Japanese Sales: Some (Important) Winners, Some (Less Important) Losers, and Some REAL BIG Losers

By Blake Z. Rong | February 02, 2012
Ignore all the froufrou about the Acura NSX, pictured above, and the sleek, unpronounceable Lexus concept that were hyped up at the last auto show. Some significant Japanese cars came out this month, and their sales figures reflect the shininess: the Toyota Camry, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Impreza are all-new for 2012, boosting the sales of their respective companies. And yet, there are some other cars that will be sure to make an impact when they come out—the Toyota/Subaru sports cars come to mind, as well as the Infiniti JX crossover and the spate of new Acuras such as the ILX sedan and RDX crossover. And yes, that does include the NSX. The line starts behind Jerry and Jay. Honda's Winners:
  • The new Honda Civic may not be a media darling, but consumers don’t care: Sales of the Civic rose by 50 percent from last year, to 21,883 examples sold, causing automotive critics to foam at the mouth.
  • In less depressing news, an all-new Honda CR-V unsurprisingly gained a popularity boost: it built on January 2011’s record-setting sales by adding another 2,000 vehicles, with 18,960 people who put “buying a CR-V” on their leap lists.
  • The bulk of Acura’s 5.3 percent sales increase came mostly from the Acura TL, which saw a sales increase by 43 percent. We think it’s because of the brown.
Honda's Losers:
  • The Honda CR-Z dropped like a particularly sharp and wedgy rock: down 59.4 percent.
  • Likewise, it's been a rough month for Honda's other hybrid. The Honda Insight sunk even lower than the aforementioned CR-Z. Somewhere out there, Toyota's Prius is giving the Insight a swirlie in the boy's locker room.
Toyota's Winners:
  • Unswayed by floods, earthquakes, nuclear calamities and lingering recalls, the Toyota Camry juggernaut peddled 28,295 examples, an increase of 60 percent from last year.
  • The Scion tC led the youth brand with a meager 8 percent increase. But expect that to change when every 20-something with a flat-brim cap and a “Hellastance” sticker descends upon dealerships like bands of wasps for the FR-S. (Myself included. Well, minus the accessorizing.)
  • And a redesigned Toyota Yaris did pretty well for itself. Yaris! It's a car! It tripled its sales! They're like sales, for your sales!
Toyota's Losers:
  • Nearly six years old, the Toyota Corolla may be one of the world's best-selling cars but it dropped 12.6 percent this month.
  • It's been a rough month for Lexus. In anticipation of a new Lexus GS, the midsized luxury sedan sold just 93 models. The junior hybrid Lexus HS saw a decrease of 46.9 percent.
Nissan's Winners:
  • Proof that some people just want a car with a lowercase c, the bare-bones Nissan Versa led the company's growth for this month. Guess that new car smell really is that enticing.
  • Nissan's trucks, though aging, did pretty well: the Pathfinder and Frontier both gained marks. Also, does the Rogue count? Because it did pretty well too.
  • Finally, the Altima did pretty good for itself, rising 35.9 percent. A nice, modest gain for a nice, modest car.
Nissan's Losers:
  • Sales of the Cube dropped by 72.2 percent, because people really did want to think outside the box. And far, far away from it, in fact.
  • The Infiniti EX fell by around 34 percent, as did most of the Infiniti lineup. That's what happens when you name your cars after other company's model designations (instead of, say, actual names).
  • Finally, the Juke fell at around the same level as the Sentra above. Sales of the Juke will be guaranteed to rise if Nissan builds the Juke-R. Get to it, boys.
Mazda's Winners:
  • Overall, Mazda saw the best January since 1994, growing by 68.2 percent. Perhaps indicative of our stagnant economy, the Mazda2 was at the forefront of these sales with a staggering 532.6 percent increase. Good job, Mazda. Now you guys can stop grinning so much.
  • The Mazda6 was the 2nd most popular Mazda sold, clocking in at a cool 118.3 percent increase.
  • Lastly, the Mazda3 and its fancy-pants SKYACTIV engine increased 83.4 percent in sales. We drove the SKYACTIV. It's good. Trust us, even if SKYACTIV sounds like a James Bond villain's deathray.
Mazda's Losers:
  • As production of the RX-8 winds down, the company only managed to push 17 examples to an ignominious fate. Fare thee well, dear Wankel-engined wunderkind. You shall be missed.
  • The Mazda5 mini-minivan didn't do so well, either. Conversely, neither did the hulking CX-9—but the midsize CX-7 did pretty well for itself, proving that family consumers are just like Goldilocks.
  • Oh, and they still build the Tribute—in the same sort of technicality that counts a yacht as a tax write-off.
Subaru's Winners:
  • Spurred forth by the all-new Impreza, Subaru saw huge sales for its most mainstream of cars, by 175 percent.
  • The Subaru Legacy also saw a rise in sales, which isn't bad for a mild winter in Subaru territory—i.e. the Northwest, New England, and wherever trendy sandals and Ani DiFranco CDs are sold.
Subaru's Losers:
  • Not a good month for Subaru family schleppers—the Subaru Forester didn't get any love. Maybe if large, hairy dogs were in charge of automobile purchases instead of humans, the Forester would have more sway.
  • The Impreza WRX also didn't get new fans either, apparently. Maybe everybody's just Mitsubishi EVO fans? Mitsubishi certainly wishes that was the case.
  • And Subaru somehow sold more Tribecas this year than last year—which is notable for a vehicle that can't actually fit in its namesake location.
Mitsubishi's Winners:
  • Reporting on Mitsubishi sales is about as fun as working the night shift morgue at St. Jude's. Despite this, there's some glimmer of hope for the three-diamonded bunch: turns out, the Outlander and Outlander Sport did pretty well, by 5- and 2.2-percent increases, respectively. Of course, pretty well is relative—especially when we're talking about a car that's so unanimously loathed by Motor Trend’s band of merry pranksters.
  • Remember how Impreza WRX sales went down? Well, sales of the Lancer EVO went up by 10 percent—so clearly, some heated Internet arguments are having some sway on people.
Mitsubishi's Losers:
  • Mitsubishi itself. Overall sales fell by 17.6 percent, as the company tries to remember what they were known for and the sales juggernaut it once was in the 1990s. Jeez, that's depressing. Let's try to think of puppies jumping out of 3000GT convertibles, shall we?
  • The Mitsubishi Eclipse died much in the way Elvis did: fat, bloated, and a caricature of its former glory, though hopefully not in the bathroom.
Suzuki's Winners:
  • None. OK, OK, the Suzuki SX4 didn't sell as badly as the rest of the lineup. And they still build the Grand Vitara, apparently—good for them, they're trying pretty hard. But literally every vehicle in Suzuki's lineup saw a sales slump, with the smallest decrease coming from the SX4's 22 percent. And we thought Mitsubishi was depressing. Even the excellent Kizashi dropped the ball on sales by a whopping 90 percent, selling just 253 cars. Hey Suzuki, look on the bright side—you've still got 11 months to turn it all around. Like LL Cool J, don't call it a comeback.
Suzuki's Losers: the entire company (see above).