Midsize Madness - Day One

Patrick M Hoey

Mainstream sedans--millions of them. Get out there on the road and you'll find them. Not too big and not too small, all built for the way we drive in this country--even if the carmakers labels seem to come from elsewhere. These are midsize cars built to suit American roads and American drivers, so we really should call them American sedans.

These are pretty much the best, most practical sedans in the world. You get plenty of passenger room and no end of features, plus you don't have to spend too much for the privilege of ownership. The cars almost never, ever break down, since every little component has been refined to the last degree during miles and miles of testing by dozens of engineers and miles and miles of just plain driving by millions of owners. Like a stone that you find in a river, all the rough edges have been worn off of these cars until only the truest, purest form remains.

We've gathered eight midsize American sedans that speak to the priorities we have at Automobile Magazine: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Passat. Some have style, some have speed, and some have reliability, yet all have a unique, definable character. By choosing one of them as the best, we hope to not only define the current state of the American midsize sedan but also define the character that those of us who read Automobile want in a practical, everyday kind of car.

We haven't included every car in this segment because, well, such a test would be a mess. We elected to compare front-wheel-drive family sedans powered by four-cylinder engines, and there are a lot of them. Not every car had the right kind of game to make the tournament, among them the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, and Chevrolet Malibu. The Subaru Legacy is available only with all-wheel drive, so we set up a match with an all-wheel-drive Ford Fusion to get a different perspective.

We'll admit that our standards are perhaps impractically high. We can't pretend to be the average buyer, because, well, that would be impossible. Just like you, we are who we are. If you want complete objectivity unconfused by education, experience, enthusiasm, and just plain good taste, well, good luck.

The choices we'll make will be just as difficult yet just as final as the ones consumers make. We're going to match the cars head-to-head, weigh the assets and liabilities, and then choose. We're not going to dumb down the process into some kind of SAT test, where like eraser-head geeks we carefully add up the points scored in a thousand little categories of performance. When you do that, you reward broad-based mediocrity, not excellence. And at Automobile Magazine, we're all about excellence.

We think the question of choice is personal and powerful, and a one-to-one confrontation reveals character in a way that giant test groups do not. The things we care about in every match-up might change as we wrestle with the differences between cars, but we're sure that this overall strategy will enable a real winner to emerge. After all, we're looking for a great car, not great statistics.

To give a little real-world perspective to the whole process ("real world" being a largely foreign concept to those of us at Automobile), we've arranged the participants in brackets just as you would in an athletic tournament. The losers will be knocked out one by one until the winner presents itself.

It's a different kind of comparison test, but it's one that suits us. For us, its all about driving.

Come back to automobilemag.com tomorrow morning for the first round of Midsize Madness.

