By on December 6, 2019

While U.S. auto sales are expected to slump further this year, continuing a trend in the industry, certain products seem impervious to market pressures. Take the Toyota Tacoma, for example. Hardly the newest kid on the block, the Tacoma nonetheless manages to consistently retain buyers while capturing new ones.

Like its parent company, the Tacoma just posted its best-ever November sales month. And wouldn’t you know it — early results are in, and the new Corolla seems to be a hit.

It’s important not to place too much stock in the first few months of sales for a redesigned model, but the revamped compact sedan, now available as a hybrid, saw its year-over-year sales increase 17.3 percent last month. Toyota as a whole recorded a 9.2 percent YoY gain, its best showing for the 11th month of the year.

Breaking down that figure into brands, the company’s namesake division rose 8.4 percent last month. Lexus posted a better showing, with volume up 13.8 percent; every crossover in the brand’s lineup gained volume for the month, and the recently redesigned ES continues to gain momentum, with a YoY gain of 7.7 percent. It’s year-to-date volume is up 7.5 percent.

As for the Corolla, the model is now in the black for the year, up 1.0 percent. That’s no small feat for any compact passenger car, or any car at all, for that matter. The Camry saw its sales rise 4.3 percent for the month, pushing the model closer to breaking even for the year.

2020 Toyota Corolla rear - Image: Toyota

One thing Toyota has going for it, besides ridiculous brand loyalty and a reputation for reliability and good resale value, is the availability of hybrid power. Hybrid power for relatively little additional cost, we should add. Sales of hybrids across both brands were up over 65 percent in November, with the YTD tally coming in at 26.6 percent.

If you’ve got the cash to cover the development of such products, having a lot of choice on hand is a nice thing which which to lure picky buyers. Hence Toyota’s decision to offer as many hybrids and TRD variants as possible, not to mention all-wheel drive on traditionally front-drive products like the Prius, Camry, and Avalon. (The latter two AWD models won’t be available for several months, however.)

Combine all of that choice and you end up with the RAV4, which beat its previous November showing by over 26 percent.

2020_Tacoma_TRD_Off_Road_01_50A9E609C6722DED1EB517DDEAC1D10E71825716

In the truck realm, the Tacoma once again proved that it can do no wrong, posting a 5.3-percent YoY sales hike. Through the end of November, Tacoma sales are up 1.8 percent, despite the presence of a new rival in the form of the Ford Ranger.

Did all of this winning help Toyota break even, overall? Nope. The brand is still down 1.4 percent for the year, though Lexus sales are up by exactly three vehicles over this time last year. What’s important is that the brand’s higher-volume stalwarts are still doing well, and the cash sunk into recent redesigns seems to be paying off.

Thinking about the incentives angle? ALG data shows the brand’s incentive spend per vehicle rose 1 percent, year over year, in November, with the actual dollar amount being more than a grand less than the industry average.

[Images: Toyota]

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41 Comments on “What Slump? Toyota Ekes out Its Best November to Date...”


  • avatar
    volvo

    NA engines check
    Automatic options other than CVT check
    Reputation for reliability check
    Dealership in most towns check
    Evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

    Doesn’t surprise me at all

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    I wonder, since the Sienna is being transitioned to the TNGA platform for 2021, if we will see a hybrid version? Seems long overdue and I would be interested.

    I know there was a lot of internet complaining regarding the Tacoma 4cy/5-speed manual being discontinued and that is the option I would have bought if in the market. Hasn’t really translated to lower sales apparently, further evidence the manual is on it’s way out the door.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Toyota has a deal to supply Uber with hybrid Siennas for autonomous vehicle development. So it’s coming, but when for consumers? I’m assuming it’s going to share the drivetrain with the upcoming TNGA 2020 Highlander hybrid, which has the 2.5L 4-cyl and optional eAWD. The upcoming RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid, also on TNGA. So, PHEV Sienna?

      One little problem: Bloomberg article from today notes Toyota could sell twice as many hybrid RAV4s and Corollas, if it weren’t for battery supply shortages.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      The Sienna will be hybrid only in the next generation. The V6 is no more.

  • avatar
    Heino

    Toyota is also being very aggressive. My dealer keeps reminding me that I can trade my 2017 RAV4 for a 2019 for only $60 more a month.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    If I bought Toyota this year, they must be doing something right! Or, at least – better than others!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I see TONS of Corollas around here with rental-car plates and bar codes in the windows, and the model’s long been heavily sold to fleets. Used lots are flooded with 2018 and 2019 ex-rental Camrys.

    The new Corolla is definitely a major improvement over the old one, but I wonder how much of this “sales increase” is actual consumer acceptance, and how much is a sweeter deal for National.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      I would imagine TOC is very important to rental car companies. Cost, maintenance and resale value.

