By on September 29, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: HondaGeorge W. Bush was finishing his second year as president of the United States when Toyota reported 434,145 Camry sales in calendar year 2002. No other passenger car generated more U.S. volume that year.

Or the next year. Or the next. Or the one after that. In fact, the Toyota Camry’s reign as America’s best-selling car continued for a decade and a half, stretching from 2002 through 2016.

Unless the launch of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry results in a superior final third of 2017, however, Toyota’s tenure atop the leaderboard will end this year. Ahead of the Camry by 1,153 sales through the first eight months of 2017 is the Honda Civic.

With 2018 Civics arriving in Honda showrooms on October 3, 2017, Honda is determined to leave well enough alone. The recipe is unchanged. Honda will not mess with success.

2018 Toyota Camry LE - Image: ToyotaTo be fair, Honda says the Civic was America’s best-selling car last year, though that involves retail sales only and is a statement unaccompanied by actual sales data. Moreover, it’s not as though Honda hasn’t provided the Civic lineup with plenty of updates over the last number of months. Availability of the Type R hatchback and Si sedans and coupes expanded over the course of 2017.

For the conventional American Honda Civic lineup, however, prices rise by only $100. The basic LX 2.0-liter sedan with a six-speed manual transmission now costs $19,715 including $875 in destination charges, up from $19,615 in MY2017. The coupe bodystyle adds $410 to the cost of most trim levels. Non-Si Civic sedans top out at $27,575; coupes at $27,200. Si models feature the same price regardless of bodystyle: $24,975 or $25,175 with summer tires.

Through the first eight months of 2017, the Civic lineup generated 248,928 sales, a 3-percent drop from 2016 outputs when, by calendar year’s end, Civic sales reached an all-time record high. According to the Automotive News Data Center, 49,785 of the Civics sold in the U.S. so far this year are hatchbacks, 20 percent of the total.

The Camry, of course, will now attempt to reverse the downward trend of early 2017. It started with a 13-percent year-over-year improvement in August that translated to a huge leap in midsize market share.

[Images: Honda, Toyota]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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26 Comments on “Primed to End the Toyota Camry’s 15-Year Run, Honda Does Not Mess With 2018 Civic’s Recipe...”

  • avatar
    velvet fog

    Maybe it’s different in the great white north, but down here, the civic competes with the Corolla and the Accord matched up with the Camry.

    • 0 avatar

      That was my initial interpretation, but the author is just talking total sales numbers, irrespective of segment.

      • 0 avatar

        “That was my initial interpretation, but the author is just talking total sales numbers, irrespective of segment.”

        Tim Cain is looking for anything to write, regardless of the insanity behind it.

        Hey, Honda Civic outsells lots of things. Let’s compare Civic to, say, Generac standby generators?

        I mean, as long as we’re comparing sales numbers of random things that have no relationship to one another.

    • 0 avatar

      It really is an incredible Civic. I had a sport hatch manual, now I have a Type R, VERY good cars, better than the competition I think.

      • 0 avatar

        If you didn’t think they were better than the competition, why would you have bought one?

        I think they are ugly, so I bought a GTI. :-)

        • 0 avatar

          I’m not standing up for Tim Cain but I suppose one way to look at this is to say that small C segment sedans are now adequate transport for 4 adults like the old medium sedan used to be.

          Driven the Mazda 3 SP25, Civics and Korean sedans and they feel comparable to the 1990s medium Japanese.

          Be that as it may, many people will move to a crossover anyway.

  • avatar

    I guess the nameplate is enough for people to overlook the car’s pure, unadulterated ugliness.

  • avatar

    “The coupe bodystyle adds $410 to the cost of most trim levels”

    Honda literally has to pay a supplier to take those two extra doors off to the recycling plant. /s

  • avatar

    Sorry but no way Toyota lets this happen. Some of the drop may have been due to people who were waiting for the new one and that will correct itself. However if that doesn’t cut it look for the ability to lease a new Camry at lower than ever monthly payments. Toyota has been buying the #1 spot for years and I’d bet it all on the fact that they will do all that is necessary to retain, that title no matter how much lost revenue is involved.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I would be interested in seeing,comparing the ATP percentage of Civics and Camrys plus fleet sales added to the mix. From what I’ve read over the years the Accord also has outsold the Camry at retail more years than not and that could happen again once the gen 10 Accord begins to fill the pipeline.

      • 0 avatar

        The only question is how cheap that 2017 SE will lease will be come December. I can see some limited cases of them offering $99 a month for what will certainly be a very low mileage allowance.

      • 0 avatar

        When I picked up my rental at Dulles last night, the Hertz President’s Circle area was a depressing sea of new Camrys with a couple Fusion Hybrids mixed in, and few random CUVs – I almost grabbed an Envision just to see what it was like. I’m driving a Fusion. I was really hoping for a Passat. Or even a Mercedes CLA like I got on my last trip to DC from Reagan. Silly car but way more fun than these things.

  • avatar

    The Honda Civic is a smaller car that competes with the Toyota Corolla, likewise, the Honda Accord is a midsize car that competes with the Toyota Camry.

    I drive a ’03 Camry and it has been a great car. Toyota redesigned the Camry for the 2002 model year and so the ’03 is the same body style.

    A common complaint about the Camry is its boring style, so Toyota answered that with more aggressive styling for 2018.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I’m really surprised this new Civic is such a strong seller. I see the styling as, well, the only word that comes to mind is ugly. The Si sedan is probably the least offensive to my eye, but the rest of the line-up is horrible to look at, especially the Type-R.

  • avatar

    My husband likes the way the new Civic looks. “Best looking one yet” he says.

    I said no. nope. can’t do it.

    Then a 1st gen Lexus LS drove by. I said “now that’s a nice looking sedan.” He said “ugly” “grandma car”.

    But what do I know right? There isn’t one single sedan on the market today for sale that interests me.

  • avatar

    Maybe for the next refresh, they should just make the Accord smaller and call it a Civic.

  • avatar

    Volume knob. I need it.

  • avatar

    The 2002 Camry was 189 inches long and 70 inches wide. The 2017 Civic is 182 inches long and 70 inches wide. Not much difference between an old mid-size and a new compact, so the buyer of a 2002 Camry might well consider a Civic today.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    God it is ugly

  • avatar

    Back when I was a regular at the “Cheers and Gears” GM fanboy forum, there was a strange correlation between the number of members who said “ew”, “ugly” and the success of the GM-competing cars they were commenting on.

    It seems like this correlation is true here among the Best and Brightest (TM) as well.

  • avatar

    Strange proportions, uninspiring.

  • avatar

    It’s weird the blandest car on the market has been replaced at the top of the sales charts by undoubtedly the most disgustingly hideous car on the market. From inoffensive to loudly offensive. I wonder why. Having driven one, it’s not particularly for its driving abilities, that amount of people don’t care about driving en masse, and it is woeful inside,well compared to a European car anyway.

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