By on July 9, 2013

TTAC_June-2013-compact-car-sales-chart

 

Compact cars, many of which are now as roomy as older midsize cars, collectively sold at a significantly better rate in the first half of 2013 than in the first half of 2012.

It may have proven to be a bit of a disappointment thus far, but 35,764 of the extra 87,149 compact sales have come from the Dodge Dart. Exclude small Dodges from the equation and compact sales in America are up 4.8% this year. America’s auto industry has produced a 7.5% improvement.

But that’s not a fair comparison. The Dart, America’s 27th-best-selling car, has had an impact on the compact market, however small that impact may have been. In truth, compact car sales are up 8% in 2013 and rose 15.1% in June, specifically.

That June improvement had much more to do with the Chevrolet Cruze’s 73.2% improvement than it did with the Dart’s 6235-unit boost. The Cruze was America’s second-best-selling car in June, trailing only the all-conquering Toyota Camry. Honda also reported its second year-over-year increase in 2013. Subaru Impreza volume grew for the first time since December of last year. After falling 6.3% in the first quarter of 2013, Ford Focus sales rose 11.5% in 2013’s second quarter. June marked the Hyundai Elantra’s twelfth consecutive year-over-year increase. With a 25.5% boost, Hyundai added 4508 sales with the Elantra. A good thing, too, as without it, the rest of the Hyundai brand fell 7.2%.

TTAC_June-2013-ytd-compact-car-sales-chart

And while sales of the Toyota Corolla (and its Matrix sibling which Toyota USA affixes to it) fell slightly in June, Corolla volume is up 4.8% in 2013. Its lead over the Honda Civic as America’s top-selling small car stands at a narrow 268-unit margin. Regardless of how Toyota has gone about generating such volume, that’s a lead deserving of praise.

TTAC_top-5-compacts-june-2013-ytd

The Corolla is ancient, not as efficient as its rival; not as refined or as powerful or as comfortable, either. Yet its reputation for invincibility garners for Toyota an average of 26,500 buyers per month, an astounding sum for a car that hasn’t been remotely new since before W. Bush’s first midterm election success.

Auto
June
2013
June
2012
June
% Change
6 mos.
2013
6 mos.
2012
YTD
% Change
Acura ILX
1507 1081 + 39.4% 10,724 1249 + 759%
Buick Verano
4489 4091 + 9.7% 23,433 15,669 + 49.6%
Chevrolet Cruze
32,871 18,983 + 73.2% 133,689 113,884 + 17.4%
Dodge Caliber
995 - 100% 45 8982 - 99.5%
Dodge Dart
6437 202 + 3087% 44,949 203 + 22,042%
Ford Focus
23,144 21,186 + 9.2% 134,785 131,423 + 2.6%
Honda Civic
29,724 27,500 + 8.1% 158,704 162,582 - 2.4%
Hyundai Elantra
22,163 17,655 + 25.5% 126,244 97,769 + 29.1%
Kia Forte
6620 7461 - 11.3% 34,351 40,800 - 15.8%
Kia Soul
11,287 10,199 + 10.7% 63,031 63,635 - 0.9%
Mazda 3
7566 8835 - 14.4% 52,701 59,527 - 11.5%
Mitsubishi Lancer
1422 1529 - 7.0% 10,840 8495 + 27.6%
Nissan Cube
441 711 - 38.0% 3319 4085 - 18.8%
Nissan Sentra
10,199 9211 + 10.7% 66,439 55,984 + 18.7%
Scion xB
1644 1869 - 12.0% 9519 10,206 - 6.7%
Scion xD
780 1017 - 23.3% 4324 5502 - 21.4%
Subaru Impreza
6907 6319 + 9.3% 39,106 46,702 - 16.3%
Suzuki SX4
1161 - 100% 2859 6457 - 55.7%
Toyota Corolla/Matrix
26,458 26,647 - 0.7% 158,972 151,726 + 4.8%
Volkswagen Golf
2602 4092 - 36.4% 16,784 20,882 - 19.6%
Volkswagen Jetta
14,813 13,604 + 8.9% 81,296 83,203 - 2.3%
Total
211,074
184,348 + 15.1% 1,176,114 1,088,965 + 8.0%

