US car sales analysis 2018 – Mid-sized SUV segment

Sales rise over 2 million cars for the first time on the back of solid, if unspectacular growth

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Sales in the US Mid-sized SUV segment rose by 3.4% to 2,056,905 in 2018, the first time ever the segment has sold more than 2 million cars, and a huge increase on only 800,000 cars in 2009. Moreover, with many of the segment-leading models about to be replaced, including the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander, the segment should see its sales growth pick up further in 2019, as long as the market as a whole does not enter a severe decline.

Note: 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


  • Even though its replacement is expected in 2019, Toyota Highlander had a great 2018, with double-digit sales growth allowing it to jump ahead of Jeep Grand Cherokee, and almost depose the segment-leading Ford Explorer, both of which saw their sales drop
  • Honda Pilot and the new Chevrolet Traverse saw their sales grow even faster than they did for the Highlander, allowing both to advance by three positions in the rankings, leaping over the Toyota 4Runner, which held position thanks to a solid 9% growth, as well as the Ford Edge and the outgoing Hyundai Santa Fe, both of which dropped by three places
  • The freshly-facelifted Kia Sorento was able to climb back above 100,000, although that still left it well below the 130,000 units record established by the previous-generation model
  • The GMC Acadia, new in 2017, lost 20% of its sales in 2018, suggesting the big boost the smaller second-generation model received in its first year on the market may have been short-lived
  • The sporty, five-seat Nissan Murano is back ahead of the family-oriented, seven-seat (and considerably older) Pathfinder, suggesting that (a) it’s time for Nissan to update the Pathfinder (b) Chevrolet is right to introduce the smaller, sharply-styled Blazer to sit alongside the larger Traverse
  • The aging Dodge Durango did well to stay ahead of the new Volkswagen Atlas, which still has a way to go before the brand can even enter the Top 10 in the market
  • Sales of the new Buick Enclave were hardly higher in 2018 than they were in 2017, which combined with the fall in sales for the Chinese-built Envision suggests things are really going Buick’s way in this segment
  • The new Subaru Ascent only went on sale towards the end of Q2’18, so rather than look at its position in the standings it’s instead more informative to consider the fact that in the fourth quarter it outsold all models up to the Nissan Murano, putting it just outside of the Top 10

Note: clicking on the model names in legend turns the display for that model on/off; data is displayed from 1990 onwards, but starts earlier – access previous years using slider on bottom