By on June 13, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid, Image: Toyota

“The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride f***ing with you. F*** pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps.” Recognize that quote? It’s from Pulp Fiction, of course. There’s only so much wisdom you can take out of any Quentin Tarantino movie, but if you’re looking for some, there it is.

Unfortunately for you earnest advice takers out there, the auto business runs on pride. From the websites to the styling studios, from the wash rack to the RenCen, you’ll find insecure, petty, miserable people who allow their perpetually wounded pride to make astoundingly indefensible business decisions on their behalf. Here’s an example: I once worked at a dealership that was pretty much run into the ground by a pair of incompetent, dishonest managers. The owner was despondent and he had pretty much decided to sell the franchise, but at the last moment he changed his mind, took some good advice, and brought in a fellow who was kind of a superstar but also kind of a loose cannon.

The dealership turned around in two quarters flat. Sales and CSI hadn’t been that high in years. There was just one problem. The owner was this prissy, cowardly dude who never felt sufficiently respected by his larger-than-life manager. So he canned said manager despite the results and put in a meek, perpetually confused dude who was universally despised by both the customers and the dealership employees. This mook had just one thing going for him: he did whatever he was told by the owner, no matter how stupid or humiliating the task was. Needless to say, the dealership tanked big-time and New Guy had to be sent packing. Did the owner swallow his pride and bring back that son-of-a-bitch who made fun of him to his face but also made the cash register ring? Or did he find another properly respectful nonentity to ride that bitch all the way into the ground, thus saving his pride at the cost of a multi-million-dollar enterprise?

I can’t remember what happened in that case, but I can tell you a very similar story with much larger implications. I think that a lot of crossover owners out there are growing tired of their C-RAV-4QUINOXes. They’re tired of the miserable fuel economy, the road noise, the wind noise, the head-toss, and the general fact that a four-cylinder crossover is absolutely the most pathetic way to spend $30,000 on an automobile. They’d like to go back to a proper sedan, but that slight sting of pride is messing with ’em. Which brings me to this week’s question.

Michael writes,

Hi Jack,

With family sedans going the way of manual transmissions and station wagons, which four-door will be the last car standing? I’m guessing the Camry, but maybe a luxury/sports sedan. I suppose since most sedans share platforms with their SUV overlords, auto companies will continue to produce a limited number every year in perpetuity. A penny for your thoughts … there can be only one.

Nobody loves a good Highlander quote as much as I do, so this question was absolutely guaranteed to get a public airing. It’s also remarkably insightful. We’ve seen this pattern happen again and again in the car biz: A popular body style or form factor becomes unpopular. Everybody abandons it, but the last man out the door gets a considerable bump by virtue of being the last remaining choice. Sometimes it’s even enough of a bump to keep the platform viable until that particular body style comes back into favor.

Examples that come to mind: For years, the R107 Mercedes SL and the Chrysler LeBaron were about the only comfortable convertibles money could buy. It was enough to make up for platforms that were Cretaceous in origin (Benz) or absolutely without merit above economy class (Chrysler).

The full-sized Jeep SUV was rendered unique by age and market movement around it, which is why solid Grand Wagoneers are still worth as much as a brand-new Tahoe.

When Chrysler and GM abandoned the full-sized RWD market, it gave the Panther platform twenty years’ worth of raison d’etre that it would not have had otherwise. The same might be true for the Chevrolet Express full-sized van; it’s 22 years old but it’s the last vehicle of its type.

It’s easy to assume the sedan as we know it is disappearing. After all, this very site is currently promoting a “Mid-Sized Sedan Deathwatch” series. It’s also very easy to assume that the last purveyor of mid-sized sedans to leave the building will get an extended, highly profitable run for that final product. It could well be the Camry, although I’d put my money on the Accord because Honda is inherently even more conservative than Toyota when it comes to core product. By the same token, I’d say Mercedes-Benz would be the last luxury automaker to walk away from the three-box body style because the S-Class sedan is still a sort of visual Esperanto for “I’m earning $350,000 a year.”

With all that said, I’m going to make a prediction. I think that the midsize sedan deathwatch will come to an unsatisfactory conclusion. I think that we are just one little fuel crisis away from a return to Accords, Camrys, and whatever product Nissan is currently fielding in this segment, if indeed they still are. (Yes, that’s sarcasm. sheesh.) I think that the tide is ready to turn and that we are ready for a resurgence in sensible-shoe sedans.

It’s possible that I am wrong. I’ve learned to my sorrow time and again that most people will choose pride over results. Given the choice between expensive misery in a cute-ute and an undignified retreat to a sane sedan, aren’t there a lot of people who will listen to their pride? Don’t we all fall in love with the choices we make in this world, even when those choices are wrong?

