By on May 3, 2017

2017 Volkswagen PAssat R-Line – Image: VWWhy did America’s passenger car market tumble 11 percent in April 2017?

Midsize cars deserve much of the blame.

Why is America’s passenger car market down 12 percent through the first four months of 2017?

Midsize cars deserve most of the blame.


This is the eleventh edition of TTAC’s Midsize Sedan Deathwatch. The midsize sedan as we know it — “midsizedus sedanicus” in the original latin — isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but the ongoing sales contraction will result in a reduction of mainstream intermediate sedans in the U.S. market.

How do we know? It already has.


There’s no denying that cars, in the sector-wide sense, are truly struggling. Not only did America’s best-selling car, the Toyota Camry, report declining year-over-year volume in April 2017, so too did its top-selling small car alternatives, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

Moreover, through the first one-third of 2017, outside of the midsize sedan segment, U.S. sales of passenger cars are down by more than 133,000 units this year, an 8-percent drop compared with the same period in 2016.

Yet the bulk of the U.S. passenger car market’s decline in 2017 can be traced back to the midsize car segment. Sales of the Toyota Camry-led category are down 20 percent this year, a loss of nearly 144,000 sales for one category alone.

In other words, roughly a dozen nameplates have seen sales fall by nearly 144,000 units over the course of only four months while sales of some twelve dozen other cars suffered a combined sales decline of approximately 133,000 sales during the same period.

Virtually every midsize sedan shares part of the blame. Only the Volkswagen Passat, sales of which grew 24 percent in the first four months of 2017, stands out in a pack of midsize malaise.

Of course, Passat sales are down 10 percent compared with the first four months of 2015, prior to the eruption of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal.2017 Chrysler 200C Platinum - Image: ChryslerYou could argue that one discontinued model is skewing the overall results, though the very fact that the Chrysler 200 is disappearing is evidence supporting TTAC’s contention that more midsize cars will disappear. Chrysler 200 sales are down 57 percent so far this year. But remember, by this time last year the 200 had already become a low-volume midsize player.

The Chrysler’s 57-percent decrease in early 2017 translates to only 12,641 lost sales. Meanwhile, the Nissan Altima has already seen sales plunge by 19,568 units this year. The Toyota Camry’s year-to-date volume is down by more than 15,000 units. Honda Accord sales are off by nearly 12,000 units. And those are the highly successful midsize cars.

The Ford Fusion is losing an average of 7,000 sales per month. The Chevrolet Malibu, all-new last year, the freshest midsize car on the dealer forecourt, only a few months ago offering evidence that a new design could produce growth, is losing 6,900 sales per month. The Hyundai Sonata, which produced a modest sales increase in April, still managed to produce 22,505 fewer sales in 2017’s first four months than in the same period of 2016.

2018 Toyota Camry - Image: ToyotaThe solution: new cars. The new Toyota Camry is only one month away from the first media drives. The new Honda Accord has already been spotted. A new Nissan Altima is due later this year.

But those are already the most popular passenger car nameplates in the midsize sector. They’re already gaining market share in old age.

Fresh iterations of the most dominant midsize cars in America isn’t going to make life any easier for midpack and lower-tier players.

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 @timcaincars.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

99 Comments on “Midsize Sedan Deathwatch #11: Blame Midsize Cars For America’s Passenger Car Decline...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Pssss… Toyota. Uh. You know from that angle your new Camry looks a lot like an Altima.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They ALL look similar now. They’re all wind tunnel tested to squeeze MPG, and government mandates to make front ends “pedestrian friendly”, combined with similar low-cost assembly techniques, have made most compact and mid-size cars tough to tell apart.

      Top it off with the historic play-it-safe, copycat nature of the industry, and design is limited to little details, and expensive, non-interchangeable headlights (that don’t always work well). You could call cars appliances now, but waffle-irons have more design variety.

