By on June 8, 2010


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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41 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Junior Luxury Sedans...”


  • avatar
    wsn

    Sorry but the Buick doesn’t belong here. It’s competing with Camry XLE.

    Buick isn’t a luxury brand and the LaCrosse isn’t a luxury car, even though GM made some bold claims.

    • 0 avatar
      roadrabbit

      The Buick probably competes more closely with the Avalon, Maxima, Taurus and other flagship non-lux brands, but it is interesting to see it in this light. It should be noted that a more precise comparison would add A5 to the A4 numbers since 3-Series includes coupe, convertible and (a few) wagon sales. CTS, IS and Infiniti G also have a multiple bodystyles.

      Also, the last I heard, the Genesis sales were mostly Genesis Coupes selling at much lower price points (mostly in the mid-$20k range) rather than the sedan which does belong here.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Other way around – the Genesis sedan has been outselling and coupe and outsold the Lexus GS and Infiniti M by a 2:1 margin in 2009 (and is outselling the new M this year).

      As for the Buick, the LaCrosse is most similar to the “tarted-up” Camry, the Lexus ES.

      The Impala replacement will finally make the Chevy competitive in the large, upscale sedan segment (as will the Hyundai Azera replacement and Kia Cadenza).

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      If Buick doesn’t belong, then this ought to limit to just 3-series, A4, and CTS. That’s a short list.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Ha surely you guys jest. The Buick LaCrosse is NOT a luxury car and does not compete with any of the others in this group especially with it’s underpowered base 2.4 4 banger engine hitched to a whale of a sedan riding on cheap plastic hubcapped wheels with no fog lamps and light gray or tan cloth seats for the sum of $26995. Sorry but this is more a competitor to a Camry XLE or Accord LX.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Based on that same logic, Acura sure as hell doesn’t belong (seems to just be competing with ugly), Hyundai (while a nice car, not a LUXURY brand) and Infinity isn’t much better.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Well, at least from market response, the car buying public does treat Acura as a luxury brand. The TL is about as expensive as an ES or 328 and got sold. Same goes with the MDX.

      But that can’t be said for Buick. How many units of $35k+ Buicks got sold in real life?

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Good too see the LaCrosse doing so well. It is a proper entry level luxury car that GM did a fantastic job with. Far better t5han they bland/boring junk that is spewing out of Lincoln. Too bad Ford didn’t can them along with Mercury.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Ah, the British call this class of cars the “Junior Executive Saloon”, in their ever-so-class-conscious way.

    I disagree with the Hyundai Genesis being in here. It really has most of the luxury of the big boys- as long as it has the V8. And isnlrt it more comparable to the E-class and the A6?

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    wow, those Saab numbers are even lower than I would have guessed (and I am a pessimist by nature). No wonder every time I see one in traffic (which is about never) I am always surprised that they make a 9.5 sedan

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I know a family that’s in the middle of replacing a set of 3 9-5’s (one left). No matter how nice the new one is, and I’d bet it’s impressive, the fact remains that post-GM it probably has the least reassuring warranty situation of any similarly priced car. Not good for the value but luxury-ish crowd.

      I also think they’ve got a real problem in that the current 9-5 owners are driving cars that can’t compete with loaded Jetta’s and middling Passat’s at around $30k, and yet they’ll be asking them to come in and replace what they own with a $40k+ “new Saab”. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of people decide that $30k gets the job done quite nicely…but maybe that’s already happened.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Well, nobody’s going to be buying an old gen 9-5 right now with the new one out in a couple of months. Saab’s numbers are hammered by people expecting them out of business last year and a big transition this year, so they’re hardly a good indicator of the viability of the new model. Which, by the way, looks pretty nice.

      I lounged all around inside one of them in New York, and quite liked it. The non-absurdly-symmetrical ergonomics and fantastic safety would put it at the top of my list if I had the money to blow. Plus, everybody and his mother’s got a goddamned cookie-cutter BMW/Lexus/whatever; the Saab actually manages to look good while not looking like anything else. When you think about it, that’s pretty tough to achieve these days.

