By on January 19, 2011

Last year, the ten best-selling sedans in America made up some 40% of all passenger cars sold in 2010. Those models, in order of volume, were:

Rank Nameplate Sales
1 Camry 327804
2 Accord 282530
3 Corolla 266882
4 Civic 260218
5 Altima 229263
6 Fusion 219219
7 Malibu 198770
8 Sonata 196623
9 Focus 172421
10 Impala 172078

But volume isn’t everything, is it? Let’s look at how many of those vehicles were bought by fleet buyers rather than “regular” consumers.

When ranked in terms of fleet sales, these ten models form a very different list. Below we show fleet volume and fleet mix for last year’s best-selling cars in America.

Rank Nameplate Fleet sales Fleet mix
1 Impala 124905 72.60%
2 Fusion 68364 31.20%
3 Malibu 63935 32.20%
4 Camry 56799 17.30%
5 Altima 43707 19.10%
6 Focus 42889 24.90%
7 Corolla 32622 12.20%
8 Sonata 21738 11.10%
9 Accord 11525 4.10%
10 Civic 8044 3.10%

If you took out those fleet sales, in search of greater insight into which cars consumers actually prefer, you would find that these cars break down into yet another ranking:

Rank Nameplate Retail sales
1 Camry 271005
2 Accord 271005
3 Civic 252174
4 Corolla 234260
5 Altima 185556
6 Sonata 174885
7 Fusion 150885
8 Malibu 134835
9 Focus 129532
10 Impala 47173

Since the results speak rather nicely for themselves, we’ll leave the analysis there for now. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

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82 Comments on “The Truth About The Ten Best-Selling Sedans Of 2010...”


  • avatar
    suspekt

    This just makes me wonder who is on all the major blog sites bashing Honda/Toyota to no end? For every positive remark regarding Honda/Toyota, there are at least 10 negative ones.

    I still think the Camry, Civic, Accord are all great looking cars. The Camry is a great design that has aged very well, even more so, in light of the fact that they sell in such big numbers. I almost think it is genius that they are able to do light refreshed to the fascia’s and keep the cars looking fresh and current.

    I dont own any Toyota products at the moment either.

    I just have never understood all the remarks made about the Camry regarding its styling. Slap on some 19’s from the Highlander, throw in some Eibach springs and you have a great looking vehicle. Same goes for the current Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I wish we could tell what everyone drives – it would make it so much easier to dismiss certain comments.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Automatic contrarians are everwhere. I’ve learned to take it all with a grain of salt as opinions are like a$$holes; everybody has one and they all stink.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Valid criticisms of the Camry would be comments about the short seat cushions and numb steering.  Valid for the Accord would be noise and control layout.  When you see professionals write about these cars, that’s what they say.
       
      When you see people complain about them being “boring” or “ugly”, well, that’s when when we’ve left professionalism and originality behind.  Boring compared to… what?  The Malibu?  The Altima?  Ugly compared what, the Fusion?  The Sonata?  Nothing in this class, and certainly not the four-cylinder/automatic/pedestrian tire versions that most people buy are particularly striking or exciting, or if they are now, they’ll be vanilla in a year or two.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @suspekt: Don’t you have that relationship backwards? I see one positive comment about a Fusion or a Malibu and a bunch come out and bitch about their experiences from their Dad’s 1980 Fairmont…

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      For what it’s worth, I liked the Fairmont. An underrated car for its time.

      And psarhjinian is right that criticisms of the Camry or Accord as “ugly” or “boring” are rather pointless. It’s not like the Impala, for example, is a beauty queen, or the epitome of driving pleasure. The Malibu IS a handsome car, but it’s certainly not exciting.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      @suspekt, Haven’t you heard there’s a new kid in class, ‘making’ a lot of ‘friends’ by buying up votes on social networking sites?

    • 0 avatar
      Matthew S

      “Don’t you have that relationship backwards? I see one positive comment about a Fusion or a Malibu and a bunch come out and bitch about their experiences from their Dad’s 1980 Fairmont…”
       
      No, he had it right. There is a huge anti Honda or Toyota sentiment on the auto blogs and forums.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      There is a huge anti Honda or Toyota sentiment on the auto blogs and forums

      What you’re seeing is, basically, social-media astroturfing.  The automakers are pretty new at it, but it’s been going on a long time, especially in games and electronics.  There’s an entire industry comprised of paid Tweeters, Facebook posters and blog commenters out there, all given micropayments to “like”, comment on or otherwise shill for products without explicit marketing.  You’ll often hear it called the “Social Media” team of various marketing departments.  It’s the modern version of SEO and it’s giving the various national advertising standards boards a conniption trying to track it.  How do you hold people to account who “Love their Samsung Galaxy S Captivate!” or  think “The Malibu I just bought is waaaay better than the Accord or Camry”.

