By on March 18, 2016

2015 Toyota Camry XSE red

If your neighbor tells you they’re thinking of buying or leasing a new midsize sedan, you wouldn’t be crazy to assume that they’ve likely visited the local Toyota, Honda, and Nissan dealers.

Yet the majority of U.S. midsize car buyers do not, in fact, choose the Camry, Accord, or Altima.

Diversity wins. The dominator isn’t all-conquering.

The Toyota Camry remains the best-selling car in America, and thus the best-selling car in its midsize/intermediate category. 2015 was the 14th consecutive year of U.S. passenger car sales leadership for the Camry.

Despite a modest 1-percent year-over-year decline through the first two months of 2016, the Camry has increased its share of the category from 17.9 percent in the first two months of 2015 – and 18.2 percent in calendar year 2015 – to 18.3 percent in January and February of 2016.

2016 Nissan Altima

As Nissan switches over to an updated 2016 model, U.S. sales of the Altima declined 8 percent in the first two months of 2016, a loss of more than 4,000 sales. After averaging 247,500 annual Altima sales between 2004 and 2011, Nissan now sells more than 300,000 Altima sales every year, with 2015’s total down just 2,246 sales shy of 2014’s record 335,644 units.

The Honda Accord currently ranks third in the category, but it should have no difficulty securing second spot in the category by year’s end based on its current rate of growth. Accord volume is up 9-percent year-to-date and Accord volume has increased in six consecutive months.

2016 Honda Accord

It’s clear then that this is the meat of the batting order, three big bats surrounded by major league underachievers. Yet combined, the eight CamCorTima alternatives from Ford, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Chrysler, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Mazda do more damage at the plate, to continue the analogy.

48.3 percent of the new midsize cars sold in January and February were Camrys, Accords, and Altimas, up a full percentage point compared with 2015’s first two months (and calendar year 2015 but on par with 2014’s results.

This leaves nearly three-quarters of the cars in the category to pick up just over half the sales, no sterling achievement for the fellas hitting at the bottom of the order, but proof nevertheless that most Americans don’t want a Camry, Altima, or Accord.

The Chrysler 200’s previously disclosed losses are well-known and are largely to blame for the segment’s overall decline in early 2016 and the ability of the top three to increase their share. (200 aside, U.S. midsize car sales are up 3 percent, rather than down 3 percent.) U.S. sales of the Kia Optima are down 14 percent so far this year. Predictably, Volkswagen Passat volume tumbled 37 percent during the first two months of 2016. The least popular Mazda6 lost 30 percent of its January/February sales.

Meanwhile, U.S. sales of the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, and Subaru Legacy are on the rise. The Malibu’s 53-percent increase in February is most notable.

With fewer competitors with which to tangle, there are dominant players in other categories that far exceed the Camry’s 18-percent market share figure. Dodge and Chrysler’s minivans combined to own 44 percent of America’s minivan market in the first two months of 2016. But they essentially have but four direct rivals. 36 percent of the full-size trucks sold in America are Ford F-Series pickups, but the F-Series has only five rivals from Ram, General Motors, Nissan, and Toyota. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class grabs four in ten flagship luxury car sales, but rivals hail only from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, and Porsche. We wrote already this month about the Toyota Tacoma’s ownership of the midsize truck arena, but the Tacoma is one of only four trucks currently competing in the category.

The collective American car-buying public unwittingly consistently makes sure the obvious midsize choices don’t become automatic choices, thereby leaving enough market share for lower-tier players to make development a worthwhile endeavour. The biggest factor standing in the way of low-volume cars like the Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy, and Chrysler 200 isn’t the dominance of the high-volume Toyotas, Nissans, and Hondas. At least not yet.

Rather, it’s the strength of small SUVs/crossovers – which now easily outsell midsize cars – that throws a wrench into the works. For every Mazda6, Passat, Legacy, and 200 sold so far this year, Mazda, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Jeep sold more than two CX-5s, Tiguans, Foresters, and Cherokees.

