By on September 13, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry XSE white - Image: ToyotaThe launch of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry began in July 2017 and delivered a big boost to America’s best-selling midsize car in August 2017.

As its competitors combined for a 12-percent loss valued at nearly 16,000 fewer sales than in August 2016, Toyota Camry sales jumped 13 percent, a gain of 4,187 sales. That figure includes 6,805 new-gen Camrys imported from Japan, where the Camry’s home market factory is being relied upon while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant gathers steam for the entirely different Toyota New Global Architecture.

With falling sales across much of the category and rising volume at the top seller, Toyota got exactly what it called for in August 2017: a huge market share increase. But did the Camry provide the rumored boost to the segment overall? Quite clearly no, not yet.


This is the fifteenth edition of TTAC’s Midsize Sedan Deathwatch. The midsize sedan as we know it — “midsizedus sedanicus” in the original latin — isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but the ongoing sales contraction will result in a reduction of mainstream intermediate sedans in the U.S. market.

How do we know? It already has.


Granted, the Camry’s surge slowed the rate of the segment’s decline overall. Through 2017’s first seven months, midsize sedan sales in America had fallen 18 percent. Total midsize car sales were down just 7 percent in August, the slowest rate of year-over-year decline since November of last year.

The Camry’s boost wasn’t the only one deserving of credit. While sales of the transitioning Buick Regal and discontinued Chrysler 200 each fell by more than half; while the Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat, and Subaru Legacy all reported double-digit percentage losses; while the Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion fell 17 percent and 8 percent respectively; while Honda Accord sales were flat; Chevrolet Malibu sales skyrocketed.

Shot through the roof.

Exploded.

Leapt over tall buildings.

The Malibu was America’s third-best-selling midsize car in August 2017, strengthened by a 36-percent year-over-year improvement.Toyota Camry midsize market share chart 2016 2017 - Image: © The Truth About CarsBut it is the Camry, blessed with clear-out pricing on the outgoing 2017 and the oft-discussed 2018 model, that did just what Toyota thought the Camry could do: make massive market share gains. Toyota owned 17 percent of America’s midsize segment in 2013, nearly 18 percent in 2014, a full 18 percent in 2015, and marginally more in 2016. Through 2017’s first-half, Camry market share rose to nearly 20 percent.

But in August 2017, with the new Camry beginning to punch a bigger hole, Toyota owned 24 percent of America’s midsize sedan segment, a frightening figure for smaller brands that are about to see an all-new 2018 Honda Accord attempt to re-exert its influence in a shrinking category.

Not only are midsize car sales falling, the prices automakers are charging for midsize cars are falling, as well. Year-over-year, midsize car transaction prices fell 1 percent in August 2017 to $24,782, according to Kelley Blue Book. Transaction prices across the industry rose 1 percent last month, KBB says. This poses a problem for automakers competing in narrow niches of the category, where the drop in demand is accompanied by decreased margins. Mazda, for instance, owned just 2.1 percent of America’s midsize segment in August 2017, down from 2.4 percent in August 2016.

Mazda, which says it has no plans for cutting any nameplates “right now,” was certainly not the only car to lose great swathes of market share to the fast-rising Toyota Camry in August. Combined market share of the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat, and Subaru Legacy plunged from 46 percent in August 2016 to 39 percent last month.

[Image: Toyota; Chart © The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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19 Comments on “Midsize Sedan Deathwatch #15: Toyota Camry Proves to Be a Killer In August 2017...”


  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    That Malibu surge smells like a fleet dump.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Got to do something with that “days of inventory” stacking up. Wonder if the major rental companies “fun collections” will soon be getting a Camaro injection?

  • avatar
    S197GT

    Great time to buy a midsize sedan.

    My 2017 Fusion SE (tech, luxury, and driver assist packages) was right around $24k and change. MSRP around $31580 I think, $29000 before incentives, then another $4900 in incentives. Had been sitting on the lot for two months with 4.7 miles on it.

    Took a higher rate at Ford Credit and then just refinanced for 1.59% for 60 at my credit union.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I see a surprising number of non-fleet, privately owned Malibus here in the LA area. I think it’s people who go in looking at a Cruze and find they can get a Malibu for not much more. Seems to be playing to the Altima / Optima crowd.

    On topic, new Camrys are exploding onto streets here. Have already seen at least 10 in the past two weeks.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Does it seem like the domestics are holding back keeping a lot of the safety-stuff away from the lower and mid trims that are standard for Toyota and Honda? That can’t help things with a lot of buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Honda used to be guilty of that very thing until the mid-cycle refresh for the last Accord/debut of the current Civic, where the HondaSensing package became optional across the board, and standard on the highest-level trim. (Now it’s standard equipment on the new Accord and Camry.)

  • avatar
    Speed3

    The new Camry looks good in person. What sedan is next on the death watch? How long is Chevy going to sell 4 sedans (excluding Volt)?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’m driving a 2018 Camry LE right now (free service loaner). It’s okay, but I suspect it has a CVT, since it shifts kinda weird.

    The other thing is that the bright trim around the dash (it wraps around the outboard a/c vents) reflects glare on the side windows, which affects what you see through the outside rearview mirrors. The PCS (pre-collision system) beeped at me one time when I was behind someone who was turning right at an intersection.

    • 0 avatar
      zip89123

      The 2018 Camry loaner has an 8-speed transmission, not a CVT unless it is a hybrid. Many like it, but about 25% complain about it on the forums I browse, calling it lazy to shift.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Yeah, I kinda figured that out after the second time I drove it (it’s actually an SE; I didn’t look for the emblem until I got home). I watched the tach and noticed numerous shifts, so I figured it’s probably an 8-speed (too many shifts for a 6-speed). I popped the hood when I got home and confirmed it’s a four-banger, the A25A-FKS. Performance is decent, but you’d never mistake it for a BMW engine.

        My wife and 17yo daughter are impressed with it. Me? Not so much. The daughter wanted to drive it, but anyone under 18 is excluded by the Toyota Rent-A-Car agreement. It’s grey with a black leather (or is it pleather?) and cloth interior. Lots of options on it, but no auto-dimming mirror, which I find strange.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    That is a hell of an ugly car. Lexus somehow managed to make their version of it even uglier.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    The grill will just never look right.

    I like Toyota overall as a company but their styling is just so awful across the board.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      I think it looks great, but I love JDM Gundam styling.

      I think the sexiest Enzo, for example, is actually Gemballa’s take on it:

      http://www.tuning-links.com/uploads/image/2010/January/Gemballa%20Enzo/gemballa_ferrari_enzo_05.jpg

  • avatar
    mchan1

    Sales of Nissan Altimas and VW Passats may possibly be down because it’s the last year of the current model as the newer model is suppose to come out for both models next year. Already spoke with some sales people last week about the new model change from each respective auto maker dealerships nearby.

    Good time to buy a sedan since many auto makers are discounting them, at least for now.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Saw a blue one yesterday — not bad looking. LE or XLE, judging by the cheese-grater grille.

    Might consider the blue for my next Accord, if the one bright shade is available.

  • avatar
    VTECV6NYC

    With the end of the J-series V6, the Camry XSE may well replace my Accord Touring. My mother was a Volvo fanatic before she was royally screwed by them. In that time, I grew up driving enough Volvo 240s, S70 GLTs and T-5s and S60 T-5s to be simultaneously familiar, yet completely disinterested in turbos, turbo lag, and the attendant complexities and idiosyncrasies that accompany them. My first car was a 1993 Camry V6 XLE handed down from my parents, so I suppose it’ll be a long-awaited homecoming.


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