2014 Lemon Aid New Car Reviews - Mid-size

The mid-size segment, once a key market sector, is diminishing in importance year by year. Some buyers have downsized to the larger compacts now available, while others have defected to entry-level luxury cars and compact CUVs.

After a bumper crop of new entries for 2013, the segment takes a bit of a rest, with the early-release 2015 Chrysler 200 being the only all-new mid-size car introduced this year.

The Subaru Legacy/Outback and the Toyota Camry are in their last year in their current forms. The 2015 Legacy should arrive sometime in the summer of 2014, with the Outback going on sale at roughly the same time. No details are known about the 2015 Camry other than it is coming. 

The four-cylinder cars in this class deliver a pleasing blend of performance, refinement and fuel economy. They are as quick and quiet as many six-cylinder cars in this class were a decade ago. The optional six-cylinder engines in this segment, originally for those who wanted a bit of extra power and refinement, have grown so powerful that most produce more horsepower than the 4L V8 did in the first Lexus LS400. That said, Ford and Chevrolet have eliminated V6 engines from their mid-size offerings and the Buick Regal, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Mazda 6 are now exclusively powered by four-cylinder engines. Though V6 engines have been left behind, big power has not. Turbocharged fours producing similar horsepower to the previous V6 engines are offered in the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. The non-appearance of the proposed Mazda 6 diesel, Volkswagen has a lock on diesel power in this segment. Automakers, keen on producing favourable test results on U.S. government fuel economy tests and to conform with CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) regulations, are creating complex powertrains that produce good test numbers but don't deliver any real-world performance or fuel economy benefits. 

Most vehicles in this class achieve Good scores in the four categories (moderate front, side, rear and roof strength) long- tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Small Frontal Offset test is another matter. Only the Honda Accord earned a Good score, with the Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Toyota's Camry and Prius and the Volkswagen Passat all earning an Acceptable rating in the test, with the Hyundai Sonata rated Marginal and the Toyota Prius V earning a Poor score. All the cars covered in this section tested by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests earned a five-star (out of five) overall rating. With passive safety almost a given in this segment, active safety is increasingly becoming a focus for automakers. Equipment like blind spot detection, cross traffic and  lane departure warnings and forward collision alerts are filtering down from the luxury segment into mainstream mid-size cars at a rapid rate. 

A note about mileage: The APA's posted fuel economy figures for 2013 differ from those published by the Canada EnerGuide. Starting in  2012, the APA used the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), numbers for fuel economy, as they better reflect real-world fuel economy. For more information, read APA President George Iny's article regarding the inadequacies of the Canada EnerGuide test cycle

 

Buick LaCrosse  Ford Fusion  Mazda 6  Toyota Camry 
Buick Regal  Honda Accord  Nissan Altima  Toyota Prius 
Chevrolet Malibu  Hyundai Sonata  Subaru Legacy  Toyota Prius V 
2015 Chrysler 200  Kia Optima  Subaru Outback  Volkswagen Passat 
       

Buick LaCrosse

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Surprisingly comprehensive late-model refresh including revised hood, grille, headlights and taillights outside and a revised dashboard, console, door panels and audio systems inside. Optional blind spot and cross-traffic monitors, frontal collision alert lane departure warnings and active cruise control system. 

Performance
The V6 is responsive but causes considerable torque-steer under heavy acceleration. Smooth, responsive transmission, generally smooth ride. The LaCrosse is very quiet.

Comments
The LaCrosse, built on the Epsilon 2 platform that underpins the Opel Insignia, benefits from the input of GM's operations on three continents. With clean lines and artfully subdued detailing, this is one good looking Buick. Containing cool blue instruments and a prominent centre stack, the dashboard of the Lacrosse borders on the avant-garde. The rest of the cabin is an example of how visual restraint can be luxurious. Top-notch cabin materials and assembly. Cabin space, while good, is less than expected in such a big car. Power stems from either the standard eAssist light hybrid system that helps during acceleration but can't run the car in a full electric mode, or an optional 3.6L V6. Power reaches the front wheels (or optionally all-wheels) via a six-speed automatic transmission. Active xenon lights and a Blind Zone Alert monitor are optional. Small windows and large roof pillars restrict outward visibility. With around 2500 sold in 2012, the LaCrosse is a low-volume car.