      I actually know a few people who do this, by the way.  They’re not paid a lot—micropayments per post/tweet, basically—but there are a lot of them out there.  It’s for reasons like this that I don’t give any particular weight to the collective wisdom of Anonymous and prefer more accountable sources.

      It’s probably worth a TTAC exposé.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      “This just makes me wonder who is on all the major blog sites bashing Honda/Toyota to no end? For every positive remark regarding Honda/Toyota, there are at least 10 negative ones.”

      There is a well coordinated forum blitz going on and has been going on for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, there is no way to “police” such attacks. Just the product of the Internet.

      Good news is probably 1% of the population reads enthusiasts forums enough to be swayed into their purchases. Word of mouth and prior experiences play a bigger role.

      I was a Government Motors fan for years before a couple of really bad experiences as well as some bad expereiences with friends and family that drove me and most of those mentioned to imports. Good luck getting us back.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      There’s no need to break out the tinfoil hats. Car forums are chock full of enthusiasts. The vast majority of the people who buy cars are not enthusiasts. Most people get behind the wheel every day hoping to god that nothing exciting happens on the way from A to B.

  • avatar
    anchke

    So the Camcord comes in at 271,005? Too funny.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Just think: if the Accord had even mildly tolerable styling, it would have been the runaway best seller. I’m holding out for a classically handsome wagon or hatch with a stick shift.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I for one, really like the current Accord’s styling. Like psarhjinian says, it’s interior noise, particularly road noise (Honda somehow manage to make even I4s sound tolerable to me), that’s the show stopper. As well as lack of stop-and-go radar cruise as an option on a vehicle bought by so many for rush hour commuting.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” … it’s interior noise, particularly road noise (Honda somehow manage to make even I4s sound tolerable to me), that’s the show stopper “
      High levels of road noise are a real issue with most Honda products. In our family we own an Accord, a TSX and an ’08 Sonata. I don’t drive the Sonata often (daughter’s car), but every time I do I am shocked by how much quieter it is to drive on our local rough roads than are either of the Honda products.
       

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Not that it makes much of a difference at these volumes, but does “fleet” include company cars, or just rental and government?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Looks like we’re treating all fleet sales as something bad…

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Don’t fleet sales influence the resale value of a brand?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Rental fleet sales can negatively influence resale value when a ton of 1 or 2 year old cars with around 30K miles are suddenly dumped on the used market.  Company and government cars usually have a very limited effect on resale as they are generally kept longer.
       
      Also worth mentioning is that fleet sale discounts are generally lower on cars like this compared to other vehicles.  While an E-Series van might qualify for an additional $5,000 discount for an air conditioning company, the fleet concession for a Fusion may simply be the dealer not charging the dealer fee and agreeing to sell the vehicle at or near invoice price – a deal that (aside from the dealer fee) an average customer could get.  In this case the manufacturer is not losing money on the fleet sale, the dealer just takes slightly less profit per unit in exchange for selling multiple cars at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Company and government cars usually have a very limited effect on resale as they are generally kept longer.
       
      Not to mention that they are often way more “used up”…Most cars like this are high mileage and/or banged up quite a bit.  They really don’t do much at to hurt prices.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      psarhjinian: “Not that it makes much of a difference at these volumes, but does “fleet” include company cars, or just rental and government?”

      I had wondered that myself, especially with respect to F500 companies.  I’ve heard that the salesforce don’t want certain cars and certain other cars are a desired perk.  Some users of company cars apparently get a choice.  And, as pointed out, those that are held longer aren’t as corrosive to resale values.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I had wondered that myself, especially with respect to F500 companies.  I’ve heard that the salesforce don’t want certain cars and certain other cars are a desired perk.

      The default F500 fleet car, at least up to a few years or so ago, seemed to be the Acura TL (the pre-beak model).  It seemed like every member of upper-middle management that could get a car got one of these. Upper management, of course, got whatever they wanted. They seemed pretty popular among real-estate agents and more than a few other professions that could get away with buying a car for business.

      From what I can tell, those TLs seem pretty well cared-for: clean, maintenance kept up on, not driven too hard.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m always going to have problems with Chevy’s lineup as long as their largest sedan (what should be their flagship) is a laughing-stock fleet special. With a 72.6% mix, why even give it a name (let alone the storied Impala name)…just call it the “Chevy FS (Full Size)”. Give Impala to a model that deserves it…one with RWD.

