By on August 1, 2016

2016 Mazda6, Image: Mazda USA

A decade ago, Americans could buy minivans from Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan, Pontiac, Saturn, and Toyota. In all, 14 brands fought for the attention of 1 million minivan buyers.

Zoom ahead to 2016 and the minivan market — unlike the Terraza and Uplander and Freestar and Entourage and Monterey and Montana and Relay — is not dead. Indeed, through the first six months of 2016 minivan volume is up 25 percent and this year is expected to be the best year of minivan sales since 2008. Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota — only six candidates spread across seven nameplates and five automakers — are each generating sufficiently healthy volume in a market that is roughly 40 percent smaller than it was a decade ago. Rather than more than a dozen nameplates each producing an average of 70,000 annual sales, the remaining players will attract an approximate average of 100,000 annual sales each.

TTAC believes it is the midsize sedan segment’s turn to revolutionize in the same manner. In fact, the revolution is already underway.

You’ve already heard that small crossovers are eating into the midsize car segment’s share of the market. Even as the overall auto market rebounded out of the recession, U.S. sales of intermediate sedans grew just 2 percent in 2013 as auto industry sales jumped 8 percent. One year later, midsize car volume grew just 1 percent as the industry jumped 6 percent. In 2015, a record year for the U.S. auto industry, midsize car volume slid 2 percent. Through the first-half of 2016, midsize car sales are down 7 percent; June was the fourth consecutive month of decline and the eighth month of decline in the last year.

U.S. midsize car sales chart

Midsize cars remain decidedly common new vehicle purchases. Over 1 million of these sedans were purchased or leased in the first-half of 2016. But as the decline of the category picks up speed, the number of candidates dropping out of contention increases, as well.

Long gone are the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, and Mercury Milan.

More recent departures include the Suzuki Kizashi and Mitsubishi Galant. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles euthanized the Dodge Avenger before introducing the new Chrysler 200.

We now know that production of the Chrysler 200, a former platform-mate of the aforementioned Avenger, will cease by year’s end. The 200 claimed 7.5 percent of the midsize category just last year. (Allegedly.)

If the decline of the minivan sector — itself related to the rise of the three-row utility vehicle — is anything to go by, then the decline of the midsize car sector, tied to the rise of the two-row family crossover, will soon pick up speed and cause others to flee.

Numerous automakers are poised for departure, in part because the six top-selling midsize cars have increased their share of the midsize car market from 75 percent in the first-half of 2015 to 82 percent this year, leaving scraps for lower-tier nameplates.

The Mazda6? Sales of the Mazda we love to drive but wouldn’t want to live with are down 27 percent in 2016’s first six months. Mazda is on track to sell fewer than 40,000 Mazda6s in 2016, down from 71,447 at its peak in 2005. Mazda already killed off a subcompact car, the Mazda2, in favour of the tiny Mazda CX-3 crossover. Might Mazda be willing to do the same with the Mazda6?

The Buick Regal? Treading water between entry-level premium players and core midsize sedans, sales of the Regal are half as strong now as they were when the nameplate launched, pre-Verano, in 2011. Moreover, Buick has already shown a willingness to kill more popular passenger cars in favour of a market that’s turning toward utility vehicles.

2016 Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Passat? Much as our own Jack Baruth thinks a hot Passat would do Volkswagen a favor, the current model has lost 40 percent of its U.S. volume since 2012. Further harmed by the damage Volkswagen has inflicted upon its own reputation by a diesel emissions scandal that restricted Passat sales by roughly a fifth, more Passat isn’t nearly as essential to Volkswagen’s future U.S. fortunes as the Chattanooga CrossBlue.

Subaru Legacy? While it stands out by being the only all-wheel-drive car in the segment, the Legacy sells just once for every 2.5 Outbacks. Yes, Americans prefer the wagon. By far.

If the market progresses on its current trend line, the Kia Optima could be on the bubble before long. Sales of the Kia Optima are on track to fall, sharply, to a five-year low in 2016 after rising to an all-time high in 2015. The Optima is by no means a low-volume player — it’s Kia’s top-selling model in the U.S. now. But Kia’s midsize market share is down to 5.5 percent from 6.7 percent a year ago, while sales of its platform-sharing corporate partner, the Hyundai Sonata, are up 9 percent this year.

The midsize car category is not dead, nor will it soon be. With the overwhelming majority, more than eight in ten, of the segment’s buyers choosing Camry, Altima, Accord, Fusion, Malibu, and Sonata, we can’t expect smaller automakers to continue to invest in a fight over a shrinking pie. They won’t all escape at once, and it won’t be immediate, but don’t think for a second the Chrysler 200 is the last to leave the arena.

[Images: Mazda USA, © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars, © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]

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 and on Facebook.

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131 Comments on “Midsize Sedan Deathwatch #1: One Only Needs to Examine the Minivan Segment for Guidance...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’d be interested in seeing a historical pie chart showing the midsize market in 2006 as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      And I’d like to see side-by-side columns of price-peer sedan/SUVs like the Optima/Sorento for the teeter-totter effect.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This made me think about what Kias looked like in 2006. In a word – desperate.

        http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-global/dims3/GLOB/thumbnail/700×525/quality/85/http://o.aolcdn.com/commerce/aolautos/evx/st0640/MY2005/2875/2875_st0640_089.jpg

        http://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/KIASorento-3390_2.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          OMG! That Sorento!

          What’s Korean for “kawaii!” ?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “kyoop-da”

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Is the “-da” a grammar particle meaning “is” or just part of the adjective?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The “da” part is just the end of the word. It should be a smooth pronunciation of the three syllables, but they make it two when they say it out loud.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Give me that first gen BOF Sorento over the current belly-dragger “I swear it’s not a minivan” variant any day of the week! You could even get the burly V6 and 4wd paired with a 5spd manual. Solid rigs overall, just not well studied by enthusiasts or the aftermarket here in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, I knew that gtem opinion was coming.

