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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Could it be that the so-called "midsize sedan" has become too large and too expensive?

With sales of midsize sedans falling faster than those of compact cars, and the long-held industry practice to grow in size --and in price-- with every iteration, across both segments, could it be that the midsize sedan lost the sweet spot it enjoyed for decades?

Relief for midsize sedans? Not much.
 

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And "capability" has disappeared from the midsize sedan class. Tighter interiors in larger midsize cars, styling trumping functionality, unusable trunk space due to shortened trunk lids. it seems useabity study needs to return to sedan design.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, they definitely need to do a thorough needs assessment across midsize sedan customers.
 

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And "capability" has disappeared from the midsize sedan class. Tighter interiors in larger midsize cars, styling trumping functionality, unusable trunk space due to shortened trunk lids. it seems useabity study needs to return to sedan design.
The automakers (accidentally or deliberately) are responsible for the falling sales of mid size and full size sedans.
 

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Which is better in term of utility for the consumer and cost of development vs potential number of units sold? A mid-size sedan or a mid-size crossover?
 
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Well... the new Dart costs about the same as a 1974 Dart, adjusted for inflation... and has much more usable trunk space. It's hard to say. I miss the hatchbacks, honestly.
Looked at a new Civic hatchback over the weekend to potentially replace my 2013 Dart. What a fantastic car. I hate to go to Honda but I travel a lot and get reimbursed for gas. Makes no sense to spend the additional fuel money and go with even a small crossover like the Renegade. 40 vs 29 on the hwy is a huge difference. The quality of the sedans are just fantastic right now. People are not buying sedans because they are inferior products, it's more of a trend and the automakers are perpetuating it to make profits. Sedans like the Civic, Elantra, Malibu etc are the best they have ever been right now. It will be interesting to see if the new redesigned Camry and Accord changes the trend around sedans right now. Can the perceived quality factor of Honda/Toyota overcome the trend?
 

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Ever see a 75 year old guy struggle to get into/out of a small or midsize sedan?
There's your answer why crossovers are gaining strength!
An entire age group is driving the shift.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Until the last few decades, you could easily get in and out of a midsize sedan that also had a useable trunk - before the wind tunnel became the primary styling tool.
 

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But it doesn't have to be that way. Until the last few decades, you could easily get in and out of a midsize sedan that also had a useable trunk - before the wind tunnel became the primary styling tool.
Don’t blame wind tunnels. The Cirrus and Intrepid were very aerodynamic but had good utility. Even the 300C is pretty aerodynamic — good enough for 30 mpg highway. (Used to be 31, wonder what happened?)
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
The sedan is never going to win against the CUV on utility. It needs to offer its own unique set of benefits that the CUV can't deliver as well.

Better styling? Better handling? Better fuel economy? Lower price/cost of ownership? The sedan, as it sits today, doesn't offer a significantly better alternative over the CUV on these areas to earn buyers' choice.
 

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Don’t blame wind tunnels. The Cirrus and Intrepid were very aerodynamic but had good utility. Even the 300C is pretty aerodynamic — good enough for 30 mpg highway. (Used to be 31, wonder what happened?)
No, it is not wind tunnels, but gov't regulations that killed trunks and utility of sedans.

The Cirrus/Intrepid would not be competitive today....as great as they were in their day.

Sedans need to break out in the same way that CUVs broke out....by redefining their category.

A high performance, high.fuel efficient sedan with a big trunk might do it and Toyota/Honda are aiming there.
 
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No, it is not wind tunnels, but gov't regulations that killed trunks and utility of sedans.

The Cirrus/Intrepid would not be competitive today....as great as they were in their day.

Sedans need to break out in the same way that CUVs broke out....by redefining their category.

A high performance, high.fuel efficient sedan with a big trunk might do it and Toyota/Honda are aiming there.
So why would a Intrepid not be competitive in todays market, I have one and don't see that. As a matter of fact when I pull into a parking lot and look around it is very competitive.
 

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But it doesn't have to be that way. Until the last few decades, you could easily get in and out of a midsize sedan that also had a useable trunk - before the wind tunnel became the primary styling tool.
It is what it is.
 

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Looked at a new Civic hatchback over the weekend to potentially replace my 2013 Dart. What a fantastic car. I hate to go to Honda but I travel a lot and get reimbursed for gas. Makes no sense to spend the additional fuel money and go with even a small crossover like the Renegade. 40 vs 29 on the hwy is a huge difference. The quality of the sedans are just fantastic right now. People are not buying sedans because they are inferior products, it's more of a trend and the automakers are perpetuating it to make profits. Sedans like the Civic, Elantra, Malibu etc are the best they have ever been right now. It will be interesting to see if the new redesigned Camry and Accord changes the trend around sedans right now. Can the perceived quality factor of Honda/Toyota overcome the trend?
But you are confusing things. The Civic hatchback is a compact hatchback. Not a midsize sedan...
And the Renegade with its boxy shape isn't exactly the most aerodynamic car in the market.

