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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • If we're *only* talking styling, my $0.02:

    EXTERIOR
    1. FUSION: absolutely stunning from any front angle (and side profile with certain wheel combinations); portly and slightly awkward looking from the back
    2. MAZDA 6: attractive from every stance; nicest rear-end of the group
    3. ACCORD: looks like a much more expensive car from any angle but the front
    4. (tie) ALTIMA: the best result Nissan has achieved with the "melted look" so far
    4. (tie) MALIBU: I don't understand why people think it's such a wallflower; I think Chevy did a decent job w/this and GM always seems to have a pretty strong color palette
    4. (tie) PASSAT: bland but not unattractive; should only be sold in tuxedo black
    7. OPTIMA: looks best from the back; the side profile styling is ruined by the hatchbackian C-pillar kick-up
    8. CAMRY: tries too hard to look futuristic; succeeds easily in looking putrid (SE trim is better than the others, but not by much)
    9. SONATA: while I actually like the side profile, spin it just a sliver more on the platform and that Joan Rivers-in-a-Nuclear-Powered-Wind-Tunnel front-end brings new meaning to the word grotesque (particularly from the three-quarter view) - double that for the hybrid version

    INTERIOR
    1. MAZDA 6: the beige/black color combination is gorgeous; has the most upscale cloth upholstery design (w/subtle pinstripe) I've seen from any automaker in several years
    2. PASSAT: also looks very sharp in beige; simple but elegant dash layout
    3. MALIBU: it's hard to believe it's from the same co. that was stamping out Lumina interiors from blown plastic just 10 years ago
    4. FUSION: certainly not unattractive; Ford should fit the appearance package models with an anthracite headliner and ditch the satin trim
    5. ACCORD: again, appealing in the beige/black combo but stacked dash is so '80s Pontiac 6000 (though I do like the large Volvo speedometer); looks very bland in monochrome dark gray color option
    6. SONATA: windblown styling seems to work better on the inside than the outside but the excessively swoopy dash reminds me of a circa-2000 Mustang
    7. OPTIMA: Bauhaus inspired instrument panel is uninspired; wall-like
    8. ALTIMA: just tolerable at night (with the interior lights completely off)
    9. CAMRY: a complete mess; the dashboard looks like the spawn of a love tryst between a Gobot and a Transformer
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,688
    edited October 2013
    "9. CAMRY: a complete mess; the dashboard looks like the spawn of a love tryst between a Gobot and a Transformer"

    lol!!

    "...Joan Rivers-in-a-Nuclear-Powered-Wind-Tunnel front-end...."

    lmao!++
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    When the Fusion first came out the very first thing I said was it was too long, and someone jumped all over me for it.

    I think a new taillight scheme would greatly improve it's overall look. Lincoln did great on the MK-Z, and managed to mask the long wheelbase too. It's funny how the MK-Z is marketed as a "Compact Luxury Vehicle", but the Fusion is mid-size.

    Also, you nailed the Sonata problem. The front end just looks like someone pinched it between their fingers in the middle. I can't argue about the zillion of them I see on the road though. It is probably the most prolific mid-size sedan on DC roads; period.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    edited October 2013
    I disagree on the interior ratings. Have you seen an Optima interior in black and tan? It is done better than the Mazda by far, (in EX and up trim). It was designed by Audi's chief designer, Peter Shreyer, who is now president of Kia. However, I do agree that at some angles, the Optima's stubby trunk looks a bit "off". Kia had to start with a Sonata platform though, and I think they created a far better looking product from what they had to work with. Especially the SX Optima with the "pizza wheels" and the LED taillights.

    You said the Passat had a "simple but elegant" style...but the Kia was "uninspired"?

    I have sat in all three, and driven two. The Mazda and the Optima of course, and the Optima interior had the best design in my humble opinion.

    I am not on a personal attack BTW....and maybe I am fighting for my baby a little, but I really think the Mazda dash had too much black plastic, and the LED readouts for temp and whatnot were tiny and harder to read. The Passat's dash is very high quality, but very minimalistic as well.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,688
    edited October 2013
    I think the Optima looks great in the back. It looks great from all angles. The problem I have with the Optima is that they put in huge rear roof pillars. The giant blind spots created are a problem that they didn't have to create, but they did. I'm glad Honda hasn't gone that route. Form should follow function, and seeing out of your car is an important function imho. I hope for the next generation of Optima Peter Shreyer thinks about that and goes toward an Audi level of visibility.