Pricing
Overpriced trim level upgrades. The V6, a no-cost option on base and Leather versions, is standard on the Premium trim. The all-wheel drive system is priced from $1130 (Premium) to $3145 (Leather). Poor value leasing.

Reliability
Limited information regarding this low-volume model. Complaints have been received regarding defective timing chains on the 3.6L-V6 engine. Predicted weak spots include the suspension and steering components. Expensive replacement parts. A GM extended warranty is recommended if you buy a LaCrosse.

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3
Engines:
2.4L-4 H (182 HP combined), 3.6L-V6 (304 HP)*
 
Transmissions: 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive*

City Fuel Economy:  13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags:

Warranty: 4/80,000, 6/110,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: n/a

NHTSA Rating: 



Buick Regal

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
New grille, revised dash gauges and audio systems, 2L turbo four is standard equipment for 2014 with the 2.4L eAssist (mild hybrid) is optional. All-wheel drive is available on the turbo models. Blind spot and cross-traffic alerts and active cruise control are now optional.  

Performance
The Regal's eAssist 2.4L four is smooth and is sufficiently quick but can't run in full-electric mode. The 2L turbo is smooth and delivers lively performance. The smooth automatic transmission acts very slowly at times. Sloppy manual transmission. Precise steering with good road feel. Progressive brakes. The ride is firm, yet never harsh. Crisp, stable handling. Large, heavily-sloped windshield pillars restrict visibility. Small door-mounted rear-view mirrors. Chic, modern and attractive cabin with comfortable seats and competitive room for a car in this class. Rear headroom is a bit tight for taller occupants. The large, elegant gauges are poorly marked. The button-festooned dash centre-stack makes adjusting the audio and navigation systems more complex than they need to be.   

Comments
Compared with the LaCrosse, the Regal is built on a 99 mm (3.9 inch) shorter wheelbase, measures 69 mm (2.7 inches) less from stem to stern, is 46 mm (1.8 inches) narrower and 13 mm (half an inch) lower than its showroom mate. Two four-cylinder engines, a standard light assist (it won't run in full electric mode) hybrid and a 259 horsepower 2L turbo four, are available. Most Regals send power to the wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission but a six-speed manual is offered with the turbo. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available with the turbo engine. Exterior styling is, except for the grille and some minor details, carried over directly from the very elegant Opel Insignia that the Regal is based on. Hobbling the Regal with GM's expensive and ineffective eAssist hybrid system has contributed to an astronomically increased base price which could finish off a car that was already selling poorly. It is a mystery why the Regal is not offered with GM's new 2.5L four.

Pricing
The eAssist mild hybrid system is a no-charge option on the Premium 1 model. Except for the Premium 1 package, option package upgrades are overpriced. All-wheel drive commands a $2300 supplement over a comparably equipped front-wheel drive Regal.

Reliability
Insufficient data on this low-volume model. Suspension problems predicted. Expensive replacement parts. A GM extended warranty is recommended.   


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2L-4 T (259 HP)*, 2.4L-4 H (182 compined)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  11.2L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings:

Warranty: 4/80,000, 6/110,000

Country of Origin:  Canada 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: n/a

NHTSA Rating: 



Chevrolet Malibu

Specifications

NEW

 

 

What’s new
Rapid comprehensive update to address the shortcomings of the prematurely released 2013 model. GM's new mainstream gasoline 2.5L four (with a stop-start function) is the standard engine for 2014. Improved steering and suspension. The revised front fascia more elegant than previously. Cabin updates for the dashboard and thinner seats to liberate more rear seat legroom. Blind spot and cross-traffic alerts are now optional.