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110 Comments on “Ask Jack: My Name Is Camry McLeod, and I Cannot Die?...”


  • avatar
    deanst

    Maybe cars will become taller, rear doors will become bigger, and midsize car sales will stabilize. Were probably a distance from any resurgence in oil prices, so the downtrend in cars will continue for awhile.

    • 0 avatar
      Prove Your Humanity 2+9=?

      The Ford Ranger is another example to add to the list of last-of-the-segment success stories.
      We need a good replacement for the Ranger.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Beside the Phaeton (not the big Volkswagen sedan, the open tourer without side windows bodystyle), the Business Coupé, and the pillarless four-door hardtop, can you name any bodystyle that really disappeared completely? ‘Cause I can’t. It was touch-and-go for the four-seater convertible for a while, but that’s stronger than ever now.

    I think there will always be sedans, and wagons, and hatchbacks. I’m slightly less sure about coupés (as opposed to sports cars) though, and even less so about pillarless ones.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I for one wouldn’t mind seeing the “4-door coupe” styling go away. I like my 3-box sedans boxy, not swoopy.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Are we just talking about North America?
      Because you can add car-based pickup ala El Camino.
      Or how about a 2-door wagon (Nomad)

      • 0 avatar
        Ermel

        I agree about two-door wagons — two-doors are on the way out anyway. I forgot about car-based pickups because, other than the VW Caddy I (Rabbit Pickup to you), there were few of them around here. But they’re not dead completely: Fiat Strada / RAM 750 still exists.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Not many body styles ever disappear, but shrink trmendously – how many mid size coupes are left versus the huge number sold at the peak of olds cutlass?

  • avatar
    redapple

    My happiness with a mid size sedan will increase with the lowering of the G** Dam beltline. High trunks and chin height door sills piss me off. Big time.

    NO SALE.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Fantastic point. Why and who wants these high belt line cars. This could be another reason why Subaru has increased sales year and year. They still build autos with great visibility.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I think the Accord is a safe bet. But I wonder if we might just see the midsize category morph into one-inch lifted, plastic clad lift backs. Much of the mid-size segment already has a side profile that skews more Audi A7 than Ford Five Hundred.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      NoID, your local used car lot has an unsold Accord Crosstour that proves you wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        With Model Xs, X-4s and X6s everywhere and the rear of Audis Q-branch slanting more and more forward I’m starting to think the Crosstour just missed it’s mark by a few years.
        Also there’s a whole lot of ‘down to earth’ premium liftbacks available (at least here in Europe) so more and more people are apparently starting to accept aerodynamic cars that actually have a practical use besides just commuting.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I’m not holding my breath, but trunk lids have gotten so tiny they might as well just morph into liftbacks. I’d be OK with that.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    It might be easier to think in terms of number of sedans each brand sells. Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Nissan all sell 4 sedans of different sizes.

    I think it far likelier, in the face of declining sedan sales, that they trim down that number before walking away all together.

    Maybe Ford gives up on the Taurus and Fiesta, but doubles down on the Fusion because it does sell relatively well.

    Or, maybe all cars become electric, autonomous ride sharing vehicles, and we all end up riding in the back of some type of Van/body style that isn’t even popular yet.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “I think that a lot of crossover owners out there are growing tired of their C-RAV-4QUINOXes. They’re tired of the miserable fuel economy, the road noise, the wind noise, the head-toss, and the general fact that a four-cylinder crossover is absolutely the most pathetic way to spend $30,000 on an automobile. ”

    is this really based on anything, anecdote or data? Or is it simply what you wish is happening?

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      I was going to say that. I think the opposite is true. People love the easier entry and exit, headroom, comfortable ride and higher viewpoint of their crossovers and will never go back to their sedan.

      I have never seen a crossover or SUV get traded in on a sedan or car of any kind in my 2 years at the Ford dealer.

    • 0 avatar

      Wishful thinking by the incredibly nostalgic Baruth.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it’s hardly limited to him, most car nerds seem to think the same way. People who enjoy driving don’t understand people who do it simply because they *have to.* Hell, I’ll readily admit 99% of the driving I do just plain sucks.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          Most everyday tasks are done because they must be; that isn’t an excuse not to try to do them well.

          Driving a car is likely the most immediately hazardous thing most people will do every day. It may be the nerd’s lament that other people don’t take it as seriously, but that doesn’t invalidate the complaints about a disregard for all dynamic characteristics.

          The abilities of a car (and its driver) beyond trundling down the road are only useless until the one moment of one day in which they aren’t.