    The Passat is a clean design, but I'd put it a notch below the really good looking midsize cars.

    What's interesting is that in terms of style, function, safety, performance, mpg, and the rest, this segment is so competitive that the best of the midsize cars are not just good, but near great, and an amazing value for the money compared to most other cars . Just a few thousand dollars separates these cars from their smaller siblings like the Civic, Corolla, Elantra, etc, but the midsize cars are significantly ahead in terms of room, acceleration, safety, style, etc., and only sacrifice a comparatively small amount when it comes to mpg.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,778
    On exterior styling only I would tweak your order just a little:

    1. Mazda6
    2. Accord
    3. Optima
    4. Camry
    5. Passat
    6. Altima
    7. Passat
    8. Sonata
    9. Malibu
    10. Legend

    I doubt I would ever buy a Mazda anything as they do not inspire me with their quality. The Passat is a bit bland but pulls off the look better than the Jetta. Sonata is tired and has not aged well. Legend is a typical Subaru styling job, rather dumpy.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,778
    Question on the Passat: I see some that have chrome grill accents only on the horizontal bars, while I see others that also have chrome accents on the vertical bars too. These look better to me. I have not found why some have them and some don't. Anyone know?

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • gogophers1gogophers1 Posts: 218
    edited October 2013
    I certainly don't want to offend anyone here; this is just how I see things (and it's only my visual critique, if we threw other aspects of design - e.g., handling, quality, etc. - into the mix, the Malibu would plummet to the bottom IMO). I should probably mention, I don't own any of the cars listed and have no loyalty to any one brand (my primary vehicle now is a Ford, before that it was a Chevy, before that a Hyundai and so on).

    Although none of these cars are perfect in terms of design (again, IMO), I can't recall a time the mid-size class had so many stylish entries. And yet they're each going their own styling direction - for the most part (which, as a car aficionado, I love). The "problem" with that philosophy (for the manufacturers, of course) is that when you bolt on a 22-inch tall teardrop shaped headlamp assembly, such as Hyundai did with the new Sonata, some people (like myself) will go running as fast as possible in the opposite direction. Other people, like my neighbor, are going to fall in love and sign on the dotted line.

    I believe the front end of the Fusion is stunning. But that's me. I bought a new Chevy HHR in Sunburst Orange Metallic back in 2008 because I absolutely loved the style of the vehicle from the front and sides and, yes, orange is my favorite color (shame on you, Dodge, for eliminating Toxic Orange from the Charger's color palette). The chrome grill, chrome wheels, all that bright orange metal... my God, I thought that car was beautiful. And as polarizing as boxy, retro-inspired orange vehicles have the potential to be, it still constantly surprised me to discover how many of my friends disagreed with my taste. Long story short, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

    Interestingly enough, with each subsequent visit to the Chevrolet service dept. to repair problems with the steering system and sunroof, I loved Hhr a little less until she left my garage forever in 2010 (and an almost equally problematic Ford product drove in to take Hhr place).

    I don't fault anyone for buying a Sonata or Optima based on style as Hyundai was clearly trying to inpart a distinct styling theme into each of those designs. I do, however, call into question someone's veracity when they say the Camry is a *visually* appealing car. Because it's all too apparent that aesthetic design was way down at the bottom of the list when Toyota penned it. Do I think the Camry is a bad car? No, but it's the proverbial ugly wife of the the midsize class. And, shallow me, I wouldn't want to be seen walking up to the thing in a public parking lot for that very reason.
  • gogophers1gogophers1 Posts: 218
    edited October 2013
    I've seen both the Mazda and Kia interiors in the black/tan combination and I much prefer the Mazda's.

    It's a mix of several factors:
    I really dislike the wall-like dash of the Optima; it almost seems like the instrument binnacle is launching itself toward the passenger compartment. While the Mazda's dash is nothing spectacular per se, it's certainly not offputting either. Mazda also uses a simple grayish white lighting scheme which I prefer to Kia's generally red lighting.

    The aspect of the Mazda that really does it for me though is the cloth trim in the "Sand" color. I'll tell you right up front, I'm not a leather guy (I live in a state with 5 months of winter), so mine is a cloth vs. cloth opinion.

