By on September 6, 2016

2016 RAV4 and CamryWill the Toyota RAV4 outsell Toyota’s long-running best-selling car, the Toyota Camry, within the next five years? Nine months ago, Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. boss, Bob Carter, said, “I’ll bet you lunch that will happen.”

It didn’t take five years.

To be fair, Carter wasn’t referring to a single month’s results. Indeed, through the first two-thirds of 2016,  the Camry produced nearly 36,000 more U.S. sales — about one month’s worth — than the RAV4.

But in August 2016, for the first time in Toyota’s U.S. history, the Toyota RAV4 was more popular than the Toyota Camry. And the RAV4 was by no means the only vehicle to outsell the most popular car in America.

The Camry, America’s fourth-best-selling vehicle overall so far this year, ranked seventh in August, specifically. The Camry’s slide into fourth place overall in calendar year 2014 reflected the renewed strength of the pickup truck market — all three vehicles that outsold the Camry in 2014 and 2015 were pickup trucks.2016 Toyota RAV4 cargo areaFast forward to August, and the Camry’s slide into seventh place reflects not only stable pickup truck sales but the record strength of utility vehicles. In addition to the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram P/U, the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Rogue all outsold the Camry in August, as well. On a larger scale, August was the second consecutive month in which SUVs/crossovers outsold passenger cars in the United States.

Toyota can take solace in the relative modesty of the Camry’s decline. In a midsize segment which plunged 26 percent, year-over-year, in August 2016, Camry volume was down “just” 13 percent. Even during a month in which six vehicles outsold the Camry, the Camry was still America’s most popular car overall, albeit by a scant 57 units over the second-ranked Honda Civic.

If Toyota is seeking solace, however, the RAV4’s growth is the more likely provider of such comfort. RAV4 volume increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last twelve months. Sales of the RAV4 in 2015 were 84 percent stronger than they were only four years prior. 2016 will be the fifth consecutive year of growth. Only two-thirds of the way into this year, 2016 is already the RAV4’s third-highest-volume annual performance to date.2015 Toyota Camry trunk seats foldedIncidentally, the RAV4 is no longer America’s most popular SUV/crossover. Having led the way through the first seven months of 2016, a boom in sales of the Honda CR-V over the last two months propelled the Honda into top spot through the first two-thirds of 2016. The CR-V’s all-time monthly record in July was topped by 36,517 sales in August.

Meanwhile, Nissan reported the Rogue’s second-best-month ever, only 319 sales shy of the Rogue’s record in July, and 115 sales north of the Camry’s 32,864-unit August total.

In Toyota showrooms, the August results will not go down in history as a blip on the radar. Camry sales have declined on a year-over-year basis in each of the last seven months. After climbing to a seven-year high in calendar year 2015, the Toyota Camry is on track for 2016 to become its first sub-400,000-unit U.S. sales year since 2011.

While Camry volume slides down a slippery slope, the expansion of RAV4 production in southern Ontario means Toyota will soon be able to build more than 400,000 RAV4s per year in North America.

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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71 Comments on “It Didn’t Take Five Years: The Toyota RAV4 Outsold The Toyota Camry In August 2016...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    Camry is one of the best sedans built to date. I’ve called them an appliance, or even a refrigerator. They just don’t break like other vehicles. Having the RAV4 outsell this appliance is a big tell where sedans in general are heading. That is only down. For a lot of people sedans are just boring, it could be well contoured Infiniti or even a BMW. For some they are just a boring four door vehicles. Suv’s in general sit up a lot higher and give people a sense of security. The writing is not on the wall anymore, sales numbers prove sedans are on a downward spiral.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I don’t think more excited about a RAV4 than they are a Camry. People flocking to CUVs is 100% practical. RAV4 is easier to get in and out of, load kids and stuff into, park and get a view of the road in. These are big wins for families and old people, probably the two biggest new car buying groups in the market. Makes sense. Minivans are overkill for small families; 3 row crossovers don’t make sense for anybody; sedans just aren’t as easy to live with. The 2 row crossover is peak car for a large slice of the population.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        The Camry is probably a victim of its own success… the reason people buy them is also a reason people DON’T buy them.