          • 0 avatar
            newenthusiast

            “It may be the nerd’s lament that other people don’t take it as seriously, but that doesn’t invalidate the complaints about a disregard for all dynamic characteristics.”

            I will play devil’s advocate here and say that I am not sure that typical drivers ignore, or don’t understand, or disregard all dynamic characteristics.I think they just have a preference for different dynamics. They value low noise levels, seat and suspension comfort, and ease of steering and overall operation over any pretense of sportiness.

            Because if you put them as a passenger or driver in a car with firmer suspension, feedback through the steering, and performance tires, they certainly can tell you that the car is loud, uncomfortable, and steers and brakes in ways that they do not like.

            They may not use the word ‘dynamics’ but they know what they like. Its just different from the typical driving enthusiast.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      JimZ

      I love Jack’s writing, and think he is right more often than not, but he’s deluding himself here.

      People are buying more CUVs because the minor penalty in fuel econ, wind noise and ride are more than countered by significant increases in utility in cargo capacity and visibility vs sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I’ll admit there’s at least a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but I think we’re deluding ourselves if we don’t acknowledge that the entire crossover segment has a slightly shallow base. We can dress it up with whatever notions of practicality make us feel better, but really, all they have to do is be dressed up enough so people don’t think you’re driving a minivan. At some point, people will move on to something that doesn’t have the stigma the crossover segment will inevitably develop.

        I’m sure if the internet existed 40 years ago, common wisdom here would be about how people wouldn’t abandon personal luxury coupes en masse – they’re spacious and comfortable, what more could you want?

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Modern CUV’s are not a new body style: just think of them as 1980 era hatchbacks that have been supersized and modernized. The 1017 CUV is really an updated version of a 1980 VW Rabbit.

      Four doors? Check
      Unibody car platform? Check
      I-4 base engine? Check
      Hatchback with fold down rear seats? Check
      More storage room that a sedan? Check
      Lower beltline for better visibility? Check

      The four door hatchback has always been a practical vehicle for millions of buyers and the CUV is just an updated version of the body style that took the world by storm in the late 1970’s and has been a best seller in most of the world ever sense.

      CUV buyers are just gravitating back to a body style that works. If CUV’s are seen as the evolution of the classic hatchback maybe some of the car nerd hate will go away.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        CUVs aren’t even that new of a form factor. They’re just the modern version of what the car was headed towards in the 30s and 40s before the “low and wide” fashion from Harley Earl’s GM design studio changed everything in the 50s.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    If you have to pick **ONE** I believe you need to go with the Camry over the Accord for the primary reason that Honda does not or will not sell to rental fleets.
    The Camry is needed by Enterprise Etal to ensure they have reasonably large vehicles for hire. As well, the Camry is becoming a staple in the company car fleet as well. This segment was forever held by Chevrolet with the W-body Impala.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    It would help to reverse course on the “Four Cylinders For All” mantra. Sedans did well in the horsepower wars, but an I4 that looks great on a spec sheet is not as pleasant to drive. It could just be the gearing, which is atrocious on superbrain transmissions, but they are less fun to drive than some primitive 90s four speed.

    Perhaps Mr. Trump could just give the buyer the option of paying a gas guzzler tax on a particular new car purchase to get a different transmission configuration that spaced the gears out more to enjoy more of the power? It could be like buying an indulgence to get out of purgatory. Perhaps it could turn off everything but low, second, third as unity, and overdrive gears?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you’re wanting to try a modern vehicle that is satisfying to drive, I’d suggest either an electric vehicle or a plug in hybrid. The electrified drivetrain’s torque delivery is flawless.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Trends come and go. Do a search for a picture of a 1937 Ford or Chevy sedan, they’re shaped more like a crossover than what we now think of as a sedan.

    I’ve been driving a Fusion PHEV for a little more than three years. I’m temporarily automotively homeless thanks to a young lady who didn’t seem to understand that heavy rain increases braking distances, and I’ve been driving a number of cars: my daughter’s Patriot, my wife’s Explorer, a Nissan Versa, and now a red Corolla that I’ve dubbed “The Tomato”. While the Tomato isn’t at all inspiring to drive, it’s surprisingly roomy and very economical. Sooner or later some of our younger generation are going to wake up and realize that the TCO of a sedan is sufficiently less than a crossover while not giving up much in the way of practicality, and they’ll choose money over pride.