Notes: Not quite premium but awfully costly for conventional compact buyers, the Acura ILX and Buick Verano own a little less than 3% of the compact category, as the category is defined here. June marked the first time Chevrolet managed to sell more than 26,000 Cruze sedans in a single month. Since rising consistently from December through April, Dart sales have tumbled from 8099 to 7448 to 6437 in June. Ford Focus sales were higher last year than they’d been since 2002 – the Focus is on pace for more than 250,000 U.S. sales this year. Kia hasn’t sold more than 8000 Fortes in a single month since June 2011, but it’s safe to assume the much-improved new car will top that with ease once inventory rises. Cars.com says Kia dealers currently have more than 8000 MY2013 Souls in stock but not much more than 6000 MY2014 Fortes. Mazda 3 sales were higher last year than they’d ever been, but the pace has proven hard to match as the current 3 reaches the end of its tenure. Only once this year has Mazda recorded a year-over-year increase in 3 sales. Nissan should sell more than 115,000 Sentras this year for the first time since 2006. 24% of of the Subaru Impreza’s total comes from the WRX. Subaru has also sold 25,090 XV Crosstreks this year. If considered a compact car rather than a crossover, the extra XV sales would mean the compact is up 10.3% this year. Volkswagen’s Golf total includes 9062 Golfs powered by five-cylinders and diesels plus 6551 GTIs and 1171 copies of the Golf R. Jetta volume is made up from 70,511 sedans and 10,785 SportWagens, which are actually Golfs.

Independent analyst Timothy Cain is the founder and editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. His look at the important segments are a permanent fixture at TTAC, along with a  look at the market up North.

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88 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Compacts Lifted By Cruze And Dart...”


  • avatar

    One of my cousins asked me to take him car shopping. He has like $5000 cash and wanted to buy a used car so I’m thinking about the best bang for his buck and reliability. I dreaded having to get him into some old used Toyota or civic with 100,000 miles or more. He’d been looking at a Mitsubishi Eclipse with 89,000 miles for $4000 – but I don’t trust those cars that much.

    MAJOR CHEVROLET suggested that since he’s working a basic job (almost finished College) making $600 a month before taxes – and trying to establish his credit, that he could get us into a Cruze for less than $200 a month.

    My considerations are:

    #1 If he buys a used car out right, he’ll have to worry about maintenance and reliability.
    #2 If he buys a new, cheap Cruze or another sub $18,000 car, he’ll just have to keep working and worry about his sky-high insurance rates.

    Considering he’s almost out of college his parents are wealthy, I think I’m gonna just get him into the new car – probably the Cruze.

    YOU’RE EITHER GONNA PAY A CAR NOTE OR A MECHANIC…

    My X-girlfriend asked me to help her car shop also. Star Chrysler tried to sell her an Avenger for less than $16,000 with a sh!tload of incentives totaling over $8000. I showed her the DART instead. Nav, moonroof, automatic Rallye for around $25,000. Chrysler should be pushing Darts harder. If they could sell them around $300 a month, they’d be even more awesome.

    Unfortunately, I recently drove a 400 HP Dodge Neon and I simply can’t respect the Dart till there’s an SRT4.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m surprised a Hyundai didn’t come up in conversation.

    • 0 avatar

      A 400 hp Neon is definitely a swap. The Stage III SRT4 topped out at 280 hp.

      • 0 avatar
        Dubbed

        What swap? That is the goodness of a cast iron block attached to a turbo.

        There are no engines that can just swap into this that aren’t the 2.4 and then call it just a swap.

        Dodge didn’t have any other engines.

        • 0 avatar

          STAGE 3 with larger turbos and E85.

          We were taking turns driving this thing LOL. Drifitng and stuff.

          I filmed part of it here:

          youtube.com/watch?v=27oC0Cxnnlg

          If I make another video I’ll ride along cause you can’t hold a camera WHEN YOU’VE GOTTA USE A GOTDAMN MANUAL.

          Gotta be careful though cause THE COPS ARE LOOKING FOR SRT.

          youtube.com/watch?v=xv4VXAa7DMA

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Making that much a month i wouldn’t push getting a new car. I made 120 more than that last year in college and getting a new car is way way out of the question.

      Tell him to save his money ( for repair / parts cost and fun like traveling ).

      Teach him how to fix his own car.

      I’m guessing he already has a car keep that one and fix it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I had similar thoughts but finding decent cars for decent money is becoming a black art. Since the depression began most people have been hanging on to alot of the good ones.