[Images: Toyota, Nissan, Honda]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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92 Comments on “U.S. Midsize Car Sales: Most Buyers Don’t Make The Obvious Choice...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Do the figures used here still include sales to rental fleets?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      ajla – sales data originating from the auto companies do not separate fleet from civilian sales.

    • 0 avatar
      zip89105

      Last I read 20% of Camry sales were rentals, but the rental companies are happy as the vehicles have less down time. Renters however are complaining about the lack of amenities.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        “rental companies are happy as the vehicles have less down time”

        I would have thought that downtime in rentals is mostly due to body damage. Is a rental Camry much more reliable than a rental Sonata? Enough to make a difference to the bottom line?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Why hell no. I get sick of people acting as though if you dont buy a Camry, Altima or Accord, your every commute will consist of nothing but break downs and tow trucks and service centers and large checks passing from your hand to others.

          Infotainment technology aside (which is quite often operator error), very few modern cars deserve the term “unreliable”.

          Just because a car didnt connect to your device on the first try does not make it unreliable. It still runs and drives, it doesnt leave you walking along side the interstate when it cant find your playlist. Likewise, just because a car doesnt say Toyota, Nissan or Honda on it doesnt make it unreliable, either.

          Lol @ less down time as an excuse as to why rental companies buy Camrys. A decade ago, there were nothing but Tauruses, was that the reason then, too? Oh no! They got big discounts! Thats why! Got news for ya pal, thats exactly why they buy Camrys so much today. Toyota wants to hang onto that title come-what-may, even if that means dumping them into fleets to do it.

          That was Ford’s mistake with Taurus back when it was a top seller, it eventually catches up to you, as they learned and have not repeated it with Fusion. Ford is much happier with higher transaction prices and better resale value over bragging rights and chest thumping.

          • 0 avatar
            zip89105

            Of course price matters, as well as fleet selection. And yes, Toyota wanted to keep the sales crown. But it doesn’t change the fact rental companies are reporting less down time with Camry’s. As a recent buyer of a Fusion, I can tell you that Ford will still deal better than Toyota on equally equipped vehicles, so while for me it was price related, for rental company’s there are probably other metrics involved besides price.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Toyota had been more than competitive on fleet pricing, esp. when the Yen to Dollar valuation was favorable.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Thumbs up, JohnTaurus. Most of those cars that have poor CR and other ratings aren’t nearly as bad as the commentators want them to sound.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            They’re also going to look at resale down the road @ 60k miles. Camrys certainly hold their value better.

            Only in the past 3-4 years have we seen a decent Camry presence in the rental market. If all else being equal between two cars but a price difference of +$1500 to get the Camry, as a fleet manager it would make sense to step up for the reliability and resale factor.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            It seems we now know why the Camry at least is so popular, though we could see an interesting shift very soon. Autonews Now just reported that CPO Camrys will be eligible for second-round leasing as a huge number are about to hit the dealerships that if they go to the used-car lots they’ll suppress their resale value and ultimately their ‘new’ value.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Jihad John:

            “KILL TOYOTAS! KILL TOYOTAS! KILL MORE TOYOTAS!”

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Fanboys are tedious enough, but domestic car fanboys are the most tedious of all.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            PCH, I couldn’t agree more about fanboys. Especially the Ford vs Chevy truck truckknuckles. They always have the same exact jabs and haven’t been creative since I can remember.

            I’m guilty of it a bit myself, but it’s always been in jest. At one point I had an S10 Blazer and my friend had an Explorer both 1998 models. We jabbed at each other, but knew ot meant nothing. By the time we had them they were already old and tired, my Blazer at 220k miles and showing it his Explorer at 190k with the failing transmission.

            The funny part is that I grew up preferring Ford and he grew up preferring Chevy.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Its amazing to me that despite all the positive press, sleek looks, great fuel economy and 2016 refresh, that the Mazda6 sales cannot gain traction. Perhaps its due in part to the pretty popular crossovers they now have, but its too bad.

