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5 Midsize Cars Under $40K on Everyman Driver

It may not be quite as engaging to drive as the class-leading Honda Accord, but the Hyundai Sonata offers strong value in its segment with distinctive styling and upscale features. With an available gas-electric hybrid and the 290-horsepower N Line performance version, there’s a Sonata for almost every buyer. The Hyundai Sonata is a 5-seater vehicle that comes in 9 trim levels. The most popular style is the SEL Plus, which starts at $32,175 and comes with a 1.6L I4 Turbo engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Sonata is estimated to deliver 27 MPG in the city and 37 MPG on the highway.

Pros

  • Excellent variety of offerings
  • Intuitive tech features
  • Class-leading warranty

Cons

  • High-performance engine is limited to the pricey N Line trim
  • Rear seat isn’t as spacious as some competitors

The Hyundai Sonata, now in its second year after a complete redesign, continues to provide a compelling value proposition among midsize sedans. With attractive lines, excellent safety features, a well-appointed cabin, and a wide variety of powertrains — from conventional gasoline engines to a gas-electric hybrid — the Sonata offers performance and features on par with longtime standard-bearers in the class, such as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, while undercutting them on price.

The 2021 Honda Accord is a leader among midsize sedans thanks to its precise feel on the road, spacious and well-designed interior, and efficient engines. If you’re considering a midsize sedan, the Accord is a must-drive. The Honda Accord is a 5-seater vehicle that comes in 9 trim levels. The most popular style is the Sport 2.0T Automatic, which starts at $33,125 and comes with a 2.0L I4 Turbo engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Accord is estimated to deliver 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.

Pros

  • An exceptional ride and handling
  • Spacious cabin and roomy trunk
  • Available hybrid version with excellent fuel economy

Cons

  • No all-wheel-drive option
  • The base engine is paired with a less desirable transmission
  • The push-button gear selector is awkward

The Honda Accord has reigned at or near the top of the midsize-sedan segment almost since the model’s debut, and today’s Accord is executed to a similarly high standard. Two gasoline engines and a fuel-sipping hybrid are offered. The Accord’s suspension is its strong suit, marrying engaging handling with a comfortable, well-controlled ride. The current-generation Accord has a sleeker shape than its predecessors, with a fastback-style roofline. But the passenger space is not sacrificed for style, as the cabin and trunk are among the segment’s roomiest. The Accord interior isn’t as luxurious as some, but its quality is evident. Pricing is in line with most competitors, and solid resale figures bolster the value proposition.

A true premium luxury sedan, the Genesis G70 delivers style, luxury, and performance similar to its European competition at a huge discount, and it comes with the best warranty coverage in the segment. The Genesis G70 is a 5-seater vehicle that comes in 3 trim levels. The most popular style is the 2.0T RWD, which starts at $38,570 and comes with a 2.0L I4 Turbo engine and Rear Wheel Drive. This G70 is estimated to deliver 21 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway.

Pros

  • Gorgeous interior
  • Engaging mix of ride and handling
  • Impressive standard driver-assistive safety tech

Cons

  • Smallish trunk
  • Rear seat short on legroom
  • Base four-cylinder is less powerful than major rivals

The Genesis G70 is the smallest and best-selling entry of three premium sedans offered by Hyundai’s quickly growing luxury brand. It competes head-to-head with such long-standing entry-luxury sedan favorites as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A5, and Lexus IS. It offers evocative design, a luxurious interior, and a long list of amenities that often cost extra in competing European-brand models. The G70 also leads the segment with advanced safety and driver-assistive technology.

The G70 delivers an engaging driving experience with nicely balanced ride and handling. Although the base G70 2.0T four-cylinder won’t match the acceleration response and fuel economy of its 3 Series competitor, the small Genesis is fun to drive in both rear- and all-wheel-drive form. It also costs less than its European rivals, is comparably equipped, and comes with a much stronger warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain and 5 years or 60,000 miles bumper to bumper, plus three years of free scheduled maintenance.

The Mazda6 is a midsize sedan with a comfortable and elegant interior. Its responsive engine options and great handling make this a sporty choice for those who love to drive. The Mazda Mazda6 is a 5-seater vehicle that comes in 6 trim levels. The most popular style is the Carbon Edition, which starts at $33,945 and comes with a 2.5L I4 Turbo engine and Front Wheel Drive. This Mazda6 is estimated to deliver 23 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway.

Pros

  • Smooth ride
  • Upscale interior
  • Responsive turbocharged engine

Cons

  • Tight rear seats
  • Middling fuel economy

The Mazda6 lives up to the brand’s reputation for building cars for people who like to drive. If you just want to get from point A to point B, there are better choices. If you want to enjoy the ride, then go with the Mazda6. It has crisp handling and a responsive engine, especially the available turbocharged upgrade. The interior is comfortable, with quality materials even on base models. Top trims rival luxury brands at a much lower price. The infotainment system is comprehensive with good smartphone connectivity. The smallish backseat and trunk are its shortcomings.

The Honda Accord has more room for people and cargo. The Nissan Altima has an attractive though less elegant interior, but lacks powerful engine options. The Toyota Camry provides a less upscale interior. Overall, the Mazda6 delivers an attractive and engaging choice for those who want a sporty midsize sedan.

The Ford Mustang is a muscular coupe that delivers outstanding performance in a surprisingly comfortable and modern package. As muscle cars go, you’re not going to find a more refined or well-rounded vehicle than the iconic Ford Mustang. The Ford Mustang is a 4-seater vehicle that comes in 6 trim levels. The most popular style is the GT Fastback, which starts at $37,480 and comes with a 5.0L V8 engine and Rear Wheel Drive. This Mustang is estimated to deliver 15 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway.

Pros

  • Strong performance across the lineup
  • Choice of coupe and convertible body styles
  • Modern interior style and features

Cons

  • Minimal rear-seat passenger space
  • Poor V8 fuel economy

The Ford Mustang began its life as a fairly mild-mannered sport coupe and convertible in an era when two-doors were cool. Over the years, it has grown progressively more modern while gaining size and performance. Now, largely on the strength of its lasting fame, it is one of just two cars that Ford offers.

For the 2021 model year, the Mustang turned the clock back to some of its finest hours by reviving the Mach 1 submodel that features unique styling and features. The Mustang also has an extraordinary price band. In base form, it starts at just over $28,000. At the other end of the scale, the 2021 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is priced near $70,000. Options can push the asking price up to $100,000 or so. It takes a special car to pull that off.

Most segments are crowded, but the Mustang has only two obvious competitors, both from domestic manufacturers: the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. The Ford sport coupe is virtually the same size as the Camaro but almost 10 inches shorter than the Challenger. Like its competitors, the Mustang sends its power to the rear wheels and offers an array of engines and transmissions. It is offered in coupe and convertible versions (as is the Camaro), while the Challenger is available only as a coupe.

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