By on May 5, 2015

2015 Ford Mustang GT dirt road

The U.S. auto industry was projected to make 6% gains in April 2015, an increase that would have produced at least 80,000 more April sales this year than in April 2014.

Instead, April 2015 auto sales grew by less than 5%, and the industry’s volume improved by around 64,000 units. Auto sales are healthy, but why weren’t they quite as healthy last month as anticipated?

There are hundreds of factors to consider, from Bob realizing that new patio furniture was more important than a new Ram EcoDiesel, to the decreased demand for certain aging models. But if one vehicle category needed to accept blame, it would be passenger cars. 

Car volume slid nearly 1.6%, according to the Automotive News Data Center, even as pickup truck sales jumped 8%, commercial vans shot up 12%, and SUV/crossover volume rose 15%. True, minivans are tumbling, but that’s not so much a reflection on the category as it is a symptom of FCA’s retooling of their Windsor plant. Setting aside the Town & Country and Grand Caravan, minivan sales were up 7% in April.

TTAC best-selling cars chart April 2015

But April’s car sales declines were sourced from all manner of automakers, from best sellers and worst sellers alike. Nine of America’s 15 best-selling cars (Camry, Accord, Fusion, Altima, Cruze, Focus, Sonata, Malibu, Optima) reported year-over-year sales declines in April 2015, including three of the top five and six of the top ten.

From the leading Toyota Camry’s 10% drop to the 14th-ranked Kia Optima’s 6% decrease, passenger car declines were pervasive in April, a period during which all of America’s 20 top-selling SUVs and crossovers posted notable year-over-year improvements.

Yet exceptions to the rule weren’t rare. The Camry’s closest challenger in April was not a fellow midsize car but rather a fellow Toyota. Sales of the second-ranked Corolla jumped 10%, a gain of nearly 3000 units compared with April 2014.

The third-ranked Honda Civic posted its first YOY increase since June of last year, a modest but meaningful 3% gain.

The Hyundai Elantra’s April increase was its second consecutive.

Chrysler 200 sales more than quadrupled to 18,850 units – April 2014 represents a period of transition for the 200 nameplate.

The Nissan Sentra joined the compact car improvements highlighted by the Corolla, Civic, and Elantra. Sentra sales have increased in 19 consecutive months.

Finally, the Ford Mustang’s 81.5% increase, a continuation of a topic we discussed last month, meant Ford’s lone two-door accounted for nearly one out of every five Blue Oval car sales last month.

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

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56 Comments on “April 2015’s 15 Best-Selling Cars In America – Not As “Best” As They Were A Year Ago...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t count the Mustang on this list. It’s not a “passenger car” or sedan, like the rest of the items on the list. A two door coupe nameplate with no sedan counterpart (like the Accord or the Altima) is never going to sell as well in today’s climate, so I think the small sales volumes are expected.

    If we’re doing standard brand coupes, then the BRZ should go on as well?

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Yeah, but you’d probably need to expand the list from Top 15 to Top 100 to see the BRZ show up.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s a good point. I guess I will just erase the Mustang off the list with my mind, and put the next actual sedan on the sales charts there. Probably the Avalon, or a Maxima or Cruze, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      They sold 494 BRZs in April. So, no.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Every time “Mustang” and “sedan” are used in the same sentence, I haz a sad.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Look, even though there’s no Mustang sedan or large RWD Lincoln on the XJ platform or Lincoln Mustang-based PLC, the world will go on!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          As a general rule, I miss the personal luxury coupe.

          We need Rivs, Monte Carlos, Thunderbirds, Marks, and the like back. Did Chrysler make a PLC before the currrent Challenger?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Here, I’ll help wiff relaxing beautiful pics.

            http://www.markviii.org/htdocs/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=12&topic_id=6263

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Chrysler’s PLCs were the Cordoba, the Dodge Mirada, and the 4th generation Dodge Charger.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Thanks CJ. I just remember Chrysler not having any big 2-door cars in the late 80s or 90s. GM and Ford kept that style going longer.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            We’ve forgot the early 80’s Imperial Coupe with optional Frank Sinatra Edition in the PLC list there.

