The SUVs That Are Killing Off Midsize Sedans in America
Though rumors of the midsize sedan’s “death” might be slightly exaggerated, the trend is clearly going in one direction. Counting the first nine months of 2017, classic nameplates, such as Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion, all posted considerable losses compared to the prior year’s sales.
The car slump started affecting the Detroit workforce, too. In the second week of October, news arrived that GM would be laying off workers at its Hamtramck plant to manage an overflow in car stock.
Most observers blame cheap gas and the SUVs that have become cheaper to drive because of it. Clearly, consumers enjoy the convenience and one-size-fits-all aspect of crossovers and utility vehicles, as well. A combination of new models and old standbys surged on the sales charts in 2017, and there’s no looking back. Here are the 10 SUVs and crossovers helping to kill the midsize sedan in America. Sales stats come from Good Car Bad Car.
1. Chevrolet Trax
The Chevy Trax crossover is one of many vehicles with a Detroit badge but hardly any American content. According to the 2017 Made in America Auto Index, the Korean-built Trax contained less than 15% domestic content. However, its surge on the U.S. sales charts is indisputable. Trax gained 11% over the number from the prior year.
2. Toyota RAV4
When matching up vehicle size and general preferences, one natural progression is to go from a midsize sedan to a compact SUV. Toyota RAV4, an old reliable in the segment, seemed to be snatching up every Camry and Accord customer it could get. Through September, RAV4 gained 20% over its prior year number, giving it an extra 52,000 sales for 2017. That’s quite close to the number of sales Fusion lost (51,000) over the same time.
3. Nissan Rogue
In terms of sheer volume, no vehicle is hastening the death of sedans like Nissan Rogue. The compact SUV gained 23% on the sales charts through the first nine months of 2017. That surge meant an additional 56,000 new Rogue buyers around the U.S. During its most dominant year to date, Rogue (296,000 sales) leapfrogged Camry, Accord, and Corolla (among others) to claim fifth place on the U.S. charts through September.
4. GMC Acadia
If you’re looking for a vehicle with a high amount of U.S. content, none has more than GMC Acadia, which topped the Made in America Index for 2017. Its incredible 41% surge on the sales charts (to 82,800 units) made it another sedan-killer, as well. Folks who were in the market for a Chevy Impala (down 32% to 51,000 units) might be shifting up to Acadia.
5. Honda HR-V
It might be slaying more compact cars than midsize models, but there’s no question Honda HR-V is taking away sales from the old-fashioned car segments. Through September, sales of HR-V jumped 27% compared to the prior year, giving it an extra 16,000 sales. This subcompact Honda, along with Trax and Buick’s version of the GM platform, showed even the smallest crossovers can make hay on the U.S. market.
6. Hyundai Tucson
For Hyundai, 2017 told a tale of two vehicles. While the Tucson compact SUV surged 27%, the Sonata midsize sedan dipped 31% through the first nine months of the year. That narrowed the gap between the two to fewer than 25,000 sales. If Tucson keeps improving while Sonata slumps, the results will surprise just about every analyst. In this case, a quality family car is losing its appeal for no fault of its own.
7. Subaru Outback
You might not think Subaru Outback could get more popular given its niche audience and production volumes, but customers continue snatching this crossover up in 2017. Through September, Outback gained 11% year over year and appeared headed to break its all-time sales record (set in 2016). With a late-year push and the right circumstances, it has a chance to break 200,000 sales.
8. Chevrolet Equinox
As GM looks ahead to its all-electric future, Chevrolet Equinox will be the sort of vehicle the automaker fits with a battery and plug. In the meantime, the much-improved 2018 Equinox is taking away sales the brand’s midsize sedan lost. Through September, Equinox had gained 22% and looked capable of challenging its own record (277,500 sales in 2015). Meanwhile, Malibu sedans lost 17% over the same period.
9. Buick Encore
Essentially a luxe version of Chevy Trax, Buick Encore is a model taking away sales from standard compact cars. Nonetheless, it has done its job well in 2017, posting gains of 15% through September. It might not have much U.S. content at all inside, but Encore has a price point ($22,990) that entry-level premium SUV buyers can handle.
10. Honda CR-V
If we’re talking strictly gains, you might not be impressed by Honda CR-V’s 7% improvement over 2017, but the sales volume of this compact SUV is approaching record levels. CR-V passed 281,000 sales at the start of October and is threatening to take over Camry’s place in America’s top 10 vehicle sales. It’s already left Accord in the dust and does not appear done taking prisoners. Once SUVs achieve that feat, pickup trucks will represent the final hurdle.
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