The Cars That Really Slowed Down in the Industry’s July Slump

If you look at headlines about strong GDP growth and unemployment remaining low, you might believe the economy is roaring. However, if you look at auto sales, you’ll see mostly declines.

Overall, new car sales have trended lower in 2018 — something that’s happened for the second straight year. Meanwhile, the auto industry saw close to a 4% decline in July compared to the year before.

With sales still near enough to the industry’s best years, it’s not something to worry about (yet). However, it is interesting to see which cars skidded to a halt during the slump last month. Out of the 50 most popular vehicles in America, these five models lost the most ground in July.

5. Hyundai Santa Fe

  • Sales decline: 35%

Sometimes, a vehicle doesn’t lose popularity; consumers just take a break while new model gets ready for its debut. That was the case with the Hyundai Santa Fe in July.

While the 2019 edition makes its way to dealerships, buyers took a pause. That makes sense. When they look at the redesigned model, they’ll find the Santa Fe Sport nameplate gone. (It will now be the small model, with Santa Fe XL becoming the larger one.)

4. Kia Soul

2018 Kia Soul
2018 Kia Soul | Kia
  • Sales decline: 37%

Kia Soul sales also suffered from a new model looming in the near future. (The 2019 Soul started arriving in dealerships in July.) Still, it’s interesting to note that incentives have not moved inventory on the same level.

Earlier in 2018, as buyers looked ahead to the next GMC Sierra, we saw the current model at or above its previous sales marks with incentives available. It’s possible that Kia dealers just aren’t giving away as much.

3. Kia Forte

  • Sales decline: 37.2%

As one of the most reliable and safest small cars on the U.S. market, the 2018 Kia Forte has been one of the bright spots in the compact class. Yet Kia isn’t resting on that reputation, and will debut an all-new model in the fall.

The 2019 edition boasts updated styling, a new transmission, and a promise of better fuel economy (35 mpg), according to the EPA estimate. We guess that’s worth waiting for.

2. Toyota Sienna

2018 Toyota Sienna | Toyota
  • Sales decline: 39%

In the case of the Toyota Sienna, there’s no new model headed to dealerships and no other clear excuse for the drop. U.S. consumers just didn’t buy this minivan in July, when sales slumped close to 40%. (For the year, Sienna is 21% below its 2017 pace through July.)

Looking at the minivan segment, we saw much smaller declines from Honda Odyssey and (-8%) and Dodge Grand Caravan (-3%), the segment’s top seller.

1. Ford Focus

  • Sales decline: 46%

Popular cars like Ford Fusion (-22%) and Nissan Altima (-28%) took major slides in July, but that wasn’t even close to the drop Ford Focus took. Compared to the previous year, Focus sales crashed 46%.

By now, most people are aware that the Focus ended production in May, with the next model to be launched from China. (American consumers will only get a crossover-like Focus hatchback.) In this case, it looks like people are leaving the party before it’s over.