      • 0 avatar
        Wscott97

        I agree with Onus. Only making that much, a new car is out of the question.
        A lot of people think that if you get a used car, it will be an unreliable junk car, but that’s not always the case. My friend wanted to get a new 2012 Ford Focus, with sunroof (ford wanted $24,000). I found him a 2011 certified previous lease return, (fully loaded, every option with leather) for $17,000.
        If you want to spend a little less, a few years back I found my sister a Camry SE for $12,000. The car originally had 69,000 miles. She now has 150,000 and she still commutes 150 miles every weekend to visit her bf.
        Even better of a deal. Last year my niece needed a car for college, I found her a 2006 Hyundai Elantra with only 60,000 miles (p/w, p/l, auto, air and CASSETTE). I got the car for $4000 (way below bluebook, from a family that just wanted to get it out of their driveway.) She’s been driving it for a year now and only had to replace the battery and wiper blades)
        There’s a lot of really good used and certified pre-owned cars out there, you just have to find them.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      BTSR declares: “YOU’RE EITHER GONNA PAY A CAR NOTE OR A MECHANIC…”

      The repairs on all my out-of-warranty Toyota ownership-years have amounted to about $1.5K. That would be… 25 years of out-of-warranty ownership. Or about $5/month. There’s maybe $500 in work that one car could use but it’s for things that don’t matter. If we did do that work, we’d be looking at $7/month, overall.

      I’m OK with $7/month.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So in 25 years you’ve spent $1500 on I assume at least three cars… this included wearable things as well (brake/tire/hoses/seals/all fluids) or were these just unexpected repairs? I’d also be curious to know at what age/mileage you acquired and later traded or sold these models. Call me an automotive archeologist :)

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          I didn’t count “maintenance,” because everything needs maintenance in roughly equal quantities. On all these cars, maintenance would have included timing belts, which are not cheap but also not bad (local special, dealer does ‘em for $250(4) or $300(V6)).

          I bought one new in ’01 and still have it today with 125K miles on it. $600 in repairs. It also had a $300 timing belt job plus the usual oil changes, brakes, tires, etc. It could use $500 in work. That’s 7 years out of warranty.

          I bought an ’00 used with 72K miles on it in ’05 and it’s stilli in our household at 185K miles. We’ve put about $600 into that for a suspension repair. It has taken two $250 timing belts. That’s 8 years out of warranty.

          I bought an ’00 used with 67K miles on it in ’06 and traded it in ’12 with 130K miles on it. It took a $250 timing belt and also needed a $300 engine repair. That was 8 years out of warranty.

          I bought a ’99 used with 114K miles in ’05 and gave it away in ’08 with 145K miles on it. No repairs at all and I didn’t have it long enough for a timing belt. That was 3 years out of warranty.

          Two of them did need an A/C recharge at 10 or 11 years, I did that myself using two cans of stuff at $20 or so per can and the leaks are slow enough that I haven’t had to repeat the process in two or three years. Unless we start needing > 1 can of stuff per year per vehicle, I’m going to let that ride. I didn’t count that as work that could be done.

          If you add in the timing belts, I suppose I’d be looking at $12 or maybe even $15-20/month but that’s across 3 to 4 cars. It has certainly worked out to be way cheaper than buying new. The ones I bought used didn’t depreciate too much, either.

          If we looked at tires and brakes and the routine maintenance (which a new car would need periodically, too), we’d probably get up into the $30/month/car range, as I estimate each of those at about $6-7/month (my tire estimate might be low, though).

    • 0 avatar
      JLGOLDEN

      Yeah…I’m thinking that earning $600 / mo pre-tax…your cousin should wait until school is finished, and his pre-tax earnings are stable, say $1600+ per month. At THAT point, it’s more reasonable to go new car shopping. Just because a bank will “allow” you to get a loan, does not mean it’s wise to follow through with a debt commitment.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I was at a Chevy dealership recently (looking at the Cruze) and saw a sign that they sold more Cruzes than Civics in June, so I was pretty surprised. According to http://www.hybridcars.com/june-2013-dashboard, they sold 188 diesel Cruzes in June which isn’t horrible for a car that’s in limited markets at the moment. Will be interesting to see how the diesel model sells at GM ramps up production and gets them to all dealers.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The Cruze success is well deserved. It really seems to be a very nice product based on my rentals of a wide range of them. Hopefully they hold up well over time, AND GM can resist their usual temptation to cost-cut the nice out of them over time.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      +1, I had the Cruze three times as a rental last year and enjoyed it. I share your concerns about, ahem, updates. Chevy worsened the manual seat adjustment early in the production run, replacing the independent height and tilt controls (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRBeuyeQh58) with a combined height-tilt adjustment. I hate that, though Chevy is not unique in that sin. I also find the MyLink interface to be a functional downgrade vs the base radio. Again though, Chevy is not unique in ditching functionality for shiny touchscreens to please the hoi polloi.