Performance
Tested with the previously available 2.4L eAssist four-cylinder light hybrid powertrain, the Malibu was sufficiently responsive as well as generally smooth and quiet. The eAssist Malibu was as quick as a Ford Fusion 1.6T, but was a fair bit slower than the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. The mainstream 2.5L four is reputed to be stronger, smoother and quieter than the optional eAssist four. The Malibu's steering is light but precise and delivers good feedback. The six-speed automatic transmission, a Ford-GM co-operative venture, works better in the Malibu likely due to better transmission programming. The Malibu's dynamic balance is more biased toward ride than handling, but its handling is predictable and the Malibu's suspension is unfazed by a full complement of passengers. The suspension clunks that plagued the last Malibu are blissfully absent on the new car. Except when accelerating hard, the Malibu is very quiet. Small windows and heavy rear roof pillars restrict outward visibility. Excellent audio system.
While the Malibu's interior is the antithesis of avant-gardist it is, except for the unfinished-looking ribbed plastic trim facing the front passenger, elegant and carefully constructed from very attractive components. Faux wood and faux allow trim are very well done. While the square-shaped instrument pods are gimmicky to some, the gauges themselves are crisp and clear. The centre stack contains a plethora of buttons, but that seems preferable to the touch-sensitive screens used by many makers now. All controls are smooth acting. Though it is a bit narrow, front occupants have sufficient space and reside on comfortable seats. The rear seat cushion is mounted a bit low, the space is narrow and legroom is no better than what is available many compact cars. Trunk space is reasonable for this class of car.  The Malibu was ranked third, along with the Ford Fusion, but behind the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, in a recent APA multi-car test.

Comments
The fourth-generation Malibu in modern times is built on the shorter wheelbase version of the Epsilon II platform shared with the Buick Regal. This will open up more space between it and the next-generation Impala as the previous Malibu's similar cabin space, more elegant styling and cheaper price appealed to more buyers. GM claims the new Malibu's design is “Sportier” than its predecessor. The quick facelift has improved the front end of the Malibu compared with the awkward frontal treatment the car wore when released. The base engine for 2014 is a 2.5L four. The 2.4L eAssist light hybrid is no longer available but the turbocharged 2L four returns.  Power reaches the from wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission regardless of engine choice.

Pricing
Overpriced 1LT option upgrade. The 2LT package is priced to reflect its additional content. Malibus equipped with the 2 turbo engine are priced $1700 more than similarly-equipped 2.5L cars. The 1LZ package is very expensive considering its contents. Reasonable lease value.

Reliability
Not rated. Most GM new cars experience some launch glitches. Unproven 2.5L four.
See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2L-4 T (259 HP), 2.5L-4 (196 HP) 

Transmissions: 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings:

Warranty: 3/60,000, 6/110,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: n/a

NHTSA Rating: 



2015 Chrysler 200

Specifications

NEW

 

 

What’s new
All new 200 goes on sale in the spring of 2014. Avenger discontinued. No convertible announced.

Comments
The 200, based on the same variable architecture that underpins the Dodge Dart and the Jeep Cherokee, replaces both the previous 200 and the Dodge Avenger, which will not be returning for 2015.
Built on a slightly shorter wheelbase, the 200 is roughly the same exterior size as its predecessor. The new 200 sheds the awkward lines of the previous one for a look that is tailored and modern but not in a trendy way that will cause it to date quickly. Viewed from the side, the 200 displays a similar profile to that of the Ford Fusion but looks sleeker than its rival from Dearborn. The 200's frontal styling is very elegant, with a particularly nice integration of the lower air intake into the overall frontal design.
Chrysler has expended much effort on the new 200's cabin, which is stylish, constructed from attractive materials and available in some very chic two-tone colour combinations. Top models boast genuine wood accents in the now-fashionable matte, open-pore finish. Comfortable seating front and rear, but ingress/egress are somewhat hampered by a low roofline and rear seat legroom is at the tight end of the midsize segment. Avoid the sunroof as it compromises headroom, especially for people in the back seat.
The 2.4L four and a 3.6L V6 return for 2015, but are now hooked up to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler claims that the nine-speed automatic transmission results in fuel economy improvements of up to 19 percent compared with the numbers posted for the previous car equipped with a six-speed automatic.
Though they maintained a low profile, combined sales of the 200 and Avenger were very close to that of the category sales champ, the Ford Fusion. It will be interesting to see if the new 200 attracts more private buyers, making Chrysler less reliant on fleet sales than it was previously. 

Pricing
Good value Limited and 200C upgrades but the S-Package is overpriced. 

Reliability
New car, not rated. The 3.6L V6 engine, nine-speed automatic transmission and this new version of the small-wide Fiat-Chrysler platform are all unproven. 