    What I’d REALLY like to see, though, is this same Top-10 list by automaker profits made. I know it’s highly likely the Chevy FS would be in the basement, but it would be interesting to see where the others fall.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Go ahead and laugh. The only reason the Impala has this role in 2010 is because the Ford FS is no longer for sale.

    • 0 avatar
      CamaroKid

      If you think that the 73% fleet purchase of the Impala is bad… take a look at the fleet ratio of the DTS over at Cadillac. 

      Why is anyone surprised when you have cars that ride on platforms that trace there roots back to when Herbert Walker Bush was president are only bought up by fleet managers because they are cheap, unloved and disposable.

  • avatar
    ajla

    How about retail sales per operating dealer?

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Another reminder that profitability is much more important than units sold.

    A ranking which graded the cars sold to retail customers by price paid after discount, to determine which cars people are prepared to pay good money for out of their own pockets, would likely be similar.

    …all of which is why I’m never impressed by the number of Chrysler products I see on the streets, or their reported sales figures.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I like transaction prices, as they’re what the buyer actually paid.

      Tho it gets a little fuzzy, as some cars have discounts built into the pricing, along with varying kickbacks to the dealers.

      Still, it’d be better than other metrics.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Just so we’re clear, the top selling retail passenger cars, by category are:

     – small car: Civic
     – large car: Accord and Camry tied
     – crossover: CR-V
     – minivan: Odyssey

    Interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      That’s pretty much 99% of Honda sales.

    • 0 avatar
      iutodd32

      Strafer –

      Honda total – 1,096,874
      Odyssey, Accord, Cr-V, Civic total – 883,495

      And…is this a bad thing? The Pilot accounted for 10% of their sales, the Fit 5% – OK so yeah the Ridgeline, the Insight and the Element didn’t sell nearly as well – but no other car company had three vehicles in the top ten vehicles sold this year. No other car company had three models sell over 200K copies.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      What is interesting is that when the Escape took the title of best selling small SUV from the CR-V Honda suddenly started calling it a crossover w/o any real change in the vehicle.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Couple of “nits,” or really questions/observations…
     
    Doesn’t the Accord numbers include the Crosstour?  You may say so what but Toyota doesn’t roll the Venza into the Camry numbers, which would be valid.  If we chafe out the Crosstour the Accord number is lower not the tie?  Correct?
     
    Doesn’t the Corolla numbers include the Matrix?  Doesn’t that inflate the number for the Corolla (see Accord point above).
     
    ====================
     
    No shock on the Impala.  This is GM’s answer to the Panther platform; Panther is going away leaving fleet buyers limited choices for the time being.
     
    I’m surprised the fleet sales number on Corolla is as low as it is – and I’m surprised the fleet sales number on the Camry is as high as it is.  The last public number I saw was 13%, up from 9%, so the “trend” isn’t good.  Especially when you factor in that Toyota had a “flat” year with growing fleet sales, incentives, and discounts.
     
    I agree with psarhjinian assessment above.  My loathing of the Camry comes from incredibly numb steering, overly soft handling that doesn’t instill confidence, and very soft brake pedal feel with almost no feedback.  The parts of the Camry are good, in many cases great, the total of what it is when put together is plain vanilla with a very artificial feel.  Fine, 95% of America loves that; they love McDonald’s cheeseburgers too.  When I drive an Accord, or to a lesser extent a Fusion I’m left wonder why on earth anyone would buy a Camry given the better choices available.  I can’t add the 2011 Sonata (yet) as I haven’t driven one o form an opinion.
     
    Thanks to TTAC for providing this; this is GREAT information.

    • 0 avatar
      iutodd32

      The Accord numbers do not include the Crosstour.

      http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/top-10/top-10-best-selling-vehicles-for-2010.html

      Honda sold 282,530 copies of the Accord and sold 11525 of those to fleets. The Accord nameplate sold 311K copies this year.

    • 0 avatar
      iutodd32

      The Accord numbers do not include the Crosstour – Honda sold 311K of the Accord nameplate and 28K of those were Crosstours. So they sold about 282K of Accord/Coupes and sold 11K of those to rental/fleets.

      (Sorry if this shows up twice – not sure if it posted the first time.)

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    The thing I find strange is why so many people keep talking about Honda as if they’re in trouble or something. I still find that very puzzling (and we drive a VW and Dodge, for those keeping score).

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      I don’t think people are thinking Honda is in trouble, but that they lost their way.
      Honda used to be the leader in innovation, but hasn’t been for several years now.
      No more enthusiast cars, only mass appeal cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Done right, you can build a reputation overnight. If you then spend a decade (or more) pissing it away, it can be very hard to claw it back. Honda is on the cusp of pissing away its reputation for inovation.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Exactly – Honda’s spent so much time and money trying to play catch up to the Prius that it has lost sight of its real self.  Honda’s bread and butter cars have been greatly ignored and the competition has caught them and now surpassing them as we speak – in addition Honda/Acura styling has polarized its fanbase.

