Midsize sedans: The best values

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You might be surprised at how much comfort and performance you can get at an affordable price.

If you're on a budget, we think these midsize sedans are the best buys:

Ford Fusion

The Fusion is relatively new, but comes from solid, proven stock, sharing many mechanical components with the Mazda 6.

The Fusion features edgy styling with a large chrome grille, a roomy interior that is nicely appointed and crafted and a line of solid engines power the sedan.

If its bold grille isn't your cup of tea, the Mercury Milan, also sold by Ford Motor Co., is the identical twin of the Fusion underneath but with a friendlier face and classier interior. For a sportier alternative, opt for the Mazda 6.

Compared with the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, the Fusion is a bargain. But many safety features, like antilock brakes, cost extra.

Gas mileage: 20-23 m.p.g city/28-31 m.p.g. highway

Base sticker price: $17,295 - $21,975

Hyundai Sonata

If you are a fan of bargain knock-offs, the Sonata is a good one. It delivers much of what the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry do minus the prestige and reputation of the brand -- for thousands less.

The interior has the same upscale look and feel as its higher-priced counterparts. The interior is roomy. Every safety feature is standard in the price, including stability control, not even offered on most midsize cars.

For peace of mind, Hyundai offers the longest warranty in the industry. The Sonata, like many other Hyundai models, is hurt by its vague steering, but that won't matter to most buyers looking for Point A to Point B transportation.

Gas mileage: 20-24 m.p.g. city/30-33 m.p.g. highway

Base sticker price: $17,195-$22,995

Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu excels at offering bang for the buck. It has one of the roomiest interiors, including best-in-class rear-seat legroom. Even the front passenger seat folds down to make way for lots of cargo, including long objects like ladders and surfboards.

It scored high in crash tests and quality surveys. Peppy performance, decent gas mileage and a comfortable ride add to its appeal. There's even a remote starter -- a feature you won't find on other midsize sedans.

All of that, and an affordable price, should make you forget about the Malibu's uninspired, if not downright homely, appearance.

Gas mileage: 18-24 m.p.g. city/25.-32 m.p.g.

Base sticker price: $16,990-$23,445

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