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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    What exactly is your point? That Camry is the biggest selling car in the US? That a soft boulevard ride sells better than good handling qualities in the US? I think we already knew both those things. :P
  • One reason the Mazda6 doesn't sell well is that it is simply too tight for the average US autobuyer,

    and thankfully, they support the market that is looking for that type of vehicle.

    Nissan has done the best job attacking the other end of the market as also evidenced by sales numbers, ever since inventing the term '4 door sports sedan'.

    Until they lost some competitiveness in their pricing and made it all but impossible to get a manual transmission.

    So diss the 'soft' characteristics of a Camry LE or XLE if you will - Toyota seems to know something about buyers of cars in this class that we don't. A soft boulevard ride sells better (at least in this country) than perceived (or even real) handling qualities. It simply matters more to the guys who count, the autobuyers.

    While I admit I am not a mainstream buyer, I did just buy one of the sedans in this class and it wasn't the "boulevard ride" vehicle.

    Honestly, I really don't care what "the public" wants, I care about what I want and a pillow soft boulevard ride or excessive body roll or a rubber band transmission aren't it.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Also, the Camry has an average buyer of 55 years old. I think that age group also prefers a "soft boulevard" ride to a tighter, sportier ride.

    The 30 yr old Mazda6 buyer seems to want the sportier, tighter ride.

    I do not see the Camry getting knocked off it's high horse anytime soon. If it is, it will be by the 2008 Accord IMO.
  • zzzoom6zzzoom6 Posts: 425
    there is definitely a relationship between a 'tightened' 'go-kart' type suspension and the perception by the autobuyer that this in itself is indicative of 'good' handling, which may or may not be true. One reason the Mazda6 doesn't sell well is that it is simply too tight for the average US autobuyer, the ride/handling compromise that Honda has generally done a good job finding, and that Toyota has usually been on the 'soft' side of. The Camry easily outsells the other cars in this group because this is what American drivers have shown to prefer - with their pocketbooks. Nissan has done the best job attacking the other end of the market as also evidenced by sales numbers, ever since inventing the term '4 door sports sedan'.

    For handling like a go-kart, you'd need to go to another class of car altogether... nothing in this segment is even close to that. Remember these are midsize sedans not sports cars. Some are sportier than others for certain, but all cars in this segment need to find that balance between comfort and handling.

    As to the difference between Mazda and other makes, I found on my test drives that the Mazda6 and Altima (previous generation) were very similar in how smooth they drove with the Altima less able to handle big bumps without feeling as though the suspension ran out of travel. Going into corners, though, the mazda6 felt much more composed with better steering feel giving me a lot more confidence. Really, in terms of ride comfort, I thought the Altima, Accord (both previous generations) and Mazda6 were on par with each other. Some people have said they thought the Accord was a bit on the harsh side, but I think that exagerates the difference between the Accord and say the previous generation Camry way too much. Having road feel does not always mean harsh. Take a look at BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Infinity, Acura, Mazda, even Cadilac sales and I think you'll see that there are many buyers in the US that value a "connected" driving experience over vague feel and a valium like driving experience.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    Not to mention one has to pay an extra $1200, over the Camry LE price, to get the SE.

    As the Captain has pointed out, Camry's core buyers are those who want a soft, comfortable boulevard cruiser that'll probably never corner faster than 20 mph. The Camry LE and XLE did all those to the perfection and since that group of buyers seem to be the majority thus Camry's sales title.

    However, for those who want a little bit more fun but still a Camry (maybe it's due to the look, powertrain, quality perception or whatever) they have an alternative in the Camry SE. I wouldn't knock on Camry for not offering stiffer suspension on all models since they have a core buyer group to think of. As matter of fact I would give credit to Toyota by offering the SE version so people on both side of the fence can be pleased.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,666
    I do not see the Camry getting knocked off it's high horse anytime soon.

    The number of disgruntled Toyota owners is rising quickly thanks to the engine sludge and transmission problems in the Camry and the myriad of recent Toyota Tundra problems. Since most people buy Toyotas based on the perception that they are bulletproof I think those problems will have the biggest potential affect on future Toyota sales in general and specifically for the Camry (and Tundra).
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    Yup, that'll be a big problem if Toyota decided to treat it like the way GM did back in the 80s and 90s. Toyota will turn into GM very quickly if that happens. However, I don't think Toyota will become GM ever so I am sure the quality issues should be resolved fairly quickly.

