America's D-Segment Flab

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
americas d segment flab

Rising gas prices and lagging credit markets should spell a revival of the small car in America, but MSN Autos reports that (duh) mid-sized family sedans keep getting bigger and bigger. And it’s not as simple as just pointing out that the Accord has gained 1,400 pounds and 200 hp since it was first introduced. Cars like the Accord and Hyundai Sonata have outgrown their EPA mid-sized ratings and are now classified as “large sedans.” The new 2009 Mazda6 has grown seven inches longer and two inches wider in response to customer complaints that the sporty sedan didn’t offer enough interior volume to compete with the Accord, Camry and Altima. And with more weight, power and size come higher prices: the Mazda6 now tops out at a hefty $34k while returning only 17/25 mpg in V6 trim. Most D-Segment standards now won’t hit 30 mpg on the highway, although improved size, power and safety mitigate some of those concerns. But with CAFE standards headed up, America’s D-Segment sedans may have reached a high-water mark in size and power. Already premium performance sedans like Acura’s TSX and Audi’s S4 are seeing their horsepower numbers decline, and a reduction in size and weight could be in the cards for future D-Class competitors. Meanwhile, sales of compact cars continue to boom, while larger sedans struggle. But will family sedans become the new {SUVs} crossovers, offering family hauling at relatively higher efficiency than the Explorers and Tahoes of yore, or will they wither on the vine as Americans go compact? As Linda Richman would say, discuss.

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  • Mirko Reinhardt Mirko Reinhardt on Oct 10, 2008

    @hurls All would be forgiven with the new TSX if they offered an acura version of the euro accord wagon :) The new Euro Accord wagon is complete garbage compared to it's own predecessor.

  • Ed S. Ed S. on Oct 10, 2008

    IMO Toyota did a good job with the latest Corolla redesign. Gen 9 to Gen 10 Length: 178.3 +0.4 Width: 66.9 +2.4 Height: 58.5 -0.8 Weight: 2530 +215 Weight is an obvious concern. The change in overall dimension is 2.4% while weight increased 8.5%. I would guess this is due to additional standard safety gear to include airbags and associated structural changes. New brakes & subframe to prepare for the optional 2.4L engine, too. In any event, I would really question a C-segment sedan growing beyond this. My 2003 Protege5 slots comfortably between the two generations of Corolla in the height and width measurements, although it is significantly shorter (by 8 inches).

  • Sanman111 Sanman111 on Oct 10, 2008

    As far as cars reducing in size, the only modern examples I can think of are all japanese sports cars (rx7, mr2 spyder, celica). Sedans generally don't go down in size. I think that the way to go will be to increase interior space and decrease overall size by having smaller engine compartments and overhangs. The future though needs to be more towards things like the scion xB. Lower the ride height on a CUV, throw out the 4wd in favor of traction control and let the mileage increase. Let people pretend their tall wagons can go offroad, they don't need to. The closet thing to this right now seems to be the xB or the CR-V.

  • Demetri Demetri on Oct 10, 2008

    I don't understand the need for bigger and bigger at all. Granted, I'm not a breeder, so the only ass I'm hauling around is mine, and sometimes a passenger. I would be perfectly happy and comfortable driving a Mazda MX5 sized car every day. I don't equate size with comfort. I want my vehicle to fit me. If it's a cozy fit, I feel comfortable and secure. I don't want an apartment on wheels. I'm actually disappointed that my new Mazda 3 has so much room. It's all just waste to me; that's all these big ass vehicles are to me. Wasted materials, wasted potential. People justify the size increase because the economy stays the same? If they had kept the size the same, the economy, power, and handling would have been even better! I think some of the small car dislike is because of the cheapness and lack of optional features. Generally, you can't get a small car with a nice interior, or a powerful naturally aspirated engine, or good seats with high quality fabric, or other features. They save that stuff for the larger vehicles. I had hoped that would change, but with fuel prices plummeting, Americans will probably drag their fat asses into huge vehicles again.