The four-door sedan spent decades atop the list of preferred vehicles for drivers who needed extra passenger space, be it a family with a couple kids or a professional who uses the vehicle for carpooling. However, the steady increase in popularity among crossovers and sport utility vehicles has caused a decline in interest in sedans. As a result, many automakers have shifted their focus away from four-door cars, instead dedicating more development time on utility vehicles that offer many of the advantages of a sedan, but with added passenger and cargo space. Many sedans that once topped the sales charts have driven off into the sunset, but there are still plenty of popular four-door cars that offer lots of passenger space without the overall size of an SUV.
While the sedan segment has shrunken a bit over the past few years, many of the bestselling vehicles in the United States continue to be four-door cars. For ages, the Toyota Camry has been the bestselling car in the North American market, a title that it retained for 2020. The Camry ranked sixth overall, trailing three trucks and two SUVs. The Honda Civic ranked eighth in 2020 sales, the Toyota Corolla ranked eleventh, the Honda Accord ranked seventeenth and the Nissan Altima ranked twenty-second. All of these vehicles offer seating space for five people with four doors and a trunk for storage, but the vehicles under the “sedan umbrella” vary wildly.
All of those bestselling sedans focus on efficiency and affordability, but the sedan segment has plenty to offer in terms of performance. The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye offers 797 horsepower and a top speed over 200 miles per hour while the Tesla Model S runs a stock 10-second quarter mile on pure electric power. There are also some smaller performance sedans, such as the C-Class AMGs and the BMW M3, but with so much focus on fuel efficiency, many of the most popular sedans have hybrid or all-electric models. In addition to the huge variance in engine types, the sedan segment is one of the most diverse in terms of vehicle size, ranging from subcompacts to full-size machines that are commonly used as limousines./span>
Pros And Cons Of SedansPros
- Passenger space for five people with separate cargo space
- Available with front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive
- Better driving dynamics than most crossovers
- More fuel efficient than most crossovers
- Tight competition provides more features for your money
- Limited cargo space
- Less passenger space than most crossovers
- Low ground clearance, even with AWD models
The full-size sedan category has seen the biggest decline as many buyers have opted for similar-sized SUVs, but there are still some great options for someone who wants a roomy, four-door car. If you are looking for a large luxury sedan, you have the longest list of options thanks to the popular of big four-door models in Europe and Asia. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Jaguar and Lexus all offer full-size sedans with loads of luxury. Some of them are performance-oriented, some are hybrids and all of them are packed with premium amenities, with models like the Audi S8, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 8 Series serving as the global benchmark for big four-door cars. Meanwhile, the big Cadillac sedans have risen to the challenge of the overseas automakers with the gorgeous new CT5.
If luxury isn’t your thing but high performance is, the Dodge Charger is likely the best big sedan for you. The Charger has four different V8 engine options, ranging from the 370 horsepower R/T to the 797 horsepower SRT Hellcat Redeye. There is also an all-wheel-drive V6 model with 300 horsepower and every model has a wide variety of premium options, with the loaded Hellcat models feeling more like a luxury sedan inside. With so many options, it comes as little surprise that the Charger is, by far, the bestselling big sedan in the United States.
If you aren’t so worried about high performance or expensive luxury, models like the Chrysler 300, the Nissan Maxima, the Kia Cadenza and the Toyota Avalon all offer a great mix of interior space, modern amenities and a reasonable MSRP.
Mid-size sedans have been the most popular cars in the United States for decades, often ranking just below full-size trucks, but over the past few years, crossovers and SUVs have bumped the top sedans down a few notches. The mid-size sedans are still the most popular cars though, with the Toyota Camry serving as the bestselling car in the United States each year since 2002. The last time that the Camry wasn’t the bestselling car in the U.S.A., the Honda Accord held the title. Today, the Camry and Accord are still the bestselling cars in North America, but there are still several strong competitors in the segment. For example, the Nissan Altima is also on the list of the 25 bestselling vehicles from 2020 and in past years, the Ford Fusion and Chevy Malibu also spent time on the bestsellers list.
