Are family sedans the automotive equivalent of long skirts? It's often said you can measure how the economy's doing by looking at women's hemlines. The longer womens' skirts are on average, the worse off the economy is, or so the axiom goes. Does the return of the sensible, conservative family sedan send a similar message that the economy is still in rough shape?
|Midsize car's share of U.S. market|
* through April 30, 2010
Think about it: In the go-go days of the real estate boom, the share of autos sold that were SUVs or trucks rose, while the number of sensible family sedans fell, reaching a low of 13.3 percent in 2005, according to Edmunds Auto Observer. But since the economy started going sour in 2007, the percentage of family sedans sold has risen significantly, while the share of SUVs has fallen. The sensible-shoes Honda Accord is now leading the pack in this category, and may reach sales of 300,000 this year.
And why not? A midsize sedan like the Accord makes a much better recessionmobile than your average SUV. Good gas mileage, good resale value, looks that are conservative enough to not go too far out of fashion by the time you can afford to buy another car, and they can comfortably seat a family of five if you need to downsize to one car. They also make good car pool cars if you and a few of your work friends band together to save gas money.
Do you think you're a more practical car buyer now than you were a few years ago?