Reader Question: Which Big Sedan?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Henry asks: My older brother is in the market for a new sedan. He likes the Camry, but I have not heard good things about the transmission and some of the interior “features” of the base model. It appears that Toyota cheapened out on it. In addition, he is picky about gas mileage .. extremely.. He believes that oil is going to go sky high again. He wants to get  something mid to full sized getting about 35-40. What do you recommend?

My reply: I don’t think there’s a full-sized sedan on the market (hybrids excepted) that even approaches 40 MPG – and only a handful of mid-sized cars (the 2018 Camry among them) get close.

I personally like the Camry a lot. It’s proved itself to be a very solid, very reliable car overall. The 2018 model – just updated – has a number of very worthwhile attributes, in my opinion. First, no turbocharged engines. You have your choice of a powerful naturally-aspirated four (which is capable of almost 40 on the highway) or an even more powerful V6 – and both are paired with six-speed automatics, not eight or nine or ten speed transmissions.

Toyota is a very conservative company and this is a good thing when it comes to not changing for the sake of changing.

The 2019 Avalon – a full-sized car that shares it platform with the Camry – might be worth a look, too – though forget 40 MPG. It comes standard with a V6 and its best-case mileage will be low 30s on the highway.

There are also hybrid versions of cars like the Camry (and Ford Fusion) that can hit your 40 MPG mark, but the downsides are several: Much higher cost, weight, small trunk and potentially much higher down the road costs, once the battery begins to lose its capacity to receive/hold a charge.

Here’s my recommend: A TDI-powered VW Jetta. This car is nominally mid-sized but is very spacious, extremely comfortable and it is capable of more than 50 MPG. Everyone I know who has one – and I know a lo of people who have them – loves their car, wuld buy one again and intends to drive theirs until the wheels fall off.

The Audi A6 TDI is another option; premium badge and amenities – and an even stronger diesel engine!

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    • Hi Adam,

      Yes, absolutely! The “fix” may result in a slight drop in mileage/performance, but these cars are still unbeatable for mileage (without going to a hybrid) and they are much more fun and likely to be much longer-lived than a hybrid. I have no reservations recommending them. I doubt you’d be sorry if you were to buy one!


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