First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
During the 1970s, the intermediate class in the U.S. was generally defined as vehicles with wheelbases between 112 inches (2,845 mm) and 118 inches (2,997 mm). The domestic manufacturers began changing the definition of "medium" as they developed new models for an evolving market place. A turning point occurred in the late 1970s, when rising fuel costs and government fuel economy regulations caused all car classes to shrink, and in many cases to blur. Automakers moved previously "full-size" nameplates to smaller platforms such as the Ford LTD II and the Plymouth Fury. A comparison test by Popular Science of four intermediate sedans (the 1976 AMC Matador, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Torino, and Dodge Coronet) predicted that these will be the "big cars of the future." By 1978, General Motors made its intermediate models smaller.
When you think of highly efficient hybrid vehicles, there's no doubt the Toyota Prius comes to mind. Since its introduction nearly 20 years ago, the venerable Prius has become the paradigm of fuel-sippers. With 50-plus mpg, hatchback versatility and a backing of Toyota reliability, it's easy to see why the Prius is a hybrid sales leader. Now there's another reason to consider the 2019 Toyota Prius, especially if you live in a climate with snowy or icy winters: available all-wheel drive.
The Prius offers little in the way of driving enjoyment and refinement. Still, the steering effort is pleasingly weighted, and responses to your inputs are accurate—making the handling feel almost lively. Feedback from the road is non-existent, though, and feels numb on-center. Braking is a common gremlin for hybrid vehicles, which use a mix of regenerative and friction braking. Inconsistent or numb feedback from the pedal, as we experienced in the Prius, is often the trade-off and, combined with the low-rolling-resistance tires that most hybrids wear, can make for longer braking distances in our testing than we would expect from other similar-size non-hybrid vehicles.
Available also as a hybrid, sports model or a standard, this is a top mid-size sedan with a fuel economy of 30 in the city and 38 for the highway. It’s dependable, easy to drive, energy efficient and powerful, and even its base model has a 33 mile-per-gallon combined fuel economy — with the hybrid option offering 48 MPG combined. It comes with a standard 192-horsepower 1.5-liter engine, though if you spring for the 2.0-liter turbo, you’ll get 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque (though the mileage ratings are not nearly as good). This year’s model hasn’t changed much since last year, however, so if you want to save a little money, consider purchasing this vehicle used.
Toyota sold 223,905 Priuses among the various HEV family members in the US in 2012, representing together a market share of 51.5% of all hybrid sold in the country that year. In addition, a total of 12,750 Prius PHVs were sold in 2012, allowing the plug-in hybrid to rank as the second top selling plug-in electric car in the US after the Chevrolet Volt, and surpassing the Nissan Leaf. The Toyota Prius liftback, with 147,503 units sold, was the best selling hybrid in 2012, the Prius v ranked third with 40,669 units, and the Prius c was fourth with 35,733 units. Toyota USA estimated that sales of its hybrids models in 2012 would represent 14% of total Toyota sales in the country. Since their inception in 1999, a total of 1.5 million Prius family members have been sold in the US by mid October 2013, representing a 50.1% market share of total hybrid sales in the country. Of these, 1,356,318 are conventional Prius liftbacks sold through September 2013.
The EPA estimates the thriftiest Prius Eco will earn up to 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway. The other front-drive versions are EPA rated at 54 mpg city and 50 mpg on highway. Those who drive mostly highway miles and like to travel with the flow of fast-moving traffic might be disappointed to learn that the Prius delivered 46 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test (which we conduct at a steady 75 mph), undershooting its EPA rating by 4 mpg. While we haven't tested an all-wheel-drive model, the EPA estimates it will earn 52 mpg city and 48 highway.
Connected Services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan, and 1 month/3 GB of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Services are subject to User Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell service and GPS signals. OnStar links to emergency services. Visit onstar.com for more details.
The Honda Accord Hybrid offers an EPA-estimated 48 mpg combined rating. It comes close to challenging the Prius and gets higher scores elsewhere to even things up. The Accord's interior is especially nice and there's plenty of adult-sized space in every seat. Counting against it: a throttle that can be touchy at high speeds and longer-than-average panic braking distances.
The Audi A6 is an all-wheel drive mid-size sedan that, like its competitors, has many safety and driver-assist technologies (though the latter seems to come standard with most of the luxury cars). The 2019 version is a little longer and wider, and it comes with a 3.0-liter V6 engine, along with a twin-scroll turbocharger. There’s tons of tech in this vehicle, whose interior is designed with leather, wood and ambient lighting. It has a new MMi Touch Response system, a new addition to Audi, which replaces the rotary dial and infotainment controls.
During a brief test drive on dry pavement, we were able to shake loose some rear-drive assistance during aggressive cornering, although this served more to confirm the existence of the rear motor than to improve handling. AWD-e does not bring with it any sort of performance-enhancing torque vectoring; the Prius is still happy to understeer. A few circles in a roundabout ("Big Ben! Parliament!") showed a narrow window of all-wheel-drive operation until stability control aggressively steps in. Given the sedate pace that most Prius drivers maintain, the rear wheels will rarely be powered, which is the way Toyota wants it, a necessity to maintain the Prius's fuel-sipping EPA numbers. On a short snow-covered course, however, the rear motor helped to get the car moving from a stop as promised and kept it moving through an inch or two of the white stuff.
Entering its seventh year of production for 2019, the Ford Fusion remains a midsize-car favorite thanks to its nicely trimmed interior, advanced Sync 3 infotainment system and spirited driving character. The Fusion isn't a performance sedan, but it corners with confidence and doesn't mind a sprint now and then. The V6-powered Sport model is a gem if you want swift acceleration, but most drivers will appreciate the fuel savings afforded by the trio of four-cylinder engines, particularly the turbocharged 1.5-liter version. To minimize fuel costs, consider the Fusion Hybrid (42 mpg combined) or the Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid that can cover about 20 miles on a full electric charge before the gas engine takes over. This is nearly the end of the Fusion as we know it; Ford is likely to phase out the sedan after 2020, possibly reusing the name for a new SUV. See the Fusion in our Sedan rankings