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2021 Honda Accord

Best Midsized Cars For 2021

What's What In The Land Of the Family Sedan? We'll Tell You!

For 2021, The Midsize Sedan Just Keeps Getting Better

You’ve landed a good job, met a great partner, gotten married, bought a house, and have had a kid or two. The American Dream in a nutshell.

However, now you’re looking at that little Honda Civic that got you through college and is your reliable steed to commute to and from work. And it’s starting to look a bit too small.

This is a reality that many Americans face year in and year out. They need something that will both be a value-oriented purchase, but also crucially have the space and capacity for everything from the school run to birthday party “taxi services” to and from the movie theater or, at least back in the old days, the bowling alley.

So sit back, relax, and kick off your shoes, because we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. These are the 6 best midsized cars coming in 2021, with many available for purchase right now. Looking for something a bit more premium? See: the best entry-level luxury cars for 2021 and the best midsized luxury cars for 2021.

2021 Honda Accord

1. 2021 Honda Accord

Important Info

  • Base Price:$24,770-$36,700
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 5.6-7.0 sec
  • Fuel Economy: City 29- 48 mpg / Hwy 31-48 mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 9.0/10

Our Thoughts: Pros & Cons

Summary: As the family sedan segment shrinks, Honda produces a car that could turn that trend around

Pros: Precise and agile handling for a car this size, excellent engines, spacious and upscale feeling interior

Cons: Less interior storage than many competitors, some mild blind spots

Honda has been making the Accord for decades, and for decades it has been the #1 recommended buy for someone looking for a practical, stylish, decently powerful and fun to drive family sedan. It’s no different for 2021, with another home run hit by Honda.

Minor upgrades from the 2020 model make the optional 8-inch infotainment screen now standard in all models, as well as a new safety feature that we would love to see become standard across the industry: rear seat check. What this does is that after the car is unlocked, if either of the rear doors was opened before the car moves, the onboard computer will pop a message up on the infotainment screen when the engine is shut off to check the rear seat.

Powering the entire line are three engines. The standard is a 1.5L turbocharged inline-four with variable boost sensing, which sports 192 HP. The upper echelon of the model range gets a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four with a grunty 252 HP. A dual electric motor hybrid is available that pairs with the 1.5L engine.

However, what gets people to drive cars is the feel of them, and Honda has not dropped the ball here. Cornering effort is easy, there is little to no body roll, and the car communicates just enough information without making the ride uncomfortable. Added to that is laser-sharp steering that gives a confident turn in and very neutral dynamic feel that will move to mild understeer if you push it too hard.

2021 Hyundai Sonata

2. 2021 Hyundai Sonata

Important Info

  • Base Price: $23,600-$35,300
  • Updates: Unchanged
  • 0-60 mph: 7.3+ sec
  • Fuel Economy: City 28-34 mpg / Hwy 37-40 mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.7/10

Our Thoughts: Pros & Cons

Summary: The Sonata lives up to its name, singing to the driver through a premium feeling interior, great dynamics, and a ton of standard features

Pros: Low drag exterior design, luxury-grade interior, superb fuel efficiency, outstanding 10 year powertrain warranty

Cons: Not as much get-up-and-go as the Honda Accord, can be jarring on extremely rough roads

Hyundai and its sub-brand Kia have been rewriting the book on expectations of what a new car should have as standard, and what a warranty for that new car should be. The South Korean manufacturer has made sure that the 2021 Sonata is no different.

Even the lowest spec SE model has a 191 HP 2.5L engine, 16 inch alloys, an 8.3 inch touchscreen infotainment system, 8-speed automatic, forward collision avoidance automatic braking, lane follow assist, rear camera… the list goes on and on.

The SEL Plus and Limited models get a 1.6L turbocharged four that produces 180 HP. While this is lower than the lower spec models, it’s the nearly 200 lbs-ft of torque that gives this spec the performance edge. So much so, that for these models, Hyundai has partnered with Pirelli to equip new cars with the sublime Pirelli P-Zero performance tires.

