Cain's Segment: U.S. Midsize Car Sales In 2014

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Growth in America’s midsize car market was slow in 2014, the second consecutive year in which the overall auto industry moved forward at an impressive rate while midsize car growth was unimpressive.

• Altima and Fusion set nameplate records

• Camry tops second-ranked Accord by 40K

• The Big 5 grew their share of the segment

Yet in 2014, the most dominant midsize cars did in fact expand their sales at a healthy clip. The top-selling Toyota Camry was up 5%, year-over-year. Honda’s Accord, the second-ranked midsize car, posted a 6% improvement compared with 2013. Sales of the third-ranked Nissan Altima, America’s fourth-best-selling car overall, climbed 5% to a record-high 335,644 units.

The fourth-best-selling midsize car, Ford’s Fusion, also ascended to record highs with a 4% year-over-year increase. The fifth-ranked Hyundai Sonata, after starting slowly with the seventh-generation car in the latter portion of the year, ended 2014 up 7% compared with the 2013 calendar year.

The impressive improvements from those five top sellers resulted in a collective 5% YOY increase, equal to nearly 82,000 extra sales. Yet the midsize segment as shown here improved by fewer than 30,000 units as the five big players stole market share from many of the group’s smaller members.

Car20142013%ChangeChevrolet Malibu188,519200,594-6.0%Chrysler 200117,363122,480-4.2%Dodge Avenger51,70593,842-44.9%Ford Fusion306,860295,2803.9%Honda Accord388,374366,6785.9%Hyundai Sonata216,936203,6486.5%Kia Optima159,020155,8932.0%Mazda 653,22443,63722.0%Mitsubishi Galant1221441-91.5%Nissan Altima335,644320,7234.7%Subaru Legacy52,27042,29123.6%Suzuki Kizashi—1602-100%Toyota Camry428,606408,4844.9%Volkswagen Passat96,649109,652-11.9%————Total2,395,2922,366,2451.2%

In 2013, the five top sellers – the same five cars ranked in the exact same order – owned 67% of the category. In 2014, that figure grew by three percentage points to 70%.

How did it happen? Take it from the top, or rather, near the top. The Chevrolet Malibu slid 6%, ending the year with a 12% loss in the fourth-quarter. Chrysler’s launch of the new 200 brought about higher sales totals at the end of the year, but the 2014 calendar year saw total sales of the 200 (old and new) and Avenger (now defunct) fall 22%, a loss of some 47,000 sales.

After following up 2012’s record-setting performance with a 6% loss in 2013, U.S. sales of the Volkswagen Passat fell 12% in 2014. The Mazda 6 and Subaru Legacy both posted large percentage increases, but their respective 22% and 24% gains, combined, generated fewer than 20,000 extra sales. (Camry volume increased by slightly more than 20,000 extra units in 2014.) The disappearance of the Suzuki Kizashi and Mitsubishi Galant resulted in 2921 lost sales in 2014, as well.

Thus, while it’s true that midsize car sales were flat in the United States in 2014, don’t confuse that overarching statement with an across-the-board assumption that all midsize nameplates were similarly affected. The rich got richer.

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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  • Speed3 Speed3 on Jan 14, 2015

    Hyundai/Kia combined sell almost as many midsizers as the Accord. The biggest surprise for me was how well the Altima did. The Malibu will probably decline again (unless GM dumps a ton into the fleets) until the redesigned 2017 model gets here. I think the Chrysler 200 will be on track to sell more than 200K units in 2015, but keep in mind that is less volume than the 200 and Avenger did back in 2013.

  • Slingshot Slingshot on Jan 14, 2015

    Currently have an 08 Honda Accord V-6, totally reliable with 156,000 miles, 25 mpg; never been back to the dealer. Don't like the new ones. They took about the good stuff and put in video games. Very interested in the new 2016 Mazda 6 Touring with manual tranny. (Had a 2002 Millenia S, also totally reliable with 135,000 miles, also 25 mpg.) Not interested in any other of these mid size cars except maybe the Legacy although I don't really like the looks of it, would probably buy an Outback. Found out yesterday they don't have heated mirrors in this model unless apparently you buy the AT. Thought every car in America had this at because of the safety issue. I live in the snow belt and I need it. I guess it can be added at some expense; if its in one model it can be added to a similar model. Also can't get a sunroof, not the end of the world although I like them. Can't get XM Sirius radio, although this can be added rather easily and is an absolute requirement. No leather heated seats which can be added aftermarket or Xenon lights which also can be added although these aren't absolute requirements and I would rather have better lights than better seats. The GT has Xenon lights. (Years ago you could get exactly what you wanted. Now the auto manufacturers dictate what you get. Have it your way, No!) At some point just makes sense to look at something else. Probably test drive it when it comes out to see if it is too slow and what it costs for some of these extra goodies. I think they went overboard in the great mpg in comparison to better acceleration. Due to contacts can get a great price on one.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
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