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…)

By on September 20, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatch - Image: SubaruThrough the first eight months of 2017, consumers across America have acquired 12 percent fewer new passenger cars than during the first eight months of 2016.

That’s a drop of 565,000 sales, a rate of decline that stands in stark contrast to the U.S. auto industry’s 4-percent year-over-year light truck improvement. Cars now account for just 37 percent of all auto sales, down from more than 50 percent as recently as 2012. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some auto brands are selling more cars this year than last, and a wide variety of cars are accelerating their sales pace. Subaru, for example, has already sold 17,981 more Imprezas in 2017 than in the same period of 2016.

So we’ve compiled a list of every passenger car that’s making meaningful headway in America’s anti-car market — the cars that are selling more and more often even as many of their competitors suffer under the weight of a pro-F150, pro-RAV4, pro-Escalade ESV wave.

The list is not very long. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry production line - Image: Toyota

Take a mental trip back to the late 1950s. Imagine, if you will, a Detroit Three dealer’s lot. Tailfins lifted themselves towards the heavens, slicing through the air in a bid to capture Sputnik 1. Conical headlight assemblies and bumper guards jutted from the chrome-laden fronts of America’s Interstate cruisers, virilely thrusting through the air as the country’s economic climb continued its dizzying ascent.

Sex was everywhere, just not on film. Well, for the most part. Images of Jayne Mansfield mingled with thoughts of powerful rockets and ICBMs in the minds of Detroit designers busily crafting the next jet-age car for nuclear families living in the Land of the Free. Let the Soviets have their gray, uninspired, designed-by-committee Commie runabouts.

While the need to draw eyes to new vehicles hasn’t faded from the automotive business model, the sources of inspiration have changed. It’s much more diverse (and far more PC) these days. While the latest crop of family sedans weren’t sculpted by designers with sex or weapons on the brain, you’d be surprised what object actually held sway over the final shape. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 - Image: Cadillac

Lately, it seems everyone wants to talk about Cadillac sedans. Too bad few people want to buy one. The future of the storied brand’s traditional passenger car offerings was recently called into question by a report claiming two Cadillac sedans, including the CT6, are slated for execution.

Hashtag fake news, brand president Johan de Nysschen responded. In a reply only slightly less vague than the initial report itself, the brand president said no sedan models were on the chopping block. Nope, the Cadillac lineup will strut into the 2020s with three sedans, he said, making no mention of the fact Cadillac has four sedans.

Okay, so we knew the aging (but facelifted for 2018) XTS had no long-term future. But what about the survivors? In a recent interview, de Nysschen spelled out the plan. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2017

2018 Cadillac XTS, Image: General Motors

You can’t compare the traditional passenger car segment to the Titanic speeding towards an iceberg, as the once market-leading segment tore its hull open on that crossover-shaped berg long ago. Cars, especially in North America, are rapidly taking on water and sinking by the bow.

Against this backdrop, a recent — and unconfirmed — report predicting looming death for six General Motors car models came as no shock, though it did raise questions. Would GM really drop a famous nameplate like the Chevrolet Volt? The Cadillac CT6 is barely more than a year old — surely the division wouldn’t go to the expense of building a flagship, then take it behind the barn?

The deaths foretold in the Reuters report would be carried out by 2020, the source claimed. While he didn’t speak to the lifespan of the Volt or the Chevrolet Sonic and Impala, nor the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen responded by saying Cadillac’s four-sedan lineup remains safe. Yep, those three sedans will be just fine, he said. Wait, what? (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu - Image: GMThrough the first-half of 2017, midsize car sales plunged 18 percent as nearly every nameplate in the category suffered from declining sales.

Year-over-year, sales of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Mazda 6, and Chrysler 200 collectively fell by nearly 200,000 units.

We know where the buyers are going. Compact crossovers such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue — each of which now sell more often than even the top-selling midsize cars — are 2017’s soup du jour: more space for Buster the Bernese, better sightlines for the driver, all-wheel drive for those weekly Rubicon excursions, and a superior image to boot.