Leather seats with leatherette/dinamica suede swathe the interior in a luxury feel, and upper spec models get a fully digital TFT instrument cluster. As well, all specs get standard LED daytime, head-, and highbeam- lights, which are often high spec options on other midsized cars.

Even more exciting, for those with a bit of a kid-racer inside of them, Hyundai has announced that a Sonata N is coming, with tuning and upgrades from the company’s racing department. It is expected to have a 2.5L turbocharge inline-four with nearly 300 HP, and possible all-wheel-drive. So far, however, no news or specs have been announced, so we can’t include it (yet) in this listing.

2021 Kia K5 GT

3. 2021 Kia K5

Important Info

  • Base Price: $23,490 – $30,490
  • Updates: New vehicle
  • 0-60 mph: 5.5+ sec
  • Fuel Economy: City 32+ mpg / Hwy38+ mpg depending on engine
  • Basic Warranty: 5 years / 60,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 8.0/10

Our Thoughts: Pros & Cons

Summary: The replacement for the excellent Optima comes with more tech, more options, and the sharp styling modern Kia’s are known for

Pros: Excellent value for a mid-sized 4 door sportback sedan, optional AWD, 5-star NHTSA safety rating

Cons: Driver’s seat quite high, not the most communicative steering, somewhat anemic low-end power before turbo kicks in

Kia has been riding on a wave of great cars since the major overhaul that they underwent across the range in the late 2000’s. New build quality standards, new production facilities, and heavy investment into more efficient engines and some hybrid options have moved them from a bargain-brand into a competitive and well-regarded mainstream brand.

One of the paragons of their success was the Kia Optima, a mid-sized family sedan that was superbly equipped for the mid-$20k price you paid for it. Now, however, the Optima is being quietly discontinued so that Kia’s new mid-sized sedan, the K5, can move in.

The K5 is available with either a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four making 180 HP and 195 lbs-ft of torque across the majority of the range or, in the GT spec, a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four with 290 HP and 311 lbs-ft of torque. All specs come with an 8-speed automatic transmission, with the GT’s automatic being a Dual Clutch Transmission with paddle shifters on the steering column.

While Kia’s are not widely known for their power, what they are known for is just how much you get for your hard-earned cash. Even the base LX model comes with 16-inch alloys, LED lighting all around, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, remote keyless entry, driver lane, and departure assist… we could go on. With Kia, what are options or part of optional packages are standard and included in the base price.

Even more exciting is the upcoming AWD option in early 2021 on the EX and GT models. If you live in the North of the country, or up in Canada, you’ll know how valuable all-wheel-drive can be when the going gets slippery and steep.

2021 Mazda 6

4. 2021 Mazda 6

Important Info

  • Base Price: $24,100-$35,400
  • Updates: Unchanged
  • 0-60 mph: 6.4+ sec
  • Fuel Economy: City 23-26 mpg / Hwy 31-36 mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 7.9/10

Our Thoughts: Pros & Cons

Summary: The Mazda 6 proves that fun and responsibility can go hand in hand

Pros: Classy upscale looks, superb handling, quiet interior

Cons: The engine feels neutral without much character, the best options are only available in the most expensive models.

Admittedly, the Mazda 6 looks far more expensive than it actually is. It has swooping body lines meeting at pleasant angles, and has a stance that just speaks to comfort and subtle power under the hood.

One of the only let downs with the 6, however, is under that hood. Neither the naturally aspirated 2.5L inline-four with 187 HP, or its turbocharged variant with 250 HP and 310 lbs-ft of torque, have much about them that speaks to character. They are both extremely good engines, but there is no real point in the rev range when you know you’re hitting a sweet spot. They just both pull and pull until the 6-speed automatic shifts.

However, much like its little brother the Mazda 3, the 6 is an absolutely telepathic car to drive. There are supercars out there that do not have the driving feel and instantaneous feedback you get while driving a Mazda, thanks to their new company philosophy of connecting the driver with the car.