    I admit that I have been drawn to the dark side (crossovers) due in part to the fact that I have 3 kids. Have no fear, the midsize sedan is one oil crisis away from reclaiming its momentum. Eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      Last year was Mazda’s best year for the 6 since 2006. And how can you expect a massive increase in sales when Mazda has nearly half as many dealers compared to Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

      The brand doesn’t the cache to appeal to larger share of the market compared to the Japanese 3.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Mr. Orange – valid point. There isn’t a Mazda dealer in my home town. The closest one is 300 miles away.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Mazda has also been pricing its models higher and they usually have less HP and room than most of the competition, so it hurts them in the all important valuation calculation.

        The # of buyers who place a premium on sheetmetal, nicer interiors or driving dynamics is small relative to the overall market.

    • 0 avatar
      Snail Kite

      I don’t think you can win in the midsize market with one good product. You need generation after generation of good product. Mazda did it this time, but their it’s previous models weren’t great.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Having been at a Mazda dealership with my BIL, I think this is the narrative…

      1. Shopper approaches 6, “ooh, pretty”
      2. Shopper and/or Mrs. Shopper opens rear door, asks how in blazes you’re supposed to fit a child seat and/or a grown adult back there
      3. Shopper takes test drive, “handles nice, kind of jittery though”
      4. Shopper notices that the same power train and a lot more usable space is available in a CX5

      Also I suspect the Fusion is a serious problem for the 6. Similarly dramatic styling but a more sophisticated ride and (modestly) more practicality as a family vehicle, plus much more likely to come with some cash on the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        That – and I look at all the current Mazda products and think “overdesigned”.

        Obviously a subjective thing, but it must apply to more people than just me.

        (The Fusion might be “dramatic”, too, but it doesn’t bother me – probably because the elements are less curvy/swoopy.)

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Having fitted two 6′ adults in the 6 there is sufficient space but obviously for some people that isn’t what they found. Most mid-size sedans I see don`t usually have anyone in the back seat (work commute).

          It is slightly less spacious than the Accord but certainly class competitive. They don`t game their measurements like Ford has done.

          And I am not surprised someone didn`t like the styling, there will always be one since it has been fairly widely praised as a very attractive mid-size sedan.

          I can see people moving to the CX-5, same for Camry to RAV-4 and Accord to CRV in the showroom. The sales data bears that out.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Interesting, since the actual interior measurements of the 6 are nearly identical to those of an Accord.

        The 6’s problem is the same one every other car in this segment has: it’s not named “Camry” or “Accord.” Both those cars have a HUGE rep.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam Hell Jr

          And that may be, I didn’t have an Accord and a measuring tape handy. I can confirm that, at 5’9″, I found the 6’s backseat pretty dark and cramped, and ingress/egress a bit awkward. But it also has extended thigh support and deeper butt-grooves, so the shape might play a role.

          I like the car, mind you. I just observed first hand how likely buyers sized one up and found it lacking for family-vehicle needs.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            A six-foot-two-er could sit behind the same-sized driver in the 9th-Gen Accord’s back seat and be comfortable. And that’s even more cavernous than my 2006 7th-Gen, which could still fit basketball players in the outer four seats.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Mazda’s dealer network is a huge liability. They don’t have many dealers, and the dealers they do have don’t seem to provide particularly good service in most cases. My sister wanted a Mazda3 until she tried to deal with her local dealer. She ended up with a Corolla, bought for way less money and with way less hassle.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Whenever I see a Mazda dealer (not often), they look relatively empty and unkempt, or run down. And I’ve never seen someone online even say “Oh so and so Mazda dealer is great.”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Mazda is the perennial bridesmaid, always sitting between 1.5-2.0% of the market, going back 15+ years. Their vehicles get rave reviews and no buyers.

      It’s a small company with few resources, many of which have been squandered on continued rotary development with no ROI. Foolish.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Small is not the real problem. Subaru is also small, but now growing and out-pacing Mazda.

        The problem is that there is no unique attribute to their cars. They wanted the be the Japanese sporty car company. But it’s largely a marketing statement with no substance. I test drove the 3,5,6 and there is nothing special. I wouldn’t even say the 6 is better driving than a Camry, not to mention a Legacy.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Subaru gains from the whole must have AWD and increased ride height. Their cars – Impreza (none WRX/STI models) and Legacy don`t do well. They do well with CUV’s.
          Most people think Mazda’s sporting pretensions are more than just marketing. Most consumers don`t care about sporting pretensions though. I am glad there are a few companies that do.

