US sales 2016 Compact segment


Sales in the Compact segment fell steadily throughout 2016, thought the rate of decline slowed down slightly as the year progressed. Still, sales in 2016 ended up 4.5 percent below the level reached in 2015, making this the first time that overall sales in the segment declined year-on-year since the market collapsed in 2009. Moreover, the decline is driven by most models losing sales to some degree or another, with only four cars that were sold all year long in 2015 and 2016 registering positive growth in 2016: Honda CivicNissan SentraSubaru Impreza and Kia Forte

Highlights for 2016:

  • On the back of a 9 percent growth in sales the new Honda Civic retook the segment lead from Toyota Corolla (sales down 1 percent) in 2016, the first time since 2013; overall over the past 11 years, the Corolla has been at the head of the segment for 8 years, while Civic took the trophy for the other three years
  • Nissan Sentra put in a really good performance in 2016, with sales up 6 percent, enough for the model to leap from fifth to third spot in the rankings – clearly consumers like the Maxima-inspired facelift the model got for its fifth year on the market in 2016
  • The biggest surprise of 2016, arguably, has been the disappointing performance of two new models: Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze – both models registered a double-digit drop in sales relative to 2015, no better than the aging Ford Focus. While it’s hard to say exactly what is the cause of this situation, one has to wonder whether the conservative styling has held the models back at the time when the market is embracing more boldly-styled cars like the Civic
  • Further down the sales chart Subaru Impreza did well in 2016 given that the model was only replaced towards the end of the year – cars usually experience a slump in sales before the new model reaches the market
  • Kia Forte did even better, with sales up 31 percent on the back of a successful facelift, putting the model ahead of the perennially under-performing Mazda3
  • Volkswagen’s compact models did OK in 2016 given the whole Dieselgate debacle, with Jetta and Golf both losing sales at a single-digit rate, though the Beetle is slowly but surely being forgotten by the market
  • Towards the bottom of the sales charts FCA’s models in the segment, Dodge Dart and Fiat 500L, both had a dismal 2016, losing 50 and 60 percent of sales, respectively, without ever having truly connected with the buyers

Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

About Krzysztof Wozniak

Kriss grew up in Poland reading German car magazines, before moving to England and graduating to the British magazines, which he still considers the best in the world and continues reading them after he’d moved to the US. In college he promised himself he’s buy himself a used Porsche before he turned 30 (not to be accused of having a mid-life crisis), but instead family needs dictated a Subaru Outback. Still waiting for that perfect moment to buy a used 2008-ish Cayman…
You can find all his articles Here.


  1. Nice result for Honda. I really like the new Civic and hope it’ll be a bestseller in Europe as well. Wishful thinking, I know!

    • Krzysztof Wozniak says:

      @Losange, I doubt that will happen – the Honda’s styling in the Europe-favorite 5-door version seems overdone, and we all know European buyers are very snobby when it comes to their bread-and-butter hatchbacks, preferring models from local carmakers (though the Honda is often viewed as a quasi-local car by the Brits because its production is located there)

  2. I know what you mean. On the other hand, the 8th generation (2005-2011) was quite successful in Europe as a ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ car. The outgoing Civic was another example of harmful evolutionary design. Perhaps the new Civic Sedan can do some damage in Europe.

    • Krzysztof Wozniak says:

      @Losange – the Civic Sedan could well be popular in places that like small sedans e.g. Eastern Europe

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