    From what I've seen lately, and this seems to be reaching a crescendo, manufacturers are putting the ugliest materials and patterns they can find into their cloth equipped models (presumably so that buyers are forced into checking the box for cowhides). Mazda has just broken that pattern - no pun intended - with the 6. Their pinstripe cloth design reminds me of the textiles Audi used in their line-up in the '80s and early '90s (before Europe went all leather and leather substitute on their US spec. models). IMO, it actually looks nicer than the cowhide versions of the same model.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,261
    Why don't the mfrs just offer a nice vinyl interior ? The new stuff is so close to leather in look and feel -- why not follow MB --- I know I wouldn't mind a nice synthetic seat surface.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    I find it humorous when folks think the Accord's styling is great and the Legacy's is "dumpy". Except for front details and a character line, they could be twins.

    Legacy:
    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2012/11/2013-subaru-legacy-25i-qui- ck-spin---01-opt-1352990890.jpg

    Accord:
    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2012/09/2013-honda-accord-ex-l-sed- an628opt.jpeg

    IMO I don't know how anyone could consider the Camry to have better exterior styling than the Altima or Sonata... or the Malibu or Legend for that matter. To each his own!

    But, interesting that the Passat is both 5th or 7th... does that depend on the trim level, or ?? ;)
  • gogophers1gogophers1 Posts: 218
    edited October 2013
    Jay, I can't tell if you're being serious or not with that comment.
  • serenity185serenity185 Posts: 22
    edited October 2013
    Completely agree with your comments on the Mazda6's interior, gogophers1. The sand cloth interior just looks classy and well-made. As someone who's potentially shopping for $23-$25K sedans, I greatly appreciate that Mazda is one of the few manufacturers who are putting a lot of thought into the look and feel of their base models' interiors.

    My current car is a 2007 Accord EX with cloth which I love since it's soft and looks plush, and after seeing the cheap, rough-looking fabric and finishes that many competitors use in this class on their base models, it's a bit disheartening. Thankfully Mazda is bucking that trend.
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 1,778
    Oops, copy/paste error. #7 should be Fusion. Not a fan of that design. I think that was probably the most over-hyped car when it was introduced at the auto shows last year. I cannot see what they were so wowed about.

    Styling is obviously subjective. I find the Camry styling not bad. I would not mind being seen in one.

    I find the Legacy very unattractive and don't see the similarity you mention. The front overhang looks way too long and the trunk way too short. Proportions are awkward.

    2011 Buick Regal Turbo, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    We all totally agree on Camry. Put together by committee, and loved by only frightened consumers because it is a "safe buy".

    The mat draped across the dash is awful, and on the outside it is just a thin plastic mess. The fake chrome around the fog lights and the steel wheels with hubcaps just don't cut it anymore in this segment...but then again I see a zillion Sonata GLS running around. There are tons of people that aren't "car people", so I understand the rational. New and shiny is good, and for many it's good enough.

    Another thing is that on the Camry (and the Corolla) the bodywork on the front wheel well is way wider than the tires, (for aerodynamic reasons I am sure), but it doesn't look right.

    The SE is acceptable. It has a nicer looking front end and good looking rims. It's just bland.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    In a Camry, no one sees you. It's as good as witness protection.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    You are right about the Mazda quality. Also, the Optima cloth seats in base LX is nothing special. It is what you get for your money in the EX that wowed me.

    In particular I can't stand silver painted plastic. (satin faux-aluminum) The Optima has NONE. It has an actual piece of aluminum around the gear shift. The Mazda doesn't have any either. The Sonata does. Lots of it. That is why I slammed the Sonata interior in another post. Still a good car though.

    In the Camry, it's fake aluminum plastic is also squishy, and you can damage it with your fingernail. Awful.

    It is a turn off for me in any product. Reminds me of a low buck Soundesign boom box.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,261
    I have leather seats in my LaCrosse and in my Prius. Other than the actual seating area, the rest is vinyl and it would suit me fine all over. The difference in look and feel is minimal. Most of the cloth seats I've experienced lately are mouse fur material and drag on your pants getting in and out so yeah -- give vinyl over cloth any day if the price is comparable
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,618
    I'm ok with cloth seats, it's just hard to get heated cloth seats.
    My Focus had them, but usually you have to get leather to get the heaters.
    Also, I do like my toys, so usually that model includes leather seating.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    Heated cloth seats aren't all that hard to find. My wife's Sonata GLS has them for example. (The Elantra GLS offers them too.) I use them more than I thought I would, feels good in the winter.
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    edited October 2013
    When Fiat merged with Chrysler, their president was touring the Chrysler product line in person and after he saw the 2010 Sebring/Avenger he said "dreadful".
    So, the story goes that he approved a rework of the interiors on the spot at $100 per car, a sizable investment. The the "hard points"" of the cars are exactly the same as pre-2011 cars, (so they can use essentially the same tooling) but there have been a host of other mechanical changes. With the addition of the 3.6 liter, 283 hp engine, the 200 has become a respectable ride....but still doesn't reach the sophistication of the majority of the other players. The 4 cylinder Avenger still uses a 4 speed automatic, and the 2.4 liter has been called "farm machinery" at higher rpm.

