up to 25 MPG city and 34 highway, with 15 cu/ft in the trunk and 2,700 lbs. of towing. It’s a comfortable ride, but get the Sport trim for a cool cosmetic edge inside and out. On the tech side, there’s standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with an excellent responsive touch-screen system. Standard all-wheel-drive means any trim level you find has the capability to plow through whatever Mother Nature throws at it, including icy or muddy roads. Subaru builds class leaders in safety and the Legacy is no different, scoring five stars from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ Award from IIHS.