            The look of those Sorentos weren’t great to begin with, but then I saw them for a whole year. Every day. With extreme festoonery in S. Korea.

            http://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/server4900/p8shuktn/products/58729/images/43119/cs1018g__74540.1378606236.480.480.jpg?c=2

            http://images.paultan.org/uploads/2006/07/tomato_sorento_6.jpg

            http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/Mzk4WDUwMA==/z/AbwAAOxyOlhS-sOw/$_3.JPG?set_id=2

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @gtemnykh,

            I recall that the Sorento BOF 4×4 was received well by the off-road enthusiast press. I think it was “4-Wheel and Off Road” that called it a “budget Grand Cherokee off road.”

          • 0 avatar

            That gen sorrento is the last Koren SUV I actually like.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            @gtemnykh,

            I agree, make mine with the silver steelies as well.

            For the longest time, I thought they were car based until I discovered they were BOF like the pre-Hyundai Sportage and the Borrego, two other Kias I like. Then I found a manual 4wd with the steelies and I was hooked. The styling screamed “me-too car-based crossover”, but all along, it was hiding a real truck.

            I’d still rather have the smaller Sportage with the Mazda 2.0L (and other donated stuff) with a manual and 4wd, but the first-gen Sorrento is now on my radar where I had ignored it before.

            I had a 1994 Kia Sephia LS automatic.
            Despite that, I’d take any one of Kia’s BOF SUVs over anything they have out now (in the US, but of course the Borrego lives on in the lands of US-forbidden BOF mainstream SUVs like the newer Ford Everest [should be our Explorer] and newer Chevy TrailBlazer, etc).

            I always thought Mazda should have built a version of the first gen Sportage. Imagine the sales and desirability if it had been built with Mazda-level quality and sold with its name and reputation in the early-mid 1990s. Instead, they designed the first Escape for Ford, based on the 626.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            1st gen Sportage is derided and made fun of, but I’d say unfairly. I love’em, I wouldn’t mind one as a woods-beater/cabin truck with some kind of cheapo lift and some mud terrain tires. They’ve got that leighweight billy-goat advantage over heavier and more serious 4x4s.

            I hear you on the base model steel wheels variant of the Sorento, with white paint, it looks downright UN-like. I also like the final Xterra “X” with steelies.

            Speaking of oddball compact BOF vehicles, here’s a real mind bender you’d appreciate:

            When I was in Siberia this past summer, among the plethora of old Suzuki Escudos (1st gen Tracker/Sidekicks) I noticed one in particular that had some “Nomade” graphics on it and perhaps even more interestingly another one had a V6 badge! The Nomade as it turns out is a Chile-procuded Escudo, how it ended up in Siberia is anyone’s guess. In regards to the V6 badging, my brother has an ’03 Grand Vitara XL7 in the states with a 2.7L V6 but I had never heard of the gen 1s have anything aside from I4s. Turns out crazy old Suzuki built a 2.0L V6 for these gen 1s in the final few years of production. That’s what I love about visiting there. Here in the US I’m a big enough car nerd to never really be surprised by even some of the most rare and off-beat oddball vehicles. When I get to Russia I can barely keep up! Having unrestricted grey market imports for the better part of two decades will do that!

          • 0 avatar

            In 99 I was working as a mechanic refurbishing trade in’s for a medium sized dealer group that included a KIA point (right down the street from the warehouse I worked in) We got a quite a few first gen Sportage’s as trades. I don’t remember many mechanical issues but all the trim was falling apart and many accessories would not work, one the with 45k miles on it had the door handle fall out when I tried to open the door. I have met people that wheel them and apparently the basic drive train is pretty good. I know a family that had one up until last year as well as the Dad’s daily driver (friend of my son) he had close to 200k miles on it when he got rid of it for a used optima.

          • 0 avatar

            You could get a first Gen Sorento with a manual. A few years ago I was trolling ebay and I saw Sorento listed nearby with a manual. Thinking it must be the classic dealer slip up I pulled up the pics and low and behold an actual third pedal.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The first-gen Sorrento may have been useful off-road, but it was a complete turd on-road. I remember getting one as a rental and thinking it was the worst thing I had driven since the ’80s. The only thing I’ve driven since that came close to being as bad was one of the very last Jeep Liberties.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Bingo.

        I’d wager there are a fair number of midsize cars that owe their existence to the fact that their platform is shared with a CUV.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          That makes them cheap enough to sell in modest numbers, but they’re competing against “4-door coupes”, and that’s what’s really killing the mid-size market. Only the CUV models have the back seats for stuffing the kids and grandparents in the back seat. Heck, grandparents can’t even get INTO the back seat of many cars, including some full-size models.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        There isn’t much of a swing actually.

        In 2006 the Sorento outsold the Optima by 12K units. From 2003-2009 the Optima only outsold the Sorento by around 8k units *in total*.

        In 2010 the Sorento outsold the Optima by 81K units. The Optima’s biggest sales gain over the Sorento actually came from 2012-2015 where it averaged 45K more sales than the CUV.

        Even if Optima sales drop to a 5-year low in 2016, it will still be the 5th best year *ever* for the Optima. Although this year is on pace to be the best ever for the Sorento too.

        Kia shouldn’t ignore the market trend, but it’s premature to think the Optima will be dead in 10 years.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Well, when you put it like that…

          Nahh I don’t think its dead anyway, it shares a platform with a top(ish) seller and it does okay.

          We are just seeing the weaker players drop out, and that does include the 200, even though its not the worst looking by far.