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.4L-4 (184 HP), 3.6L-V6 (295 HP) 

Transmissions: 9A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  n/a
ESC: Standard
Additonal airbags: knee airbags for front occupants

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: n/a

Side: n/a

Roof: n/a

Rear: n/a

Sml. Front: n/a

NHTSA Rating: 



Ford Fusion

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
A new 1.5L turbo four replaces the previous 1.6L on Fusions with automatic transmission. Inflatable rear seatbelts are now optional. 
Performance
Equipped with a 1.6L turbo four hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Fusion delivered solid acceleration and was acceptably flexible and refined on the open road, but sounded coarse and  felt lethargic in city driving. In a group test that included the Chevrolet Malibu Eco hybrid, and four-cylinder versions of the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, the Ford was as quick as the Chevrolet but notably slower than the two Japanese-branded cars. The Fusion's six-speed automatic transmission, a GM-Ford joint venture, was reluctant to kickdown and was neither as smooth nor as responsive as the same unit installed in the Malibu. Nicely weighted and geared steering. The ride-handling compromise reflects careful development and is in keeping with the Fusion's mission as a large family hauler. Solid brakes. The swoopy styling, especially the swept back windshield pillars, restricts outward vision. Excellent rear view camera which shows the projected path of the car which alters depending on how much the steering wheel is turned. Ford has installed turbocharged fours in the Fusion more to provide a low fuel consumption figure for the U.S. government fuel economy test cycle and to conform with the government-imposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations than to provide real-world performance and fuel economy benefits to Fusion buyers.
With fresh modern design and attractive materials, the cabin of the Fusion is a resounding success. The interior is fronted by an attractive dashboard containing what has become Ford's universal gauge package featuring a conventional speedometre flanked by changeable electronic displays. Employing the same components over multiple vehicles in the range can save a manufacturer a lot of money but the uniformity must be stifling in design terms and the look is becoming a bit tiresome. The SE we drove also had the MyFord Touch system, which, despite numerous updates, still defines counter-intuitive. Luckily Ford also provides "normal" controls for the climate and audio functions, but these are touch sensitive as well and don't react reliably on every push. The touch-sensitive controls don't react to gloved hands so you will need to set your controls before you start off if it is a really cold day. In all other ways, the Fusion's cabin was attractively designed and nicely appointed. Comfortable seats ally with sufficient legroom to let four (five in a pinch) people be comfortable on a long journey. That said, space utilization is disappointing considering the Fusion's XXXL exterior. Big trunk, but the small trunk lid makes loading awkward.
Along with the Chevrolet Malibu, the Fusion was rated third in a four car APA road test, behind the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima

Comments
Alan Mulally's "One Ford" mantra has spawned an in-house replacement (the previous Fusion was based on the first-generation Mazda 6) for the Fusion and European Mondeo. Fronted by an Aston-Martin tribute grille, the new Fusion is marginally longer and a bit taller than its predecessor. The exterior design, lauded in the press, is one of the most attractive cars in a segment where style is generally an afterthought.
Power stems exclusively from four-cylinder engines. The base four is a normally-aspirated 2.5L with 175 horsepower. Three turbos, a 1.5L four on automatic transmission, a 1.6L with 178 horsepower with manual transmission and a 241 horsepower 2L are optional. The 1.5L  and 2L fours are hooked exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6L turbo is offered only with a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on the S and SE, with all-wheel drive optional on the 2L SE and mandatory on the 2L Titanium model. Two hybrids, a conventional hybrid twins a normally-aspirated 2L four with an electric motor to create 188 combined horsepower and the plug-in "Energi" model that employs the same hardware but its lithium-ion batteries can power the car in full electric mode for the first 43 kilometres, after which the car reverts to "conventional" hybrid operation. 

Pricing

Good value SE upgrade. A well-equipped SE contains much of the equipment included on the Titanium model but costs much less. All-wheel drive, standard on the Titanium, is a $2000 option on the SE trim. The 1.5L turbo four is a $900 upgrade when compared with the 2.5L, with the 2L costing $1500 more than a 1.5L with similar equipment. The hybrid powertrain commands a $1600 to $2800 supplement compared with a similarly equipped conventional Fusion. Poor value leasing.

Reliability
Not rated. Insufficient data. Except for the 2.5L four, the Fusion's mechanical units are unproven. An extended warranty is recommended. 

