One and Done: The Best Midsize Sedan in America

The best midsize sedan in America, and four other cars.

By Jason Davis | Photos By Jason Davis | February 26, 2013

Hero Shot

All this standing around, drinking coffee, and driving slow family cars on windy roads seriously cut into our schedule. With sundown two hours off, we had a long drive ahead of us or we'd miss the light for the final photo shoot.
Of course, that's when it began to rain. It was a light sprinkle at first, mostly just Zeus toying with Married Guy #2 -- who is also our photographer -- and the possibility of a wrecked feature shot. But as we climbed out of the valley and closer to the coast, our wipers went frantic. And then the rain stopped. And when Married Guy #2 thought, "Hey, we might make it after all," it began to rain again.
And it didn't stop until we reached our point, a dirt pad overlooking a Pacific Ocean on the cliffs above Malibu. It was picturesque and quiet and dark, the perfect spot for BMW-driving teenagers to "watch the sunset, baby." Watching the sunset was all we could do, too, since it was ultimately too dark and rainy and windy to take photos of wet cars.

Friends with Words

We accomplished very little over a beer at a restaurant overlooking the Santa Monica and Malibu coastlines. The 2013 Honda Accord won the comparison, and the Malibu finished last. That much we knew. It was figuring out the rest of the lineup that became an issue. The arguments against each car were thus: "The Fusion has a bad suspension. The Altima's interior sucks. And the Camry is a Camry." Really, none of us were budging an inch, and despite each editor's best efforts at convincing the others at the table that he was right, and they were wrong, we left without a decision.
We reconvened the following Monday morning for a photo shoot on the beach. The weekend away had mellowed our grumbling, for the most part, though everyone seemed to still be knocking the Camry while simultaneously singing its praises.
After the photo shoot, we drove to our favorite breakfast hangout, Pacific Diner, in San Pedro, Los Angeles' port city and Long Beach neighbor. It was another warm'ish late-November morning, and the sun was shining. As we parked, a sharp-edged curb jumped up and bit the Camry in the shoe. The timing of the air whooshing out of the right front tire couldn't have been better, falling on its sword to relieve a glut of cars scheduled over the Thanksgiving weekend. So Might As Well Be Married Guy helped Bachelor #2 change the tire, and we called Toyota and informed them of the casualty. Which brings us to the final tally, which after the tire change went undisputed:
5. Chevy Malibu -- less than the sum of its parts
4. Nissan Altima -- an excellent chassis and drivetrain, let down by underwhelming refinement
3. Toyota Camry -- good at everything, while not being outstanding at anything
2. Ford Fusion -- sexy inside and out, and a suspension and transmission away from challenging Accord
In the end, the only thing we could agree on was that none of us wanted anything other than the Accord anyway. So here is how this story unfolds: The 2013 Honda Accord is the best midsize sedan in America, and it belongs in your driveway.
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The Accord is the best looking, but the Camry is the best choice if you're looking for reliability! The Camry has the traditional engine/drivetrain config-no direct injection and no cvt tranny like the accord auto! Read forums, these two features are over sold and may just lead to very expensive repairs down the road! I'm guessing manufacturers will regret DI and CVTs! These two features have not delivered as promise in the mpg department either as promised! All the cars are good looking outside and competition is tightening, but this should be known to the buying public! The chevy and chrysler engine/drivetrain is still sub par too ( I rent them), but getting better! Thanks, picky EngineerĀ 

Audi Love
Audi Love

The Fusion is the best of them all, honey! ^^^^^

Gregory Smitherman
Gregory Smitherman

I'm chevy all the way, both the Honda and Chevy Malibu looks the best.

It takes a little coercing to get our staff photographer (and talented writer if you haven't read the story yet) out of the dark dungeon known as our cubicle-walled office. But when he gets out, he does a great job. -Jacob

Alex Brown
Alex Brown

This is a great picture.... If the fusion was in a different color, I'd give it the best grill award. Def goes to Honda tho! :)