3. Nissan (NSANY) Altima
MSRP: $21,860
Number sold through September: 21,221
Difference from 2012: 6.6%

We once compared the Altima with a cinderblock, a good tomato paste or Eli Manning's haircut -- steady, reliable and at its best when it's reminding you it's not there. We stand by that claim, even if that relative facelessness is starting to lose car buyers' attention as the Detroit midsize crowd gets its makeover.

The Altima's combined 33 mpg are still well ahead of the pack, even if its 15.4 cubic feet of cargo lags. The cabin is quiet, the new tech features include satellite radio, Pandora, Bluetooth and hands-free texting, and safety options include blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system and a moving-object detector.

Even a year after getting a sporty facelift in 2013, the Altima is gaining ground. With this year's buyers getting a larger, lighter Altima than they did in 2012, it's easy to see why.

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