      I remember Lee Iacocca, in the early 1990s, saying he could tell the make and model of 1950s cars at a glance, but no longer could spot a particular model without a long look. That process of homogenization is much farther along now.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Cars in the same segment have always looked similar.

        • 0 avatar
          2manycars

          “Cars in the same segment have always looked similar.”

          Oh?

          Does this:

          https://assets.hemmings.com/story_image/261581-870-0.jpg

          …look like this:

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/1960_Rambler_American_4-door_sedan_Hershey_2012_f.jpg/800px-1960_Rambler_American_4-door_sedan_Hershey_2012_f.jpg

          …or this:

          http://momentcar.com/images/chevrolet-corvair-1960-4.jpg

          For that matter, does this:

          https://i.wheelsage.org/image/format/picture/picture-medium/chevrolet/impala/chevrolet_impala_sport_coupe_2.jpeg

          …look like this:

          http://momentcar.com/images/dodge-coronet-1959-1.jpg

          I would say that cars in the same segment have most definitely NOT always looked similar.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Similar, not the same. Don’t cherry-pick, and consider what the average non-car enthusiast of today or yesterday would recognize without badging–they’d see “a lot of big old cars.”

          • 0 avatar

            Actually those pictures show alot of shared styling. Only the rambler looks out of place but that’s because they were a bit behind the times.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            I don’t have to cherry-pick and can tell most 1950s and 1960s cars apart at a glance. Just in the compact segment, a Valiant did not look like a Rambler which did not look like a Corvair which did not look like a Lark which did not look like a Falcon.

            There will always be similar elements. If nothing else, they all have 4 wheels and windows. But similar-looking overall? No way.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            “[A]nd [I] can tell most 1950s and 1960s cars apart at a glance.”

            You’ve just proven my point. To the non-car enthusiast, every car in the same era looks similar. It’d be like me asking you to tell me the difference between an Oliver 1950T and an IH 806 if all the identifying marks–including paint, because that makes tractors very identifiable–had been removed.

            I can’t tell very many ’50s cars apart, or ’60s besides outliers like the Continental or Avanti, but I can spot a Sonata vs. a Fusion vs. an Accord at 100 feet.

        • 0 avatar
          9Exponent

          DrZ, I love how you’re always willing to take others to the mat on this matter. I agree with you completely about it.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        *They ALL look similar now. They’re all wind tunnel tested to squeeze MPG, and government mandates to make front ends “pedestrian friendly”, combined with similar low-cost assembly techniques, have made most compact and mid-size cars tough to tell apart.*

        Much like NASCAR. I forget who it’s attributed to but someone at a car test, with non-decal cars, said, “That Ford is the best Chevy that Toyota ever made.”

  • avatar
    bryand

    Is there an overall decline in vehicle sales or is there a shift to light trucks?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The market is down this year. However, sedans/passenger cars are much more down.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      CUV’s dude. That segment is on fire. Dealers can’t keep them on the lot.

      Women want to ride up high. And since American men voluntarily put their testicles in a jar labeled “happy wife, happy life,” most single-vehicle domiciles are going to have whatever the lady of the house wants in the driveway. Sedans used to be the “compromise” vehicle, but no longer.

      Trucks are the show of masculinity for those two-vehicle households who can afford them.

      Sedans aren’t necessarily going to die, but they are going to become a niche like coupes and hatchbacks.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @kvndoom – Mom’s taxi – and in my case Momma’s Money and loan payment. She can drive whatever she dang well pleases.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Believe it or not, there’s actually a middle ground between dick-swinging chauvinism and emasculation.

        • 0 avatar
          Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

          Drzhivago138,That sentiment is one of my least favorite things about this site. If this site is to grow it needs to be less off putting to women. Why be crass or openly hostel to half of the population?

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            If half the population’s irrational insecurities are driving the purchases of pointless, stupid vehicles, I don’t see the issue in then being called out for it on an enthusiast site I run into this issue all the time being the designated “car guy” of my friends. I suggest smart rational alternatives to CUVs and the answer is always “nope. My wife would never go for that.” It’s silliness.

