When Americans think of midsize sedans, they tend to think of the same few options that have dominated sales in the category for decades. But there are great family cars with more personality than yet another Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Among the most distinctive options are the sporty, sleek Kia K5 and the adventurous, all-wheel-drive Subaru Legacy.
Let’s dive into two midsize sedans that weren’t designed by a cookie cutter.
2023 Kia K5
We’ll come right out and say it — the Kia K5 is the best-looking family sedan without a luxury car’s price tag. It’s available in front- (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), with an adequate 4-cylinder engine or a genuinely impressive turbocharged one making 290 horsepower. Prices start at $25,290.
Kia K5 Highlights
You’ll like looking at your car: Most affordable midsize cars look forgettable. The K5 looks sporty and athletic. It offers as much practical space as rivals — more rear-seat legroom than most — but packs it into an appealing package.
Optional turbocharged engine: If you want performance to back up those looks, consider upgrading to the 290-horsepower turbocharged engine. The sporty GT model also gets larger brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, and a sharper steering feel.
Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the K5 models for sale near you.
2023 Subaru Legacy
These days, Subaru is known for SUVs and wagons that might as well be SUVs. Its Legacy sedan seems to slip below the radar more easily. But it has all the same virtues, including standard AWD that makes it a great choice in colder climates. Prices start at $24,395.
Subaru Legacy Highlights
Standard AWD: Subaru built its reputation on a great AWD system for good reason. Its grippy symmetrical AWD layout is excellent when the roads aren’t. Kia also offers a reliable AWD system on the K5, but it comes at a cost premium and can’t be paired with its more powerful engine choice.
Optional Harman Kardon audio system with Clari-Fi tech: Both cars offer 12-speaker audio systems as optional upgrades. But Subaru’s is exceptional for a non-luxury car, with almost 600 watts and Clari-Fi tech for crystal clear sound.
If you can pay for it, it’s a step up in luxury: The top-of-the-line K5 comes with Syntex synthetic leather seats, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and a very nice 12-speaker Bose audio system. The top-of-the-line Legacy comes with Nappa leather — a grade of leather generally found only in luxury cars — an 11.6-inch touchscreen, and one of the best audio systems found outside the luxury car classes. The negative? It costs dramatically more. But, if that’s not an issue for you, a fully-equipped Legacy comes closer to luxury car status than the K5 does.
Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Legacy models for sale near you.
Aside from the obvious note that they’re both 4-cylinder midsize sedans, they have almost identical cost-to-own figures over the first five years. Both earned the highest possible award — Top Safety Pick Plus — from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Most midsize sedans suffer from a forgettable sense of sameness. These two have distinct personalities. The K5 is frankly gorgeous and can be equipped as a borderline sport sedan — something we can’t say about most rivals. The Legacy, with its standard all-wheel drive, offers a sense of assurance if you live where road conditions are sometimes a worry. And, if you can spend close to $40,000, it can rival some luxury cars for sumptuous appointments.
Which of those descriptions feels like your car? That’s the one you should test drive.
|2023 Kia K5
|2023 Subaru Legacy
|1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
|180 hp @ 5,500 rpm
|182 hp @ 5,800 rpm
|195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm
|176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
|27 city/37 highway/31 combined mpg (FWD)
|27 city/35 highway/30 combined mpg
|2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; 7-speed dual-clutch automatic; AWD
|2.4-liter turbo flat-4
|5 years/60,000 miles
|3 years/36,000 miles
|10 years/100,000 miles
|5 years/60,000 miles
|NHTSA Overall Safety
|Max Seating Capacity
|Shoulder Room, Front
|Shoulder Room, Rear
|16 cubic feet
|15.1 cubic feet