2016 Mazda6 ・ Photo by Mazda
A combination of high value and popular features is what makes the best sedans for the money such smart choices for today's drivers. After all, it's easy to enjoy all of the market's latest technologies if you don't mind spending a lot of money, and if you don't mind going without those technologies, it's still easy to find a relatively cheap new car. But the following choices prove there are some sedans that don't require big outlays for big advantages, and that’s even when compared to crossovers, SUVs, and trucks.
Remember, despite the rise in sales of those other vehicles, and a corresponding general drop in popularity for cars, people still buy more sedans in total. And it’s the benefits provided by the sedans we list in the upcoming pages that help make a difference.
With a premium, fullsize presence and a standard rear-wheel drive powertrain, the 2016 Chrysler 300 creates an impact that more expensive cars can't match. Now, the 300 itself isn't inexpensive, with an MSRP of $32,160, but the value at that price makes it among the best sedans for the money. Not only do you get an RWD configuration that's missing from most other mainstream 4-door cars, but you also get above-mainstream standard content like heated and leather-trimmed bucket seats, as well as a Uconnect infotainment system with a large 8.4-inch touchscreen. Of course, Chrysler does have a sophisticated, fuel-saving all-wheel drive setup for the 300, too.
Photo by Chrysler
As for the Chrysler 300's corporate cousin, the 2016 Dodge Charger has a unique selling story of its own: It's the only new vehicle in the country that lets you live out your muscle-car dreams in 4-door fashion—and for as little as $27,995. The Charger’s also one of the best sedans for the money when you go beyond its pricing. For example, its standard 292-horsepower V6 delivers 31 mpg in highway driving, and the Charger checks in as No. 1 in its class in the 2016 ALG Residual Value Awards. Prefer to base best-for-the-money kudos on performance? The Hellcat Charger, though it has an MSRP of $67,645, is more powerful than cars that cost 10 times that.
Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Consistently lauded by the critics for its fun-to-drive nature, and previously honored by WardsAuto for having one of the 10 Best Interiors in the industry, the 2016 Mazda Mazda6 obviously belongs with the best sedans for the money. Consider: That kind of praise comes at a starting price of $21,495; for comparison’s sake, the rival Toyota Camry, which doesn’t furnish an enthusiast-friendly manual transmission like the Mazda, has an MSRP that’s more than $1,500 higher. Yet the Mazda6 matches the Camry as a Top Safety Pick+ of the IIHS. Unlike the Toyota, however, the Mazda mixes the highest possible crashworthiness grades with the highest possible grade for front crash-prevention technology.
Photo by Mazda
The Bowtie brand's all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is aimed right at the best sedans for the money, with one of midsize segment’s lowest MSRPs and some of its hottest technologies. Indeed, the Malibu's starting point of $21,625 is below the sticker prices for the midsize sedans from Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, among others, but the car still comes with a standard mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Meanwhile, the Malibu LS costs $23,120 and adds a 7-inch MyLink infotainment setup with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The new ’Bu has introduced a Premier trim for 2016, too, and that, with standard heated seats and steering wheel and more, makes a compelling case for luxury value at $30,920.
Photo by General Motors
The 2016 Honda Civic may be a mainstream compact, but it's backed by continental credibility as one of the best sedans for the money. In fact, this January, an international panel of journalists picked the next-gen Civic sedan as the 2016 North American Car of the year. The latest Civic is the sportiest, most fuel-efficient model yet, and the most technologically advanced, too, thanks to available Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a turbocharged engine, and the Honda Sensing bundle of proactive safety measures. With that, the Civic was the only mainstream compact to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating with the highest available grade for front crash-prevention systems.
Photo by Honda
When your budget is a top priority, the best sedans for the money should still provide air conditioning and a decent sound system. The 2016 Ford Fiesta sedan does that for $14,090, and that cost also covers a standard SYNC infotainment system with the next-gen Applink feature, for access to a wide range of smartphone apps. Impressive as well at that price point are standard rear-seat heat ducts and power-operated exterior mirrors with built-in blind-spot mirrors, although shoppers should note that the windows--but not the door locks--are manually operated. Moreover, the Fiesta sedan with that content is a noticeable $300 less expensive than a comparable Fiesta hatchback.
Photo by Ford
The top rated economy cars for occupant protection face a dilemma: The only way to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS is to provide high-tech driver-assistance features, but those can have a noticeable impact on MSRPs, making the vehicle less economical financially. For example, the 2016 Nissan Sentra aces all IIHS crashworthiness tests at its entry price of $16,780; adding forward emergency braking, as required for TPS+ certification, means adding more than $8,000 to that total. On the other hand, it also means adding luxuries like leather-appointed seats, blind-spot warning, Bose audio and lux technologies such as NissanConnect infotainment.
Also doubling down with two of the best sedans for the money is Honda, and for a similar reason. Like Chevy, Honda has two updated sedan choices this year, as the refreshed 2016 Honda Accord actually got to dealerships before the brand-new Civic. The Accord, which is the brand's midsize contender, boasts standard premium content such as a multi-angle rearview camera and rear LED light-bar accents, but for a standard mainstream MSRP of $22,205. Further, the standard Accord trim can be configured with a CVT and the Honda Sensing safety bundle for $24,005, for a notably low-cost TPS+ rating.
Photo by Honda
The 2016 Subaru Impreza is the least-expensive all-wheel drive sedan in the country, the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive in the country and, based on that, a stellar choice if you're looking for the best sedans for the money. As for the amount of money involved, the Impreza is stickered at $18,295, though shoppers should be aware that an all-new 2017 Impreza is due near the end of this year. That being the case, dealers could be motivated to discount the current Impreza as the on-sale date for the new one approaches. On the other hand, with all that’s new, the new Impreza is likely to offer much for the money as well.
Photo by Subaru
The redesigned 2017 Kia Forte sedan is scheduled to go on sale early in 2016, at a price that was still TBD at press time, but Autobytel experts are going to put their faith in a brand well known for building some of the best sedans for the money. Also, what we do know is that the Forte will feature a new, more powerful and more economical standard engine, along with the latest smartphone-integration technologies and driver-assistance measures—including Dynamic Bending Lights, which adjust exterior lighting to better illuminate corner and curves.
Photo by Kia