            That being said, I’ll also be the first to argue that irrational insecurity is also the reason behind kvmdoom’s statement that “trucks are the show of masculinity for those two vehicle household who can afford them”. Both genders are trying to compensate/cover. Women don’t want to feel unstylish driving a minivan, old and stuffy in a wagon, nor low class driving a hatchback, and I want the feeling of “security” from being in a tall vehicle, not to mention the appearance of being “active lifestyle” that comes from an outdoorsy looking vehicle. Men need to compensate because men in general can be very insecure about their masculinity, but I’m sure part of the compromise of allowing their wife to buy, and occasionally driving such a soul sucking vehicle as a CUV is that they get to project that they have their balls back by driving a big truck.

          • 0 avatar
            oldladycarnut

            Amen! The assumption that compromise regardless of gender equals metaphorical castration is absurd.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Or, y’know, there’s the portion of the population which is perfectly comfortable in its femininity or masculinity and just wants a CUV or pickup because they’re jack-of-all-trades vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        You have it backwards. When your wife chooses a CUV over a Mini or a VW Beetle or 3 Series convertible, you’re dodging a bullet.

      • 0 avatar
        Driver8

        for those two-vehicle households who can afford gorrillion-month financing to anyone with a pulse, with magic-fiat-helicopter-bucks.

        FTFY

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        kvndoom, I agree that female customers prefer CUVs to sedans of similar price and interior volume. Heels vs. flats. I don’t know any single-vehicle households. However, if that is a significant market, I could see a demand for CUVs with more masculine truck-like styling like the Explorer.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I continue to hold the belief that it is not the functionality/appeal of the CUV that is driving sales. I wholeheartedly believe that all the sales flocking to CUV’s can be attributed to the bloat of modern Pickup trucks. As Pickups become ever more comically large for a passenger/commuter vehicle and as they litter our highway’s and byways with ever greater numbers of urban wannabe cowboys the masses have no choice but to respond by shifting vehicle preferences.

        If all you can see is the tailgate of the vehicle in front of you, day in and day out as pickups pollute our collective field of vision on the road, a consumer preference for additional ride height is the end result. Pickups will continue to get larger as the full sized pickup from 20 years ago would now be considered compact. Another 5 or 6 vehicle cycles will have any man who requires a hefty dose of overcompensation clamoring for larger and larger trucks. The crossover craze will snowball as will the dimensions of crossover vehicles and their ride height.

        It will be a vicious cycle until government regulation and or another gas crunch snaps the populace back to common sense.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          “As Pickups become ever more comically large…”

          Except that pickups haven’t gotten any larger in 30 years.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            Oh really? Remember, most of us, maybe all of us, have eyes and have been alive for more than one or two decades.

            http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/002/109/orly_owl.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Dr Z is right. The F150 has almost the same dimensions as an F150 from the 80s.

            2017 F150 SuperCrew: 243.7″ long, 79.9″ wide, 75.2″ tall

            1987 F150 CrewCab: 245.7″ long, 79″ wide, 73.4″ tall

            Where trucks have dimensionally changed is in the cab. That isn’t a bad thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I should have said something like, “comparing the same configuration, full-size pickups haven’t gotten /appreciably/ larger /in any dimensions that affect usability/ in the last 30 years.”

            Compare, say, a GMT400 extended cab/short bed, and a new K2XX Silverado. There has been an increase in front overhang, which is true of all vehicle segments, but otherwise there’s been a 2″ WB stretch and that’s about it. Width is what seperates full-size, mid-size, and compact pickups, and it’s stayed the same since 1961.

            I won’t disagree that the /perceived/ size of full-size pickups has increased, mostly due to them sitting higher on the frames, having taller bedsides and grilles, and bulkier pillars. But there’s often a difference between perception and reality.

            Adam brought numbers. Did you bring numbers, or just memes?

