CarGurus Investigates the Death of the Sedan

A death has been reported!

The automotive industry has been using the phrase “the death of the sedan” since at least 2015, when SUVs earned their title as “star[s] of the show,” according to MarketWatch.

Here at CarGurus, we wanted to investigate the death of the sedan. Were the claims true?

Here’s what we found: When people are shopping for a new car, they’re less likely to be looking for a new sedan and more drawn to SUVs and crossovers. However, with used car shoppers, buyers are just as likely to look for a sedan as crossovers and SUVs.

CarGurus shoppers have expressed more interest—in both searches and lead submissions—in new crossovers/SUVs than new sedans. In 2018, crossovers/SUVs account for 36.6% percent of new searches compared to sedans, which account for just 22.9% of new searches, a nearly 3 percentage point drop for new sedans compared to 2017.

But it’s not case closed. Taking a closer look at used car shopping paints a more compelling case for the sedan. Search interest for used sedans climbed to 27.5% in 2018, nearly neck-and-neck with crossovers and SUVs, at 28.9%.

Price may be a critical factor in the higher interest in used sedans. There is less than a $1500 difference between the 2018 Honda Accord and the Honda CR-V. However, the price gap is much greater when looking at used cars. The 2017 Accord is $4300 cheaper than its crossover counterpart. Go back another year and the gap remains. The average price differential between a 2016 Accord and CR-V hovers at $2500.

The declining interest in new sedans has some automakers’ attention. In April, Ford announced that it will discontinue all of its sedans, with the exception of the Focus Active and Mustang, by 2020. When asked, the company cited declining sales in sedans for the past several years, while crossovers and truck sales have surged. But Ford is one of the few that has discontinued making sedans. Volkswagen redesigned the Jetta and Arteon, Toyota released the redesigned Avalon, and Honda introduced the Insight.

What do you think? Is the death of the sedan finally upon us?

2 Comments

  1. Not entirely, but it isn’t unlike the “death” of the sports car (in consideration of the rise of sport sedans). SUVs and crossovers are getting increasingly good fuel economy/driving dynamics and people just seem to like them better. I own both and prefer them for different reasons, but from day to day I use my sedan because it is still more economical. On the flipside, it cannot tow the 6000lbs that my SUV can. Most people only have one car and it has to do everything for them.

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