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Many people save money on vehicle ownership by buying good used midsize cars and sedans instead of new models. For example, a midsize sedan ranging from two to five years old, such as a used Toyota Camry, often has enough dependable miles left to outlast the modest payment arrangement required to buy it and keep going for several years. This allows you to enjoy a reliable car while no longer making payments. Let’s look at a few good options and a couple to avoid.

2018 Toyota Camry

The 2018 Toyota Camry, with an average cost of around $22,000, ranks at the top of U.S. News “2018 Affordable Midsize Cars” and the “Best Used Midsize Cars $15K and up for 2022” lists. The Camry underwent a complete redesign for the 2018 model year, which often spells trouble. However, Car Complaints received relatively few complaints for the redesigned Camry. U.S. News reports three recalls issued for the 2018 Camry that need resolving before purchase:

  • Power brake vacuum pump
  • Incorrect engine piston sizes
  • Fuel line connections

The 2018 Toyota Camry offers a 203-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder as its base engine or a peppy 3.5-liter V6 with 301 hp available in XLE and XSE trims. Four-cylinder Camrys enjoy 29 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway fuel economy ratings, while V6 versions achieve an estimated 22 city mpg and 33 highway mpg. 

2020 Honda Accord

The 2020 Honda Accord ranks at the top of the U.S. News “2020 Affordable Midsize Cars” list. Its roughly $32,000 average price makes it more expensive than the Camry, but being two years newer, it should have fewer miles on average. There are two recalls listed for the 2020 Accord that require resolution: 

  • Fuel pump
  • Exterior lighting

The 2020 Accord features five trim levels, including the LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring. The Touring model features a 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the other four trim levels employ a 192-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The one transmission exception is the Sport trim which has a six-speed manual transmission for a more engaging driving experience. Fuel economy ranges from 30 city mpg and 38 highway mpg for the CVT-equipped base engine, down to 26 city mpg and 35 highway mpg for the manual transmission-equipped 1.5-liter and 23 city mpg and 34 highway mpg for the 2.0-liter paired with a 10-speed automatic. 

2017 Hyundai Sonata

The 2017 Hyundai Sonata comes in at number three on the U.S. News list of “2017 Affordable Midsize Cars,” slightly behind the 2017 Toyota Camry and 2017 Camry Hybrid. The 2017 Sonota isn’t spectacular in any category. However, its $15,000 approximate average listing price, above-average reliability rating, and overall well-rounded features make it worth considering when shopping for a used midsize sedan. Additionally, only one active recall for the 2017 Sonata involves the driver’s side airbag. Fortunately, Sonata’s airbag recall relates to potential under-inflation, not flying shrapnel.

Hyundai offered six trim levels for the 2017 Sonata, including SE, Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T, and Limited. Hyundai also made a Sonata Hybrid model, but its review is separate from the gas-powered version. Powertrain options include a 185-hp 2.4-liter engine paired with a six-speed automatic, which came standard in SE, Sport, and Limited trims, a 245-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter engine available in Sport and Limited models, and the Eco’s 1.6-liter turbo engine with 178 horsepower and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Sonata’s base 2.4-liter engine has a fuel economy rating of 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while the 245-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter gets 22 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. Finally, the Sonata Eco gets 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. 

2019 Subaru Legacy

A side profile shot of a 2019 Subaru Legacy midsize sedan model parked under a white bark branch of a tree
2019 Subaru Legacy | Subaru of America, Inc.

The first midsize sedan to avoid on our list is the 2019 Subaru Legacy, which ranks last on the U.S. News list of “2019 Affordable Midsize Cars.” With an average listing price of around $25,000, the 2019 Legacy features standard all-wheel drive, “below-average ownership costs,” and “upscale cabin materials,” according to the review. However, its “sluggish base engine,” lack of agility, and “poor predicted reliability rating” put it at the bottom of the 2019 model year competition. 

2017 Chrysler 200

According to U.S. News, the 2017 Chrysler 200 has some redeeming features, such as a “modern, upscale cabin, plenty of available safety features, and a large trunk.” However, while one could overlook its weak base engine, “lackluster automatic transmission,” and small back seat considering its affordable $17,000 average listing price, its dismal predicted reliability score makes it a used car to avoid.

All three recommended models feature potent engine options, good fuel economy ratings, and above-average predicted reliability at list prices far below those of new models. Therefore, any of these three midsize cars will serve you well, save money at the pump, and still put a smile on your face long after you’ve made the last payment and received a clear title. However, you’re responsible for your due diligence when selecting a particular car by inspecting it thoroughly, hiring a qualified mechanic to do so, or buying a “Certified Pre-Owned” model from a reputable dealer.