          Main issue is dealer network. I live in SE PA and there are two good dealers nearby and I see a lot of Mazda vehicles (including the 6). I saw less when I lived in central NC and no good dealers nearby.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I wonder if the 6 could benefit from a more powerful halo trim. The Camry and Accord are known for their powerful V6s, which probably attracts people to the showroom. Even if most of them do end up settling for the 4-cylinder once it’s time to pull out the checkbook.

      Mazda would need something dramatic than a V6 or turbo-4 to get the public’s attention though. I’m thinking Mazdaspeed6.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Now they have the turbo 2.5 in the new CX9, there is no reason (other than a business case) for that engine not to be in the 3 and 6 as speed models.

        Someone said earlier that they wasted resources on things like rotary. Maybe so, but they also refreshed their platforms, transmission and engines in a very short timescale (starting with the CX5) and have done it successfully and to acclaim (good fuel economy, good driving dynamics, reliability good).

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The Accord will be the last one standing if they don’t screw the pooch and dump the J35 for a hamster-wheeled four-banger come the 10th-Gen in M/Y 2018; as stated in this thread (I think), Toyota’s dumping the V6 for gerbil-wheeled fours in the upper Camry trims beginning next year. OTOH, Honda will be turdocharging the base Accords — think LX and Sport.

        (To broaden the appeal, hopefully Honda offers the Sport as a factory package on all Sedans save for the Touring, since some folks want stuff like a sunroof with a better stereo, which would go well together, but you can’t get that, since the current Sport is simply an LX with dual exhaust, decklid spoiler, and larger wheels. No leather or even a six-speaker stereo.)

    • 0 avatar
      mdensch

      The Mazda6’s manual transmission would earn it a spot on my short list if I were in the market for a 4-door sedan.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    It’s very admirable how the J-3 are handling the transition from sedans to CUVs by ensuring the cannibalizing will be done by their own CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And many of those CUVs are built off the same mechanicals, pan and platform that the sedans were, so I see it more as a transitioning from the sedans to the CUVs or even a morphing of the old sedan into a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      RideHeight,

      People come in looking for a $20-21K out-the-door price Camry and drive away in a $24-25K out-the-door price Rav4? That’s a terrible problem to have.

  • avatar

    The US car makers are becoming niche players when it comes to passenger car production. Where did it all go wrong?

    It is really depressing.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Sometime between the 70s and 80s.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        28-Cars-Later – the malaise era was what killed “domestic” cars combined with the fact that Japanese cars of that era were vastly superior.
        A lemon from todays harvest would of been an overachiever in 1978.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Yup. Early Gen X in the 80s became yuppified and Boomers started switching to the Japanese, leaving only the old folks to continue the domestic tradition. The domestics slowly sowed the seeds of their own denouement.

      • 0 avatar
        Ion

        The malaise era certainly didn’t help, but the real downfall is the 3rd gen taurus. I don’t know the truth to it but Toyota supposedly reverse engineered Taurus’ to see what the fuss about them was about.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Ion – all of the car companies acquire vehicles from the competition to see what makes them tick.
          If Toyota reverse engineered the Taurus, what was the end result?

          • 0 avatar
            Dynasty

            “If Toyota reverse engineered the Taurus, what was the end result?”

            That they had nothing to worry about.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Ford took apart a Camry in the book “Car” when developing the DN101 Taurus. Perhaps this is what you’re referring too?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You can thank Toyota, Honda and Datsun for showing American consumers that their home team cars were not all that great.

      Today, a car with what was once an acceptable level of reliability would be referred to as a lemon.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Correct!

        Case in point, my Dad drove a 1980 Olds Cutlass Sedan (base model, the equivalent of the base Salon “aeroback” Coupe, written about by Jack a couple years ago; car had the 3.8 liter, 231 CID Buick V6, and only a remote driver mirror, tinted glass, cloth interior, heavy-duty suspension, two-speaker AM radio, and A/C as options) as a company car. It ran well enough for the time, but even then, things were starting to go weird; in this car’s case, the company had to purchase a new starter for it, as the starter was only rated for ~ seven startups per day, and not the twenty-one my Dad averaged.