      • 0 avatar
        ShoogyBee

        It’s so sad that one cannot adjust the front and rear of seat cushion via independent manual adjustments anymore. As you had mentioned, most inexpensive cars nowadays have a single lever that combines the height-tilt adjustment. At least the Cruze offers an optional power seat, although one would probably have to get a relatively expensive model (LTZ?) in order to find one.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Pleasant surprise: I checked on Chevy’s website, and you can option any trim except the LS with a “convenience package” that includes a power seat. Annoyingly, the power seat has a manual rake adjustment. The package is, by today’s standards, a pretty reasonable $570.

          On the decontenting front, it looks like the rear suspension Z-link (which GM touted pretty loudly when the car came out) has been removed from all trims except the 2LT and the LTZ. Previously, it had been on all trims except the Eco manual (to save weight). Reviewers seemed to like the handling of the Eco manual, so I suppose you could interpret that as legitimate cost-benefit choice rather than pure decontenting.

          I do like that Chevy has offered genuinely different wheel/suspension set-ups for the Cruze. I found a slight but noticeable difference between the 1LT and the 2LT, the latter being more stable in lane changes but the former handling potholes and expansion joints better. (Personally I’d want one with the 2LT’s suspension but the 1LT’s wheels and tires.) It’d be nice if suspension choices weren’t bundled with feature choices such as fabric vs leather. (Again, virtually everyone south of Porsche seems to have adopted the Japanese bundled-options model. The downside is reduced freedom of choice; the upside is cost savings and improved build quality.)

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The Cruze may be GM’s best vehicle, period, currently.

            It is nicer inside and out than the Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Focus, Impreza, etc., and it also has a better, more quiet ride than most of those.

            What may make it GM’s best car, though, is the value proposition. The manufacturers are starting to build, ship & stack the metal deep again, and in my neck of the woods, one can get into a decently equipped Cruze LS for around 15ish k, plus TTL.

            It’s a composed car that is competent and class competitive, and unlike other GM vehicles that are remotely competitive in terms of build quality, interior materials, driving dynamics (such as the Caddy ATS or new Impala), GM isn’t bat shit crazy on pricing it sky high such as Ford is so very and consistently inclined to do (especially through the Ford scam of stocking dealer lots with optioned up the arse vehicles).

            Only time will tell if the Cruze has any bona fides in terms of long term reliability/durability. That will only ne known in 4 more years, give or take.

  • avatar
    Dsemaj

    Holy crap, the Mitsubishi Lancer is doing terrible. I get that it’s 6 years old, but I think sales in Australia are stronger than the US, and our country is 10x times smaller. I remember reading that Mitsu’s dealer network is pretty small though?

    I don’t think it’s due for a replacement until 2014-15. It can’t come quick enough.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The Cruze sales are heavily fleet sales. The Civic is easily #1 retail.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Looks like the Civic’s emergency refresh is paying off… unless those are discounted.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Do you have numbers for the split between fleet an retail?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      So? A sale is a sale.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @danio3834:

        Agreed. I don’t get the anti-fleet crowd around here, as though a fleet car goes into some black hole. Its production employs people and counts as a sale, even if it’s at a lower margin than a retail sale. They eventually end up in consumers’ hands anyway. My Sedona minivan was a rental for a year, and I got a great deal on it.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Fleet sales are only a problem for margins and retail customers, who see crummy residuals because used fleet cars drive down their cars’ values. The article about the new little Nissan cab/van discusses how deep fleet discounts can be, so I’m not sure why anyone would argue for fleets. Is there a prize for supplying more cars than the retail market demands?

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            Yes, more profit and greater economies of scale. As Danio3834 said, a sale is a sale, and they are not discounted up front, perhaps by guaranteed resale values.

            They also present the risks you cite, though it is interesting to note the positive comments about rental Cruze’s.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Right. Wouldn’t it be terrible if the Fusion, 200, and Malibu were in such retail demand that their makers had to abandon the fleet market like Honda has with the Accord?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      A sale is a sale. This is not 1995 when the Detroit 3 owned the Rental 3. They are not giving them away. Hertz has PLENTY of Civics in their fleet, but after having had one they are on my “just say no” list. Blech.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>Hertz has PLENTY of Civics in their fleet<<

        That's a fabrication. Unlike Ford or Chevy, Honda has no fleet sale program and 98% of Civics are sold to individuals.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Oh, shall I take pictures of them? They have a few at every major airport. Doesn’t really matter if Honda has an official fleet program or not, there are PLENTY of Hondas in rental fleets. My local (off-airport) Enterprise has a solid row of last gen Accords and quite a few Civics. Hertz has Civics, Accords, and Pilots. LOTS of Pilots actually. Heck, Avis had a fair number of Accords back when they were still owned by GM! I rented from Avis from ’96-’06, Hertz since then. 35+ times a year, and as a car nut I pay attention to what is available.

