DALLAS — The word in dealer showrooms in 2017 was that cars are a dying breed, taking up valuable floor space from cute-utes, crossovers and SUVs whose size, stance and utility represent an evolutionary leap of the species.
But not so much at Toyota and Honda dealerships, where overlapping generations of the venerable midsize Camry and multiple iterations of the compact Civic battled for superiority among consumers who still like to sit low to the ground.
Combined, the cars moved just over 764,000 units last year in a sales race that pitted the 15-year champion Camry against the 10th-generation Civic, which has been on a sales super-cycle since its 2016 launch.
Going into December, the Honda was outselling the Toyota by around 2,000 units, but the finish wasn't even close. The Camry had its best December ever — even compared with the good old days — moving more than 43,000 units, a 30 percent gain from a year earlier. That gave it a nearly 10,000-unit advantage for the year over the Civic, whose sales stagnated in December, and extended its reign as the nation's best-selling car. (Toyota also snagged the crown for the year's best-selling nonpickup vehicle, the RAV4, which outsold the Camry by more than 20,000 units and edged out the Nissan Rogue.)