The midsize car segment is the most competitive crowd in the industry, with even parity between its arguable top six (Camry, Fusion, Accord, Sonata, Prius, Malibu) and a significant dropoff after the Mazda6 with little respected yet servicable cars like the Mitsubishi Galant, Chrysler 200, and the Kia Optima.
Are these also-rans worth buying?
2011 Mitsubishi Galant
An expansive interior, decent handling, and basic 5-year 60,000 mile warranty does not make up for the negatives. Last redesigned six years ago, the Galant is wrecked by an underpowered four cylinder engine and a plastic interior most reminiscent of old Datsuns. It also has a low resale value, which is indicative of the overall quality of any car. The Galant comes in two trims (ES and SE) Plus, its MSRP of $21.000 is highway robbery compared to the Sonata´s GLS trim´s $18,000 starting price. Leave this underachieving brand to Avis and Hertz to buy in bulk.
2010 Dodge Avenger
The Avenger is arguably the least regarded car in this group, dogged by low reliability ratings, and little room. Its V6 engine is very underpowered (186 HP) and its fuel economy lags behind class leaders at 21/30 mpg. Its interior rivals Kia in lousy finish and cheapness. All in all, poor bang for the buck.
2011 Chrysler 200
The 200 is a step up from the discontinued Sebring with a much improved re-design, a new Pentastar V6 engine and improved handling. It comes in LX, Touring, Limited, and S times with the choice of two engines (four cylinder 173 HP and the Pentastar with six speed automatic) and standard safety features. All around, a ho-hum $19,000 car with absolutely no reason to be considered ahead of the similarly priced Sonata and Accord.
The Subaru Legacy is a mixed bag. It comes with standard all wheel drive at the expense of fuel economy, a disastrous 19/27 mpg. Its styling is outdated but its interior is roomy. The Legacy is interesting in that it handcuffs consumers into choose a 2.5 four cylinder with sluggish acceleration or the 265 horsepower four cylinder that only uses premium fuel. Choose the Legacy stellar crash test ratings, its IIHS Top Safety Pick award, and a decent but not spectacular ride.
Hyundai owned Kia has come a long way from the days where it ranked near dead last on quality and reliability surveys. A new redesign, 22/32 mpg, a 10 year 100,000 mile warranty, and the planned hybrid for 2011 makes this the likliest candidate to break into the top five or six midsize sedans within the next two years.