        The RAV4, so far, doesnt have too much of a stigma. Although if I was in the CUV market the RAV4 is way down on the list… its not a compelling candidate in a field that is reminicent of the GOP primaries a year ago.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It’s not just practicality, it’s an image thing. My wife is the Oracle of Regular People Car Preferences. She will predict accurately how any given new model will do in the market and who will buy them. And she says that sedans now feel old and fusty, kind of like retirement home decor. Among non-enthusiasts, the CUV is now the class that feels desirable. Enthusiasts may puzzle over why that is, but it’s true.

      • 0 avatar
        gfurry

        You have obviously never run a carpool. 3 row crossovers are great for people that don’t want a minivan but need to shuffle lots of kids around. I think Ford Explorer sales prove my point

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      CUVs are the new appliance. The RAV4 has out-vanilla-ed the Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Or French vanilla to vanilla bean!

        I can’t remember the Camry winning any comparisons lately which is par for the course for the RAV4 as it finishes last or near the bottom in all comparisons.

        I wonder how much the cash difference on the hood is for each now?

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          My local Toyota dealers have $4000-5000 on the hood of every Camry. Which makes the Camry an incredible deal. The v6 is still extremely quick.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            Where I am the Camry V6 equivalent is $3k more than the 4 cyl. model and its the cheapest way to near as dammit get 300hp… fun in a straight line… sort of.

            But they dont shift very well as a fast Camry isnt on buyers’ radar.

            A CUV though? Yeah.

    • 0 avatar
      DearS

      A good looking accord hatchback could turn things around, or at least get make me very happy. The Civic hatchback works also.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like the words, but a chart describing all this would be easier to comprehend, and would generate a lot of discussion.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Is the 2.5L 4-banger in the RAV4 as thrashy as the 2.4L that was in the second gen Scion xB? That engine drove me crazy as anything beyond half-way done on the gas pedal only seemed to make more noise, not actually accelerate harder. It also wasn’t very frugal – I got 17mpg in the city and the small 14 gal tank meant more than expected gas station stops.

    I’m no fan on the Camry, especially in 4cyl form, but that nice 3.5L V6 is tempting whether it sits in a Camry, ES, GS, or Avalon.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yes this. The 3.5 is nice enough to get me to cross shop any Toyota it is installed in.

      Unfortunately for Toyota most of their appliance shoppers buy their Camrys with just one exhaust tip.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        Why would a camry need dual tips? The thing barely has 180hp. Its just one more thing to go wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        2drsedanman

        Agreed. I’m a huge fan of this V6 engine. It does an admirable job in our Sienna. But in the Avalon in “Sport” mode, it really makes the car responsive and fun to drive, all the while managing 23/24 city and 30+ highway. It will be a sad day when when these are discontinued for turbo 4’s, which, unfortunately, is on the near horizon.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Mr. Principal, although this is not about the topic under discussion, but since we are talking about the increasing popularity of SUV/CUVs over sedans, I did check out our daughter’s 2007 Trailblazer’s dashboard, and yes, the radio rocker buttons above the dial are indeed worn. I took a photo, but don’t have the option on here to share.

        Back to topic: Our daughter and SiL won’t have a car – only some sort of crossover and NEVER a van.

        Me? I still prefer sedans and Wifey prefers a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The 2.5 is better than the old 2.4, but it’s still a long-stroke four, which means some vibration and unhappiness at the top of the tach. (Only Honda has figured out how to make this kind of engine sing at high revs.)

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Wifey’s 2002 CR-V still runs great, but that 4 cylinder really gets buzzy when you step on it. Otherwise, it’s been a great car and is the family truckster.

        Try hauling three 6 foot sections of pre-assembled deck side rail from Lowe’s in one! Suffice it to say, I couldn’t drive it as I had to fold myself like a pocket knife and let her drive as she is so lean!

