The American family car is doomed — but that could be good news for some automakers

• Market share for traditional mid-size sedans has hit a multi-decade low.

• A debate has broken out in the auto industry about whether the switch is permanent.

• New crossover SUVs have captured the bank accounts of car buyers.

Americans don't want family sedans anymore.

The sales trend of sedans being passed over for SUVs and crossovers has been obvious for a while, but market data is starting to prove just how severe the switch has been.

"After spending 20 of the last 27 years as the best-selling vehicle segment in the US, midsize sedans have taken a dramatic downward turn in popularity," consumer auto site Edmunds.com said in a statement.

According to the site, mid-size sedans — once mainstays in the US auto market for carmakers such as Honda and Toyotas — are in trouble, falling from the best-selling segment of vehicles in 2014 to number five in 2017.

"Market share for midsize sedans is now a meager 10.7 percent," Edmunds said, adding that the figure is the lowest since 1991 when the site began tracking data.

“While it’s common for consumer tastes to change over time, it’s surprising to see just how quickly shoppers have made the switch from sedans to SUVs,” Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com executive director of industry analysis, said in a statement.

"As recently as three years ago, the Accord made up nearly 30 percent of all of Honda’s sales in the US, and so far in 2017 it’s down to 22 percent. Now that shoppers can now get an SUV for a similar price as a sedan and not have to pay much more at the pump, it’s hard to convince them the smaller vehicle is a better choice."

RELATED: Check out Ford's automobiles throughout the years:

