Midsize cars go mainstream

2013-02-08T00:00:00Z Midsize cars go mainstreamJim Jackson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Midsize cars are back in vogue - represented by nearly all manufacturers at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.

Gone are the behemoth sporty utility vehicles that once dominated show-goers attention, casting shadows over mainstream midsize sedans that at the time were barely a consideration on show patrons’ shopping lists.

But times have changed. Price at the pump and better fuel economy has driven buyers away from the large SUV market to automobiles that offer big-car room on a midsize car footprint.

“Midsize cars are the hottest segment for 2013,” says Dave Sloan, president of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. “Automakers are getting so good at interior packaging. It used to be one or two brands were pretty good at it, but now it’s across the board.”

Five of America’s most value-packed 2013 midsize sedans await patrons’ scrutiny at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. How do they stack up on your shopping list?

2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Refreshed styling brings a sportier look to Malibu’s rear end with a tail light treatment akin from its Camaro sibling.

A striking two-tone interior with pod-like contours greet the driver and front passenger.

Malibu is powered by either a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine for 197 horsepower or optional 2.0L turbocharged engine the belts out 259-hp for V6-like performance.

An Eco model mates a 2.4L, four-cylinder engine with a ‘mild hybrid’ system for fuel economy of 35-mpg/city and 37-mpg/highway.

Base Price: $21,995.

2013 Ford Fusion: Exotic styling fronts the next-generation Fusion with design cues that mirror a striking resemblance to the British-built Aston Martin.

Power is generated by a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine that provides 175-hp or a pair of turbocharged engines with 1.6L and 2.0L displacement for 173-hp and 231-hp respectively.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard with a six-speed automatic optional on select models.

All-wheel drive is available on Fusions equipped with the 2.0L engine.

“Our Fusion buyer demographic ranges from 20-year-olds to people in their sixties. Everybody loves the styling of this car,” says Dan DeYoung, general manager for Smith Ford in Lowell. “Most of our clients choose front-wheel drive models because it gives them the best fuel economy.”

The 2013 Ford Fusion also is available in an EcoBoost hybrid model that achieves mutual fuel economy of 47-mpg/city and 47-mpg/highway.

Base Price: $21,700.

2013 Honda Accord: Honda designers sculpt a sleek new look into the brand’s bread and butter Honda Accord sedan for 2013.

An ergonomically friendly interior delivers what the exterior promises with seating for five occupants in well-crafted cabin space warmed by sophisticated accents and soft touch surfaces.

The 2013 Honda Accord comes standard with an audio system that features smart phone technology.

Accord’s standard 2.4L, four-cylinder wrings 185 hp with choice of 6-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission.

An optional 3.5L, six-cylinder engine delivers a spirited 278-hp mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Base Price: $21,680

2013 Nissan Altima: Nissan looks within its own product line to design cues that reflect the upscale Nissan Maxima for the revamped 2013 Altima.

“The new Altima looks like a baby Maxima with loads of content, impressive fuel economy and no price increase over the 2012 model,” says Dan Blaskovich, general sales manager for Southlake Nissan in Merrillville.

Nissan Altima comes with a 2.5L, four-cylinder or 3.5L six-cylinder engine wrapped in Base, S, SV and SL trim levels. Fuel economy of 38-mpg on the highway is achieved on four cylinder models.

“Nissan is looking to the four-cylinder SV as the volume leader followed closely by the S model,” Blaskovich said.

Inside, soft-touch surfaces wrap the driver and four passengers with premium seat cushions for comfortable commutes or jaunt cross-country.

Base Price $21,760

2013 Volkswagen Passat: Germany’s Volkswagen Passat keeps their 2013 model in tact with few changes over last year’s model with rear seat knee and legroom that rivals the upscale BMW 7-Series.

Trunk space in the 2013 Volkswagen Passat is enormous.

Passat comes with choice of a 2.0L, four-cylinder turbodiesel, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder, and a trio of 3.6L gasoline fueled V6 engines that span the horsepower range from 140 hp, 170 hp and 280 hp respectively.

Engines are paired to manual or six-speed automatic transmissions for fuel economy that reaches 43 miles per gallon on the highway with the 2.0L diesel and up to 32 mpg/highway with gasoline versions.

Base Price: $20,845

Midsize cars on display at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show carry practical use for today’s budget-minded family looking for a value-driven fuel-efficient four-door sedan with generous back seat space for baby seats and a trunk that can manage all the gear that comes standard with a growing family.

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