      The one thing that Honda does better than any other mass market car company is not to rely on fleet sales – and if they do sell to fleets it is almost always to commercial/gov’t cars and not rental fleets where they ruin a cars resale value and reputation. The other great effect is that a retail transaction is almost always higher than volume fleet sales. Honda still is one of the most profitable car companies in the world.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I couldn’t care less what sells.  The general population are idiots, especially about cars.  They are lemmings, they buy what has good percieved value or ratings or whatever.  Boring appliances sell well, all most buyers care about is the number of electronic toys they can get. 

    Real car guys are rare, and they do not represent the average buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Just because people are influenced by perceived value or ratings doesn’t mean they’re lemmings. Not everyone buys a car because they are ‘car’ persons. Most people buy a car because they need to (because of the way our society is organized and structured), and perceived value is an important factor to people who view cars in this way. Surely there’s nothing wrong with that.
       
      ‘Real’ car buyers may feel the need to look for other things in a car, but that doesn’t make non-car lovers ‘idiots.’ They just don’t care about cars the way some do, just like most beer drinkers don’t care about beer the way ‘real’ craft-beer drinkers do, or most coffee drinkers don’t care about ‘real’ coffee, and so on, but that doesn’t make them ‘idiots’ either.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Ha Ha Ha!

  • avatar
    stuki

    So Honda hasn’t really lost all it’s Mojo yet, it seems. Good for them.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Thought the first:  well it seems that most people are boring, no suprise there.   Most people ARE boring.

    Thought the second: So much for VW taking over the world.

  • avatar
    invest100

    The problem with most car reviews is that they rarely cover how many of us in large cities use our cars.  That is we are stuck in traffic commuting to work for an hour averaging 20 MPH.  THe Camry Hybrid allows you to use HOV lanes in some locals ( saves time), gets great MPG’s at idle, has a decent upgraded stereo with XM, a working Ipod connection, a comfortable seat, is very quiet and smooth and is extremely reliable.  That is why it sells so well.  I do believe the interior and exterior needs work and hopefully this is addressed in the new 2012.  I’m not sure I know what a “real car guy” is but I think that as much time as I spend in my car, I’m an expect at what works for me.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I’d like to see Chevy try using fleet sales of the Impala as a selling point.  What do fleet buyers want?  Value, reliability, comfort.  Not very exciting, but then neither is a Camry.  Might be crazy, but it’s hard to see how it could hurt.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Russycle, I like the way you think. My sentiments exactly! I think everyone on here knows how much I like Impalas! I just wish Chevy would update it a little more often. I plan on keeping my 2004 as long as possible.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    Camry is killin’. Dayam.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Why is it everyone assumes that fleet sales are bad and if fleets buy it the car must be bad?
    Sales are sales, yes Fleet buyer do get discounts but the also by-pass the dealer’s profit and they don’t get the same level of incentives retail buyers get. The sales to fleets DO count when it comes to amortizing the cost of development and tooling of a vehicle so they do increase the profit margin on the retail sales by lowering the development cost it must make before there is profit.
    Good fleet managers don’t buy cars based on solely the transaction price they look for the lowest overall cost. That is why the Impala for example is big with fleet buyers, they know it will go 60-70K w/o the need to do anything other than fluid/filter changes. The Toyota and Hondas on the other hand will need brakes and tires at least, and may are due for a major (expensive) service come 60K meaning they either need to get rid of it sooner or spend $$$. The Toyota and Honda are also more expensive to insure as well.
     
    If the “normal” buyer who was looking for a true value and not just perceived value in their car purchase, and had half a brain, the Camry and Accord would not be at the top of the list. The fact that they are at the top of retail sales just proves the “normal” buyer is an idiot. The “normal” buyer is coming around and realizing the value just isn’t in the Japanese products so they have been increasing retail incentives while those are Ford are falling. At least in my market area Toyota has been throwing a lot of money on the hoods of those Camrys while Ford is putting little if any on the hood of the Fusion. So much so that the projected resale value of the Fusion is now better than Camry (at least according to Ford advertising). It would not surprise me if GM didn’t make more on a fleet Impala sale than Toyota did on the average Camry sold at retail.
    One other thing to consider when talking fleet sales is how they are accounted for. Anybody with a valid business license can walk into a Ford or GM dealership and be eligible to go to the “fleet desk” and get access to “fleet” pricing even if buying only 1 vehicle, and it doesn’t have to be a white “fleet” special stripper. Sure if you are going to buy 100 vehicles you’ll get an even better deal and essentially by-pass the dealer who only earns a processing fee set by the MFG for being the point of delivery and doesn’t actually make the sale.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I once knew a guy whose budget needed to be spent, or it would be reduced. His “fleet” gained a Porsche 928S.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      “The fact that they are at the top of retail sales just proves the ‘normal’ buyer is an idiot.”
       
