Chart Of The Day: Junior Luxury Sedans

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
chart of the day junior luxury sedans

TTAC Commenter Charles T writes in:

Any chance you could do $30-$40k entry-level luxury, ie BMW 3-series and everyone else gunning for a piece of that pie? For completeness sake, include cars that normally aren’t positioned against the 3-series despite being a similar price (Lexus ES and Lincoln MKZ, for example) just as a sense of their relative market sizes; I’d be curious to see how the sporty vs unsporty dichotomy plays out in the real world.

Well, Charles, there’s a reason you used the perennially-popular 3-Series to exemplify this segment. The model dominates sales of sport (and not) junior luxury sedans. And by a healthy margin no less, selling more than its Mercedes and Audi equivalents combined. This second tier is where things get interesting: The Infiniti G and Mercedes C-Class sold roughly equivalent volumes last month, and were closely shadowed by less-sporty competition in the form of the Lexus ES and Buick LaCrosse (which pipped the ES by a few hundred units, likely setting off a night or two of wild celebration among Buick’s staff). The third tier is where things get crazy, with Audi’s A4, Cadillac’s CTS, Lexus’ IS, Hyundai’s Genesis, VW’s Passat CC, Acura’s TL and Lincoln’s MKZ battling to break out of their 2k-3.5k monthly sales boxes.

Is there any sign amidst this data that Americans prefer sporty to floaty? Not so much. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, brand appears to be king.

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8 of 41 comments
  • Boff Boff on Jun 08, 2010

    I think BMW kicks their butts because of the sweet lease deals, the free maintenance, and the brand cachet. Most BMW drivers wouldn't know good handling from their own ass cheeks. (ask my wife...proud 328i pilot!). That said, they do drive like an absolute dream, are very reliable in the all-important warranty period, and get great fuel economy.

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    • VelocityRed3 VelocityRed3 on Jul 30, 2010

      This is best reply to anything I have ever seen at this site. We (people who actually took the time & effort to register here) are NOT the target demographic. There are not enough of us to amount to a hill of beans. Boffs' wife & the legions like her are where these manufacturers bread & butter are.

  • Dean Trombetta Dean Trombetta on Jun 08, 2010

    Who buys the Lincoln MKZ. That is just confusing. I am very surprised that they sell more than about 4,000 a year. I am also confused about the Lexus ES but I understand that the Lexus name is very good. I don't see Lincoln as a prestigious brand anymore.

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    • NulloModo NulloModo on Jun 08, 2010

      You might not see Lincoln as prestigious, but plent of people do, and for those looking to buy an American luxury sedan in the midsize range, and who are turned off from the taint of bailout that surrounds Caddilac, the MKZ is your option. Thankfully, the MKZ is actually a great car. Yes, it is a Fusion with a bigger engine, a nicer interior, and luxury features, but the Fusion is a great platform to start with. We recently took a '10 Lexus ES in trade, and I decided to take it for a spin to see what all of the fuss is about. The ES doesn't have as nice an interior as the MKZ, and while it is a bit quieter and a bit larger, it doesn't drive any better and the MKZ has a more sporting nature. I'm surprised MKZ sales dropped as much as they did year on year, although I think some people who would have bought the MKZ in the past are buying Tauruses now. Speaking of which, the Taurus should be on that chart. It is every bit as luxurious as the LaCrosse is, and it outsold it by close to 1,000 units this month.

  • Reclusive_in_nature Reclusive_in_nature on Jun 09, 2010

    Nothing like a little success to rile up the hate-gm crowd. I bet if the Lacrosse was rear wheel drive, 400hp, and had an interior taken directly out of a Rolls Royce it'd still not be luxury enough simply because the Buick badge. Get over it, and be happy your taxes have a (slim) chance at not totally being wasted.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Jun 09, 2010

    Why all the surprise on the ES? It is Lexus top seller behind the RX. Those two combined make up more than 50% of Lexus sales (last time I checked). What people here need to realize is that not everyone is a performance enthusiast. Not everyone cares about which wheels drive the car. For most people who want a nicely sized luxury car, and want a Lexus, is makes the most sense. 3k more than an IS, and much bigger. 10k less than a GS and the ES gets better mileage. Now, for the average person buying a luxury car, 3k more for more space, and 10k less with better mileage is going to sell a lot of ES's.