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines: 1.5L-4 T (178 HP), 1.6L-4 T (178 HP)*, 2L-4 T (240 HP), 2.5L-4 (175 HP), 2L-4 H and Energi  (141 HP gasoline, 188 combined)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*, CVT 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive*, all-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  10.2L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: knee airbags for front occupants
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000, , 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  Mexico

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: A

NHTSA Rating: 



Honda Accord

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Conventional two mode hybrid now on sale. Plug-in hybrid version not available in Canada.

Performance
Hooked up to CVT, the Accord sedan's 2.4L four smoothly furnishes quick, eager performance. Honda's CVT, unlike many others, minimizes high-rev operation to such an extent that few drivers will be aware that the Accord is equipped with a CVT unless they hammer the throttle and keep their foot in it. The Accord accelerated neck and neck with the Nissan Altima, both of which were considerably faster than the Ford Fusion 1.6T and Chevrolet Malibu Eco they were tested against. Like previous Accords, the new one rides a bit more firmly than other cars in the segment but this is offset by crisper handling and a greater sense of control than competing cars. Nicely weighted and geared steering. Strong brakes with good pedal feel. Engine and wind noise are subdued, but Honda's traditional downfall, pronounced road noise is joined by prominent road grit pinging off the underside of the Accord. A high driving position and large windows provide a level of visibility seldom enjoyed in modern cars.
The Accord's cabin is fronted by a less intrusive dashboard than the one installed in the previous version of the car. The driver faces a gauge package pulled right out of the CR-V, but with darker gauge faces than in its showroom mate. The instrument cluster is easy to scan but the silver-painted perimeters of the gauges look like they were done by hand by a model car enthusiast. A large screen, for the rear-view camera in all models and the navigation screen on fancier variants, dominates the centre of the dashboard. Below the main screen is a separate touch screen controlling audio source and station selection, as well as a conventional volume knob. The all-button climate controls reside in a narrow strip between the radio screen and the multi-function control knob on navigation-equipped cars that dominates the main centre stack of the dashboard. While the Accord's cabin is fashioned from mostly attractive components, the (except for the headliner) all-black cabin standard with most exterior colours is oppressively grim in appearance. Faux alloy trim is particularly well done but trim fillets meant to be ebony wood in reality resemble dull scratched plastic and do nothing to relieve the monochromatic ambience of the Accord's cabin. Though the Accord's cabin may look grim, with big, comfortable seats and acres of space, it is one of the most comfortable cars in its segment. Trunk space is on the small size for a car this big.  

Comments
Power stems from a new direct-injected 185 horsepower (189 in the Sport trim level) 2.4L four referred to as "Earth Dreams" by Honda. Except for the EX-L sedan trim level, which is only offered with the CVT, all the 2.4L Accords are offered with a six-speed manual transmission. An optional 3.5.L V6 can be hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission in sedan and coupe body styles but the latter offers a six-speed manual as well. Lane departure, blind spot and forward collision systems are standard on the EX-L 2.4L and fancier models.

Pricing
Overpriced Sport and Touring models. Good value EX-L upgrades. V6 models are priced $3400 (sedan) to $4100 (coupe) higher that an equivalent 2.4L Accord. The sedan and coupe ranges are structured differently. The Touring hybrid is priced $3700 higher than a 2.4L Touring. The Accord was rated first in a four car test that also included the second place Nissan Altima and the third place Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu. Good value leasing. 
Reliability
Above average reliability predicted. Unproven CVT transmission. Over the last few years, the Accord has generated fewer complaints than the Toyota Camry.


Body Style:  4SD*, 2CP
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2L-4 H (141 HP gas, 196 combined), 2.4L-4 (185 HP* (189 HP Sport)  3.5L-V6 (278 HP)

Transmissions: 6M, CVT*, 6A 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  8.7L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: None

Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: G

NHTSA Rating: 



Hyundai Sonata

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Late cycle update including a new grille, rear lights and an updated navigation system. Xenon headlamps, ventilated driver's seat and variable steering effort are standard on top models for 2014. Improved sound proofing. New model to be shown at the New York show in April, with sales expected by the fall of 2014.