There is also a nice collection of pricier mid-size sedans offered by the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Alfa Romeo. These models combine luxury and performance into the mid-size, four-door package, serving as a break from the high volume, low-priced sedans mentioned above, but with the tight competition in the segment, even models like the Camry and Altima have gained lots of premium features over the past few years.
Up until the 1970s, most sedans sold in the United States were rear-wheel-drive models, including both American and European vehicles. The Japanese automakers led to the early popularity of front-drive cars and the American automakers followed, transitioning many of the most popular four-door cars to front-wheel-drive while performance models generally stuck with rear-wheel-drive. As crossovers and SUVs with standard all-wheel-drive became more popular, automakers began offering sedans with all-wheel-drive as well.
If you are looking for an all-wheel-drive sedan, Subaru is a good place to start, as all of their four-door cars come with standard all-wheel-drive. The Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Porsche brands also have all-wheel-drive versions of every sedan, including models that focus on performance while others deliver better fuel economy. In addition to those companies that offer all-wheel-drive in most of their sedans, nearly every major brand in the United States has at least one sedan that sends power to all four wheels. For example, if you are looking for a smaller car with all-wheel-drive, the Mazda 3 might be ideal while mid-size buyers will want to check out the Kia Stinger, the Ford Fusion or the Toyota Camry. When you get into the larger sedans, vehicles like the Genesis G80 or Dodge Charger may fit the bill, while large sedan buyers who don’t mind spending more money will find lots more options from the European brands.
Compact and Subcompact Sedans
If you are looking for a compact sedan, you have options in each size-based sedan class, although the starting price becomes less affordable as the vehicles get larger. Among the compact sedans, the cheapest four-door that you can get into is the Nissan Versa, which starts at just $15,930 (including destination). Two other subcompact sedans with extreme low price tags are the Hyundai Accent at $16,400 and the Kia Rio at $17,045. If you step up to the next size class, you find several vehicles that have long been bestsellers in the United States. This includes the Toyota Corolla at $21,020 and the Honda Civic at $22,245, but Kia and Hyundai still have the pricing advantage. The 2021 Kia Forte starts at just $18,885, the Nissan Sentra starts at $19,460 and the Hyundai Elantra starts at $20,410. The Subaru Impreza starts at $18,725, and that price includes all-wheel-drive.
In the popular mid-size sedan class, the bestselling Toyota Camry and the competing Honda Accord both start at $25,965. The Kia K5 starts at $24,585, the Hyundai Sonata starts at $24,705, and the AWD Subaru Legacy starts at $23,820.
Finally, there aren’t many “cheap” full-size sedans, since many of the most popular large four-door cars are from luxury automakers, but there are some great sedans that you can get into on a tight budget. The cheapest big sedan in the U.S.A. is the Dodge Charger, which starts at $31,490 while the closely-related Chrysler 300 starts at $31,535. After those two, all of the other large sedans cost considerably more, with the Kia Cadenza, Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima all starting in the upper-$30,000 range.
What's new in sedans in 2021?
Acura TLXThe Acura TLX is new for 2021, riding on a model-specific chassis platform that creates a sporty sedan that is longer and wider than the outgoing model. On the outside, the TLX features an evolutionary design with aggressive angles and high tech lighting elements. On the inside, the TLX showcases all of the luxury of the Acura lineup, from premium infotainment and sound systems to the leather-wrapped sport-bucket seats. The standard engine of the 2021 Acura TLX is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill that delivers 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque while the optional Type S engine is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive is standard, but Acura also offers their Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system on all models, including the performance-oriented Type S.
BMW M3The current generation of the BMW 3 Series, known internally as the G20, was introduced in 2018, but for the 2021 model year, the legendary M3 sedan returns to the lineup. On the outside, it features a sportier version of the design from the rest of the 3 Series lineup, but the M3 gains the massive grille openings from the 4 Series. This grille design has proven to be very controversial due to the fact that each of the two slots runs from the hood all of the way down to the splitter, so the entire center section of the front fascia is grille. Of course, the interior is chock full of premium features, but the real story with the M3 is – and always has been – the drivetrain. The new M3 is powered by a twin turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that delivers between 473 in “standard” form while the Competition models offer 503 horsepower. A manual transmission is standard on the basic M3 and an 8-speed automatic transmission is optional, but the automatic is standard on the M3 Competition models. Also, rear-wheel-drive is standard, but the Competition model will be offered with all-wheel-drive as well. Every new M3 features adaptive suspension and high performance brakes, including a carbon ceramic braking package for those folks who want world-class stopping power.
