So sure, the midsize sedan’s grip on household transportation is weakening. Ford definitely thinks so, but this transformation in shopper preferences comes at a time when the present crop of sedans is sensational. They’re larger and extra highly effective, but additionally extra environment friendly. Security scores are impeccable. They even look higher than ever.
So earlier than working out to attain one of many bajillion little SUVs flooding the market, why not ponder this trio of midsize sedan all-stars which may really work higher? Over the course of three consecutive weeks we examined the 2018 Camry XSE V6, 2018 Accord Touring 2.0T and the perennial critical-darling 2018 Mazda6 Signature. The latter was completely up to date and, maybe as such, bucked the phase development by really promoting extra in June this 12 months. Every was a range-topping trim degree with all of the bells and whistles, plus probably the most highly effective engine out there. Actually, you could not discover automobiles nearer in energy, value and have content material.
Efficiency and gasoline financial system
Toyota bucked the turbocharged development by sticking with naturally aspirated engines for the 2018 Camry, and on the subject of its Three.5-liter V6, it is certain laborious to argue with that call. For starters, it produces 301 horsepower. Let that sink in for a second. A 301-hp Toyota Camry. That crushes the others, whereas its 267 pound-feet of torque is barely 6 lower than the Accord and 17 higher than the Mazda. It is a robust, easy engine that solely will get higher while you understand it matches the 26-mpg mixed gasoline financial system of the others.
Honda, in the meantime, adopted the lots by switching to a turbocharged four-cylinder for the Accord’s engine improve (and its base engine, for that matter). Although its 252 hp is significantly down on the Camry and its 271 lb-ft is barely a smidgen extra, the Accord’s torque arrives earlier within the rev vary with out feeling overtly turbocharged. It additionally has 143 fewer kilos to take care of. When wrung out, this new 2.Zero-liter belts out an attractive, sometimes Honda music made attainable by the sensible 10-speed automated (the bottom 1.5-liter is paired to a CVT that ends in extra drone than mechanical music) that fortunately would not draw a lot consideration to itself.
Now, do you have to want fewer gears and extra pedals, the Accord is the one automotive right here to supply a handbook transmission with its improve engine. Certain, you’ll be able to solely get it with the lesser-equipped Sport trim degree, however no matter. Beggars, choosers, and many others.
As for the Mazda, its newly out there 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that comes customary on the highest three trim ranges could appear disappointing on paper given its 227 hp and 250 lb-ft. In apply, it is also a bit growlier and never as easy because the Accord. But, what the 6 lacks in refinement and all-out grunt, it makes up for with response. The throttle is great, reacting to delicate inputs with out feeling overcaffeinated. It is also unchanged while you press the Sport button, which, not like these of the opposite automobiles right here that additionally fiddle with the steering and suspension, solely alters the transmission.
And what an alteration it makes, as Mazda’s six-speed downshifts readily and neatly. Brake going right into a nook and the transmission will drop a cog for you, not not like the game modes of a Mercedes-AMG or Porsche. Sure, it has paddles just like the others, however I did not really discover myself needing them. That is an indication of excellence, which makes it a bit of extra palatable that the greatest automotive to drive doesn’t have a handbook. It is solely out there on the non-turbo base mannequin. Boo.
Trip and dealing with
That is proper, the Mazda6 is the very best one to drive. It is agile, playful and light-weight on its toes. Whereas I wrote final 12 months that the brand new Camry feels extra just like the 6, after driving them in brief succession, it is nonetheless not on the identical degree. Truly, the Toyota feels about 800 kilos heavier regardless of the precise drawback being 17 kilos. Maybe Mazda’s new-fangled G-Vectoring Management has one thing to do with that, however I am crediting its benchmark steering. It is low friction on middle with a buttery easy turn-in and just-right effort. It weights up naturally as you flip by a nook and nearly feels hydraulic. A poor man’s Porsche would not be removed from the reality.
