Sales of Premium Large SUVs in the US rose by 10 percent in the second quarter of 2016, exactly the same rate of growth as in the first quarter. What is impressive is that for all the trend in downsizing, this is exactly the same rate of growth as that recorded by the Premium Mid-sized SUV segment, and only a bit slower than the Premium Compact SUV segment.
Sales of Premium Large SUVs in the US rose by 12% in Q1 2016 to 139,709 vehicles – a slower rate of growth than in both smaller Premium SUV segments, but still considerably faster than the average 3% growth rate experienced by the industry as a whole. Similarly to the Premium Mid-sized SUV segment, most of the high growth happened among models that ranked in the middle of the standings, while some of the highest-selling models experienced a fall in volume.
Highlights in Q1 2016:
- The new Lexus RX, which hit the market in 2016, has not so far resulted in a large growth in sales for the model (2% sales growth was below segment average), but so far it retains the segment lead
- The facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLE did much better – its sales grew by 18%, party on the back of the newly-introduced GLE Coupe, which allowed the German model to claim second spot in the segment by vaulting Acura MDX, whose sales fell by 17% in anticipation of the facelifted model hitting the market next quarter, and its arch-rival BMW X5, whose sales fell by 15%
- The top 10 sees the entry of new models which experienced great growth compared to Q1 2015: Volvo XC90 (sales up almost 7,000%, up to sixth spot), Lincoln MKX (sales up 81%, up to seventh spot) and Audi Q7 (sales up over 100%, up to eight spots). In fact, with sales of 6,993, Q1 2016 marks the highest quarterly result for the large Audi, showing once again that good looks are not necessary to succeed in this segment
- Interestingly, despite continuing low gas prices, most of the largest models in the segment recorded a fall in sales: Range Rover Sport (down 11%), Lexus GX (down 5%), Mercedes-Benz GL (down 39%, presumably in anticipation of the incoming GLS facelifted model), as well as Range Rover (down 1%) and Infiniti QX80 (down 5%). The only exception to this was the Lexus LX, whose sales were up 76% on the back of a recent facelift
- The sportiest models in the segment, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6, did well for themselves with a 14% and 16% growth in sales, respectively
- Land Rover Discover continues to increase in popularity despite the new model being just around the corner, with sales up 68%
- Tesla Model X continues to rise in the ranks, and is now up to 19th spot with sales of 2,425
Ever since its design renaissance in the 1990s we’ve gotten used to other carmakers copying Audi’s design ideas, be it the TT’s roofline, the shield grille or LED running lights. Of course, recently it seems that the list of carmakers copying Audi has grown through the addition of… Audi, as the company seems intent to take the “one sausage, different lengths” to new heights, challenged only by Mercedes-Benz. But recently I noticed that the new Audi A4 Allroad is itself very similar to a model from another carmaker…
The 2016 New York Auto Show has started, and while it’s not as important as the show in Detroit, nor as West-Coast flashy as the show in LA, a handful of automakers still picked it to reveal their new or updated models, or concepts of upcoming models. We’ve picked the 7 most significant ones and compared notes. Let us know what you think of them in the comments below.
Acura MDX facelift
I’m glad they finally ditched the chrome shield in the grille, but the downside is that the MDX has become even more anonymous than it was before. Acura’s design is apparently going the complete opposite of that of Lexus, who are getting more extreme with every launch. That probably makes the MDX the perfect minivan-that’s-not-a-minivan, so they’ll probably continue to sell a ton of them. They also have a hybrid now, with the same system as the NSX. The MDX surely has a lot of good things going for it, otherwise it wouldn’t be the #2 of its segment. And yes, the Q7 is shockingly awful and Mercedes hasn’t gotten the styling quite right in any of the ML/GLE generations, but I think the X5 beats the MDX in styling, even if for the simple fact that it actually gets noticed.
It’s funny, you say “Miss”, but I read a lot of good things: “ditched the chrome shield grille”, “perfect minivan-that’s-not-a-minivan”, “hybrid with the same system as the NSX”. I had a soft spot for the MDX Mk II, and while the new model is not quite as muscular-looking as that, I think the facelift makes it into a rather handsome car, better-looking than any of the German trio (Q7, X5 and ML). In my mind Acura would do best to emulate the inoffensive Audis of late 1990s/early 2000s, and this fits the bill perfectly.
