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A grey 2021 Kia K5 is shown from the front at an angle.

Best Buys: A 2023 Guide to Sedans

2023 looks to be shaping up as a banner year in the sedan segment as some exciting new entries and longtime favorites provide drivers with a wealth of options. While it’s hard to generalize on such a wide-ranging segment, some trends have emerged for 2023. Hybrids continue to edge their way into the market, providing a more affordable alternative to the still-expensive all-electric models that have received so much attention as of late. Automakers have also put a renewed focus on style, giving some older models a much-needed makeover in order to appeal to a new generation of drivers. Then there are the perennial favorites: models that have stood the test of time and developed their own cult following thanks to their reputation for reliability and low cost of ownership. We’ve compiled some of our favorites into a helpful buyer’s guide, allowing you to spend less time on research and more time taking a test drive or negotiating a fair price. Read on for a look at some of the best sedans on offer for 2023.

2023 Kia K5

The Kia K5 is here to prove that style isn’t exclusive to the upper ends of the sedan segment. The brand’s midsize model was first introduced in 2001 as the Optima, but Kia renamed the popular sedan when the fifth-generation model debuted in 2021. Noted for its fastback-like profile, the K5 includes a number of flourishes that help it stand apart from the crowd, including lightning bolt amber running lights and a full-width taillight. More importantly, the K5 has the goods under the hood to back up its aggressive appearance.

Most trims come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and eight-speed automatic transmission for a decent 180 hp, but for drivers looking for a little more excitement behind the wheel, there’s a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder option as well. Exclusive to the top-end GT trim, the upgraded engine can churn out 290 hp along with 311 lb-ft of torque––enough to propel the K5 from zero to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. It’s not the type of performance we would expect from a car in the $30,000 price range, but it’s a welcome surprise. In addition to the larger engine, the GT trim comes standard with upsized brakes, wider tires, 19-inch wheels, and a custom-tuned suspension.

While this level of performance is appreciated, it’s not what usually draws buyers to the midsize sedan segment. Recognizing this, Kia has gone to great lengths to ensure that the K5 is a well-rounded option that will appeal to a wide range of drivers. First off, it delivers some impressive efficiency with an EPA-estimated 31 MPG combined. Second, it’s roomy, with impressive legroom and ample storage space in the trunk. Lastly, it’s well-designed and borderline luxurious with ambient interior lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a wireless charging pad, and more. An ideal combination of performance, styling, and convenience, the K5 should get the credit it’s due in 2023.

2023 Honda Civic

When you’re looking for a brand with a reputation for reliability and affordability, it’s hard to beat Honda. As the maker of some of the world’s most popular vehicles, the Japanese company has made a name for itself in nearly every segment. The Civic is a particularly notable success story, dominating the compact class and earning more than a little recognition in the process. The redesigned 2022 Civic was named North American Car of the Year and was the country’s best-selling compact car. Honda looks to build on that success with the 2023 model, though having just introduced the new 11th generation, there aren’t any major changes for the new year.

The 2023 Civic can be had with one of two inline-four engines: a 2.0-liter model that puts out 158 hp or a 1.5-liter turbocharged option that ups the ante to 180 hp. The power isn’t going to blow any minds off the starting line, but when paired with the compact’s impressive handling and responsive steering, it’s more than enough to ensure a fun ride. Both engines offer respectable fuel economy, with the smaller engine getting 33 MPG combined while the turbocharged version boasts up to 36 MPG combined. Drivers looking to take the excitement up another notch can look into the Civic Si or Civic Type R.

A white 2023 Honda Civic Type R is shown from the front at an angle.

2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

When hybrid models first hit the market, they were easy to pick out from the crowd. The early wedge-shaped hybrids made some sacrifices in the looks department to improve their aerodynamics, but luckily, those days have largely passed. Hybrid models are now largely indistinguishable from their purely gas-powered cousins, and the 2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is a great example. This compact hybrid is nearly indistinguishable from the gas model, so to the outside observer, the only sign that you’re behind the wheel of a hybrid will be how rarely you’re seen as the gas pump.

First introduced in 2021, the Elantra Hybrid pairs a 1.6-liter inline-four engine with an electric motor to deliver an impressive 54 MPG combined. Paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Elantra Hybrid offers 139 hp, though the electric motor gives drivers a little more acceleration off the line than they might expect. Still, top speed and acceleration are more than a fair trade-off for the type of fuel economy available with the Elantra Hybrid, which is one of the most efficient cars to date. Hyundai has also replaced the torsion beam in the standard Elantra with an independent rear suspension in the hybrid, which improves ride quality and makes those hours spent behind the wheel a little more enjoyable.

