By on September 16, 2014

2013 Ford FusionWith fewer than 1.7 million sales through the first eight months of 2014, U.S. sales of conventional midsize cars are down 0.2% in 2014. Just 0.2%? Out of context, it’s not a bad number, suggesting that midsize sales are basically level with the totals achieved a year ago. Yet in an overall new vehicle market that is on pace for its first 16 million unit sales year since 2007, sluggish sales in a massively important category is in fact a consequential result.

In 2013, when the new vehicle market grew 7.5% compared with calendar year 2012, Camry-class car sales in America were up less than 2%.

It’s easy to point the finger at the expansion of the small crossover market as the leading cause for the midsize segment’s difficulties. Toyota sold 44,043 Camrys and 35,614 RAV4s in August 2014, compared with 30,185 and 6502, respectively, in the RAV4’s rough August 2011. We’ve previously explored the Honda CR-V/Accord equation. Ford now sells nearly as many Escapes as Fusions – the Taurus outsold the Escape by more than two-to-one in 2002. Sales of all SUVs and crossovers are up 12% in 2014.

Finding explanations isn’t all that complicated. Yet there are cars that have broken free from the midsize sector’s stagnation this year, cars which have easily exceeded segment-wide expectations. Not coincidentally, five of the six key cars to have done so are the category’s five top sellers.

In other words, the portion of the midsize market controlled by the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, and Hyundai Sonata has grown from 65.8% during the first eight months of 2013 to 69.7% during the same period one year later. In August, this was even more obvious, as the five top sellers improved their market share to 72.1% from 68.9%.

Second tier midsize cars, on the other hand – Malibu, Optima, Passat, 200, Avenger – now control 25% of the category, well down from the 29.2% they achieved during the first two-thirds of 2013. This decline is due in part, but not at all exclusively, to Chrysler’s major model transition.

There is a one key exception among the less popular midsize cars. Mazda 6 sales have shot up 28% to 37,598 units in 2014, an 8234-unit increase over eight months. In 2013, 6 sales had climbed to a five-year high. Yet even if the 6’s current pace holds, Mazda is unlikely to sell more than 57,000 6s in 2014. They averaged nearly 67,000 annual sales between 2003 and 2007, when the 6 lineup was much more expansive.

Besides, 6 sales growth would have to be infinitely more impressive if it was to challenge the leaders in terms of volume. In a record-setting August for the Accord, Honda’s midsizer outsold the 6 by more than nine-to-one, and this was in the 6’s third-best sales month in more than two years.

Combined sales of the Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion, and Sonata are up 6% this year. Clearly, America’s five favourite midsize cars are increasingly favoured.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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46 Comments on “America’s Best-Selling Midsize Cars Are Exerting More Control In 2014...”


  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I was pumped for the mazda6 until I test drove one… I test drove a grand touring.. the drivers seat was the only thing I found good. It was way too loud at all speeds, too much engine noise, tire noise from wheels that are too wide. The motor felt week and 7.5 0-60 times you read about are extremely deceptive since it hits its peak power and shifts right when you expect a 4 banger to take off…it felt more like a 10 second 0-60 car. It was also not engaging to drive… Compared to the first gen 6 the current model was a total let down.

    Also all the rave reviews you read online aren’t doing the 6 any favors. They’re just building up a hype bubble that gets popped into a storm of disappointment during the test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      “The motor felt week and 7.5 0-60 times you read about are extremely deceptive since it hits its peak power and shifts right when you expect a 4 banger to take off…it felt more like a 10 second 0-60 car.”

      The pedal on the right, you need to push it all the way down.

      I recommended a friend buy a 6, he did, loves it. I drove it, it’s a great car, and the tires are just wide enough. Corner faster. Had no problems with noise, but then I drive a Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Actually, the new Accord is much quieter than the 6. And faster too.
        http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-honda-accord-sport-sedan-long-term-test-wrap-up-review

        The 6 would be my second choice, but I would expect it to be more expensive to own since the resale value would be lower.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Ugh. C&D’s love of the Accord is so syrupy it makes me want to gag. Even though the brakes, as per Honda usual, were continually warping they still spun it as “whoopsie, our fault, that Accord is just such a backroad temptress that we couldn’t help but cook them three times in a row”.

