Meet the New Neighbors

The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are the block-party captains of the midsize sedan class.

Some vintages are better than others, but they're nearly always a marvel of packaging with their fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines, spacious cabins and tight build quality. Honda and Toyota sell a lot of them.

In this midsize sedan comparison test, there's a 2012 Honda Accord EX, representing the last year before the redesign. It costs $25,875. Meanwhile, our 2012 Toyota Camry SE is freshly redesigned and pricey ($28,658), mainly because we didn't keep a lid on the options when we bought it. It has a navigation system and keyless ignition.

The Hyundai Sonata is the only car here that has made a serious run at the Camry-Accord sales crowns. It moved into the neighborhood a couple years back and immediately had the greenest lawn and the best Halloween candy. Priced at only $22,355, this 2012 Hyundai Sonata GLS test car features the most powerful four-cylinder engine of the group, plus a power driver seat and USB input.

Previous Volkswagen Passats lived in ritzier subdivisions — near-luxury cars, basically. Now VW, too, is aiming for the heart of the market with a larger, less expensive Passat. Our midrange 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SE still looks upscale, but for $25,595 you don't get everything. VW's proprietary USB cable isn't included, nor is a diesel engine — we're sticking with the base gasoline five-cylinder.

The richest neighbor is the revamped 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, which lands at $29,230 — a consequence of GM's phased launch strategy. So far, Chevy has rolled out only the Malibu Eco light-hybrid model, while a cheaper non-hybrid Malibu model powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 follows this summer. The Malibu Eco starts at $25,995, but ours has the 2SA upgrade group (premium audio, back-up camera, power driver seat) and the Leather package.

The redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion and 2013 Nissan Altima haven't moved in yet. Look for a rematch later this year.

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2012-'13 Midsize Sedan Comparison Test

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