By on January 10, 2018

2018 Toyota Camry and 2018 Honda Accord - Images: Toyota & Honda

Coke and Pepsi. Colt and Smith & Wesson. Bert and Ernie. Camry and Accord.

The greatest rivalries inspire both loyalty and loathing among fans on either sides of the fence, but there can be only one victor. In the automotive world, sales are the yardstick by which success is measured, as passion alone can’t keep a car model alive.

For the sedan segment, no rivalry is fiercer than that of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, both longstanding standouts in the midsize class. With both models taking a larger and larger share of the shrinking market, and having both received an extensive revamp for the 2018 model year, how did the two challengers perform in 2017?

The next-generation Camry was first out of the gate, bearing a new, somewhat controversial design, and a massaged 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivering impressive efficiency. Toyota retained the V6 upgrade. As summer passed, the new Accord joined the race. Arguably the looker of the two, the 2018 Accord ditched its long-running coupe variant, kept the manual transmission alive, and endowed the engine bay with a duo of turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants.

We talked about these models once or twice.

2018 Toyota Camry LE - Image: Toyota

In a year that saw U.S. light-duty vehicle sales fall for the first time since the recession, it was crossovers, SUVs, and trucks that ended 2017 on a high note, not sedans. Still, there’s volume to be had, and Camry and Accord have the reputation and name recognition to collect more of those remaining buyers.

Over the past 12 months, ending December 31st, some 322,655 Americans took home a Honda Accord. On the other side of the ring, 387,081 Americans welcomed a Camry into their lives. That’s 20 percent more buyers.

While the Camry won this particular sales race, both models saw sales declines compared to the previous year. The drop from 2016 to 2017 volume was only 0.4 percent for the Camry, while the Accord declined 6.5 percent. It’s worth mentioning again, for what it’s worth, that the new Camry arrived first. Still, if both models shrunk in volume, can either of them really claim a win?

Toyota predicted the new Camry would invigorate the midsize segment. Clearly, that didn’t happen, though it likely prevented a steeper Camry sales loss.

2018 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T - Image: Honda

Despite the declines, December saw the two models head in strikingly opposite directions. Last month, Accord sales reached an 11-month sales low, with volume sinking 34.7 percent, year-over-year. In contract, Camry sales rose 29.7 percent, year-over-year — a 31-month high. Looking at the existing sales trend, that figure doesn’t seem all that organic. Still, those are the official stats.

And there you have it. Camry won the battle, not just between it and Accord, but between it and every other car in the United States. The Accord placed fourth overall. Between the two models sit two compacts, one from each automaker. Honda Civic sales rose 2.8 percent in 2017, cementing the model’s second-place finish. Meanwhile, the Toyota Corolla, despite sinking 13 percent in 2017, managed to pull off a bronze medal win.

If you’re curious as to the performance of other midsizers, here you go: The Nissan Altima finished third in the midsize sedan class, though sales fell 17 percent in 2017. Volume totalled 254,996 units. Behind it was the Ford Fusion with 209,623 sales — a 21.1 percent drop compared to 2016. Rounding out the rear of the top five was the Chevrolet Malibu with 185,857 vehicles sold. That’s an 18.4 percent decline for the year.

[Images: Toyota, Honda]

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75 Comments on “So, Which of These Two Models Won the Race Last Year?...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My pick is the Accord, but the Camry will likely be more popular.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Hertz concurs.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree the Accord is a standout, but the Camry is not a standout model based on critical acclaim.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          The Accord is a standout because it can be had with a real transmission. With a slushbox, I’d take the Camry, for its more involving engines.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            I think the Accord beats the Camry 6. It also has the better auto/powertrain
            http://www.motortrend.com/cars/honda/accord/2018/2018-toyota-camry-xse-v6-vs-2018-honda-accord-touring-20t-comparison-review/

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        You said it FreedMike. I’d like to have seen a breakdown of fleet vs retail sales for them. I’d bet the farm that the Accord kicked Camry’s @$$ up one side and down the other.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Fleet sales Jan-Oct 2017: 47K. Total sales Jan-Oct 2017: 308K. 15% fleet. Looks like the Camry’s total sales edge is based on fleet, with retail numbers being roughly equal to the Accord. I don’t think that constitutes an @$$ kicking.

