Honda Declares the Midsize Car Alive As It Prepares to Launch Next Accord

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
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honda declares the midsize car alive as it prepares to launch next accord

One reason why this post was published Wednesday instead of earlier in the week is that I was at a Chicago-area event where Honda PR was presenting the all-new Accord to local media.

This particular presentation was unusual in that Honda focused less on the new car’s specs and features and more on a major question that’s hovering over the midsize-sedan class – namely, will the segment even exist in a few years? Or will crossovers (CUVs) have fully taken over by then?

It’s an important question for Honda (and any automaker, really), and it’s obvious that reporters are asking why Honda would spend resources on redesigning a midsize sedan when the crossover market is so damn hot.

Honda, of course, pushed back by reminding assembled media that we’re talking Accord here, and it’s one of the best-selling cars of all-time, one of the most well-known nameplates, a bread-and-butter car for the brand, one of the most heavily awarded cars of all time, et cetera. So why wouldn’t the brand stay with a car that does such volume, even if the rest of the segment is seeing a decline?

The company has a point – it never occurred to me that Honda would give up on Accord (or Toyota give up on Camry) despite the shift in market trends. Those two models are just too damn popular.

It was a different point of pushback that caught my ear. The company spokesman giving the presentation politely suggested that journalists are buying into the midsize deathwatch narrative a little too easily, because it’s easy to see a near 20-percent decline and say, “Well that’s it, the trend will continue and the segment will die.” Never mind that the trend could stop or even reverse in future years.

What’s interesting is looking at what cars have left the midsize segment in the past couple of years – or are about to. It’s a small number. Mitsubishi no longer has an offering there because the company is barely alive in the North American market. Volkswagen is planning the CC’s death, but a replacement is on the way. And while focusing on trucks and SUVs was part of the reasoning behind FCA’s choice to kill the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, it’s only one reason why those two cars are dead and soon to be dead.

Those two models were killed in part because they failed to compete at a high enough level to justify investment, and FCA felt it better to focus in the short term on building models that sell. The company’s struggles dictated this – FCA simply had to concentrate its efforts on its best-sellers in ways other OEMs haven’t had to. The 200 also lacked rear headroom – a fatal flaw in this class – and it’s possible Sergio Marchionne wanted to pare the lineup down in order to merge with another automaker.

Automakers aren’t yet fleeing the midsize segment, then. Both the Camry and Accord are fully redesigned for this year and Nissan’s Altima is expected to follow suit in short order. Other vehicles in the segment have been recently refreshed.

Yet just about every journalist, pundit and analyst has predicted the death of the midsize sedan (we haven’t, exactly. As we state in our Midsize Sedan Deathwatch pieces: “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.”)

However, I think it’s important to note that “decline” does not equal “death.”

What I mean by that is while the segment is likely to see fewer sales unless consumer tastes shift back (keep an eye on gas prices, and yes, I know crossovers are much more fuel-efficient than before), and while a model or two may disappear, the segment isn’t likely to.

What’s more likely, in my view, is that midsize segment will simply no longer be the dominant class.

It’s human nature to overreact to trends. Think about the aging athlete who has a bad year and is assumed to be too old to be any good anymore. Sometimes, that’s the case, but sometimes it’s just an off year and her or she bounces right back the next season. Other times he or she is no longer dominant but still can perform at a high level. Either way, a decline doesn’t always signify the end.

That’s what I think will happen to the midsize segment. The rumors of its death have been exaggerated.

Still, there is concern outside of what we called the “big three” – Accord, Camry and Nissan Altima. As Tim noted before, the non-big-three midsizers are suffering.

While I won’t be saying prayers for the Malibu or Fusion anytime soon, that news could be worrisome for Subaru Legacy and Mazda6 fans. The good news is that the Legacy was just refreshed, and since it shares architecture with the Outback, it’s likely safe for now.

As for the 6, Mazda already told us they had no intent, for now, of killing it. But as Tim noted in that piece, it’s not just about sales numbers but about profit. On the other hand, the 6’s driving dynamics live up to Mazda’s chosen “zoom zoom” identity, and the company could keep the 6 around just for that reason, even if the profit equation isn’t so favorable.

