These warning signs should scream danger and prompt you to walk out of the dealership without that new car.
Americans continued to abandon passenger cars in November, transitioning rapidly into crossovers, SUVs and pickups as automakers increasingly catered their products to shifting driver preferences.
Automakers sold slightly fewer vehicles overall in November, compared with last year, according to analysts’ forecasts, including one from Edmunds.com, which projected auto sales fell 1.3 percent last month, and Cox Automotive, which predicted a 2.6 percent decline.
Part of the decline may be due to rising interest rates, which are making car payments more expensive. But much of the fall is due to the plunging popularity of passenger cars.
Still, the industry remains healthy.
In fact, IHS Markit forecaster Christopher Hopson projected that full-year 2018 auto sales “will be very close to exceeding” 2017’s mark of 17.2 million, which was down from 2016’s all-time high of 17.6 million.
“The industry in November had a really steady, consistent performance, much in the range it has run in all year,” Ford U.S. sales and marketing chief Mark LaNeve said.
One consistent trend is fading demand for cars. Sales of compacts fell 18.4 percent in November and sales of midsize cars declined 15 percent, according to Cox Automotive.
But sales of compact SUVs and crossovers rose 11.6 percent and sales of midsize SUVs and crossovers increased 11.7 percent.
The trend is driving significant changes. General Motors announced last week that it would end sales of most of its passenger cars in the U.S., including the Chevrolet Cruze, Impala and Volt.
Ford Motor also announced earlier this year that it would end sales of most of its passenger cars, including the Fiesta, Fusion and Taurus.
And Fiat Chrysler was ahead of both GM and Ford by announcing years ago that it would get out of the small-car segment.
Other automakers have so far remained committed to passenger cars, even as they boost their own SUVs, crossovers and pickups.
But they’re not immune to the weakness in car sales. At Honda, for example, November sales fell 9.5 percent, including a 12.6 percent decline in cars.
And at Toyota, car sales declined 17.3 percent, including sharp drops for the Camry and Prius. Overall, Toyota’s sales were down 0.6 percent.
Ford’s sales fell 6.9 percent, hurt by declining passenger cars, and Fiat Chrysler’s sales rose 17 percent, powered by Jeep’s strong performance and increased sales to fleet customers.
General Motors no longer reports monthly sales, but Edmunds and Cox Automotive forecasters predicted GM sales fell 2.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.
Here’s how the major automakers fared in November:
Edmunds forecast: -2.5 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: -4.2 percent
Actual results: GM reports sales figures quarterly, not monthly.
Edmunds forecast: -9.3 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: -12 percent
Actual results: -6.9 percent (196,303 vehicles)
Ford’s namesake brand recorded a 7.3 percent sales decline, while its luxury Lincoln brand was up 3.3 percent.
Ford’s passenger-car sales fell 19.5 percent. Its SUVs fell 4.9 percent, while sales of vans and pickups declined 2.3 percent.
The F-series pickup lineup, the most popular vehicle model in the U.S., slipped 0.9 percent to 72,102.
The company said its average vehicle price rose $1,600 compared with a year earlier, hitting a record $37,000. That includes an average of $47,000 for the F-series, up $1,800 and also reflecting an all-time high.
Edmunds forecast: 14.1 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: 16.2 percent
Actual results: 17 percent (181,310 vehicles)
Fiat Chrysler continued to buck the industry’s downward trend in November.
The company’s Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Alfa Romeo brands posted increases of 11.8 percent, 43.5 percent, 15.1 percent and 35.9 percent, respectively.
The Chrysler and Fiat brands declined 20.7 percent and 24.5 percent, respectively.
Jeep’s surging popularity is key to Fiat Chrysler’s hot streak. The Jeep Wrangler, Cherokee and Compass each posted sales increases of more than 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the Ram pickup truck enjoyed a strong month, with sales up 41.2 percent.
Edmunds forecast: 1 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: -3.5 percent
Actual results: -0.6 percent
Toyota sold more SUVs, crossovers and pickups in November than it ever has before. But that wasn’t enough to lift the company to an overall sales increase.
The company’s passenger car sales declined 17.3 percent, while the rest of its lineup rose 10.6 percent.
The Toyota brand declined 0.3 percent, while the Lexus luxury brand fell 2.5 percent.
The Tacoma midsize pickup continued its hot streak, posting a 21.5 percent sales increase to 19,685 vehicles. And the RAV4 SUV, Toyota’s most popular model, increased 23 percent to 35,350.
But the Camry sedan plummeted 29.9 percent to 24,545, and the Prius hybrid fell 26.3 percent to 6,008.
Edmunds forecast: -7.1 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: -8.4 percent
Actual results: -9.5 percent (120,534 vehicles)
Honda’s car sales fell 12.6 percent, while its sales of crossovers, SUVs and pickups declined 6.8 percent.
The Honda brand declined 11.6 percent, while the luxury Acura brand rose 10.5 percent.
The automaker said it faced “inventory issues” on truck sales for the month.
The company’s Accord sedan broke a streak of sales declines with a 1.6 percent increase to 23,367 units. But the Civic compact car plunged 29.8 percent to 21,890.
Honda’s most popular model, the CR-V SUV, was down 2.2 percent to 31,488.
Edmunds forecast: -16.3 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: -15.4 percent
Actual results: -18.7 percent (110,513 vehicles)
Nissan’s sales have fallen sharply in recent months. Now, with the company’s global chairman, Carlos Ghosn, ousted amid accusations of impropriety, industry observers will be watching to see whether the company makes any significant strategic changes.
For November, Nissan brand sales declined 21.6 percent, while sales of the luxury Infiniti lineup rose 8.1 percent.
Overall, the company’s car sales plunged 33.3 percent. Sales of pickups, SUVs and crossovers fell 8.4 percent.
Edmunds forecast: -2.5 percent (does not include Porsche)
Cox Automotive forecast: -1.8 percent
Actual results: The Volkswagen brand posted a sales decline of 8.3 percent.
Sales of several car models fell sharply, including the Golf, Beetle and Passat. VW recently announced that it is discontinuing the Beetle after the 2019 model year.
The Atlas and Tiguan SUVs cooled off after a strong run this year, posting modest increases.
Edmunds forecast: 0.6 percent
Cox Automotive forecast: 1.5 percent
Actual results: Hyundai posted a 0.5 percent increase to 57,499 vehicles, which included a 3 percent increase for its namesake brand and a 76.5 percent decline for its niche luxury Genesis brand.
Hyundai’s sibling brand, Kia, sold 45,101 vehicles for the month, up 1.8 percent.
Edmunds forecast: (not provided)
Cox Automotive forecast: 8.3 percent
Actual results: 9.8 percent (56,782 vehicles)
Subaru has posted monthly sales increases for 84 months, representing seven straight years of continuous increases.
In November, the brand’s Forester SUV led the way, powered by a recent redesign, with sales up 9.6 percent to 16,066. It was the company’s best-seller for the month.
Edmunds forecast: 18,644 vehicles (year-over-year percentage change not provided)
Cox Automotive forecast: (not provided)
Actual results: Tesla reports sales figures quarterly, not monthly.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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