Clarity, Altima, Mazda6 -What Sets These Great Affordable Midsize Sedans Apart From The Pack

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You won’t go wrong with an Accord or Camry, but these three sedans offer a unique flavor as an alternative. 

The affordable midsize sedan market is as strong as ever, despite departures from a few manufacturers who have recently taken their ball and gone home. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are both amazing values for what each offers. However, there are three midsized sedans we feel offer a bit of a different flavor for those who have special interests and may be considering this segment. Here are three affordable sedans that stand apart from the pack and what makes them special.

Nissan Altima – AWD

The all-new Altima would be a great car without its new all-wheel-drive system, but with it, it has us rethinking crossovers. How good is the Altima? It was just named the Best In Class Midsized Sedan for 2019 by the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA). The Altima is fun to drive, well laid out, and its two drivetrain offerings are both efficient and pack a punch. Like all Nissans, the Altima has a great infotainment system that is simple to use, and will work great with your phone, be it an Apple or and Android. Nissan’s ProPilot driver assist system is real-world helpful and scores higher than even Tesla’s Autopilot in some areas of testing. With Safety Shield 360, Nissan not only offers a package of safety systems but makes it easy to remember when shopping.

As good as these things are, what we really love about the Altima is its all-wheel-drive system. Those who really want a sedan – and there are still a LOT of us – but live where it snows seven or eight months per year, rejoice! The Altima will get you to work in any weather. The AWD system also helps the Altima make the most of its punchy engine in wet weather. We recorded 31 MPG in combined driving and all Altimas use regular gas. Check out our full review of the 2019 Altima Platinum here.

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Mazda6 Signature- Turbo Torque and Refinement

What if you could have a midsized sedan with the refinement and features of a luxury sedan and a stronger engine than a premium sedan? You can. The Mazda6 Signature rings in at just $36K. For that price you get premium leather and microfiber suede interior materials, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, a full-feature head-up display, and adaptive LED headlights. The Mazda6 is also a great looking sedan.

There is no catch. With 310 lb-ft of torque, the Mazda6 pulls so strongly the engine never even works hard. Mazda opted to use a larger and more powerful engine than its competitors. Since the Mazda6 used regular unleaded fuel, its fuel economy is also better than the premium cars in its segment that want premium fuel. All three of the cars on this list are fun to drive, but the Mazda6 Signature is the enthusiast’s choice.  Check out our full review here.

Honda Clarity – PHEV

Hidden among Honda’s lineup of great sedans is the Clarity plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV). The Clarity is sized in between the Civic and the Accord. Inside, it is roomy and comfortable and it goes about its business as a daily driver like any normal vehicle. Except that it is rated at 110 MPGe, about triple what most cars this size are rated at. That rating is influenced by the 48 miles of EV mode driving the car is capable of on a full charge. Heck, even without the EV charge, the Clarity is still rated at 42 MPG combined.

Those who are looking to reduce their environmental impact will love the Clarity. Many owners use it almost entirely as an electric vehicle. Yet, if you need to move a kid to college or are planning a long road trip, you can just head out and never worry about charging up. It will work using gasoline just as happily as any Civic or Accord, but with better fuel economy. Fully-loaded Clarity Touring trims are costing buyers around $30K. That’s because the Clarity comes with a handy federal tax credit and many states throw even more money in the form of rebates and free electricity at Clarity owners. The Honda Clarity has over 200 hp on tap and more torque than any base trim affordable midsize sedan offers. There is no pain to the gain with Clarity. Check out our full test report here.

We are not trying to play favorites. Subaru offers an AWD sedan in this class. Both the Accord and Camry are legendary in their ability to please the masses. However, in testing, we were impressed with these three. We found them to be something very special in a class where excellence is the minimum expectation.


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