      You apparently have never observed the differences in fit/finish, reliability and resale value between the Big Three and Honda and Toyota over the last 30 years.  If you had, you wouldn’t be making such an ignorant, arrogant comment.
       
      Yeah, the gap has narrowed, but not nearly as much as the car rags claim and it’s only in the last couple of years.  And it’s too late for a lot of buyers who were shit on by Detroit repeatedly in the ’80s and ’90s.  I like my new Mustang, but the build quality and interior finish is still pretty pathetic, and the idea that Ford resale is suddenly great is just laughable.   What do you think is going to have more sway in most people’s car buying decisions:   What Mike Rowe and some interweb fanboys have to say, or years of firsthand experience?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @scoutdude: I think anyone can buy from the fleet desk, not just licensed business owners or their representatives. I know of several people who did that when I lived in Pennsylvania. As long as you are aware of what you’re buying. IIRC, some ‘money-saving’ websites even advocate doing this, which is great so long as you view your automotive purchase the same as you do your refrigerator. I couldn’t do it that way for my daily ride, but for many folks, why not?
       
      Secondly, some of those daily rental cars are great ways to try out a car that you wouldn’t normally have contact with or even think to try. That’s how I ended up with our Malibu Maxx, a car I really liked. Recently, I have been sampling a GMC Acadia on the occasions my Pontiac needs work. I’m not really in love with SUV’s, but that one could change my mind.
       
      @Buick6: Your admission counters your own point, that yes assembly quality has improved on the domestic cars. By a huge amount, I might add and it’s been going on longer than you think. I love Mustangs, but frankly it’s not a car I would use as a benchmark for assembly quality. Spend some time in a Fusion or a Malibu (more than just sitting in it during the auto show). Compare and contrast to other big sellers, you’ll see a difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      FromaBuick6,
      just look at ‘great’ fit and finish of Acura MDX, reviewed by Michael Karesh on this very site.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      FromaBuick6, As a mechanic for the last 30 years I’ve seen it all the mainstream cars from the last 40 years up close and personal. In the 80’s Japanese reliability and durability was not good, by the 90’s Toyota and to a lesser extent Honda had it figured out and actually built some OK cars but Toyota reached it’s peak by around 2000 and has been dropping ever since. Japanese Cars are much more profitable than the others for your local mechanic. Funny how you see so many independent shops that specialize in Japanese vehicles or Honda/Acura but you don’t find any that specialize in GM or Ford vehicles. Also why do so many Honda dealerships have HUGE service depts? The answer is simple the average Honda dealer makes about 110% of it’s profits from the service dept, that’s right they loose money getting that crap out the door so they can make their real money. Can you say $1200-$1500 for a 60K “service” or $300-$500 for a 15K “service”. Brakes that only last 15-40K and similar tire wear, at least from the Toyotas. Meanwhile a Ford or GM won’t need a major service till 100K their brakes will last 60-80K as will the factory installed tires.
      Fact is Toyota and Honda have been surviving based on the reputation from the fan-boyz for the last 10 years. It’s is just recently that people are catching on to the arrogance of Honda and Toyota. Ever heard of the Toyota “sludge” problem, or maybe the frame rust issues on trucks. I particularly like the rusty spare tire crossmember replacement they did on some trucks where they replace the crossmember by putting a hydraulic ram between the frame rails and spread them about a foot to get the new one in. How about the rust issue with Honda bodies that comes out from under the window seals and they claim it is due to abuse and neglect. But that is the Honda way blame it on the customer. Remember Honda seat belt issue where they wouldn’t stay latched or sometimes latch at all and Honda’s response was to blame the fat Americans because they eat in their cars?

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    What car has not received a refreshing since 2005? The Impala?

    Consumer Reports car ratings and male announcers with squeaky voices from Honda/Toyota must make people feel good about their purchase?

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Now I am the last person who would stand up for GM for all kinds of reasons but look at
    Impala sales this way. The plant has been making them for years and has been paid for long
    ago. The car itself is well past it’s ‘sell by’ date but again the R & D has been well and truly
    paid for long ago. The Oshawa plant workers could make them with their eyes closed and one
    hand behind their backs. GM can sell them dirt cheap to rental, police, taxi or government fleets.
    If they can still manage to sell 172078 in a year like 2010 then why the hell not?

