Last year’s release of the radically revamped 2018 Toyota Camry lent buoyancy to a model seen as the troubled midsize sedan segment’s most resilient nameplate. It has history, name recognition, and a stigma for no-nonsense comfort and reliability. Could you ask for anything more?
And so, as other sedans, including the equally fresh Honda Accord, started falling away, the Camry retained its sales volume, finishing the first half of 2018 with a slight year-to-date increase. July brought bad news, however. While the Toyota brand performed worse than the industry average last month — sales fell 6 percent, year over year — it was passenger cars that earned the brand its volume loss.
And even the Camry’s partly to blame.
If sales stats tell us anything, it’s that Hyundai’s latest refresh of the Sonata sedan didn’t seem to resonate with buyers. Despite the addition of a large and aggressive new grille for the 2018 model year, complimented by a sharper rear deck and nicely canted taillights, Sonata sales — like that of so many other traditional passenger cars — continued a downward path. So much for fixing the styling issues of the previous refresh.
After hitting a high water mark of 230,605 vehicles sold in 2012, Sonata volume sunk to 131,803 units in 2017. Sales over the first five months of 2018 fell 33.8 percent.
Given the sales trajectory, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see Hyundai drop the model after the current generation runs its course, but the automaker seems intent on generating as many sales as it can across the segment spectrum. Thanks to these spy shots from Las Vegas, it looks like there’s a new Sonata in our future.
We’ll miss it when its gone. The Ford Fusion Sport debuted as a pleasant throwback to an era of attainable muscle, just as the passenger car death plunge got underway in earnest. By taking a sensible family sedan, stuffing it with the largest mill its engine bay could handle, sending a propshaft to the rear wheels, and upgrading the sedan’s wheels and suspension, Ford crafted a blistering bargain that easily handles the daily duties of modestly-sized families. It’s an unlikely blast.
But soon it’ll be dead and you can have an Edge ST instead.
As all Fusions prepare for the afterlife, Ford’s new trim and content strategy (less of the former, more of the latter) means prices are on the upswing for 2019. The greatest hike in the Fusion lineup is reserved for the Sport.
Desperate times in the passenger car segment call for desperate publicity measures, so Nissan’s trying to make a splash ahead of the release of its next-generation 2019 Altima.
Among the brand’s conventional cars, the Altima’s 2018 sales slide (down 21.7 percent over the first four months of the year) is only topped by that of the larger Maxima (down 25.1 percent). Not altogether surprising, given the market and the older model’s age. However, now that there’s a fairly edgy replacement waiting in the wings, Nissan’s doing what it can to generate buzz ahead of the launch.
Enter the “Altima Edition ONE.”
Squint harder. Yes, there are changes afoot in the 2019 Ford Fusion’s visage, though you’ll be forgiven if you can’t spot them from across the Lowe’s parking lot.
The automaker released images and information for the lightly refreshed model on Tuesday, ahead of its official debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show. Besides styling tweaks designed to keep things young and pert, all 2019 Fusion trim levels boast one of Ford’s new Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver assist features — even the lowly S model. For green car aficionados, the Blue Oval added an extra helping of electrons to the plug-in hybrid Energi model. Expect to burn ever so slightly fewer gallons of gas in a given year.
For now, Ford isn’t saying what others have: that this might be the last Fusion we ever see.
The epic battle known as Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry won’t end until we’re all sitting in the backseat of a driverless electric Ford shuttle bus, content in knowing we’re doing the right thing for society. Future cities, man.
Until then, there’s cars to sell, and nothing motivates buyers like price. As re-skinned and improved 2018 Honda Accord Hybrids head to dealer lots, the automaker has clearly staked itself out as the value green buy, slashing $4,505 from the previous model’s entry price. That puts the hybrid’s chief rival in an unenviable position. A base Camry hybrid now retails for considerably more, but, if overall sales numbers tell us anything, Toyota probably won’t break into a sweat after reading this news.
The early-to-mid 2000s wasn’t an era of great automobile design. Frankly, most automakers should be ashamed of themselves. However, among all of the Tauruses and Malibus and bloated Accords, one midsize, low-priced sedan stood out from its peers: the Nissan Altima of 2002, which propelled the former also-ran from visual dud to eye candy stud.