    Toyota is going through growing pain and perception takes time to crumble.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I wouldn't knock on Camry for not offering stiffer suspension on all models...

    I wasn't...I only made the point that those who want better handling can get it in several other cars, without having to pay extra.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Let us take JD Powers word on overall dependability, in that it represents a typical buyer and a real scenario. This is how some of the midsize sedans stacked up:
    Honda Accord: 4/5
    Nissan Altima: 3/5
    Toyota Camry: 3/5
    Ford Fusion: 3/5
    Hyundai Sonata: 3/5
    Saturn Aura: 2/5
    Mazda6: 2/5
    VW Passat: 2/5

    The only car that is said to be better than Camry is the Accord. But, Accord isn’t something that every Toyota buyer will find appealing. It rides firm and doesn’t isolate folks as much as a typical Toyota buyer would fall for. They are certainly not going for Mazda6 or Passat or Aura for quality reasons.

    That said, quality issues and overall perception of the car itself are big deal to companies like Honda and Toyota. If Camry is not as good as it has traditionally been (these cars, BTW, have never been flawless, quality issues come and go, consumers stay), the bet should be on Toyota taking it seriously. These companies thrive on reputation and for good reason.

    Just look at what Honda did to Civic with the redesign. 2001-2005 Civic was immensely successful in terms of sales, perhaps the best years in Civic’s sales history. But, Honda knew the car needed more than just sales. 2006 Civic hasn’t really thrashed sales of the old (it has exceeded but not so much to make a big deal out of it), but the perception around the car has changed immensely, compared to previous generation.

    OTOH, look at Ford’s take on Focus. A few days ago I spotted the latest model, but it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was. It gave me an impression of a car that may be sold in Mexico, but not here (I see quite a few cars driven from Mexico here in Dallas area, that aren’t sold here). It is another lost opportunity. It doesn’t stand out. It feels like a car that Ford (again) designed to be a rental queen. What is different about it from very first years of Focus which I thought was going to give Civic and Corolla a run for their money.

    Also worth noting is that a typical buyer is going to care less about issues that arise as a result of model change or anything that comes during the warranty period (first 3-5 years). It becomes an issue after the honeymoon is over.

    For example, based on the design, the approach and sales projections, for the new Accord, Honda seems to be targeting 1998-2002 Accord buyer base first. These are more likely to buy a new Accord than the folks that have 2003-2007. Now, these folks would return (I would) based on their experience with their Accords over last 4-5 years when their car was completely out of warranty, and how it held up to their abuse (or lack of).

    Thinking “now” may work “now”, but to be successful in the longer term, there needs to be a plan and proper execution that sticks to a formula.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,842
    (The best) Midsize Car JD Power 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study

    drum roll please

    Buick Century

    quote robertsmx-
    The only car that is said to be better than Camry is the Accord
    -end

    Even better than the Accord as rated by JD Power is the Buick Century.
    What is Buicks midsize car now? The LaCrosse?
    Without looking this up I could not think what the midsize currently sold by Buick was. :surprise:
    GM desperately needs to provide new product to Buick.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    You left out a few:

    Buick Century 5/5
    Buick Regal 5/5
    Mercury Sable 5/5

    Fusion is missing from this list and Camry gets 4 dots, not 3:

    http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/dependability/midsize-car

    As for the Focus (when did that become midsize :confuse: ) it was the top rated car by CR when it first came out (Sept 2000 issue). However, this apparently did not translate into buyers being willing to pay a premium price for one (as they do for the civic). I think it is a good buy, even with it's aging platform. Price-wise the Focus is more comparable to the Fit, just as cars like the Fusion are generally more comparable to the Civic in terms of actual selling prices.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,666
    Those are 2004 models. The Fusion and Milan won't appear on that survey for 2 more years (2009 survey covering 2006 models).
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,666
    All I said was that Toyota's recent quality problems and especially the declaration from CR that it won't automatically recommend new models and the fact that it dropped the V6 Camry and 4x4 Tundra from it's recommended list, combined with plenty of dissatisfied owners can potentially knock Camry from the top spot.

