The Premium Midsize SUV segment grew by 26%, less than the smaller, Compact segment but faster than the Premium Large SUV one. The main driver of this growth has been the introduction of new models such as the Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC and BMW X4, though most existing models also experienced a healthy growth rate. With the new Mercedes-Benz GLK about to go on sale, and the new Audi Q5 and Cadillac SRX just around the corner, all signs point to growth in this segment continuing for a while yet.
The Cadillac SRX remains the market leader, even adding 5% more sales year-on-year despite being a 5-year-old design whose replacement is ready and waiting. In fact, I would not be surprised if Cadillac was in no hurry to replace the SRX, given how well this model has been selling – 2015 is likely to be its best year yet. In #2 is the Acura RDX, clearly resonating with the consumers more than its more idiosyncratic, turbo-powered predecessor. Closing off the podium is the Audi Q5, still gaining sales in its seventh year on sale, and selling substantially more than either Mercedes-Benz or BMW can manage. In fact, this is one of the few segments (the other being the Premium Compact) where Audi outsells its German competitors in the US.
In #4 is the first new entrant, the Lexus NX. That this Toyota RAV4-based model shot right up the sales charts the way it did proves that Lexus really should have entered this segment earlier, as consumers have clearly been clamoring for a smaller version of the beloved (at least in the US) Lexus RX. In fact, it did so well that it jumped right past the Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X4, both of whose sales have fallen substantially year-on-year. While the slump is to expected for the GLK, whose much better-looking replacement the GLC is about to go on sale, it is altogether more worrying for BMW, which is not as old and whose sales seem to have been badly cannibalized by the sister X4 model (opening in #10).
In seventh is the European segment-leader, the Volvo XC60, enjoying the highest growth rate in sales from among the established market models at 36%. Sure, the models that trail it in the sales charts, the Lincoln MKC and Porsche Macan, have both seen crazy triple-digit sales figures, but that is because both only went on sale in May 2014 and thus should be really viewed as new entries. Especially impressive are the figures posted by the Porsche, outselling its more mainstream, sporty competitor the BMW X4 by two-to-one.
Closing off the sales charts are the Infiniti QX50 (née EX) and Audi Allroad, both interesting cases of models failing because they cannot deliver what the buyers expect in this segment – interior space. Infiniti especially could, and should, do better than the hatchback-wagon-crossover QX50, and I have no doubt that its replacement will more squarely target the heart of the market (the kind of re-focussing that Acura did with the RDX). And while the Audi A4-based Allroad model clearly aimed to imitate the sales success of the Subaru Outback in the Premium segment, its failure suggests that consumers simply prefer its more spacious, more “SUV” sister, the Q5.