          Besides, Kia has a full lineup, even a minivan, they wouldn’t leave themselves without a step up from the Forte. Chrysler and Dodge are missing some key players already. Nobody has or will miss their absence.

          Mitsubishi too, although I suspect they will try to field another midsize sedan in the US, based on some Renault/Nissan/Renault-Samsung/etc parts bin fodder. They just need to finish their tie up to the Alliance and then something will emerge. The new Renault-Samsung cars aren’t bad looking, like, at all. I looked them (2016s) up the other day when thinking about this very subject (Mitsubishi+the Alliance) and I was surprised. They look better than most Nissans, but unlike most, I kinda like the new Maxima front end. I just wish it was attached to a RWD coupe with an Inline 6. Call it the Datsun 810 and I’m sold. Seriously, I do see 1970s-era Datsun in that front end. Maybe that’s why I like it. It doesn’t look like the 810 or any particular Datsun, just reminiscent of their rather busy styling on stuff like the B-210/Sunny and 710/Violet.

          Back to rebadged Koreans-

          Suzuki struck out because it used half-baked Daewoos, before GM gave them what they needed to design decent cars like the Sonic and Cruze. A Suzuki-badged Cruze would probably do well if they were still here.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Part of the reason for lower Optima sales is that Kia cut back production of the Optima in favor of the Sorento (and Santa Fe Sport, which it builds for Hyundai) at its GA plant – along with a work slow-down (and now strike) at its plants in Korea.

          Also, despite slower hybrid sales due to cheaper gas, the change-over to the new Optima hybrid has also impacted sales.

          For the 1st 6 months of 2013, Kia sold 6,431 of the Optima hybrid.

          For the same time period this year, only 2,827 have been sold as the new hybrid model has yet to launch.

          As for the Sorento, disagree that it looks like a minivan; the Sorento looks like a crossover (one of the better looking ones).

          That’s unlike the wagon-looking crossovers like the departed Venza or the new Pilot.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            No the redesigned Sorento in 2016 looks almost exactly like Kia’s own Sedona from the front/front 1/4 view. The prior ones I agree are just generic, mildly handsome crossovers.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Other way around.

            While the Sorento has a vague resemblance to the Sedona up front due to both having a large, upright grill – that’s the hallmark of a more truck-ish looking crossover (as opposed to a more station-wagon looking crossover) and why the Sedona was heralded as the minivan that didn’t look like a minivan (and more like a crossover).

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    With reliable S/CUVs now plethoric on the used market even poor people can throw off the cramped, crouchy and incapacitous suffering-holes that are midsized and compact sedans.

    More affluent folks simply had that choice earlier, hence the sedan deathwatch.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I have mixed feelings about the consolidation of the market. A lot of those cars really did need to go. Hell even the Mazda6 is made redundant by the Accord Sport in my opinion. And CUVs have made the AWD in the Legacy meaningless, which along with its significantly downgraded looks rendered it redundant in the market as well.

    Still though I can’t help to wonder how much stronger the market would be if there were a bigger selection of strong entries. Though I guess if people are buying Altimas by the boatload what I perceive as quality is not what people buying these cars do.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Every time I see a market breakdown that shows the Altima – or, let’s be honest, any Nissan product – as one of the volume sellers, I look like the Crying Indian from the old Keep American Beautiful commercial.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        There are things that are beyond our comprehension, it seems.

        The real bummer is Nissan used to make cars for folks like us. I had several stickshift Maximas and a 350Z, and my buddies had a range of V6 Altimas, G35s and Maximas. There’s nothing in the lineup today I would buy new.

        Nissan understands its market though. My little brother in law has a Versa Note and it’s a perfect car for him. Roomy, economical, loaded with the right features and most importantly DIRT CHEAP to own and operate. Nissan has good dealership coverage as well. Really hard to argue with.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The Accord Sport hardly makes the 6 redundant. The Accord Sport is a poverty-grade Accord with big wheels and dual exhaust, and that’s it. The 6 can be optioned out to entry level luxury standards. For a lot more money, of course.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The Sport doodads should have been made a dealer option across the range. Want a sunroof, decent stereo, keyless ignition? No-can-do, unless you step up to the Touring, which gets you the dubs and ground-effects, plus HondaSensing, rain-sensitive wipers, and all the other bits. You can get the EX with 18″ wheels as an accessory, but no flappy paddles, dual exhaust, nor sway bar.

        Hopefully Honda expands the Sport package (and doesn’t kill the V6) come 2018.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Nobody wants a station wagon but everybody wants a crossover UV.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Station wagons are crappy low things, especially as styled today. UVs are subject to the same degradation from CAFE and styling but will resist for a few years yet.

      Ultimately, everything with an ICE will be recumbent and driven via video.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      @indi500fan,

      I’m a massive station wagon fan and have owned b-body wagons. Now I own a pickup truck and CUV. Why? Modern wagons are not very utilitarian. I really wanted to like the Dodge Magnum, but it just didn’t have much room. The high beltline and low roof design of modern cars makes for station wagons with very little room. A CUV built on the same platform has more room. Most CUVs ride/handle/accelerate beyond the expectations of the average consumer so that isn’t an issue. For 95% of people the CUV option is a no-brainer; they get more space/utility than a wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        At the same time, the majority of buyers switching to crossovers end up going down a size-segment.

        So – Accord to CR-V (and not the Pilot).

        Civic to HR-V (and not the CR-V).

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “the majority of buyers switching to crossovers end up going down a size-segment”

          Not sure how you could possibly know this (“majority”) but as long as they end up with a taller and more capacious interior in the same price range, so what? Mission accomplished.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        For lots of people in NW Ohio, considering how often I’m stuck behind some twit doing 45mph whilst entering a freeway moving at 70+, acceleration ISN’T a consideration, period!

