America's Top 5 Midsize Cars Earn 7 Out Of Every 10 Midsize Car Sales

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
americas top 5 midsize cars earn 7 out of every 10 midsize car sales

America’s five top-selling midsize cars have held an iron-fisted grip on their category for years, making it very difficult for interlopers to succeed in any meaningful way.

• Sonata & Malibu knocked out of January’s top five

• Midsize cars up 5.5% in January

• Top five own 69% of midsize market

Yet after earning more than seven out of every ten midsize sales in 2009 and 2010 – when the top five included the Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion, and Malibu – the top five’s market share slid to 67% in 2011 and 64% in 2012. In 2011, the Hyundai Sonata supplanted the Chevrolet Malibu in the top five and didn’t let go in 2012, 2013, or 2014.

But then a return to the norm began, as the top quintuplet’s share grew to 66% in 2013 and 69% in 2014.

2015 started off similarly.

With the Toyota Camry-led midsize segment thoroughly controlled by a few nameplates, the core midsize car category’s volume grew 5.5%. That’s not terribly far off the pace of the overall car market, which jumped nearly 8%, but well below the 19% growth rate of SUVs and crossovers. 69% of the midsize category in January was owned by the Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and the fifth-ranked car.

That car was not the Hyundai Sonata, nor was it the Chevrolet Malibu, the last two cars to join the CamAcoTimUsion in the top five on an annual basis.

Instead, the Chrysler 200, up 30% to 14,157 units in January, was America’s fifth-ranked midsize car, 1794 units ahead of the Hyundai Sonata (up 26% to 12,363), 2279 ahead of the Chevrolet Malibu (up 0.5% to 11,878), 4763 ahead of the Kia Optima (down 6% to 9394), and 7852 sales ahead of the Volkswagen Passat (up 1% to 6305).

And while total FCA/Chrysler Group midsize car volume slid 8% to 14,399 in January (as the 200 was not able to completely counteract the disappearance of 95% of the defunct Dodge Avenger’s January sales) and as Fusion volume slid 5%, the real story is the increased clout of the top five finishers. Their market share grew three percentage points from 66% in January 2013 and January 2014 and 67% in December 2014 to 69% in January 2015.

There are only a handful of sales leftover for many intermediate sedans which are marketed with mainstream pricing but sell in the kinds of numbers put up by premium cars. The Mazda 6, Subaru Legacy, and Volkswagen Passat combined for slightly less than 9% of the midsize car market in America last month. The aging Kia Optima, which slid 6% in a category which grew 5.5%, posted four consecutive years of improvement leading up to 2015. But the Optima earned only 6.5% of the market in its best year, a year in which GM’s declining Chevrolet Malibu claimed 7.8% of the midsize category.

Does that mean all hope is lost for the Optima, Passat, Legacy, 6, or any potential Mitsubishi sedan? Of course not all hope. But a number of factors – e.g. production capacity, reputation, loyalty, incentives – contribute to an even more precise alignment of stars that favours the major players maintaining their standing.

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

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4 of 38 comments
  • Volt 230 Volt 230 on Feb 20, 2015

    No, but most readers would want to know it, fleet sales are not a good indicator.

    • Pch101 Pch101 on Feb 20, 2015

      Fleet sales data is delayed, and it isn't free. Deliveries data (what is included here) is available for free, and is released almost immediately after the end of the month.

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Feb 20, 2015

    I tried to look into the 200 on TrueDelta and oddly the car doesn't exist there, which is rather strange for a top 5 vehicle.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 20, 2015

      There must be a demographics twist there, like TrueDelta members/contributors don't buy 200's or vice-versa. Or 200 owners are still haggling with dealers over adjustments/warranty coverage and are holding off for resolution before reporting to TrueDelta.

  • Wolfwagen I worked for a few companies that have used Transit Connects for service or delivery and of course as Cabs in NYC (NV200 are the best cabs in NYC- plenty of legroom). I had never seen one as a passenger vehicle until a few months ago when I saw one at the local HD parking lot. It looked great for a small family or even an active couple that needs secure storage. However, I have never seen any advertisement from Ford for this model/trim
  • Bike It's a bizarre conversation, for us folks outside the US.
  • RICK Once had 78 TOWN COUPE and wish I had never let it go! Ultimate OTT excessive luxury! Have since had RWD FLEETWOODS, RWD Fifth Avenues ,as well as 89 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series and current 2007 TOWN CAR Signature Limited! All great cars, but 77 through 79 was KING 🤴 of the road! So sad to see what is now considered a luxury vehicle 😢. Who wants to drive a glorified truck 🚚?
  • Kwik_Shift There are better cars to drop $80G on.
  • 28-Cars-Later Opulence!