American families are abandoning midsize sedans in alarming numbers, with U.S. sales off 18 percent this year. At that pace, segment volume is likely to drop by more than 200,000 units in 2017 -- an amount equal to the annual output at your average North American assembly plant.
That's a seismic shift in a market still near its peak. And the numbers would probably be uglier if not for thousands of shipments to daily rental customers.
For many consumers, the family sedan has become an appliance. Crossovers and SUVs offer more utility, visibility and comfort without sacrificing fuel economy.
But at Honda, the midsize Accord is still a franchise and a very profitable one. Since its debut in 1976, American consumers, many of them baby boomers, have bought more than 13 million Accords. It was the first light vehicle from a Japanese automaker to be made in America.
Honda says the Accord has been the retail sales leader in the U.S. midsize sedan market for four straight years beginning in 2013. And in the first five months of 2017, based on retail deliveries to individual buyers, Honda says the Accord is the top-selling midsize sedan in the U.S. and the second best-selling passenger car overall, topped only by the redesigned Honda Civic.
In years past, the debut of a retooled Accord was usually a closely held secret.