Nissan Still Claiming Millennials Love Sedans

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nissan still claiming millennials love sedans

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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  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 26, 2019

    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.

    • HuskyHawk HuskyHawk on May 28, 2019

      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.

  • Don1967 Don1967 on May 28, 2019

    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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  • 3SpeedAutomatic As a side note, have you looked at a Consumers Report lately? In the past, they would compare 3 or 4 station wagons, or compact SUVs, or sedans per edition. Now, auto reporting is reduced to a report on one single vehicle in the entire edition. I guess CR realized that cars are not as important as they once were.
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  • 3SpeedAutomatic Lots of dynamics here:[list][*]people are creatures of habit, they will stick with one or two web sites, one or two magazines, etc; and will only look at something different if recommended by others[/*][*]Generation Y & Z is not "car crazy" like Baby Boomers. We saw a car as freedom and still do. Today, most youth text or face call, and are focused on their cell phone. Some don't even leave the house with virtual learning[/*][*]New car/truck introductions are passé; COVID knocked a hole in car shows; spectacular vehicle introductions are history.[/*][*]I was in the market for a replacement vehicle, but got scared off by the current used and new prices. I'll wait another 12 to 18 months. By that time, the car I was interested in will be obsolete or no longer available. Therefore, no reason to research till the market calms down. [/*][*]the number of auto related web sites has ballooned in the last 10 to 15 years. However, there are a diminishing number of taps on their servers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X fall off the radar scope. [/*][/list]Based on the above, the whole auto publishing industry (magazine, web sites, catalogs, brochures, etc) is taking a hit. The loss of editors and writers is apparent in all of publishing. This is structural, no way around it.
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