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Car buying guide: Sedans

Updated on May 13, 2015


Sedans are offered in three basic sizes: compact sedans, midsize sedans, and full-size sedans. Although there is also a subcompact size, this size basically falls under the compact sedan category.

Sub compact sedan

Courtesy of Hyundai
Courtesy of Hyundai

Subcompact sedans are the most common sedans on the road. They offer the base features of cars needed for daily driving, even around the city or cruising on the highway. Sub compact sedans are by far the most fuel efficient category in the bunch. Having a smaller body means you won't need too much power, which translates to a smaller engine and lower fuel consumption.

Compact sedan


Compact sedans are larger and more spacious than the sub compact sedans. They feature a bigger trunk and more legroom than their smaller counterparts. Compact sedans are also a common sight on the road but unlike sub compacts, they a slightly more fuel hungry meaning they offer a bit more power. This category is also usually where most entry level performance cars can be found, nonetheless, they are still very fuel efficient and can be great for daily driving.

Midsize sedan


Midsize sedans usually have a more power-hungry engine, giving more horsepower and torque to cope up with a slightly bigger load. They feature some more luxurious tech and some better infotainment systems. Most are equipped with bigger wheels and rims as standard and having a motorized moon/sunroof is a common sight.

Full-size sedan


Full size sedans are the most luxurious sedans on the road. They offer the best and latest technology on cars including better navigation and infotainment, better speakers and most, if not all, have motorized seat adjustment. Also, they have a better all-around build quality both interior and exterior. They offer the most spacious cabin and trunk, which means they need more power. These cars are fitted with larger engines including V-type engines which eat up a lot more fuel, but gives more power in return. This category isn't very fuel efficient because of the much needed power.

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Sedans are offered in a huge range of pricing depending on the size, make and of course, model of the car. Subcompacts can be as low as $10,000 for the typical family car, and can range up to more than $300,000 for the luxury full-size sedans.

Bentley Mulsanne Speed - $338,325
Bentley Mulsanne Speed - $338,325 | Source


Even non-luxury sedans nowadays are available with features like side curtain airbags, front-seat airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. Options like navigation, rear-view cameras, collision sensors and other tech on vehicle safety are slowly getting their way to some cheaper sedans. Some high-end sedans even have lane departure warning systems and some even have autopilot and parking assist in which the car parks on it's own, guided by sensors around the car. Car crash tests are also being assessed by different organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The results can also be consulted online for specific sedan make and model.

There are also cars that offer all-wheel drive (AWD) . These cars are more practically used in places where snow is common or in places where slippery conditions is a problem. Not only does AWD gives you more grip, it also offers more stability for cars, which is why there are a number of performance cars that feature this technology.

Car safety crash testing.
Car safety crash testing. | Source


There are a lot of available engine types in this segment. Four-cylinder engines are a common find, while there are some sedans that boast even to a 12-cylinder engine. Hybrids, such as the Prius, are also available in the market as well as full electric sedans. Because of the wide variety of engines available, the fuel economy differs fairly much.

Operating costs/ownership costs

Sedans are by far one of the easiest cars to maintain. Although there are luxury sedans that are quite a lot more complicated to own, sedans are still relatively low-priced compared to other vehicle categories and they are also generally much smaller, which means they eat up less gas. They are also usually easier in the insurance side and being less complex means in case of problems or accidents, repair cost is usually low. Performance packages in sedans in the other hand are a lot more expensive to insure, and the parts are usually more pricey.


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