Sedans are a dying segment. How much longer will any of these be around?
If you were to tell your past self from five years ago that the sedan segment would be suffering a sales slump in 2018, chances are old you would find that hard to believe. But it is happening, as we well know. Ford is getting rid of them entirely and GM is eliminating a chunk of their respective sedans in North America in the near future due to poor sales. Blame crossovers, mainly. Other automakers, mainly from Asia, are hanging on to their sedans, but they can no longer count on them as being “bread and butter” money-makers.
That honor now goes to – you guessed it – crossovers. Trucks and SUVs, meanwhile, continue to increase in popularity as well. But what are the current best-selling sedans, globally? Are they selling better than ever? Worse? Jato Dynamics published the figures and, not so surprisingly, most of these ten sedans are experiencing slow sales. There are a few, however, that are still doing just fine.
The Toyota Corolla has been synonymous with safety, reliability, and solid value since it launched in 1966. By 1974 it had become the world’s best-selling car and in 1997 it surpassed the VW Beetle as the best-selling nameplate. Despite the crossover invasion, the Corolla is still hanging in there.
As of this writing, a total of 478,122 examples have been sold in 2018, which represents a 3 percent increase from last year. We should also note that there is now the Corolla hatchback and a completely redesigned sedan, meaning next year chances are Toyota will group sedan and hatchback sales figures into one.
Of course the Honda Civic would make this list. Launched in 1972, the Civic has also earned a reputation for overall excellence. Unlike the Corolla, you can buy a Civic as a coupe as well. North America is also getting a Civic hatchback for the first time in several years. But the Civic sedan is still selling well for Honda to keep it around. So far this year, overall Civic sales have increased by 6 percent from 2017 for a current total of 412,664 units. Unfortunately, we don’t have a precise breakdown between coupe, sedan, and hatchback.
What’s interesting about the Volkswagen Passat is that it’s not the same vehicle in the US compared to overseas markets. America has its own Passat, uniquely designed to appeal to domestic tastes. It will soon receive a major update, though it will remain on the current generation platform. But VW’s Passat strategy must be doing well because global sales have increased by an impressive 5 percent, to 356,566 units. The automaker aims to further increase that figure with an aggressive North American sales push with the upcoming refresh.
The current generation Toyota Camry is, by far, the best yet. Retaining its solid reliability, Toyota finally succeeded in adding emotion, making the Camry actually fun to drive. The sales results speak for themselves. A total of 313,394 examples have left dealership lots so far this year, and that figure will climb even further before the end of the year. Thanks to a 13 percent sales increase from 2017, Toyota must be feeling confident about sticking with its segment- leading sedan despite crossovers invading sedan sales territory.
Yes, the Ford Focus is still a strong-seller, but the automaker’s long-term sales projections must paint a different picture. As we learned last spring, the Focus will soon be discontinued, both the sedan and hatchback. The data does not provide a precise sedan vs. hatch sales breakdown. It doesn’t really matter anymore because the Focus will soon be a goner in the US while crossovers, such as the Focus-based Escape, will continue. So far this year, global Focus sales fell by 19 percent, down to 270,183 units.
You might be somewhat surprised to see a luxury, RWD-based sedan like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class make this list, but the numbers don’t lie. The data indicates Mercedes has so far sold 244,377 units in 2018. Turns out that’s a five percent drop from last year. However, the C-Class also comes in coupe, convertible, and wagon body styles, but all of those are more niche than a sedan. Point being, the C-Class sedan is vital for the C-Class lineup as a whole. Like most mainstream automakers, Mercedes is also experiencing increased crossover sales, and yet none of those CUVs made Jato’s top-selling list. Interesting. But the C-Class still has to contend with rivals in its own segment, namely the all-new BMW 3 Series and the upcoming Genesis G70.
There could be some trouble brewing here. The data indicates overall Jetta sales have dropped by nine percent so far in 2018. Although 227,516 new Jettas leaving dealership lots sounds good, compared to the Corolla (478,122), that’s hardly a number to be excited by. What’s more, the Jetta was completely redesigned for 2018, meaning even with a number of improvements, the Jetta’s US future may be uncertain. If that sounds unlikely, just look at the Focus.
The Honda Accord has never been better. While its Toyota Camry rival was typically the more conservative choice, the Accord has always been sportier and more fun to drive. The latest generation is no different. Unfortunately, it’s not doing so well in the sales department. For now, 224,121 examples have been sold in 2018, a 10 percent drop compared to 2017. What’s interesting is that the latest Camry, as mentioned above, is experiencing a sales boost. We suspect the Accord won’t meet the same fate as the Ford Fusion – as long as sales don’t dramatically get worse.
There’s something you need to know about how the Impreza is ranked, sales wise. Not only are sedan and hatchback sales bundled into a single figure, but also those of the WRX, WRX STI and even the Crosstrek. Why the Crosstrek? Because it’s essentially a raised Impreza hatchback. Same car. Same platform. Same everything. Despite the fact that the WRX and WRX STI are still built on the previous generation platform, overall Impreza sales are still looking solid with a 15 percent spike compared to last year. A total of 247,467 examples have been sold as of now but, again, that figure will increase before 2018 comes to a close.
Unlike the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the larger E-Class is experiencing even better sales this year over 2017. The data indicates a total of 208,797 units have been sold, which translates to a 10 percent increase from the previous year. That’s quite impressive considering the E-Class is a luxury sedan with a base price starting at around $53,000. Remember, the Honda Accord has sold 224,121 examples and yet its base price is half that of the E-Class. In other words, mainstream, non-luxury sedans such as the Accord might have a long-term problem. As for the E-Class, sales and its general popularity among luxury buyers throughout the world remains strong. Though also available as a wagon, when was the last time you heard wagon sales (for any make and model) were through the roof? The E-Class wouldn't exist without the sedan.