            I think there were some LeBaron PLCs in the mix as well, but I’m not great at the timeline for the New Yorker/Imperial/LeBaron name.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Chrysler’s Monte Carlo competitors of that period were the Lebaron Coupe and Convertible from ’87-’95 followed by the ’95-2000 Sebring and Dodge Avenger.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            They were smaller than some of the larger Ford and GM models. The Lebaron was regretable at best and the Avenger was terrible. The W-body Monte Carlo felt like a much bigger vehicle and the Thunderbird has a wheelbase that was a foot longer than the Lebaron or Avenger/Sebring.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            I’m convinced large two-row crossovers are the new PLC.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            @dtremit: I’ve yet to see a crossover I thought was genuinely luxurious, nothing with four doors is a coupe, and there’s nothing personal about a vehicle designed to fit five people.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            There wasn’t much about PLCs that was remotely luxurious either, just fake; fake wire wheels, fake radiator shells, fake landau bars, fake convertible tops, fake wood dashboards, fake dash instruments, fake stitching, long hoods over engines that would get laughed out of a Focus or Accent today, and fake chrome that aged every time you washed your car.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      For these purposes, there are two basic vehicle types: “passenger cars” and “light trucks.”

      A Mustang is a passenger car. It certainly isn’t a light truck.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      A car is a car, and this list is for cars, not just sedans. I dont see how the number of doors should affect a vehicle’s showing. The numbers are in, and the Mustang claimed a spot on the list, like it or not. The BRZ didnt place because it didnt sell well enough. If it had, itd be there.

      Maybe we can deduct cars with steel wheels, since most decent cars today have alloys. Then we can deduct those with CVTs, since I dont like them. What else, lets see, how about cars with 18″ tires since theyre pretty expensive to replace.

      Pretty soon we’ll have a list we can all agree on, once everyone deducts the ones they dont like for whatever petty reason they can think of.

  • avatar
    pdl2dmtl

    “But if one vehicle category needed to accept blame, it would be passenger cars.”
    Not really – they will give you the silent treatment. They’re cars.

    Seriously though, some of the most important aspects for a car buyer are the ease of ingress-egress and the pseudo safety feeling that comes with a higher position relative to the road and other cars around. That is why CUV / SUV are hot nowadays.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      It doesn’t help that cars now have worse visibility than FS SUVs, or that many cars require one to duck to get into the cab. Manufacturers are squarely to blame for designing cars with more emphasis on nominal fuel gains than basic drivability. Screw Cafe, you won’t sell any cars to offset the CUVs in the end anyhow if it requires contortionists to fit into the cab.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Can’t ignore the fact that CUVs continue to become more car-like. Let’s face it, some them are basically slightly lifted wagons. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s no surprise “car” sales are down when there’s a new class of very-nearly-cars-but-we-won’t-call-them-cars expanding in the market.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        This. Like 3rd World hordes, the evil of CAFE will know no bounds and will spread to whichever segment is prospering. Already even pickups are getting ever lower rooflines and more raked A-pillars.

        The HR-V is just barely tall enough for me to desire but its height and accessibility vanish behind the B-pillar. The non-Trailhawk Renegade is lower than a Patriot and has a plastic cow-catcher like the humblest econoblob.

        In 10 years we simply won’t be allowed any vehicle taller than, say, 64″ except pickups which will be like today’s massive slabs but topped with a Camaro’s observation blister.

    • 0 avatar
      thenerdishere

      A significant number of Americans, on their way to their 4rth bariatric surgery, cannot fit into passenger cars.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      This is a confirmation of the discussion we had on the new Volt yesterday. Today’s coupe styling makes rear seat ingress/egress more difficult, and has less headroom. So you may as well either move up to a CUV, or get an actual coupe like a Mustang. And here are the numbers to prove it.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    If I read it correctly, the GM FS SUVs lost a large amount of sales last month.. .. Reasons?
    Other than my half way worn out complaint on the pricing..

