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Buyer’s Guide: Best 2013 Family Sedans

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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Consumers in the market for feature-packed, affordably priced family sedans have a number of all-new 2013 products to consider in the compact, mid-size and large sedan categories.

1.  2013 Dodge Dart

With its distinctive sporty styling, surprising interior space and comfortable seating position, the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart compact sedan is Chrysler’s re-entry into the small car market—since the demise of the Dodge Neon–in a big way.

In terms of interior volume, the EPA classifies the Dart as a mid-size, although Dodge is pricing it to compete with compacts. That means lots of room for driver and passengers—always a welcome attribute for family buyers. Soft-touch materials on the dash, 10 standard airbags, a full suite of electronic safety items, as well as blind-spot alert and cross-traffic detection are other stellar selling points for the Dart that our editors noted, giving it an 8.2 (out of10) overall rating.

The 2013 Dodge Dart is available in SE, SXT, Rallye, and Limited trims, along with the high-performance Dart R/T, and the Dart Aero coming in the third quarter of 2012.

2.  2013 Nissan Sentra

Previewed by the Sylphy Concept at the Beijing Auto Show in April, the 2013 Nissan Sentra is a fresh and welcome styling take on the compact sedan that Nissan says will be a global vehicle, eventually sold in around 110 countries around the world. While more details on the next-generation Sentra are coming out this summer, what we do know is that the Sylphy is the “basis” for compact car that arrives on U.S. shores.

Expect a range of economical and fuel-efficient engines, perhaps including one that is in the 40 mpg highway range to compete with the likes of the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and the Ford Focus SFE.

Slight differences will likely include less chrome in the U.S. version—not a bad thing. As for the interior, it’s “clean, simple and modern.”

3.  2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Its nameplate spans 35 years and eight generations, and the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan is well-equipped to take on best-sellers in the segment like the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion (the latter two with their own 2013 redesigns).

First out is the 2013 Malibu Eco, on sale since March. This will be followed by the 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine, due out this July, and the Malibu Turbo model coming this fall, powered by a new Ecotec 2.0-liter turbocharged four. Chevrolet says that rear seat-mounted thorax/pelvis side airbags will be standard across the Malibu lineup this summer, bringing the total number to ten. Also in the pipeline are optional forward collision alert and lane-departure warning systems.

Deeply pocketed front seats, Chevy’s new MyLink connectivity system, a rearview camera system and rear parking sensors are standard on Malibu Eco. Other safety features include StabiiTrak full-function traction control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, cornering brake control, brake fade assist, panic brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, hill assist and pedal release system. Be sure to check out our first drive review of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco.

4.  2013 Ford Fusion

Introduced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, the 2013 Ford Fusion mid-size family sedan coming out this fall will be available in three four-cylinder gasoline engines, as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. The plug-in hybrid model, the Fusion Energi, comes out a “bit later” and will be able to deliver a combined gasoline and electric efficiency rating of more than 100 MPGe—13 MPGe or better than the Toyota Prius plug-in, and 8 MPGe or better than the 2012 Chevy Volt.
Key attributes important to family sedan buyers include front and rear seats that are spacious and comfortable enough for four adults, eight standard airbags, hill start assist, and Sync. Options include an updated version of MyFord Touch, adaptive cruise control, a new driver-alertness monitoring system, Active Park Assist, and a combination of Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist.

5.  2013 Honda Accord

While what it will ultimately look like hasn’t yet been revealed, the next-generation Honda Accord, expected in 2013, is likely to bear striking resemblance to the 2013 Accord Coupe Concept that debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. Honda officials have let on that there will be a hybrid Accord that will also offer plug-in capability, a new four-cylinder engine with direct injection paired with a continuously variable transmission fitted with an eco driving mode, and a revised 3.5-liter V-6 engine.

The new Accord sedan will shrink somewhat in exterior dimensions, but Honda says the interior space will remain the same as the 2012 model. Expect standard Bluetooth, an LCD-display, text-to-voice capability, and streaming audio capability via the Apple iPhone and Pandora. Safety technology features in the new Accord include forward-crash and lane-departure warning systems, available blind-spot monitors, and a multi-angle rearview camera.

6.  2013 Nissan Altima

With a new design, revamped powertrains, updated safety and infotainment features, the 2013 Nissan Altima mid-size family sedan is, in the words of our editors, “briskly updated in the right ways.” For example, although the interior isn’t any bigger than before, the five-passenger Altima is still a nice fit for most families, and Nissan paid special attention to the seats, now comfortable enough for long drives—especially the front seats. Rear seats are split 60/40 and fold down for trunk access.

Features include standard Bluetooth, audio streaming and incoming text-to-voice translation, CD player and auxiliary jack. The Altima’s infotainment system permits Pandora music streaming and accepts Google Maps mapping information. Family-friendly options include navigation system with 7-inch screen, Bose audio, satellite radio, pushbutton start, a glass sunroof, and a wide-view rearview camera. These are just some of the reasons our editors rated the 2013 Nissan Altima an overall 8 (out of 10).

7.  2013 Toyota Avalon

Sporting an all-new design inside and out, the 2013 Toyota Avalon large family sedan features a premium look and feel that our editors find is “a magnitude of change from the last Avalon.” A bit smaller in length, the redesigned Avalon boasts better headroom, more supportive seats and a larger trunk, now providing 16.0 cubic feet of storage capacity.

New features include the Entune mobile-app system that enables streaming Pandora music from phones into the Avalon’s infotainment system, a USB port, ambient lighting, satellite radio, 10 standard airbags and a rearview camera. Options include heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, navigation system and blind spot monitors.

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This article originally appeared on The Car Connection.

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