Ad Radar

October 2012: Midsize Sedan History Repeats Itself

By Matthew Askari | November 02, 2012
The midsize sedan is unquestionably the most important segment in the U.S., with sales of some models eclipsing entire automaker lineups. And while the numbers might be a little different in October, the top 10 midsize sedans find themselves in the exact same position as in September. It is worth noting that the number one sold more than 4,000 units less than the previous month. While the top dogs are likely to stay in command, we wouldn't be surprised to see some movement in the pecking order as 2013 models reach showrooms. Paragraphimage 10. Dodge Avenger (7,637/YTD 82,376) With so many good options and well-recognized nameplates, the Dodge Avenger gets forgotten about. But proving the strength of the segment, even at number 10, the Avenger will sell near 100,000 cars this year. Dodge offers a 283 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 in addition to its 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, but neither engine is particularly fuel-efficient.  In addition to the two powertrains, the Avenger is available in four models, offering customers ample choice. Paragraphimage 9. Volkswagen Passat (8,355/YTD 92,017) The Passat rode a wave of momentum this year, and was even named the Motor Trend Car of the Year. We drove the Passat TDI diesel version down the East Coast a few months ago, and found the Passat to be a strong player in the field. Can't decide if you want your midsize with a four-cylinder engine or a more powerful V-6? Split the difference. The entry-level Passat is powered by a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine that is capable of producing 170 hp. Getting an EPA estimated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg on the highway, it's pretty fuel efficient too. Paragraphimage 8. Chrysler 200 (8,758/YTD 109,025) The Chrysler 200 has quietly flown under the radar, but 2012 will be its best year yet, as it has proved to be slightly more appealing than its mechanically similar cousin, the Dodge Avenger. The 200 is also a pronounced departure from the unsightly Chrysler Sebring, which it replaced. Heeding the call of customers and the media, Chrysler applied generous effort and thought in to improving the interior, and it shows. Like the Dodge Avenger, the Chrysler 200 has two powertrain options, and also like the Avenger, suffers from mediocre fuel economy. Paragraphimage 7. Chevrolet Malibu (9,629/YTD 189,094) The Chevy Malibu has been a mainstay in the midsize family sedan segment for some time now. Chevy updated the Malibu for the 2013 model year, and sold nearly 10,000 of them in October. The new model improves on the ho-hum interior, but still lacks the rear-seat room of its competitors. Chevy ditched the V-6 engine in favor of a more fuel-efficient 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder. While the new model is improved, it falls short of the class leaders. Paragraphimage 6. Ford Fusion (12,690/YTD 206,855) Ford seemed to have a winner with the previous Fusion, and the recently arrived 2013 model is far improved. A new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine whacks out 237 horsepower, which is no small feat. And while most automakers are holding steady or even finally downsizing slightly, Ford made the Fusion even bigger. Not by much, but enough to ensure a competitively roomy cabin. All totaled at the end of this year, the Fusion should sit comfortably in the 4th spot. Paragraphimage 5. Kia Optima (12,948/YTD 127,676) Kia invested heavily in the Optima's advertising and marketing campaign. A Super Bowl ad and subsequent commercials with Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima, and an NBA All-Star Weekend appearance in the dunk contest—Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin used one as a prop for the winning dunk—helped bring Korea's number two in to America's living rooms. And with nearly 13K Optimas sold in October, they're in a lot of American garages too. Paragraphimage 4. Hyundai Sonata (16,773/YTD 192,119) The Hyundai Sonata has emerged from relative obscurity to a top of the pack contender in the midsize segment, adding a little flair to what is often referred to as the most lackluster group. The 2.0-liter turbo engine is very good, and relatively efficient. Hyundai has had to revise previous mpg claims on other models, but the regular Sonata was apparently not inflated. The Sonata hybrid fuel economy has been revised and is gets one mpg less in both city and highway driving. Paragraphimage 3. Nissan Altima (24,623/YTD 258,663) People seem to define this category as a battle between the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. What is easily overlooked is just how well number three does. The Nissan Altima is knocking on the door of number two, and with the newly refined 2013 Nissan Altima, that may be more true than ever. Nissan was able to tweak the Altima's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to get 38 mpg on the highway, which in a segment defined by value and economy, is quite an achievement. Paragraphimage 2. Honda Accord (28,349/YTD 276,196) After a down year that included production shortages after a Japanese tsunami, and flooding in Thailand, Honda appears to be returning to form. Leading the way, is the face and presence of the automaker, in the 2013 Honda Accord. Perhaps inspired by Toyota's success, and fearing the ever-increasing presence of the Altima (that knocking we mentioned), Honda updated the Accord for 2013. The result is a better car, one that can stave off the Altima for now. Paragraphimage 1. Toyota Camry (29,926/YTD 344,714) The Camry is looking to crack 400,000 models sold, and if it doesn't hit 400,000, it'll be awfully close. The last time Toyota had this much success with its superstar was before the economic downturn hit the auto industry hard. The Camry did sell 4,000 fewer models than in September, but with capacity back in full swing after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, Toyota's midsize is poised to remain atop the pack. Source: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Dodge