By on August 6, 2013


In July 2013, America’s three favorite midsize cars combined to sell an extra 10,667 copies than they did a year ago.

Collectively, the best-selling Toyota Camry, second-ranked Honda Accord, and third-ranked Nissan Altima were up 12.5% in July. Midsize cars, as we understand them here, rose 3.4%. The U.S. auto industry reported an overall volume increase of 13.9%.

Slightly more than one out of every five Toyota brand automobiles sold in the United States last month were Camrys, in line with its year-to-date value. With a much smaller product lineup, Honda relies more heavily on the Accord: 27.5% of the Honda brand’s volume in the first seven months of 2013 was generated by the Accord. Nearly three out of every ten Nissans sold is an Altima.

Although the propensity of automakers to build their midsize sedans in the U.S. has all but made the notion of “Detroit cars” a moot point, GM, Chrysler, and Ford owned 24.9% of the midsize market in July.

We’ve included the somewhat premium-priced Buick Regal in that equation, not because the Regal is a perfectly direct rival for these cars, but because it’s arguably no more of a direct rival for the BMW 3-Series. Its presence here, not unlike the Volkswagen CC’s inclusion, doesn’t have a significant impact. Whether the pair is compared with volume brands like Toyota, Honda, and Ford or upmarket brands like Lexus, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, the Regal and CC are exceedingly rare. Sales of the Lexus IS, not by any means a top seller in its category, were three times stronger than Regal sales in July. The Infiniti G, during a month in which its sales were chopped in half, sold more than three times as often as the Volkswagen CC.

Back to the subject of more noteworthy nameplates, the Mazda 6’s 167% year-over-year improvement in July doesn’t yet come close to making the 6 a common sight. Ten new Camrys leave showrooms every time Mazda USA sells a 6. Still, 6 sales over the last three months have risen 125%. On the other hand, as the market shrinks slightly into the summer, so have 6 sales, falling from 3944 in May to 3840 in June and 3447 in July.

Jointly, Hyundai and Kia sold 32,655 Sonatas and Optimas last month. Sales of the can’t-get-any-cheaper Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger totalled 14,253. Subaru sold 10,456 Outbacks to go along with 3142 sales from its donor vehicle, the Legacy sedan. Toyota sold 2886 Venzas, down 28% year-over-year. Honda Crosstour volume slid 23% to 1450. What about unconventionally powered family cars? Honda Insight sales rose by one unit to 420. Less the C, Toyota Prius family sales climbed from 13,578 to 19,497. Nissan Leaf sales nearly quintupled to 1864 units while the Chevrolet Volt fell 3.3% to 1788. Ford C-Max volume hit 2700 units in July. reports that Toyota sold 4193 Camry Hybrids, Ford sold 2914 Fusion Hybrids, and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sales jumped up to 2200.

Keep in mind, although the Camry, Accord, and Altima appear dominant – and they are, in a way – the majority of midsize buyers in July bought or leased something else. Indeed, so far this year, the best-selling trio has attracted 44.5% of midsize car customers, not the 75% sensation we get from seeing all Camrys all the time.


July 2013
July 2012
July % Change
7 mos. 2013
7 mos. 2012
YTD % Change
Buick Regal
1187 1784 – 33.5% 10,007 16,612 – 39.8%
Chevrolet Malibu
12,473 12,345 + 1.0% 123,573 153,782 – 19.6%
Chrysler 200
8122 9287 – 12.5% 88,137 78,389 + 6.1%
Dodge Avenger
6131 5188 + 18.2% 67,149 58,049 + 15.7%
Ford Fusion
20,522 23,326 – 12.0% 181,668 160,175 + 13.4%
Honda Accord
31,507 28,639 + 10.0% 218,367 183,817 + 18.8%
Hyundai Sonata
18,903 20,978 – 9.9% 121,913 138,390 – 11.9%
Kia Optima
13,752 13,317 + 3.3% 97,210 86,475 + 12.4%
Mazda 6
3447 1289 + 167% 25,115 26,658 – 5.8%
Mitsubishi Galant
122 576 – 78.8% 1202 11,202 – 89.3%
Nissan Altima
29,534 26,602 + 11.0% 197,321 183,703 + 7.4%
Subaru Legacy
3142 3321 – 5.4% 26,550 27,593 – 3.8%
Suzuki Kizashi
526 – 100% 1602 3544 – 54.8%
Toyota Camry
34,780 29,913 + 16.3% 242,406 243,816 – 0.6%
Volkswagen Passat
10,051 9007 + 11.6% 66,170 64,072 + 3.3%
Volkswagen CC
1053 2198 – 52.1% 9296 10,955 – 15.1%
188,296 + 3.4% 1,477,686 1,447,232 + 2.1%
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58 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: July 2013 Mid-Size Cars...”

