The tables are turned when it comes to fuel efficiency in the mid-size sedan segment.
The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have long been the benchmarks when it comes to fuel-efficient mid-size sedans, but a pair of newcomers have knocked these stalwarts off their perches–the updated 2009 Hyundai Sonata and all-new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu are the segment’s gasoline teetotalers.
Both the Sonata and Malibu claim fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway. The Sonata does so with a 175-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. The Malibu uses a 164-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four and a segment-first six-speed automatic tranny to get the job done. That is comparable to the Nissan Altima’s 23/31 mpg in city/highway driving with its 177-hp, 2.5-liter inline-four under the hood.
Trailing the trio are the Accord and Camry, both with 21/31 mpg figures with their 2.4-liter inline-fours. The least efficient in this field: the Ford Fusion with a 2.3-liter I-4 gets only 20/28 mpg. That’s similar to the Sonata with a 3.3-liter V-6, which nets 19/29 mpg as it pumps out 249 horsepower, and the Accord with a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6.
Before anyone complains we’re comparing apples and oranges since the Accord has grown into a full-size sedan, we must point out the Sonata also meets the EPA large-car classification based on its 122 cubic feet of interior volume–more than the 120 cubic feet in the Accord. The others are in the 112–116-cubic-foot range; and are classified as true mid-sizers.
It appears consumers are starting to get the message. GM can’t build Malibus fast enough, and Hyundai says the Sonata is raking in conquest sales: for every defector from the brand, it is adding 2.2 new customers.
In terms of overall fleet efficiency, Honda still reigns supreme in 2007 with an average of 22.9 mpg, with Toyota down one tick at 22.8 mpg, and Hyundai right behind at 22.7 mpg. There is a bit of a gap after that, with Volkswagen at 21.4 mpg and Nissan at 20.6 mpg; both are above the industry average of 20.2 mpg. Below that mark are GM at 19.4 mpg and Ford at 18.7 mpg, according to the EPA’s 2007 annual report.
BY ALISA PRIDDLE