Curbside Newsstand: 2019 US Auto Sales Coverage, Part 7: Honda Treads Water As Sedan Sales Evaporate; American Honda Up 0.2%

Sedans aren’t helping many automakers right now. That’s certainly true for Honda. The Civic remained flat for the year and the Accord slipped by about 8%. At Acura, things were even worse. It appears desirable Acura sedans are firmly a thing of the past. There were no real victories for Honda in 2019.

I have a confession to make: I’ve been getting lazier with each subsequent auto sales coverage article. You may have noticed it yesterday when I resorted to posting simpler numbers for GMC and Cadillac. These articles have been more grueling than anticipated. More importantly, they haven’t been terribly popular. But they were an experiment of sorts, so it’s not all bad. Next year we’ll be posting sales numbers by segment instead of automaker, which should make things more interesting.

Fortunately, Honda released a nice chart that was easily to screenshot. As you can see, Honda doesn’t have much to boast about. The HR-V posted a notable gain but the Accord lost some of its luster. A slight increase in CR-V sales was counteracted by decreasing interest in the Odyssey. Customers seem to be shying away from the Pilot too. None of the aforementioned models qualify as fresh. The Accord will probably receive a refresh this year but otherwise continues with the same face it’s worn since late 2017. It’s the same story for the other models too. Which of these models truly makes a case for themselves when stacked against the competition? The HR-V. Honda outfitted the cabin with very nice materials. Otherwise, things were kind of glum for the brand. It’s nice to see the Insight and Ridgeline gain traction, but their increases were insignificant because they’re basically niche vehicles.

Acura didn’t do so great either. The ILX is a bit of a bright spot but in terms of volume it’s an insignificant player. The RLX probably won’t live to see another generation and neither should the TLX, although based on rumors it seems like a successor is on the way. Hopefully it’s more compelling than the current model. Acura’s real problem is the MDX. The three-row crossover is barely holding its ground at a time when models like the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, and Mazda CX-9 offer more premium cabins and superior driving dynamics. A redesign should have arrived at least a year ago. The RDX was redesigned last year so it gets a bit of a reprieve. But it needs to perform well this year.

Honda wants to play things extremely conservatively this decade. That wouldn’t be such a concern if their products elicited a bit more excitement. Honda is betting against EVs in the short term. The company’s thinking is extremely pragmatic in that regard. But they could stand to freshen their lineup and fix their recent quality woes. Honda increased incentive spending 8.5% last year and average transaction prices fell by 1.4% during the same period. That’s not encouraging. Wayne Gretzky famously said that you miss 100% of the shots you never take. Honda doesn’t seem to even be thinking about making a goal right now.