Sedan Buying Guide
With sales of high-profit trucks and SUVs nose diving, auto manufacturers have gone into high gear in recent years with sedans, investing like never before in new products that appeal to more consumers. These investments have yielded new and improved sedans that offer more value, safety, performance, durability and style than ever before in virtually any price range.
Newcomers Under $15,000
Although the Nissan Versa is not an all-new model for 2009, the $9,990 Versa Sedan 1.6 Base is a welcome newcomer that boasts the title of the least expensive sedan in America. Okay, that cut-rate pricing means you get a smaller 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine compared to the more powerful 1.8 found in other Versas. You also do without air conditioning or even the option of an automatic transmission. Fortunately, for the frugal people this vehicle appeals, the Feds rate it a respectable 34 mpg and it also includes six standard air bags.
The Mazda 3 has been a strong seller for Mazda – increasing its sales each of the past five years – but the new 2010 Mazda 3 arrives in early 2009 with new-and-improved engines and transmissions that promise better performance and better fuel efficiency. Using the same formula that made the outgoing model a success, Mazda has fitted the new 3 with a high-quality interior that feels far more luxurious than its price would suggest. The 2009 Mazda 3 starts at $14,690 (still available on some dealer lots) while the 2010 Mazda 3 starts at $15,045.
Newcomers From $15,000 - $20,000
Ford has high expectations for the new 2010 Ford Fusion, which boasts new, more powerful engines, cleaner lines and a class-leading hybrid model that is rated at a miserly 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. That’s 8 mpg better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid in the city. Although the Fusion Hybrid will cost $27,270, the base model Fusion with a four cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission starts at just $19,270. Other trim levels, including those with V6 motors, are priced between $20,545 and $25,825.
Mazda introduced a sleeker and sexier all-new Mazda 6 for 2009. Significantly bigger for 2009, the $18,500 Mazda 6, like its little brother the Mazda 3, sports new engines and transmissions for 2009, including a 272-hp V6 that promises brisk performance from a car that Mazda bills a “sports” sedan.
There are several sedans in this price range that received a simple makeover for 2009 while not undergoing any major mechanical or chassis updates, such as the Hyundai Sonata, its corporate cousin the Kia Optima and the Pontiac G6.
Newcomers From $20,000 - $25,000
Sharing a platform with the Ford Fusion, the Mercury Milan also gets the update treatment for 2010, although it starts at $21,180. Like the Fusion, a hybrid version of the Milan will be available that achieves better than 40 mpg in the city. Available options included voice-activated navigation and the Microsoft-powered SYNC infotainment system.
Although not expected until a bit later in the year, the 2010 Toyota Prius promises more of the Earth-friendly goodness in a more aerodynamic and more powerful package that is still expected to return a combined 50 mpg. A 2009 Prius is priced at $22,000 and we don’t expect Toyota to raise the price much at all, especially with the new Honda Insight sedan, a hybrid rate at 41 mpg combined by the EPA, expected to undercut that price a bit when it goes on sale this spring.
Newcomers From $25,000 - $30,000
Although technically being marketed as a coupe, the sexy new Volkswagen CC features four forward-opening doors just like any sedan. Although interior room is less than that found in the regular Passat sedan it is based on, the CC is longer, wider and lower than the Passat. Headroom is compromised for both front and rear passengers, but that’s the price you pay for style over substance.
The Acura TSX, a success for Honda’s luxury division since its introduction in 2004, returns in 2009 as a whole new machine from the top down. Bigger in every dimension externally, the new $29,160 TSX maintains pretty much the same space internally and continues to make do with its 201-hp, 2.4-liter jewel of a motor.
Newcomers From $30,000 - $40,000
In the entry-luxury space from $30,000 to $40,000, 2009 sees a lot of activity from market leaders and runners-up looking to stake their claim.
All new for 2009, the $34,955 Acura TL features Acura’s most powerful engine ever, a 305 hp V6 driving all four wheels of the all-wheel drive TL. Acura continues their practice of offering a base model and a Technology Package, making shopping for a TL as simple as it gets, without needing to go through a long options list.
Another completely revamped model for 2009 is the popular Audi A4, which returns bigger, faster and more fuel efficient, although the base price does jump more than $2,000 to $31,000. For your money, you also get a revised chassis with improved handling and a jewel-like interior that is fast becoming Audi’s hallmark.
Crashing the party started by the Europeans and recently taken up by the Japanese, the all-new 2009 Hyundai Genesis arrives as the first true luxury car from Korea. With rear-wheel drive, a choice between a powerful V6 and Hyundai’s first V8, a doozy with 375 hp, the Genesis offers a true alternative to cars like BMW’s 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but with a 50% off price tag, starting at just $32,250.
Although the G35 it replaces is just two years old, the 2009 Infiniti G37, starting at $33,250 receives a substantial upgrade this year with a new 3.7-liter, 328 hp V6 and a seven-speed automatic to go along with its largest-in-class, well-equipped interior. Using an ad campaign they first trotted out 20 years ago, Nissan introduced the 2009 Nissan Maxima as the “four door sports car.” While it’s definitely no sports car, the $30,160 Maxima does have plenty of zip from its 290 hp V6.
Lincoln’s MKS, available with either front or all-wheel drive, continues a new direction that started with the smaller MKZ (itself due for replacement in 2009) a couple of years ago. At $38,490, it is one of the least expensive large luxury cars on the market.
Newcomers From $40,000 - $50,000
Like their other divisions, Honda’s Acura brand has often taken their own path interpreting luxury. The new 2009 Acura RL is no different. When most every other maker has a V8 in its top luxury car, Acura continues with a more fuel-efficient V6 that is no slouch at 300 hp. And the $46,680 RL’s standard all-wheel drive system, called Super Handling All-Wheel Drive by Honda, incorporates some pretty trick technology that helps the car handle turns and slick situations with the best of them.
As part of mid-lifecycle redesign that sees the BMW 3 Series sedans received a revised front end, re-sculpted interior and an easier to use navigation system, the 2009 BMW 335d diesel is now available in the U.S. in all 50 states. With more than 50% of their cars sold in Europe with diesel engines, BMW have been trying for years to find the right time to introduce a diesel to the U.S. With clean-diesel technology and a growing concern fuel consumption, the $43,900 335d is 40% more fuel efficient than the gasoline-powered 335i and by making almost as much torque as V12 engine twice its size, is still a fun car to drive.
Newcomers From $50,000 - $75,000
If the 2008 Cadillac CTS was a wake-up call for anyone who thought that Americans could not compete with the likes of Audi, BMW or Lexus, then the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V is a four-alarm bell ringer that proves a sports sedan from the Midwest can beat the best from Europe on their turf. Tested extensively on the race track in Europe during development, the 550 hp, $58,280 CTS-V accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car while still coddling the passengers in top flight luxury. It’s a stunning success for an American automaker and there is not a sedan even remotely close to its performance, not even costing $20,000 more.
Newcomers $75,000 And Above
Sporting more technology than a Space Shuttle, the 2009 BMW 750i and long-wheelbase 750Li offer passengers the very latest in luxury, comfort and infotainment that the German company can offer. From a state-of-the-art navigation system to pedestrian-detection technology to a very sophisticated electronic stability and traction control system to just about every gadget and gizmo you can cram into a car, the 750i has it all. And starting at $80,300, it should have it all!