Remember when Ford said it was ending production of cars in favor of SUVs? To be fair, General Motors did the same thing with its brands, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has long been without a small, inexpensive choice for buyers (niche Fiat 500 notwithstanding). Perusing sales figures for the first half of 2024, we wonder how executives in Detroit are feeling about that decision. Small cars aren't dead, folks. Far from it.

Let's start with Nissan. The Sentra is on fire in the best possible way. 89,028 have been sold through the first half of the year, a 55 percent jump from 2023. It's the second-best-selling model in Nissan's lineup, besting numerous SUVs. If this pace continues, it could reach 180,000 by the end of December. That would easily place it among the top 20 best-selling vehicles in the US. And don't overlook the Versa. The cheapest new car in America is up 61 percent so far.

Nissan Versa

A car already among the top 20 is the Honda Civic, and its popularity is growing. Sales are up 38 percent through June, totaling 129,788 vehicles. Like the Sentra, it's number two in Honda's lineup, easily outselling the subcompact HR-V. And lest we forget, Civic was up nearly 50 percent last year. If this pace continues, Civic could be among the 10 best sellers for 2024.

We suspect the Toyota Corolla will reach that goal. Last year it was just outside the group at number 12, but Corolla sales are up 25 percent so far in 2024. That's 121,991 vehicles, and to be clear, that doesn't include the Corolla Cross. In fact, Corolla's sales are more than double that of its SUV counterpart. And it's not just Japanese brands enjoying robust small car sales. The Kia Forte is up 13 percent with 70,473 sold so far.

Model 2024 Sales (To Date) Percent Increase
Honda Civic 129,788 +38%
Kia Forte 70,474 +13%
Nissan Sentra 89,028 +55%
Nissan Versa 17,812 +61%
Toyota Corolla 121,991 +25%

To be clear, SUVs are still insanely popular. They have long since replaced sedans as the mainstream vehicle of choice. But, the five small sedans and hatchbacks mentioned here currently account for nearly half a million sales, and the year is only half over. That's a significant group of buyers to simply ignore. We wonder how long it will be before Detroit brands realize that.

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