By on May 23, 2019

According to a study commissioned by Nissan, Millennials are committed to saving the sedan in an era when crossovers have usurped much of the market. While much of the study revolves around asking people whether they’d consider purchasing a sedan in the future — something any smart shopper would say “yes” to — survey respondents also said there was very little difference in terms of customer satisfaction between crossovers and sedans.

That’s good news for any automaker that launched a bundle of new and refreshed sedans over the past few years. Can you think of one?

Any automotive study commissioned by a manufacturer is suspect, but there could be something to this. Previous studies that were less concerned with promoting an automaker’s own interests also indicated that Millennials are more apt to buy cars than older generations. But it may have more to do with circumstances than generational tastes.

As a group, Millennial tend to poorer than their parents were at the same stages of life and come loaded with debt. They are also far less likely to have children and more likely to live in cities — all of which makes owning a large crossover vehicle rather nonsensical.

However, Nissan seems to view this as a matter of personal preference, even going so far as to suggest “it’s not just avocado toast” that Millennials love. It’s a dated trope that’s been proven wrong in the past and it highlights just how superficial most takes on generational differences really are. It looks like Nissan’s fallen prey to this kind of thinking, leaving it correct in its assertion that younger shoppers like cars — but maybe for the wrong reasons.

In truth, there’s not much to glean from Nissan’s study. Announcing that 86 percent of 18-34 year-olds who don’t own a sedan would consider buying one (now or in the future) isn’t saying much when 81 percent of adults aged 35-50 indicated the same. The rest of the survey, which focused on consumer satisfaction and the importance of functionality between SUV/truck and sedan owners, showed no appreciable differences. 89 percent of sedan owners said they were just as happy as 88 percent of non-sedan owners. Meanwhile, the breakdown for functionality as the biggest thing customers love about their car was 95 to 94 percent, with sedans once again in the lead.

“What we’re hearing from younger buyers is that they appreciate the features, versatility, fuel economy and value in our sedans,” said Nissan’s chief marketing manager Rob Warren. “Sedan design has also come a long way, as these traditional four-door cars shed their generic look, add more technology and take on a more aggressive, stylish profile. As sedans become more exciting to look at and to drive, younger buyers are putting sedans at the top of their consideration list.”

With such a strong emphasis placed on sedan sales already, Nissan’s probably seeing what it wants. The fact of the matter is that Altima, Maxima, and Versa sales tanked in the U.S. last year. Meanwhile, the Sentra held strong while crossovers continued to dominate the market. Whether or not younger buyers are more predisposed to consider cars over crossovers is largely irrelevant if they aren’t actually buying them.

[Image: Nissan]

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65 Comments on “Nissan Still Claiming Millennials Love Sedans...”


  • avatar
    afar

    Always envied the american sedan culture. I don’t know if this happens in the US, but in Spain seems to be a huge difference between the cars bought by male millenials vs. cars bought by the female millenials. Males tend to buy compact and subcompact hatchbacks with the sporty-ish trim whereas women buy small crossovers or ace-of-base subcompacts. ¿does that happen in America?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yeah, kind of, crossovers seem to attract women and older folks because of the practicality of them, where a guy might go for something more ego-based like a sporty sedan or rugged pick-up/SUV, but those are really broad generalizations

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    “Hm. I’m up to my eyeballs in student debt, I need a ride, and I don’t care much about cars. Should I spend $12.5k on a Versa, or $18.5k on a Kicks?”

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Son, you’ll take our old hand-me-down sedan and like it, because your mother and I are getting a spiffy new crossover”

      Hmm, I guess millennials really do like sedans, because they’re FREE

    • 0 avatar

      Buy used car.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        No kidding! A $3500 old-man Avalon would be much preferred over a 3rd-world taxi Versa, although I don’t denigrate the little Nissan as much as some others here, it’s a lot of (new/safe) car for the money in terms of real transaction prices, although I’d cross shop over at the H/K dealer, around here they’ve been blowing out demo Optimas for $13k with new car warranties.

