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Infiniti Q60 coupe
<p><strong>Infiniti Q60 coupe.</strong></p>

Infiniti Lone Bright Spot Among Japanese Lux Brands

Year-to-date sales so far in 2017 essentially are flat for Toyota and Honda, while Nissan showed a 1.8% gain. The Lexus and Acura luxury brands continue to struggle, but Infiniti is exhibiting growth for the year.

Japan’s largest automakers posted solid U.S. sales gains in October, with Toyota up 5.2%, Honda rising 4.9% and Nissan climbing 12.7% compared with October 2016, based on daily selling rates. The month had 25 selling days this year compared with 26 in 2016.

However, year-to-date results are less upbeat, as volume so far in 2017 grew only 0.6% for Toyota (to 2,019,913 units), 0.3% for Honda (to 1,358,956) and 1.8% for Nissan (to 1,319,253), according to WardsAuto data.

Drilling deeper into brand results for each automaker, Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand had a disappointing October (down 4.9% based on DSR) but its year-to-date tally leads the entire group – up a stout 14.8% to 124,010 vehicles compared with like-2016.

Leading Infiniti’s growth is the sleek new Q60 coupe, which carries over much of the mechanical bits of the Q50 sedan.

The Q50 has been in the market a few years and remains the brand’s best-selling car (30,867 units year-to-date), but the sedan may have lost at least a few sales in recent weeks to the Q60, whose deliveries through October have more than quadrupled to 9,065 vehicles compared with year-ago.

Infiniti’s best-seller is the QX60 large CUV, with 3,227 October deliveries representing a 14.2% gain over like-2016 based on DSR. Year-to-date, Infiniti sold 32,587 QX60s, down 4.1% from last year. Also selling reasonably well was the new QX30 compact luxury CUV, with year-to-date volume reaching 12,652 units.

For the Nissan brand, the redesigned Rogue compact CUV remains its best seller, continuing a steep climb to 327,213 deliveries year-to-date, a 24.5% jump over 2016. On a DSR basis, October’s 30,286 units represent a 48.6% gain over like-2016, according to WardsAuto data.

Other gainers on the truck/utility side for Nissan are the Titan pickup (up 180.2% year-to-date to 39,663 units), Pathfinder SUV (up 4.4% year-to-date to 68,427) and the NV200 compact commercial vehicle (up 16.7% on a DSR basis to 1,389 deliveries in October).

Stumbling for Nissan were the ready-for-redesign Altima sedan (down 17.1% year-to-date to 217,724 units), Juke compact CUV (down 44% year-to-date to 9,561) and the Murano CUV (down 18% year-to-date to 58,621).

The Toyota brand grew its year-to-date volume 4.7% to 1,777,161 deliveries on strength of the red-hot RAV4 compact CUV (up 20.7% to 346,316 units), 4Runner SUV (up 15.7% to 106,239) and Highlander CUV (up 21.4% to 175,657). Pitching in 18,498 units year-to-date was the new C-HR compact CUV.

All-new Toyota Camry.

In its second month on the market, the all-new Camry sedan took an unexpected downturn despite aggressive television marketing. Sales were down 7.7% based on DSR to 26,252 units compared with October 2016, and down 5.6% year-to-date to 308,759.

Sales of Tacoma and Tundra pickups remain basically unchanged relative to last year, but several other models show sizable declines year-to-date: Sienna minivan (down 11.6%), Prius and Prius C hybrids (down 16.4% and 39.2% respectively), Corolla sedan (down 10.5%) and Avalon sedan (down 28.4%).

The Lexus luxury brand fell 7.1% for the year to 242,553 vehicles and 4.2% for October based on DSR to 22,894 deliveries.

Standouts include the RC coupe (down 36.7% year-to-date), GS sedan (down 50.5% year-to-date), ES sedan (down 11.5% year-to-date), IS sedan (down 27.4% year-to-date) and the CT hybrid hatchback (down 36.7% year-to-date).

Lexus counting on all-new LS flagship sedan, which launches in February.

The automaker is hoping the all-new fifth-generation flagship LS sedan, going on sale in the U.S. in February, will help turn the tide for the brand. For now, the current-generation LS shows a 23.2% drop in year-to-date sales to 3,430 units. One bright spot was the aggressively styled NX luxury CUV, whose year-to-date sales were up 9.8% at 46,527 units.

For the Honda brand, year-to-date sales are basically flat, at 1,232,132 units, while the Acura luxury division continues to slide (down 4.4% year-to-date to 126,824 deliveries).

Honda’s biggest gainers are the Ridgeline pickup (up 81.7% to 29,285 year-to-date) and the HR-V compact CUV (up 23.9% year-to-date to 80,338).

The CR-V continues selling briskly, at 308,706 units for the year, up 5.1% from like-2016, but it trails the Civic, the brand’s best seller, which notched 314,699 deliveries, up 1.5% for the year.

An all-new Accord sedan will launch soon, but the current model is holding its own, up 8.7% on a DSR basis to 1,069 units for the month.

Acura’s best-selling model remains the MDX luxury CUV, at 43,469 units for the year (down 2.6% from like-2016), while the smaller RDX CUV is running a close second, at 42,712 for the year (down 0.1%).

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