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Absolutely. The Impala may not be as ‘sexy’ or as technologically enabled as some, but it’s still a good, solid car. Of course some people here seem to want to classify anyone who would buy a car like this an ‘idiot,’ but I think that’s being a little narrow and short-sighted.
       
      Of course pretty much everything you said about the Impala applies to the Accord and Civic as well. These are all good cars, if you ask me, even if they don’t suit everyone’s tastes.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      When I wrote my reply to Ed’s oped in the New York Times (first reply, was well received):
       
      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/ttac-in-the-new-york-times/
       
      I called out the Impala specifically as a, “so what,” example of hand wringing over fleet sales.  So if GM were to have killed the W-Body Impala say three years ago, declared we don’t need no stinkin’ fleet sales, and Ford picked up all that share on Panther – is it a huge leap to say we wouldn’t be reading stories about how dumb GM was for doing that?  We sure wouldn’t be reading stories about how dumb Ford was for picking up Panther platform production.
       
      It is very well established that the Impala is built for fleet purchase.  I’ve posted numerous times I would love nothing more than the Impala to be replaced with a GM Zeta four door (al a G8), but would that be “smart” for GM?
       
      You made really good points about the R&D on the W-Body platform; been paid for multiple times over, even with obscene UAW pension benefits factored in.  Reliability is good and the Canadians putting them together have been doing it for some workers possibly their entire career.  Just about every kink that could be imagined has been worked out (spare me about intermediate shafts, a couple of posters make a big stinking deal about this, hey Toyota trucks have rust problems, Chrysler trannies are crap, Nissan CVT tranny solenoids were wired and soldered with equipment bought from Radio Shack, and doors fall of Sienna minivans, so what’s the frackin’ point – show me a “perfect” car I’ll buy it tomorrow).
       
      When I look at the percentage of fleet sales, Malibu, Camry, Altima and Fusion concern me.  I’m stunned at the 32% figure for both Malibu and Fusion because my last few trips to the rental counter have not either available; and the Fusion is my go to rental car if something I haven’t driven before isn’t being offered.  I’m shocked the Altima is pushing 20% fleet, and the increasing trend of Camry fleet sales isn’t a good sign.  Honda is quite healthy (was stunned when I was offered a Honda Accord as a rental on my last trip).
       
      As I noted above I have questions on the Accord numbers (they include Crosstour) and the Corolla numbers (they include Matrix), which skews the data in their favor.
       
      I’m not going to call the Impala a “good” car, but the hand wringing over its fleet status – just plain silly.
       
      There is also one other trend in this top ten list no one has even brought up – where is the Prius on this list?  Sales are so off on the Prii it couldn’t even break the top ten; that would have been unimaginable just two years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I’ll weigh in on this. As an unabashed Impala fan (I own a 2004), I also say “so what?” about fleet sales. I wish they would make incremental improvements to the current Impala, though, like adding “proper” Impala tail lights and a few other traditional features that Impalas are known for. Driving dynamics? how many so-called “enthusiasts” are really out there? I mean driving enthusiasts, like the car ads you see driving on that unique stretch of winding road in the commercials? Me? admittedly, I’m a “cruiser” and always have been, even when I owned my avatar 40 years ago. I admit I drive my Miata more aggresively than my Impala, but most of the time, I’m either commuting to my job or coming and going to/from somewhere else and rarely take a drive for the fun of it. I am an enthusiast in the sense of taking pride in ownership and making my favorite car uniquely my own. If it’s nothing more than “eye candy”, all show and little go, I couldn’t care less. I’d love to obtain another car like my avatar and restore it to what I used to own, but I neither have the time or the resources, so I buy off-the-shelf and put my own stamp on it. As far as the CamCord sales figures, well, they deserve it, as they gained their reputation years ago. Is the perception of these changing? a look at the figures doesn’t convince me it’s sagging much or at all. Time will tell.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    All those fleet cars end up in the general population, anyway.
     
    I really don’t see the difference.  Another way to view it is that fleet sales might be a compliment to the vehicle – reliable and cheap to maintain.  Rental agencies don’t want a bunch of Jaguars or BMWs sitting in the repair shop all the time, they want their cars to make money.  These are the cars I’d buy if I was a rental agency.
     
    My Sedona was a former rental – no complaints here.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My 09 LTZ is in winter hibernation. I spent the morning getting the garage warm enough, to spend the afternoon out there detailing it.