Proper, so the Camry and Accord aren’t going to be profitable the fun-to-drive class. Truly, neither are significantly enjoyable, however they don’t seem to be loafing home equipment, both. The Camry’s sportier XSE trim has spectacular grip and stays flat by corners. If a skidpad revealed it pulled extra lateral Gs than the 6, it would not be shocking. It ought to undoubtedly be higher than the squealing Accord. On the similar time, the Camry additionally had probably the most comfy and compliant journey of the group. That is in distinction to the earlier Camry SE, which may by no means fairly reconcile its platform’s unique comfort-oriented mission with new, handling-focused orders.
In the end, the Camry is let down by its steering, which is simply too excessive in effort (and it will get even heavier while you activate Sport). There are those that equate heavy steering with sportier steering, however this reviewer doesn’t. On this case, it is a hindrance to feeling what the wheels are doing and doubtless provides to that hefty automotive really feel. Nonetheless, this might definitely be the results of, and the draw back to, having a heavier V6 engine sitting atop the entrance wheels. On the press launch, the four-cylinder Camry did really feel extra agile than the V6 mannequin.
Steering additionally disappoints within the Accord. It is a bit disconnected, though its Sport mode does a greater job of dialing in a bit of additional effort than the Camry’s. It by no means feels as alive in your palms because the 6’s does, nor older Accords’, both. Usually, the Honda feels lighter on its toes than the Camry (little doubt trigger it is so much lighter), and though not “enjoyable,” a lot about it simply feels proper.
As for the Accord’s journey, different trim ranges are most likely higher. The as-tested Touring trim comes with adaptive suspension dampers. That might be nice, however Touring additionally comes with 19-inch wheels that stand proud of their razor-thin sidewalls and might be continually curbed (as our check automotive’s had been on arrival), and in addition appear to make the Accord clop over bumps like a sprinter carrying Dr. Martens. I additionally suspect the delicate suspension float skilled over highway undulations (not current within the different automobiles right here) might be the results of compensating for the harshness created by so little sidewall (235/40 R19). The Camry and 6 additionally rode on 19’s but did not undergo from the identical type of journey degradation.
Passenger and cargo house
Need the most important automotive right here? Get the Accord. It is not only a matter of specs, both.
To supply the hardest check attainable, the entrance seat was positioned for this specific 6-foot-Three driver who then received out and sat within the again seat. The Accord had a soda can’s price of house remaining between knee and seat again. The Camry’s seat was simply grazing knees. The Mazda6’s driver seat needed to be scooched as much as create sufficient room. All can be greater than tremendous for these of common peak, although the Accord’s dimension benefit may come into play when becoming a rear-facing little one seat. Rear headroom was comparable throughout, however the Camry’s out there panoramic sunroof (versus the common sunroof listed in its specs) reduces entrance headroom. The brand new Camry’s driving place could have been pleasantly lowered and sportified for 2018, however it could possibly make issues a bit of squishy. Sadly, the panoramic sunroof is tied to the XSE trim degree and due to this fact the V6.
As for the trunk, we examined them utilizing two midsize check-in suitcases and two carry-on curler suitcases. The Accord and Camry accommodated all of them between their wheel wells, however the Honda’s additional trunk size would permit for larger or additional luggage than the Toyota may handle. The Mazda may solely match the larger luggage between its wheels, leaving the smaller ones to be awkwardly stacked atop one another. There’s noticeably much less house, although at the least its gooseneck hinges are shrouded and will not crush something. Cubic-foot measurements within the spec sheet echo these real-world observations.
Inside high quality, design and value
Should you’re considering you’d should be nuts to pay $36,000 for a Honda Accord or $38,000 for a Toyota Camry, perhaps you would be proper. However at the least their interiors look, and for probably the most half, really feel the half. Current generations of every have typically been unremarkable.
The Camry has made the larger leap, which is definitely extra evident in the decrease LS trim. It doesn’t matter what you pay, nevertheless, Toyota’s cabin design is almost as busy as its exterior. In comparison with the refreshingly minimalist Accord and Mazda6, there’s so much occurring and it most likely will not age nicely aesthetically. Its supplies and craftsmanship ought to maintain up, although, as each are stronger than earlier than. Actually, if the plastics and pleathers present in one among these rivals is healthier than the others, it is not so nice to be apparent.