            (Also, psst, Adam…there wasn’t an F-150 crew cab in 1987. That length number is the F-350 crew cab with an 8′ bed. Wheelbase is a better number to use, since it excludes front overhang, which doesn’t affect driveability much. If we compare wheelbases, we see that there was a 6″ cab stretch in 2004, but otherwise trucks have stayed more-or-less the same since the SuperCab was introduced in 1974.)

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            DrZ-

            Of course, you are correct. That’s what I get for rushing Wikipedia numbers. The SuperCab and SuperCrew are currently the same length with the 6.5′ and 5.5′ bed. So 231.9″ with a 145″ wheelbase. The 1987 SuperCab with a 6.75′ bed was 216″ long witha 138″ wheelbase. So the SuperCab has gained 15″ and 7″ of wheelbase I. 30 years. The 1987 has 93% the length and 95% the wheelbase as the 2017. The current truck is also much safer, meets current crash testing, and has a much more comfortable cab. I wouldn’t call this model bloat though. It’s adding passenger space, safety, and keeping costs down while adding permutations.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “mostly due to them sitting higher on the frames, having taller bedsides and grilles, and bulkier pillars”

            I’d argue that is a *type* of size increase.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Another recurring WTF!

          FULL-SIZED PICKUP’S AREN’T APPRECIABLY LARGER

          @Adam Tonge – correct. Cabs are larger.

          Tire size is much larger which visually gives the appearance of a bigger vehicle and increases ride height.

          My 2010 F150 has 275/65/18 tires. My 1990 F250 had 8.5 inch wide tires with 16 inch wheels. That is a 215 tire.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Wow.
        Since when is coming to a mutually agreeable compromise seen as putting one’s gonads in a jar?

        “Trucks are the show of masculinity for those two-vehicle households who can afford them.”

        You gotta be f^ckin’ kidding me!

        I’m not saying anything else or I’ll get my azz banned.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      It depends on what you consider to be a light truck. I personally don’t consider a lifted hatchback/station wagon a light truck, but those are what’s selling.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        The average age of a new car buyer is 52. Try finding a 52 year old who doesn’t complain about having bad knees/hips/shoulders/back. Crouching down into increasingly lower vehicles with a rough “Sporty” ride isn’t exactly appealing.

        • 0 avatar
          Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

          Mandalorian, you are correct. Seating position is important to us older folks. Now that you can get that with a decent ride, fuel economy and a smaller footprint people will buy the heck out of them. Wait until you add reliable self driving to them. The fleet will turn over so fast it will make your head spin.

        • 0 avatar
          Roberto Esponja

          Bingo. I get a company car with my job, and I have a choice of two sedans or two SUV’s, same as my co-workers. I like the sedans, but ingress-and-egress is definitely more complicated than my SUV’s. That to me is a deal breaker and why I’ve chosen the SUV for over five years now.

        • 0 avatar
          Joss

          That Jack Lord always looked so elegant crouching by his Mercury, gun out. Nice bit of slick hair go with that landau.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      Would like to see how 6 cylinder sales compare to base engine and turbo 4 cylinders that are replacing them.

    • 0 avatar
      rolando

      The “Sedan” market Is down compared to the passenger-vehicle-marketed-legally-sold-as-a-light-truck market, even though they are all built and sold as primarily passenger vehicles.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I don’t know that new cars will solve the problem. The sector’s only growing entrant, the Passat, is comparatively ancient. That said, I can’t think of any entrants that aren’t less than 2-3 years old…. that still doesn’t justify the decline though; there are plenty of equally old entrants in other segments without these problems.

    The form factor just doesn’t make sense for most people in the context of crossovers. I’ll be all ~144K of those lost sales can be found in the CR-V segment alone.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    I still like my Fusion. If it was totaled today I’d buy another tomorrow.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same thing when mine was hit from back by enormous F250. I thought about what to buy if insurance totals my car and could not come up with anything else other than Fusion Titanium again. Fortunately insurance did not total my car because it was a barely one year old.

