Hidden Gems: The Most Underrated Sedans of the Year

Whether you’re a performance enthusiast or you’re looking for the best fuel economy on the market, these are the most underrated sedans of the year.

Key Takeaways

  • Certain sedans offer exceptional value and performance but get overlooked.
  • Underrated sedans provide a blend of comfort, efficiency, and driving enjoyment.
  • Finding an underrated sedan can lead to a rewarding driving experience at a low price.

Whether you’re a performance enthusiast or you’re looking for the best fuel economy on the market, these are the most underrated sedans of the year.

The most underrated sedans of the year are:

  • Acura Integra
  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata
  • BMW 3 Series Touring Wagon
  • Toyota 86 Coupe
  • Ford Mustang EcoBoost
  • Subaru WRX
  • Hyundai Elantra N

Even though I’ve been around cars my whole life and could come up with a list of my own, these aren’t just my opinions. Everything in this article has been researched and vetted to ensure there are opinions from different parts of the country to avoid any sort of bias. These sedans simply don’t get the love they deserve and they truly are some hidden gems worth checking out.

Table of Contents

Most Underrated Sedans of the Year

In the automotive world, sedans often fly under the radar, overshadowed by flashy sports cars and robust SUVs. However, amidst the overlooked corners of the market, some sedans boast a unique combination of features, performance, and value that deserve recognition.

These underrated sedans offer a driving experience that can cater to the practical day-to-day commuter, the family carpool driver, or even the enthusiast who appreciates a balanced ride with plenty of perks without breaking the bank.

While the most popular models capture headlines and top sales charts, a select few sedans persist quietly, earning the respect of those who take the time to get behind the wheel. These hidden gems might not be the talk of the town, but after a closer look, you might find they strike an admirable balance between comfort, efficiency, and understated performance.

Whether it's a model unjustly dismissed because of brand perception, or simply a car that hasn't had its fair share of the spotlight, you could uncover a vehicle that offers more than you'd expect at a price that's hard to ignore. These are the most underrated sedans you can get your hands on right now.

Acura Integra

Acura Integra
Acura Integra

You'll find that the Acura Integra is a sedan that brings a sporty edge to daily driving. Starting at just over $30,000, it offers you a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, which pushes out an invigorating 200 horsepower. Thanks to the VTEC engine, you get a punchy performance without sacrificing fuel efficiency, which stands at an impressive 30 mpg combined.

The Integra's design is both sleek and functional, encapsulating Acura's dedication to luxurious details and reliable engineering. Plus, a responsive chassis and an optional 6-speed manual transmission make the Integra a joy to drive.

Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac CTS-V

The Cadillac CTS-V might just redefine your expectations of American luxury sports sedans. With a heart-thumping 640 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, it competes with the industry's best-performance vehicles. The starting price for this powerhouse is around $86,000. It's not just about straight-line speed; the CTS-V also offers you an engaging driving experience with high-end handling and suspension tuning.

Despite this incredible power, the CTS-V manages a fuel economy of about 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, making it a practical choice if you're craving performance without heading to the pumps too often.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda MX-5 Miata

Though it's traditionally viewed as a roadster, the Mazda MX-5 Miata's RF (Retractable Fastback) version brings you sedan-like comfort with the spirit of a classic convertible. With prices starting just north of $30,000, it delivers a 181 horsepower performance from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, giving you the thrill of a sports car without an exorbitant price tag.

The fuel economy is solid at around 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Its handling characteristics are sublime, offering a balanced and thrilling ride with every turn. This tiny titan is truly underrated in its joy-inducing capabilities and deserves a closer look for your garage.

BMW 3 Series Touring Wagon

For those who need the practicality of a wagon with the soul of a sedan, the BMW 3 Series Touring Wagon is your stealthy answer. Starting around $45,000, it combines utility with the agility of a sports sedan. Providing you with a range of engines, the top-spec variant pumps out an impressive 382 horsepower from its turbocharged inline-six.

It doesn't just move fast —with a spacious cargo area, it's versatile for both your daily errands and adventurous weekends. And with fuel efficiency scores potentially reaching up to 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway (depending on the engine choice), it's both practical and economical.

