By on March 2, 2017

2016 chevrolet impala

Pity the poor passenger car. Once on top, now increasingly being spoke of in sentences that use the word “endangered.”

If last month’s sales figures tell us anything, it’s that the current trend towards spacious crossovers and SUV shows no signs of abating. With the segment now relegated to second-class status, passenger car makers face rising inventories and a growing need to sweeten the sales pot.

General Motors recently idled some plants and cut shifts to draw down a glut of unsold vehicles, but February’s dismal sales did nothing to help. Well, it’s March now, so bring on the crazy sales!

If you’re the owner of a 2008 or newer Japanese or Korean vehicle and are looking to lease a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze LT this month, congratulations. You’ve selected a very opportune time. According to manufacturer deals posted to the GM Inside News forum, GM wants those drivers to have $3,000 in competitive lease cash, after which a 24-month lease of a Cruze rings in at $99 a month (with $969 due at signing).

Going into February, GM’s Cruze inventory stood at 101 day’s worth of vehicles. That’s down from the 121-day supply seen before Christmas, but still well above healthy levels. At 15,367, last month’s sales topped 2016’s 12,998 units, but that second figure is from a time of changeover between the previous and current generation of vehicles. Before that, all February sales range from just under 18,000 to over 21,000 vehicles.

Similar deals are offered on several other 2017 models — Malibu, Trax, Camaro, Volt, Colorado, Equinox and Traverse.

For three bowtie-bearing vehicles, GM will chop 20 percent off the MSRP between now and March 13. And it just so happens that those models are excluded from the lease deal: Spark, Impala and Sonic. Impala sales are dropping especially fast. Last year’s tally didn’t clear the 100,000 marker — the first time that’s happened since GM resurrected the model for the 2000 model year. It’s also less than a third of the model’s 311,128 sales recorded in 2007.

In February, Impala’s 7,165 U.S. sales were markedly lower than the 9,147 and 9,065 sales recorded for the same month in 2016 and 2015. Going back to 2011 shows February sales at a lofty 16,290 units.

Chevy’s Sonic fared no better. Despite a styling refresh, its 2,140 February sales fell by half, year over year, from the 4,241 recorded in 2016. For the model’s first three full years on the market (2012-2014), U.S. February sales didn’t fall below 6,000.

Only the sub-subcompact Spark has remained consistent in sales, recently buoyed by a styling makeover and the addition of a larger 1.4-liter engine. February’s 2,139 sales topped last year’s 1,761, but still came in lower than all years prior to that.

[Image: General Motors]

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44 Comments on “Cheap Leases, Free Cash and Slashed Stickers as GM Tries to Move Slow-selling Passenger Cars...”

  • avatar

    “If you’re the owner of a 2008 or newer Japanese or Korean vehicle…”

    Correction: If you’re the current LESSEE of a 2008 or newer Japanese or Korean vehicle. I was excited and ready to go trade in my beat up 08 Yaris, but alas, you gotta read the fine print.

    1. Must show proof of current lease of a 2008 or newer Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru or Kia vehicle. Customer remains responsible for remaining lease payments.

    • 0 avatar

      lol still leasing a 2008 anything…

      “May not be valid in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, on days ending in y…

      Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.”

    • 0 avatar

      Speaking of fine print and GM conditions. I recently worked out a deal for a Sierra lease over email. When I got to the dealership, they couldn’t honor the price they quoted me because I have Chevrolet lease loyalty, not Buick/GMC. WTF GM?

      • 0 avatar

        That’s dang hi-larious right there.

        (Also telling that the guy intimately involved with MB service is trying to lease a GMC.) ;-)

        • 0 avatar

          I have not been involved with MB service for a about a year and a half now. I have moved on to bigger and better things at a different manufacture’s corporate office. I didn’t move back to Michigan for the nice weather. Mercedes also don’t make full size pickups.

          I am selling the two E class wagon’s I have once I get the truck. The 210 has been a decent car. The 211 I bought off of a friend is leaving something to be desired. The car has been fighting me for about 2 months now. It’s like my friend parked it in the ocean. The car was in tremendously better shape the last time I worked on a few years back.