I think there's a big disconnect between what automakers and auto journalists think the consumers want in a midsize sedan and what they actually end up buying.
Every auto journalists lambasts a midsize sedan that is not "sporty", doesn't have good handling and a suspensions that allows them to get the adrenaline from throwing it around the corners.
Then they constantly pan perfectly serviceable midsize sedans like the Camry for being "boring" and not "sporty". And because this is negative word-of-mouth, and an echo chamber that amplifies this image what happens is that the manufacturers make cars more sporty, lower (making it more difficult to get in), with stiffer suspensions and gawdy "sporty" styling (new Camry and Accord).

Well, not every midsize sedan has to be a BMW 3 series! The manufacturers need to focus on ease of access, confort and making the boot more accessible.
A midsize that I think almost hit all of these point is the new Buick Regal: it's a hatchback shaped as a sedan (so great usable trunk), it's cavernous on the inside BUT the ease of access is compromised versus the last generation because it is closer to the ground.

Then there's also the issue that with the market in a downturn, and with sedans not being fashionable right now (because of the media always knocking sedans for not being sporty), they have no margins to justify heavy investments.

I hope in two to three years FCA launches a new Chrysler/Dodge midsize sedans pair. Something with a boxy, masculine design like the 300 and Charger with ease of access and a usable boot. Make the Chrysler the confort oriented model by default and Dodge the sporty one. But launch them after getting two midsize SUVs for these brands as well.
 

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The post above points out exactly where the flaw in consumer research is. Ask a bunch of people what they want in a sedan and you will get "sporty looks" a lot. Then watch those people try to use the sporty looking sedan and you'll see them having to twist and contort themselves to get in and out, struggle to load bulky items through a small trunk opening, etc.

It's the different between "listening to the customer" and "observing the customer". You'll learn far more useful information by watching than listening. The 1994 Ram is a good example and it looks like that methodology might have made a return in Pacifica design.
 

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So why would a Intrepid not be competitive in todays market, I have one and don't see that. As a matter of fact when I pull into a parking lot and look around it is very competitive.
First, it would not meet any regulations in place today.

Second, it would not earn 5-stars in IIHS crash testing without major redesign (and more weight).

Given the size, aerodynamics and increased weight, it would not have competitive fuel economy, even with today's powertrains.

The reason trunks are short is for increased fuel economy. The Intrepid would suffer due to that single feature.

Do not get me wrong. I had a 300M and my father had an Intrepid. I think the LH cars were incredible for their day. But that day is gone and cannot return due to regulations and fuel economy needs.
 

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The 300M had a fairly short trunk, so it would fit into parking spaces.

If you put the nine speed and 3.6 in there, it would have fine fuel economy.

The crash testing is the major issue... along with relatively noisy cabins. Mazda gets light cars because they are willing to sacrifice sound insulation.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
But you are confusing things. The Civic hatchback is a compact hatchback. Not a midsize sedan...
And the Renegade with its boxy shape isn't exactly the most aerodynamic car in the market.

I think there's a big disconnect between what automakers and auto journalists think the consumers want in a midsize sedan and what they actually end up buying.
Every auto journalists lambasts a midsize sedan that is not "sporty", doesn't have good handling and a suspensions that allows them to get the adrenaline from throwing it around the corners.
Then they constantly pan perfectly serviceable midsize sedans like the Camry for being "boring" and not "sporty". And because this is negative word-of-mouth, and an echo chamber that amplifies this image what happens is that the manufacturers make cars more sporty, lower (making it more difficult to get in), with stiffer suspensions and gawdy "sporty" styling (new Camry and Accord).

Well, not every midsize sedan has to be a BMW 3 series! The manufacturers need to focus on ease of access, confort and making the boot more accessible.
A midsize that I think almost hit all of these point is the new Buick Regal: it's a hatchback shaped as a sedan (so great usable trunk), it's cavernous on the inside BUT the ease of access is compromised versus the last generation because it is closer to the ground.

Then there's also the issue that with the market in a downturn, and with sedans not being fashionable right now (because of the media always knocking sedans for not being sporty), they have no margins to justify heavy investments.

I hope in two to three years FCA launches a new Chrysler/Dodge midsize sedans pair. Something with a boxy, masculine design like the 300 and Charger with ease of access and a usable boot. Make the Chrysler the confort oriented model by default and Dodge the sporty one. But launch them after getting two midsize SUVs for these brands as well.
You touch on some key points.

The sedan historically has been about day-to-day reliability, family-friendly safety and comfort, no-nonsense practicality, efficiency and long-term low cost of operation.

So, I agree that the magazines have been wanting sedans to be something they weren't about. In fact, if auto editors had their way, they'd want everything automakers build, including pickups, minivans and SUVs, to be "sporty".

The issue now is, the CUV is the king of practicality, and has bought reliability, safety, comfort and efficiency within range of that long offered by sedans. So, going forward, what are sedans to offer that CUVs don't?
 
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