The Large Premium SUV segment in the US has picked up its growth in the fourth quarter of 2015, as it finishes the year with an 8.2% increase over 2014, totaling 557,982 sales. Only 4 models of the 22 that are continued in this segment lose volume, while 8 enjoy sales records. The traditional leader of the segment, the Lexus RX is due for a new generation, but manages to keep its sales relatively stable at just -6%. In 2016 the redesigned RX will undoubtedly break its 2005 record of 108,775 US sales. The second place of the Acura MDX is under fire as the Japanese #2 loses 11% while the BMW X5 in third place improves an impressive 17% to come within 3.300 sales of the MDX. This is the second consecutive year that the X5 breaks its US volume record for the 17 years it’s been sold here. [Read more…]
The Large Premium SUV segment grew by 3% in Q3, and 6% since the beginning of the year, compared to the respective periods in 2014. This makes it the slowest-growing SUV segment bar the non-premium Large SUV segment, suggesting that consumers are slowly but surely moving to smaller SUVs and crossovers. [Read more…]
The Premium Large SUV segment grew by 7%, a faster pace of growth than the market overall (4%), but decidedely than both the Premium Midsize and Compact segments (26% and 40%, respectively). Nonetheless, it was a respectable performance for what is the largest of the three segments – in fact it is the only case from among all segment groupings (Mainstream, Premium, SUV, SUV Premium) where the largest cars are the most popular. Part of the reason, though, may be in the definition of the segment which deviates from that of non-premium SUVs, and groups cars as disparate as the Lincoln MKX and Cadillac Escalade under the Large banner, for a grand total of 22 models (compared to 17 in Europe).
The Lexus RX remains the undisputed market leader, despite being in its final year. With a new, bolder RX about to go on sale this dominance is only set to expand, which is bad news for the competition. In fact, the only trick that Lexus seems to be missing is that it still won’t offer the RX with a 3rd row – it is one of only three models in the top 10 of this segment that don’t offer 3 rows of seating, and while the GX and LX models fill that gap somewhat you have to wonder whether a more modern, monocoque-based model would not sell better (e.g. the Mercedes-Benz GL-class in #6 sells around half as many units as the M-class, while combined the GX/LX sell only around a quarter as many units as the RX). Just something to ponder, Lexus – you don’t want to miss out the way you have been doing by not entering the Premium Compact SUV segment until now, where the NX went straight to #4 in sales.
In second spot is the Acura MDX, though with a 4% drop in sales year-on-year it was almost overtaken by BMW’s new X5, which enjoyed a 30% growth in sales. Both models, along with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class in fourth, are examples of a how the new generation of premium SUVs traded in the muscular looks of the previous generation for less offensive, more aerodynamic looks that make them look like pumped-up wagons more than ever.
Following in #5 is the Infiniti QX60 (née JX), a premium version of the Nissan Pathfinder that clearly has found favor with consumers thanks to its family-friendliness. In fact, its softer looks, better ride and space are clearly in more demand than aggressive looks and Cayenne-chasing handling of its more established brother, the QX70 (née FX), which languishes in 18th spot in sales with fewer than 15% of the units sold.
In #7 is the Lexus GX, the brand’s luxurious take on the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (smaller of the two). In placing as high as it does, it leads the sales charts for body-on-frame SUVs, ahead of other models such as the Cadillac Escalade and its long-wheelbase brother, the Escalade ESV (#9 and #15, respectively, twinned with the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban), the Infiniti QX80 (née QX56, brother of the Nissan Patrol not sold in the US), the ancient Lincoln Navigator (#16, brother of Ford’s Expedition), the evergreen Mercedes-Benz G-class (#20) and the Lexus LX (#21, based on the large Toyota Land Cruiser). Overall, the body-on-frame models accounted for only 17% of the segment in the first half of 2015.
In #8 and #10 are the Range Rover Sport and Range Rover, with the sales of the latter growing especially quickly at 54%. But while the success of the “daddy” Range Rover is good news for JLR, it’s debatable whether they will regard the rate at which the Sport is selling as a success. After all, it’s a brand new model and yet its 14% growth rate is nothing to write home about. One wonders whether the blame does not lie with Range Rover’s confused model strategy, in that it gave its supposedly sporty model a 3rd row, compromising its chances against the likes of Porsche’s Cayenne, but not really luring yummy-mummies away from their RXs or X5s.
In #11 is the first of the three Lincoln models, the soon-to-be-replaced MKX, whose sales were down a whopping 33% (second only to the even older Volvo XC90, whose sales dropped 41%, landing it at the bottom of the sales rankings). Still, it did better on the market than the aforementioned Navigator in #16, or the whale-shaped MKT (#19, sales down 23%). It also beat out the Audi Q7 (#12), which miraculously managed a 1% sales increase in its 8th year on the market. It will be interesting how well the new MKX and Q7 do – I expect especially the latter to do much better when the new model goes on sale.
From among the truly sporty upscale SUVs Porsche’s Cayenne remained top-dog in #13, though it sales were down 8%, suggesting its sales are being cannibalized by its smaller brother, the Macan. Still, it managed to sell more than twice as many units as BMW’s X6 (#17) or Infiniti’s QX70 (#18). While we won’t be able to break them out, it’ll be interesting whether we’ll know how well Mercedes-Benz’s new GLE Coupe will do against this lot.