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think that Subaru dropping the Legacy would be stupid.

    The Outback has always outsold the Legacy by about 2.5:1, Legacy sales have been *increasing* for the past few years despite the car getting uglier and slower, it is likely almost all retail sales, and it shares tons with the Outback anyway.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d be interested in seeing that graph with fleet sales filtered out.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    As for the minivan market, the shrinkage of the market weeded out the crapwagons – the awful GM minivans and the Ford Windstar along with its horrid progeny.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I’m not sold on the minivan comparison, either. Minivans will always exist so long as people with a little money reproduce; they are the best available option.

      Sedans are no longer the best available option for max possible comfort and utility in lesser seating arrangements, new or used.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        “Sedans are no longer the best available option for max possible comfort and utility in lesser seating arrangements, new or used.”

        I think it really depends. I remember that, back in the 1980s, the hatchback fell out of favor and sedans with actual trunks became more popular. I recently went from a wagon to a sedan (I’ve gone back and forth on this a few times in the last 20 years) and, while there is some loss of utility, the sedan is more comfortable and quiet and the security of have a hidden place for things is a very useful thing.

        When I rent cars (which I do about 8-10 times per year), I prefer sedans because there is always that time when you need to park with all your stuff and rental CUVs, generally, don’t have the privacy shade. This makes me very uncomfortable.

        Don’t worry, sedans will come back into favor. Eventually.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          One of these days, customers will figure out they didn’t actually like a normal seating position or being able to get in and out of the vehicle easily. They’ll give up their high-roof wagons for low-roof wagons that aren’t even sold here, or for low-roof sedans with a good-sized trunk but no way to get stuff into it. Yep, CUVs have been around for 20 years, but they’re just a fad–any day now, it’ll happen!

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            Because tall vehicles didn’t go out of fashion once already in the 1950s?

            At some point people will want low, sleek cars again once someone makes it cool.

          • 0 avatar

            Well were on 20 years of CUV. And really the trend started with the XJ Cherokee and Explorer, those buyers just didn’t have CUV options yet. So really we have a 30 some odd hear trend of increased ride height wagonesque AWD capable vehicles. At this point it’s not a fad by any stretch it’s more a long term trend. It may change but not anytime soon.

        • 0 avatar
          cornellier

          Car-buying decisions heavily influenced by fear of crime, according to bunkie. An interesting point.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    As a Mazda 5 owner and a Honda Odyssey lessor, the minivan is winner for me. Just went to the Outer Banks with the Honda. Room for everything we deem necessary for vacation and no roof box or trailer hitch rack. 23 mpg overall, with the hills of the PA Turnpike and the dimwitted Honda transmission programming reducing it from the flatlands 25mpg average.

    Maybe as the kids grow, I could make a case for a wagon. But since wagons are not shaped like a Volvo 240, Country Squire (save for the Flex) or even my 04 Jetta Wagon anymore, the usable space and utility are reduced.

    The Oddys lease is up in May next year. The family device will be another minivan from someone and all are up for contention in my book. The Honda’s transmission programming is very annoying to me. The last Toyota Sienna I was in (2015 redo) was nice and the new Pacifica seems much better than the old one. Even the Kia and Mercedes Metris are not out of the running. It’ll be another lease, so I’m not concerned with longevity, I just want something different.

    BUT… there is a case to be made for full-size or mid-size truck. We went with friends to the beach and to give my wife more time to chat with her friend, I rode shotgun most of the way home in a 2014 Silverado Crew Cab 4×4 Z71. Besides GM’s crappy seats, it was every bit as quiet and comfortable as the Odyssey. With the cylinder deactivation and my friend at the wheel (who’s foot is not like mine in leadedness) it was showing 25mpg in the flatlands. With his 14 y/o daughter and 20 y/o son in the back, it had plenty of room.

    But a Silverado (or F150, Ram) it won’t fit in my garage and it’s still really long vehicle to deal with as a daily. Plus, the city mileage won’t be 20mpg, but the Odyssey struggles to reach 17 mpg most of the time anyway. I can’t believe how far trucks have come. Of course, that Silverado was probably every bit of 45k sticker, a full 10k over the Odysseys sticker. Even with cash and other incentives, the minivan is cheaper and better for all around use.

    No more sedans here, unless it’s something interesting, like the Chevy SS that has my attention when the Cruze lease is done. And if the Sonic had leased like the Cruze, I’d have it instead.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Being able to drive out onto the beach and find a spot away from the crowds made the 20mpg average on my 4Runner worth every penny when I went to the OBX two years ago. I’m planning on returning and renting a beach house in the Corolla beach area (fitting for a Toyota guy, no?), these are 4×4 access only rentals. In this admittedly one-off scenario, not only would a minivan be the wrong tool for the job, but I reckon most crossovers with lame-duck AWD systems would struggle as well (especially if they didn’t air tires down!)

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        The locals insist its Cor-rah-la, but I can’t bring myself to pronounce that word like that. But I get your point and if I vacationed in Corolla or camped, towed,etc. I could make a justification for a real SUV or truck. But right now, we rarely leave paved road and snow tires help through the winter.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Because of the recent airbag recalls for the 2 cars in our garage, we’ve rented a poverty spec Caravan, a loaded Caravan, a Fusion and a Ford Transit Connect over the last 3 months. Switched out cars due to vacation planning an not needing to pay to park a rental.

      Far and away the best vehicle of the bunch has been the Transit Connect. If I was in the market for such a vehicle, I can’t imagine buying a minivan instead. It drives MUCH better than the minivans I’ve had a chance to drive (aforementioned FCA products and the Kia minivan).

      It’s given me respect for the work Ford has done on that Focus platform, and makes me want to take an ST out for a spin just to see what’s up.