    Where I live, all the moms have a crossover or van, and all the dads have a sedan or coupe.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I think there will be a or are a lot of households like mine. One sedan, one crossover. Each is used for different things. The crossover holds more stuff, so if a trip with lots of baby stuff is in order (we have a 4-month-old), it goes. If a trip is just mom and dad or not a lot of baby stuff (maybe just a day trip), sedan is more comfortable and a more enjoyable road trip vehicle as it is less subjected to crosswinds and such. Better fuel economy as well.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Agreed. We do the CUV/Sedan/Roadster thing and it’s a great lineup for all purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      I’ll just stick with the 2 hatchback household.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        To be fair, if my sedan was sold here as a wagon like it is in the rest of the world, I’d have bought the wagon version for sure and then we’d be a CUV and wagon household. Alas, Americans have bad taste and only like wagons if they’re jacked up and disguised as crossovers. So, there you have it.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      Civic sedan and CR-V here. The Civic turbo is way more fun to drive, and is the better car 75% of the time. One fatal flaw to the Civic, though, is that it’s really tough to haul 3 or 4 bikes with it. The hitch available for the Civics is too light duty for multi bike racks. The sheet metal is too flimsy on the roof to screw around with that. Basically, if you want to take 3 or 4 people somewhere with bicycles, the Civic is worthless.

      The CR-V is much better on a few hundred mile car trip with gear.

      What I really wanted was a station wagon similar to the Golf Sportwagen, but made by Honda or Toyota. Didn’t exist. Impreza and Crosstrek felt too gutless on test drives.

      Considering budget, resale, gear hauling capacity, and MPG, the CR-V made more sense than anything else I could find.

      A Ram Promaster City intrigued me, but no better MPG than the Honda, FCA quality and dealers, poor resale, limited inventory with a rear seat.

      If an Accord wagon or Optima wagon had been available, would have purchased.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Miserable fuel economy? Google suggests a CRV at up to 28/34 and an Accord at 27/36. There’s no functional difference there.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      Except the 2017 CRV got 21.9mpg city when tested by Motor Trend.

      I’d bet on the Accord when it comes to actual driving versus government testing.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Real world, our 4cyl Rogue gets 25.6 average. Our 285hp 6cyl Avenger gets 27.2 when I drive them to work. On the highway though is a different story. The best we got with the Rogue with the cruise on for a whole tank is 27mpg. The Avenger? 32mpg. The Avenger rides nicer, is an order of magnitude quieter, has as much people room, almost as much practical cargo room, and is much more fun to drive, has a better sound system because you can hear it over the wind noise.

      So yes, miserable fuel economy for what you get. A miserable 4 banger attached to a rubber band compared to a 6 pot and 6 speed auto.

    • 0 avatar

      Fuelly shows CRV average around 27 and Accord average around 30, not a big enough gap to push many sales I imagine.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Drive both the Accord and the CRV at a steady 75 mph and report back if the extra height causes no functional difference in fuel consumption.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        Our 2017 CR-V LX AWD is getting 30.5 mpg combined so far, hand calculated. Have only run three tanks through it, admittedly. Does better than 30 on the highway, less in town. I’ve probably driven half city and half highway, and the A/C has been run a lot due to hot weather lately.

        Not sure an Accord with the same engine, driven 50/50 city/highway would do a whole lot better in the same conditions. 10% better, maybe? Not sure a 10% difference in MPG is that big a deal with gas at $2 per gallon (2.07 here today).

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    …they’re tired of the miserable fuel economy, the road noise, the wind noise, the head-toss, and the general fact that a four-cylinder crossover is absolutely the most pathetic way to spend $30,000 on an automobile…

    You’re talking about my folks, only they only spent about $26,000 on their CR-V. But when it was deemed totalled after a collision (other driver’s fault), and knew another granddaughter was on the way, my Dad insisted they buy what he deemed the closest thing to his dearly departed Bubble Wagon: an Odyssey.

    Fuel economy? Slightly better than the CR-V. Road and wind noise? Much reduced. Much appreciated V6 grunt? Check. Can fit 4’x8′ sheets of plywood in the back? Check.

    Though it’s a minivan, my folks have looked prouder lately.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I was sorely tempted by a base Odyssey when we recently bought our base CR-V.

      The problem was, the CR-V is getting around 30 mpg. Based on my sister’s ownership of an Odyssey, the O can’t come close to 30 combined. You’ll be lucky to see 25 combined, actually, and that’s probably optimistic.

      Also, the O was close to $27k, and the CR-V was had for $23k and change. It was almost a 4 grand difference.

      The CR-V came in $3800 cheaper, got 5 mpg better conservatively (probably more), and has AWD for the occasional winter storm. Given that there are only 3 of us, I couldn’t justify the van.

      Lastly, nobody wants a base minivan with manual doors these days. A base all wheel drive CR-V is pretty marketable in our area come trade time. So the CR-V was money saved up front, and will hold value better on the back end. Honda values a CR-V much better at 36 and 48 months than an Odyssey when you look at lease residuals, for instance.

