The Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata are battling for the most sales in the midsize sedan class.
The Hyundai Sonata effectively dethroned the Toyota Camry as king of the midsize sedans. The Camry had been posting six-digit sales for years until the emergence of the South Korean Sonata. 2011 should be a trying year for the Japanese brand unless they can fend off their Far Eastern rivals. Toyota execs are worried that the Sonata will take a huge share of the midsize sedan market, as the Sonata has a newer and stylish design, high fuel-economy ratings and a low price tag.
The Camry hasn't been revised since 2006 and they are hoping the new Camry will make its mark when it debuts later this year. The vehicle outsold the Sonata last year, however so far this year the Korean car has almost caught up to the Camry, with units sold at 147,569 for the Camry and 115,014 for the Sonata. "Sonata became a very honorable contender in the market. We do have good respect for the model, and the sales figures show it's increasing quite a bit." said Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's North American chairman in a July 12th interview.
Camry production slowed, as did all of Toyota's production after the March 11 double-whammy earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The unprecedented natural disasters were coupled with quality concerns and recalls that hit Toyota. The 2011 Sonata's design quality was rated by J.D. Power and Associates as "among the best" and even earned a "Top Safety Pick" award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2012 Toyota Camry is set to debut toward the end of this year and they hope it will continue to keep pace with the increasingly-popular Sonata.
President of Toyota Akio Toyoda told U.S. dealers in Las Vegas on June 29th that the new Camry will have a contemporary design with improved performance and handling. In any case, this next year and a half should be a defining year for these two popular midsize models.