Dodge Charger Hellcat RedeyeThe current Dodge Charger was introduced back in 2014 for the 2015 model year, but the performance-minded brand has issued new models every few years, leading to strong sales in a large sedan segment that has been forgotten by most automakers. For 2021, the big news for the Charger is the SRT Hellcat Redeye, which offers 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful sedan in the world. This big sedan can rocket down the quarter mile drag strip in the mid-10-second range en route to a top speed over 200 miles per hour, but this isn’t just a straight-line missile. Thanks to the fat rubber tucked under the standard widebody design, the adaptive Bilsteain dampers and the huge Brembo brakes, the Redeye Charger also handles surprisingly well for a sedan that weighs well over 4,000 pounds. Best of all, the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye comes standard with premium seats, sound, infotainment and trim, so it is like a luxury sedan with monster power.
Genesis G80Genesis is the premium luxury brand of Hyundai and the G80 is their newest sedan. On the outside, the G80 showcases the design language that we see on the new GV80 SUV and a topline that creates a sort of fastback sedan look. The car is tech heavy inside and out, with loads of LED exterior lighting and a cabin that features a 14-inch touchscreen and a digital instrument cluster. Motivation is provided by a turbocharged four-cylinder with 300 horsepower or a turbocharged V6 with 380 horsepower. Rear-wheel-drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive is optional. The Genesis G80 looks like a premium luxury sedan in every way, until you see the price. This big four-door starts at just $47,700, making it dramatically less expensive than competitive luxury sedans, making this stunning Korean machine an incredible option for someone who wants luxury feel without the big luxury price
Hyundai ElantraThe Hyundai Elantra is new for 2021 and it has become sportier and more upscale, inside and out. This 7th generation Elantra has an aggressive new exterior design, but it is also longer and wider, showcasing a fastback design with a long rear window and a short trunk lid. LED accent lighting, LED taillights and lots of gloss black trim add to the premium look on the outside. On the inside, the features a digital instrument cluster and a large infotainment screen mounted high on the dash, continuing the premium look, even though the Elantra tops out at just over $25,000. The standard engine on most 2021 Elantra trim levels is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill with 147 horsepower, but the sporty N Line models benefit from a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with 201 horsepower.
Kia K5The Kia K5 is new for 2021, replacing the mid-size sedan formerly known as the Optima, but this is way more than just a name change. This car is new inside and out, improving in just about every way. The K5 is longer, wider and lower than the Optima, leading to more interior space and a more aggressive exterior look, featuring an angry-looking front end and LED lights front and rear. On the inside, the K5 offers a digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, while leather seats and the panoramic sunroof give this affordable mid-size sedan a premium feel. The standard engine in the 2021 Kia K5 is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder mill with 180 horsepower while the GT model comes with a 290-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder. An 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive are standard, but all-wheel-drive is available as well.
Lexus IS 500 F Sport PerformanceThe Lexus lineup isn’t all-new for 2021, but it is revised enough to be included in our look at new sedans. On the outside, the 2021 IS sedan wears new headlights, a new one-piece taillight that spans the entire rear end, some new body panels that make this Lexus a bit longer than the previous version and a slightly larger grille. On the inside, the dashboard has been massaged a bit while both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration has been added. The standard IS 300 engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder with 241 horsepower being sent to the rear wheels only. If you opt up to all-wheel-drive, the IS 300 packs a 260-horsepower V6 while the rear- and all-wheel-drive IS 350 comes with the 311-horsepower V6. Rear-drive models feature an 8-speed automatic while the all-wheel-drive sedans come with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. There will be a new trim line arriving later this year in the form of the IS 500 F Sport Performance, featuring unique body panels, unique interior bits and a V8 engine that delivers 472 horsepower.
What’s Coming for 2022?
There are several key sedans planned to arrive for the 2022 model year, including the next generation Honda Civic, the next generation of the Audi A3 and S3 and the high performance Blackwing versions of the Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V.
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