  • avatar

    Most amazing part of that graph. There are still Mitsubishi Galants and Suzuki Kazashis for sale.

  • avatar

    I can certainly see why the Camry does well, not sure of anything Nissan makes as they all use the CVT Transmission, same thing as I have in my Snowmobile, most shops that do Transmission repair say that with a CVT Tranny, it can’t be repaired only replaced, more expense that most people dont need!

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Is there any significant cost difference for an r&r on a CVT transmission versus a traditional 6-speed automatic? The days when you could replace a solenoid, tighten the bands, and a send a slushbox on its way are pretty much gone.

      • 0 avatar

        “Rebuilders” (unless your talking about a TH350) are a rare breed indeed.

        I’m guessing too that whether its a CVT or a 6 speed auto, shops and dealerships are simply going to pull the old one and put in a new one. The old one might be sent to a re-manufacturing facility (or sold for scrap) but gone are the days of the transmission rebuilding technician who works down at the local trans shop.

      • 0 avatar

        Most dealers at least still have at least one transmission guy. The American brands still make most parts for hydraulic automatics available, so a lot of transmissions still get rebuilt. CVTs are almost universally unserviceable outside a reman operation at this point, so Ted’s claims have some validity.

        • 0 avatar

          When I’ve talked to dealerships, they have said that they only do swaps for auto transmissions – pull it out, send it to the factory for rebuild, and insert a previously rebuilt one. Some have even said they are not permitted to work on these transmissions.

          • 0 avatar

            Depends on the brand. Most foreign brands don’t work on transmissions at the dealer at all and install reman units as you stated. The Detroit 3 still make them serviceabe (outside purchase agreement and CVT transmissions).

            Generally, they will have the dealer do a cost analysis of the repair. Usually if it’s under 70% of the cost of replacement, theyll rebuild it at the dealer. If it’s over 70%, they’ll replace with a reman or new.

      • 0 avatar

        The single most unreliable transmission sold in all of US is not a CVT. It is the DSG that can be seen in Audis and VWs which are engineers to self destruct around the the time powertrain warranty runs out.

    • 0 avatar

      If anything a CVT is even simpler than a manual box. A belt, some hydrolic rams, a few inverted cones and an electronic box to control it. If there is no one who can fix them it is because they are new to the market and the skills, or the need for such skills simply don’t exist.
      Unless the manufacturer has deliberately engineered them to be disposable they should be repairable and so, that is not the fault of the CVT.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        The issue is not the number of parts but rather their tolerances and the materials that they are made from. A CVT is “simpler” than a geared transmission in a similar way that a Wankel rotary is “simpler” than a piston engine: there may be fewer parts, but certain aspects of the parts that it has, are a real bugger and sometimes nigh-on impossible to get right. Thus far, neither Wankel rotaries nor CVT transmissions have proven more durable in real-world service than their more traditional equivalents.

        The inability to service a CVT is a different matter; this is simply that for whatever reason, the manufacturer chooses to not make the internal parts available. Many conventional transmissions (and engines) are the same way. A lot of the time, the manufacturer has a designated rebuilding facility, and they and they alone have access to the rebuild parts, and this is one way of (A) controlling the quality of the work – modern transmissions of all types are beyond what most normal technicians can be trusted with to do it alone, and (B) some would argue, to contain the work themselves.

        The bad thing about this is that the designated rebuild facility usually only operates for a certain amount of time after the original transmission/engine stops production. If your CVT kicks the bucket on an otherwise good car 8 or 10 years after production of that model has stopped … you are screwed.