It’s clear that for Honda, Toyota and Nissan, everything is still relatively rosy in the midsize segment. But with 35 percent fewer nameplates in the class than there were a decade ago, and with almost 20 percent of CUV conquests coming from the midsize class, things do look a little dire.

Dire doesn’t mean dead, though. The midsize segment isn’t going anywhere, nor is the Accord. Adjust expectations accordingly, but don’t start the funeral dirge just yet.

[Image: Honda]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for, CarFax,, High Gear Media, Torque News,,, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as,, and He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Akear Akear on Aug 13, 2017

    The trend towards SUVs is not the only thing that has caused decline in Detroit sedan sales. One of the main reason for this decline is the superiority of the Camry, Accord, and Altima. These cars are selling at a pace that GM would die for even ten years ago. The Camry alone outsells both Buick and Cadillac combined. This is why these powerful Japanese companies can survive virtually any downturn in the economy. In the next economic downturn both GM and FCA are in deep trouble. I don't think Chrysler will survive. In hindsight I believe cancelling both the 200 and Dart were a terrible decision made by Chrysler. Lets hope Telsa can pull up the slack when GM and FCA go bust. Imagine the source of pride there would be if an American manufacturer designed and engineered the Accord.

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Aug 13, 2017

      If that could have been, it'd be called "Oldsmobile Cutlass!" We know that reality doesn't match a best hope, sometimes!

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Aug 13, 2017

    Why does the edit function disappear so fast now? There's not enough time to go to the bathroom!

  • Ajla "the state worked with BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen in 2020 to agree to a different playbook.""The automaker applied to join the group but was denied over what it said was retaliation"This seems like a pretty important part to the story that folks are ignoring.
  • Theflyersfan Some of my extended family have lived in Orange County/Anaheim area since WW2 ended. They were in Anaheim before Disney and when there were actually orange groves. When I lived out there, I battled up from Ventura County down there a few times a month for dinner and ballgames and it was always interesting to hear from the older members about what things were like out there before it all really blew up. And how starting in the 1950s, they could no longer see the mountains anywhere and the sky was frequently this sick brownish haze. And then starting in the late 1990s, when things really started to clean up, they said there were now more days when they could see the mountains again compared to not, and it was really only the Santa Ana winds that brought in the gunk from the Inland Empire into the basin. There's still a long way to go - during the pandemic, it was wild seeing videos of how clean the air got when so many people were working from home, but it shows that even with all of the heavy industry there, it can be done. I know everyone is all over the map when it comes to climate change and causes or if it's happening, but regardless of views on that, I think we can all agree that burning less gasoline and diesel helps everyone breathe a bit easier when we don't have as many smog alert days.
  • Fred It's always someone else's fault. Now where is my bonus?
  • Canam23 I moved to Los Angeles in 1968 and half the time the air was unbreathable. It is 100% better now thanks to the work of the AQMD. If you remember, when the first pollution controls were mandated in the 70's, Detroit said it was impossible to meet them. The Japanese just started working on the problem and just did it. All the tougher laws to mandate air pollution have resulted in not just cleaner air for our children, but also much more efficient engines in our vehicles. So Stellantis, I'm not buying it.
  • Theflyersfan Nope. Has nothing to do with Gladiator sales falling off of a cliff and having 5-figure discounts. Or...YTD 2023 compared to last year:Compass +7%Wrangler -14%Gladiator -31%Cherokee -25%Grand Cherokee +6%Renegade -35%Wagoneer -31%Grand Wagoneer: -14%End of 3Q 2023: 490,106 Jeeps soldEnd of 3Q 2022: 541,297 Jeeps sold490K is still a decent number of expensive SUVs sold, especially Grand Cherokees, but it's still a decline. And people want the 4xe models, so that could reverse the trend if they crank more of them out. But let's blame the government for everything. It'll lead a news cycle on any red hat network.