          I suspect that the reason Honda’s fleet numbers look so low is that they just get reported as retail sales. A sale is a sale.

        • 0 avatar
          J.Emerson

          The “Honda doesn’t do fleet sales” myth really needs to get buried. Not reporting your fleet sales is not the same as not having fleet sales. I’ve seen plenty of Civics and Accords on rental lots, as well as the occasional Odyssey. I have a feeling a lot of the 2012 Civics got pushed into fleet after the restyle was announced.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I just went to Hertz’s Houston airport location – they don’t rent Civics. Personally I’ve never seen one at the airport rental facility, but I’m not everywhere.

        I’d bet 50% of Cruze sales are fleet. Not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly not the profit of a retail sale. That said, the Cruze is quite a sharp sedan for the moeny…discounted or not. And for all it’s badge-engineering, the Verano is distinctly quite nice as well.

        I for one am impressed with the ILX, and will seek a used one out when my daughter gets her license in 3 years.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I work across from an Enterprise and I’ve seen them with Civics but haven’t seen any new ones since the ’11 refresh. Today its mostly Mopar, GM (W-body & Cruze), and Hyundai products.

          Wise to buy ILX used, its quite the rip-off at MSRP.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The ILX, if not the most radically overpriced, dyamically underwhelming POS new car recently introduced, must be definitively in the running as such.

            Epic Fail.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      Maybe, but I see a lot of Cruzes on the street. Either that or Civics are just not noticeable.

      • 0 avatar
        Secret Hi5

        GM said 20,000 Cruze sales were retail, so that’s roughly 35% fleet. GM mentioned “timing of rental business” that bumped up the total monthly sales, but also said that retail sales had gone up 21% too.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Fleet matters because fleet sales affect value for the consumer and real retail price for the seller. When fleet sales are high, the cars get dumped into the pool of available, late-model cars a year later. This causes the value of the cars that consumers bought alongside last year’s fleet cars to drop and also affects prices of new cars (why spend a ton of money for a new one, if the plentiful used ones are a steal?). This also affects the expected residuals, so it affects lease prices. To keep leases competitive, Cruze leases probably need to get some subventing, which reduces the profitability of the car.

      It’s really robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is the dark side of maintaining volume when the consumer does not agree that the car has high intrinsic value, compared to the competition.

      This was one of GM’s constant problems pre-BK and their monthy press releases at that time indicated that the acknowledged the problem but not that they were necessarily doing anything about it. The press releases every other month would point out that GM had pushed fleet percentages down, significantly, hooray! The odd month, there’d be no mention of fleet and if someone asked, yes, fleet was pretty strong.

      GM’s recent references to “timing” of rental buys brings back memories of their pre-BK press releases.

      One approach is the “rental-only” car, the Malibu Classic (the ’04-’07 Malibu that GM continued to build after the introduction of the ’08 Malibu) and, if I understand correctly, the outgoing Impala is being extended for fleets as the new Impala will be retail-only.

      The Cruze itself is a very nice, very appealing car but sales are probably hampered by the “Chevrolet” logo on it, which discourages satisfied Toyota and Honda buyers from making the switch. It’s to Chevrolet’s advantage that Toyota has probably let the Corolla go a year or two longer than anybody expected without an overhaul and it would be nice if Chevrolet had dedicated this breathing room to maintaining the car’s value.

      If the Corolla overhaul is successful, it’s going to hurt Cruze sales. However, it could be that the stale Corolla has allowed Chevy to win over a decent pile of new Cruze owners and if the Cruzes sold in the last year deliver value, those people might be back for more Chevys in the future. When purchases are years apart, market share will swing slowly.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The rental companies are keeping cars for a LOT longer than a year these days. Even as a top-tier President’s Circle renter with Hertz, I get a fair number of cars with over 30K on them, and over 40K occasionally. 2-3 years old. So if I am getting those cars, the average Joe off the street is getting them all the time.

        Unthinkable 20 years ago, but the norm now. When I first started travelling for a living, I never saw a rental with more than 10K on it.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          I don’t rent all that often but I’ve never had a car that was > 1 year old. They may be keeping them more than 1 year, as you say, but they still return en masse to the used market at some point.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      FYI – My sister is presently driving a rental ’13 Civic that she got from Enterprise while her car is in the body shop. She dislikes the Civic, by the way.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The low numbers for the Golf and Sportwagen make me a bit sad, but it is nice not seeing your car on every block.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I realize the differences between the Jetta and the Golf but if Toyota can list Matrix and Corolla together then it’s fair to add Golf + Jetta figures together. When you do that the sales figures get really close to the top 4.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Since the Jetta and Golf are on different platforms and different ends of the savage bean-counter’s knife, I still say keep them separate :)

        I can’t remember the last time I saw a new Matrix (for good reason), so I’m guessing the Corolla’s total sales number is getting the tiniest of boosts from having the Matrix lumped in.

