By on January 5, 2019

Don’t worry, it isn’t a long list. You won’t be here all day. While the industry coasted to a surprising, yet slight, year-over-year volume increase in 2018, automakers can’t thank America’s desire for traditional passenger cars for eking out a win. Light trucks carried the day, with car sales plunging to new lows. Industry-wide, U.S. car sales sank 13.1 percent in 2018, pushing their share of the market to just over 31 percent.

Within this soup of sales, a handful of conventional passenger cars exist that held their ground, straining mightily against gale force headwinds. Maybe it’s a futile battle, but it’s worth noting these survivors. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

Flat new vehicle sales and an industry that’s far more interested in making crossover lovers’ dreams come true add up to a poor environment for a traditional new car buyer.

We’ve already told you how high demand for a shrinking supply of off-lease sedans and hatchbacks has sent used car prices through the roof compared to just a few years ago. That erased a go-to option for many thrifty buyers. In the new car market, however, automakers’ need to boost profits in a stagnant market means incentive spending is dropping as fast as used car prices are rising.

It’s not just sedans that saw a decline in discounts last month. (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2018

2017 Elantra Eco

Once a bracket where most desirable vehicles lived, the sub-$20,000 price range is not the hot neighborhood it once was. The ever-upward creep of new vehicle MSRPs increasingly places most vehicles above that marker, and shifting consumer trends haven’t helped expand its ranks.

According to data from J.D. Power, 2018 has seen a rapid exodus from the cheap seats, with retail volume from the $20k-and-under crowd sinking 20 percent since the start of the year. Big spenders, on the other hand, are gobbling up $80,000-plus vehicles at a rapid clip. (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2018

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: Honda

Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2018

Image: GM

Given the automaker’s sales numbers, it’s not the wildest prediction. Investment bank Morgan Stanley sees General Motors’ American passenger car lineup — or most of it, anyway — disappearing in the near future.

The move would see GM adopt a similar product strategy as its Detroit Three rivals, with sedans relegated to overseas markets and focus placed firmly on the production of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. Barring $4 or $5 gasoline, domestic buying habits make this prediction seem inevitable — and there’s already rumblings of an impending cull in the automaker’s stable. (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2018

2018 Toyota Camry XSE white - Image: Toyota

While fewer competing models in a given segment stands to benefit any automaker left in that realm, Toyota isn’t sure just how loyal Ford car owners are to the Blue Oval brand.

Behind the scenes, there’s surely much licking of chops, but Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz wasn’t forthcoming with conquest predictions when he talked with Automotive News TV this week. One thing was clear, however. Toyota will remain a full-line brand for the foreseeable future, and the automaker stands to field a more car-heavy product mix for some time to come. And it’s just fine with that. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2018

2017 Kia Cadenza - Image: Kia

April wasn’t a hot month for auto sales, what with two less selling days than the same period last year. Overall, the industry was down nearly 5 percent last month, with — in many cases — only the hottest-selling models, many of them recently revamped SUVs, posting a net gain.

April held some surprises, though, and one had to do with a pair of vehicles that should be on their way to the funeral home. That is, if all automakers acted on what they saw in the tea leaves. Certain automakers, Toyota and Kia among them, aren’t quite as eager to hop onto the all-crossovers-and-trucks bandwagon. Because of this, there’s still choice for someone looking for a large, front-wheel-drive sedan with plenty of content, but not luxury vehicle levels of it.

These people actually exist, albeit in ever smaller numbers. And these people apparently like what they see in two particular models. (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2018

Image: Lincoln Motor Company

Man, how about that upcoming Lincoln Aviator? Pretty sharp-looking SUV, ain’t it? And then there’s the new Navigator. Kinda big, though, but the 2019 Nautilus should be just the ticket for the front-drive midsizer crowd.

