Thank Heaven for Little (but Not Too Little) Crossovers: At Mazda, One Segment Didn't Disappoint
Too bad about the others. After admitting that it probably should have reconsidered the new-for-2019 Mazda 3’s U.S. pricing strategy, the Hiroshima-based automaker can sit back and look at last year’s results in full. Topping that page is a 7.2 percent sales decline — the result of volume slippage among all nameplates but one.
Nothing beats a compact crossover for surefire popularity.
We shouldn’t say that — recall, if you will, the Infiniti QX50 saga. Happily for Mazda, its continuously improved CX-5 crossover can’t seem to make an enemy, be it among the motoring press or the buying public.
In 2019, the CX-5 was the only Mazda-badged model to post a sales gain — a slim jump of 2.6 percent for the year — proving once again that the CX-5’s appeal is the broadest of any model in Mazda’s modest lineup. Recent additions like a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, a 2.2-liter diesel (the jury’s out on this long-delayed mill’s draw), and styling and content alterations has only positioned the model for further success. Since its introduction in 2012, the CX-5 has managed to add volume each year. Now, with brandwide volume on the decline, the CX-5’s presence is growing in other ways, too.
Last year, 55.5 percent of all Mazdas leaving dealer lots were CX-5s. A year ago, the model’s take was an almost even 50 percent.
Elsewhere in the lineup, products couldn’t catch a break. The 3’s well documented fall from grace following an attractive refresh and addition of all-wheel drive continued apace. Volume for the compact sedan and hatch fell 39.8 percent in December, pushing its full-year total 21.5 percent below 2018’s tally. The subcompact CX-3 and larger, more opulent CX-9 fell 4 and 4.9 percent, respectively, for the year.
Mazda MX-5 buyers weren’t seeking as many two-seat thrills last year, with the lightweight fun machine finding 13.6 percent fewer adopters. The still-sexy 6 sedan, updated with an optional turbo engine too late in its lifespan, posted a 30-percent drop in 2019. Nothing more needs to be said of the state of the mainstream midsize sedan market; you all know the grim reality of that segment.
As disappointing as the 3’s 2019 sales plunge is to Mazda brass, there’s a silver lining to be found in the full-year sales sheet: the appearance of a new model in the form of the tweener CX-30. Adding sales only in the final days of November, the CX-30 is months away from being up to speed, so we don’t yet know its impact on the overall sales picture. The additional volume the CX-30 stands to deliver is no doubt appreciated at Mazda HQ, and there’s more to come.
A new Mazda crossover will roll out of a joint Alabama assembly plant shared with Toyota next year. It’s assumed the vehicle will target a broad swath of society in the midsize or near-midsize realm, capturing would-be buyers who find the CX-5 too small and the CX-9 too tony. That latter model stands to gain a revamp for 2022, potentially growing in size to make more room for the new member of the Mazda clan.
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