        That was a fun ride home!

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        Yeah coming from a BMW 2.5L straight-6 to the Toyota 2.4L 4-pot took some getting used to. I wanted the Scion for it’s cargo room (working on my house and all that) but really began to hate it toward the end of its short life.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Toyota seems to wrap more insulation around the engine bay on some vehicles. The Camry 4-cylinder is pretty refined and quiet given what it is. Smooth, unobtrusive, low overall volume. The RAV4 is noticeably less so–more engine noise comes into the cabin and some buzz and thrash accompanies it. On the highway where the engine works harder to overcome the RAV’s additional wind resistance, it is a full vehicle class down from the Camry in refinement.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Which brings up my question: Never mind the Camry, why did the RAV ever outsell the CR-V? And why does it sell nearly as well now? The magic of the Toyota name? I don’t get it.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      No. Linear power delivery for a NA inline four, in pretty much all its applications. Better, in my experience, than the Ford and GM big fours, and on par with but different from Honda’s.

      Will shake like a wet dog at stop lights with the A/C on, but hey, it can’t all be wedding cake.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    I hope to god that manufacturers see the writing on the wall – sedans aren’t the default choice for new car buyers anymore.

    So play to the strengths – turn sedans into highest form of sedans: sport sedans. They don’t need big motors, they just need better suspension, stiffer chassis, and bigger brakes (just fish ’em out of the SUV’s parts bins).

    If Toyota sold a Camry Hybrid with a sporty suspension tune, I’d really really have a tough time avoiding it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Sports sedans sell worse than regular sedans and command a higher premium which people simply aren’t willing to pay. This makes the economies of scale very difficult for non-luxury sports-sedan makers.

      Basically, the car you want would have to exist as a Lexus. Heck, you could argue that this is what the Lexus GS already is.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        And yet the Civic Si sedan was available for a relatively modest premium over the Civic sedan with a good trim package.

        Look, shockingly RWD sedans that start at 50k and have comparable volume to 23k Camcords don’t sell well.

        I’m just saying that Honda and Toyota can tighten up the cars and add lightness when they come up for redesign.

        You don’t need 300+ horsepower to make a sport sedan. Look at the OG M3 (~200 horsepower) and the 2002tii (140 horsepower?). You need a sedan that responds to sporty driving.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “You don’t need 300+ horsepower to make a sport sedan. Look at the OG M3 (~200 horsepower) and the 2002tii (140 horsepower?). You need a sedan that responds to sporty driving”

          Yes, but the M3 and 2002 cost quite a bit more than the equivalent mass-market sedan and sold a lot less. That was my point: you can make a sports sedan, and power really has very little to do with it, but you basically have to charge more because it costs more, and once you do that, you’re kind of obliged to lux it up in order to justify the MSRP.

          Otherwise, the car ends up as a dud.

          Mazda, Volkswagen and Subaru all tried the “non-premium sports sedan” tactic and it didn’t really work. Heck, you could argue that Honda didn’t really knock it out of the park with the Accord until they gave up all pretenses of sportiness.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      A lot of manufacturers will pull out of the sedan market entirely before developing sports sedans.

      Plus the “midsizers” are too effing big. If they are going to play this idea out they should stick with the C-segment… a Corolla is not much smaller inside than a Camry, but weighs about 400lbs less. IRS, turbo 4, LSD, decent transmission, they could have something.

    • 0 avatar

      Right, because the Mazda 6 sells so well.

      No better way to alienate your remaining conservative sedan buyers than by making a vehicle that is predominately useful for transporting up to 4 people over long distances in quiet and comfort into something that can’t fulfill its basic role.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        What amazes me is the number of old people I see driving Camry SEs around now. I thought that conservative sedan demographic would prioritize the soft ride quality of the traditional Camry, but here they are in SEs with a much firmer suspension and supportive seats. That car feels nothing like the Camry of the last 20 years.