      I’d probably rather drive the Odyssey, being somewhat of a van guy, but not worth the downsides to me. If we had 3 kids instead of one, that would have swayed the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’m of the same mindset. I get how the compact crossovers are a good mix of utility, economy, and some poor-weather capability. But shopping used, just about the same money can get me a very nicely equipped, more powerful, more comfortable minivan with even more utility. We’re gonna be one of “those people” that buy a minivan as soon as we have our first kid. We have two larger dogs we bring with us as well so that adds to the want/need for space.

      • 0 avatar

        When we had our first kid we got a used minivan shortly after. Ended up being totaled, this was the start of the great recession, I went looking for another van and after weeks of looking I realized 99% of reasonably priced used minivans are beat to death even with low miles (the few I found that were clean were always over priced) so I gave up and bought a SUV. My wife now loves the SUV and has said she will not go back to a minivan. She may be willing to go from a v8 to a v6 thou.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Actually, I don’t think we’re “one fuel crisis” away from a resurgent sedan segment. Crossovers aren’t as economical as sedans, but by and large, they’re not gas hogs, either. A few extra bucks spent at the gas station won’t hurt CUV sales all that much.

    No, I think the real killer for SUV/CUV sales is the economy. Take a look at what happened to SUV/CUV sales during the last recession if you want proof of that.

    When you get down to it, CUVs are basically more-expensive family sedans, with some extra cargo room and (optional) AWD. They’re fashion statements, and people buy them because the economy allows them to afford the fashion. If economic conditions change, then people will buy something cheaper. The only question is whether the economy will stay strong enough to support CUV sales at the current level. That’s anyone’s guess.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I equate the “fashion” to lime green leisure suits with plaid shirts of before my time.

      People will look back and think, “what was I thinking”?.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Are the best-selling CUVs (CRV, RAV4, Rouge, Escape) really that much more expensive than the comparable sedans? I don’t think they are meaningfully so.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, if you consider that most of the CUVs in that class are basically glorified compacts size-wise, then yeah, they’re quite a bit more expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Except they aren’t. Because of their more upright position, you can much more easily seat an adult in the back seat of a CUV than you can in a compact sedan. Volume-wise they may be similar in number of cubes, but in practical usable space, the back seat of say a CR-V is much more analogous to an Accord than a Civic.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Take a look at the actual size specs of a CR-V and a Civic. They’re very similar. And that makes sense – both cars are based on the same platform. And, yes, a CR-V will have a nicer back seat because, as you say, the tall body allows for better packaging. But the back seat of a Civic is a LONG way from being cramped to begin with. Two adults could do a long trip back there, easy. Ditto for most compacts these days. I could knock out a cross-country family trip in my ’17 Jetta easily.

            But the FWD CR-V is about four grand more than a comparable Civic. Add AWD, and the difference is around five grand. In today’s (somewhat) decent economic climate, people can afford the difference. If that changes, then they’ll look at a Civic and conclude that the CR-V isn’t worth the extra money. People will only shell out so much to be fashionable.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I think a missing factor Freedmike is that generally the CUVs have seats are higher off the floor for better thigh support, and most have adjustable seat backs in the second row that can recline. This makes a massive difference for back seat passengers on long road trips IMO.

          • 0 avatar

            Back seat comfort is good in many cross overs compared to sedans. I’m amazed at the room in the 2nd row of my inlaws RAV.

        • 0 avatar

          Freed,

          They feel bigger inside. I know lots of people that have gone from say a Camry to a RAV4 they almost always feel it’s a bigger car thanks to the packaging.
          On another note given that they are based on much cheaper cars and they now have similar or better volume my guess is there is quite a bit of wiggle room on price if Manf feel the need.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Yes, they feel “bigger” inside. But do they feel “four grand bigger” inside? That question is driven by a buyer’s pocketbook. Right now, their pocketbooks are a bit fuller, and the prospects for the future don’t look bleak. If that changes, then compacts and midsizes – which are all plenty roomy these days – will start looking more attractive.

          • 0 avatar

            Freed,
            sales change from 2008 to 2009
            CRV -3%
            Accord -23%
            Civic -23%

            Rav4 + 9%
            Camry -18%
            Corrola -15%

            Sales change from 2008 to 2014

            CRV +70%
            Accord +4%
            Civic -4%

            Rav4 +95%
            Camry -2%
            Corrola -3%

            So during a period of recession and a period of high gas cost (it fell fall 2014 as I recall) the CUV took huge gains and the sedans lost.

            Jeep circa 2008 only had the compatriot twins for CUV’s everything else was SUV’s. And were not talking about pickups. I would argue CUV mileage is good enough for most even at 4 bucks a gallon.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            CUVs got hit harder than cars in 2008 (change from 2007 to 2008).