        • 0 avatar

          Does Nissan take place of Pontiac in American psyche? I remember Altima was touted as sport sedan not so long time ago. From mMy extensive experience with rental Altimas they are as much sport sedans as late Pontiacs.

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            Inside looking out…I 100% agree.

            Nissan in the teens is what Pontiac was in the 90’s. Cheap lease, deep sub-prime buying, cash on the hood from the factory to get people bought (see sub-prime buying), decent enough car but not all that great.

            Nissan gladly filled the void Pontic left.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I was walking through the mall a couple of weekends ago where a Kicks was on display. The sticker was $24k. For that kind of cash you can get a Renegade with AWD or for a bit over $22k it’s lost cousin 500X.

  • avatar
    zipper69

    If Nissan just shot the designer that keeps giving their sedans those weird C-pillars their sales would rise.

  • avatar
    Hank

    They need adjust the lens. They are also claiming a chunk of Gen Z to be Millennials.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Oh look, a Datsun.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    I would rather take a grimy bus than own a Versa. Not even fit for rental fleet duty.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    You mean Millennials want Camry, Accord, Civic, and Corolla? Those 4 are still selling.

  • avatar

    Nissan sedans sell a lot better than anything GM and Ford produce. Critic love the new Sentra and Altima.

    GM is a national disgrace. Their best answer to the new Altima is the Malibu.!

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    Nissan went downhill when they merged with Renault and Carlos Jailbird Ghosn. Buy Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai instead. Burn Renault/Nissan, GM, Ford, FCA.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Of the four cars I’ve owned, two have been sedans. Admittedly, one of them was a gift, but I still kind of miss my Concorde. Girlfriend is also a millennial, and she bought her first car, a Jetta, last year. She loves it; wouldn’t even consider a Golf.

    Something like an Accord with a stick still strongly appeals to me, and if I were to buy a Civic Si, it would be the sedan. Then again, a sporty wagon appeals to me more, and I actively sought out a hatch when I bought my Mazda 3 last year for its practicality in stowing bulky cargo – brought a barbecue home in it two days ago. My last barbecue I brought home in my Miata, and that was far more difficult.

  • avatar

    GM is crap. Case closed…..

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    “Whether or not younger buyers are more predisposed to consider cars over crossovers is largely irrelevant if they aren’t actually buying them.”

    That pretty much sums it up. Car sales are in the tank, and all the trolling by head-in-the-sand crowd isnt going to change that. If it weren’t for rental fleets, many more cars would be dead and forgotten by now.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Exactly John Taurus, this dated April 5, 2019 from MEMA (Motor & Equipment Manufactures Association) “Nissan’s total fleet share was 36% most of that volume went to RENTAL LOTS”!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Automakers with high exposure to overseas markets are still pushing their sedans hard as global vehicles. They’d still rather sell you a crossover (light truck) in North America, though.

    Nissan dealers in these parts might as well turn away any carrier with anything but a Rogue on it.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I have noticed in my area if I see a used vehicle with a sticker on it from a dealer that doesn’t carry that brand, it’s always a CUV.

      (example – Nissan Rogue Sport with the local Toyota dealer’s badge on it)

      Dealers are starting that trend by not bidding at auction on any sedan that isn’t from the brands they rep.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        The market for used crossovers is very healthy, I don’t blame dealers for wanting product they’re sure they can sell. I personally would prefer buying a used car from a dealer that sells them new as well. I would rather take my car in for servicing to the guy I bought it from

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    Give me a better product with enough interior space for 4 comfortably and luggage, handling (cornering ability), braking, comfort, and power being my desires. Towing a trailer of a few thousand pounds would be good as well. I want more options to choose from, be they mid-size or large sedans that prioritize handling or SUV/CUVs that do the same. Sedans have obvious advantages. CUVs have the potential advantage of cargo space (frequently not realized in the ‘sporty’ ones) and the advantage of easy ingress, with the obvious penalty of a high center of gravity and the requirements of the suspension and nannies being able to bend the laws of physics to keep them from rolling over.

    I would prefer a mid-sized station wagon, but since those options are limited, maybe a bigger hatchback? Also limited. That leaves sedans and SUV/CUV options, which in my mind, aside from a couple notable (expensive) options, don’t do much well aside from comfort. I don’t care about screens.