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          My mother had a Matrix XR AWD back in the day with that awful, gutless 1.8 liter engine (and 4 speed automatic, which despite its “lack of ratios” did the best it could with the meager 123hp). Despite that one horrid flaw, I found it to be a very competent drive—decent interior, nice stereo, nice ride.

          Since they have long replaced that old 1.8 with the 2.4 (and 5 speed auto) in the AWD models, I’d imagine it is now a rather enjoyable car. No, its not stylish, and its not a sports car. But if I wanted an AWD wagon right now, I’d definitely shop the Matrix along with Subarus and the like.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I liked the first Matrix, sluggish engine notwithstanding. Great little car. My problems with the redesign are the cargo capacity and greenhouse sacrificed for truly questionable styling (the current Mazda3 hatch bugs me for the same reasons), the still sluggish 1.8 in base models, and the 2.4 upgrade that somehow manages terrible fuel economy compared to the heavier, larger Camry that used the same engine. Just too many little strikes against the car. Aren’t too many compact AWD wagonlettes around, so I suppose that is one plus.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            Interesting, my girlfriend has ’09 Vibe and I have not been impressed by it. It clunks and chunks over bumps, lets in a lot of road noise, and just doesn’t seem all that well screwed together. My ’10 Mazda 3 seems much much more refined by comparison.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I don’t recall seeing huge incentives on the Chevrolet Cruze. What accounts for the sudden rise in Cruze sales? I have always maintained that no dealer base is better at moving metal than the Chevy dealers. Given equal cars, they will sell the most. Although I liked Saturn’s “no-haggle” pricing and chocolate chip cookies, if Chevrolet would have been given the SL/SC, GM would have sold twice as many.

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    @ Big truck. Check out the Civic leases. Honda gives more damage waiver $$$ then anyone at lease end. Saves $$$ when street NYC parking is your lifestyle. Base car also has standard back up camera and media streaming BT. Much larger back seat leg room as well.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Although the high Cruze sales numbers are certainly noteworthy (all the more so since the Cruze is limited to a single, 4-door sedan model, whereas the Civic has both a coupe and a sedan, and the Focus has a sedan and 5-door hatchback), didn’t the Cruze’s much more rudimentary predecessors sell quite well, too? While the Cavalier and Cobalt were rarely (if ever) number one, seems like they were always in the top ten. Taking that into account would seem to diminish the otherwise impressive feat.

    As to the Corolla, Toyota has such a solid quality reputation and loyal following, there are consumers that would buy them in droves if they had seats which were nothing more than fabric-covered wood benches (which is pretty close to what they are, anyway).

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Great analysis!

    Dear Nissan: Give up on the Cube. Give up, give up, give up.

    Dear Scion: Please shoot the xD in the head and give it a proper retirement. Even when it was a new design it wasn’t a good car.

    If you combine ILX/Civic numbers, Cruze/Verano numbers, and Forte/Elantra numbers the scale gets pretty darn amazing (ya, I get the Cruze/Verano have very little in common in particular)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Dear Scion: Please shoot the xD in the head and give it a proper retirement. Even when it was a new design it wasn’t a good car.”

      See, I like the xD.

      Its size really puts it closer to subcompacts and back when it first came out its power output made it a Chevelle SS in a segment of slant six Valiants.

      It does need an update though.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    My anecdotal observation from work is that the Cruze may be picking up more fleet sales than it did initially. When the car first came out, we rarely saw a Cruze come through the rental fleet. Now they are quite common. While the previous generation Accord and Civic were regularly seen in the rental fleet, I have not seen a single example of the newest generations. The new Fusions have been extremely rare and the Mazda 6s have been absent (whereas the previous gens of both were very common). Malibus, Camrys, Avengers/200s, Sontatas, Optimas, and occasionally Passats are all regulars in the rental lane.