        The 1983 Buick Regal which followed was better put-together and had a couple more creature comforts, but thanks to the Computer Command Control carb, had a slight hesitation when the throttle was first moderately pressed when cold; at least it didn’t eat a starter! :-) Both of those cars were passed down to my Mom, the Olds at 50k miles, when the company replaced cars, and the Regal when my Dad was promoted (which meant giving up the company car) and bought it from the company at a fire-sale price (as he had with the Olds).

        The real damage was done, however, with his next car, first non-company car in 15 years, a 1986 Buick Century Limited, for which he traded the ’80 Olds. Despite my then-16 year-old pleas for him to special-order one with the Buick 3.8 liter port-injected V6 (which would have been a stealth hooner’s delight, as I discovered a few years later behind the wheel of a friend’s loaded Estate Wagon), he bought one off the lot in typical configuration: power windows and locks, regular Delco cassette stereo, wire wheels, air/cruise/tilt. The undoing was the 2.8 Chevy V6 with the last year of the 2-bbl carburetor, which developed a very dangerous hesitation when cold, much worse than the Regal had!!

        The Buick dealer did nothing but throw parts at the problem, then when none of the fixes worked, my Dad managed to get some of the hundreds of dollars back only after writing a letter to the Buick Motor Division president and all but daring him to tell my Dad why he should buy another GM product. (Further fanning his flames was the fact that my second car, a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird hatchback, my college commuter-mobile, needed a $500 head-gasket repair on my McBurger-flipping budget — the car also had the power-steering rack defect which caused blow-by in the system until the rack warmed up, commonly known as “morning sickness”.)

        Because of those two incidents (despite a family friend discovering a possible TSB for the Century’s problem a couple years later), my Dad leased a 1991 Accord EX Sedan in Hampshire Green Pearl, and my Mom ended up with a showroom-queen 1990 Civic EX Sedan on closeout (a CRX Si with a sedan body and slushbox), after trading both the Century and Regal on the Civic. My Dad’s now on his fifth Accord, me my third (and fourth Honda — first was a 1994 Civic EX Sedan); and my Mom’s on her second Civic after the devil got to her in 2000, when she purchased an Emm-Kay-Four Jetta!! 8-O. My brother had a “possessed” Acura Integra GS, but his wife’s 2009 Odyssey’s power doors (a classic weak point), are as good as the day they drove it home!

        Thirteen Hondas!! This from an Oldsmobuick family who would have continued buying Buicks and other GM fare (since even my SIL’s second Maxima developed a stutter and MIL eventually traced to a bad coil pack; she replaced that with a 1st-Gen Escape, but with their first child on the way, they needed more room for themselves, especially with two outsized Golden Retrievers sharing the ride), but were bitten one too many times!

        Have they all been perfect? No: that first Civic had the igniter problem which was legion to Hondas of the era (goodwilled per a TSB), as well as a common issue with a head gasket (for which Honda picked up 75% of the tab after one call to their customer service); my first Accord, a 2000 V6, had a glass transmission replaced. The dealers have since bent over backwards for my family: bless her heart, my Mom never got the connection between the power antennas and the need to turn off the radio on my Dad’s first two Accords when going through the car wash, but they managed to find “corrosion,” or a bad connection, or SOMETHING, on no less than..hmmm..FOUR of them! Yep..no runaround, just good customer service!

        In the end, it was the fault of the entire USDM auto industry collectively resting on their laurels and doing nothing that invited the Japanese to come and eat their lunch.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but it wasn’t the Japanese who largely invented the “SUV as family truckster” segment. That was Jeep, later popularized by Ford and GM (particularly Ford).