      BTW ingress and egress is problematic in my Fusion too. I have no back pain or any other body problems but it is difficult to enter or exit from car. But it all goes away when I enter freeway and fun part of owning Fusion starts.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Amen. If my 2013 Impala was smashed up I would look at a Fusion, Malibu or 2.5 Impala LT as a replacement
      and possibly give the Sonata a look too. These cartoonish CUV’s with dink underpowerfed engines and fat price tags are very off putting. Sitting up a few inches higher and a tad more utility isn’t worth driving something that looks like an overturned refrigerator with donk oversized wheels, huge price tag, worse mileage and more ungainly driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I truly believe that the traditional sedan will indeed become a niche vehicle.

    Shrinking greenhouses make getting into and out of one a pain. Plus they have decreased sightlines. So more ‘drivers’ are demanding at least the ability to have a high ride height and not spend much of the time looking at the beltline of surrounding vehicles.

    Plus trunks are by nature less efficient storage spaces. The lack vertical capacity.

    Since too many have some irrational, emotional resentment of wagons and minivans and since many American consumers also have an irrational reaction to hatchbacks the remaining choices are SUVs/CUVs.

    The market has spoken.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I truly believe that the traditional sedan will indeed become a niche vehicle.”

      Yeah, that’s what I believe as well. The trend is to taller vehicles, and with fuel cheap, I hope to see more pickup trucks on the road, and more vehicles with V8 engines. Drill, baby, drill!

      I’m not ready to give up my antique 1989 Camry V6 just yet because it is such a joy to drive, but if it dies, it won’t be replaced with another 4-dr sedan, if replaced at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Trunks have always lacked vertical capacity, but at least at one time they had considerable horizontal capacity to make up for it (though that also meant insane rear overhang). Now that’s not always true, and even when the trunk is nice and long, the lid is a mail slot because of the fastback rear window.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDoctorIsOut

      “Shrinking greenhouses make getting into and out of one a pain. Plus they have decreased sightlines…”

      Agree with this. A few weeks ago I happened to catch a ride in a friend’s well preserved 1985 Accord, a car smaller than my Audi A4 and noticed how much easier it was to get in and out of; I could comfortably live with this car as a daily driver for that reason alone. One contributing factor is the taller greenhouse but the comparing entire door openings it’s clear those of newer vehicles is smaller due to increased crash protection which I noticed especially in the corners of the opening which were far more prominent in newer cars. It’s true for newer SUVs too but the taller opening tends to mitigate that.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “Shrinking greenhouses make getting into and out of one a pain. ”

      You climbing in/out through the windows?

      If you mean the coupe-like rear roof profile on most modern sedans that robs the ability to get in/out of the rear without banging your head, that’s one thing, but the size of the glass area isn’t a factor. It may go along with such styling, but I can’t see how it alone would restrict ingress/egress.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Presumably, he means “shrinking” as in “lowering, especially in the rear,” not just “having a smaller glass area.”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        DrZhivago, was able to understand. Dropping the roofline made ingress/egress more difficult and reduced the greenhouse.

        Have a friend who is 6’10” and who has found the sedans that will accommodate him are increasingly rare. Used to drive around in a Ford Cortina.

        Meanwhile my ‘petite’ wife has trouble seeing out of the same vehicles that my friend cannot fit into.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      We’ll have to see what happens with CAFE. None of the current crop of CUVs are anywhere near compliance. They will all have to be hybrids, even then, it’s iffy whether or not they will achieve compliance without morphing back into hatchbacks.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “We’ll have to see what happens with CAFE”

        I hope they relax the CAFE and mpg mandates. I also hope to see more V8s in SUVs.

        Currently, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7L HEMI is the best all-around SUV buy on the market for the money.

        But I could see possibilities for an Explorer 5.0L V8, or an Enclave/Acadia/Traverse 5.3L V8.

        That would be something worth buying and keeping a long, long time.

        Well, at least until the next leftie-lib greenweenie candidate gets voted into office, and jacks up the price of fuel and prohibits drilling and mining.