      If Ford threw one of it’s Ecoboost engines in the TC, that would fix the biggest issue with the TC – it’s sole engine is lava flow slow.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        We loved our 5, but too much compromise on space and comfort once the babies got bigger. The Oddy is not as much fun as the 5, but does way better at being a conveyance of people AND things. The 5 and Transit Connect are spiritual cousins and I think if Mazda could have put the diesel in the 5 ( or Ford in the TC) it might have found more love. I agree, more interesting power plants would help the TC. Transit Connect RS anyone?

        • 0 avatar
          Paragon

          Ooooh, you said diesel and got my attention. If only it now wasn’t so costly for automakers to offer diesel as an option in more vehicles. Seems like Europeans good all the good stuff.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Are full size sedan sales experiencing a small renaissance?

    I get the feeling that for the automakers who are putting real effort into full size sedan offerings (like the Impala and LaCrosse) are seeing a boost in retail sales compared to their slightly lackluster previous efforts. If I had to make a conjecture I’d wager that a few of the better full sizers might be stealing some sales from their midsize brethren with the hardcore sedan crowd.

    I know I’d take an Avalon over a Camry, an Impala over a Malibu, and a 300 over a 200.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Are full size sedan sales experiencing a small renaissance?”

      The segment is up about 2.5% this year. However, it is still fleet-heavy and most individual nameplates are down. Two brightest spots are the Maxima is selling over 100% better than in 2015 and the 300 is up 25% (but I don’t know how much of that is fleet)

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      I agree; I with the LaCrosse was an RWD car though. It would really help differentiate it and give the 300 actual competition.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I just don’t see the point of sedans, if you want sexy buy a coupe if you need room for 4-5 people then a wagon is better. The reason that CUv’s sell is they cost the same as a wagon and yet are more practical and give a higher vantage point. Look at an X1 or X3 compared to a 328i wagon, more room less cost.

    I’d love a new Dodge Magnum or Chevy Nomad with a big v-8 or TT v-6 but they just won’t sell here. I would have bought a used CTS-V wagon but they don’t depreciate.

    I’ll be getting a family vehicle in a couple of years and I have no issue with getting a mini-van, if it’s not going to be a sports car what does it matter, I’ve already given up on performance and handling so it may as well be comfortable and tech or luxuriously appointed.

    Test drove the Pacifica Limited over the weekend; very nice vehicle, salesman was clueless of course.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Perhaps the trend toward coupe styling (with the resulting loss of headroom and visibility) is partly to blame for the contraction of the market. Ironic, since I think the coupe styling was intended to boost sales.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I just don’t see the point of sedans”

      I like traditional sedans becuase they look more official. Modern coupe styling pulls a little too hard to the sports car realm for my tastes. I could go for a 2-door if they brought back a more formal design.

      I’ll take the bus before I buy a pickup and I think 90% of wagons, CUVs, and minivans look dorky. Plus, I have no need for the utility anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      I know everyone has preferences, but there’s no reason you have to drive a CUV if you have a family. You can fit two adults and two car seats in a midsize sedan quite easily. Most of them have enough trunk room for a couple of suitcases and plenty of space to spare. I think that people tend to forget that before the minivan, families had no option but the sedan.

      But then today’s sedans look and perform so much better than anything that we had “back in the day”. And most sedans have V6 or turbo options, along with handling that ranges from “competent” to “sporty”. Sure, practically none of them will outperform a modern sports car (though the new Fusion Sport and similar cars will make it close) but most of them can perform on par with sports cars from 10-15 years ago. That makes it hard to claim that you have to give up on performance and handling.

      Any case purchase is a compromise. It’s just a question of what you’re willing to compromise on. For a lot of us, however, the sedan hits a sweet spot between capacity and performance.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        You may be able to fit all that in a sedan, but all the cargo space in the world is moot if the trunklid is a mail slot and you can’t get into the back seat without hitting your head.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        @notwhoithink,

        False. You cannot fit two rear facing convertible car seats in the vast majority of sedans unless the driver is like 4’10” or doesn’t mind sitting on top of the wheel. I attempted this in a Sonata, Malibu, Camry, Volt, and Town Car. Only in the Lincoln could I make it work. In most midsize CUVs this is pretty easily done. If you have a 2 1/2 yr old and a newborn you have two rear facing seats.

        Today’s sedans sacrifice room and visibility for style and fuel efficiency. I find it much easier to see out of my gargantuan Silverado then I did out of a rental Sonata. High beltlines that rise quickly to the rear of the vehicle are to blame. The low roof and aerodynamic profile cutoff headroom in the rear and make the trunk opening a tiny difficult to use mail slot. I will happily accept that in a Camaro or BRZ; but not in a family sedan. An Avalon or Impala may have similar “fill the car/room with jello” room as a Crown Vic; but the space in the Crown Vic was far more usable.

        Also if you buy a Charger Hellcat it will haul the family AND outperform modern sports cars :)

        IMO the biggest compromise in modern sedans is a transverse engine. Were I to own a sedan my list would consist of the Chevy SS and Dodge Charger R/T for that reason alone. I’ve found FWD (or transverse AWD) to be unpleasant in every vehicle I’ve driven it.

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          @Frylock350:

          It’s very easy to shoot down claims that I never made. I never said “two rear-facing child seats” would fit in every sedan. I said “two child seats”. Nonetheless, I am 6’1″ and have two rear-facing child seats in my Jetta TDI. If I can fit them in my COMPACT sedan, then I have to believe that they could reasonably fit in most MIDSIZE sedans as well. And I’ve never had any issues getting luggage into the trunk, either. Maybe if you’re trying to haul 4×8 sheets of plywood you’d have an issue, but I’ve never run into anything that I needed to transport in my car that didn’t fit.

