They’re less expensive, fun to drive and 5 million are sold each year. So why are pundits predicting the end of the sedan?
Bigger, badder, more room, more power, however you call it, that is what people want in a car, right? Add capability in snow and rough roads, flexible seating, more cargo area and you can see why SUVs and crossovers are so popular. In fact, this year the ‘utility’ category surpassed sedans in sales.
But for those who love them, the news is good: Sedans aren’t dead, they are just evolving.
The Family Car was Always a Sedan
Thinking back, my family has always had a sedan of some sort. Grandma had a Buick Skylark, Dad had a Toyota Camry, Mom had a Honda Civic and my brother had a Chevy Malibu.
I have driven a few sedans in my life too. My first car was a two-door VW Rabbit, my second car was a Chevy Malibu. Then I had a Toyota Corolla, Ford Taurus and another Toyota Corolla.
Then I found Jeep: a 4-wheel driving box of awesomeness.
A lot of people did, and that started the trend of SUVs taking the place of sedans in American driveways.
Is There Still a Place for Sedans on the Road?
“There is more opportunity now” to sell sedans said Henio Arcangeli, Honda senior VP of automobiles, since some manufacturers are scaling back on sedans to focus on SUVs. “55 percent of first time buyers buy a sedan,” Henio told us. Sedans are still very popular with new drivers, multicultural drivers and younger consumers.
Honda, like Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Nissan are all committed to building sedans for a global market, so even though these cars may not be as popular in the US as they used to be, there is still demand around the world.
The Hatchback Wagon: The Sedan’s Cousin
The popularity of the original family truckster, the station wagon, seems to be on the rise again. Buick, Volkswagen and Volvo continue to offer station wagons. And many sedans, from the Honda Civic to the Toyota Corolla to the Hyundai Elantra, offer a hatchback version– a station wagon-esque car with the convenience and space of a cargo floor. This nice compromise seems to be popular with trend-setting millennials. My husband, who is in his 50’s, had a Ford Escape ST hatchback (he loved its awesome engine). This car was so sought after that when we traded it in after only a year of owning it we made money on it.
Are Sedans Really Losing Their Appeal?
The RAV4 overtook the Camry’s 15-year run as Toyota’s best-selling vehicle and America’s best-selling vehicle. Nissan’s Rogue crossover has outsold the Altima and Sentra. And the Honda CR-V has overtaken the Accord and Civic.
But the statistics can be deceiving: Eight of the top 20 best-selling vehicles in America are still sedans—the same percentage as crossovers and SUVs; the rest of the top sellers are full-size trucks.
And of course, auto companies love us to buy SUVs. They tend to be more expensive than sedans, feature-for-feature. And, the excitement of adventure that a Subaru Crosstrek or a Kia Telluride promises is a lure. You just can’t drive up a mountain in the average sedan.
As a travel writer who road trips all over the country for work, I drive a Jeep, and it’s very appealing to me. The space, the security, the ride height and the Jeep name are the very reasons I bought it. But is it for everyone? And, when gas prices start to go up again, is it practical for everyone? For consumers who are more sensitive to rising costs, a sedan makes more sense.
In fact, sedans are often the only option for electric cars, super fuel-efficient hybrids and for sports cars. And, for drivers who really love the drive experience, the low center of gravity and a car that hugs the road, the sedan is the only option. So no, sedans are not going away, they are just taking a new role, not central casting, on our roads.