      • 0 avatar

        It appears a number meet 2020 and even 2022 standards but 2025 not so much

        Most that meet the 2022 are Hybrids thou.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree I think a 4 door sedan is like a 2dr coupe in the 70’s and 80’s. They will just keep disappearing over the next 15 years until the are a small sliver of the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      The market, with CAFE’s big fat thumb on the scale, has spoken.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Ford got this right with the 2005-2007 Five Hundred and the replacement 2008-2009 Taurus. The new Taurus not so much. I bet if they went back to a taller greenhouse with lower sightlines, higher ride height, large trunk and available AWD with good MPG that sales would be decent.

  • avatar
    stodge

    Damn, the 200 still looks good and the Camry still looks like crap.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agreed. If purchasing based on looks, a Chrysler 200 would be near the top of my list.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        So you like the styling of cars who’s styling you complain about in your comment thread above this one? The 200 was widely crisized for the exact things you seemed to dislike about modern cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          There’s a difference between styling, and the compromises that a certain type of styling creates. I love the look of a lot of current sedans, including the 200 and Maxima, but I wouldn’t want to drive them daily.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          John, the key word is ‘if’. A qualifier which means that it is not.

          Something can look nice, yet be totally impractical and therefore disqualify itself from being purchased by not meeting the required conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Agreed. The new Camry looks like a bloated squintier windowed version of the previous generation with a fatter thicker middle. The massive lower opening and buck tooth smiley grille seal it’s fate!

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    My dad bucked the trend and traded a CRV for a new Accord over the weekend. He does a crapload of highway driving and just wanted something more comfortable with better gas mileage. Admitted he used the CUV-functionality of the CRV basically never. He finally nutted up for the EX-L, meaning finally no one I know drives a vehicle with cloth seats.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      My cousin recently did that too, in a sense.

      He had his wife a Ford F-150 EcoBoost 4 door (that replaced her previous 2wd Expediton), but he bought her a new Accord Sport.

      So, he took the F-150 as his truck, parking his old 7.3L F-350 which he primarily bought for pulling the 5th wheel travel trailer they have, and towing his tractor.

      However, he was telling me that after he decided to try it, he discovered that the F-150 pulls the tractor just fine. He said you can “feel” it back there a lot more than in the 1 ton dually, which isn’t surprising, but he said he never wanted for power/torque or increased braking performance.

      Riding in that Accord back to back with a pre-refresh Altima, its hard to see where someone on here said they’re both equivalent penalty boxes.

      Maybe the Accord is more like an Altima than it is an S-Class, but it’s far and above the Altima in NVH, solid feeling (the Accord feels carved from a single piece of material, whereas the Altima feels like there is about a dozen seams/bolts/etc that are not properly fitted), drivetrain smoothness and seat comfort. There is absolutely no reason to choose the Nissan over the Honda, unless your budget/credit makes Honda a non-option. Even then, I’d buy a two year old Accord over a new Altima.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @JohnTaurus – I’m betting that a current F150 with max tow/max payload isn’t too far off in capabilities as that 7.3 F350.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The current Accord is so much better than both the Altima and Camry it isn’t even funny. Honda even manages the CVT better than Nissan and somehow puts more power down to the pavement than most others. The problem I have with the Sport is the rubber band 19″ rubber that effectively turn this thing into a deathtrap during the 5 months of Winter we have. That means costly Winter tires and a busier harsher ride.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          The Accord V6 Automatic, maybe.

          The 4-cyl CVT version is no better than the Altima CVT.

          CVTs may be the wave of the future, but they’re not better than hydraulic step automatics.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m fine with sedans going niche as long as that means they’ll actually *cater* to a niche instead of the mainstream market.

    There is a difference between being niche and being anonymous garbage that doesn’t sell.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Right now, midsize 4-dr sedans are a bargain, many of them routinely selling at or below $20K.

      That’s why the Camry does so well. It is a great midsized entry sedan and has all the amenities even in its lowest trim.