          Granted, this generation of Accord looks to be head of the class by many measures, but the kind of effusive praise C&D gives it (they did it to the unimpressive prior-gen as well) makes me wonder if what their financial relationship is to the brand.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            My grandson recently purchased a left-over 2014 Accord EX-L V6/Automatic for his wife, and I must say, I’m impressed! I saw it Labor Day weekend and rode in it as a passenger in all sorts of paved terrain.

            I wouldn’t buy one for myself, but I think that Accord will make my grandson very happy, especially at resale/trade-in time. Especially a V6/Automatic! That’s got to be Honda’s finest effort.

            IMO, the 2014 Accord beats the current Camry hands down in all aspects that count, like ride, handling, braking, fit&finish, steering wheel road feedback, and acceleration/deceleration in a curve.

            NVH in the 2014 Accord is present, but by comparison the Camry is a tomb, deathly quiet and numb, totally isolated and insulated from the road and road feedback. More like an easy chair on wheels than a car.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            It’s more a criticism of C&D than the Accord itself. When they award every year & every generation of the thing a 10-Best status for 20-something years in a row, I get a bit suspicious. When Honda then uses that 10-Best record in their own advertisements, I get real suspicious.

            The current Accord seems to be a very good car, but I’m not taking C&D’s word on it.

        • 0 avatar
          adamsd

          Based on the year you are talking about, you must have some really sensitive ears! Let’s put this one to bed right now.

          Here is the info from car and driver comparison for the mazda 6 and the Honda accord.
          Mazda idle: 43 dba, Honda 42 dba
          Mazda full: 81 dba, Honda 80 dba.
          Mazda 70 mph: 68 dba, Honda 69 dba

          So when you say that the Accord is much quieter, I am wondering what you are basing this on?

    • 0 avatar
      TheEndlessEnigma

      Why is we have come to expect people movers to behave like sports cars?

      • 0 avatar
        3800FAN

        Drive a first gen mazda6 and you’ll understand…because they can.

        or they did…all the reviews you read say that the 6 is as fun to drive as the original model but it is not the case by a long shot.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      That’s a real shame. Seems like the Accord is the driver’s choice in the segment. I see a LOT of Accord Sports running around here.

      Thankfully the 1st gen 6s are dirt cheap… might look into one for a run around/commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      Boxofrain

      Totally agree. I test drove the 2014 Mazda6 and was let down by the anemic acceleration. A great looking car, but the latest generation of Accord will be my next choice.

      • 0 avatar

        I am not sold on its looks, it is still not elegant Japanese design. Koreans are able to design beautiful cars Japanese are too proud to hire European designer. In my opinion Mazda is asking too much for GT with basic I4, dated interior and noise in cabin. Steering is too light and it is too slow. It is not a FWD BMW as many think it is. It is like Pontiac but in this case poor white male thinks it is a BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        adamsd

        I believe if you compare the times of all the cars, then you must be getting the Accord 6 cylinder, since the actual regular Honda Accord is not any faster.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      In June, I test drove all of the mid sizers except for the Malibu. I ended up with the four cyl Accord with the CVT. I now have 4 K on it, and zero issues except that the Bluetooth will not pair with my phone. It rides quietly and firmly, but not so firm that you fillings are dislodged when you hit a bump. And, just like the sticker says, I’m averaging 36.2 mpg over the last 2000 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I’ve driven most of what was available in 2012, but little of what has come after then. What were your stronger impressions of some of the other cars?

        • 0 avatar
          Felix Hoenikker

          30-mile,

          I had no intention of buying an Accord when I stated cross shopping, and it was not the lowest cost either.
          Here are my impressions of the others

          Camry – quite, smooth, but vague steering and accelerator feel. Average interior and good back seat room.

          Cadillac ATS – set the deriver’s seat for me and couldn’t get in the read seat behind it Fail.

          Altima – Not as smooth as the Camry or Honda, but probably the best seats. Great rebates. Rejected due to long term tranny reliability concerns.

          Fusion – did not like the 2.5 NA engine. The 1.5 turbo was the most responsive of all the cars I tested. Rejected due to real world fuel economy concerns and long term cost of ownership of the turbo.

          200 – Pentastar engine was the best of all the cars I drove. Highway fuel economy rating too low – 32 mpg despite 7 speed auto. Salesman was an idiot.

          Maibu – rejected without a test drive because of the too cramped back seat and sealed auto tranny.