      If you don’t lick the b-pillars for fun and aren’t the type to obsess over which interior materials use a grain pattern from a mold used for the 2007 Chevy Whatever, it’s a nice car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Note that the old 9-5 has been out of production since last summer, and the new one is JUST rolling into dealerships now. You can’t sell cars that don’t exist. Here in Maine, Saab 9-5s are EVERYWHERE – you literally can’t come up to a 4-way stop without seeing one. But Saab has always been a very regional brand.

      I think the 9-3 should be in this listing far more than the 9-5, as it is much more of a competitor to the 3-series. Not that 9-3 sales were anything to get excited about either, given the situation. But as I always say as a 9-3SC owner, it’s 80% as good as a 3-series for 50% of the price. And I have a spare tire.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I’m not going to complain about the VW, Acura, Lexus, Buick crowd being included, but I would like to see the Maxima thrown in there since they are. I see a ton of them here in Queens/LI, all driven by guys who like nice cars but know nothing about them. I’d like to see if that translates to national sales (I also see Panamera’s every day so my commute might not be representative). As far as I’m concerned it competes directly with the Acura and the VW.

    It’s really good to see just how much of a beating the 3-series is handing out (long./rwd for the win bitches! HA). Also, I wouldn’t have guessed Merc’s C-class volume in the states with all the press noise new Audi’s generate, good for them, they really are nicer cars.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    All these complaints about the Buick not belonging? And here I was going to complain that the Sebring had been left out. A loaded model would qualify price-wise if you ignore the cash on the hood. This looks like a niche in search of a niche, or at least one in search of a definition (mostly) everyone can agree with. Next you can do personal near-luxury fullsize performance coupes. It all depends on how you define “personal”,”near-luxury”, “fullsize”, and “performance”. We can all agree a coupe has two doors, right?

  • avatar
    kaka777

    Buick DOES belong on the list, its whole purpose was to be a near-luxury brand for GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Keep in mind there’s a lot of responders here who can’t stand to see evidence of GM succeeding anywhere. So, of course, seeing the Lacrosse coming in a (distant) second annoys them to no end. Actually, I though Edward followed up Charles T’s request rather well.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      GM thinks the Buick belongs here but the market certainly didn’t agree.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I think people are being too hard here on Buick, especially considering what was asked, a 30-40k entry luxury segment. How many comparisons from the auto mags have we seen between the LaCrosse and the ES? Enough to say that it qualifies for a TTAC comparison.

    Well, Buick LaCrosse CXL is 29,645 and with destination is 30,395.

    While I don’t think all the cars are direct competitors, I do believe that this one fits in. I would have also included the TSX as well. The VW CC is a bit of surprise here, but I am thinking that if you include that, the Avalon and Taurus should be on here.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      With the average $4k on the hood that reduced the price of the Buick to $26k and I wouldn’t call that “luxury”.

      You simply can’t buy a new Lexus ES (without defect) for $26k. And the ES and TSX defines the rock bottom of luxury.

      What’s below the ES? Correct, the Camry and the LaCrosse.

  • avatar
    jcap

    This chart is an interesting reality check for me.

    Reading the comments here at TTAC I would have thought the Hyundai Genesis was leading this class. (people are always raving about it)

    And I got the impression VW didn’t sell any cars in the US, but the CC is actually outselling the Genesis.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      It’s a Hyundai in the luxury segment. It’s doing pretty well under the circumstances.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The CC is in a lower class than the Genesis (really can only be compared w/ the ES and LaCrosse).

      Hyundai is working on an “entry-level” RWD sedan based on a shortened Genesis platform – which should be the volume seller for Hyundai’s Genesis-based line.

      Basically this list is comprised of 3 groups:

      1. large, upscale sedans (Maxima, Avalon, Taurus, Azera, etc.)

      2. smaller, entry level luxury sedans (3 Series, C Class, IS, G37, etc.)

      3. mid-size (FWD) entry level luxury sedans (LaCrosse, CC, ES)

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Keep in mind that unless Hyundai has changed how they report sales figures, that number includes both Genesis Sedans (which I agree belong in this group) and Genesis Coupes (which certainly don’t).

