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Midsize Car Sales: Keep On Keepin' On, Grandma Eunice

By Blake Z. Rong | January 05, 2012
Like oatmeal, homemade holiday cookies, and your Grandma Eunice, midsize sedans are a familiar sight in tough times. They’re not flashy (no matter how hard Hyundai tries), but they’re good for you. They’ve been around since forever, much like Eunice. And also like her, no matter how hard she tries to boogie, hold an “active lifestyle” or lead market share away from entry-level Japanese luxury sedans, she’s still more comfortable sitting back in her slippers and watching Matlock. That’s ok. She’ll always be there for you in times of need—until your family decides to trade her in for a seven-seater crossover with zero down and no interest until 2015, anyway. So how have midsize sedans done for 2011? Are they still the comfort food of the automotive world (and the recession-that-shall-not-be-named)? Or are people still flocking to SUVs—and gasp! smaller cars? Well as the numbers show, midsize car sales for 2011 are still going strong, despite rumors of dipping sales across the segment and people flocking to compacts. There’s still room for the bread-and-butter, it seems, even if the bread is naturally-ground, artisan-baked multi-grain focaccia, and the butter is sourced from free-range cows. (Gotta stay healthy these days, as Eunice would tell you.) Besides, we all know this SUV thing is a fad anyway. Winners:
  • VW Passat: Sales of the VW Passat increased from 12,497 examples of last year’s outgoing model to a rousing 22,835, which says two things: 1.) consumers like new, shiny things, and 2.) boy, do these guys have influence or what?
  • Kia Optima: Spurred by a sleek new model, Optima sales increased by more than 300 percent. I bet [insert GOP candidate here] sure wishes he had those numbers.
  • Chrysler 200: That’s right, the abomination that was once the Scourge of the Auto Journalist proves that Eminem’s scowling face does wonders for dealer lots. What does that say about America? I haven’t the faintest idea.
  • Chevy Malibu: Is the Malibu popular in Malibu? Maybe, selling 6,000-plus more units than it had the previous year, with 204,808 examples this year. Is the Kia Sorento popular in Sorrento? A Colorado in Colorado? An Impala on the Serengeti? What is the sound of one hand clapping?
  • Hyundai Sonata: Like its Kia sibling, sales of the Sonata also soared. Does that make the Sonata/Optima twins arch-nemeses? Because that would certainly make for more exciting sales reports.
Losers:
  • Toyota Camry: The Camry continues to be America’s best-selling car, but with a new model debuting for 2012, plus Toyota's earthquake problems, it's not surprising that sales declined by 19,294 examples. That works out to 308,510 vehicles for the year; it is, after all, still a Camry.
  • Honda Accord: Remember that thing about consumers liking new and shiny? The Accord falls into neither category (unless it sporting a fresh coat of carnauba wax), and it won't be until the 2013 model year. So sales fell by nearly 47,000.
  • Subaru Legacy: Sales increased for the Legacy, but not as much as Subaru would have liked: managing just over 42,000 cars sold. “But wait,” you may say, “what’s this all about new and shiny selling well then?” To which I say that the Legacy may just not be new and shiny enough—and oh look, there’s something new and shiny outside the window. What was the question again?
 
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