      While the V6 Camry is a superb 4-dr sedan, it sells for what an Avalon XLE sells for. Thus, not a good deal.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I wonder what sort of crazy deals VW is slinging for that uptick in Passats. I’ve sung the praises of the rental SE I had last year here before. If I had to buy a midsizer, it’d be near the top of my list assuming good deals were available.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I’m not really a sedan guy, but I do admire the Passat. It’s a good value and has a properly huge trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      The v6 passat se can easily be had for 3-4k under mrsp. My coworker has a 2016.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It is not that they are selling a lot of Passats it it just that a year ago they barely sold any. Once the buy back customers are gone Passat sales are going to drop like a rock.

      They alienated a good chunk of their customer base that bought VWs for their false clean diesel claims. Of those customers that they are retaining they have pulled forward many years worth of demand as they were forced to replace the car now instead of in the next few years as they have planned.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I’d love to rent a Passat, bit I’d hate to buy anything by Volkswagen.

      Volkswagen’s are drivers cars, not owner’s cars. I loved driving mine, but it was a money pit. But when you rent, you don’t have to own it! Win!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If Tesla can ever uncork the Model 3 production line, the reservation backlog should have a measurable impact on the midsize numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Interesting point. Maybe it is already playing a part. There are 400k deposits on the Model 3, which is going to start delivering later this year. Yes, most people won’t get theirs likely until late 2018, but this is a large cut of the ~$30k sedan market that has already been allocated to the newcomer. How many of those 400k people would otherwise be shopping for a midsize sedan this year?

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Timothy Cain’s argument is truly flawed. He seems to be arguing that the decline of the midsize car is due to the fact that most models are “old”. In reality, even if all midsize cars were refreshed or replaced right now, their decline would not be reversed. The reality is that most middle-class car buyers have bought into the idea that SUV is the car that they should own, even though they won’t ever use the SUV for “sport” or “off-road”. In most cases, the ginormous three-row seat SUV remains a single-passenger commuter car for most owners.

    One of the reasons for this is that SUVs are actually ridiculously cheap. Blame the EPA fuel economy standards for that, which basically say that if the vehicle is classified as a “truck”, it gets a huge pass with regards to fuel economy standards. As a result, on a Honda dealer parking lot, a V6 Accord and a Honda Pilot (which is built on the same platform using the excellent V6 engine) are sold for exactly the same price! Even though Pilot is of course offering a whole lot more of a car than Accord (for one you get that extra row of seats, and a huge cargo room).

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I don’t think he’s arguing that old cars are the reason for the midsized struggles. Tim has wrote a lot about why midsized sedans are dying over the last year or so.

      “The Chevrolet Malibu, all-new last year, the freshest midsize car on the dealer forecourt, only a few months ago offering evidence that a new design could produce growth, is losing 6,900 sales per month.”

      He is suggesting that new versions of the best selling sedans (Camry, Accord, Altima) will increase sales and market share of those models while leaving the rest of the field less crumbs to fight over..

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      What decade are you living in? Our roads today barely pass muster for proper pavement in the OECD, which means everyone needs sidewall and ground clearance. Furthermore, light-trucks don’t get a pass anymore. Congress did make life easy for giant quad cab monstrosities, but the rest of the light-truck segment is under severe pressure. If the standards remain unchanged, many of today’s CUVs and SUVs will need 30% fuel economy improvement in just 8 years. CAFE 2025 could actually reverse the CUV boom, depending on how much cash buyers want to part with.

      Some SUV segments are already badly affected. Vehicles like Tahoe will probably never be compliant. They cost a fortune as a result. Wrangler will suffer the same fate, and 4Runner will probably suffer. Xterra is already dead.

      CAFE is actually trying to force everyone into compact and midsize sedans, while tolerating fullsize trucks for commercial purposes. All other segments are slated for extermination or luxury niche.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Wife wanted an SUV. I did not. Wife got a CUV that she thinks is an SUV (Mazda CX-5). It drives like a car (Mazda6) and gets good gas mileage (high 20s/low 30s) but “sits up high” like an SUV. Win, win. I suspect most other CUV sales are for the same reason(s).