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      And I got the impression VW didn’t sell any cars in the US, but the CC is actually outselling the Genesis.

      Yes, due to the same reason that the 3-series outsold the 5-series.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    The 9-5 and Genesis should probably move up to the S80/A6/5 series group with the 9-3 being added to this one.

    Not sure about the Buick – is there an Avalon/Taurus/300/Maxima/CC group?

  • avatar

    Bimmer’s dominance is surprising to me, honestly. With the recent reliability turnaround of C-class I would expect it snapping on 3xx’s heels, but it doesn’t.

    G37 has to sell more than IS, it simply is a more powerful performer. From what I saw, the only area where IS beats G37 is ergonomics, which is a fancy word for “console knobs that make sense”. So I guess if you spend a lot of time playing with your navigation system instead of driving, or talking on your numerous Bluetooth-connected cellphones, IS makes a lot of sense… LOL.

    The success of ES is something that continues to puzzle me. I am glad that so many people find a car that speaks to them, but it’s just strange. Perhaps it’s the price.

  • avatar
    SV

    I figured the ES sold at 8-10k/month levels, but I guess not. Even more surprising is that the 3-Series does sell at that level; I knew it was popular here but not anywhere near that much.

    Nice to see the LaCrosse outselling the ES, if only slightly (and the Lexus is a 3-4yr old design now too). I must – gasp! – agree with Z71_Silvy in that the LaCrosse/Regal pair are far more attractive than anything Lincoln currently makes barring perhaps the MKS EcoBoost, but Lincoln is just meant to be on life support for the moment until the Ford brand is stronger; when Lincoln gets some more attention I think we’ll be seeing some much more attractive, differentiated cars.

    Though whether or not Lincoln will get a proper RWD platform remains to be seen; I think it would be feasible if the Mustang and Falcon use it too but then what do I know?

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    @ Pete Zaitcev,

    The reason the BMW bitch slaps the Mercedes is pure and simple. The BMW has far superior handling. If/when Mercedes gets their suspension sorted out, BMW is going to be in for the fight of their lives.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I wonder who the dude was who got the Volvo 60-series…

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      + 1

      Seriously, who at this point would drive an S60 and say, yeah, this is much better for the money than any other car.

      I like Volvos, but c’mon.

      Speaking of Saab, I read a review of the new 9-5 that was very positive, except for seats in the base 2.0T car. Did you sit in both variations, or just the highline version?

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      It certainly wasn’t the base model, but the one I spent most of my time in wasn’t the Aero. So it didn’t have the extendy seat-front things or more side bolstering.

      I have a hard time believing that Saab seats have a problem – or at least that the problem is anything other than making every other car seat feel like a wrought iron park bench. Say what you will about ride polish, interior materials, or panel gaps – I’ve never been in a better seat than my Saab has.

      From the half hour I spent in the car at the show it was obviously hard to get a feel for the seats in any real sense; it took me 40 hours of driving my 9-5 to get the seat adjusted perfectly. But I don’t remember *noticing* them at all, which is probably the best first indicator of quality.

  • avatar
    Boff

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Not strictly true. Even the women know somethings different when they switch away from BMW to MB. They don’t know why, and they can’t explain it, or even describe it very well. But they sure do know it doesn’t handle as well.

    • 0 avatar
      VelocityRed3

      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.

  • avatar
    Doc

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Well IMHO the Lexus ES and Lincoln MXZ are two peas in a pod. There are people who belong to TTAC who will bitch for days that you’d be an idiot to buy a Lexus that is simply a tarted up Camry and then another crowd of people who will bitch up and down about the MXZ being nothing but a tarted up Fusion. The thing that I find funny is that rarely are the two opinions found in the same person.

      My two cents is simply that people buy what they want to buy. The truth is that the Lincoln will depreciate more, but that doesn’t mean that it’s somehow superior to the Lexus. For my money on the used market, I’d take the MXZ in a heartbeat. Now if I was buying new, I’d just get a Fusion with leather. (Or for that matter if I was interested in a new “transportation appliance” I’d buy a new Camry with leather.)

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      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.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    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.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    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.

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