Sales of midsized SUVs in the United States are up 6% in 2019 as almost 2.7 million of these family haulers are sold, which makes up 15.8% of the total US car market, up from 14.6% in 2018. We have a new class leader due to the redesign of the two top sellers from last year, which has turned the top-3 upside down. The Ford Explorer has been the best selling midsized SUV in the US since 2011, but a 26% decline in deliveries in 2019 has dropped it to third place as the new generation, launched in the second quarter, still hasn’t picked up traction. It was outsold by the Toyota Highlander, also new in 2019 but launched in the fourth quarter, down 2% to hold on to 2nd place in the segment. That means that the Jeep Grand Cherokee, eight years after its last major redesign, grabs the top spot thanks to an 8% increase in deliveries. Since the launch of its current generation in 2011, the Jeep Grand Cherokee improved every year until 2018, but in 2019 it rebounded from that little bump to improve again. And its nearly 243,000 sales are the model’s highest annual volume since 2000.
In fourth place, the Chevrolet Traverse is up by fewer than 600 sales but that still makes this a record year for the nameplate, meaning that the Chevrolet brand has set annual sales records in 2019 for three of its crossovers: Trax, Equinox and Traverse. The Ford Edge edges up with a 3% gain to leapfrog the Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner, down 15% and 6% respectively, with the Pilot feeling some internal cannibalization from the newly launched Honda Passport which found just over 36,000 buyers in its first year. On the other hand, the Hyundai Santa Fe gained 9% even though the brand launched the larger Hyundai Palisade as a replacement to the Grand Santa Fe and found over 28,700 buyers for its new largest Hyundai. Sister brand Kia saw sales of its Sorento decline 11% as it launched its own version of the Palisade named Kia Telluride, which racked up 58,600 deliveries. Kia launched its large SUV earlier in the year, but even when accounting for that, it seems like the Telluride is the bigger success of the two, with more than 5,800 average monthly sales compared to the Palisade’s fewer than 4,800 average monthly sales. The GMC Acadia is back up 12% after dipping hard last year. It’s now back up to its second-best ever year after the 111,000 sales scored in 2017. The Subaru Ascent narrowly beats the Volkswagen Atlas, as both models improve significantly and move past the Nissan Murano (down 18%), Dodge Durango (up 3%) and Nissan Pathfinder (down 3%). Further below, the Ford Flex gains 21% in what has been its last full year of sales, to reach its highest annual volume since 2013.
In the luxury part of the segment, which makes up 20.9% of total midsized crossover sales, the German Big 3 are not as dominant as they are in the compact luxury crossover segment. In fact, two out of the top-3 best sellers are Japanese. The Lexus RX is the elephant in the room, selling more than the #2 and #3 combined, taking nearly 1 out of 5 sales of luxury midsized SUV sales in the US. The BMW X5 is catching up fast with a 21% growth and jumping from fifth place to second but is still far behind, selling less than half the number of the RX. The Acura MDX loses a position and is now also chased by the Mercedes-Benz GLE, which was all-new in 2019 and gained 9%. The Infiniti QX60 lost 9% and drops to 5th place. The Volvo XC90 is up 13% to the nameplate’s highest annual sales since 2005, leapfrogging the Audi Q7, down 7% as the Audi Q8 gained traction with over 14,000 sales (over 3x its rival BMW X6) and the all-electric Audi e-tron launched with an additional 5,369 sales to give Audi a 37,5% growth rate in this segment as a brand. The e-tron’s average monthly sales are still about 62% below those of the Tesla Model X, despite that model’s 26% decline in deliveries. The Lincoln Nautilus adds 11% to the MKX’s 2018 sales, while the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne set new annual sales records, as does the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator land, as the American brands are finally getting serious about this class they’ve neglected for too long.
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