The family sedan, once popular on Australian lanes, was an endangered species after the recent confirmation that the once popular Subaru Liberty would join the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon in the history books.
It’s not hard to see why, even before the coronavirus affected sales, the decline in mid-size and full-size sedans was evident.
Sales data to date for August shows that 12,798 mid-size passenger cars were sold for just under $ 60,000. For context, Toyota has sold nearly twice that amount of RAV4s – 24,678 to date. The entire mid-volume market is down more than 25 percent in an already declining 2019.
Of 12,978 sold, the Toyota Camry 8709 was massive. That’s roughly 70 percent. The Skoda Octavia was a bestseller with 1154.
Mazda currently stands at number six, it is the third best-selling model after the Camry and Octavia, but it has only had sales of 1,120 this year.
Hyundai is also sticking to the market, and will introduce a new Sonata later this year. However, the South Korean brand is not chasing the size, so it will position the new Sonata as an excellent alternative for a specific audience by focusing on high-end models only, including the sporty N-Line.
But while the future looks very different, with sedans set to become the alternative choice for a minority of buyers eschewing SUVs, here’s a look at some of the most popular family sedans we used to love.
Liberty was once the flagship of the Japanese brand, helping to make Subaru a major brand after its initial success with the hardworking Brumby and before the Impreza WRX became a performance champ.
In all, Subaru Australia has sold more than 150,000 sedans and Liberty wagons since it went on sale in 1989.
Unfortunately, its ultimate demise came when its dwindling sales collided with Subaru’s decision to build the latest generation Liberty in the left-hand drive US market, making it far too expensive to justify its continuation.
There was already a lot of words written about the Commodore’s demise, but it cannot be forgotten how deeply rooted this car was in Australian culture. They were popular with residents, from high-performance sedans and V8s, to the premier Caprice limousine. Simply, there was apparently a Commodore for every market.
The decision to shut down domestic manufacturing was unfortunately a financially sound decision for GM, but there are many question marks over Holden’s decision to return the Opel Insignia badge to the iconic nameplate.
While the sedan is a good sedan in its own right, the historical baggage that came with the Commodore name seemed more of a burden than an aid to the German-made model, and it was no surprise when Holden chose to give it up even before the decision about the brand’s future was apparent.
Unlike its competitors, Ford Australia not only decided to find an imported alternative to the Falcon, but made a conscious decision to admit that the market for family sedans was too small to be sustained.
Although Mondeo has remained a part of the Blue Oval lineup, its sales are almost insignificant (only 120 to date in 2020) as it nears the end of its life cycle. But the name will likely continue with an entirely new model taking Mondeo into crossover space. Ford has hinted repeatedly that the alternative would be a high-ride wagon to rival the Subaru Outback.
Meanwhile, Falcon’s name will likely not be seen again.
The Aurion was perhaps the most overlooked Australian family car, and it was Toyota Australia’s attempt to compete better with the Commodore and the Falcon.
In simple terms, it was the Camry V6 with the unique home-built front and rear design alongside the four-cylinder Camry between 2006 and 2017.
When domestic manufacturing ended, the Aurion experiment ended with the return of the Camry V6. However, this coincided with the expansion of Camry Hybrid offerings, which helped the mid-sized Japanese maintain its leadership in the market, albeit at a much smaller size.
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