        So, maybe a proper sport sedan under the Camry name would fly farther than we think.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          30-mile it’s any easy explanation of more content for reasonable money over the LE. I’m sure people like the larger 17 inch alloys over the palstic hubcaps, fog lights, revised bumpers and some “sporty” vinyl in the interior more than they appreciate the stiffened up ride. To be fair, even in SE guise my fiance’s Camry rides very well by my standards. My Maxima on fresh Monroe struts and springs (that trend towards softness) rides much harsher on larger bumps.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          It’s also a fact that Toyota buys its customers if they lease.

          Case in point: Our former next door neighbor bought her first Camry in (can’t recall the year), and each and every time, even though she didn’t want another Camry, Toyota basically made he a deal she couldn’t refuse.

          Her latest one – after she told them she wasn’t spending any more on payments, was given a deal only 68¢ more per month! This after her previous Camry had some minor damage and red nail polish splashed all over the dash!

          Toyota is the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine!

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        As though the Mazda 6’s sales have nothing to do with its lack of advertising, small dealer network, much bigger depreciation hit compared to the CamCords, and less cash on the hood than Camrys.

        And I’ve ridden in the Mazda 6 and frankly it cuts a little too hard towards sport. If the Camry had the 2014 Avalon suspension calibration or a 2008 Jaguar XJ calibration, it wouldn’t alienate too many people and a lot of people would enjoy it.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “They don’t need big motors”

      Booooo. Dislike. I’ll buy a big engine CUV before I get a 190hp Camry Sport.

      You can get a GLI, Mazda6, or 320i pretty cheap these days if you’re looking for decent dynamics with low to middling power.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The Toyota motor (while stone reliable) isn’t the best in the class, but you should try out a current four-cylinder Accord. The Honda DI K24 has a torque curve that’s just like the old Japanese SOHC V6es. Those Accords are, and feel, legitimately quick. An Accord Sport will outdrag a Durango R/T (what I assume you must mean by “big engine CUV”).

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The manual transmission seems largely responsible for the 4-pot Accord’s quickness. With a C&D clutch drop it will almost keep pace with that Durango, but strap the CVT to it and it’s actually slower to 30 and 40 mph than the Camry 2.5.

          As much as I like CVTs for daily driving, they seem to have a high minimum ratio and leave the line a bit sluggishly. Our poverty Altima will catch a lot of cars on the move, but forget about beating an ambitious Focus from the line.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “An Accord Sport will outdrag a Durango R/T”

          Will it?

          caranddriver.com/reviews/2016-dodge-durango-r-t-awd-test-review

          caranddriver.com/reviews/2016-honda-accord-sport-manual-tested-review

          Granted, different tests on different days, but I don’t see many situations where the I4 Accord goes 0-100 under 17 seconds. Plus, beyond the Durango 5.7, the SRT Jeep, Edge Sport, Yukon Denali, F-Pace, and various German insanity still exists.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Huh. That is quicker than other results I’ve seen from the V8 Durango. So maybe I’m not quite right, depending on the day and the driver’s willingness to do an abusive clutch dump. But still, it’s close, and I have no doubt that the Accord is more satisfying to drive with its 1500+ lbs less weight.

            Don’t get me wrong; if someone really needs a giant CUV I think the Durango’s not a bad product. But I certainly wouldn’t pick one unless I actually needed the hauling capability.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Not sure if it meets your definition of sporty, but you can now get the SE trim Camry with the hybrid drivetrain. Jack Baruth speaks well of the SE trim and suspension tune in the regular gas model.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      I hope they take the lesson that people will pay more money for graceful ingress/egress and a big liftgate opening up meaningful cargo space. But then the 200 happened.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      As rims have gotten bigger and bigger over the years, I don’t think the problem with sedans now is the ride is too soft and consumers are going elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The RAV4 is been in the US for 21 years. It took quite awhile for this to happen.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      …and Pilot and Odyssey out sell the whole Acura brand. What a paradigm shift we have today!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Which (IMO) says more about the RAV4 riding the CUV wave than it does about the RAV4.