          The @$$ kicking occurs in the enthusiast press, but it always has.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I’m betting that fleet rate climbed significantly at the end of the year as the pulled out the win over the Civic after being in second place for most of the year. So as I expected they pulled out all the stops to ensure their win and I bet to ensure it a lot of it was good old fashioned rental car dumping.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Entirely possible. Toyota doesn’t want the Camry to be No.2 in the segment and seems to have decided that fleet sales can be profitable without damaging the brand. The Camry still has high resale and retail, so perhaps it is working for most consumers. It’s a no-win on enthusiast forums, though, as the same people who make the McDonald’s analogy of sales success then revel in the news of the Accord retail victory.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            As usual, the Camry beats the Accord in sales if counting fleet.

            Well, considering that corporations are “people” too, guess that does count as more “Americans” buying the Camry.

            Wouldn’t be surprised if that huge disparity in Accord/Camry sales for Dec. was due to Toyota unloaded more Camrys to fleet (not only to get rid of excess inventory, but to win the sales crown over the Civic).

            Have yet to see one review/comparison where the new Camry bests the Accord.

            The Accord’s biggest problem may be within Honda’s lineup (putting aside, crossovers like the CR-V) – the “super-sized” Civic.

            The recent iteration of the Civic has grown so much in size that a good # of Honda buyers feel that Civic is roomy enough where they don’t need to opt for the Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            If consumers cared much about the winner of autojournalist comparison reviews, the Mazda6 wouldn’t be one of the worst sellers in the segment.

            A December fleet surge doesn’t negate the near-parity in retail sales between Accord and Camry for the first 10 months of the year for which sales numbers are available. This doesn’t make the Accord some elite product or their buyers automotive sages. They are both highly left-brain options chosen by retail consumers in roughly the same number because they both serve their intended purpose as high-quality midsize appliances very well.

            2018 will be a better metric of how retail customers feel about these cars since it will be the first full year of the redesigns. The new Accord looks like an excellent effort, perhaps it will solidify a sales lead.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            30, the 2014 Camry drops $7,000 vs 2014 Malibu drops $2,000 from new prices today. They are both $13K in 3-years.

            Less than 40,000 miles compared to 2017/2018 models: $20K for the Camry and $15K for the Malibu.

            So the old wive’s tale of Toyota and their resale is just that. Today, Camry and Accord are the most expensive in the segment.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            While The Mazda6 gets lauded by the automotive press for its handling prowess (particularly, its steering feel), it gets less laudatory marks when it comes to things like interior space, road noise, power, etc.

            Things that the American buyer place a priority over than “steering feel.”

            Along with that, there’s Mazda’s lagging dealer network, non-competitive lease deals and Mazda trying to be the “old VW” (trying to be the “premium” mass market brand and hence, charging more).

            But as to the Accord and Camry – there’s a reason why one has stayed at/near the top when it has come to average transaction prices and the other has plunged towards the bottom (and at one point, reaching the bottom).

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        exactly

        Toyota is reinvigorating the rental car market

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      The Civic is the old Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      monkeydelmagico

      “The greatest rivalries inspire both loyalty and loathing among fans on either sides of the fence” – S.W.

      Hyperbole? I don’t think anyone cares enough about these appliances to be either fiercely loyal or loathe. A Camaro loyalist wouldn’t be caught dead in a Mustang. A Camry owner can be swayed by $10.- less per month and a free oil change gift card.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Motor Trend said it best:

      “Toyota built a better Camry, but Honda built the better car”.