      • 0 avatar

        @MBella: you just made me want to spend an idle Saturday calling random car dealers and “working out lease deals” over the phone, assuring them I would be right over–and then sitting back with a cold one, ignoring them all.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah these GM lease deals are always great and honestly have been for 2 years now with a lot of sub $100 w/no money down leases on Cruzes and even the Malibu from time to time but the catch is that most of them require you to have a competitive lease. They used to be more lax about who you had to be leasing from but this new offer is actually much more restrictive since it only applies to Asian manufacturers. GM is definitely subsidizing the hell out of these leases since there’s no way in hell a Cruze or Malibu only depreciates by 3 grand over the first 3 years, though I don’t know what they’re going to do when a glut of these show up as lease returns in a year or two (they started dumping these a while ago on 2 year leases). My guess is that there’ll be a LOT of cheap Cruzes and Malibus on dealer lots in a year or so.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    There’s a Regal Peacock Green manual SS within 15 minutes from me right now listed on for $40k.

    I am on strict no-new-cars orders from my wife since we’re not sure if she’ll have a job in the next few months.
    And it’s not as if I can afford any car that costs $40k anyway.
    But that the exact combination I want is sitting RIGHT THERE is killing me. The only way it could be more perfect would be if it were a new 2105 in that combination.
    Life is full of regret.

    • 0 avatar

      Nothing like 2105 regerts…

    • 0 avatar

      “The tears of regret / frozen to the size of his face”

      Just wait for the Tour-X, that’s what you really want!

    • 0 avatar

      Buy that car. I have not once regretted my 2016 SSB with a manual. I paid significantly more than 40k as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh damn, that’s exactly the configuration I’d want. I’ve been really sad with the end of SS ordering.

      But if I buy a new car in the next three months it’s going to be a big CUV, probably a lightly used Lincoln MKT EcoBoost. It’s a financial decision; we’re trying to determine whether we’ll suffer more pain by a) trying to take the sedan on multiple road trips with a baby, a toddler, and lots of gear or b) having to live a few more months with our unrenovated bathroom that’s missing an electrical outlet and has kitchen linoleum for walls.

      Funny how reality intrudes.

    • 0 avatar

      That would the one I would want

  • avatar

    The NEW Impala always was a flop – they just never admitted it. Remember how GM refused to break out the old fleet/fleet Impala from the new retail/fleet Impala?

    Because the NEW Impala was a dud. Otherwise they would have reported actual figures w/ a break out.

  • avatar

    And Cadillac is dying. It’s a one trick pony.

  • avatar

    So, there are HUNDREDS of $50K SSs available really close by (Silicon Valley). Within 500+ miles, there’s ONE new ’17 SS going for under $40k. If I’m willing to > 1000 miles, I can find lots and lots of 34k-40k SSs new..

    • 0 avatar

      I’d call those dealers nearby. I’ll bet you that their website hasn’t updated to the current promotion. Like with many things GM, communication to dealers leaves much to be desired.

  • avatar

    Every time these cheap GM leases come around, it’s the same tired story. The terms and conditions are so narrowly defined that about 38 people actually qualify, and of those 38, only 12 actually *want* the deal.

    Also, GM cars tend to depreciate so quickly that it’s clear that they are pulling the residuals out of their butts.

    Anything to try to move the metal, even if it means pushing losses further down the road.

    • 0 avatar

      …Every time these cheap GM leases come around, it’s the same tired story. The terms and conditions are so narrowly defined that about 38 people actually qualify, and of those 38, only 12 actually *want* the deal…

      Exactly this. Or as another poster said above, happy fun ball…

  • avatar

    ” Well, it’s March now, so bring on the crazy sales!”

    Look for every manufacturer to start the “March Madness Specials Going On Now!” commercials in 3, 2, 1.