    In the past, as sedan could perform all of these funtions, including pulling a trailer. Now we have EcoSports. Maybe the new Explorer in ST trim will be good?

    If someone builds this at a reasonable price point, be it a sedan or a low SUV, I suspect people would buy them. Maybe not.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “Son, you’ll take our old hand-me-down sedan and like it, because your mother and I are getting a spiffy new crossover”

    Hmm, I guess millennials really do like sedans, because they’re FREE”

    @Lie2me–You hit the nail on the head. The operative word is “free” or “cheap”. To most millennials it is just a mode of transportation and nothing to get excited about especially when you can barely afford transportation paying off student loans and many living with their parents. Give them some more time when they get a stable job, get married, and have a family and then you will see them change. My first car was a 4 door Chevelle which I drove for a few years after college. Chevelles, Darts, Cutlasses, and etc were as common place in the 70’s as Corollas, Civics, Hyundais, Kias, and other like cars are today.

  • avatar
    Chetter

    My DD is a sedan but I think a crossover is in my future. Over 40 now and the bending into the sedan frankly hurts :(

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This is probably the biggest reason for the popularity of crossover with people of a certain age, ease of access

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        Yeah, ya get too old with bad hips, knees, back and shoulders it gets too hard to get up into one instead of just turning and flopping in butt first!

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          In the 90s my Dad nearly bought a 1st gen FWD Continental from a gentleman he worked with, a guy who was nearing 60. He was ditching his Continental for a Pontiac Transport Montana.

          I should have been able to read the writing on the wall.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      43 and I daily a Fiesta ST. Sometimes my back hurts a bit, but not like my soul hurts when I have to drive my wife’s Santa Fe.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I just got back from a business trip that involved about 700 miles of driving and my rental was a Hyundai Santa Fe. What a hateful vehicle that I wouldn’t spend a dime of my own money on. While it was certainly roomy, easy to get in and out of, and seemed to be well built, it was gutless, the transmission was a herky-jerky mess and fuel economy was uninspiring to say the least. Biggest gripe? Hard as hell to see over my shoulder when merging in city traffic because all the windows got progressively smaller as they went back due to the “rising slope” body style.

    I checked out pricing when I got home and at least it’s relatively cheap by today’s standards, and you can’t beat the warranty for sure. Just opt for the turbo motor if you’re spending your own money, or buy a nice sedan.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am one of those many who have abandoned sedans for crossovers for the reasons stated above plus having a rear that opens wide enough to get larger items in and more room. Most sedans have been ruined by the sloping roofs, small windows, mail slot trunks, and harder ingress/egress. The styling of the sedans look good but they are hard to live with if you are a senior. Millennials on the other hand are more limber and many don’t have the the money to buy new and sedans can be less expensive due to being less popular. If sedans were more expensive then the Millennials would buy a less expensive vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      HuskyHawk

      Jeff S is spot on. I hate the gunslit windows and overall claustrophobic feel of so many modern sedans. Belt lines are way too high. Getting in an out is also a chore. Sure it was a chore when I was 22 and drove a Prelude, but I don’t bend as easily anymore 30 years later. I tend to hit my head or bang my knees getting in and out of sedans.

      My CX-5 holds more people and stuff than comparable sedans, gets decent MPG, isn’t absurdly slow and handles just fine really. Visibility is excellent.

      The only thing Sedans have going for them is that nobody wants them so they are cheap on the used market. Met a friend on Thursday that had a nice lightly used Regal turbo, paid 10k for it. That’s a lot of car for the money.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Lots of Sentra sedans on the road around here.

    Seems that a fair number of North American budget shoppers are indeed taken with the “little Maxima” look, perhaps convinced that the cubic footage of a Sentra trunk makes it a clever substitute for those silly crossovers.

    Trouble is, it only takes one 48″ TV or baby exersaucer to illustrate the limitations of a sedan. And it only takes one look at the 1927 Ford Model A Wagon to realize that compact crossovers are not a silly fad. They are the old normal.


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