The Altima’s clean, dignified design made buyers stop and look, propelling sales to new heights. Even a decade-and-a-half later, it’s still a good-looking car that — rust aside — aged well. Unfortunately, rounded, forgettable styling later drained some of the model’s appeal.
As sales of all midsize cars fall, the Altima included, Nissan hopes a radical redesign can slow the descent.
Back in January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listed crash test ratings for the 2018 Mazda 6 in two distinctive flavors: the front-wheel model and the… all-wheel-drive variant? Wait a minute, Mazda isn’t making an AWD drive version of the sedan. Right?
While there’s been plenty of confirmation for the Mazda’s new 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, we hadn’t heard anything about all-wheel drive. When questioned, the automaker said it couldn’t say anything about it one way or the other. However, Mazda North America CEO Masahiro Moro has admitted there could be a layout issue that would make pairing the new engine with all-wheel drive exceedingly difficult.
Forgive the headline writer’s apparent shock. He thought Volkswagen was all about SUVs now, yet before him stands a premium midsize fastback sedan from none other than that German utility vehicle giant. Well, “sedan” isn’t entirely accurate.
In the interest of giving passenger cars that extra little bit of added utility, automakers are suddenly pretending it’s the late ’80s again, grafting liftbacks onto the back of sedans from Audi to Buick to VW. The strange-sounding Arteon is no exception. Arriving for the 2019 model year, VW’s Arteon dons a rear liftback as it accepts the role of the brand’s new flagship, replacing the departed CC.
With SUVs and crossovers taking over the world, it’s always interesting to see a new car model appear.
This is the sixth model year for the third-generation Mazda 6 which, despite its age, remains arguably the best-looking midsize sedan on the market. Mazda belatedly answered long-standing cries for more power by offering a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four for 2018, giving the model the grunt it needs to back up its sporting pretentions.
We now know what drivers can expect at the pumps from this engine, borrowed from the CX-9 parts bin. However, can the emergence of a true Mazda 6 sports sedan rekindle waning interest in the model?
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?
In a shrinking segment increasingly dominated by two longstanding nameplates, the battle for sales supremacy is quickly resembling a U.S. election. Two main players, plus a handful of also-rans. (In Europe, this would be a very different — and probably quite confusing — affair.)
For all players in the U.S. midsize sedan market, it’s really a battle to hold on to market share, to keep sales from sliding further, as more and more customers look elsewhere for family transportation. Two Japanese offerings, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, loom over all other challengers. In November, one of these nameplates began putting some serious distance between it and its main competitor.
Underpowered. Not as refined as the competition. Fantastic looks. Excellent handling. It’s hard to find a review of the Mazda 6 midsize sedan that doesn’t include at least two of these observations.
For 2018, Mazda’s hoping the first criticism goes the way of disco (or of the midsize sedan segment). Ahead of its November 29th debut at the L.A. Auto Show, the zoom-zoom brand is letting everyone know that buyers enamored with the 6’s flowing lines needn’t suffer from mediocre grunt. Mazda’s blowing the 6’s 2.5-liter four-banger for the upcoming model year.
U.S. sales of midsize cars plunged 16 percent to fewer than 130,000 units in October 2017, the lowest-volume month for the midsize sedan category since the winter doldrums of January.
For almost every player, from the forgotten Mazda 6 to the recently revamped Hyundai Sonata to the all-new Toyota Camry, there were fewer U.S. buyers in October 2017 than in October 2016. In most cases, far fewer. Hyundai Sonata volume plunged 49 percent, year-over-year, as Hyundai pulls away from daily rentals, clarifying just how little retail demand the Sonata truly musters. Double-digit percentage drops were also reported by the Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, and Mazda 6.
But the sharp October tumble wasn’t reserved for each member of the midsize category. Newly launched this fall, U.S. sales of the 10th-generation 2018 Honda Accord predictably improved in October, driving Honda’s share of the segment up four points to 21 percent.
It’s a familiar story.