Friday, February 18, 2011

It's time to admit it: Americans like hatchbacks

Bear with me here ...

There was a time in my life not too long ago when I said I didn't like Port wine. (No really, stick with me here.) This was based on one experience I had and preconceptions that Port was too sweet, too syrupy. However, one night while out to dinner, I tried it again and though--this Port isn't too bad ... but I don't generally like Port. While up in the Yakima, WA area one time, we stopped at a winery to taste some vino. They had a Port-style wine. I tried it and though--wow, this is pretty good ... but I really don't like Port-style wine. Well, after about the third different kind of Port, it dawned on me: I guess I do like Port wine.

I liken this to America's long-standing notion about the hatchback vehicle. For years, the auto industry kept saying that Americans don't like hatchbacks, hence the vast number of sedans and coupes offered, and the very small amounts of European, Japanese, and American hatchbacks offered. But, now that we're in 2011, that seems to have changed. Have you noticed the amount of hatchbacks on the market? In no particular order and just off the top of my head:

Nissan Versa
Nissan Cube
Nissan Juke
Toyota Yaris
Toyota Matrix
Mini Cooper (and all its variations)
Suzuki SX4
Mazda 2
Mazda 3
Kia Rio5
Kia Soul
Kia Forte 5
Chevrolet Aveo
Honda Fit
Honda CR-Z
Audi A3
Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen New Beetle
Hyundai Accent
Dodge Caliber
Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
Ford Fiesta

I've likely forgotten some, and this list doesn't include CUVs or wagons, let alone all of the SUVs and minivans on the market. Do definitely know Americans love SUVs, and really, they have a back end just like a hatchback. Heck, you could argue that SUVs are hatchbacks.

Ford's people told us at the Portland International Auto Show that 57% of the Fiestas the company sells are hatchbacks models, and they predict 50% of the 2012 Focus models they sell will be hatchbacks.

I think it's time we stop saying that Americans don't buy hatchbacks. It's just like me saying I didn't like Port, even though each time I tried it I liked it.


Anthony Brown said...


D2M said...

I think they do too! The problem with America isn't that they don't love hatchbacks, it's that they like LARGE vehicles. Which is why SUVs & CUVs are so popular. They are just big fat brothers to their subcompact hatchback siblings. :)

And there are so many great small hatchbacks on the market now. They aren't just bare bones cheap-o's that only people with "no money" buy. They look nice, drive well, and have a lot of features that bigger cars have.

I really hope a new generation will grow up realizing that smaller hatchbacks are great alternatives to SUVs.

Zane said...


The issue was never that people didn't want/like hatches. Heck, it is one of my, and several others I know, basic vehicle requirements. The issue was that the auto industry decided they would TELL the American market what it wanted, rather than just letting the market work.

Luckily, as you point out, this seems to be rapidly changing, which is AWESOME.

xBeerd said...

Ha, yeah.. I bet those Hatchback looking H1 Hummers would sell like hotcakes!

nlpnt said...

I've always thought that not liking small hatchbacks was more a baby-boomer thing than anything else. They're the ones who psid new-car money for the old boring boxes cursed with vacuum carbs; by the time Xers like myself got hold of those same Pintos, Chevettes and Omnis they were fully depreciated and we blamed their ills on beater status not form factors (and at that point in our lives were glad to have any car at all).

Millenials, on the other hand....even a stock Yaris must feel like a Lotus if your student beater was a '90s Explorer with 100k plus on the clock.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Don't forget the Scion xB and xD. Also the upcoming Lexus CT200h and Audi A7.