          And if you have a 2.5 year old and a newborn, your 2.5 year old is going to most likely go front facing in a month or two. I wouldn’t suggest making a purchase that will last you the next 5-7 years based on your needs for the next 3 months.

          • 0 avatar

            I run into limits on sedan hauling alot when I had a Contour and recently with a loaner Dart. One common problem is changing the car for adults. Two big rear facing car seats will not fit in the trunk of a Dart, and one big honking car seat will not fit in the back of a contour with a stroller already in there. Never had that problem with my wagons or SUV’s.

        • 0 avatar

          If you want fun to drive boat hauling potential and real cargo room in one package you can get an X5m (and maybe outlap an M2 for a lap or two)Now someone just needs to make a mass market version for the Proletariat (SRT6 Journey FTW).

          • 0 avatar
            Paragon

            Man, I really like the idea of an SRT/6 Journey. Oh, yeah! I’d actually be OK with a high-powered SRT/4 Journey, you know, maybe twin turbo powered. Were not FCA a bit cash-strapped, you’d think they could have come out with something like that already.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “False. You cannot fit two rear facing convertible car seats in the vast majority of sedans unless the driver is like 4’10” ”

          You either set your driver seat up in the gangster lean or you are buying the wrong car seats, because this statement makes no sense to me. I’m 6 feet tall and we bought a 2012 Altima that was dinged by car reviewers for having a smaller backseat than the class leaders, and I had no trouble getting two rear facing convertible seats back there. Didn’t even have to alter my driving position to do it. I’m not a fan of the rising beltline and mailslot trunk opening either, but there are a number of sedans out there that haven’t caved to this yet.

        • 0 avatar
          Paragon

          Frylock, thank you for bringing up the Dodge Charger “Hellcat.” I find it more than a bit pricey for most of us average car buyers and offering an insane amount of horsepower for public roads/highways, yet am very glad it is available. Actually, a current model Charger is my main consideration for my next car. Have read many reviews on many sites, and virtually all owners positively rave about their beloved Chargers. Seems to be a really outstanding car no matter whether powered by a 300-hp Pentastar 6cyl or a Hemi V-8. A performance-oriented family sedan just rings all the bells for me. The rarely seen Chevrolet SS would also be a really awesome ride, too. Only difference is it doesn’t eschew a macho, muscle-car vibe like the Charger does.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve_S

        I have two kids and I’ve had them in a wagon, hatch, 2-row CUV and mini-van. Mini-van by far is the best and here are the reasons why (this is just the kid part):

        Full-size two kid stroller, pack-n-play, diaper bag and associated toys and paraphernalia.

        Kids have gotten older so now its Soccer balls and baseball/softball gear, 3-4 folding chairs and a couple of their teammates.

        Each kid has their own row on opposites sides of the car so I don’t have to threaten to “turn this car around”…

        While you can get by to a degree with a sedan if you are getting a family vehicle then get one. That’s not saying if you already own a large utility or mini-van that you need a second. Sure then a sedan or whatever else will do but it’s your commuter or fun car.

        A mini-van lets me carry anything, sheet goods for that remodel or home project? You betcha! Going on vacation and need to bring food, coolers, and full camping gear for 5? No problem. Going to a MLB or NFL game with 4 of your buds? One parking fee and let the tailgate begin.

        While it may not be cool or hip it’s the one size fits all of a family’s needs and it should get more love.

        I tried to get my wife to buy anything except her van and I’m glad she kept to her guns and its been 10 years and 135k miles so far.

        The only time I’d say get a big SUV is if you tow horses or large recreational trailer, boat or similar, then you need a big ute.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        I can’t speak for anybody else, but for those of us who are becoming (somewhat) more mature, the sedan CONTINUES to be the practical everyday vehicle it’s always been. Some of us are not easily swayed by the latest fads, trends or the “latest and greatest” thing. If I really needed more space and utility, I’d probably get a minivan, which has evolved and only gotten better in the past 30+ years. I might even look at or consider a crossover or SUV, if really needed for some reason. But some of us simply aren’t into change simply for the sake of change. Sometimes, as you get older, you already know what you like and don’t like and are somewhat more resistive to the idea of change. I acknowledge the alleged benefits of a taller vehicle, yet prefer a lower center of gravity vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Crossovers only cost the same (and get similar gas mileage) if one goes down a size segment.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I just don’t see the point of sedans, if you want sexy buy a coupe if you need room for 4-5 people then a wagon is better.”

      How is a wagon better than a sedan for hauling people? I haul 3 people pretty regularly, but almost rarely fill the trunk up. Wagons don’t make the people space bigger, only the cargo space, so unless you need the cargo space a wagon isn’t any better than a sedan.

      But this is from the guy who just took a three-day road trip for a wedding (2 formal nights) with his wife in the S2000, so maybe I’m a lighter packer than most.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve_S

        That’s one of my points the performance of a sedan to a wagon is basically the same, the seating capacity is the same the sedan has less cargo capacity so whats the point of it?

        This is age or wisdom speaking. When I was younger it was two seaters and coupes as well, why did I want or need practicality?! Hell i went to the beach on a CBR600.