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah interesting it looks like CUVS got hit first but sedan got hit much harder in the end.

      • 0 avatar
        AK

        These aren’t equivalent vehicles but the point remains…

        A month after test driving a 2017 Maxima SL (msrp was a little over $38k), I got a call from the sales manager. He made no small talk and offered me any Maxima SL on his lot for $30k along with a very fair value for my trade.

        Needless to say, Nissan isn’t calling casual test drivers and just throwing 22% off of brand new Rogues.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah CUV sales in increased with the last fuel increase not sure how that works for Jacks Theory.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Jack says that Honda is more conservative than Toyota and in general I agree. But in this segment the Accord has gone to CVT and turbo’s whereas the Camry is NA I4 and V6 with normal automatic transmissions.
    I am looking forward to a Jack review of the Camry V6 XSE to see if it lives up to its billing of being a better driving car, with great power.

  • avatar
    jaks

    I would add that an SUV can often be the practical choice as well. I’m single, and have 0 use for an SUV, yet I drive a 16 Tuscon Eco. It was essentially the same price as a Sonata Eco, and I average 32 mpg in it driving for Uber (as my side gig of course). Buying the ‘sensible’ sedan wasn’t any better of a deal, plus the Tuscon will retain it’s value much better.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Guess what, totally disagree with JB. Even though some of my favourite autos were mid 70’s PLC’s.

    Sedans that I have owned in the past decade include a Malibu, a Sonata and a Buick (Lacrosse/Allure). Over the past decade have also owned multiple mini-vans (Dodge/Pontiac).

    Recently added a small CUV/SUV.

    It is quieter than all but the Buick. Has better gas mileage (8.3 litres per 100km average, whatever that means in real numbers?), more headroom and better access for passengers than the sedan(s).

    As someone else posted, current SUV/CUVs look more like the pre 1955 sedans that Walter Chrysler and others preferred. This trend is more a return to more traditional, more functional styles and a reaction to the high beltline, minimal greenhouse, ‘hardtop’ styling of current sedans.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’m all for having choices and alternatives for everyone as long as there’s a market for it, but I still don’t want a sedan. I’ve got things and people to carry most of the time, and to me ‘family sedan’ is almost an oxymoron. It’s like ‘vegan burger’ or ‘righ-wing libertanian’ or ‘Luxury SUV’.
    A 4 door sedan can be called practical at a certain size (which means no smaller than the US Accord and Camry) , but only compared to something like a coupe or sportscar, which in 99% of the cases looks better, and drives better, and doesn’t hurt my pride at all.
    By all means I do not need a CUV, and if I was forced to buy a new car I would struggle to allow myself to pay more for a CR-V than for a Civic, but if there was a hatchback sedan or coupe available I would always choose that option.
    I hope to see the practical hatchbacks return, and with all the ‘premium’ alternatives all over the road, I may get it my CVT and it’s truly not bad at all)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      There are actually any number of hatchback sedans out there (Golf, Mazda 3, Elantra GT, etc). Honda came out with a five-door Civic last year.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Sorry, I keep confusing hatchbacks and liftbacks, since we call both hatchbacks over here. I prefer liftback sedan/coupes over any other option, always. But yeah, anything with a rear hatch tends to be more practical than a normal 3 box sedan.
        I do consider the new Civic a liftback, and I want one.
        The only 4 door sedans I desire have tailfins or bigblocks, or both, and no B-pillars.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    I sell Jaguars and I can tell you that the CUV craze is driven by women. Although a minivan would be more practical for the average soccer mom they won’t even look at it. As for sedans and coupes, nope, not either, maybe a convertible as a weekender but not as a daily driver.

    The reasons they give me for choosing a CUV. Height; the can see and be seen, it gives them a sense of security, practicality; it holds bigger cargo like strollers and pack and plays, looks; you have to admit the F-Pace looks a lot better than the XF sedan.

    Fuel economy is not a major factor although a good number are trading in bigger SUVs on the F-Pace.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just women that don’t want to drive minivans to be fair. When the questioned was asked what car would you not drive on here a few months back what car would you not drive minivan was one of the top answers.

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      Yes. Sounds like my wife minus the kiddy stuff. She would drive a Hummer if possible.

    • 0 avatar

      80% of consumer purchase decisions in America are primarily made by women, including cars, and it seems like the last thing many American women want to be seen driving in is something that could be called a mommymobile. Hence the decline of the entire minivan market. They stopped driving station wagons, but then minivans got the soccer mom stigma, so they moved to SUVs and found that they liked the high seating position, but SUVs became stigmatized as not green, and besides, truck based vehicles don’t ride as softly, so now the ladies have chosen “crossovers”.

