Midsize Car Buying Guide

Larger than compact but not quite full-size, midsize vehicles are some of the most prevalent body types among cars on the road today. Their size, relative economy, and flexibility make four-door midsize cars ideal for families while two-door versions, called coupes, are available in sports models.

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About Midsize Cars

It was during the early 1960s were seen the early versions of the midsize. Models such as the Ford Falcon, Pontiac Tempest, and Chevrolet Corvair were all early-1960s compacts that eventually helped define the midsize body style.

Cars in this class also continued to grow in size throughout the 1960s and 1970s. By the mid-1970s, many compact cars were as big as the full-size cars of the mid-1960s. However, things were about to change.

Rising fuel costs and the oil crisis in the Middle East forced the government to take action by changing the criteria for automobile market segment classifications to be based on passenger and cargo space instead of wheelbase. This reclassification led the midsize cars of the era to be rebranded as full-size. Many of the compact cars of the time were thus rebranded as midsize, helping to create the market segment and body size we are familiar with today.

This broad reclassification led to many of the familiar models of the time being rebranded or just replaced by new ones. For instance, the Ford Granada was momentarily rebranded as the LTD before being dropped altogether.

Initially introduced in 1985, the Ford Taurus could be regarded as the car that defined the midsize class as we know it. The predominance of the Taurus inspired top selling compacts such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry to grow in size until the mid-1990s when they were also regarded as midsize.

Today, midsize vehicles are the most widely sold class of car in the U.S. automobile market.

Midsize Variations

Perhaps it's because midsize vehicles take up such a large share of the market that there are so many different variations within the market segment. Shopping for a midsize today can mean looking for anything from a sporty coupes to a practical family car.

Economic family cars helped define the midsize car today. Many of the market segment’s top sellers like the Toyota Camry fall into this segment of the midsize class.

Midsize luxury cars command another large segment of the market. With most of the same extras and features of the full size models, luxury midsize cars offer style and comfort with a slightly reduced footprint.

Midsize sport models are also available. Four-cylinder engines power many of today's midsize vehicles. However, many vehicles are big enough to accommodate a V-6 or V-8 engine, which you’ll find in a midsize sport model. Examples of midsize sport models include the Audi 5 and the (discontinued) Saab 9-5 Griffin.

Midsize Brands

The Toyota Camry is also one of the best-selling midsize car models. Drivers appreciate the Camry for its reliability, usefulness, and excellent fuel economy.

The previous Ford Taurus is now a full-size sedan and has been replaced by the midsized Ford Fusion. The Chevrolet Impala, though is considered a highly recognizable American-made midsize car, has also been replaced by the all-new midsized Chevrolet Malibu sedan.

German auto manufacturer, Volkswagen has introduced a number of very popular midsize vehicles over the years, including the Passat and the Jetta. BMW also has a number of midsize car models including the BMW 3-Series.

Volvo currently features a number of sporty midsize options such as the S60. Audi’s A6 sedans are also considered midsize.

Who Drives Midsize Cars?

Midsize vehicles are highly versatile and available in a range of different styles, configurations and variations. Midsize sports models are obviously a good option for drivers who value performance, while luxury midsize cars are better for drivers who value comfort. Many family drivers appreciate the reliability and good fuel economy of the top-selling midsize car models.