Toyota 86 Coupe (& Subaru BRZ)

Subaru BRZ
Subaru BRZ

The Toyota 86 Coupe and its sibling, the Subaru BRZ, offer you pure driving pleasure with a combined starting price of around $27,000. Under the hood, a 2.4-liter engine gives life to 228 horsepower, providing a responsive and engaging ride. With its rear-wheel-drive layout, you're in for an authentic sports car experience that's become rare in sedans. Both models maintain a good fuel efficiency of around 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Their compact and lightweight design ensures that each drive is filled with excitement, without compromising on daily usability and comfort.

Ford Mustang EcoBoost

Ford Mustang EcoBoost
Ford Mustang EcoBoost

Don’t let the name fool you – the Ford Mustang EcoBoost is a sedan at heart with a coupe silhouette. With a base price of around $27,000, this Mustang gives you an economical yet powerful turbocharged 2.3-liter engine producing 310 horsepower. You'll enjoy its rear-wheel-drive layout and an available 10-speed automatic transmission for smooth and efficient driving.

The Mustang EcoBoost offers a combined fuel economy of around 25 mpg. It's a budget-friendly option for those who dream of American muscle but appreciate the practicality and fuel economy of a sedan.

Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX
Subaru WRX

With the Subaru WRX, you're getting a rally-inspired sedan that's built for enthusiasts, starting at roughly $29,000. Its 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer engine generates a robust 271 horsepower, sending it to all four wheels through Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

Fuel economy stands at about 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, striking a balance between spirited driving and efficiency. With the WRX, you can expect tenacious grip, direct steering, and a performance-tuned suspension that makes every drive an exciting adventure.

Hyundai Elantra N

Hyundai Elantra N
Hyundai Elantra N

Last but not least, the Hyundai Elantra N is a powerhouse that brings high-performance thrills at a starting price of just under $32,000. Energized by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, it supplies a vigorous 276 horsepower and comes with the option of either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. You'll appreciate the Elantra N's sharp handling and driver-focused cockpit, designed to enhance your driving experience.

Its fuel economy isn't shabby either, delivering up to 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The Elantra N is the sleeper hit of the sedan world, offering an exhilarating performance encompassed in a practical and stylish package.

What Makes a Sedan Underrated?

When exploring underrated sedans, consider factors beyond popularity. Assess their merits based on performance, innovation, and value among others. These vehicles may offer an exceptional driving experience, often eclipsed by brand giants or market trends.

Performance and Handling

An underrated sedan might possess a robust powertrain and agile handling, providing a driving experience that rivals, or even surpasses, respected names in the industry. For example, a Subaru Legacy offers all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard, enhancing traction and control, a feature often reserved for luxury brands like BMW or Mercedes.

Technological Advancements

You may find cutting-edge tech and infotainment systems in sedans that don't make the headlines. This can include features like adaptive cruise control and advanced connectivity that enhance both your convenience and driving pleasure.

Safety and Convenience

Safety features are a paramount aspect where underrated sedans can shine. Many offer comprehensive safety suites with technologies such as lane assist and emergency braking, on par with Toyota or Honda, known for their focus on safety.

Design and Comfort

A sedan's design may offer a comfortable ride with a spacious cabin and ample cargo space, yet go unnoticed. Sedans like the Chevy Cruze Hatchback provide an elegant design and a quiet, comfortable interior that can be overlooked compared to more prominent compact crossovers.

Value and Affordability

An underrated sedan often represents excellent value, offering features and quality akin to luxury models, but at a more accessible price point. Midsize sedans especially can be a smart choice, blending performance with affordability.

Fuel Efficiency and Environmental Impact

Look past the popular hybrids and consider sedans with efficient diesel engines or models like the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid offering great fuel efficiency. These choices reflect an environmental consciousness without sacrificing performance.

Brand Perception vs. Reality

An "underrated" label can arise from a mismatch between brand perception and the actual quality of the vehicle. Brands like Subaru or Chevy may not always carry the same cachet as a BMW or Mercedes, but they offer sedans that compete favorably in terms of features, build, and overall driving satisfaction.


Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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