    Here is some unabridged wiki info since no one else has posted any, and the Avenger is indeed mid-size:

    "Although the Sebring platform has been retained, there have been numerous cosmetic and powertrain changes to the 200. While the 2.4 L four-cylinder 173 horsepower (129 kW) 166 lb·ft (225 N·m)[citation needed] engine with either a four-speed or six-speed automatic transmission is carried over, Chrysler's new Pentastar 3.6 L V6 engine is also offered, with a six-speed automatic transmission, generating 283 horsepower (211 kW) and 260 lb·ft (350 N·m) of torque. A flex-fuel version of the 3.6 L Pentastar engine is also offered. Other changes include stiffer body mounts, a softer ride rate, revised suspension geometry, a new rear sway bar, and upgraded tires. The 200 also introduces more premium features than the Sebring, such as LED lighting, thicker seat cushioning with higher quality materials, along with new measures to decrease noise, vibration, and harshness.

    The 200 is produced at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant and arrived at dealers in December 2010. A 2-door convertible model was added in early 2011 with the same engine choices.
    The 200 and sister car Dodge Avenger were ranked the "Most American Made" sedans and convertibles by The Kogod Made in America Auto Index in 2013."
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    edited October 2013
    I love your well thought out comments, and your lists were awesome, particularly the transformer/go-bot reference. You are not offending me at all. I didn't like the front end of the Optima at first. It grew on me. I initially thought the Sonata was beautiful. Then, after seeing thousands of grey GLS hubcap jobs that I grew numb to it. Kind of like the previous generation Altima's (with the clear plastic "altezza" rear lights). Neither does anything for me.

    Then I saw an Optima SX (turbo) in electric blue with the pizza wheels. Killer. It turned heads. While I couldn't rationalize the expense of a turbo, I saw the EX model was very well equipped. Even the base model has dual exhaust and fog lights....along with alloy wheels. Also has the most horsepower in the base engine.

    So, the Fusion "did it" for you. That's the cool part. People don't "fall in love" with Camry's. They need a car, and don't want to get a lemon.

    That leads me to the American car. You mentioned your HHR, with a recurring steering problem, replaced by a problematic Ford.

    I had the exact same experience. My Z24 had a cracked transmission resulting in poor clutch alignment....eating clutches every 30k. Then the alternator went every 30k also. I kept a spare in the trunk. Then I had an SHO. The engine seized .

    I don't buy american cars anymore. Period. All the Asian cars I have owned have worked flawlessly. No "glitches". Also, I buy more mainstream engines, instead of the higher-zoot V6/turbo models; crammed into a small engine bay. That is why my Chevy's alternator fried. Too hot. I don't want a turbo- fear of more time in the shop as the car ages. When metal parts get red hot and spin at high RPM, then endure ice cold winters and 100+ heat summers, that hot and cold cycling will eventually break something....and that something will be attached to something else. However, it really boils down to having 3 kids under 13. I can't afford hi-performance engine problems/insurance/fuel/tires, and will not be able to until they are on their own.

    Then, I will buy a mid-life crisis car when my hair is silver and my Viagra is daily!
    I was happy that I found something in the middle for now. Sporty, roomy, reliable, smooth powertrain, and comfortable. $24,000.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,618
    Some only have heated lower seat cushions.
    I like ones that also have heated seat backs.
  • The big advantage with vinyl (or "leatherette" as VW likes to deceptively refer to it) IMO is that it ages well. I have seen fake leather/vinyl interiors in cars with well over 100K on the clock that still look virtually new.

    Incontinent grandmother? No worries. Drooling canine? Not an issue. Careless children that can't hold on to their waffle cones? No problem. It's VINYL!

