2016 Models: What Vehicles Tanked, or Reached New Heights?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2016 models what vehicles tanked or reached new heights

We already know what vehicles Americans love, and most of them are trucks. It’s expected that annual Ford F-Series sales will be astronomical, but will come in just shy of a million units. It’s as boring as it is patriotic and tells us nothing of the future; we already know the United States will keep buying trucks. An underdog tale is always much more interesting. So what are the less popular vehicles we’ve perpetually ignored that are suddenly beginning to worm their way into our hearts?

Bloomberg compiled sales data through this November to see which models posted the biggest swells in demand and which models have been cut the deepest by America’s changing tastes. While it is impossible to say with certainty which are a flash in the pan sensation, a genuine comeback or marketing blunder, the vehicles on this list are all pieces in the puzzle that shows us what the automotive industry should look like in the near future.

The Winners

Infiniti’s QX50 isn’t exactly a cherished American icon on par with the Ford Mustang, but it did more than double its sales in 2016. The leap is, no doubt, helped by the United States’ blossoming obsession with midsize crossovers and Infiniti’s poor sales history with the QX50. Last year’s 5,468 units was a substantial increase from 2014 thanks to an end-of-year boom. Meanwhile, 2016 is already in for 14,947 and December isn’t even over.

While it’s a lot easier to double sales when they started so low, this is still an achievement for Nissan’s muddled premium brand. Infiniti fielded a much improved vehicle in a growing segment and managed to give it comparable, or superior, performance numbers at a lower price than its direct competition.

For Bloomberg it was a similar story for the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. However, as the GLE only replaced the M-Class in the middle of 2015 and sales data is incomplete, I’m not about to give it the same level of praise. Still, it should be said that the GLE picked up where the M-Class left off and looks to be closing the gap as C-Class sedan sales begin to dwindle.

Falling from automotive grace in 2008, Volvo has managed to bring itself back from the brink and return sales numbers of the XC90 to the highest they’ve been in over a decade. With annual sales not even breaking 10,000 units just a few years ago, the big Swede was entirely redesigned and will absolutely surpass 30,000 sales this year — up from 12,777 in 2015.

Thankfully, it wasn’t just SUVs getting fresh love from the United States. The Audi TT saw its sales drop sharply in the early 2000s. Any year where Germany sold more than 1,500 was a big deal. The last two years were particularly lousy, but the third-generation TT seems to have turned a corner, selling 2,792 sport coupes before December and possibly heralding a resurgence.

The Losers

Bloomberg claimed that the Honda Fit took a big hit this year. While that’s debatable, Honda certainly isn’t seeing an upsurge in subcompact sales. However, we can’t blame the car. The Fit continues to offer a composed ride, versatility, and efficiency at a bargain price. The problem is that nobody seems to be quite so interested in an exceptionally useful small car anymore.

They also aren’t as interested in premium luxury vehicles that sit too close to the pavement. BMW’s 6 Series looks as if it will be taking a bath this year. Further down the luxury pricing scale, Kia’s K900 is about as desirable as hot garbage. Korea probably won’t see even a full thousand make it to North American roads by the end of the year.

Fiat’s 500L was the only crossover to make the list of untouchables. Even though everyone who knows about cars has faulted it for reliability issues and subpar equipment, the general populace seems more concerned with its controversial looks. Fiat only placed 3,016 500Ls into American hands so far this year. That’s down from 7,863 in 2015 and 12,413 in 2014. Meanwhile, the mechanically [s]terrible[/s] similar Jeep Renegade has already sold 94,561 units through November.

[Image: Volvo]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Dec 27, 2016

    Better an aluminum body F-150 than an aluminum Cadillac with mixed metal than only a handful of dealers can do major body work to.

    • See 2 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 28, 2016

      @DeadWeight Alex, I'll take write offs for 50,000!

  • Festiboi Festiboi on Dec 29, 2016

    Not a huge surprise about the Honda Fit. The plant in Mexico has focused on HR-V production instead But I don't understand the praise that the press has for the Fit. I owned a 2015, current generation Fit for 18 months and it was a miserable experience. Granted, I was impressed with its versatility and fuel economy. But overall, the car was an unrefined penalty box. The road and engine noise were relentless, the short gearing of the manual transmission made the car feel sluggish, the front seats lacked legroom, and the quality was horrendous. It ended up having 10 unexpected repairs done due to quality defects in that time. Honestly, it doesn't drive any better than a Mitsubishi Mirage (and I've rented plenty of those), and a Sonic or Versa are a much more solid and pleasant little cars (I now own a Sonic and the difference is night and day). I'm glad to see that the Fit isn't doing well and that consumers maybe see its many shortcomings

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.