    As far as the Cruze, I rented one a few days ago for an overnight trip to Jacksonville (live in Orlando). The car was ok. It just seems to have a sweet spot of cruising (no pun intended) from 50-75 mph. Above that, and fuel economy drops precipitously (from mid to high 30s down to about 30 based on the trip computer), and the ride deteriorates. Below that, in around town driving, I found the turbo engine to be laggy and the AT did a poor job of smoothing out that power. My biggest complaint was that the infotainment system was slow and buggy. I shudder to think of how it will handle the long term. The Focus I rented for the same drive the week before average 34 mpg on that high speed highway stretch and the sync system worked flawlessly (it didn’t have MFT). Both the Focus and the Cruze turned in a disappointing low 20s in the around town driving. The other car I’ve driven on that route was a 4 cylinder Camry and it also average 34 mpg overall with a fantastic infotainment and a flawless drivetrain. So far my favorite car for the drive.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      In all fairness, you are comparing a C-segment car to a D-segment car. The Focus and Cruze do not compete against the Camry, but the Corolla. FWIW. I would by default, expect more from a Camry than a Corolla, Cruze, Civic, Focus, Elantra, Forte, Mazda3, Dart, etc. etc. etc.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        I wouldn’t expect more fuel economy. But that seems to be tjh8402′s experience.

        • 0 avatar
          tjh8402

          @APaGTTH: I realize they are different segments, but the Cruze I (I believe 2LT as it had leather, not 1LT) and Camry SE I had have MSRPs less than $1000 difference, and apps support in the infotaiment, power leather seats, and a sunroof were all that I really noticed as far as options the Cruze had but the Camry didn’t. The Camry comes pretty well equipped even without any options.

          @Kixstart: the fuel economy was the surprising part. Assuming you can live without every bell and whistle, I don’t see a case for the Cruze vs Camry. The Camry is the same price, bigger, drives much nicer, gets better fuel economy, and will undoubtedly have better long term reliability, cost of ownership, and residual value.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            For some people a bigger car is a penalty. Those people are probably in the minority since Detroit has historically not made much effort in the B and C segments. Still, not everyone wants a bigger car, even for the same price.

        • 0 avatar
          tjh8402

          Just rented the Camry for the drive again. Gas mileage wasn’t as good this time (was almost 33 mpg overall), but still better than the Cruze. Two observations – the Camry has much taller gearing. At 85 mph the Cruze was up close to 3000 rpms whereas the Camry was about 3500 rpms lower. Also, the turbo lag and on/off nature of the boost made it much harder to drive smoothly and with a light touch on the throttle. The Camry’s throttle and power delivery is much more linear with much better low end torque. I realize this shouldn’t be surprising given its 1.1 liter extra displacement, but I thought the combo of turbo and DI was supposed to help offset that? I drove an F10 528 with BMW’s turbo 4 and the one good thing I will say about that engine is that it had zero lag and a broad flat torque curve, and that engine has a much higher specific output (120 vs 100 hp/lt) than the Chevy one does.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I don’t get the comparison to the 528. For the difference in cost, the BMW engine should be better.

            And outside of the luxury segment, when have turbos ever equated to linear power delivery?

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            @ Burgersandbeer: I bring up the 528 because I know a lot of people are skeptical as to whether a small turbo motor can really deliver substantive fuel economy benefits in the real world, and the BMW is an excellent illustration that it can. For the record, I’ve also driven VW’s with various iterations of the 2.0t engine and that’s also a very broad power curve.

            Turbo motors for reasons other than performance are a new concept in mass market cars, so I don’t think it’s well established what power delivery in a non premium turbo engine should feel like and how much lag is “acceptable”. That being said, if the engine is a turbo mainly for purposes of economy, and the non linear power curve is part of the reason it is difficult to meet the EPA numbers in the real world, then I think it is reasonable to criticize the car for it.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    If Chevys and Hondas are “Regular” and Cadillac, Mercedes and BMW are “Premium”, I suggest the use of another gasoline term, “Plus”, to describe in-betweeners like Buick and Acura.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    A Buick out sells an Acura?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That model in-particular is not a real Acura… of course you could argue none of the lineup qualify as real Acuras but I digress.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Although this will bestow the rage of some of the B&B, the ILX is pretty darn close to Japan’s answer to the Cadillac Cimmaron. Honda has taken steps to make the ILX offering a bit better, but its mechanical under-pinnings are a Civic. Oh some will not defend and talk about dampening changes, etc. etc. that somehow in their view magically changes the platform.

      The Verano has very little in common with a Cruze – although the are both built on the same “platform.” The Civic and the ILX mechanically are the same darn cars – you’re much better off getting a loaded Civic and saving a few thousand dollars. Worse, the ILX is only moving because of give away lease deals – otherwise I don’t think Acura could see a thousand a month of the things. It is in a “disaster” from a product stand point.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Rough crowd againist the Acura brand.

