When Chrysler, Ford, and Mazda exited the mid-size sedan segment between 2017 and 2021, it seemed like the family car class was on the verge of disappearing altogether. As it turned out, rumours of the family sedan’s imminent death were exaggerated, but there are signs that more attrition could be on the way: Chevrolet and Subaru have cut back the number of trims available on their Malibu and Legacy sedans, which is often a sign of impending death.
Those two brands are still in the game for now and are among seven who still offer traditional family four-doors, a number that also includes Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota. Still, with the disappearance of the Malibu and Legacy potentially on the horizon, we thought it was time to look at the current state of Canada’s family sedan segment. Here are the mid-size models you’ll find today if you tour the showrooms in your nearest Ontario city.
Chevrolet is the only domestic automaker still selling a mid-size sedan, but even though the Malibu still exists, it offers the least variety of any option in the family car class. For 2023, Chevrolet has discontinued the car’s Premier trim level along with its 250-hp, 2.0L turbo engine and nine-speed transmission; that leaves a 160-hp, 1.5L turbo four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission (CVT) as the only powertrain and a 2LT configuration as the top trim.
The 2023 Chevrolet Malibu lineup starts with an LS trim that comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, manual climate control, passive keyless entry, and wireless phone connectivity. An RS package gets 18-inch wheels and some exterior dress-ups, while 1LT models get 17-inch wheels and dual-zone automatic climate control. As the new top option, 2LT gets some of the niceties that used to come in the old Premier model, but those don’t include heated rear seats, for example.
Early next year, Honda will launch an all-new 2023 Accord sedan that will mark the beginning of the car’s 11th generation in North America. The manufacturer hasn’t revealed much about it yet, so for now we’ll look at the 2022 model that’s still for sale.
The current 10th-gen Accord offers three different powertrains. The entry-level option is a 1.5L turbo four-cylinder that puts 192 hp through a CVT; a Sport 2.0 trim comes with a 252-hp 2.0L turbo and a 10-speed automatic; and, finally, the Accord Hybrid derives 212 hp from its gas engine and electric motor.
An Accord SE gets the 1.5L engine and features LED headlights, dual-zone A/C, a digital gauge display, 19-inch wheels, passive keyless, and heated front seats. You can also get a Sport package that adds a sunroof, wireless phone charging, and a heated steering wheel; Sport 2.0 builds on that with the more powerful engine.
EX-L downsizes to 17-inch wheels, but adds an auto-dimming mirror, parking sensors, leather, and heated rear seats. Touring tops the range with a head-up display, navigation, and ventilated front seats.
The Accord Hybrid offers all the same features, but they’re split across base and Touring trims.
Hyundai last redesigned the Sonata in 2020, and the 2023 model you can buy now is not significantly different. However, the ’23 does come standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen (it was optional in 2022) and the Sonata Hybrid gets a standard panoramic sunroof in place of last year’s solar panel roof.
You can choose from four different powertrains in the Sonata: a 2.5L four-cylinder for Preferred trim, a 1.6L turbo engine for Sport models, a 2.5L turbo for the sporty N Line configuration, and 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor for Hybrid Ultimate models.
Preferred is equipped with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, heated seats, navigation, dual-zone A/C, a heated steering wheel, and passive entry with a hands-free trunk. Sport trim adds 19-inch wheels, 12-speaker audio, power driver’s seat, and a panoramic roof. N Line brings heated rear seats, leather upholstery, a head-up display, wireless phone charging, surround-view cameras, and highway driving assist. Hybrid Ultimate’s key addition is ventilated front seats.
In 2021, Kia redesigned its Optima mid-size sedan and renamed the K5. Kia hasn’t changed much since then; the 2023 model comes in LX, EX, GT-Line and GT trim levels. A 180-hp, 1.6L turbo four-cylinder, eight-speed transmission, and AWD are standard in the first three configurations, while GT gets a 290-hp, 2.5L turbo engine, front-wheel drive, and a sportier dual-clutch transmission.
LX wears 16-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights, and is equipped with heated seats/steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker audio, and passive entry. EX gets 18-inch wheels, a panoramic roof, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise, and a heated windshield. GT-Line adds power-folding mirrors, heated rear and ventilated front seats, a larger touchscreen, navigation, and highway driving assist.
In addition to its larger engine, GT trim gains 19-inch wheels, LED fog lights, a head-up display, and digital gauges.
The Nissan Altima was last redesigned in 2018, when, along with its new styling, it gained standard AWD for the first time.
For 2023, the Altima has been refreshed and gains some new features in certain trims, which now include S, SR, SR Premium, and Platinum. In all configurations, the Altima is powered by a 182-hp, 2.5L engine and a CVT.
S trim comes with 16-inch steel wheels with covers, LED headlights, heated front seats, and a power driver’s seat. SR adds highway driving assist, lane departure prevention, 19-inch wheels, dual-zone A/C, wireless phone charging, and a heated steering wheel. This year, SR Premium gets a larger touchscreen; upgrades carried forward from 2022 are leather seating, navigation, and an auto-dimming mirror.
Finally, Platinum trim adds 360-degree cameras, and chrome exterior trim.
The Subaru Legacy is the mid-size sedan segment’s original AWD offering, having come standard with it for about 25 years. For 2023, Subaru has cut the Legacy’s offerings down to three trims from last year’s five, leaving Touring, Limited and GT configurations.
Touring and Limited get a 182-hp, 2.5L engine and a CVT, and GT uses a turbo 2.4L with 260 hp.
Standard kit in Touring includes LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, a wiper de-icer, an 11.6-inch touchscreen, dual-zone A/C, an auto-dimming mirror, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats/steering wheel, and passive keyless entry. Limited adds 18-inch wheels, navigation, 12-speaker audio, leather seating, and heated rear seats. Finally, GT models get ventilated seats, a front-view camera, and a CD player.
This year, the eighth-generation Toyota Camry enters its sixth year on the market with few changes. Toyota appeals to a wide range of buyers with its well-known family sedan, offering a fuel-efficient, 208-hp hybrid powertrain, a 202-hp gas four-cylinder that can be optioned with AWD, and sporty XSE and TRD configurations with a 301-hp V6 engine.
The range starts with the gas-powered SE trim, which features 17-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, a power driver’s seat, automatic A/C, and a heated steering wheel. You can option in dual-zone A/C, a larger touchscreen, wireless phone charging, passive keyless, and an auto-dimming mirror.
XSE models get a sport-tuned suspension, while an XLE package offered only with the hybrid powertrain gets upscale touches like a power passenger seat, a head-up display, a sunroof, and some extra safety features. The Camry TRD is aimed at fans of sport sedans with its powerful engine, performance suspension, structural enhancements, 19-inch wheels, and sport exhaust system. It also comes with many of the comfort upgrades available elsewhere in the Camry lineup.