Sales of compact SUVs and crossovers in the United States keep outgrowing the overall market in the first quarter of 2016, although growth has slowed from 15% over the full year 2015 to 4.9% in Q1 of 2016, compared to +3.3% for the overall market. Total segment volume for Q1 was 681,068 sales. Like in the subcompact crossover segment, there’s a new leader, and it’s actually an earthshaking phenomenon, because the Honda CR-V has led the segment since its first full year of sales, 1998. The first generation Toyota RAV4 came to market in 1996, followed by the CR-V a year later, and in that first partial year the Honda sold 66,752 units vs. the Toyota’s 67,487 but the next year the figures were 100,000 vs 65,000 and the CR-V hasn’t let go of its leadership since. Until this quarter, when the Honda was the only model in the top-4 to lose volume, giving the RAV4 the chance to take control while the Ford Escape held on to its second place to drop the perennial leader into third spot with the Nissan Rogue breathing down its neck, still plagued by supply shortages.
The Chevrolet Equinox drops a spot to #5 as it too loses volume, despite having just been facelifted last fall. Perhaps it is slightly hurt by the cut in fleet sales by parent General Motors, as the Equinox has been a popular model for daily rental companies. As a result, the lower total sales might not worry GM as a higher percentage of retail sales means more profitability for the model and higher resale values in the near future. The Jeep Cherokee grows slower than the market, which is still better than its siblings Wrangler and Patriot, which both slightly lose volume on their record year 2015, while their distant cousin Dodge Journey improves further on its record year to move ahead of the GMC Terrain and Mazda CX-5. Meanwhile, the Jeep Compass keeps breaking records, even though it’s about to be replaced this year. Its 43% (!) increase over Q1 of 2015 enables it to stay ahead of the new generation Hyundai Tucson, up 83% over the outgoing model last year. These two models storm past the Subaru XV Crosstrek, which loses 2%.
The two generations of the Kia Sportage, the outgoing 2016 model year and the first few deliveries of the all-new 2017 model year show an increase of 50% on last year, while the ageing Volkswagen Tiguan is yet again the only bright spot in the VW line-up with an increase of 66% thanks to generous discounts to keep the disgruntled dealers somewhat alive before the brand solves the mess it created and deliveries of the 2016 diesel cars can start up again. Mitsubishi finds its two models at the bottom of the ranking, although the facelifted Outlander shows a nice increase and should get an extra boost when the long-awaited Plug-In hybrid version finally makes it Stateside.