        Criticize the old 3 speed auto-boxes all you want – and by no means do I want one back nowadays! – but there is something to be said for developing something that gets the job done and then leaving it in production, with only upgrades as needed that are no more complex than needed, for a long, long time. The GM THM350 was in use for 25 years. Break something, and the shop around the corner had a guy who could fix them.

        • 0 avatar

          Criticize the old 3 speed auto-boxes all you want – and by no means do I want one back nowadays!

          TH125 FWD 3 speed auto, 1982 Chevy Celebrity. Car was finally killed in a demo derby at 300,000 miles. Engine had been rebuilt at 120,000 miles but still had the original transmission with NO FLUID CHANGE (my father wasn’t big on preventative maint with transmissions).

          Yeah I wouldn’t want the old three speeds back in modern cars but I do wish the new transmissions were that tough.

          • 0 avatar
            Volt 230

            True, my 360k mile Corolla with the 3 speed auto, never broke down, only replace fluids every 3 yrs, sucks on the highway however!

          • 0 avatar

            In their fist year in 1980 Citations, those FWD THM125 were breaking down at near 35K miles. Turned many off on the X cars, and GM.

        • 0 avatar

          I am not too familiar with snowmobiles but I see CVT drive belts are readily available for sale so I assume they (CVT’s in snowmobiles) are repairable. There is, for all intents and purposes, zero difference to a car CVT. Bigger and more electronics is all.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s called massive incentives + people shopping for bargains + fleet sales.

      For the 1st part of July, the Camry had the LOWEST average transaction price out of the top 8 selling midsize sedans and for the month, had the largest incentive spending next to the moribund Impala.

  • avatar

    155k units for Mopar. Looks like Avenger is being extended into the future as a price leader while the new Chrysler midsize will be more premium and priced accordingly higher.

    I think going forward the compact crossover will become the volume form factor.

  • avatar

    If you want to see where the Regals are just check out your favorite rental car lot at the airport. I’ve rented a Regal just about every week for the past several months with the occasional Malibu or Impala for variety.

  • avatar

    the regal is not long for this world. that’s a pity b/c i drove it and liked it in gs trim with a manual. just could not afford it, nor afford to go down in mileage compared to my current daily driver.

  • avatar

    I was looking at the large gap between 4th place and 5th place. There is a Chevy dealer and a Ford dealer in town and even with the Fusion’s price premium I spy a Fusion around every corner. Malibus? Every other corner.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks like a zeta distribution/Zipf’s Law graph to me, where a handful make up the volume and the remaining majority take a logarithmically smaller piece of the pie.

  • avatar

    I just went thru car shopping with my sister (55 year old DINK, MD, liberal, living north of Philadelphia in a very upscale county) who was looking to trade her ’06 Mercedes C300 4Matic. Got a few shocks out of the experience: 1. She bought another C300 – the first time she’s ever bought the same brand twice in her life.

    More importantly: 2. She actually cross-shopped American cars for the first time in something like 30 years. In her crowd, American cars are what conservative rednecks in flyover country drive. And none of my American suggestions ever made the test drive stage in the past. 3. The car that lost out to the Merc was a Buick Regal. She was very impressed with the car, liked the way it drove, but still liked the Merc better – and having a dealer with whom she’s gotten a good relationship going over the past years sealed the deal.

    Just the same: My sister in a Buick. Dad would be proud.

    • 0 avatar

      Regal is designed in Germany, it’s an Opel. Hopefully that helps clear things up.
      BTW I don’t mean this in a bad way at all. I feel Opel makes good cars but suffer from bad press and identity issues. They are GM after all.

    • 0 avatar

      The Regal has the same problem as the Acura TSX – cheaper alternatives in the Verano and ILX (with almost as much room) or larger siblings in the LaCrosse and TL which give the room than many luxury buyers are looking for – for not much more.

      The Regal and TSX have the same problem if being on the smaller side than the typical mid-size sedan and having higher prices which can be attributed to being European models.

  • avatar

    In the small town I live in we have a transmission shop that will fix almost any tranny. He was working on a CVT ( broken drive chain ) the last time I was there. Something came loose and went through the chain. I know he has worked on another since then. But I would agree that this is the exception.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth


    Is there anybody out there who isn’t chuckling at that?