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      No longer will 10 different automakers be able to continue offering one, but it seems likely there will always be a midsize sedan offered somewhere by someone if you want really it.

      I’m saddened more by the euthanizing of the Lexus GS than I am of a contraction of the midsize sedan segment.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    WHO DIES NEXT!?!?!?!?

    *looks at Mazda6*

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoomfan

      I’d be surprised if Mazda discontinued the 6 as it rides on the CX-5 platform anyway (and that is their best seller). Development costs are minimal compared to a car on a whole separate platform.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Most of these cars share stuff with CUVs.

        I don’t know if he 6 will die, but it has the lowest sales of the remaining midsized sedans (Since the Regal will not be a sedan soon). If sales keep falling, it may not be worth it anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          The Regal actually has the right idea IMO. The fastback profile makes trunks so inaccessible that it might as well be made into a hatch like the Ford Mondeo.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Fusion liftback would be a nice addition stateside. I would prefer the hatch over the mail slot truck. The Fusion’s trunk is a fine size. The opening is bad.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Really a shame that Mazda doesn’t see the wisdom in spreading the CX-9 engine across their cars and suv line.

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    Hyundai again has between $3350-6000 cash on the hood of remaining 2017 Sonatas this month. I hear the refreshed 2018 model is due in June or July, but dang, that’s still a lot of money for a pretty competitive midsized sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Just looked at rows of 2017 Sonata SE sedans and they were priced at 18995. Eco and Sports were 19995. That is about 4000-4600 off sticker. A Limited turbo was on sale for 26999 with a sticker of 35510 or 8511 off sticker. That is a steal!

  • avatar
    Dan

    All of the Dave Ramsey / speed racer reasons to go for a car over a SUV lead right past the Camcord to a Mustang instead. Which is down 29% YOY, which amounts to a rounding error against Camcord volumes. Or past the Mustang all the way to the Miata, which cracks the four digit barrier on a good month.

    Sedans aren’t very good cars when you think about it, which fortunately few people do.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I like my G. I enjoy driving, don’t need AWD or high ground clearance, DO need 4 doors and a rear seat though. What would you suggest that isn’t a sedan?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I doubt whether OEMs will ever get it or not, but when they start building cars you can see out of, are easy to enter and exit, they may make a comeback.

    I’m hoping my Impala lasts a good long time.

  • avatar
    plee

    My take on declining mid size sedan sales. Rental companies instead of buying thousands of mid size sedans are buying CUVs and SUVs in huge numbers. The resale value of one/two year old sedans has dropped like a rock where CUVs and SUVs have strong resale values. It may be hard to prove my theory but this may be a significant part of the decline in the number of mid size sedans. Altimas, Malibus, Fusions, Camrys and Sonatas have been beneficiaries of huge fleet sales in recent years, now not as much.

  • avatar

    The only deathwatch is for Chrysler for cancelling their entire midsize carline. Actually, Chrysler should be on dead watch since their entire line up is rubbish. Just look at JD Powers and Consumers Report if you don’t believe me.

    The Camry and Accord will be fine. Both Toyota and Honda are run by people that know what they are doing. In contrast GM and Chrysler are run by short term thinking idiots. In a decade they will both be back on the government teat.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • PrincipalDan: I’ll bet that Tahoe Custom trim only available with 2.7 TRIPOWER!
  • NTGD: To be the Commodore of Suburbans wouldn’t it have to be the new Blazer? Commodore went from being a...
  • FreedMike: I see TONS of Corollas around here with rental-car plates and bar codes in the windows, and the...
  • FreedMike: …and in so doing, lost all the 100 Expedition customers nationwide who used them to tow 10 zillion...
  • crtfour: Hopefully the IRS will get rid of the jacked up look on the back of these (which I have always thought...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States