If you are in the market for a family vehicle or will be in the near future, and you don’t necessarily need the functionality of a crossover or minivan, you may want to take a look at the family sedans now available or coming to your local dealer.During the next six months, there will be a lot of product activity in this category, and those family sedans not being redesigned remain crucial to their respective makes.
Three redesigned midsize family cars are either being launched now or will be in the coming months.
An all-new version of the Toyota Camry, the most popular car in the country for the past nine years in a row, is hitting the market right now.
The hybrid version of the new Camry will achieve an impressive 43 mpg, a number normally seen as an impressive achievement for a compact car.
Toyota, eager to recover from both its recall crisis of 2010 and the product shortage of this year, is pouring $175 million into the Camry launch, the largest amount ever spent on the launch of one Toyota model according to the New York Times*.
The Camry will appear everywhere, as Toyota is pouring resources into digital, social and mobile media as well as traditional venues including television and print. The last thing Toyota needs at this point is to see its flagship model lose its leadership position.
Volkswagen is currently launching an all-new Passat. A key component of the launch is an aggressive pricing strategy that mirrors the successful pricing approach used for the launch of the new Jetta earlier this year (the Jetta’s retail registrations through eight months this year are up 62% when compared to the same time period in 2010). Volkswagen has made no secret of its desire to become the number one OEM globally and the Passat clearly needs to succeed in the U.S. for the company to reach this goal.
The third redesigned product being launched in the family sedan category is the Chevrolet Malibu, which will arrive in showrooms in the first quarter of 2012. The Malibu is Chevrolet’s second most-popular car after the Cruze. The success of the current Malibu, launched in 2007-8, helped stabilise Chevrolet’s and GM’s U.S. share and the upcoming version will play a similarly important role in the coming years.
Three other midsize sedans, the Chrysler 200, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, have recently been redesigned and have propelled their respective makes to impressive year-over-year sales and registration gains. The 200 and Sonata are their makes’ most popular cars, and the Optima ranks number two at Kia (after the Forte), so these cars obviously are crucial to their makes and need to remain at their current segment share levels going forward.
Four other family sedans, including the Fusion, Accord, Altima, and Legacy, are also the most popular models for their respective makes. Again, if their respective makes are to hold their own or gain ground, these models will need to play a central role.
The current and upcoming product activity described above, coupled with the fact that the carryover models in this segment remain crucial parts of their makes’ strategies, suggest the family sedan category will be exceptionally competitive in the next 6-12 months. Such competition virtually always leads to downward pressure on final transaction prices, a boon for the retail consumer.
*Business Section of The New York Times, October 13, 2011, “For ‘Reinvented’ Toyota Camry, Readiness is All,” Stuart Elliott.