        Give it 10 or more years…

      • 0 avatar

        Some wagons have more headroom than the equivalent sedan.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I find coupe doors are too long and heavy, until you get down into subcompact/supermini sizes. Sedan doors tend to be about right.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      How do you feel about the doors on the Renault Avantime, which operated like sedan sized doors due to their special hinge?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Heck if I know. 3rd gen Soarer/Lexus SC also had some fancy articulated hinges to keep the door from kicking straight out. My gripe is more toward the weight end of things.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I know in the old times GM needed to spend some more money on the hinges for their coupes, as the sedan ones they used couldn’t handle all that weight very well.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            I had an 81 Regal and 84 Eldorado. Those doors were awful. Having to lift up while closing the door was no fun when the hinges really sagged. I know the GM guys have defended these doors on TTAC before as being an “easy fix” But still, sitting in the last year of Eldorado in 02 or 03 at an auto show, those doors were still huge, heavy and sounded and felt awful when being closed with the windows down. My 84 Eldorado was 14 years old, $3500 and 80k when it was mine, so it was expected. But not in a 50k car that was brand new.

            My 95 Cougar was so much better. Not quite as well done as the Lexus SC, but not as awful as GM’s coupes. And GM wondered why they lost buyers. Even my last experience with the Monte Carlo around 2000 was better, but still not as good as Ford or Lexus.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “I know the GM guys have defended these doors on TTAC before as being an “easy fix””

            That’s correct. You need regular “hinge maintenance,” according to them. Like that’s some standard procedure.

            That is some Land Rover level apologetics right there.

          • 0 avatar

            Ford doors were no better. I had a 1980 Mercury Cougar XR7 and the (sedan framed) doors started to sag at about 10 years. These doors weren’t even as heavy as the doors for some of the ’70s tanks.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Kia won’t dump the Optima because Hyundai and Kia want to pretend that they are quasi-independent companies that are both obliged to compete against each other in the same segments. This is a political-cultural thing that is tied to their separate origins and that does not make much business sense, but they will continue to operate that way for the foreseeable future.

    GM wants to amortize its Opel unit and it’s stuck with providing product for Buick dealers, so the Regal or some kind of Buick sedan will probably soldier on in some form or another.

    Mazda should be on the endangered species list, anyway. It’s a good candidate for bailing out of the segment; it needs to ration its choices.

    Subaru is a good candidate for bailing out, since it can just focus on selling crossovers.

    VW is difficult to predict. I’m willing to bet that the Passat stays in the lineup, regardless of how things go, as VW has already committed a great deal of effort to it and won’t give up easily.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Kia won’t dump the Optima b/c it’s doing fine despite the environment for midsize sedan sales.

      And the dual-strategy does make sense as they attract different buyers (an Optima buyer won’t necessarily end up with a Sonata if the Optima disappears).

      Going forward, there will be even more differentiation when it comes to powertrains, how they handle/drive, etc.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    Speaking of minivans: “Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota — only six candidates spread across seven nameplates and five automakers …”

    Uh, Ford Transit Connect?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t think that really counts. That’s a cargo van which might be equipped with seats. These other options are vans with seats that you might remove occasionally to make a more cargo-like interior.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Plus Ford doesn’t even break out the wagon sales from regular Transit Connect numbers.

        The big Transit’s shortest version just over a foot longer than the Odyssey. Can we can call the wagon version a minivan too? No? :(

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      That’s a mini-van, which is different than a minivan. “Minivan” descripes the segment, not necessarily the size. When minivans first came out, they were about the size of a mid-size car, but were called “mini” in relation to their porcine BOF RWD predecessors. Now minivans are more-or-less full-sized (78″ wide with a 120″ WB or longer), but they still keep the name “minivan” because just “van” is already taken. So “minivan” means a large FWD family hauler with sliding doors.

      The Transit Connect, along with the Ram ProMaster City and Nissan NV200/Chevy City Express, is a mini-van (emphasis on the dash). Based on a compact FWD car platform, but meant for cargo first and passengers second.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Trucks have become the modern “car” for my generation.

    Flat broke? Parents hand me down 90s Explorer/Grand Cherokee/ Lumina LTZ.

    Entry level professional? Smaller car such as a Civic/Corolla, or if they stretch the money a new CUV. This will be the last stage of younger folks owning a traditional car. Some folks play outlier and buy EVs at this point.

    From here on out in the mainstream its bigger SUVs and CUVs,or maybe a loaded Lariat type F-150. If someone owns a sedan at this point, they’re probably single and its German, or a family man with a Camcord or Impalabu.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My 28yo co-worked went from a 2.4L Dodge Dart lease to a Chrysler 200S purchase. He obviously missed the CUV bandwagon. And loves a rapidly depreciating car.

    Not sure why he has the Chrysler love but hey, different strokes…

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      Well, as the saying goes, for some people it’s: Mopar Or No Car! The annual Mopar Nationals to be held at National Trail Raceway in the Columbus, Ohio area August 12-14, for those who might be interested. And, seriously, even non-Mopar folks often come and check-out the action. I can talk about it because I live in the area and have attended many times. You get to see all different vintages of old Mopars, but it is typically centered around the old musclecar-era cars.

  • avatar
    Grenade

    “Subaru Legacy? While it stands out by being the only all-wheel-drive car in the segment, the Legacy sells just once for every 2.5 Outbacks. Yes, Americans prefer the wagon. By far.”

    The Fusion is available AWD.

    I just did the opposite of this article. I had a crossover (08 Santa Fe) and went to a G37 sedan. Why? I fell asleep every time I drove the SF, and I found a low mileage 2012 G37 Sport with a 6 speed manual. I could not be happier.

    I lost my Class 2 tow hitch and AWD that the SF had, but I rarely used those items.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Subaru already killed off half the Legacy when they axed the non-Outback wagon. I don’t want no stinkin’ Crosstrek, and I really don’t want no stinkin’ jacked up wagon; just make one more replacement in five years time for my LGT wagon.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    And what exactly is Mazda suppose to replace the 6 with anyway.THe CX9 is too big to be considered by some a replacement for it and the CX5 too small. They dont have a Murano/Edge size vehicle.
    IMO and bias.lol.
    The 6 is not going anywhere.

