In recent years, Americans have turned their interest to and opened their pocketbook for SUVs, crossovers and full-size pick-up trucks. This has led to a steady erosion of sales of the traditional family-size four-door passenger car in recent years. The irony is that the major automakers have continued to invest and improve the traditional sedan to the point that today’s four-door is one of the most reliable, advanced and safe vehicles on the road. If you are looking to make the most of your transportation dollars when considering a new vehicle, may I suggest my top choices:
- Chevrolet Malibu sedan – Available in four trim levels (L, LS, LT, and Premier), this mid-size four-door has always been a solid performer. Responsive and planted at speed with decent room for four adults (five in a pinch), the Malibu continues to be the recipient of Chevrolet development dollars – with a major redesign in 2013 and again in 2016. Power is generated by an all-new 1.5L four-cylinder turbo mated to a six-speed automatic. Upscale models offer a more powerful 2.0L four-cylinder turbo motor linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Smooth and impressively responsive, this combination delivers an equally impressive fuel economy numbers of 27 city/37 hwy. With ample cargo space of 15.8 cubic feet this American all-star has a base MSRP of $21,680. This is before any factory incentives or lease deals. Because this car is built in volume, good deals should abound.
- Ford Fusion sedan – Available in five trim levels (S, SE, Titanium, Sport and Platinum), this mid-size four-door is the volume leader of the Ford passenger car fleet. The Fusion has long been recipient of a variety of awards during its long product run. Revised for 2017, base power is generated by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic. The performance-oriented Sport model is equipped with a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 bolted to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. A balanced and refined performer at speed, the base engine delivers fuel economy numbers of 21 city/32 highway. For those who want or need more economy, Fusion is also available in two different hybrid variants. With a cargo capacity of 16.0 cubic feet, this popular Ford sedan has a base MSRP of $22,120. Again, volume means that the car is plentiful and dealers are motivated to make you a deal.
- Hyundai Sonata sedan – American made since 2006, the Sonata is stylish, comfortable and well equipped. Last updated in 2015, the Hyundai sedan is available in SE, Eco, Sport, Sport 2.0T, Limited and Limited 2.0T trim levels. Fluidic styling and a stellar reliability record is coupled with the sedan’s best-in-the-industry warranty to offer consumers a real choice when considering a new family size sedan. Base power for the Sonata is generated by a 2.4L four-cylinder engine and bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Eco model comes equipped with a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models receive a strong 2.0L four-cylinder turbo motor bolted to a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy numbers are 28 city/36 highway for the 1.6L turbo, 25 city/36 highway for the 2.4L engine and 23 city/32 highway for the upmarket 2.0L turbo. For those who desire higher fuel economy numbers, the Sonata Hybrid was introduced last year. Fuel economy numbers for the Sonata Hybrid are 39 city/45 highway. Cargo capacity is an impressive 16.3 cubic feet. The base MSRP for the Sonata is $21,950.
Dodge Dart/Chrysler 200 sedans – First full disclosure, FiatChrysler has announced that these two vehicles will end production – 2016 was the last year for the Dart and a short run 2017 model year is the last year for the 200. While these vehicles are just a bit smaller than the family size sedans listed above, the automaker’s quest to compete had made these some of the best small vehicles Chrysler has ever brought to market. However, given the white-hot move to SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks – better was not good enough. However, if you are a budget-conscious buyer, these solid sedans may be worth considering. The Dart starts with a base MSRP of $16,995 and that is before considering dealer discounts and big factory money that is currently available. The more sophisticated Chrysler 200 is the best rendition of that nameplate ever! But like the Dart, it is a bit smaller than the segment leaders and its best wasn’t good enough. Also like the Dart, the 200 has a base MSRP of $22,115 and also has dealer and factory discounts available.
EDITOR’S NOTE – images attached:
Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata