Best Car To Buy: The Family Sedan Nominees

December 3, 2012
The 2013 model year marks the redesign of several very important, top-selling sedan models in the U.S. market—including the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Nissan Altima.

All three of those models are on The Car Connection's 2013 Best Car To Buy short list, which means that they achieved an Overall Score of at least 8.0 in our full review process, which includes individual ratings for Styling, Performance, Comfort, Safety, and Features, all figured in.

Several luxury-brand sedans made the cut, too (with a price that starts under $50,000), but in this post we're focusing on the heart of the market and the mainstream brands. And within those constraints, the new 2013 Dodge Dart compact sedan also made the cut, as did the 2013 Toyota Avalon full-size sedan.

Some might say that crossover vehicles are the new family cars, and we're not going to argue with that. Yet the four-door sedan continues to rule in the U.S.; mid-size sedans alone still significantly outsell all sizes of crossovers combined—so few are forgetting about the Accord, Camry, and Altima. With their even better fuel economy ratings, there are plenty of good reasons to choose any of these models as your next vehicle.

Scroll through the following pages to see a summary of each of our 2013 Best Car To Buy Nominees in the sedan category, and stay tuned for the announcement of the winner on December 10.

2013 Dodge Dart

2013 Dodge Dart

Dodge Dart

Overall Rating: 8.2
Bottom Line:
Remember the Neon? The 2013 Dodge Dart brings some of the same passion back to Chrysler's compact-car lineup, with a 41-mpg version yet to come.

Chrysler has been largely sitting out the small-car game in recent years, but that's changed this year with the introduction of the 2013 Dodge Dart. The Dart manages to channel some of the testosterone-tinged design cues of the larger Dodge Charger while nodding to the former Neon. From what we've seen so far, the new Dart is sporty and distinctive inside and out, with a roomy, comfortable cabin, although gas mileage and overall refinement are only average for the class.

 

2013 Ford Fusion, New York City

2013 Ford Fusion, New York City

Ford Fusion

Overall Rating: 9.0
Bottom Line:
The 2013 Ford Fusion's more than a rock-star body: it handles better than any other family sedan we've driven, and doesn't cheat on interior room to deliver it.

When we first saw the 2013 Ford Fusion and its stunning new look, we were afraid it might be a fashion victim, sacrificing usable interior space for sexy sheetmetal. But its interior appointments aren't any worse than average; there are a suite of innovative technology options; and the strong, fuel-efficient EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engines don't come at a big premium—giving the Fusion a premium feel and a strong value for the money.

 

2013 Honda Accord EX-L

2013 Honda Accord EX-L

Honda Accord

Overall Rating: 8.6
Bottom Line:
The 2013 Honda Accord doesn't change radically, but it proves its mettle as one of the best, most sensible American sedans.

We can't say that the all-new 2013 Honda Accord has changed radically; it's just changed in a lot of ways that keep up with the mid-size competition and even outdo them in many practical respects. With a so-called “man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy, Honda mapped out the space needed for passenger space, then drew the exterior around that—yielding one of the best interiors in the business. Honda has also changed its attitude toward tech features and options, including Bluetooth and active noise cancellation on all models, while a great new LaneWatch Blind Spot Display is included on most of the lineup. Topping it off, Honda's new CVT is one of the best we've experienced, and they've managed to get 34 mpg on the highway from their V-6—four-cylinder numbers just last year.

 

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5SL

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5SL

Nissan Altima

Overall Rating: 8.2
Bottom Line:
Briskly updated in the right ways, the 2013 Nissan Altima sedan promises good looks and great gas mileage for those who don't mind a CVT.

The 2013 Nissan Altima is positioned right where it needs to be. Already one of the best-selling family sedans on the market, the 2013 version directly addresses some of the previous Altima's shortcomings, like the budget feel of its interior and its safety standing, With better fuel economy, more backseat space, and updated infotainment, too, this is a family sedan with a lot of appeal throughout.

 

2013 Toyota Avalon

2013 Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon

Overall Rating: 8.4
Bottom Line:
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is more responsive and sophisticated than ever before, without giving up any comfort; and in the new Avalon Hybrid, 40 mpg has never been so serene.

Oh how a model can change in a year; just look at the 2013 Toyota Avalon for evidence of that. While the previous Toyota's Avalon has languished as a wallowing, geriatric cruiser, this one feels like a sophisticated luxury car, with a firm but comfortable ride, a stylish interior, and a futuristic-looking dash that includes capacitive controls (ones that work well). Factor in a huge backseat and a new 40-mpg (Combined) Hybrid model that doesn't cost much more, and there's a lot to like about this big sedan.

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