    Call me an idiot, if you must,but I have very comfortble, and IMHO, a nice looking car. A car that I can drive for the next 15 to 20 years.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’m surprised by the number of retail customers who bought the old Focus in 2010. I rented a few of them, and I came away thinking that a factory fresh 2003 model Ford Focus hatchback would have been a much more satisfying and higher quality car.

    Otherwise, this list pretty much makes sense. Midsize sedan buyers are spoiled for choice with the current Accord and Camry. They’re brilliant performers and drive with a lightness missing in today’s obese luxury cars. My recent Corolla experience shows it to be an incredibly competent compact sedan which delivers 30 mpg on crummy diluted California gasoline while being hammered on urban streets. When it comes to interior subjectives and chassis dynamics, it isn’t on a par with the Civic, but Corolla brand equity is strong because of decades of good ownership experiences. The Altima shows that a few years of good press can deliver strong sales. It is interesting that the same effect doesn’t seem to be doing as much for the Fusion. I would guess it isn’t getting past the showroom test, and isn’t close enough to the best in class to diffuse concerns over previous experience with Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I had an strippo ’03 Focus as a long-term rental while my ’02 Civic was in the body shop, thanks to some stupid driving on my part.  As much as my Civic is a gutless tin can, even when it was new, the difference between the two cars was night and day.  Sure, it was a bare bones rental, but the SE models I rode in weren’t much better.  And remember that, at the time, Car & Driver raved about the Focus as a driver’s car.  Although in fairness, that crude Ford still beat the snot out of the concurrent Neon and Cavalier…despite the warts, at least it seemed like Ford was trying a lot harder than its cross-town rivals.
       
      That was eight years ago, and the ’11 Focus is still very much the same car.  The current Civic, while not my cup of tea, blows it out of the water.  For ’12, the new Focus is more appealing to me than the new Civic, though.  That is, if the Ford lives up to the hype.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I spoke to a friend of mine today who bought a new Focus ZX3(3-door) P-ZEV in 2003. It was one of the first with the 2.3 liter DOHC Mazda engine that would come to be known as the Duratec. It was black inside and out, had a 5-speed, and I rather liked it. It seemed like a good honest car with European design sensibilities from the era when that was a good thing. The sad truth is that a couple years later it went off warranty just before needing over $3,000 in repairs, the same amount he owed on it and what it was worth as a trade in on a BMW. Plenty of people here think that bad cars which burn owners are no longer still being made, but I bet the same people thought the same thing in 2003. After the BMW, my friend bought a then-new 2008 VW GTI-DSG. It is also worse than dead now, worth less than he owes, and a tribute to the fallacy that technology must be ready for prime time if you can buy it, not to mention that a warranty makes a badly built car a good buy.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2011 Focus is not at all the same car as the ’03.  The underlying platform may be very much the same, but the chassis tuning, interior, electronics, safety features, etc, have all been substantially upgraded.
       
      That being said, the current Civic or Mazda3 are certainly better driver’s cars than the current Focus, but Ford is putting a lot of cash on the hood of the current Focus to blow out the current models.  You can pick up a loaded Focus with leather, sunroof, Sync, premium stereo with subwoofer, nice 17″ and a spoiler for around $16,500 after all of the discounts and rebates.  For someone who cares more about getting as much stuff as the can for the money and less about driving dynamics, that’s a great value.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      My experience with the 2010 Focus and the 2003 Focus ZX3 PZEV was such that I preferred the 2003. The chassis dynamics were reasonably sporting and the 2.3 liter engine was considerably more powerful. The guy I knew who bought the brand new 2003 Focus PZEV had a terrible ownership experience, but the car certainly impressed on a test drive. The 2003 seemed like a discerning choice while the 2010 was a price and a list of features.

  • avatar
    invest100

    The problem with most car reviews is that they rarely cover how many of us in large cities use our cars.  That is we are stuck in traffic commuting to work for an hour averaging 20 MPH.  THe Camry Hybrid allows you to use HOV lanes in some locals ( saves time), gets great MPG’s at idle, has a decent upgraded stereo with XM, a working Ipod connection, a comfortable seat, is very quiet and smooth and is extremely reliable.  That is why it sells so well.  I do believe the interior and exterior needs work and hopefully this is addressed in the new 2012.  I’m not sure I know what a “real car guy” is but I think that as much time as I spend in my car, I’m an expect at what works for me.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    I am in a rental car 3 to 6 times a month so have some experience with fleet sales.  The advantage for a manufacturer such as Hyundai or Kia is that people like me get to drive their cars and come away with a changed perspective on the brand.  The disadvantage is that the likes of the Impalas (and pretty much every Dodge product in National’s fleet) are so truly awful that they cast a black cloud over the entire manufacturer’s line up.  I often come away wondering if anyone at the factory actually drove a single one, so glaring are the design errors.
    An interesting litmus test is to see what gets left on the lot with National’s Emerald Club “pick out your own car” program. First to go are the Toyotas & Nissans, followed closely by the Koreans.  By 7pm there’s nothing but a sad line up of Chevys and Chryslers.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      The last time I rented a car on a business trip, I considered myself very lucky to grab the last Hyundai product (a loaded V6 Tiburon GT — what the hell that thing was doing in the Enterprise fleet I’ll never know). Everything else they had in the “standard car” category was Cobalt, HHR, or Sebring.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The general population are idiots, especially about cars.  They are lemmings, they buy what has good percieved value or ratings or whatever.
     
