US sales Q3 2017: Premium Large segment

Segment arrests its slide in Q3’17, thanks to new BMW 5-series and good performance from FWD modelsUS-sales-premium_large_car-segmentAfter consistently losing around 15% in sales each quarter since the beginning of 2016, the Premium Large Car segment finally rebounded a bit in the third quarter, and while it still hasn’t gone back to black, it got close with a 2% decline, the lowest from among all Premium Car segments. And while the segment is still likely to see its sales decline by double digits by the end of the year, driven mostly by rising popularity of crossovers, it is good to see that good new models like the BMW 5-series and Volvo S90 can still attract a lot of customers.

Highlights for Q3 2017

  • The Lexus ES remains the segment leader, with a 9% growth in Q3’17 reversing some of the double-digit loss in sales over the first half of the year
  • On the face of it the second-placed Mercedes-Benz E-class and third-placed BMW 5-series have had a similar year so far, but the truth is more complicated – while the E-class had a great start to the year, with 41% sales growth in the first quarter, it actually lost 20% of its sales in the last quarter; by comparison, the previous-generation 5-series lost 32% of sales in Q1’17, but more than made up for it with 48% sales growth in the last quarter
  • Sales of Tesla Model S fell again in the third quarter, confirming the fact that the model is suffering cannibalization from its Model X stablemate 
  • The facelifted Cadillac XTS saw a remarkable 77% jump in sales in the latest quarter, bringing it into the black for the year, and alongside the Lexus ES, the growing Lincoln Continental and the surging Volvo S90/V90 (into the Top 10 now) confirming that not everyone in this segment is after a RWD, sports-oriented model
  • Sales of the Genesis G80 continue to disappoint, with the YTD sales being just a bit more than half of what its sale were at this time last year (when combined with its Hyundai Genesis pre-facelift name)
  • Other than the aforementioned Volvo S90 and the Infiniti Q70 (sales up just 3%), all other existing models lost sales so far this year, with the fall being the largest for the soon-to-be-replaced Mercedes-Benz CLS (sales down 66%), the aging Lexus GS (sales down 49%) and the underperforming-since-new Jaguar XF (sales down 39%) and Cadillac CTS (sales down 33%)
  • Against this backdrop, the relatively small fall in sales for the about-to-be-replaced Audi A7 and the just-facelifted Maserati Ghibli should be viewed as something of a success, especially in the face of much newer competitors
  • Finally, the new V90 Cross Country has had a rather timid start to its career compared to its S90/V90 sibling, especially when you consider its indirect predecessor XC70 sold almost 25,000 units in its best year

Note: “AP” designates models that are classified in the Alternative Power segment, presented here for comparison; clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

Photo credit: Car and Driver

About Krzysztof Wozniak

Kriss grew up in Poland reading German car magazines, before moving to England and graduating to the British magazines, which he still considers the best in the world and continues reading them after he’d moved to the US. In college he promised himself he’s buy himself a used Porsche before he turned 30 (not to be accused of having a mid-life crisis), but instead family needs dictated a Subaru Outback. Still waiting for that perfect moment to buy a used 2008-ish Cayman…
You can find all his articles Here.


  1. Ghibli outselling the XF. Great!

    Perhaps an idea to combine the Volvo 90 series? The E Class versions, including the Wagon, aren’t separated.

  2. I would combine the V90 and S90 versions in one bar. They’re the wagon version of the S90.

  3. Krzysztof Wozniak says:

    @Losange, @Pedro – I followed your suggestion and pooled the S90 and V90 in the analysis, though you will agree that the slow pickup of the V90 is interesting (and potentially vindicating for most other carmakers not bothering with wagon cars in the US)

    • Very interesting indeed, but not at all surprising. In the States, mid-sized/large (luxury) wagons are relatively expensive compared with mid-sized/large (luxury) SUVs:

      – V90 CC starts at 52k dollars, the XC90 at 47k.
      – V60 starts at 38k, new XC60 at 41k.
      – E Class Wagon starts at 63k, GLE at 52k, GLS at 69k.
      – 3 series Wagon starts at 44k, X3 at 42k, X4 at 45k.

      The Jaguar XF Wagon even starts at 70k which is significantly more expensive than large SUVs from other brands.

      Americans preferring SUVs (i.e. heightened wagons in most cases) over wagons get more car for their money. Looking at the popularity of the pickup trucks, they love the combination of practicality and a higher seating position. So wagons simply can’t challenge SUVs.

  4. Oh, I agree with that. Wagons are only justified in the european market.
    Even so the S90/V90 and Cross Country show a nice increase in sales versus the old V70/S80.

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