Sales of midsized SUVs in the United States are down 6% in the first quarter of 2020 as it outperforms the overall market which is down 13%. These family haulers now make up 16.7% of total car sales in the US, and the arrival of new models has expanded the class to 41 nameplates.
The redesigned Ford Explorer reclaims the top spot of the segment it basically helped create in the 1990s. The Explorer also led the class in the first quarter of last year, but was then outsold by the Jeep Grand Cherokee from Q2 onwards as Ford didn’t execute the launch of the next generation Explorer perfectly. This year should be a different story, as the Explorer manages a 9% decline in Q1 and will be fully available for the rest of the year, while the Grand Cherokee is starting to show its age but still manages to outsell the all-new Toyota Highlander so far. The Chevrolet Traverse is down 12% and barely manages to stay ahead of the Ford Edge, which is down just 4% and leapfrogs both the Toyota 4Runner and Honda Pilot, both of which fall faster than the market. So does the Hyundai Santa Fe, while the Nissan Pathfinder is the best performer in the top-10 with a gain of 4%. The Dodge Durango does even better in 12th place with a 5% improvement, allowing it to close in on the Kia Sorento. Both the Santa Fe and Sorento may suffer from cannibalization from their newly launched larger siblings Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, landing in 15th and 16th place respectively, just behind the GMC Acadia. The Acadia is down 43% and the worst performing model in the top-30. Its platform sibling Buick Enclave does not much better at -30% in 23rd place. The Nissan Murano is heading in the opposite direction with sales up 34%, allowing it to move ahead of the Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas. VW has launched a 2-row version of the Atlas called Atlas Cross Sport, to compete with the likes of the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Honda Passport, and it has just delivered its first 1,100 units in Q1. The Passport just celebrated its first birthday and now outsells the Mazda CX-9 and the to-be-discontinued Ford Flex.
In the luxury part of the segment, which makes up 20% of total midsized crossover sales, the Lexus RX remains ultra dominant, selling almost as much as its nearest two rivals combined. The RX is down 11% while the redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLE storms to the #2 spot with an 81% increase in deliveries, moving it ahead of the BMW X5. The Infiniti QX60 is one of the oldest models of the class, having been launched in 2012 as the JX35, and it’s down 29% in 2020, barely staying ahead of the Acura MDX. The Audi Q7 is down 12%, and the Volvo XC90 is down 9% as both are chased by the all-new Lincoln Aviator. The Aviator already outsells the Range Rover Sport and its own stablemate Lincoln Nautilus, as well as the all-new Cadillac XT6. The Porsche Cayenne is losing ground, and so is the still relatively fresh Audi Q8 in a worrying development for the VW Group. The all-electric Audi e-Tron is still a slow seller in the US, and can’t make up for the lost volume of its ICE siblings.
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