Analysis shows surprisingly rapid shrinkage of mid-sized sedan segment

(September 27, 2017) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The midsize sedan is no longer the vehicle of choice for the American family, according to new analysis from Edmunds. After spending 20 of the last 27 years as the best-selling vehicle segment in the U.S., midsize sedans have taken a dramatic downward turn in popularity.

Midsize sedans were the top-selling vehicle segment as recently as 2014, but so far in 2017 have tumbled to fifth behind compact SUVs, large trucks, midsize SUVs and compact cars. Market share for midsize sedans is now a meager 10.7 percent — the seg
ment's lowest share since Edmunds began its tracking in 1991.

2018 Toyota Camry

"While it's common for consumer tastes to change over time, it's surprising to see just how quickly shoppers have made the switch from sedans to SUVs," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis.

"As recently as three years ago, the Accord made up nearly 30 percent of all of Honda's sales in the U.S., and so far in 2017 it's down to 22 percent. Now that shoppers can now get an SUV for a similar price as a sedan and not have to pay much more at the pump, it's hard to convince them the smaller vehicle is a better choice."

In the midst of this dramatic pivot in shopper tastes, the two of the most popular cars in America — the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord — are all-new for 2018. While sales of both vehicles have declined in recent years, they've pulled furt
her ahead of their rivals and are now competing closely to catch the attention of interested shoppers.

"As the pool of buyers shrinks, you have to put out that muc
h better of a product to keep your share of the segment, and that's exactly what Honda and Toyota are trying to do with the new Accord and Camry," Caldwell said. "Both are leaning on edgier design and a sportier image to convince shoppers that their vehicle is the stylish, fun choice in a segment that has a reputation for being overtly practical."

Even if the new Accord and Camry launch with rave reviews from media and car buyers, Edmunds analysts say it's highly unlikely the midsize sedan segment will ever return to its former glory. Nearly one-quarter (23.5 percent) of midsize sedan owners who trade their vehicles in and buy a new vehicle purchase a small SUV, a figure that was 16.9 percent just three years ago.

"Even if gas prices spike and the economy takes a downward turn, we don't see this trend reversing," Caldwell said. "Once someone gets used to the higher ride, extra space and creature comforts they can get in an SUV, it's almost a fool's errand to convince them to go back to a sedan."