44 PHOTOS
Ford automobiles through the years
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Ford automobiles through the years
Henry Ford in his First Passenger Automobile, Quadricycle, First Built in 1896, USA, circa 1903. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Henry Ford seated in his first Ford automobile on Grand Boulevard, Detroit in September of 1896.
ORIGINAL CAPTION READS: Three-quarter view of a 1908 Model T Ford. Undated photograph.
A well-dressed African-American couple stand by their 1909 Ford Touring car in Southern California. (Photo by Jonathan Kirn/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Ford factory, Manchester, c1911. Lines of Model Ts, off the production line. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Ford Motor Company Advertisement Featuring the Big Four Automobiles, circa 1909. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Sir Harry Lauder sits proudly in his 1914 Ford Model T 'sporty' touring car which sold for $550, complete with equipment.
Making the bodies for Model T Fords, 1915. Factory workers on the production line completing upholstery for the seats. A sack of stuffing lies on the floor. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
The family gather in and on the running board of their automobile. (Photo by Jonathan Kirn/Corbis via Getty Images)
A group of people driving in a Ford Model T automobile in the 1920's. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) View of a Ford touring car with passengers, 1923.
Actors ZaSu Pitts and Ford Sterling pose for this still from the 1927 version of Casey at the Bat. Pitts played the role of Camille, and Sterling played the role of O'Dowd.
1928: American inventor and industrialist Henry Ford (1863 - 1947) and his son, automobile executive Edsel Ford (1893 - 1943), sit in 'The Fifteenth Millionth Ford'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 1929- Picture shows a Ford Town Car. Cloche hatted model is sitting on the running board.
Bettmann
Photo of an early Ford automobile. Ca. 1900s.
The Lincoln was, and still is, one of the luxury cars of the Ford Motor Company.
(Original Caption) 1928- Picture shows the 1928 Ford model A automobile.
G Kinsey-Morgan's Ford Model C Ten, winner of a silver award at the MCC Torquay Rally, July 1937. Ford 10 1172 cc. Vehicle Reg. No. CLJ617. Event Entry No: 84 Driver: Kinsey-Morgan, G. Award: Silver. Place: M.C.C. Torquay Rally. Date: 16/17.7.37. Artist Bill Brunell. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 1940 Ford Deluxe V-8 Coupe.
Rows of automobiles in the yard of a Ford Motor Company plant. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Ford's 1955 Thunderbird features all steel convenience and safety with high performance. It has roll up windows, a telescopic steering column, and is available as either a hard top or a convertible.
Replacing the Boss 429 and Boss 302, the 1971 Boss 351 Mustang features a competition suspension package and a potent 351-cubic-inch Cleveland engine.
1978-Ford Motor Company's Country Squire Station Wagon.
Man inspects a new Ford Motors Company car that has just come off the final assembly line.
(Original Caption) 11/10/50-Dearborn, Michigan: The custom four-door Sedan, featuring Fordomatic drive, has new refinements in styling to emphasize distinctive body lines. The new models have a dual spinner radiator grille, long wraparound bumpers and new ornamentation.
LOS ANGELES,CA - CIRCA 1954: Actress Lori Nelson poses in her Ford Thunderbird car at home in Los Angeles,CA. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
circa 1955: A suburban family waving as they pull out of a driveway in a packed late 1950s model Ford Country Squire station wagon. (Photo by Lambert/Getty Images)
A 1955 Ford Consul Convertible MK 1. The first post-war cars from Dagenham were almost identical to pre-war models, but the 1951 'Five Star Car' Consul/Zephyr range was revolutionary. With American-styled unitary bodies scaled down for European markets, the cars featured new independent front suspension by Earle MacPherson. Convertibles, which accounted for less than 2% of production, were developed by Carbodies of Coventry in 1953. Both the Consul and 6 cylinder Zephyr were popular among fleet users and hire companies. Ford production in Britain, began in a converted tram factory in Manchester in 1911, transferring to the purpose-built Dagenham factory in 1931. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
View of a 1959 Ford Thunderbird motor car, its convertible roof in the down position, parked outside on a grassy field, 1959. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL â February 1957: Driving this 1957 Ford for car owner Pete DePaolo, Marvin Panch finished fifth in the NASCAR Cup race on the Daytona Beach-Road Course. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)
A 1958 Edsel convertible made by Ford, 1958. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
View of a 1965 Ford Thunderbird motor car parked on a rotating floor in a showroom, 1963. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)
On the beach, a group of young men and women lean or sit on a mid-60s Ford Mustang convertible (either a 1964, 1965, or 1966 model), which sports mid-1960s California plates (1963 - 1969), as they listen to a woman play an acoustic guitar, mid 1960s. There are a numebr of surfboards propped against the car. (Photo by Tom Kelley/Getty Images)
A young man washes the family Ford Anglia car on an Essex estate in the early nineteen sixties. Bending down to wring a leather dry into a bucket the young man cleans his father's beloved Anglia in the street outside the family house which interestingly, is otherwise empty of other cars. This is the new age of car ownership when newfound wealth meant families could afford to buy a vehicle and travel elsewhere after the war years of 1950s austerity. The Ford Anglia is a British car designed and manufactured by Ford in the United Kingdom. The Ford Anglia name was applied to four models of car between 1939 and 1967. 1,594,486 Anglias were produced. The picture was recorded on Kodachrome (Kodak) film in about 1961. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
30th May 1975: The car assembly line for vans at Ford. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Ronald and Nancy with their new Ford Ranger pick up, in their Californian ranch 'Rancho del Cielo'. (Photo by jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma via Getty Images)
CIRENCESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 30: Princess Diana At Cirencester Polo Club With Her Maroon Red Ford Escort Cabriolet Car (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The Newly Designed 35Th 1999 Anniversary Edition Ford Mustang. (Photo By Getty Images)
2002 Ford Mustang Bullitt driving on country road, 2000. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
384022 08: FILE PHOTO: Ford''s new fuel-efficient hybrid electric (HEV) concept Escape SUV vehicle sits in a showroom January 4, 2001 in Los Angeles during its debut at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. The newest version of Ford Motor Co.''s popular Escape sport utility vehicle reportedly earned low marks in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, April 23, 2001. (Photo by Ford/Newsmakers)
394154 02: (FILE PHOTO) A 2000 Ford Windstar minivan is seen in this undated photo. Ford announced September 6, 2001 that it had sent more than 750,000 recall letters to owners of 1999-2001 model Windstars after reports that the minivan's windshield wiper motor could potentially catch fire. Ford said that small holes in the system could allow water, salt and debris to clog the motor and ignite a fire. (Photo by Ford/Getty Images)
2005: Ford Freestyle SUV. (Photo by John B. Carnett/Bonnier Corporation via Getty Images)
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The great debate

For the past two years, as auto sales in the US have boomed amid low gas prices, a debate has raged about whether automakers should remain committed to the traditional family sedan.

These vehicles are less profitable than pickup trucks and SUVs, so carmakers have been pleased to see consumers shift away from them — but challenged to decide whether the trend is cyclical or structural. Auto companies remember being burned badly in the early-to-mid 2000s when spiking gas prices sent buyers searching for cheaper-to-operate small cars and hybrids. SUVs were derided for being gas-guzzling dinosaurs.

A change in design and engineering created a new class of vehicles — SUVs built on more fuel-efficient car platforms — and customers have flocked to these so-called "crossovers."

The change has been so dramatic that big automakers have started to ask themselves whether they should discontinue sedan production altogether — or outsource it to markets where the vehicles are still favored, such as China, or where sedans are cheaper to build, such as Mexico.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has led the way here. While both General Motors and Ford are more or less staying the course with sedans, FCA is in the process of shifting US production to SUVs. CEO Sergio Marchionne is in the "structural change" camp and has been unflinching about how much pain carmaker will endure if they don't follow consumer demand.

"I think we will be de-car-ed the US by probably the end of [the first quarter] of 2017," Marchionne said on an earnings conference call in 2016.

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