        So will the ILX go down like the Cimmaron?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Absolutely correct not only are they same basic platform and drivetrain, they are the *exact* same car built in the same location, probably on the same assembly lines. Its clear the higher ups needed an “Integra” type model again and didn’t have the time or money to develop it, so they took a play from 80s GM and tarted up a Civic. The ILX is a Cimmaron for the 21st century. I suggest the doubters go test drive the lease-bait base ILX and then a mid tier Civic sedan in the same day and see if you notice any real differences.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          One difference is the ILX gets rid of the civic’s ridiculous interior design.

          I agree though; it’s quite the premium just to get a more traditional interior design. Just buy one of the Civic’s competitors for thousands less – problem solved.

    • 0 avatar
      TurboDeezl

      Sure does

  • avatar

    Japanese compacts gained 5,000 sales for the year while the domestic compacts gained 67,000 units for the year. Det 3 also did very well in the A and B segments. The Sonic alone outsold the Fit, Yaris, CRZ and IQ combined with room to spare. I would have laughed at anyone if they had told me three years ago that a Chevy sub-compact, priciest in its class can outsell the Fit and Yaris combined. The Spark is selling better than expectations too. GM should capitalize on this and sell the Buick Adam as soon as possible. Build decent cars, sales will follow and perceptions will change faster than anyone imagined.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The Sonic is a cool success story. Five years ago Honda, Nissan, and Toyota had the B-segment locked up; their offerings were the best in class and far better than the subcompacts that came before. In a single automotive generation Honda and Toyota lost their lead big time to Chevy and to a lesser extent Ford and Hyundai.

      Nissan was smart and didn’t even try to compete on perceived quality of driving experience, going whole-hog instead for cheapest big backseat in the business.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        I have to agree that the Sonic is an astonishing success story. The previous Daewoo product sold by GM was the much reviled Aveo, a cheaply built car that did nothing well and was universally despised by virtually everyone. Even during run-ups of gas prices and the Cash-4-Clunkers program, Aveos still couldn’t be given away (plenty of Calibers stayed on Dodge lots, too).

        And yet, the Aveo’s replacement is selling more than its Toyota and Honda counterparts ‘combined’. Truly amazing.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    local rental agencies like Enterprise have brands available if there’s a dealership nearby, I’ve seen Hondas ad even Beemers at nearby locations so they can cater to customers who need to rent and like to have the same brand as their own.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This is true of the airports as well. Smaller airport rental locations are usually franchises, even the Rental Big 3 (Hertz, Avis, National). You can see anything and everything for rent at them, sometimes with the local dealer sticker still on the back where they bought them.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    Really surprised about the Sentra which is up even more than the Cruze year-over-year (+19% vs segment average 8%). This car gets roundly mocked on most car websites, it’s the lowest horsepower compact, CVT-only on most trims, has no available enthusiast version, doesn’t come in hatchback… all of which would seem to limit its appeal quite a bit. But it’s outselling the Mazda3?

    I wish we had an additional column comparing MSRP or invoice for all these cars because I’m wondering how much the upswing in some of these cars is just a matter of being significantly cheaper than a Toyota/Honda/Ford. I generally think of all compacts costing the same plus or minus $1k but my understanding is that the Sentra is quite aggressively priced (mid-trim models for $18k or less).

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      People buy Toyota. People don’t buy Mazda. Brand name alone is what gets people into showrooms. Perceived quality does not always equate to real quality in reality, but it’s all about the buyer’s mindset.

  • avatar
    lukemo2

    I just leased a Cruze LS. I put 2000 down and the dealer put in 1500. My payment is 165/mo. I’m very happy with it.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I think something else helping the cruze is a traditional auto tranny, so many other compacts suffer the CVT which turns away lots of buyers especially those new (or for that matter returning) to the compact segment.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I recall dreading to get a Cavalier and later a Cobalt at the rental counter and even moving up to a higher level to avoid one, now I actually look forward to getting a Cruze, like Lutz always said, “It’s the product, stupid”

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    the Cruze looks like a normal car, has a nice manual transmission and is getting mileage in the 40′s. Even at that people can’t say anything positive about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      I have one, an Eco 6M, and am very pleased with it. It consistently beats the EPA mileage, rides comfortably, and looks nicer than it has a right to (DLO fail notwithstanding). It’s the ideal commuter car that can do long road trips and carry a family of five if need be. I have had zero problems with it in a year and a half and 32K miles.

  • avatar
    TurboDeezl

    Yes the Cruze is a great value. The 6 speed Eco is the mileage leader. One piece of advice for those interested in auto trans only. Opt for the LT with 1.4 turbo. Gets only 1 less mpg highway than Eco auto and $1,200 less base MSRP!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    But for those like me, who just don’t trust turbos in the long run, go for the normally aspirated motor instead.


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