A roomy interior with 38 inches of legroom to the Toyota Corolla’s 34.8 and a stellar safety rating round out the Elantra’s list of bona fides, with the Elantra earning a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS. Standard driver-assist tech includes blind-spot monitoring, automatic high beams, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking, making the Elantra Hybrid the perfect choice for those looking for a cutting-edge safety net when they’re behind the wheel.

2023 Subaru Legacy

Subaru’s flagship sedan offers a unique blend of utility and safety with a focus on driver-assistance tech that outshines much of the competition. When you also consider the standard all-wheel drive found on most Subaru models, this makes the Legacy a practical choice as a reliable family vehicle. The Subaru five-seater further strengthens its case with plenty of interior space, including almost 40 inches of legroom and a trunk with over 15 cu.ft. of cargo space.

The midsize Legacy delivers a comfortable ride thanks in large part to Subaru’s novel Boxer engine, which reduces vibrations through the use of a flat-four configuration that allows opposing pistons to cancel each other out. The 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated engine gives the driver 182 hp to play with, but those looking for a little more get-up-and-go can upgrade to a 2.4-liter turbocharged motor with 260 hp on the Legacy’s higher trims. The base engine offers 30 MPG combined, while the turbo lags behind at 26 MPG combined. While these numbers might not blow anyone away, it’s not a bad showing when you consider the sedan’s all-wheel drive setup.

The 2023 Legacy has received a design touch-up for the new model year that includes a new front bumper, upsized grille, and overhauled headlights. But it’s the model’s advanced tech features that really caught our attention this time around. The Legacy features Subaru’s EyeSight technology which includes all the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) drivers have come to expect. This includes standard adaptive cruise control, a lane-keeping system, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking, but it also goes above and beyond with some new additions.

For example, the 2023 model features a wider field of view for the EyeSight system’s built-in cameras, as well as updated software, an electric brake booster, a heads-up display, and the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System. The DriverFocus system has a dash-mounted infrared camera to monitor the driver’s line of sight and uses audio and visual cues to alert the driver if their attention begins to wander due to fatigue or distraction. It’s a useful technology for those who do a lot of late-night driving and will offer valuable peace of mind for the parents of easily distracted teen drivers.

2023 Toyota Camry

A perennial best-seller, the Toyota Camry has remained at the top of the heap for over 20 years. This can largely be attributed to the model’s low starting price––just $25,945 for the base model LE trim––and stellar reputation for reliability, which has drawn many buyers to the midsize sedan over the decades. Reputation aside, Toyota isn’t content to rest on its laurels when it comes to the Camry and has made a concerted effort to infuse the popular sedan with a fresh look year after year.

The performance-minded Camry TRD has long been the model’s most alluring guise, so Toyota has taken the hint and introduced a new, more affordable trim that integrates many of the stylish design cues that make the TRD so popular. New for 2023, the SE Nightshade adds black headlight and taillight trim, a black front grille, a rear spoiler, black mirror caps, and bronze 19-inch wheels. Available in Midnight Black, Ice Cap White, or the new Reservoir Blue, the SE Nightshade adds so much-appreciated edge to the stolid sedan.

The Camry also sets itself apart when it comes to the goods under the hood. While all of its midsize rivals have switched to four-cylinder setups, Toyota is keeping the V6 alive with the 2023 Camry. A 2.5-liter inline-four producing 203 hp is the standard, but drivers can easily upgrade to a 3.5-liter V6 if 301 hp is more up their alley. With the ability to climb from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds, the V6 injects a little more fun into your daily drive, though it does hurt the sedan’s overall fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 26 MPG combined.

Those who prioritize fuel economy above all else will be happy to learn about the hybrid model, which pairs the 2.5-liter inline-four with an electric motor to offer a thrifty 52 MPG combined. The Camry also excels when it comes to driver-assist tech, with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ offering a comprehensive package that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and intersection support, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams and Road Sign Assist, which uses cameras to translate road signs into easy-to-read icons on the dashboard.

A white 2023 Toyota Camry TRD is shown from the front at an angle.

Enjoy the Ride in 2023

As the market begins to recover from the supply chain shortages that plagued the industry for much of the last two years, 2023 presents the ideal opportunity to invest in a new sedan. There are plenty of exciting new vehicles on offer, with hybrid models representing a particularly exciting and cost-effective way to upgrade your daily driver. Safety technology has also come a long way since most drivers shopped for their last vehicle, with a host of driver-assist tech making life behind the wheel safer, and more convenient than ever.

While such features have quickly become the standard across the industry, there are new technologies emerging all the time, with developments like Subaru’s DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System addressing some very real problems when it comes to issues like distracted or drowsy driving. Of course, you can never discount fun: given their low center of gravity and nimble handling, sedans have long been some of the most exciting vehicles to drive, and that continues to this day with many automakers offering souped-up, high-performance versions of many of their popular sedans. No matter what model you choose, just remember to enjoy the ride.