Still hot after all these years: not all passenger car models have a foot in the grave


I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, but we will someday to become crosses. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…

Still, it’s hard to avoid the narrative of crossovers that replace cars, because that’s not a far-fetched theory – it’s a cold, harsh reality. The market share of crossovers and SUVs grows every year as buyers move away from traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does not eall at least marginally.

That said, not all models face the same dropout rate. Some cars – thanks to a fuzzy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other more nebulous factors – have yet to be dropped onto the orphanage steps by their once loving guardians.

Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car category. Cars whose popularity is not declining, because this analysis does not cover the overall volume. Guess what? Neither vehicle is the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular cover).

Hard to believe, we know, but there is loyalty and the desire to be elsewhere.

Everything Subaru builds *

*except the BRZ

2017 Subaru Impreza Sport exterior, Image: Subaru

Despite its connection to rear-wheel drive Toyota, all vehicles with the Subaru badge, even cars, are licensed to print money. With one month remaining in 2017, the Subaru Impreza is already enjoying its best year of sales in the United States in its history. Year-to-date sales of the Impreza have increased nearly 33 percent, with November volume up 95.6 percent year-on-year.

It’s no different with the Impreza’s lifted brother, the Crosstrek (which I don’t consider a crossover). The compact on tiptoe is having its best selling year so far, with November sales volume up 22.7%. The volume in the first 11 months of 2017 is 14.5% higher than the same period last year.

Despite its November sales down just over 19%, year-over-year sales of the Outback wagon are on track to break last year’s record of 182,898 vehicles. Only the midsize Legacy, which recorded its best selling year in 2016, is expected to stay within the previous year’s mark. Afflicted by the midsize sedan curse, sales of the Legacy have fallen, year over year, for 11 straight months, with sales down 23.7% year-to-date.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf 2018, Image: VW Group

With the possible exception of the older generation Honda Civic, no nameplate conjures up images of a hatchback like Volkswagen’s Golf. Offered exclusively as a hatch until VW made the decision to market the Sportwagen (let’s just call the old, mechanically identical Cabriolet the Cabriolet), the Golf name still resonates with buyers. Since the start of the year, 16.2 percent more US buyers have won a Golf compared to 2016. As a refreshed 2018 model tilts, Wolfsburg executives can expect the model surpassed its record of 65,308 vehicles in the United States in 2015.

Honda Civic

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: Honda

Another model expected to break a sales record in 2016 is the hugely popular Honda Civic. Sporting a design hated only by the sick and perverts, and now offering three body styles and four power levels, Civic sales in the United States have increased year over year over the past five months. November sales increased 23.2% year-on-year. In the first 11 months of 2017, the Civic posted a 3.1% sales gain.

Nissan sentra

There is something to be said for the value proposition. And nothing says “value!” Just like the Nissan brand – damn it, the company built its American reputation on it. While not mentioned in the same excited tones as the Civic, the Nissan Sentra deserves kudos for staying in the hearts of American buyers. It helps that Nissan added a turbo engine (and a NISMO variant) in 2017 for fans of reasonable speed who don’t like to rock waves.

Sentra sales hit a record 214,709 units last year, double the model’s volume in 2012. Despite strong sales in 2016, volume in the first 11 months of 2017 is up 2% . November sales increased 25.2% year-on-year.

Nissan Maxima

Nissan Maxima 2017

Hey, what is this stuff doing here? Nobody talks about the Maxima, at least not with the same regularity as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. While I consider myself a fan of the current gen styling, no one considers themselves a fan of the model-only CVT performance. Nissan’s early attempts to endow this Maxima with a “sport sedan” badge did not make headlines, but that did not prevent the model from racking up decent sales.

Better than decent, really. Maxima sales are on track to hit an 11-year high in 2017, with sales up 9.1 percent year-to-date. November volume increased 51.3 percent. Who knew?

Mitsubishi mirage

Mirage Mitsubishi 2017, Image: Mitsubishi Motors

Now we come to the right things. Desire, your name is Mirage. Okay, while no one aspires to own a Mirage – except maybe Quebecers (despite the Nissan Micra option not available in America) – the only remaining car in Mitsubishi’s lineup has seen demand increase. every year since its introduction in 2012 (for the 2013 model year). Sales for the first 11 months of 2017 are up 3.3%. There must be something magical about this 78-horsepower, 1.2-liter three-cylinder.

[Images: Nissan, Honda, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru]

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