    Something has to be said for an honest, low option 4 cyl/AT sedan.  I love flogging them, and my experience has been they glance back and say “Sir, may I have another?”.  Perfect, simple machine that gets the job done reliably.  95% of the population wants nothing more than an appliance, and that’s ok.  Viva Corolla, Camry, Focus, Impala, etc. at a low price point.
     
    Although my one concession to age and position in life is power seats and a sunroof.  And a decent stereo.

  • avatar
    don1967

    So the “real” sales continue to go to Japan and Korea.   As for Detroit (including it’s Messiah, Lord Fusion), the truth Hertz.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    What percentatge of fleet sales are to various government agencies?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Having had every single car on the list as a rental multiple times in the past two years bar the Civic, all I can say is that the average American cares about as much about driving as they do about thier refrigerator. Not saying that is a bad thing, it is what it is. All of them are dishwater dull at best, and the Corolla borders on mind-numbingly awful to the enthusiast in me.

    I hate Corollas to the point of refusing to accept them as rentals anymore. Note that Hertz has been giving me Japanese nameplate cars about 3:1 over American or Korean for the past several years. Gold service member so the car is waiting with my name on it when I get there – I don’t get to pick, and it is a pain to not accept thier choice. Notable recent rentals (Hertz has had a double-upgrade special going) are a Corvette Convertible (oh yeah), 2011 Mustang Convertible GT (nice), V6 Camaro (fast but crap), and Mercedes GLK (really, really crap). Have had multiple Prii too. Yuck.

    I’m currently rolling in a Hertz Altima from SFO, 4cyl CVT. Probably the pick of the dull bunch, though like Mikey, I actually like a well-spec’d Impala. Malibus are Ok too. I think the Fusion is highly over-rated, and the Focus is just junk. The current Accord is just a barge of a thing. I have had more Camrys than anything else, and they are not as bad as the previous model, but still utterly sleep inducing. I drive rentals 30 weeks a year on average – I travel A LOT for my job.

    I drive an ’08 Saab 9-3 SportCombi for my daily driver/ winter beater. Paid $24K for it brand-new. Not perfect but absolutely oozes character. Perfect for me is a 3-series Wagon, but for a 50% discount the Saab will do just fine. I can’t even imagine picking a Camry or Accord over my Saab for the same price.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    The ten best-selling cars of 2010 in Sweden are:
    1. Volvo V70  25 568
    2. VW Golf  12 824
    3. VW Passat  12 144
    4. Volvo V50  10 311
    5. Kia Cee´d  8 162
    6. Audi A4  6 592
    7. Renault Megane   6 280
    8. Ford Focus  6 278
    9. Saab 9-3  6 227
    10. Renault Clio  5 215

  • avatar
    stones

    All this tells me is that americans are still some of the most uneducated people on the planet. I would be embarrassed to drive a Camcord as would most smart people. Having driven most of the new midsize cars the fusion and Malibu offer up the best comfort  ride and quietness. But most americans are too dumb to realize this.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    There are only two things that baffle me about these sales figures, and I’m not sure which one is the most horrific…..
    234,260 people actually chose to buy a Toyota Corolla!?!?  I expected fleet sales to account for far more than 12.2% of total Corolla sales.  I was stuck with a 2010 Corolla for almost five weeks last year while my Mazda3 was in the body shop.  They gave a choice between the Corolla and a Dodge Avenger…I asked if there was a third option, perhaps a blindfold and gun to the head???  I took the Corolla knowing it would suck, but it was far worse than I expected.  The last time I drove a Corolla was back in 2005 and it wasn’t THAT bad…dull as dishwater, yes, but what Toyota isn’t?
    The second thing…
    It’s bad enough that Mazda6 sales haven’t broken 40k in the last two years.  But it’s pathetic that Chevy sold more Impalas (to individuals) than Mazda sold Mazda6s!?

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