Special Report

Best and Worst Car Launches of 2017

Carmakers offer American motorists a wide-range of different vehicles suited to different needs at vastly different price points. A car like the Honda Civic — as its name implies — is a car suitable for the average driver. Relatively inexpensive, fuel efficient, and reputable, the Civic is practical and appealing to a broad spectrum of consumers. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most popular cars in America, selling nearly 346,000 units in the first 11 months of 2017.

Meanwhile, luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz’s most popular vehicle, the C Class, comes with a sticker price more than double that of the Honda Civic. Largely because fewer Americans can afford to drive a luxury automobile, sales of Mercedes-Benz’s entire fleet fell just shy of 333,000 units in the first 11 months of 2017 — about 13,000 units less than the Civic’s sales volume.

Because sales volume can vary dramatically depending on the target consumer base, there is no single yardstick to gauge the success of given vehicle launch. Unit sales among new vehicles launched in 2017 varied dramatically.

For example, hitting dealership lots in February with a suggested retail price of about $400,000, the Ford GT — last produced in 2006 — sold only 80 units through November. Meanwhile, the all new Toyota C-HR, a subcompact SUV starting at $22,500, sold 21,889 units between its April release and the end of November.

While some new vehicles like the Ford GT are outliers, many of the cars on this list are indicative of broad industry trends. As electric motor technology improves and infrastructure expands, it may not be surprising that five of the new cars launched in 2017 are either hybrid, fully electric, or are available as such. Similarly, crossovers and SUV sales climbed in the first 11 months of 2017, and four of the cars on this list are either SUVs or a crossovers.

To identify the most (and least) successful car launches of the year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed monthly unit sales data for over a dozen of the world’s largest automakers. We considered launches as new nameplates that were sold in 2017 and not in 2016, which included nameplates that were previously discontinued and reintroduced in 2017. With the exception of the Alfa Romeo Giulia — which hit lots in December 2016 — vehicles that were sold in calendar 2016 for the 2017 model year were not included. Only makes and models with monthly unit sales breakdowns were included. For this reason, new releases by Jaguar and Land Rover were not considered. Automakers that did not exceed at least 1,000 monthly unit sales in the U.S. were also excluded from analysis. MSRPs reflect the price of the base model vehicle.

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