Add in some of the best noise isolation for the class, and subtle, somewhat sporty, but never uncomfortable suspension, and the Mazda 6 was just 0.1 points away from making it into third place on this list.

2021 Subaru Legacy

5. 2021 Subaru Legacy

Important Info

  • Base Price: $22,895-$34,445
  • Updates: Unchanged
  • 0-60 mph: 6.1-8.0 sec
  • Fuel Economy: City 24-27 mpg / Hwy 32-35 mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 7.5/10

Our Thoughts: Pros & Cons

Summary: A name that has earned respect for safety, grip, and a little sporty fun on the weekends.

Pros: Symmetrical AWD is standard on every single car, interior is comfortable, driver safety aids standard on every model

Cons: At times indistinct handling, a “standard” looking exterior, only a CVT automatic is available, the turbo variants are expensive

The Subaru Legacy, while slightly less famous than it’s motorsports-derived brother in the Impreza WRX, is still a car that has been around for decades. And during that time, it has earned a reputation for almost unnatural levels of grip in almost any condition due to Subaru’s sublime symmetrical AWD system, as well as being one of the safest family midsized cars on the road.

With a 2.5L boxer engine producing 182 HP, and a turbocharged 2.4L turbo boxer that produces a gutsy 260 HP, the Legacy is definitely not lacking on power. What it does lack, however, is a multi-gear automatic or a 6-speed manual. The only option available is a CVT, and that detracts somewhat from the enjoyment one gets feeling that next gear notch in when having a fun weekend drive.

As well, as the Legacy is more of a family car than a road-defying rally car, the steering is numb and even at times indistinct, not giving you any information regarding where the front wheels are. While the car features active torque vectoring as standard on all models should you need to suddenly add more lock into your turn, it would be much nicer to feel where the car is instead of guessing.

This isn’t to say the Legacy is an overall bad car. If you live where the weather can change day to day (Washington and Colorado, we’re looking at you), from sunny and warm to a blizzard in an instant, knowing that you and your family are in a car that is designed to handle the brutal snowstorms that Japan encounters on its Northern shores is more than reason enough to include it on this list.

2020 Nissan Altima

6. 2021 Nissan Altima

Important Info

  • Base Price: $24,300 – $32,400
  • Updates: Minor
  • 0-60 mph: 7.2+ sec
  • Fuel Economy: City 27 mpg / Hwy 39 mpg
  • Basic Warranty: 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Our Rating: 7.3/10

Our Thoughts: Pros & Cons

Summary: Nissan’s excellent interiors combine with a new stylistic direction to put up a worthy challenge in the segement

Pros: Excellent passenger space, optional AWD, latest-and-greatest modern technologies

Cons: Can’t use the turbo with AWD, sport-oriented models sacrifice ride quality for handling, only a CVT available

Nissan went through a period in the early to mid 2010’s where their cars performed well, reviewed well, but did not sell well. This lead to the bigwigs at Nissan HQ to bring in some fresh ideas regarding designs, and what emerged in 2019 was a totally new, and much more stylish, looking design direction.

That language translated to an area that Nissan was already well known for, their interiors. With the refresh came an uprated, spacious cabin with subtle hints of luxury items like wood trim and stitched leather to make it a genuinely nice place to be.

In terms of engineering, Nissan has two engines available for the Altima, including their legendary 2.5L inline-four engine with 188 HP that feels much more powerful than it actually is. The other option is a 2.0L turbocharged four that makes near-as-makes-no-difference 250 HP, and has a new technology that is labelled as VC Turbo, which effectively changes the pitch of the vanes in the turbo compressor to optimize fuel efficiency while delivering fuel efficiency.

Sadly, however, Nissan somehow thought that the AWD option available for the 2.5L engine models wouldn’t pair well with the turbo. As well, like many competitors, the option of a paddle shifted automatic or even a 6-speed manual has been removed in favor of a CVT, reducing the overall fun of a car that has two top-spec sport models.