The number of sedans available for sale in Australia has plummeted as buyers continue to shift to SUVs, while hatchbacks also pose a direct threat.
There are perhaps even fewer sedans on sale than many realise – after all, the likes of the Skoda Octavia and Superb and Kia Stinger are actually hatchbacks.
Traditionally, sedans have held appeal for their perceived benefits in rigidity and interior noise levels. They’re still popular among taxi and rideshare drivers, and offer plenty of benefits compared to a hatch or SUV.
With a separate boot, you’re less likely to hear something rolling around in the back, while you are also better concealing the contents of said boot from prying eyes.
The cheapest sedan on sale is the Mazda 2 G15 Pure at $23,190 before on-roads, while the Rolls-Royce Phantom costs over a million dollars in Extended Wheelbase guise. For the sake of brevity, let’s look at mainstream best sedans only.
Traditionally, small sedans have often been more staid counterparts to their hatchback siblings. The i30 Sedan blows that out of the water with its edgy, aggressive styling, which makes the hatchback look positively old.
The i30 Sedan also rides on newer underpinnings, and features a different base engine. Otherwise, it’s similar to the older hatchback in that it offers a wide range of variants, including sporty N Line and track-ready N variants.
Unfortunately, the i30 Sedan hasn’t been tested by safety authority ANCAP. The hatch, in contrast, can tout a five-star ANCAP rating.
Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection and junction assist, as well as lane-keep assist and Lane Following Assist, while some variants also offer blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic assist and safe exit warning.
With its racy roofline, it can’t quite offer the same amount of headroom as a Kia Cerato sedan, but there’s quite a lot of legroom on offer – more, in fact, than the larger Sonata.
You get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on all models, though it’s only wireless on models with the smaller 8.0-inch (instead of 10.25-inch) screen.
The i30 Sedan has a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Mazda offers a dizzying array of variants in its 3 range. The sedan and identically-priced hatchback are available with four different four-cylinder powertrains and six trim levels. You can even get a manual with two of the powertrains, and Mazda doesn’t just restrict availability of the stick shift to base models either.
Unfortunately, like the hatchback, the Mazda 3 sedan doesn’t have the most accommodating back seat. Like its larger Mazda 6 sibling, though, the small sedan has an attractive and well-appointed interior.
It boasts a five-star ANCAP rating, and the list of standard safety equipment is truly impressive. There’s AEB (forward and reverse), adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert, while you can even get features like a surround-view camera and front cross-traffic alert without having to step all the way up to the top of the range.
We like the elegant look of the sedan, which is less polarising than the racier hatchback and suits the Mazda 3’s quasi-premium vibe.
It’s backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
That the Mazda 6 still deserves a look after almost a decade on sale speaks not only to the basic goodness of this package, but also to how Mazda has kept it fresh over the years.
The turbo-diesel is no longer available – if you want one, you’ll need to get a CX-5 – but there’s a choice between decent naturally-aspirated and punchy turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines.
Its safety credentials are solid: a five-star ANCAP rating from 2018, plus a suite of standard safety and driver assist equipment across the range that includes AEB, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, and lane-keep assist.
An interior overhaul a few years ago means the Mazda still looks the goods inside, with an upscale feel and plenty of space. Unfortunately, the infotainment system betrays the Mazda’s age – 8.0 inches isn’t too small, but the user interface is dated.
The Mazda 6 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
With the most recent Corolla redesign, Toyota moved it to a new platform that gave it more engaging handling. Alas, they made the hatchback smaller inside, which makes the more conservatively-styled sedan the pick of the range.
It can’t quite match a Kia Cerato in rear seat space but the Corolla’s interior is still a nice place to be, with a clean, modern design. The infotainment system is hardly the most impressive in the segment, but there’s wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Like the hatchback, there’s a choice of naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre and hybrid 1.8-litre four-cylinder powertrains, though unlike the hatch you can’t get the latter in top-spec ZR guise.
The sedan uses as little as 3.5L/100km on the combined cycle in hybrid guise, which is truly impressive.
All models boast a five-star ANCAP rating, and come standard with AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, plus adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and Lane Tracing Assist. SX and ZR models also include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Corolla is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Waiting times for the Toyota RAV4 have blown out, but there’s another mid-sizer in the brand’s line-up that may be ideal for you and your family: the venerable Camry.
Launched in 2018, the latest Camry uses Toyota’s TNGA underpinnings which affords it surprisingly adroit handling. The lovely V6 is sadly gone, but most buyers were opting for the thrifty four-cylinder hybrid anyway; there’s also a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine in the base Ascent that’s quite good.
The hybrid offers excellent fuel economy: 4.7L/100km is the combined cycle claim.
A 2021 facelift brought a larger 9.0-inch touchscreen across the range. It’s hardly our favourite system, but it has wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. More impressive is the rest of the cabin, which is spacious but also attractively designed.
Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert aren’t available on the base Ascent, but all models feature AEB, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The Camry has a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.