Oh, right — we were talking about sedans. Lincoln loves ’em, apparently, and it’s not having any of this Ford’s-killing-all-the-cars talk. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2018

2019 Kia Forte Sedan

As market share swings rapidly towards SUVs and crossovers, automakers have had to sit down with their accountants and crystal ball to map out a product strategy for the future. The questions swirling in an executive’s mind are easy to imagine: Are cars worth it? Is it still useful having a minivan in the lineup? Does the future call for crossovers, not cars, in every size class?

Fiat Chrysler’s American divisions have already pulled out of the compact and midsize car market, and forget about the possibility of a subcompact. Minivans? Nah. Ford Motor Company’s non-truck lineup looks to be headed down a similar road. At Kia, however, there’s not one or two, but six passenger cars on offer, spanning the subcompact to full-size premium segments. Like minivans? They’ve got ’em, too.

Is this a smart strategy for a brand that saw its sales fall 8.9 percent in the U.S. last year? Sure, says Kia’s vice president of product planning — it means certain buyers aren’t being forgotten. Not everyone wants a crossover. One thing Kia won’t do, however, is follow its corporate sibling Hyundai down certain product paths. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2018

The Jaguar XJ, a slinky lineage of high-end saloons known for shuttling around British PMs, fictional heads of MI6, and The Equalizer, might not be around for much longer. At least not in the manner we’re used to seeing it.

British publication Autocar claims the automaker plans to spring a wholly new, “reinvented” flagship model on us before too long, and it won’t have an inline-six, V8, or V12 under the hood. It won’t use any gas at all. Nor will it remain a sedan.

Looking around at today’s vehicular landscape, it may be the only way to save the XJ. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2018

2017 Ford Fusion Sport front, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

There’s a bell tolling for probably more than one Ford passenger car model, though we don’t know which ones just yet. Or do we?

As part of its updated operational strategy, detailed at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit Tuesday, Ford Motor Company plans to sink $11 billion into electrification by 2022, release 16 fully electric models on a global scale, and field SUVs in every possible segment and sub-segment. Exhibit A: the subcompact EcoSport and brawn-ified Edge ST.

The company’s goal is greater profits and a healthier return for shareholders, not to mention a hoped-for lift in share value. Certainly, Ford’s declining stock did former CEO Mark Fields no favors.

Unfortunately, in order for Ford’s fortunes to soar, certain models will have to die. The company says it “will shift toward a lower volume passenger car lineup in North America and Europe.” (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO – Image: Nissan USA

I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…

Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.

That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.

Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).

Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2017

2018 Acura RLX

None of us can predict the future, but just think of the penthouse-in-Dubai levels of cash that awaits us if we could. Alas, all we can do is follow existing trends and make a best guess.

In the automotive world, the fate of a car model lies at the intersection of sales, industry direction, and emerging technologies. SUVs and crossovers hang like a blade over the necks of all traditional passenger cars, and autonomous vehicles menace everything with a steering wheel. Electric motors threaten to turn the exhaust note into a distant memory. Governments and regulators stand in the shadows, eager to spring forth one day and spoil all of our internal combustion fun. In spite of all of these factors, there’s still bold predictions made every day about the future of the industry in five, 10, 20, 50 years.

Today, we’re asking you to peer into the Magic 8 Ball and make a prediction of your own. A very specific prediction, to be clear, and it only needs to involve one model: the next U.S.-market sedan to die. (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: Honda

The hard-done-by sedan, once as commonplace as weeds, junk mail, and shattered dreams, doesn’t need any more of a push as it shuffles towards its waiting grave. The buying public is already killing the segment through neglect. Last month, the once-Godlike midsize sedan fell below 10-percent market share in the U.S.

It’s grim times for the traditional sedan, be it compact, midsize, or land yacht. However, anyone hoping for a plateau or even a sales revival is kidding themselves, according to a study by KPMG. The advent of technology will only push more buyers away from sedans and towards their one true love. (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion - Image: FordAcross the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.

Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.

But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three. (Read More…)

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