    • 0 avatar
      Giltibo

      The Camry has a lower content / price starting point, making it more attractive for people who look for a more affordable vehicle… and for fleets.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    Camry is better looking. if they had a coupe it would be on my list, but single, male = no 4 door Camry

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Ginger or Mary Ann. Betty or Veronica. Beta or VHS. Converse or Pro Keds. Marvel or DC. I’ll take the Honda Accord in this instance.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Camry V6 and Regal GS are the only things in this class I’d consider.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I suspect those in the segment favor NA because of reliability concerns of turbos (largely unfounded in 2018 though) and reliability is very high on the list for shoppers in this segments.
    I suspect a mid cycle refresh of the Camry nose wouldn’t hurt though.It’s especially atrocious in the Sport lineup.
    I think the JDM should follow suit with the KDM and just hire European designers from luxury German marques.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Cimarron I suspect you are correct

      People in this segment don’t just run out and buy what catches their immediate attention. I suspect that non luxury 4 door sedan buyers plan to keep the vehicles a pretty long time (not a 3 year lease or 5 year note) and their research leads them to believe (whether correct or not) that the Camry with NA engines and no CVT will offer better long term reliability.

      I know I know the 1.5L turbo at 360 HP will last just a long as the 3.5L NA at 300 HP. All the problems with turbo engines and CVTs have been worked out.

      That question will be answered about 2025.

      • 0 avatar
        JDG1980

        The Accord 2.0T puts out 252 horsepower, so it’s been detuned quite a bit from the Civic Type R version (306 hp). It shouldn’t be running at anywhere near its limits.

        • 0 avatar
          volvo

          Yes I see my post I meant 260 hp for the accord and 300 hp for the Camry. Those are rounded numbers

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          For the umpteenth time, the 2.0T is not just a “detuned” Type R engine. Conflating how hard it is or isn’t working for its output in relation to the Type R is meaningless. Different internals, different turbos, etc.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I can’t wrap my head around the a-pillar shape on the Camry…why on earth does it get wider as it gets higher on the pillar. The vertical vents on the rear bumper cover are odd looking too…ugly details.

    The Accord is just overall ugly.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Any info on how many Camrys are being pumped into fleets? My guess is it’s a LARGE number.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      A prior TTAC article gave rental sales through Oct 2017 of 47K Camries, out of a goodcarbadcar.net reported total 308K sales over the same period:

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/12/dont-gentle-rental-nissan-boosts-u-s-sales-numbers-flooding-americas-fleets/

      So, ~15%. If that ratio held for Nov and Dec, then Accord and Camry retail sales were approximately equal in 2017.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        My bet is that the Camry rental car sales skyrocketed in Dec as Toyota pulled out all the stops to ensure the Camry retained that best selling car title. According to goodcarbadcar 43,331 (which sounds like a fudged number) Camrys were sold in Dec. Compare that to the rest of the months and they ranged from a high of 37,051 in Aug to a low of 20,313 back in Jan. The Dec 2016 number was 33,412. http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/toyota-camry-sales-figures/ While they stepped up the retain incentives as they always do at year end, my bet is they really stepped up the fleet incentives to see those numbers.

        Toyota takes that best selling crown seriously and seems pretty willing to buy that title.

        • 0 avatar
          volvo

          OTOH my speculation is that seeing the next gen Accord and Camry design (cosmetic and mechanical) consumers snapped up every old gen Accord they could get their hands on and when those ran out turned to the new gen Camry. But as you say next year’s sales will provide data on acceptance of the new Accord and Camry designs.

          Since fleet sales are integral to this thread I do have a question.

          Do the rental companies buy direct from the manufacturer or do they purchase through the fleet department of local dealerships?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    They are both ugly, useless, and boring, so I really could not possibly care less which the lemmings and rental fleets prefer slightly. Both will be more common than they deserve.

    Gun held to my head to pick one, it would be the Accord, as it is slightly less ugly and slightly less boring. Gun held to my head to pick something in this class, Passat all day, every day.

    • 0 avatar
      jfk-usaf

      Couldn’t have said it any better.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “useless, and boring, so I really could not possibly care less which the lemmings…”

      Eternal Euro-snob strikes again!