          Dart – with the 2.4 Tiger Shark engine. Liked it but no match for the Accord and not priced any better. Wanted to try the 1.4 Turbo Eco model, but the dealer didn’t have one.

          Mazda 6 – tied with the Accord. Did not buy because no incentives were offered and it was over priced when compared to the Accord with similar equipment. Also, one of my wife’s co-workers husband had one that was a lemon and could not be fixed by the local Mazda dealer and two others located out of town. This is unforgivable.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Thanks, Felix, it’s always interesting to read someone else’s opinion of a vehicle class I’ve shopped fairly recently. Amazing how an idiot salesman can sour the entire car.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Sealed auto tranny! Isn’t the Accords sealed also? The only thing you can do is drain it from a little drain cock under the car. Most of the industry has gone this route from what I have seen

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Looking at this WSJ table/graph it seems cars overall have taken a haircut in 2014 over 2013 their improvement is only small.

    Pickups and medium SUVs have also taken a similar haircut as well.

    It seems small cars have increased in sales 3 fold in comparison to medium cars.

    Does this mean the US market will soon look like the Canadian or Australian market in relation to cars? Will many soon drive Mazda3s, Corollas, Focuses, etc. if they are looking for a car?

    Maybe as the population grows older, people don’t want/afford much more than a small car. It makes sense and cents.

    http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    In Nov 2012 I attended a five-car midsize comparo hosted by Road and Track on a portion of the Indy road course. All cars were 4-cyl auto or CVT base trim (the $199/mo lease specials).

    The Fusion had the best handling, the Camry had the best ride, the Sonata had the strongest engine, the Accord was pretty good at everything but not the best at anything, and the Altima had the best seats. But the main thing that struck me was the basic blandness and sameness of these five cars. Somehow, in making them so competent, they ironed out all the personality.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      “But the main thing that struck me was the basic blandness and sameness of these five cars. Somehow, in making them so competent, they ironed out all the personality.”

      I don’t see where that is a bad thing for this market segment. We are not talking sports cars or luxury cars here; what most people want is a dependable, competent car regardless of what name is on the trunk lid, at a reasonable price. Something that is free of quirks.

      While on a business trip last week, I finally got to rent a Ford Fusion. I currently DD a 1995 Taurus; my son also has a 2008 Altima; so that is what colored my perspective when I sat in it. So were past comments about “coupe styling”, “gunslit windows” and “mailslot trunk lids” I have read here; “four banger instead of a V-6″, so I was somewhat prepared to be disappointed.

      I loved it. Visibility out the back was fine; the bottom of the rear window is three inches higher than the rear window of the Taurus wagon. I could sit behind myself in the rear seat without my head touching the roof; with maybe a fraction of an inch more headroom than my son’s Altima. (I am 6′ 0”; and both cars have sunroofs.)

      The “mirror within a mirror” on the Fusion helps to eliminate blind spots; I watched cars as they passed by, and found that the overall visibility all around was equal to my Taurus wagon with the large scenicruiser windows. They are also very quiet when it comes to wind noise; unlike those on the ’85-’95 Taurus. The A pillars are only slightly larger than those on the Taurus thanks to the glass window inserts in the triangle area.

      The Ecoboost engine was very quiet; when I walked up to it at the airport, I did not even realize it was running. There was hardly any hint of buzziness; and had all the power I would ever use. When I got home, the tired 3.0L Vulcan V-6 in my Taurus sounded like a tractor in comparison. The computer said it has getting 26.4 MPG; the Taurus averages 25 in the winter and 27 in the heat of summer; so the Fusion is comparible even though it is lugging around a lot more electronics and safety gear.

      I could most certainly see the Fusion replacing “The Blue Goose” as a daily driver; relegating the Taurus to a backup/weekend/toy/Christmas tree hauler; I only wish the Mondeo wagon was available here. But, most of the market growth these days is in small crossovers; probably because they have replaced the small station wagons and original sized minivans as the family car of choice; as well as being easier for an aging population to get in and out of.

      When I got home; I put together a montage comparing 20 years of Ford automobile design, if anyone is interested:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157647552870342/

      This generation Fusion is a game changer after all; no, it does not outsell the Camery or Accord; but as pointed out in this article, it’s sales and reputation places it in the same tier as these and the Altima, and over the other midsize competition.