Shreyansh Dubey
mere to new mazda hai bhai
Tim Lucas
Styling-wise I like the Fusion by far the best. The Mazda and the Nissan look identical to me.
Patrick Moore
Gonzaga
Sigrid Coulthurst
I like a car that looks great, handles well, and stands out! That's the appeal for me, Tim Lucas. Most of these cars are boring. Driven by sheeple. Who probably own an iPhone.... The Ford Fusion is nice but that grille is fugly.
kitacamry
"...even if the carmakers labels seem to come from elsewhere..." This is the only error I saw...and Chrome found AFTER I posted it here...but....then there's this one that is often made... (again found by Chrome only after copying and posting here....)
"new turbos on the market vs the older V6's" 
You can't depend on automatic correction...drive a stick!  (I'm looking forward to this March Madness tourney...even if all the seeds have an AT...which was never an option for me...)
Younnas Alginusa
VW Passat 2/ Kia Optima 3/ Mazda 6
Tim Lucas
I don't really understand all the support for the 6?! Somebody clue me in.
Rick Vieira
Mazda6 #1 then id say the Accord for #2
Kevin Lee Osborne
Mazda 6 , all the way here
Faulkner Mazda
1st Place to the 2014 Mazda6! Zoom Skyactiv Zoom!
Ranjith Sarathi
sorry pass
Mitchell A Hoverman
Mazda6 by a landslide
Roman Lewyckyj
Mazda6
Dammy Onafowokan
Oh man....it's a massacre!
Michael Thompson
Mazda 6
Brandon Palomino
MAZDA.. the inside and out of the car us amazing.. really feels like you are driving a 40k car range.. & coming from a Mazda3 customer.. lol, looking foward seeing the new Mazda3 coming out this year:)
Raymond Doherty
The Accord and the Fusion are very good but the Mazda has to win this!! What a fantastic looking car.
Patrick Hunt
Mazda! No doubt in my mind! I've driven all of them except the VW, but i'm not a fan of the price you pay to own something german!
Jeff Wright
That little red number, right up front.
Christopher A. Henderson-Johns
We've had a '14 Mazda6 GT for two weeks, nothing about the car feels cheap, it handles incredibly well, fuel economy is class leading, and it's the first car I've ever owned that people stop and actually look at - if you haven't seen one in person, do so - it is a fine piece of work, probably why it was pinned against a Jag and Austin Martin for World Car of the Year design award. The Ford looks nice, but even it appears dated next to the 6, the winner in this bracket is a no brainer - Mazda6 all the way! Zoom, zoom!!!
Sigrid Coulthurst
I saw most of those cars on the road and they all bowed down and moved over respectfully as I eased up behind them on the highway. What am I driving? that new Mazda 6! :D
Josh Lemm
Mazda6
Dan Kroll
Mazda6
Alienx Trm
Nothing comes close to the SKYACTIV suite of technologies and the Kodo design philosophy. 2014 Mazda6 is the overall winner. (}) Zoom Zoom
Kayla Schramm Frederick
Mazda 6!!
Aziel Rodriguez
Mazda 6 all the way! Just look at the picture above...its so sexy!
D'Ambrose Finch
the fans have spoken and the 6 wins by a landslide!
Kevin Hendricks
Has to be the Mazda6. Great looks, great HP and 38 MPG to boot. Sweet sweet machine.
Chris Busbee
Mazda6! All the other cars...yawn.
Clifford Manera
I guess no contest. Mazda6 FTW !
Clifford Manera
Mazda6 all the way
Bryant Litton
Mazda 6. Coming from someone who sells both the passat and the 6, the value in both is outstanding. When it comes down to the most well rounded (features, performance, styling, quality, safety) my pick is the 6.
Marc Hamady
Where's the Malibu?
Srt Black
MAZDA6
Anthony Iatì
If the Mazda6 doesn't win this round, just wait until the turbodiesel comes out in the fall!
Dan Ryan
Mazda6!!
Mark Morrison
Mazda 6 has no competition here.
Juan Alva
Mazda6!!!!
David Moshons
Mazda 6
Tommy Liu
Mazda 6!!
Adelina Troyanova
Mazda 6
Lawrence Z. Reeves
All 6 - all the time!
Craig Peterson
Definitely Mazda 6! I owned an Audi A4 1.8T for the past 5 years and Loved it. I Just got a white Mazda 6 sport in February and It is just as much fun! No, really! You need to drive it to understand. AND yes it's sexy too!
Ryan Leach
One word. One Number. Mazda6
Przemek Lodej
Mazda6 or bust!!
Richard Medeiros
The Mazda 6 all the way!
Joann Rodriquez
Mazda 6 all the way!!! I have the white GT!
Syed Muhamad Siddiq Al-Hindwan
Kodo soul motion...Mazda 6.
Jason Cheng
Zoom zoom
Allan R
@Tim Lucas ilI drove a Fusion.  The handling is great, but the interior space for a family is quite tight in the rear.  Visibilty is poor because of the styling, a big minus.  I also drove the Camry and the Accord, buying the Camry SE I4 because of low price and great visibility rear and elsewhere.  The trunk and passenger room is great.  I did not go for the Accord as I did not like the transmission (CVT).  I found no good reason to go for a 6-cylinder engine because the extra power comes at considerable cost in both the Camry and Accord.  This is my first Toyota and it has had absolutely no issues requiring a return trip to the dealer.

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