    Toyota has lost it's bulletproof image. We'll have to wait and see what affect it has on sales down the road.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I think people, from my interaction with them everyday at work, that many Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Mazda buyers look at CR for reliability and quality before they look at JD Powers. From talking to a lot of people in the auto industry, connected to many different mfgr's, JD Powers is not really regarded as a great source for anything. They are more like a Car and Driver or Motor Trend.

    What does "overall quality" really mean when CR or JD Powers places a "quality" label on vehicles they asses. Does it encompass the grade of materials? How they are put together? How long the car is going to last? Maybe a bit of all? Hmmm... I have personally noticed that the interior quality of materials in a Toyota Camry are low rent. Now, they are put together well. So, how does that score? Overall reliability seems to have seriously slipped as well. How does the Camry receive a 3 out of 5?

    The previous generation Honda Accord also utilized numerous plastic components, as does most every mfgr, but, I noticed more plastic then some other brands (Hyundai/Mazda). Once again, these materials are put together very well. So, once again, is the build quality regarded higher then the actual materials used? The ride/comfort of the Honda Accord was nothing special either. Reliability has been top knotch for the most part, apart from the V6 tranny's.

    I have the most experience in a Mazda6 (2005 Mazda6 i 5-Door w/leather/Bose/moon roof). There are once again, plastics used in the interior, but, not as much as the current Camry or 2003-2007 Accord. The build quality is not as tight, but, so so close to Accord/Camry. The ride has not changed since day 1, and I have had no issues to date (4 cyl Mazda6's have been rated well in reliability). What makes the Mazda6 score only 2 out of 5? Is is the sup par V6? How does the same V6 get rated high in the Fusion? It's the same engine! I have no idea. Dose the fact that many Mazda6's are fleet account for a low score. Fleet cars usually get the snot beat out of them. Once again, I have visited JD Powers web site and really do not understand their rating philosophy. I guess this is why I find them useless.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,052
    Funny how the Century, Regal, and Sable got left out of the earlier listing by robertsmx: GM and Ford.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,052
    Remember that their information comes from random surveys of owners over three years.

    JDPowers:

    Overall Dependability: Taken from the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which looks at owner-reported problems in the first 3 years of new-vehicle ownership, this score is based on problems that have caused a complete breakdown or malfunction of any component, feature, or item (i.e., components that stop working or trim pieces that break or come loose).


    Powertrain Dependability:
    Taken from the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which looks at owner-reported problems in the first 3 years of new-vehicle ownership, this score is based on problems with the engine or transmission as well as problems that affect the driving experience (i.e., vehicle/brakes pull, abnormal noises or vibrations) only.

    Body & Interior Dependability: Taken from the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which looks at owner-reported problems in the first 3 years of new-vehicle ownership, this score is based on problems with wind noise, water leaks, poor interior fit/finish, paint imperfection, and squeaks/rattles.

    Features & Accessories Dependability: Taken from the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which looks at owner-reported problems in the first 3 years of new-vehicle ownership, this score is based on problems with the seats, windshield wipers, navigation system, rear-seat entertainment system, heater, air conditioner, stereo system, sunroof and trip computer.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I stand corrected. Some of the links to dependability won't respond so I clicked on "rankings by segment" and selected midsize, but didn't realize it was talking IQS.

    Speaking of Buick, I think it benefits from the segment it caters to. I would also be interested to see average age of the buyers taking the surveys as well as miles driven to draw proper conclusions from any of these surveys. I have known folks who drive 5K miles or less/year. I drive that distance in two months.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Yeah, while "defending" a car that I can't see myself buying.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I mentioned Focus after Civic, and neither was to talk about size but to discuss approach automakers take. Obviously, you missed the point completely.

    But in the process, you did mention something that relates to the topic. I have seen several people complain about Camry being favored by CR as they recommend even the new model by default. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with Focus being recommended when it first came out. So I say, let recommendation be what it is. CR has as much a crystal ball as did Ms Cleo.

    We could discuss pricing elsewhere, but since you brought it up, Focus is really priced above Fit and comparable to Civic. Equip base with ABS, automatic transmission, and you’re into $16.5K mark (Fit is about $2K cheaper). But market isn’t willing to pay the price for it, and incentives/rebates are almost warranted. Could have been better, if Ford actually took care of its business properly when it was launched (which was quite a splash, actually). If they didn’t learn from it, Fusion’s future won’t be any different. As of now, it does look promising.
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