What happens when five sleep-deprived, under-caffeinated automotive journalists of varying backgrounds spend a rainy day in and out of five of the best-selling midsize sedans in America?

An unconventional but practical road test. That’s what.

That’s right. We drove in and around Los Angeles in the 2013 Nissan Altima, 2012 Toyota Camry, 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Honda Accord, and 2013 Chevy Malibu to see which we liked best, in order to answer which car was best on the highway? Which car would we take on backcountry roads? With children? And a trunk full of groceries?

In the end, or really, not long after the beginning, the decision was unanimously clear: We should have had more coffee before starting. Also: In a very tough segment, there is one surefire, uncontested standout and four attractive good values of varying competence.

Case in point? Here’s Associate Editor Jacob Brown on the car that finished last in our comparison: “It’s a better car than I think most people would admit, and no one should feel ashamed to own one.” “What a letdown” is how we felt about the car in fourth place. And why did we use “honest, inoffensive, solid, simple, unexciting, un-engaging, appliance-like, bland, grayge, durable, reputable, middle-ground, standard, rudimentary, unsophisticated, un-flashy, anonymous, supportive, cheap, and smart” to describe the car that finished third overall? ”This car is sooo close to being the ideal family sedan,” said News Director Keith Buglewicz, on our runner up. So, what was wrong with it?

I suppose you want to know what we wrote about the winner, too. Of course, by this point, you should have figured out that the answers are just a click away.

By Jason Davis

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