      I think they just innovated differently.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @FreedMike – true. We must not forget SUV’s. The “domestics” were building crappy cars to begin with. The introduction of emissions just made them worse. Instead of stepping up to the plate and building a good product they chose to cede the market to the Japanese and move into large SUV’s. Being truck based they did not need to meet more costly emissions and safety requirements. Profit margins were much better. Buyers (especially buy American types) still pining away for the land yachts of the 60’s and early 70’s naturally went to SUV’s. The rest went Japanese.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Then the Ford Explorer took off, and the rest is history.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      They lost their mojo 1955-1985, during which the foreign car bug swept in, and then suddenly Toyonda was building superior vehicles.

      The big 3 couldn’t make a competent small car until the late 1990s. Even by 1975 the seeds had germinated.

      I picked 1955 because that was the year Chrysler decided to design bigger-lower-wider to hit the market in ’57, when in fact there was already a burgeoning itch for smaller and nimbler that the domestics has no desire to scratch lest it affect profits (Rambler excepted).

      Ford-GM-Chrysler now build trucks as their main business, and are delighted to sell a car or two occasionally. In 5 years I expect only two of those companies to remain standing.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “The biggest factor standing in the way of low-volume cars like the Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy, and Chrysler 200 isn’t the dominance of the high-volume Toyotas, Nissans, and Hondas. At least not yet.

    Rather, it’s the strength of small SUVs/crossovers – which now easily outsell midsize cars – that throws a wrench into the works. For every Mazda6, Passat, Legacy, and 200 sold so far this year, Mazda, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Jeep sold more than two CX-5s, Tiguans, Foresters, and Cherokees.”

    This might be partially true but for sedan buyers its tough for the Mazda6, VW Passat, and Chrysler FWD anything to compete against a Camcord. I would love to see a survey or research on repeat Camcord buyers being asked to test drive or give reasons why they would or would not buy the VW, Chrysler, or Mazda products. The Legacy is another story, if you argued within Subaru it is outsold 2:1 (or 3:1 or whatever) by the station wagons I would probably agree. However Suburu as a brand has grown but is still a bit player and Subaru does not put all sorts of money on the hood of the Legacy unlike Toyota, Nissan, VW, Chrysler, and perhaps Mazda (I’m unsure on Mazda’s rebates), For what it is, the Legacy is the best choice, but it is not a conventional FWD sedan like the rest of the ones named here.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Subaru’s drawing card, though, has always been AWD. That makes it huge here in Denver, or anyplace where that would be a useful feature, but a lot of the country doesn’t get winter weather. Probably explains why the Legacy is kind of a marginal seller.

      That, plus the weird engine note and the meh styling.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      With Subaru, you gain AWD and (compared with some players) good packaging, but you give up some fuel economy and a lot of interior refinement. That plays better for some buyers (especially in wintry or outdoorsy places) than others.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      When I was shopping last year Mazda had around $1000 on the 6, whereas the Accord Sport had >$4000 on the hood. Plus cheap financing. It is hard to compete against a well regarded car (the Accord) which has a good financial deal.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks for the info. Yes it its difficult to compete with Accord’s reputation but I imagine Mazda cannot afford to offer $4K off while Honda can, which is another thing tough to compete against.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Mazda has been trying to position itself as the semi-premium, mainstream brand – like what VW used to be (a strategy not exactly conducive to volume sales).

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I saw one of those crosseyed Nissans in an opposing lane the other day and had to do a double take because the thing looked like it had been in an accident, but it’s just the design. I’m finally at the ripe old curmudgenly age where they all look the same.

    Do the Maxipad and Altima compete with each other?

  • avatar

    These cars are like sheep.

    Some cars are like wolves.

    Wolves with jetpacks.

  • avatar
    Von

    Competition benefits the consumer.

    This is why I have been an AMD guy for a long time (but now the performance/price is too far gone), but I am more cautious when it comes to car levels of money. The only purchase outside of Toy/Hon/Lex/Acura being a Subaru.

    I really want to splurge on a GS-F within the next 3 years, but I can’t shake the feeling that I could splurge a bit more and get a M5 with stupid horsepower and a pedigree that no Lexus can touch.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I translate this article as “lots of carmakers compete in the biggest segments.” Midsizers are slowly shrinking but they are still the biggest non-CUV segment. You’ll find a similar volume of players in compact cars and in compact and midsize CUVs. Get more niche, and you get fewer players.

