If your budget is stretched tight, but you need to buy company cars, these three midsize sedans are businesslike and reasonably priced in the low $20,000s. More bang for your buck typifies many 2005 models, and the five-seat Dodge Stratus, Mazda6 and Subaru Legacy 2.5i are no exception.
The $19,595 Stratus sedan is conventional and traditional in all respects. The interior is spacious, the trunk holds 16 cubic feet, and standard features include automatic transmission, air conditioning, an anti-theft engine immobilizer, tilt steering, speed control, power doors and windows, and best-in-class brakes with optional anti-lock braking system and traction control. The engine is a 150-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that provides adequate performance for business driving. A popular fleet vehicle, the Stratus often carries high incentives and rebates.
The slightly smaller Mazda6, estimated at $18,995, has more pizazz and a peppier engine as well as a tad more horsepower-160, from its 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, or 220 from its optional V-6 engine. With a sportier style and choice of automatic or manual transmission, the Mazda6 has standard anti-lock brakes and traction control. Trunk space is 15.2 cubic feet and 22 cubic feet in the Mazda6 hatchback version.
The Subaru Legacy 2.5i is an all-new redesign for 2005, priced at $22,570 for the automatic transmission and $1,000 less for the manual. As on all Subaru models, all-wheel drive is standard. Longer, 180 pounds lighter and wedge-shaped, the sedan provides 168 horsepower from its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Front, side and curtain air bags are standard, as are active head restraints and anti-lock brakes. Trunk space is the smallest of the three, at 11.4 cubic feet. For more space, check out the Legacy wagon version that has 33.5 cubic feet.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 25 years.