George W. Bush was finishing his second year as president of the United States when Toyota reported 434,145 Camry sales in calendar year 2002. No other passenger car generated more U.S. volume that year.
Or the next year. Or the next. Or the one after that. In fact, the Toyota Camry’s reign as America’s best-selling car continued for a decade and a half, stretching from 2002 through 2016.
Unless the launch of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry results in a superior final third of 2017, however, Toyota’s tenure atop the leaderboard will end this year. Ahead of the Camry by 1,153 sales through the first eight months of 2017 is the Honda Civic.
With 2018 Civics arriving in Honda showrooms on October 3, 2017, Honda is determined to leave well enough alone. The recipe is unchanged. Honda will not mess with success.
To be fair, Honda says the Civic was America’s best-selling car last year, though that involves retail sales only and is a statement unaccompanied by actual sales data. Moreover, it’s not as though Honda hasn’t provided the Civic lineup with plenty of updates over the last number of months. Availability of the Type R hatchback and Si sedans and coupes expanded over the course of 2017.
For the conventional American Honda Civic lineup, however, prices rise by only $100. The basic LX 2.0-liter sedan with a six-speed manual transmission now costs $19,715 including $875 in destination charges, up from $19,615 in MY2017. The coupe bodystyle adds $410 to the cost of most trim levels. Non-Si Civic sedans top out at $27,575; coupes at $27,200. Si models feature the same price regardless of bodystyle: $24,975 or $25,175 with summer tires.
Through the first eight months of 2017, the Civic lineup generated 248,928 sales, a 3-percent drop from 2016 outputs when, by calendar year’s end, Civic sales reached an all-time record high. According to the Automotive News Data Center, 49,785 of the Civics sold in the U.S. so far this year are hatchbacks, 20 percent of the total.
The Camry, of course, will now attempt to reverse the downward trend of early 2017. It started with a 13-percent year-over-year improvement in August that translated to a huge leap in midsize market share.
[Images: Honda, Toyota]