      I think their number crunchers have a pretty good idea how to keep fleet expenses down.

      They also might have an idea what car renters would like to be handed the keys to.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Makes sense, but if we’re talking about non-commercial passenger vehicles, I’d define a car as a “hit” if it hits with actual consumers. Chrysler sold a crap-ton of 300s into fleets during its’ first year, and then trumpeted what a big hit it was. The next year, after sales dropped off in a big way, it became apparent what the market actually thought of the car.

        Not to say the Corolla’s really that comparable to the 300, but I’ve long thought Toyota’s market is artificially inflated due to fleet sales.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      not everyone likes the honda boy-racer look

  • avatar
    Robotdawn

    I like the new Corolla sedan, the Hatch not so much. On a lark, given I won’t be buying another Cruze obviously, I spec’d a Corolla Hatch as I’d want it. Almost $28k. Yikes.Sedan $26k.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Loaded-up compacts aren’t cheap anymore, that’s for sure. I’d pop for a basic Camry over a loaded-up Corolla, personally.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Wait, the Corolla Hatch (aka Auris) can go up to 28K? Like, really?

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Curious, are you talking US dollars or Cdn? I’m looking at XSE hatch. Actual asking prices around me are $22/23k USD. I tried an online “build” with the XSE, auto, most expensive package, and ticked nearly every box for every ridiculously overpriced dealer-installed option (every mat, protector, the TURD air filter, etc.) and topped out at $27.5 with destination. The ridiculous wing would raise it another $400 I guess. I’m actually on the fence about SE vs XSE. The extra cost of the XSE seems hard to justify for very little substance. Around me you can get a SE auto hatch for $20k.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    The new Corolla Sedan looks a bit polarizing. The 2014-2019 was better looking in my opinion. Also I heard back seat room is down on the new sedan. I do like the bigger engine option though

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I sat in the rear seat of a Corolla hatch, felt really cramped. I’d imagine the sedan is slightly better. Maybe compact hatch buyers don’t care about rear seat space, I don’t know. The new Mazda3 also seemed really bad in this regard (sedan).

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Everybody was always telling me – your mazda is cramped in the back. But I always said – nobody is sitting there. I don’t care. It drives well! But yea, this new Corolla has way less legroom than my Mazda

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    With the population aging it makes sense that Toyota sales are increasing. I’d be worried if I was Toyota though since a lot of these people might not be coming back for another car… Maybe things are different where you live, but where I live (in Atlantic Canada) the average age of a Toyota driver seems to be somewhere north of 212.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “With the population aging it makes sense that Toyota sales are increasing. I’d be worried if I was Toyota though since a lot of these people …”

      The same was said for Cadillac and Buick, and even Lincoln. These are has-been brands. Only true die-hard fans would buy them but there just aren’t enough of them to keep those brands profitable and self-sustaining.

      Toyota has more happy campers than Ford and GM combined and cultivating new recruits all the time with value and content for the money.

      I am one of those Toyota converts. Never bought a foreign brand new vehicle until the 2008 Japan-built Highlander.

      Oh, whatta feelin’!

      Ain’t never going back to the rest after driving the best.

      Unfortunately, the rentals we got during our travels all represented the worst that Ford and GM had to offer the buying public.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Agreed HDC. Toyota and Honda consistently make more reliable cars than pretty much everybody else. They have been doing it since the 1970s. They have made some stinkers, but on average, they are the best. Look at the used market for Honda and Toyota. Consumers have figured it out.

        If if wasn’t for pickups, Ford and GM would have died or been sold long ago, and GM only survived because the American taxpayer paid off GM’s pension debts to the tune of 23 billion dollars transferred from your checking account to the UAW. (https://www.heritage.org/taxes/report/auto-bailout-or-uaw-bailout-taxpayer-losses-came-subsidizing-union-compensation). FCA is just an Italian pickup truck company, whose Italian buyers were given even more taxpayer cash.

        It is their own fault. They have had decades to get it right and have screwed the pooch over and over again, while endlessly claiming that the next “game changer” is just around the corner, in an endless cycle of denial. The Japanese ate their lunch. It’s over. It’s been over.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      And boy were the white-knuckle Corolla crowd out in force around Halifax today. Got held up in lines three times with someone terrified to be out on the road in their Corolla. Toyotas must telegraph danger to paranoid drivers of any age. Last week it was the Prius person determinedly doing 65 km/hour on the Forest Hills extension where the limit is 100. And having a hard time driving straight at that. Toyota! Oh what a feeling!