      The one exception is full-size pickups, and that’s more of a cultural thing. Foreign brands have had a hard time internalizing what those buyers really want, and the buyers themselves aren’t that eager to help them figure it out. So you get the Detroit Three and a couple bit players despite staggeringly high volume.

      Edit: Intended as a reply to the article, not to Von, in case that wasn’t already clear. Von, at least go listen to the GS-F before you decide. That version of the Toyota V8 sounds spectacular.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The Mazda 6 has been a solid product for what, 6 months, now that the refresh of the latest model is available? How is that supposed to generate real sales numbers vs. players that have been dominating for decades?

    The Mazda6 is generally beloved by the auto press, but that has never guaranteed sales for anyone. The first Mazda 6 was too small for the market, and embarrassingly cheap inside, and it’s donated Ford Duratec V6 was old, weak, and thirsty compared to top shelf Honda and Toyota V6s.

    The second gen Mazda 6 was an improvement in some ways, but it still had a *serious* lack of refinement. That’s not something that magazine writers care about, but people notice on a test drive when the car is extremely noisy and rough compared to an Accord, and they don’t buy.

    The third gen looks absolutely fantastic on the outside, no question. Easily the best looking car in the mainstream midsize sedan class. The interior out of the gate though was half baked, and the electronics were HORRIBLE, worse even than what you get in a Passat. That’s no longer excusable. Honda can get away with crappy electronics, but when even MFT is far better than your system, and Chrysler, Chevy, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai/Kia all have systems that are on a different planet in terms of capability and usability, you have a real problem. Mazda’s latest system seems to now at least be “good enough” to compete with rivals, but they’ve only been rolling it out over the last year or two.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      What you refer to as “rough and noisy” is actually just a Mazda thing. Their cars have a strong personality on the road, and that usually means a bit more road noise. It’s been going on a long time.

      And I no of know one who had no love for the original 6. That was a DAMN nice car, and you could get that nifty four door hatchback. I lusted after the Mazdaspeed version for years.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I wanted to like the 2nd gen 6 and I still think they look great on the road, but the interior was surprisingly cheap and the road noise was absolutely incredible when compared to just about everything else in the class. We needed it for highway travel so that was a deal killer.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Don’t know exactly about the “Easily the best looking car in the mainstream midsize sedan class.”

      The Fusion and the Optima (previous gen) have something to say about that.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    I purchased a 2016 Fusion in 2015, and so far so good. Best bang for my buck. Of the top three, only the Camry was considered. The other two had too many CVT complaints.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Rather, it’s the strength of small SUVs/crossovers – which now easily outsell midsize cars – that throws a wrench into the works. For every Mazda6, Passat, Legacy, and 200 sold so far this year, Mazda, Volkswagen, Subaru, and Jeep sold more than two CX-5s, Tiguans, Foresters, and Cherokees.”

    And don’t forget pickup trucks, many of which are seeing double-digit increases in their sales so far this year.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    I wonder how much longer a significant number of people can be induced to buy sedans, the lowest, blindest and most ergonomically punishing form of mass market vehicles.

    The simple but relentless frustration and danger of never being able to see even over the hood of the vehicles surrounding one must be having its consequences.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Personally, I’d love to see a return of the 2-door coupe or 2-door wagon. I don’t need or want four doors but the choice of available 2-door vehicles is shrinking every year.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Not everyone is old and broken (or too short to see over the cowl, it seems), so not everyone wants to pony up for ride height.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I’ve bought many sedans over the years, and the newest ones are the least desirable from an ergonomics, sight-lines, parking and use of space point of view. Today the driver can’t see where the front of the car is, can’t see where the back of the car is, can’t see anything not centered in front of the vehicle (thanks to massive pillars) and can’t get in and out of the darn car without whacking one’s head. Bumpers are useless because they are now painted plastic which is easily marred by touching anything. Side doors are quickly dinged up in parking lots because the door bump strip is a thing of the past. Driving with the windows open at any speed will ruin your hearing from the coke bottle whoop-whoop effect. Designers want sedans to look like coupes, even though hardly anyone buys coupes any more. Rear seat headroom is massively compromised for the sake of a plunging rear roof-line.