Performance
The 2.4L direct injection four is strong and flexible, but gets raucous at higher revs. Very good fuel consumption and range for a car in this category. The 2L turbo four matches V6 competitors for grunt and tractability, but lacks their polished refinement. The turbo will run on regular gas. The Sonata’s automatic transmission shifts smoothly and responds obediently to kickdown requests. The precise steering is nicely weighted on the normally-aspirated 2.4L model, some drivers found the turbo's steering to be too heavy and that of the hybrid is numb and reacts to inputs in a non-linear fashion. The conventional models have crisp handling and roadholding, offset by a harsh ride. The hybrid has a more absorbent ride than its platform-mates, but twins it with a lot more wallow in corners. Overall refinement can’t match the leaders in the mid-size segment. Large windshield pillars restrict vision to the front, but the view out is acceptable in other directions despite the shallow side windows and low seating position. Though the Sonata’s cabin is spacious, total comfort is compromised by short front seat cushions and an oddly shaped rear seat. The cabin is fronted by a dramatically styled dashboard housing two large main gauges, each of which contains a smaller readout, one for fuel and the other for temperature. Clever. The Volvo-style human body graphic, which in Volvos, can be pushed to direct airflow to the head, torso or legs, is just a graphic in the Sonata, with a Mode button controlling air distribution. Overall the Sonata’s cabin design looks a bit downmarket, especially the featureless door panels. Good audio systems. Very big trunk.

Comments
Most Sonatas will be powered by a normally-aspirated 2.4L four that produces an impressive 198 horsepower. With no V6 available, Sonata intenders who want even better performance than the 2.4L provides can opt for a 2L turbo four that cranks out 274 horsepower. The powertrain on the hybrid combines to create 206 horsepower, an impressive figure. The electric motor is powered by Lithium Polymer batteries that are, according to Hyundai, 30 percent lighter, 40 percent more compact and 10 percent more efficient than the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries used in other hybrids. Unlike most other hybrids, the power units are hooked up to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission that provides a more conventional driving experience than the CVTs used by the competition. 

Pricing

Sonata:The GLS upgrade is priced to reflect the contents in the package. Good value SE and Limited with Navigation upgrade. When other package features in the Ultimate are accounted for, Hyundai charges about $1700 for the turbo engine. Poor lease incentives make leasing a non-starter.
HEV hybrid: overpriced trim upgrades. HEV with Limited package and NAV priced $2850 more than equivalent 2.4L Sonata.

Reliability
Good reliability thus far. Some complaints regarding rear suspension bushing wear. Some reports of sludge buildup on the direct-injected engines. No data on hybrid model.

See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.4L-4 (198 HP [200 HP SE]), 2L-4 T (274 HP), 2.4L-4 H (166 HP gasoline, 206 combined) 

Transmissions: 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: None
Warranty: 5/100,000. Hybrid: 8/160,000 on all hybrid system components.

Country of Origin:  United States, South Korea (hybrid only)

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: M

NHTSA Rating: 



Kia Optima

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle remake including a new grille, headlamps and taillights outside and a revised touch screen and diamond quilted leather inside on top models. Revised option packages. Late entry hybrid model.

Performance
The refined 2.4L base four, which pulls strongly from 2000 rpm to the redline, and copes easily with the six-speed automatic's tendency to grab the highest gear possible. Good passing power. The fast 2L turbo is overkill for most drivers, and can't match the silky delivery of the V6s offered by some competitors. Quick, economical hybrid. The steering will feel too heavy for some, and with absolutely no centre play, maintaining a steady path at highway speeds is a challenge. While firm, the ride is never harsh. Crisp handling in typical driving but the Optima's suspension loses its composure when the going gets rough, with the front end running out of travel on big bumps. The brakes lack initial bite. Excellent audio system. Thick rear roof pillars and a high trunk line impair visibility. Big, clear gauges and very logical controls (a bit less so with navigation). Comfortable front seats and plenty of space front and rear, however, the rear seat has an oddly shaped backrest that diminishes comfort. Attractive cabin fittings, even on the base model. The Optima's cabin design and materials are more attractive than they are on the Hyundai Sonata built on the same platform. 

