It probably wasn’t a good year for Toyota overall–it struggled with supply and production issues after an earthquake in March–but don’t tell that to the Camry. The ubiquitous mid-size Japanese sedan handily bested its mid-size competitors last year, in a big way.
Toyota sold 308,510 Camrys in the U.S. domestic market last year. It may have been 5.9 percent less than the total sales from 2010, but it was enough to snag the top spot in the always-competitive mid-size segment for the tenth year in a row. This was even with a significant model change, not to mention low supplies following the March 11 natural disaster.
The Camry beat its next closest competitor, the Nissan Altima, by nearly 40,000 units. The Altima managed to sell 268,981 vehicles last year, despite not receiving any significant upgrades. The Altima may be due for some major change (it’s reportedly coming for the 2013 model year), but that didn’t stop the car from having a great year, up 17.3 percent from 2010.
About 20,000 units behind that was the Ford Fusion, which managed a record year and sold 248,067 vehicles, up 13.2 percent from 2010. It was Ford’s third-most-popular vehicle, behind the F-Series pickup and Escape SUV. It’s also the most popular mid-size sedan from an American automaker, although nine of the top ten cars are assembled in the United States. (The Mazda6 had been built in Flat Rock, Michigan until Mazda pulled out of the facility that it shared with Ford earlier this year, and is now only built in Hofu, Japan.)
The year’s fall from grace was the Honda Accord. Sales in December alone slipped 40 percent, but it ended the year with 235,625 sales, down 16.9 percent from 2010. It’s a red flag for Honda, which ended the year down 6.9 percent in total, and seems to be the hardest hit of the three big Japanese automakers.
Continuing its upward march this year was the Hyundai Sonata, which ended the year with 225,961 sales, enough to give it fifth place. Sales are up roughly 15 percent from last year, but it was enough to scare the Accord, which beat it by only 10,000 units last year.
Sixth place last year went to the Chevrolet Malibu, which had a respectable year. All in all sales were up 3.0 percent to 204,808 vehicles sold, a solid second place among the Americans. A completely revamped Malibu will be released shortly, so it should be interesting to see if the new model can make more waves.
The duet of Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger were responsible for a combined 151,056 sales and seventh place. That number breaks down to 87,033 200s, and 64,023 Avengers. While that means a 26 percent year-over-year increase for the Avenger, that model will soon be discontinued–Chrysler Group buyers will have to opt for either a Chrysler 200 or a smaller, Alfa Romeo-fettled Dodge Dart sedan come 2013.
Kia’s Optima returned respectable numbers in December, and ended the year in eighth place, selling 84,590 units overall. That’s a serious increase over the previous year–a 209 percent increase, to be exact–although the Optima is still outsold by its Sonata bigger brother by nearly 3 to 1.
The Mazda6, meanwhile, continued its march at the bottom. The slow-selling Japanese mid-sizer turned over only 35,711 units last year, roughly flat with the year before.
The only major mid-size vehicle that the Mazda6 outsold last year, in fact, was the Volkswagen Passat: VW sold 22,779 of the cars last year. Keep in mind, however, that this represents a 124 percent increase over the previous year. With the new built-in-Tennessee model, VW may have a bit of a hit on its hands: save for a couple hundred old models, the majority of that 23,000 Passats were sold between September and December. In December VW sold 6884 Passats, enough to put it at the level of the Dodge Avenger. While the car has plenty of work to go before reaching Camry levels of popularity, its maker is bent on reaching that point, and the numbers show that the Passat could be headed in that direction.