      • 0 avatar

        “what most people want is a dependable, competent car regardless of what name is on the trunk lid, at a reasonable price. Something that is free of quirks.”

        And that’s just it. Honestly, the gap between best and worst is pretty small these days in terms of mechanical solidness…unless, of course, you drive a Volkswagen, and then it’s just subpar for no good reason.

        Also, I like your montage. I was born near the time that “The Blue Goose” was new, so I don’t know how cutting-edge of a design that was at the time. Compared to what GM and Chrysler were putting out, it seems fairly modern. Certainly the new Fusion looks modern and competitive.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          1995 would have been the LH cars from Chrysler, the Intrepid was far more modern than the Taurus. (Dual Airbags, ABS, Traction Control, 3.5L V-6)

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            The (my) Taurus did (does) have dual airbags. It also came with the Duratec 3.0L V-6 in addition to the Vulcan V-6. But realize this was the last year for the second generation (’92-95), so it was on it’s way out; the comparable car to the Intrepid was the ’96-’00 Taurus that came out after it; and was plagued with the controversal oval stlying.

            (Ford went radical on the ’96 Taurus because the automotive press felt the changes in the second generation Taurus were too small compared to the first generation.)

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Thanks Kyree.

      • 0 avatar

        My impression from Vulcan 3.0L was that it cannot go faster than 80 mph no matter how to hard you tries. I were actually scared when trying to merge on fwy. I am talking about rental car though, is it normal or I got defective car?

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Inside Looking Out;

          It is my understanding that the Taurus is limited by aerodynamics to 120 MPH. But whether only the SHO could reach that speed, I don’t know. I always assumed the Duratech and Vulcan powered ones could as well; they would just take longer to get there.

          I haven’t kept the Blue Goose around for 19 years/192X by driving it 80MPH. I have nudged it to 70 and maybe 75 on an occasion or two, but that is it.

          They were built for when the national speed limit was 55, and the speedometer itself only goes to 80 as stipulated by federal laws at that time.

          • 0 avatar
            chicagoland

            The speed limits were allowed to go to 65 in 1987, by the way.

          • 0 avatar

            @chicagoland: that may be true but sometime to keep up with the traffic on e.g. I-680 you have to drive 80 mhp or faster. Quick acceleration also adds to the safety. From that perspective alone I had to eliminate Mazda6 from my list, but also because of dated interior, noise, light steering and low roof – I felt claustrophobic. I mean it is a 21st century already.

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        Good to know that I wasnt the only one to own a Taurus Wagon. As stated below in my post it was a 92. It was in great shape when I got it however I let one issue go to long and screwed it up. Other than that I would have kept it for atleast a few more years.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I think the new Chrysler 200 could be the dark horse in this midsize car race. It’s a really good looking car with a stunning interior that looks like it belongs in a class up.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I realize that everyone has their own opinions, some based on fact some based on how fell about a certain product. I for one have a hobby that includes every weekend for the last 25 years (with exception for vacation and holidays) test drive cars. I go early in the AM on Sat and test between 2-3 different cars or in some case levels of trim of the same car. I dont consider myself an expert, a blogger or a motor-head know it all. I just love driving cars (new ones).
    The minister of my church once said not to just trust what he says but to read it for yourself. I do the same with car reviews and actually all consumable and durable goods.

    Full exposure I own a CX9 and the wife an ES 350.

    With cars being my first love I do this especially so. I have read the buff books for about 40 years now and am apart of more car sites than I care to mention. Lets get one thing straight, I have never owned a Porsche, BMW, Rolls, Phaeton or anything on that level however I have driven most of them (Bentley not Rolls). I have driven the current Camry, Accord, Fusion, Altima, Passat, Optima, Sonata and the 6 along with past gen Avenger and Malibu. Some were back to back some were not. We have had folks to come on this forum and say that the back seat of the 6 and fusion are infantile and that they are in the same class as the Malibu or Altima. I dont know if they have actually been in any of the other cars but I am here to tell you that at 6ft even and 250lbs I fit fine behind myself in both. Could both use more head room…..well yeah that they are lacking but hip and leg room is pretty equal for the larger cars in this segment with the Accord being noticeably larger(but not the extreme that some poster say it is). I guess I am ranting because folks are acting as if the 6 is so loud that no one care live with it. Sorry folks but have you driven the last gen Accord I would argue (not scientifically) that the last gen Accord and current 6 are about even. Yes the current gen is significantly more pleasant to be in but I am going to bet that Mazda will correct this next refresh.
    Now for the sporting aspect. No one with a straight face could say that the 6 is as sporty as it was two cycles ago however you could say the same about the Accord for the last 4 cycles until now. The Accord used to be the default sporty choice and if you chose this you would never drive a Camry which was the ride and quiet choice. With this in mind I give you my sporty top four.