Comments
Based on the Hyundai Sonata, the Optima has a totally bespoke exterior and cabin. The car has great presence in the metal and looks great on the street. It is visually clean and looks really expensive. The base engine is a 200 horsepower normally-aspirated 2.4L four, with a 2L turbocharged four, with 274 horsepower, optional. A hybrid version with 206 horsepower, sending power to the wheels via a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, is also available. A six-speed manual transmission is offered on the base model, but most Optimas will be fitted with a six-speed automatic. At about 2100 units shifted, Optima sales were about four times what its predecessor, the Magentis, sold in 2010. That said, the Sonata outsold the Optima nearly nine-to-one. 

Pricing

Good value trim upgrades. Turbo power costs an extra $1700 on the SX version. Reasonable value leasing.

Reliability
Above average reliability predicted. The previous model was reliable.
See the Hybrid and Electric car section.


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:2L-4 T (274 HP), 2.4L-4 (200 HP)*, 2.4L-4 H (206 HP combined)
Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags: None

Warranty: 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  United States

 

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: A

NHTSA Rating: 



2015 Mazda 6

Specifications


 

 

What’s new
Early 2015 6 went on sale in the spring of 2014. 

Comments
Based on the "Takeri" concept car, the new 6 went on sale early in 2013. The new car, built on a 40 mm (1.6 inch) longer wheelbase, is 76 mm (3 inches) shorter, the same width and marginally lower than the last 6. Unlike the last 6, which had a North-American specific model, the same version of the 6 is sold worldwide. Fronted by Mazda's five angle grille, the 6's shape is trim, athletic and modern, with some chic bright detailing. The 6's dashboard resembles that of the he CX-5. Big, clear gauges, logical controls and attractive materials except for cheap, unsecured carpeting. The front seats are a touch small for the segment and some thought lacked support for long-haul drives. Rear seat legroom is unimpressive for what is a very large car. the size of the car. A low roofline hurts space efficiency and also hampers ingress/egress, which is poor. The trunk is wide and long but quite shallow. Power stems from a 2.5L version of Mazda's SkyActive four developing 184 horsepower. A low-compression (14 to 1) 2.2L diesel engine was announced but never showed up in North America. Six-speed transmissions, an automatic and a manual, transmit power to the front wheels. Mazda's i-ELOOP Smart City system, which uses regenerative braking to store power in capacitors to help run some electrical components, is part of the GT Technology package. This package also includes camera-based Lane Departure and Sonar based low-speed collision alerts.
Equipped with an automatic transmission, the 6 is quick, takes on a sporty engine note when extended and except for a slight boom period at cruising speed, is quiet. Good isolation from tire noise but road debris pinging off the underside of the car, often sounded like the floor was being slapped by a wet towel, prompted comments from several passengers. The GT model, shod with low-profile 19 inch tires delivered crisp steering response and generated a firm but resilient ride in Ontario but drivers in Quebec thought the suspension reacted too harshly on large road imperfections. Large, steeply raked windshield pillars, massive B-pillars and shallow side windows restrict outward visibility. The active cruise control on the car tested worked very well. Speed was modified imperceptibly to maintain the selected following distance, speeding up the car once an obstruction was removed and would actively brake the car if an obstacle, such as a car cutting in to close ahead of the 6, suddenly appeared. The rear cross traffic alert functioned very well, but the blind-spot monitor was a touch oversensitive and announced impediments too early. While its graphics were amateur, the name-brand navigation system worked very well, much better than the mediocre "designer" audio system. Good heating, Weak rear defroster. 

Pricing
Good value GS trim upgrade. The GS Luxury package delivers much of the GT's desirable features for less money and is the best overall value of the lineup. However, if you like the content included in the GT trim upgrade, it is good value as well. The GT is the sole path to the Technology package that contains a lot of safety gear. Very good value leasing. Lower finance payments on remaining 2014s in the spring of 2014 (no leasing offered) results in an approximate savings of $2000 over a similarly-equipped 2015. 

Reliability

Not rated due to insufficient sales. Average reliability is predicted. Mazdas generally develop a few more problems than similar cars from Honda, Hyundai or Toyota.  


Body Style:  4SD
Occupants:  2/3

Engines:
2.5L-4 (184 HP)*

Transmissions: 6M, 6A* 
Drive Layout: Front-wheel drive

City Fuel Economy:  9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Additional airbags:  None
Warranty: 3/60,000, 5/100,000

Country of Origin:  Japan

IIHS Ratings:

Mod. Front: G

Side: G

Roof: G

Rear: G

Sml. Front: A

NHTSA Rating: 


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