CarGurus Investigates: Are Millennials Really Buying Fewer Sedans?

Millennials have been blamed for many things. But can they really take the brunt of the blame for the death of the sedan? A recent survey conducted by CarGurus took a closer look.

Millennials Keeping Sedans Alive

Compared to shoppers age 35-44, there are more 18-29 year olds who expected the sedan to grow in popularity in the next five years: 65 percent of younger shoppers compared to 54 percent of shoppers age 35-44. This body style was also the most popular for younger shoppers, compared to ubiquitous SUVs and crossovers. Shoppers cited the price and fuel economy as the top two reasons why they were looking at sedans.

This research tracks with our earlier data that finds that the sedan isn’t as dead as we were led to believe. Younger, single drivers will still consider a sedan, given their accessible price point. But it’s not all good news for the sedan. While 48 percent of 18-29 year olds own sedans at present, only 32 percent of them would purchase a sedan for their next vehicle. The sedan is dead, long live the sedan.

The Future of the Sedan

GM just announced its plans to discontinue several of its sedans, an echo of Ford’s decision earlier this year. We’ll be losing the Impala and the Volt, among others. The Volt was the most surprising sedan to get the axe, given many automakers’ plans to expand the number of electric vehicles in their lineups. It’s not just Chevrolet that is killing one of its electric vehicles: Cadillac, which is a division of GM, is axing its CT6 Hybrid. Interestingly, the used market for the Impala and the Volt have grown here at CarGurus. In the past year, CarGurus saw a 38 percent increase in searches for used Chevy Volts. Same thing with the Impala.

We’re not sure which automakers will follow in GM and Ford footsteps. But many automakers are doubling down on sedans. The LA Auto Show featured several automakers that prove that sedans aren’t going anywhere. Mazda updated its Mazda3; BMW introduced its updated 3 Series and brought back its 8 Series. In fact, the sedan body style may have a second life for electric vehicles. Another recent survey from CarGurus found that the sedan was the top body style for respondents considering buying an EV.

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