      Its value/features vs the Camry has remained fairly stable over time, although all the mfrs are waking up and putting extra care into their CUV offerings lately.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I test drove a 2016 Rav4. The ride was too bouncy. Not a fan.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “Game over, man. Game over!” for sedans.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Yayz! Rotten poopy low-tops are going away! Snub-nosed ’47 Chevys for all!

    God is Happy!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I will say with the redesign, the RAV looks more similar to the original version/mission than the last few have.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      From the interior view, the verticality of the hatch is a wonderful portent.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh! Last week I saw a teal 2-door model with convertible rear area!

        Times have changed so much since then.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          God, I forgot how tall and SWB that baby was :-D
          Almost Samurai-san.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I saw one of those a few weeks ago too, though in a less period red color. I had completely forgotten about them until about a year ago when I came back out to my car and found one parked next to me. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one with the top off/down.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            The manual for my ’99 4-door Rav included instructions for raising/lowering the top on the 2-door soft-top; it looked like about a 5 minute job. I’d guess most people are only willing to put that kind of time into it once in a while.

            I still see 2-door soft-top Rav4s around occasionally.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    All this is is the dominant form factor returning to what it was prior to what it was before all those GIs returned from Europe after World War II and the Jet Age.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I have a hard time understanding the Rav4’s popularity. We have one as a company car and the interior really puts me off. It’s not only ugly (imo), it’s also one of the few times I’ve felt that a Toyota interior was anti-ergonomic. You can’t open the door by pulling the handle and pushing with your elbow because there’s a big vertical bar in the way; the steering wheel is either not circular or rotates around a point that isn’t its center; the radio controls are hard to reach. And it just feels industrial.

    The CR-V is too soft for my tastes and the infotainment system has ‘90s graphics, but other than that it’s fine. Its numbers don’t surprise me.

  • avatar
    Paragon

    So, even ‘Yota people are no longer concerned about being “grounded to the ground.” Me, I have no use for taller vehicles and want that lower center of gravity that I have been used to for years and years. I am not a fashionista who is swayed by trends or what so many other people are doing. I do what works for me.

  • avatar
    stevejac

    My wife bought a RAV4 in June and, unlike it’s predecessor, an ’04 Lexus RX 330, it’s not half bad. Not nearly as floaty as the lexus, and about as fast (so it seems– not very).

    She looked at the cr-v and rejected it simply because she wanted all the b]electronic bells and whistles and the honda doesn’t have a blind spot warning on the left.THe Lexus was dead on reliable, so that led her to the Toyota.

    The NX was roughly $8k more for the same trim (but with leather seats) and she didn’t want as big a car as the RX has become.

    She tried the Nissan Rogue but found it too slow (!) for her tastes, and Nissan’s reliability doesn’t match Toyota.

    As I said, I don’t mind driving it (I always disliked the RX) although I still prefer my BMW 328i.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “she didn’t want as big a car as the RX has become.”

      I wasn’t aware that the RX has gotten much larger? Harder to see out of and more cramped on the inside with less cargo room, maybe.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The RX has become much heavier for some reason, and feels like it. My wife reacted to the RX450h almost exactly like stevejac’s wife did. She vastly preferred the driving experience of the RAV4 Hybrid, even as she hated the cheap interior. If Lexus had had reasonable availability and pricing on the NX hybrid at the time, we would probably own one today, but it was way too scarce and expensive.

        Instead, we bagged that car search altogether and then later jumped on a super-cheap lease on a C-Max Energi. She likes the size, can live with the lower ride height and likes the interior much better than that on the Rav4, if not as much as that of the NX.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Not nearly as floaty as the lexus..”

      Does Lexus make the floatiest CUVs? Are luxury CUVs generally floatier than their plebian frame-mates?

      How does a fellah find and compare floaty in this day and age when reviewers treat it with disgust if at all?

      I can’t stand the dealership exposure necessary to personally test drive all the more expensive CUVs. Plus, I look funny.

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