Much of the outflow from midsize cars has gone to compact CUVs, executives say, as the two vehicle types have similar price points.

For instance, a ’16 Honda Accord begins at $22,205, while the CR-V is $23,745 to start.

Compact-car sales have weathered the CUV trend slightly better than D-segment cars, with sales in WardsAuto’s Upper Small segment up 1.1% last year, while deliveries in the Lower Middle segment slid 1.9%.

But Zuchowski believes, with the growing number of subcompact CUVs in the U.S. market, such as the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Jeep Renegade, C-car volume too will begin to degrade.

“As you bring out these B-CUVs, that’s going to start migrating some of those compact buyers over to the crossover side,” he says.

Hyundai does not have a subcompact CUV in the U.S. just yet, but it is reducing capacity of its Elantra C-car this year so it can build more Santa Fe midsize CUVs at its Montgomery, AL, plant.

Aldred, whose Buick brand had a 60/40 CUV/car sales split in 2015, explains why most automakers aren’t crying over reduced car share: cars typically have been loss leaders for many OEMs, while CUVs can command higher prices and resale values.

“You look at the sedan market, every conceivable automaker is in the segment, especially midsize and compact,” he says. “And the manufacturers that are in there that don’t have good (CUV) lineups, they have to win there, so you see a lot of incentives and discounting in those segments. And as (C- and D-cars have) been stagnant, or declining last year, they’ve become more competitive, more aggressive.”

Hyundai is one brand that lately has relied on incentives to move its midsize sedan, citing the increasing propensity of buyers to opt for CUVs as one of two reasons – ho-hum styling the other – for a sag in Sonata sales. This month in metro Detroit, Hyundai is offering $1,750 back on most grades of the ’16 Sonata, according to Kelley Blue Book incentive data. That compares with $1,000 in cash back on the ’16 2-row Santa Fe Sport.

Illustrating how little buyers care about fuel economy at the moment, the Sonata Eco, which gets a 32-mpg (7.4 L/100 km) combined fuel economy rating, has a $2,250 spiff, KBB says.

Customers are willing to spend more on CUVs than a similarly sized car, Aldred says, in part because they view them as worth more and the ultimate expression of a brand.

“Consumers have a higher perception of them,” he notes. “They like them better and they think the brand is more modern and progressive because you sell (CUVs).”

Buick is looking to grow its CUV sales even more next year, with the launch of the China-built Envision subcompact model.

Chinese consumers are shifting their vehicle-buying patterns to closely align with the U.S. market, Aldred says. “We’re seeing the same thing (where) people are moving out of the traditional body styles (and) into (CUVs),” he says.

CUVs also are taking hold in Europe, with Lexus noting the region quickly has embraced the RAV4-based NX.