The sedan has long been seen as the quintessential car. In fact, when you think of a car, you probably picture a sedan. Sedans are known for being a more efficient means of travel than high-fuel-consuming SUVs or trucks. This versatile style of car meets the needs of all kinds of buyers – from a single person to a family – and often touts many of the same benefits that are sought after in crossovers and SUVs.
Arguably the most appealing part of owning a sedan over other vehicle styles is that it’s known for its comfortable drive and excellent handling. Sedans allow you to travel comfortably with decent cargo space and in most cases, sufficient legroom for those passengers in the backseat.
When you’re in the market for a used sedan, you want to make sure you’re making an informed decision and vetting all your options. And there are a lot of different used sedans out there today, coming in many sizes and prices, so spending a little time doing your research can help you narrow down your options considerably. Learn more about what makes the sedan such a popular option and factors to consider when you are shopping around for one to call your own.
Sedan Body Style
A sedan is a vehicle an engineer would describe as a three-box car, meaning there are three separate compartments for the engine, passenger seating, and the trunk. It has four doors and two rows of seats, with the trunk space separated from the rear seating by a shelf and rear windshield.
The main difference between a sedan and a coupe is that a sedan has four doors while a coupe has only two, and the main difference between a sedan and an SUV is the sedan has separate compartments for passengers and storage and the SUV has a combined passenger and cargo compartment.
The sedan body style is so desired that manufacturers are even designing SUVs to have a similar appearance, with a more rounded style than a boxy truck-like design that used to be the norm for an SUV body type. This coveted rounded style is known for being sportier and more appealing.
While the standard body style remains the same throughout the sedan world, one large differentiating factor is size. You’ll be able to weed out used sedan candidates by considering size based on what is right for your lifestyle, such as how many family members you have and how much cargo space you’re looking for.
Mid-sized sedans are popular for a variety of reasons, including simplicity, reliability, fuel efficiency, comfort, and storage. Some of the most popular mid-sized sedans are the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, and Subaru Legacy.
Four-cylinder engines are most common, while some models may offer powerful V6’s as well as hybrid options. And though front-wheel drive is standard for most mid-sized sedans, some do offer all-wheel drive (AWD) with upgraded models.
Used mid-sized sedans are commonly priced from around $15,000 to $33,000, with a mix of cost, function, and safety features.
Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and, recently, Genesis G90, are among the most popular large sedans, but the category is small, including others such as the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon. The allure of this category is the large comfortable cabin and smooth ride without the price that comes with the luxury models.
These particular large sedans offer AWD and the option of V6 or V8 powertrains.
Look to spend anywhere between $33,000 and $50,000 for a car in this category.
For those who are looking for a more prestigious means of travel, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo offer the classiest of used sedans. Buyers see a lot of similarities in luxury sedans features to those in mid-sized and large sedans, but for the extra expense, there’s typically more refinement, performance, and in some cases, space.
Pricing for these used models varies widely, from the upper-$30,000s for older models with higher mileage to six figures for newer models with lower mileage.
Most sedans offer five passenger seats, with some interiors being roomier than others depending on size and model. And of course, the middle passenger in the rear row may be slightly uncomfortable. If this is an issue, you may want to consider a larger sedan that offers more legroom as well as headroom.
Sedans offer good trunk space, though that varies from one to the next. It’s important to pay attention to the cargo space if you know that’s an important factor for you, as some are roomy enough for your family’s vacation luggage, and others can barely fit the beach chairs. This is due to the different shapes of sedans, with sportier models featuring sloping rear windshields that can restrict space.
Most sedans come with standard front-wheel drive (FWD), with AWD often offered on certain upgraded models. Buyers in snowy climates may find sedans are not best suited for icy terrains, unless it’s an AWD model.
Safety and Driver-Assisted Technologies
Many sedans have earned Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which ranks safety features on particular vehicle models. Some of the safest picks from the IIHS for 2022 include the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, and Nissan Maxima. The IIHS notes that the larger sedans seem to earn safer ratings and are overall better equipped to protect passengers. Fortunately, many Advanced Driver Assistance systems (ADA) are included on more-recent used sedans. Consumer Reports recommends seeking out a car that’s, at minimum, equipped with these technologies:
Carmakers often design their own ADA systems, such as Ford’s BlueCruise, GM’s Super Cruise, and Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance, so having a full understanding of what these systems entail will be beneficial before you make your purchase.
Favorite Used Sedans
Now that you’ve learned about the style, drive, and features of sedans, you’ll want to determine which ones you’d like to consider for yourself or your family. Below are a few examples from each category above: mid-sized, large, and luxury. The sedans listed below are among the most popular, with smooth rides, stylish body types, comfortable seating, and basic safety features included standard.
The Toyota Camry is a fan favorite and is known as one of the most tried and true sedans out there. You can’t go wrong with the simple sedan appearance – a sharp grill and four doors, and plenty of room inside for five passengers. The engine is a 2.5-liter with 4 cylinders, and standard safety features include Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. There’s also a long list of upgrades, such as the Driver Assist Package.
The Toyota Corolla is one of the most popular sedans on the market and has been over the past several years. Its body style is simple and attractive, and the interior is roomy enough for five. Passengers will enjoy features for comfort and entertainment, such as climate control, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi hotspot (in certain newer models), while the driver will appreciate the rear camera, power steering, brake assist, and FWD. The standard engine is 1.8 liters and 4 cylinders.
The Hyundai Sonata is known for its sporty grill and elongated frame, which also provides a decent amount of space within the interior and the trunk. The safety suite has a slew of features to give the driver peace of mind on the road, such as forward collision and brake assist. It’s powered by a 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder engine.
The Dodge Charger falls into the large sedan category and is also more of a flashy model. The powerful engine is 5.7 liters and 8 cylinders, with a rear-wheel drive automatic transmission. Entertainment includes a premium sound system, Radio Uconnect, and Bluetooth. Some of the safety features include traction control and brake assist.
The Lexus ES 350 F Sport offers all the bells and whistles, down to the heated steering wheel and wireless charger. The powertrain is a FWD automatic, 3.5 liter, 6 cylinder engine, and safety features include brake assist and anti-lock brake system. The leather seats are heated, and the F Sport Package includes unique details such as upgraded trim in the interior.
With all the varying styles and features available, there really is a used sedan out there for everyone. Many also offer features such as AWD and safety packages that are typically associated with other larger vehicle models, making them a smart and affordable choice for many.