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps 6 > 4? Or even 6 > turbo 4?

      (Before you start bashing rental grade 4 cyl credit fixer special Avengers and 200s, I see many around here with dual exhaust tips to indicate the V6. I think Chrysler just built many 6 cyl and then pushed them out to dealers cheap.)

    • 0 avatar

      A little, but I think it comes down to bang for your buck. So at its price point, is a warmed over Sebring/Avenger better than a Mali-Daewoo at its price point?

      MSRP for 2013 I4 Malibu LS is $21,9xx and LT is $23,1xx.
      MSRP for 2013 I4 Avenger SE is $19,3xx and SXT is $22,3xx.
      MSRP for 2013 I4 200 LX is $19,6xx and Touring $22,5xx.

      Both the mid tier Avenger/200 beat base and mid-tier Malibu on MSRP and I’d wager Fiat-Chrysler will beat GM with cash on the hood of those models vs Malibu. Plus if you feel like spending 25K, Avenger can be had with a kick-ass V6. The only advantages Malibu might have is build quality (in theory) and slightly higher resale, but I would guess only by a couple points. Fiat-Chrysler offers more car for the money, no surprise its doing well in this economic malaise.

    • 0 avatar

      Pentastar Avenger SE FTW!

    • 0 avatar

      Here in Canada, Mopar beats Chevy (GM) every single month in total sales. In the bizarro Great White North, Ford and Chrysler battle for number one spot month after month.

  • avatar

    It’s sad VW’s CC is getting upstaged by basically 2 dead automobiles. My buddy has 2 of them (1 for him, 1 for his wife) and has had extremely good luck with them, surprising enough. I think the only reason he bought it was because it was the only TRUE German sedean he could afford. It seems like that the majority of VW buyers are like that this day – they really want some affordable German engineering or they’re fanboys. The Asians offer much better value but not quite the mystique.

    • 0 avatar

      German engineering was awesome … in WW2.

      • 0 avatar

        This was true to a point. Zee Germans got ridiculous with some designs (Tiger turret, Tiger track wheels, Panther V) which certainly didn’t help the troops in the field who were outnumbered from 1941 onward and needed an effective modern working design (i.e. Pz II and III chassis was used from 1936 to the end because it worked). The cheap and numerous T34 and M4 Shermans would eventually rout the somewhat technically superior Panzers, there is something to be said about *reliable* quantity over quality.

        • 0 avatar

          No Kidding. When we could send over 10,000 airplanes/tanks/guns whatever and the Germans could only muster up 100. Then you’re going to get arse kicked up one side and down the other no matter how smart your engineers are. So much for the “master race”. Game over – score 1000 to 1. In Japan the score was only 2 to 0 (Hiroshima and Nagasaki was all it took).

          • 0 avatar

            I read this and all I could think of was ‘merica. :)

            Panzer kill ratio was something like 3:1 on the Eastern Front until 1944 when it all fell apart, this was despite overwhelming odds after winter 1941.

          • 0 avatar


            Exactly. If the direct result of German engineering is that they are at a 100:1 dis-advantage, then those engineering aren’t that smart after all.

            That is a classic case where engineers deviated from a client’s requirement (win the war) and instead aimed for something else (make each unit more superior). That’s not what I would call professional.

          • 0 avatar

            “In Japan the score was only 2 to 0 (Hiroshima and Nagasaki was all it took).”

            Unfortunately, no, that’s not all it took. Japan’s surrender was based on an overwhelming tide of bad developments for them which included the nuclear bomb and the Soviet’s entry into the Pacific front.

            If the only issue had been the bomb, they would have kept fighting. After all, the fire bombing of Tokyo killed more people than either atomic bomb.

    • 0 avatar

      There are some seriously excellent deals to be had on CCs these days. Volkswagen is dumping something like $3k on the hood to move them.

      I think that part of the issue with the CC is that at this point it’s getting really long in the tooth, even with last year’s refresh. I’ve driven several of them – they’re nice, quiet, roomy enough and can be had with a 6MT.