    1: Fusion it just seems to handle better and steer better and to be honest I cant figure out why.
    Tie 2: 6 and Accord…The Accord IMO steers a little better should I say sharper but the 6 just feels better when entering and exiting a turn. Could someone explain that to me?
    3: Passat in the past had a good balance of ride and handling but not the best anymore
    3: Camry SE Yes was and am very surprised about my past bias toward the cloud car as I called it in the past. Nice upgrade from the past iterations.

    We that being said here is a list of cars that I have owned for varies reasons since 93.

    1 Renault Alliance w xwife her car not mine (thanks God) This is what you get when you believe buff books
    2 89 Lincoln Continental (drove cross country on a cloud twice)
    3 89 Subaru Loyal wagon (infested with fleas)
    4 95 Mitsu Galant (2nd worst car ever)New
    5 95 Chrysler Cirrus, loved the noises hated the repairs. New(biggest small car ever)
    After divorce

    6 89 Volvo 760 turbo.. My first and only rear drive car Loved it and hated spending 300 amonth on payments and 300 a month on repairs.
    7 92 Ford Taurus Wagon my fav out of the bunch so far. It got me my current wife who thought it was practical and sent family man signals.

    with Current wife
    8 96 Saturn SC2..this car was bullet prof with no repairs up til I traded it.
    9 99 Olds Intrigue. Loved the sound of the engine and performance and the look of the car overall. Interior quality was a night mare.
    10 01 Olds Aurora. I was trying to save them but couldn’t. Good looks, performance. I actually averaged 32mpg regularly on the hwy from Washington NC to Charlotte when I used to go to the auto shows there. (live in Jax FL now)Once again GM gremlins took over.
    11 07 Lexus ES 350 wifes cars. Decent car with the Ultimate package my wife was one of the first owners of the east coast to have Moon Shell Mica in the package. NEW…125k miles and no problems til this year when she had an engine leak…4 grand…geez
    12 08 Mazda CX 9…125k miles til this year one issue front diff leak. Overall I have to admit I wanted a Flex but could not get it at the price I wanted. Gas mileage, handling way above average, everything else is par for the Crossover course. NEW
    Next up if its still available is a 2019 Flex.

    Thanks for listing and God Bless America..and No place else.

  • avatar
    blackcayman

    The Mazda6 is the best looking…IMHO – Too bad they don’t offer a true high line motor in their Grand Touring trim.

    It does have a portion of the Zoom Zoom handling, but I think they missed the mark on this too. Why not shoot a little higher towards BMW 3 Series handling…No one else is in this segment. Even if it was just a special Sport Trim, not the whole lineup.

    Mazdas and their road noise – its pervasive and it needs to be fixed.

    I drive a Mazda3 S Hatch 6M in GT trim. I love the way it drives, but it is noisier than it needs to be.

    When the new MazdaSpeed3 comes, maybe they’ll do another Speed6 and fix the handling and noise and power issue???

    Please!

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Clearly, the top tier only contains 3 vehicles:

    1) Camry
    2) Accord
    3) Altima

    Fusion and Hyundai are in the second tier. You guys in Detroit will do anything to make believe the Fusion is in the Toyota and Honda league. It is not.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Altima is “top tier”?

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      Altima is no way top tier. With its tinny feel, cheaper interior, and excessive engine noise its always been a notch below the Camry. Sonata is way better and has been for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The only top tier thing about the Camry is is V6.

      There’s a reason why Toyota has been discounting the Camry heavily to move metal and why it’s getting a major refresh.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      The Camry top tier. Lol Maybe in sales. But as McDonalds offer claims billions and billions sold but as we all know one of the worst burgers severed anywhere. I would pick the current Malibu in 2LT or LTZ trim, of course, over the current Camry after having rented one of these in SE trim. Other than rear seat legroom there was not any other redeeming quality about that bland mobile and it’s total lack of equipment and interior cheapness and terrible steering etc.

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