      Ths F-Pace is an attractive vehicle but “a lot better” than the XF? The XF is a nice looking car, though I think the XE is pretty nifty.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Jack, you’re my bro, but this is getting ridiculous. Those crossovers are now getting like 1-2 MPG less than the sedans they are based on and they are way more practical. This discussion is a broken record at this point.

    I DO hope the rise of crossovers enables sedans to be more driver focused. As I’ve been saying for some time now, the sedan is the new coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Interesting point about the rise of CUV’s allowing sedans to be more driver focused. Will be interesting to see if the new Camry which is trailed as being driver focused, has more aggressive styling and major horsepower bumps for both the I4 and V6 seems to point that way. Along with the XSE spec which with red leather seats and some funky black roof seems to be trying hard to be “sporty”. I wait reviews eagerly.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Those crossovers are now getting like 1-2 MPG less than the sedans they are based on and they are way more practical.”

      They’re also way more expensive, and AWD doesn’t necessarily account for the difference. A base FWD CR-V is around four grand more than a base Civic, and both vehicles are very similar in terms of interior size and equipment. If there’s a recession, people will be far less eager to shell an extra hundred bucks a month for a vehicle that, for all intents and purposes, is a taller, (somewhat) roomier compact.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        FreedMike, it seems like Americans mostly cross shop compact CUVs and midsize sedans,which don’t have much price difference, and Canadians cross shop compact CUVs with the compacts they’re based on, which is where your argument works. Midsize sedans are a fringe segment here anyway other than the Camry.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          And keep in mind that the economy in the States is pretty decent right now, so people aren’t mindful of what I’m talking about. But if things get tight, that’ll change. Traditionally, economic downturns kill sales of CUVs, SUVs, and trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        The Civic and CR-V are not competition. They just share a platform. The CR-V’s real competition in Honda’s lineup is the Accord, and the Civic’s is the HR-V. Within that comparison, pretty much all major metrics- price, fuel economy, performance, content, build quality- are all the same or very close. The CR-V has a lot more interior room than the Civic… almost 10 more ft^3 passenger volume, stemming from 6″ more total legroom and more hip/shoulder room. All the CR-V’s passenger dimensions match up a lot closer with the Accord, but it still has more than 2x the Accord’s cargo capacity.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    No Jack, that battle is ended, the war is over. CUVs won. Those who don’t see it, are the last solders fighting in the wilderness, not realizing the war is over, like those poor Japanese souls still roaming the wilderness of Japan or Philippines fighting world war II.

    The thing is, CUVs now have decent fuel economy. I am not talking Tahoe or Expeditions, I am talking RAV4 and CRVs. I mean a CRV now has a turbo 1.5 liter. A RAV-4 has same engine as Camry and will probably soon have a more efficient engine. So the fuel economy is not an issue.

    What makes CUVs popular, is they have several undeniable advantages. They are easier to get into and out of for large segment (older) of population. They are easier to set child seats in. When you go to Costco, they can handle more loads of toilet paper and paper towel and water than your miserable sedan. They are more secure in accidents because they are higher and bigger. See, most women feel more secure (may be it is not real) but because they are above the frey, the little Mustangs and Poschces can’t scare or intimidate them. I simply ignored a little Porsche who was doing everything he could to pass me in rush hour Atlanta and it was driving him nuts. I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I couldn’t even see him except every so often when he got to the other lanes (no I wasn’t in the fast lane, but that’s Atlanta drivers for you). And, CUVs have better resale values. And nowadays they handle and brake almost as good as your average sedans.

    A Camry or Accord (and by the way Accord is not more conservative when it is going with turbo this and that engine, and CVT transmissions), or some other foreign make probably will be the last sedans, but foreign markets still support some level of sedans, even though they are following in footsteps of America.

    If you only have one car, it is a no brainer. That battle is over. Come back from the cold of the jungle, and embrace the SUV/CUV victory.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    FCA will have nothing to sell if fuel efficient sedans of midsize and smaller ever regain popularity.

    Now that I think about it, other than Pacifica is there ANY new product at Dodge or Chrysler? Anything? Bueller? Everything is 5 years old or older platforms.

  • avatar
    John R

    I hope you’re right. These things are a blight.

    Maybe auto manufacturers should double down on the fact that the sedan is dynamically superior to the CUV while at the same time acknowledging there are packaging advantages that CUV’s have that sedans dont? (apples-to-apples, natch. IE: No Camry v. Macan Turbo comparisons)

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    quote “Those crossovers are now getting like 1-2 MPG less than the sedans they are based on and they are way more practical.”