  • avatar
    Prado

    As long as typical midsize sedans continue to evolve, I do not see this class of vehicles going away anytime soon. Huge gains have been made stylistically over the past decade in many of these cars, with ‘coupe like’ profiles becoming more the norm. I absolutely love the way my Fusion looks. However there are still opportunities for increased functionality that no one is really embracing yet at the mainstream level. As another poster pointed out, the 5 door sedan has a lot of potential to fulfill both the styling AND functional demands of today’s consumer. Luxury makers like Tesla seem to embrace this with success. The BMW 4 series ‘sedan’ is another well executed 5 door. Hopefully the mainstream manufactures will get on board with this soon. It is an untapped market and in my opinion, the future of the sedan.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Maybe I’m getting a bit old, but there is *something* about a sedan that just isn’t there in CUVs.

    And what I mean by that is as much as I love, say, the BMW X5….to roll around in a 5 series or 7 series, there is a presence on the road of a sedan that just can’t be captured in the shape of the X5. The sedan just ends up looking classier and more expensive, feels more special behind the wheel, for whatever reason. Probably like how old guys from the 60’s or 70’s still wish they could roll around in personal luxury coupes :P

    Maybe it doesn’t apply in the Honda/Nissan/Toyota/Mazda/Ford arena…

    Plus there is something highly annoying about cruising on the freeway in a CUV getting 23-24mpg knowing that you could be in a Camry or Accord, with the same engine, pulling low to mid 30’s. While being quieter, better handling, etc. And having luggage in its own compartment is nice too.

    I get the CUV room thing. I appreciate they work for people. I have utilized the extra space in family member’s CUVs, and its nice. But there is still something about a sedan, at least for me.

    I predict most of these vehicles on this list will still be around in 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      ” cruising on the freeway in a CUV getting 23-24mpg knowing that you could be in a Camry or Accord, with the same engine, pulling low to mid 30’s. ”

      The early 2000s called, they want their fuel economy figures back!

      I’d say most mainstream compact CUVs (Rogue, CRV, Rav4, Forester, etc) will hit upper 20s pretty reliably on the freeway these days, but at the same time many midsize sedans from those brands are knocking on 35-37 mpg in real highway use, so you’re right the gap is still there. In the age of these low gas prices, it doesn’t seem to bother most people.

      The point has been made here before and I think it is spot on, that many people buying a new CRV or whatever are coming out of perhaps an older midsize sedan that got about 30-32 mpg highway, 25ish mixed. To them, a modern CUV will seem perfectly fine efficiency wise, especially considering the increase in utility.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I have another theory on falling midsize sales. I would like to see a breakdown of the trim levels of today vs. 10 years ago. I think that a lot of sales are going to more upscale cars that we think.
    For example, I was interested in a Ford Fusion back in May. When I added in all the items I wanted the price was bumping into the mid 30s. The great lease deals were on sparsely equipped (their words were “well equipped”) models.
    It was a small jump from there to the more heavily discounted Hyundai Genesis, Infinite G and sometimes Lexus ES models. Of course it depends on how the dealers in your area are marketing these cars. I’m sure that some Ford dealers were dealing on heavily optioned Fusions. The Ford leases wanted 10% of the invoice price down, about $3500. For a bit more down, and a very similar monthly I opted for the Genesis.
    How many others are noting the up creep of the price of mid-size sedans?
    Any thoughts on this theory?

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      That’s a general feature creep as price-sensitive cash buyers switch to lease returns. When only luxury car buyers actually buy (or lease) new cars, only luxury cars are built. If there weren’t a flood of loaded lease returns on the used lot, there’d be more new economy-spec choices.

  • avatar
    baggins

    a very common arrangement for family is to have a CUV/SUV/Minvan for mom/kid hauling duty and a mid sized sedan for dad/commuting. We’ve had that in our family for many years, and I see it commonly in my neighborhood.

    A modern accord or camry is quite comfortable and efficient at knocking out a 20-30 mile each way commute with a single driver onboard.

    I wouldnt want to have 2 sedans, as the minivan is far better kid hauler and road trip machine. But for me to get back and forth to work, a sedan is great.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      That’s what we have, a CUV and a sedan (and a roadster). But honestly, I find the sedan makes a better more comfortable road trip car for the three of us unless I really need to bring a TON of cargo. Just more comfortable and has better road manners (plus the RDX has a stupid small gas tank).

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        S2K — I understand the first version of the RDX was notably uncomfortable. Even the second version is a pretty small CUV.

        Our Oddy is really comfortable and spacious, but surely doesnt handle as well as sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      I had the use of a 2014 Accord LX a while back. I’m here to tell you that it is really possible to consistently get 38, 39, 40 or even 41 mpg commuting on the highway if you’re not constantly mashing the gas pedal like a wannabe NASCAR driver. Of course, your mileage may vary. The Earth Dreams 185-hp 2.4L is connected to quite possibly the best CVT on the market.

  • avatar

    Yes, the problem with SUVs is their an innefficent vehicle. Anyone who is cost conscious won’t buy one, a sedan is generally more efficient, offers the same seating space as an equivalent SUV, maybe with a bit less headroom, and gets seriously better fuel economy.

    I have had both a BMW 535i as a loaner and a BMW X5 sdrive35. They’re the same size, expect the x5 is taller, I had them both parked in the garage. Same length and width, the difference is the height, inside seating space is Equivalent. While the x5 struggles to get 18mp with lots of highway miles the 535i turned in 23mpg around town. So basically for a high ride height, worse handling, and no more leg room, that’s a lot of fuel economy, oh and it’s slower too.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The average consumer doesn’t care about handling, top speed, or “driving dynamics,” and they’ll take the MPG penalty if it means having a decent amount of headroom and a more upright seating position.


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