      • 0 avatar
        Mike-NB2

        Maybe this is a Maritime thing, but I doubt it as comments from across the continent indicate that many Toyotas are driven by people who have no driving ability. I’m in Saint John, NB, not far from you, and I gauge most Toyotas (Yaris, Corolla, Camry and RAV4) and lately most Subarus, as requiring special attention as part of driving defensively. And you know what? I’m regularly right.

        That’s not even mentioning that Toyota is one of the three top indicators of a left lane bandit around here. The other big one is a woman driver (yeah, I’ll get flamed for that but it’s something I’ve observed over the past five years) and people from your province of Nova Scotia. Sorry for any offence, neighbour. But in the summer it seems that many people with NS plates park out in the left lane and drive slow.

        (I remember one time 10 years ago leaving Halifax on a Saturday. A woman in a red Continental parked in the left lane doing 90km/h beside another car doing the same speed. All the way to Truro. I’m surprised that didn’t cause an accident. I was close enough to the Continental to ID that the driver was an elderly woman but I suspect the traffic went back more than 10 kms so maybe there were accidents that far back. As the Truro exit approached she accelerated a bit to get in front of the other slow moving car and exited. It was like the pace car pulling off at the Indy 500.)

        • 0 avatar

          Corollas aren’t especially dangerous in the NYC area UNLESS they have Uber or Lyft stickers, and a W or T license plate…then look out, the part time cab driver does not give a phck, and will literally stop, go or turn with zero warning or predictability.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    There are more enjoyable cars on the road.

    But, driving a 2006 corolla now, a terrible little car from a seat comfort/driving position/noise/ride/styling/handling perspective….

    I’m pretty well sold on the quality of the car itself. Its tight. It still runs beautifully. Shifts beautifully. Tires are unbelievably cheap. Insurance is cheap. MPG is good enough. When something does need replacing, it costs me $13.95 and a couple hours in the garage.

    Have to agree with the earlier poster…. NA engines, regular automatics, proven drivetrains. While everyone else is going CVT, turbo, dual-clutch, etc etc…. I’d very well end up back at the Toyota dealership.

    Especially when it seems at least with the Camry, the car finally doesn’t drive like a giant boat. If the rest of the lineup is getting the same treatment, I can understand the sales.

    With that said, I’ve had extremely long lasting Mazdas and they drive very well with excellent MPG. These two brands are probably your safest bets right now (plus Lexus, of course).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If you want a compact or midsize sedan you are not going to be looking at the Big 2 and 1/2 unless it is a Malibu or the soon to be extinct Fusion. I have never owned a Toyota and they are not that appealing to me but I would definitely consider a Toyota over the choice of a turbo 4 or 3 with a CVT. No question that the Toyota would outlast most of those other brands. Eventually Toyota will go to the turbo 3s and 4s and the CVTs but in the meantime it is nice to have a choice between the totally disposable and not disposable.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I suspect that Toyota will exit the automotive business soon – because Ford is unbeatable.

    True fact: 40.5% of customers coming from Toyota decide to buy a brand other than Toyota. Why is this (and what are they thinking)? Serious question.

    http://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2019-us-automotive-brand-loyalty-study

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I mean, I’d rather put up with Alfa reliability than drive a “Boomer Buick”. On the plus side for Toyota, one of their products is on my list. Too bad it is a gen 1 SC300 manual to fill my need for something 90’s. If they built a Corolla Hatch in an actual hot version, that’d be cool, but honestly now, I don’t care how reliable they are…I wouldn’t want to live with one long term. Back when I was in the appliance car phase of my life they were solid though…but I always looked forward to the day I could get something that I didn’t feel like was punishing me.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    “True fact: 40.5% of customers coming from Toyota decide to buy a brand other than Toyota. Why is this (and what are they thinking)? Serious question.”

    Is this comment intended to be sarcastic?

  • avatar
    spookiness

    @johnny, in US trim levels, the SE with the Preferred Package seems to be the good spot. One minor annoyance is the wheels. The SE 16’s are plain, while the XSE 18’s have sidewalls that are too short for my taste (bad roads, ride quality). The only substantive mechanical difference between the 2 trims seems to be the wheels, but the 18″ choice results in a 2-3 MPG penalty. Thats not insignificant. I prefer the heated seats, grille bling, and fog lights of the XSE, and I’m neutral on fabric vs. pleather seats, probably leaning towards fabric.

    • 0 avatar
      thejohnnycanuck

      Ours has the 18’s and while I can’t attest to the fuel mileage (which is excellent nonetheless) penalty those 40-series Dunlops can be noisy on certain surfaces. Where they really shine however is on the twisty bits.

      The SE upgrade also gains you all the features you mentioned (including a heated steering wheel) but not the pleather which is fine by me too.

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