    Leather, on the other hand, does not age well - at least not when it's installed in a car interior. Cowhides dry out and crack when exposed to extreme heat (and car interiors, even up here in MN, can get HOT in the summertime) and will discolor and pick up a sheen when they come into continued contact with human body oils (natural or otherwise). The lighter leather colors are the worst for wear, but I've seen some pretty nasty dark leather interiors on cars without a lot of miles on them too.

    I think one of the big reasons automakers push leather nowadays is that, regardless of how solid a car is mechanically or structurally with over 100K on the odometer, it will "feel" old if the seats are brittle, worn and/or held together with duct tape. Call it today's version of planned obsolescence. Take a stroll down the back row of any large car dealership's lot and peek into some windows if you doubt my veracity.

    In the 60's, '70s and '80s, cars would very often be well on their way to rustdom after 7 or 8 years in this part of the country. Build a car like that today and your brand image would drop with each and every passing glance on the road. But if your fancy model's leather interior looks like the backside of a cow exploded in it after just a handful of years, no one but the owner (and perhaps an additional occupant or two) will be any the wiser.

    For anyone who is planning on keeping his car for a long time, vinyl is a much better choice [than leather]. That said, even if you poke a bunch of tiny holes in it (read: perforate), vinyl is a poor choice for actual *seating* surfaces.

    After receiving a promo offer from VW, I was somewhat seriously considering a Jetta SE turbodiesel a few months back and took a close friend along on the test drive to get his opinion. While not obese, let's just say he's carrying along a few extra pounds. And he could not stop complaining about how much his butt was sweating on the VW's hot vinyl (and, no, the seat heaters were not on). Perhaps it was partly psychological, but I started feeling the same sensation by the end of the drive (I'm only 160 lbs, so perhaps my manner of driving had something to do with it). Ultimately, the vinyl interior (combined with the most abrupt clutch engagement of any new car I ever driven) was a dealbreaker.

    Vinyl on door panels, seatbacks and armrests is one thing. Vinyl on seating surfaces is quite another. It may wear like plastic, but it breathes like it too.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,618
    Cars were a lot different 20 years ago.
    I still have my 1991 Mustang, and have had it for 22 years.
    My kids drove my 11 year old Explorer in high school and I'm glad to have it back.
    Can't wait to take my 2013 Fusion out to South bend for the ND/USC game.
    Different perspective.
  • gogophers1gogophers1 Posts: 218
    edited October 2013
    Your concern [about American cars] is one we share. I haven't had good luck with them - even the ones I've purchased new.

    It's exactly what's causing me so much agony right now [as I dream about driving that 3 year old dud of a Ford out of my garage for the very last time]. My heart says, "Get the Fusion. It's so beautiful and fun to drive," but my head says, "What? Are you nuts? You've done this before. Get the Accord or a Mazda 6."

    And then I have all the constraints that go along with shopping for a new vehicle with a manual transmission (like, there's only about 5 choices still out there in the midsize class... and if you want cruise control and a radio, knock another two off the list...).
  • cskicski West Springfield, VAPosts: 1,193
    edited October 2013
    The Mazda is now a 100% Japanese, in house Mazda. No Ford parts. I think it deserves to be in the #1 spot, and should be on anyone's mid size list. The 6 is a different animal all-together from the Fordza's of the past. . I believe Mazda has something to prove and they used the most modern, hi quality manufacturing processes to make it, and its made in Japan in a new facility.

    I saw the interior of a base Honda Accord today at the grocery store, so I stuck my head in. The first thing I saw was lots of shiny plasti-silver faux-aluminum. I like the Accord exterior, but what you have to see everyday is the inside. So, if that 1980's Emerson-Soundesign boom-box cheap plastic is on other Accords...then Honda blew it interior wise.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    The front seats of the Sonata have heated backs also... quite cozy. I think the rear seat heaters (not available on the GLS) are bottom cushions only.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,618
    edited October 2013
    If it wasn't for Ford, there would be no Mazda.
    They always took the road less traveled and it never has really worked.
    Ford's financial stake was never over 33%, Japanese law.
    My opinion is that the car reviewing media is trying to promote Mazda to show that still have market influence.
    That is pretty much a Fail.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    Maybe the car-reviewing media happens to like what Mazda sans-Ford is making these days? IMO their last 3 new designs, the CX-5, the Mazda6, and now the Mazda3 are at or near the top of their respective classes. Could just be that some of the automotive mags think likewise.

    Personally I wish Mazda had more market influence than they have. Maybe then the "market" would make better cars.
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