      How are they useless exactly?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You would choose the Passat over every midsize sedan. Wow you have the VW love hard.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Which is ironic because the Fusion feels more like a VW than the Passat. But Ford isn’t a European marque.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Granted, I actually really liked my rental ’16 Passat 1.8TSi SE+Tech a few summers ago, questions of long term reliability aside, purely from a comfort/dynamics/features perspective I’d choose it over most of the midsize field (I’ve rented most in the 2014-2017 timeframe), as “Americanized” and “dumbed-down” as it may be. Powertrain was super efficient and responsive, comfy ergos, held the road great, adaptive cruise available at a very appealing price point. I think these facelifted Passats after the initial 2012-2014s with the old 2.5 I5 are really kind of overlooked in the midsize market. Looks wise and interior wise, not having sat in the new Accord or Camry, but exterior I prefer the cleaner classier looking Passat.

        This is coming from a dyed-in-the-wool Toyota guy.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I’ve got no issue with the Passat, it’s roomy, the interior is nicer than most admit, and the 1.8T is a lovely little engine. Frankly, without brand baggage it would probably sell well.

          But the Fusion still feels more like my MkV Sportwagen and the current Golf than the Passat does.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I absolutely LOATHE Honda’s “directional” alloy wheel designs that they introduced a few years ago. Conversely, despite them being oversized and under-tired, the Camry’s lace-spoke alloys look very classy (and will be a bear to keep clean). If I were in the market, I would actually try to score a deal on a nice leftover K-platform ’17 Camry XLE-V6. Tried and true superbly durable, roomy, and quiet chassis, classic non-DI 2GR-FE motor and Aisin 6spd, and the interior is at least passable after the ’15 facelift. I’d learn to love the Cutlass Ciera-tier C pillar DLO fail and baleen front grille.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Fix the wacky front, get rid of the slots on the back, and I could almost live with a Camry hybrid. But then again, I’d have to live with the questionable interior.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the next round. More interesting to see if Acura redoes the ILX with the new 10th gen chassis and the 2.0T. That will be a “best of” the Civic/Accord IMO.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Camry fans (any? hello?) can shallowly claim victory by sales number alone as if it means anything, Accord fans will labor under the delusion that fleet sales mean the Toyota is garbage, and childless Europhiles will demonstrate their exclusivity and superiority over the ordinary people by looking sternly down their noses, and with a mighty “harumph!” recommend something like a Passat with straight faces.

    It’s another day at TTAC.
    .
    .
    I haven’t driven either car but they are both ugly and both have much nicer interiors than their predecessors. I like the Camry’s big V6, but they are discouraging its purchase with a stratospheric MSRP, whereas the Accord 2.0T can be had for about $30K and with a manual, so that would be my choice. Automatic small engine? Then I’m leaning Camry 2.5 SE.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      You forgot about the part where one commenter, rich in smugness, comes along to tell/show us how he’s above the rest of us, and how nobody else’s opinion matters but his.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      2018 Camry v6 can see $38K…that is Lexus ES money! Both this and Accord 2.0T are $10,000 more expensive than a Malibu Premier 2.0T.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “2018 Camry v6 can see $38K…that is Lexus ES money!”

        GM isn’t the only brand that discounts things from MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “2018 Camry v6 can see $38K…that is Lexus ES money!”

        And it is still very difficult to change the back bank spark plugs….

        A better alternative, IMO, would be to put a turbo’d 2.5L 4-banger in its place and tune it to 300hp.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “And it is still very difficult to change the back bank spark plugs….”

          Is this still much of a concern? With recommended intervals of 100k for modern iridium tipped plugs, and many (most) going far longer than even that without noticeable issues, I wouldn’t give this too much weight. By the way, there are some 4 cyls (Nissan) where you need to remove the intake manifold to do plugs as well.