The Mazda additionally received an inside improve for 2018, and though not a full re-do, it is certainly extra enticing. The brand new range-topping Signature trim provides ritzier cabin supplies, together with a particular brown suede-like materials that is really fairly much like the stuff masking the IKEA chair in my front room. I like that Strandmon, so I preferred the trim.
The Accord’s attractively minimalistic cabin most likely will not wow you, however all the pieces is top quality. The local weather management knobs click on like an Audi’s. Extra importantly, its cabin can also be probably the most purposeful. The abyssal under-arm storage bin places the 6’s glorified change purse to disgrace, whereas its bin ahead of the shifter encompasses a USB port and is massive sufficient to suit any variety of telephone sizes (although wi-fi charging isn’t included, not like the Camry). That is additionally a wonderfully random alternative to notice the Accord’s superior visibility.
The 2018 Accord corrects Honda’s transient dalliance with horrible infotainment programs. This newest touchscreen has higher graphics, a extra wise menu construction and bodily accompanying controls (sure, together with a quantity knob). It additionally comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, that are unavailable on both the Camry or Mazda6. Having stated that, the Camry’s new Entune Three.Zero touchscreen is at the least straightforward to make use of and is unlikely to trigger complications. The Mazda’s may, because the potential deserves of its knob-and-screen set-up are typically outweighed by its lack of function content material and a few usability issues (you’ll be able to’t see your radio preset record and satellite tv for pc radio information as the identical time, as an example). It feels prefer it’s behind the occasions. A minimum of the Mazda6’s Bose stereo sounded the very best of the bunch whereas the Honda’s Honda stereo was the weakest.
By way of security tech, the Accord and Camry come customary with a collection of accident avoidance options. Comparable gadgets are customary on each 6 however the base trim, the place they’re at the least optionally available. Good throughout, then. By way of how they really perform, the 6’s programs belief you extra and are much less more likely to cry wolf. As an example, its lane retaining system makes no noise and as a substitute gently vibrates the wheel and subtly corrects the steering. Your passengers are unlikely to note. In contrast, the Honda’s ahead collision warning system, regardless of enhancements, nonetheless erroneously beeps and blares “BRAKE!” at you in moments the place no collision is probably going and even attainable.
The Camry and Accord’s adaptive cruise management programs are a bit higher, although, because the 6’s is a bit of to jabby on the brakes and never fairly as pure in its reactions.
I really feel dangerous for the Toyota Camry. It lastly will get the accolades to match its perennial bestseller standing solely to have Honda steal its highlight with a wildly improved and spectacular Accord. The redesigned Camry is so good in so some ways, significantly its V6, however there’s little it does that Honda would not match or higher. That goes for its reliability status as nicely. But, at the least it strikes a extra emotional connection. The rear and profile look wonderful, particularly the low swooping beltline, and the XSE’s entrance is at the least extra tolerable than the LE/XLE’s extra gaping maw. I like the best way it appears.
Many will want the modern Mazda6, although, even with the check automotive’s boring gray paint doing it zero favors. It is also probably the most partaking right here to drive and the one one that would legitimately be described as enjoyable. By way of an emotional connection, the 6 tugs the heartstrings stronger than the others whereas its substantial updates for 2018 make for a extra refined, aggressive total package deal.
Nonetheless, after back-to-back-to-back weeks in these three household sedans, the 2018 Honda Accord is the one that may get my strongest suggestion. Virtually and rationally talking, it is extraordinarily well-rounded. It is also partaking sufficient to drive and presents a handbook transmission, whereas the brand new design is an attention grabbing knock out. From sure angles, its sloped roofline, cab-rearward haunches and blunt nostril evoke the second-generation Mercedes CLS — or the first-generation Hyundai Azera. Both means, it is the one I assumed seemed the very best.
And actually, in case your private type alternative finally makes the choice right here, that is simply tremendous. So too when you dig driving yet one more than the opposite, or to be completely sensible, get a killer deal. As a result of these three actually are the cream of the midsize sedan crop. If they cannot save the species, nicely, then it truly is doomed.
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