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Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony and Peter Bleakney

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2013 FAMILY SEDAN COMPARISON

2013 Chevrolet Malibu vs 2013 Ford Fusion vs 2013 Honda Accord vs 2013 Nissan Altima vs 2012 Toyota Camry

When it comes to the automotive market, there are certain segments that are simply that much more competitive. Well, it doesn’t get much more competitive than the mid-size family sedan segment. Every brand has an entry, and pricing is usually so close that financing or incentives can turn any car into a great value.

Every year it seems that one segment or another has a wave of new products, and this year it has been the year of the sedan. It’s not often you get updates from most of the major players in a single year, but since last September when the 2012 Toyota Camry was launched, we have seen the introduction of all-new 2013 models in the Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, and Honda Accord.

Comparison Test: Best Family Sedans toyota nissan honda ford car comparisons chevrolet
2013 FAMILY SEDAN COMPARISON. Click image to enlarge

While mid-size sedans don’t account for the volume of compact cars or crossovers here in Canada, it is still an extremely popular segment and is also a reflection of a brand’s best engineering, design, and packaging efforts to capture sales, though moreso in the US market, where mid-size sedans dominate the sales charts.

Two of the vehicles are such household names that they are synonymous with the term family sedan: Accord and Camry. Throughout their long histories, Camry has earned a reputation as comfortable, reliable transport, while the Accord has distinguished itself with a more sporting demeanour to go along with a similar reputation for reliability. The new Camry tries to overcome its ‘vanilla’ flavour, but without alienating its solid customer base. The Accord may not appear drastically different, but is full of simple, yet thoughtful improvements.

The Nissan Altima has always been a bit of an outsider, but surged into sales success with its own sporting pretensions and unique styling, but this Altima seems to have changed tracks and matches softer, fluid styling with a comfort-oriented vehicle.

Comparison Test: Best Family Sedans toyota nissan honda ford car comparisons chevrolet
2013 FAMILY SEDAN COMPARISON. Click image to enlarge

Chevrolet is a brand that is reinventing its identity since emerging from bankruptcy protection, and the Malibu is a key product for them to reach more customers in a traditional market. However, they have an uphill battle, and they would need to deliver a spectacular vehicle to conquest sales away from Toyota and Honda. Not to spoil the surprise, but this car is not it.

And then there is the Fusion, the second generation that this nameplate has taken over from the Taurus, but it arrived like a European supermodel showing up at a frat party. When we lined these cars up, I couldn’t help but think, “Which one of these cars does not belong?” In a sea of drab, conventional designs, in drab, muted colours, the brilliant blue Fusion was a breath of fresh air. But does it have the content to back up that good first impression? And is that styling too much for this ‘white bread’ segment?

We brought together four-cylinder (though one adds battery assist), automatic-equipped samples of each model, although they ranged from a near-base Camry LE to a fully loaded Accord Touring and drove them back to back on the same day to discern the strengths and weaknesses of each and to crown our family sedan king. –JY




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.