          Honda is one manufacturer that comes to mind the designs their FWD V6s with serviceable rear plugs with no need for excessive disassembly of intake tracts or windshield cowls, albeit that may have changed with the newest DI cars.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            My 1989 Camry V6 still uses the OEM Platinum plugs with 186K+ on the clock, and as long as the engine doesn’t miss or runs rough, I’m not doing any plug replacement.

            Then again, if my Camry should become no longer economically feasible to repair I won’t hesitate to replace it with a new vehicle in that same size and class, but also with a V6.

            My grandson in Fallbrook, CA, bought a new Accord V6 automatic for his wife a few years back and it performs perfectly as a DD. Flawlessly!

            And that’s what most people want, a vehicle that can easily do 100K+ with only scheduled maintenance, like oil and filter changes.

  • avatar
    maxwell_2

    Long term Camry reliability? I say bull, ask anyone who has an oil burner;) Accord for me, it’s the looker of the 2, Camry’s face is sooo ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack7G

      To be fair, Toyota is fixing those for free, the failure rate is around 5%, and Honda J series V6s are garnering the same reputation (even after the VCM fiasco) due to a change to harder cylinder liners in 2011.

      Also, let’s not forget the many rare but attention-grabbing issues with the 1.5t in the Civic and the major issues with the 2.0t in the Type R.

      Neither are exactly unreliable, but both have some spottiness that classically is unexpected of the brands.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I own a 2015 Accord Sport 6-speed and I love it. So I was very excited about the new one.

    I’ve yet to drive it but I’m a little disappointed in the styling. I think they kind of dropped the ball there. To me it looks like a Chevy Impala. It’s like they started bold like with the Civic but then chickened out and went mainstream.

    I understand that U.S. pedestrian safety and crash standards have made it very difficult to design stylish cars. What’s required now? 4 feet of crush space between the hood and the engine? But FCA was able to do it with the Giulia, and even the Camry looks better than the Accord.

    Styling wouldn’t be enough for me to take a Camry over an Accord if you held a gun to my head. The Accord is a better driving car by most road test accounts and has a manual transmission, which I consider important. But you shouldn’t have to hold a gun to somebody’s head to make him want to buy your new car!

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Two steps forward for the Camry. At first, I was not sure if I like it. But, I have changed my mind. I really like it. I like the styling and I like the thought of conventional drive trains. The 15 to 17 Camry was horrible looking. The 12 to 14 was a nice looking vehicle. Glad to see Toyota got the Camry back on track.

    I really liked the previous Accord. This one … I have reservations. Perhaps it will grow on me. I hope Honda did not make a mistake. They blew the Pilot had have not fixed it. I hope this new Accord grows on me. The Civic is such a looker … how can the same firm do the Civic then fumble the Accord … what is going over there. They must have design teams that do not share the talent … they should just have the Civic design team do all the vehicles.

  • avatar
    KrisZ

    This comparison is like special Olympics.

  • avatar
    AndyYS

    The Camry looks much better IMO but I would never buy one as it lacks android auto, a must-have for me. Also I’ve heard terrible things about its Entune electronics system. The Accord seems to be a solid car but I question whether it’s worth the price premium over the Civic. I haven’t test driven either car, but I intend to do so.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    387k and 323k units are pretty respectable for top two spots. Spot three down at 255k units is no slouch either. Fleet sales or not they are vehicles on the road today.

    Lets go back 25 years. In 1992 Ford sold 410,000 Taurus sedans (not counting the Sable). Honda pressed out 393,000 Accords and Toyota 287,000 Camrys. Not a massive change for the top three spots. Even sales volume for vehicles lower down the list in 2017 align similar to the mid-sizers from GM, Chrysler and all the other players in the segment back in the 90’s.

    Overall I get that the segment is declining but death watch worthy? Hardly.

  • avatar
    William J Sisti

    I voted w/ my wallet. Picked up a 2018 Accord Sport 2.0T w/ the manual. traded in a 2012 BMW 535. Accords is very nice and way more engaging to drive.

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