    Responding this statement here is an example.
    Toyota Venza 20 city 26 highway 23 combined
    Toyota Camry 25 city 34 highway 28 combined
    Apples to apples 2wd 4 cyl automatic vs 2wd 4 cyl automatic. Both based on same platform.

    20 to 30% increase in fuel efficiency with sedan compared to SUV.

    Not 1 to 2 mpg difference.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I just did a 1300 mile run in the our new ’17 Nox.

    30 mpg average, which is more than adequate when gas is 2 bucks a gallon.
    So the Cruze I had before got 35, and would save 12 whole bucks on this trip.

    Not noisy at all, actually quite serene.
    Rides nice and good seats.
    My wife loves the higher driving position.

    I’m rejecting the thesis presented here.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    The problem here is the all or nothing, winner take all outlook. There is room for vehicle diversity.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Once CUVs have achieved acceptable base price and fuel economy (they have), the market catches on because people just want function in cars.

    I cannot deny that it’s much easier to hop into a RAV4 than it is to bend into a Camry, and once inside the headroom is much better than the Camry’s. I also cannot deny that a RAV4 is easier to park due to the friendly length, and easier to unload cargo due to lacking the sedan’s high load lip.

    I personally like the saloon/sedan look (especially a grand-looking LWB car), but that is vanity speaking.

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    I think Jack’s off the mark here. I say that even though I personally like sedans – like them enough to have purchased a not-inexpensive one brand new four months ago.

    Sedans as we’ve known them have two things going for them vs. SUVs & CUVs. #1 is that the lower centre of gravity aids handling. #2 is that the trunk (boot for the Brits) is generally more secure than a hatch and is better at isolating the vehicle’s occupants from the cargo.

    #1 doesn’t matter to the vast majority of the population, at least not since suspensions got good enough that taller ride height no longer meant “Feels like driving a Mack truck.” And that lower ride height comes at the expense of easy ingress/egress, and visibility as well (at least when so many of the other vehicles on the road are tall.)

    #2 comes at the expense of being able to fit big/bulky cargo. Now some of this is just perception (my experience is a lot of 2-row SUVs/CUVs have surprisingly little cargo space when needing to keep the rear seats up for passengers) but on the whole they’re more versatile cargo haulers.

    Logically minivans should be the best compromise – low centre of gravity, relatively high seating position, and huge cargo hauling capacity – but they’ve become despised as happened with the station wagons before them.

    The low sedan’s had a good 70-ish year run, but it looks like taller vehicles are staging a big comeback and are going to be in fashion for a long time yet. The sedans won’t disappear (or have one sole survivor) any time soon, but I doubt we’ll see them return to dominance within the next couple of decades.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    i think enough people like having a big rear door to put their 60″ tvs and other costco stuff in that they arent going to want to go back to something with a trunk.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Jack makes some good points here, such as how pathetic an aspirational object most CUVs are. We can do better. Some, Mazda for example, are doing better with the form. But when gas prices rise, the next best choice might not be a sedan, but a hatchback. A smaller hatchback, I mean, since all CUVs are essentially just raised hatchbacks. Mister and Miss CUV shopper will still want a big, shady tailgate to load their stuff through, whether from Costco or REI, and they’ve gotten used to more headroom in the back, too.

    That’s my personal take on it, but I’ve never seen the purpose of a sedan. A better choice for hauling fresh fish home from the docks, I suppose, or to subtly announce the opposite implied claim of the pickup truck owner, suggesting, “I don’t do physical labor, or sports.”

  • avatar
    la834

    I really like most aspects of minivans and have no problem being seen driving them (real soccer moms long ago moved to 3-row crossovers). Indeed, i’d be proud driving a new Pacifica, so attractive it is. But “minivans” aren’t very mini anymore, and it’s more vehicle than I usually need, and the MPG is low. I must also forfiet a manual gearbox. Thus, my vehicle of choice remains a Golf GTI for the moment, although I’d prefer a taller new-Tiguan or Euro Golf Van version of it if it existed. I find size/configuration happiness in the Kia Niro as well – I can just slide into it without lowering my head or lifting my feet (as in most crossovers with their oversize tires and ground clearance). I really want one vehicle that does everything well, and its proportions are invariably tall-wagon, tall-hatchback, or micro-van.

  • avatar

    The Camry is America’s best selling car for the last 15 years. Toyota is really on top of the world and has no worries. They have no ‘also-ran’ cars like the failing Malibu and defunct 200. Toyota and VW are so strong they can survive recalls and bad news better than other carmakers. In my opinion GM is a basket case in comparison. I am waiting for GM stock to go below 30, and then watch Bara freak out and leave another market.


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