    I know this article is for the cars, but it also states the SUVs/CUVs made gains, so this is a strang anomaly.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Tahoe, Yukon, and Suburban are down, but the Escalade is up big time.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Correct, they did decline. But that has more to do with April 2014’s high than the low of April 2015. The core GMC/Chevrolet quartet saw their market share slide, YOY, only from 79% to 77%. http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2015/05/usa-large-suv-sales-figures-april-2015-ytd.html

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Escalade went nuts though.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Oh hell, you weren’t joking, they more than doubled.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I think the ‘slade did just over 3000 units last month between the two versions. Once they bring the EXT back, they should do over 4000.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Edit, I’m wrong again, yup 3,200 units

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Wait, are they really bothering with another EXT? Are they doing an Avalanche mate as well?

            I feel like the time for ridiculous four door GM pickup SUV has passed. We have enough nice truck options now not to need them.

            The Ridgeline can go away too.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            GM just owns that market. I’d like to see a cheaper BoF SUV from GM, but they are making too much money on the big ones to listen.

            Corey-

            They are only doing an Escalade EXT successor as of now. No Avalache though. GM people say it will only take sales away from the more profitable Cadillac version as well as crew cab trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I’m 80% sure that was an April Fools joke from 2014, that somehow got put into the “really happenen” file.

            But it would actually make sense here, if Cadillac is truly an American luxury company, the EXT fits like a glove into their portfolio. As far as I’m aware the rumor was the Avalanche wasn’t coming back. The Avalanche and EXT are actually capable as trucks and SUVs unlike the Ridgeline minivan me too junk.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            Sounds like they are just throwing a fricking bone to the 933 dealers stuck with imitation BMWs nobody wants anywhere near sticker.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The dealers sure as hell want the EXT over the CT6. Which $70K Cadillac product do you think will sell better?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Hummer-

            You are right. The GM Authority article is from April 1st of last year. Damnit. I hate the internets.

            I read articles prior to that one, but nothing since then. I still think the average Caddy dealer would want an EXT of a CT6.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            3.6 CT6 might be a buy in three years, we’ll see what the ATPs are and can calculate a curve. Let’s hope it bombs, should become a $35K car real quick then.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I ready for a 2-3 year old Continental or CT6.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I see.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The Civics and Corollas of today are the Camrys and Accords of the 90s. It’s probably just a fluke but I think the decline of the “midsize” sedan is because people who need space get SUVs and people who don’t are OK with compact cars. A midsize sedan combines the worst of a compact sedan and an SUV.

  • avatar
    gasser

    The Civics and Corollas of today are bigger than my Accords of the 80s and 90s. We’ve left the Accord for the CRV. Accord is bleeding sales off both the smaller and larger ends of its size class. Here in L.A., Toyota keeps sales of Camry up with great leases which offer both lower drive offs and lower montly payments over similarly equipped Accords. I don’t debate the “Accord vs. Camry” value proposition; I only note the local pricing in April

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Toyota also dumps a lot of Camrys into rental fleets. Despite popular opinion, Honda does sell some Accords in fleets, but not nearly as much as Toyota, like a fraction as much IIRC.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Once again the Civic barely outsold the Accord but the Corolla just cannot quite match the Camry in sales, but I am sure it has taken its fair share of buyers away from its larger stablemate.

  • avatar
    raph

    I’m waiting to see how the 5th Gen Camaro 2.0 does when it goes on sale. I expect it to put a dent in Mustang sales but I’m curious how the derivative styling of the 6th Gen will do? IMO I don’t think GM rocked the boat enough where the 6th gen’s styling is concerned.

    Also of note, when the 5th Gen Camaro rolled out in the first two months it topped 10k a month in sales. The Mustang in its first two months has eclipsed that so it seems Ford has struck the right cord here with the new car.

    I recently purchased a 2015 GT and it’s a great car but as I like to point out to my Mustang buddies the new car is more BMW or Audi and less the musclecar they know. That died with the S-197 so we will see how things go.

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