  • avatar

    The Sonata/Optima twins combine to Accord territory. That’s amazing given that both brands were basically a joke in the not too distant past. I don’t really understand the Altima until I talk to people that have bought (leased) them, i.e. cheap…cheap…cheap… I know Ford is pushing incentives on the Fusion but not enough to match Altima volume? And for all the Accords I haven’t seen many….or is their “mild” refresh blending too much with the older ones. The Honda, it takes a lifetime to change our body style, approach to new models is off putting to me, although I like the stats on the new Accord. Of the list I’d buy a Fusion or Optima for style points.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford had capacity issues with both the Fusion and the Focus this past month.

      Things will get better for the Fusion once Flat Rock production starts.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, that must be why they’re slapping incentives on them and sending them to fleet. To clear out inventory ofsupposedly inventory stranged cars.

        God you’re something else.

        • 0 avatar

          I think Ford would rather see a few cars go to fleet rather than witness a total collapse in pricing power, which is what Toyota seems to be dealing with right now.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s hilarious when people reduce a “fleet” sale to mere vapor. A sale is a sale. These corporations count company leases to employees as retail sales which likely make less profit than “fleet”.

        • 0 avatar

          Precisely. The Ford line doesn’t add up.

        • 0 avatar

          EVERY mainstream automaker has incentives – even Honda (that’s just the way of the auto industry these days).

          The question is how much.

          The Fusion has lower incentives than the Camry and earlier on the year, the ATP for the Fusion was $2,700 more than for the Camry.

          Also, nearly half of the Fusion’s fleet sales is to govt. and commercial while the overwhelming majority of Camry’s fleet sales is to RENTAL.

          And Ford finished July with about a 30 day supply of the Fusion and Focus.

          From an Auto News article…

          “Inventory data on show that Ford dealerships within 50 miles of Los Angeles had just 453 Fusions in stock at the end of last week, compared with 982 Hyundai Sonatas, 2,296 Camrys and 2,590 Accords. ”

          – And California has not traditionally been a market in which Ford has done well with regard to sedans.

          Get a clue about the auto industry.

    • 0 avatar

      There is not much inventory available at Ford dealerships near me. Esp Titaniums which I would be interested in are pretty scarce judging by dealership websites. How much are incentives on 2013 Fusions? I see enough rental Fusions around but those are low level trims. You do not want Fusion with 2.5L – Mazda6 is much better choice with this engine – it is lighter and feels light when driving. Compared with higher trim 2.0L Fusion though Mazda6 feels underpowered and antiquated. BTW where are all these Mazda6s? I did not see a single one on the road yet. Altimas are ubiquitous rental cars at this point I guess. And why only colors available are different shades of white, black and gray?

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        “BTW where are all these Mazda6s? I did not see a single one on the road yet.” Agreed, do people know something I don’t? I bought mine 3 months ago and have seen exactly 4 on the road since.

        • 0 avatar

          I think so. They know that Corolla and Civic are safe choices and therefore they sleep better at night. Most people behave like a herd without thinking much be it selecting car, electing the president or cheering dictator. But some of us will do it our own way not because we do not know something they know but because we are ready to take risk and be awarded and because we want to be different, push the envelope further and think out of box. We are ones who would buy Tesla without caring for the long term reliability or prestige of new unknown marque just because of its superior technology and game changing performance. If not for people like us mankind would still be living in the stone age.

    • 0 avatar

      Quality cars don’t need radical change. Or name changes.

      Ford has disposable names and style. The Accord will look good ten years from now, when the Fusion will be another forgotten Ford model. Granada anyone?

  • avatar

    Include a Buick when totals sales for the year almost double Acura?

  • avatar

    It is worth noting that incentive spending on Camry has ballooned to $3,100 – it is selling at about 20% to fleet, and you can lease a SE Camry for as little as $189 a month.

    Stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap is fine if claiming volume, but it hurts resale value by artificially inflating the market. The real king of this segment is the Accord.

    Continued drive to volume with only incremental improvement will catch up to Toyota – you can only sell on perception versus reality for so long.

  • avatar

    poor poor Malibu, look at what Dan has done to you.

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