Have CUVs Replaced the Family Sedan?

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For every Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy, and Chrysler 200 sold so far this year, more than two CX-5s, Tiguans, Foresters, and Cherokees have left dealer lots.

The midsize family sedan, once a ubiquitous sight on American highways and in suburban garages, is being replaced by the car-based crossover.

Today’s CUVs offer the same interior seating capacity as sedans, but offer additional cargo space that’s also more accessible. Plus, CUV drivers sit higher and have a better view of surrounding traffic, while available all-wheel drive can handle almost all road conditions.

Have we reached the point where CUVs have replaced sedans?

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we should note that the Toyota Camry remains the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. American consumers obviously still have a taste for midsize family sedans. The new Chevy Malibu and Honda Accord are also selling well. The segment as a whole is up 3 percent for the year so far.

The CUV segment, on the other hand, has grown more than 10 percent as of the end of February of this year. Small SUVs and crossovers have accounted for almost 450,000 sales so far this year, compared with about 350,000 midsize sedans (including electrics and hybrids).

The popularity of CUVs doesn’t seem to be hurting the top-tier sedans, but makers of the Mazda6, Passat, Legacy, 200, and other lower-tier cars have reason to fear. In fact, Chrysler has already announced that it will discontinue the 200 in favor of more profitable trucks and SUVs. That’s a trend we can expect to continue in the future.

Having a car in the midsize sedan segment has been essential for automakers, almost all of which field a competitor. And yet the Camry, Accord, and Altima together account for nearly 50 percent of the market. That leaves about 10 models to fight for the remaining half. As the popularity of the CUV increases, we could see more sedans follow the 200 out of existence.

Would you rather drive a CUV or a midsize sedan?

-tgriffith

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