But if the trend we’ve seen through the first-half of 2017 holds, midsize cars won’t merely lose the U.S. sales race to compact crossovers. 2017 appears primed to be the first year in history in which compact cars also outsell midsize cars.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2017

Mitsubishi Lancer GT, Image: Mitsubishi Motors

If you were to walk into a Mitsubishi showroom in the United States today, you’d be treated to two passenger cars, two utility vehicles and promises of more utility vehicles to come. Why, the 2018 Eclipse Cross is on the way! You know, the compact crossover named after a entry-level sports car?

If you’re looking for a Mitsubishi-branded car with more than three cylinders that won’t be extinct in a few months, you’re out of luck. In fact, if you’re hoping for any word on whether the brand will ever bring a new car to North America, you’ll have to wait until this fall, around the same time the long-in-the-tooth Lancer bows out of the U.S. market. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

2016 Ford Focus RS

There’s a reason we run Midsized Sedan Deathwatch. North American consumers want space for six dogs, and nothing’s going to stop them from forking over big bucks for cargo volume and a third row. Traditional passenger cars be damned.

Increasingly, it looks like the market has been condemned — it’s down 12 percent over the first four months of this year. But the shrinking market presence isn’t solely the domain of the midsize. Compacts are in trouble, too. Full-size cars? You know the answer. However, if the vehicle in question started out as a conventional grocery getter but piled on the horsepower before leaving the factory, chances are it isn’t hurting. (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2016

2013-ford-taurus-sel-20l-ecoboost-grille-and-badge-photo-529274-s-1280x782

An evolving lineup that matches consumer demand is the hallmark of any healthy automaker, and Ford has no problem dropping unpopular models.

That’s the message delivered by Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, who hinted that changes could be in store for the company’s car lineup in the face of a crossover and SUV-hungry marketplace. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2016

2016 Subaru Legacy Limited“They go on loving you just the same, but somebody’s dying.”
Not Chris Isaak – 1995.

Minivans crumbled as the three-row utility vehicle took over, leaving a handful of nameplates to each produce healthy volume. TTAC’s claim earlier this week? Midsize sedans are now following the same track, crumbling as the smaller two-row crossover takes over.

Already, America’s fleet of midsize sedans is decreasing in size. We expect to see a greater reduction in the number of midsize offerings soon.

Midsize sedans desperately want you. But you, oh collective American consumer, are consistently desirous of fewer midsize sedans. The current crop of midsize nameplates does not uniformly possess the mettle to survive the current downturn, a downturn which quickly grew more severe last month.

U.S. sales of midsize cars plunged by 31,000 units in July 2016. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2016

2016 Mazda6, Image: Mazda USA

A decade ago, Americans could buy minivans from Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan, Pontiac, Saturn, and Toyota. In all, 14 brands fought for the attention of 1 million minivan buyers.

Zoom ahead to 2016 and the minivan market — unlike the Terraza and Uplander and Freestar and Entourage and Monterey and Montana and Relay — is not dead. Indeed, through the first six months of 2016 minivan volume is up 25 percent and this year is expected to be the best year of minivan sales since 2008. Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Kia, Nissan, and Toyota — only six candidates spread across seven nameplates and five automakers — are each generating sufficiently healthy volume in a market that is roughly 40 percent smaller than it was a decade ago. Rather than more than a dozen nameplates each producing an average of 70,000 annual sales, the remaining players will attract an approximate average of 100,000 annual sales each.

TTAC believes it is the midsize sedan segment’s turn to revolutionize in the same manner. In fact, the revolution is already underway. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2016

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles knows what models bring home the bacon, so there won’t be many corporate tears shed over its decision to axe the Chrysler 200.

Yesterday, the automaker announced $1.48 billion in funding to retool its Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant, paving the way for the next generation of Ram trucks. To free up space for lucrative pickup production, FCA just sent the 200 on the long walk to the gallows. (Read More…)

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