With all the action in midsize sedans these days, talk has turned to whether the segment's long, gloomy slide is about to end.
Just don't bet on it. Redesigns of the three top-selling midsize cars could slow the category's decline, but probably not for long, industry executives and analysts say.
The longtime No. 1 category fell from first to second place in 2015 behind compact crossovers and has slipped behind compact cars and full-size pickups in 2017. Last year, 2.1 million midsize cars were sold, but the segment has fallen 18 percent through the first seven months.
This year's launches of the new-generation Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and the redesigned Nissan Altima early next year are set to give the category a boost. Still, IHS Markit says the beleaguered sector could shrink a further 20 percent by 2025.
Executives touting the new Camry and Accord say the 2018 models will spark fresh interest throughout the segment. The Camry is sportier and introduces new engines and transmissions that boost fuel economy and horsepower. The Accord has a trio of modern engines including a first-ever turbocharged version and optional 10-speed automatic and a series of upscale features.
But even Toyota and Honda execs carefully parse expectations. Citing "innovative products and investment for the first time in years," Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, said this month "we will see some stabilization of the midsize sedan market."
And as much as Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of the auto division at American Honda, thinks the technology-laden new Accord will command attention, he's cautious about the segment.
"Will it stop the shrinking? Maybe slow it down a bit," he said in July.