EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 14, 2012

Automakers poised to do battle for midsize-sedan market


Nissan Texas regional sales manager Mike Williams said the Altima’s good looks will attract customers.

“Once customers are attracted to the car on the styling and then we get them behind the wheel, the car will sell itself,” he said.

What’s particularly notable about the new crop of sedans, analysts say, is that the Chevy and Ford entries should be much more formidable competitors than they have been since Camry seized the midsize-sedan sales crown from the Ford Taurus in the mid-1990s.

“Everybody has a horse in this one,” Acevedo said. “This is a great opportunity for the domestics to gain sales and market share and build customer loyalty.”

The midsize sedan, formerly shunned by many families in favor of sport utility vehicles and minivans, has seen a migration back from those vehicles in recent years as buyers seek better driving characteristics and fuel economy. The new models offer enhancements on both those counts.

Indeed, fuel economy of the midsize models has risen to the point, Acevedo said, that they may pull buyers from the compact car segment.

“There’s a balance between function and miles per gallon,” he said. “You can do a lot of things with the midsize car. The new Camry gets better gas mileage than the Corolla,” Toyota’s smaller sedan.

The base four-cylinder models of the Big Six have EPA fuel efficiency ratings ranging from 22 to 27 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 to 38 mpg on the highway. Several offer some type of hybrid drivetrain for even better fuel economy, with Ford bringing a plug-in hybrid Fusion to market early next year.

Neither Ford nor Chevrolet will even offer a 6-cylinder engine in its midsize lineup, turning instead to high-tech, turbocharged four-cylinder power plants for fuel economy and extra pep when the driver steps on the accelerator.

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