      Styling and relentless cost cutting have undermined the overall vehicle so much that it is no wonder fewer sedans are being sold.

      Bah humbug! At least well cared for used Volvo 960s can still be found and maintained. They were one of the last rationally designed sedans. Volvo’s 850 was pretty good as well, but fast forward 20 years and Volvos are little better ergonomically than their competitors.

      • 0 avatar
        EMedPA

        Absolutely. Look at the trunk openings of everyone of the cars in this article: little mail slots that can’t swallow anything large or bulky. No wonder people flock to crossovers. The visibility is passable on most of them, and they have useable, accessible cargo holds.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Imagine how it was following the old stodgier-mobiles in your brand new much lower and longer 1957 Chrysler?

  • avatar
    manu06

    We looked at the Mazda 6 . Good car.my wife however loved the Mazda 3 hatch. I’m guessing
    between their CUV’s and the Mazda 3, the 6 gets overlooked.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I just took at 1500 mile trip in my Taurus, and its clear what youre saying is true. I saw a good variety of current-bodystyle midsizers, it was not just Camry, Altima and Accord repeated over and over.

    On my way back, probably tomorrow, Ill pay even more attention.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I like most of the midsize sedans out there currently with the exception of the 200, the malibu, and the altima. However, midsize sedans just no longer make sense to me, for just a bit more, a 2 row cross over can be had that is miles ahead in functionality. The new rav 4 hybrid really tickles the engineer inside of me…Even if the styling makes me want to wretch.

    They also aren’t that great at performance either. If I wanted a sports sedan I’d rather buy one of the last NA inline 6 comparably priced used BMW 3 series before they gone away.

    I feel there is a huge market out there for a midsize sports sedan that isn’t being filled. I absolutely loved my Thunderbird, (I know it’s a coupe) RWD seems to be all but dead in the mainstream brands. Outside of the Germans and Lexus/Infinity, who else offers RWD in a midsize/compact sedan? Mazda could tickle my fancy if they put their brand new 2.5L turbo in the 6, even with FWD. Dodge could do it with a pentastar turbo/8 speed combo in a slightly smaller RWD alternative to the Charger (which has been rumored for years, but likely will never happen).

    I might end up with a Tesla model 3 simply because there really isn’t anything else out there that checks the boxes: RWD sedan, 3 series/a4 competitor, starting at 35k (less with rebates), I have a tahoe for backup, might as well have something fun to drive too.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Don’t know why TC including the Altima when it really had been the Accord and Camry dominating the mainstream, midsize sedan segment.

    For instance, in 1999, Honda sold 404,192 Accords and Toyota 445,696 Camrys (and this was before Toyota was sending the Camry into rental fleets in any large nos.) while the competition sold half of that or less, including Nissan with the Altima.

    The Altima only broke the 300k sales barrier in 2012.

    The Big 2 – the “Camcord,” while still very successful, have been losing market share to the competition.

    The Fusion used to sell around 150k – now it sells over 300k.

    The Sonata used to sell around 60-70k and then rose to 150k and now over 200k (similarly, sales of the Optima jumped from around 30k to about 160k).

    Of the main competitors, the only one which hadn’t seen a marked growth in sales was Chevy with the Malibu as the previous Malibu was a bit underwhelming and had shrunk in size. The new, much improved Malibu will likely grow sales even with a shrinking sedan market.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      I see the new sonata everywhere. Way more than any of it’s other newer competitors. I imagine that it’s low cost of entry and huge interior are helping it quite a bit.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I have a 2016 Mazda6 (bought because my wife and I are planning to have a child within the next year). A baby seat fits just fine in it, same as it would in a Camry, Accord, Altima, etc. It amazes me that Americans demand so much space in their vehicles. I understand that it needs to be comfortable and haul a decent amount of cargo, but I don’t exactly need a Lincoln Town Car to fit one infant seat.


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