    Also, March will once again be truck month, just like last month, and the month before that, and the month before that……

  • avatar

    It used to be that a sedan was reasonably large and comfortable; even my old “compact” 1964 Chevy had five-foot-wide bench seats and a huge amount of leg room front and rear. Today, the average “large sedan” is hardly any longer than that, sits much, much lower and simply feels cramped. Sedans are dying simply because they have become, on average, too small and uncomfortable for the average driver. Yes, I know; I happen to be a proponent of “smaller is better” when it comes to another type of vehicle. I’m the exception, not the rule.

    Quite honestly, this is why the CUV and especially the full-sized pickup have taken over the automotive market–at least here in the US. And now that CUVs are matching and in some cases even beating sedans for economy, there’s almost no reason to choose a sedan over an egg on wheels. BUT… This will probably only last until fuel prices rise again.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m going to start a new trend of lowering CUVs. They will all be like wagons but not a wagon because people seem to think wagons aren’t cool anymore. It will be amazing.

    • 0 avatar

      Vulpine, I think you’re just showing your age here. As a child of the 70s/80s/90s, car seating, particularly in the backseat, is FAR roomier than it ever was. You might be feeling claustrophobic due to thicker pillars and smaller windows, but nowadays pretty much every *compact* car even has a big backseat. The Cruze and the Sentra are far more comfortable than recent dinosaurs like the Grand Marquis and the previous-gen Impala. So that’s not why people are buying sedans less. It’s just trendy to buy CUVs.

      • 0 avatar

        Showing my age? Yes. The back seat of my old “compact” car allowed even an adult to shift their feet and even cross their legs without hitting the back of the front seat. Those things were BIG and the large sedans were almost as long as today’s full-sized pickup I’m a child of the ’50s and ’60s.

        But I would also note that you could carry a trunk full of LARGE suitcases and even the type of case once called a “Steamer Trunk” which was almost literally a closet in a box–drawers and all. You could even load two and sometimes even three standard-sized bales of straw–with the deck lid down and locked. Maybe a lot of wasted space back then but today you need a large crossover to carry the same load. My current Renegade could do it with the back seat up… I think… and then only if I stack them and I’m not sure the ceiling’s high enough to stack hay bales. Might be able to stand them on end, though.

        And that’s my point; today’s cars are much, MUCH smaller than they once were and you simply can’t carry as much as you used to. People need big pickup trucks today just to carry what they once could in their family sedan or wagon.

      • 0 avatar

        people are getting older. they want a higher hip point, and to be able to slide out of the seat and drop their legs on the ground rather than climb out.

        i went from a 98 civic hatch to a 2006 scion xa. both new. both similar size, but the xa has seats that are higher. i didnt buy it because of that, but thats how it is. seats are higher, roof is higher, more room front and back. probably not as aerodynamic, but mileage is similar (1.5 VVTI vs 1.5 honda 12 valve)

  • avatar
    Sam Hell Jr

    My local Chevy place has a ’15 demo Impala with the 2.5L and all the toys that can be had with that powertrain, including heated seats, the big sunroof, and HIDs.

    I am … Oddly tempted.

  • avatar


    This is really a great problem to have for automakers. CUV’s command higher prices and not substantially higher costs to build than a sedan. People don’t mind paying an extra $10K for 2 inches of ground clearance over similarly sized hatchback, the automakers will happily take your money. I say bring on the discounted sedans, I like to be low to the ground :)

    I do feel that the trend will accelerate though. Driving a car without the extra ground clearance and height gets increasingly annoying when you can never see past the tailgate of the vehicle in front of you.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Don’t forget that most consumers *demand* AWD in their CUV, which adds cost even if you choose the FWD version. Most sedans are not designed with AWD in mind.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    GM is going to have to get real very soon. They seem to have great difficulty throttling their factory production to match sales.

  • avatar

    It’s not just sedans that are faltering. Consumers are now carrying $1.6 TRILLION in auto debt. For about the last five years, people couldn’t stand their old clunkers anymore and bought/leased new, or nearly new.

    Unless the economy booms with new jobs and the layabouts get out of their parents’ basements, needing cars to get to work, there’s going to be a real dip in new cars sales, lasting until the 2020s or thereabouts.

    The question is, where are the inexpensive used car trade-ins?

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