The midsized SUV segment in the United States continues to outperform the overall car market with sales up 11% in 2021. The class tops 3 million units for the first time ever, giving these family haulers a share of 20.1% of total car sales in the US, up from 18.8% in 2020. In the fourth quarter, midsized SUV sales were down 12% in an overall market down 21%.
Helped by the new generation and the addition of a first-ever 3-row version, the Jeep Grand Cherokee sets a new annual sales record and reclaims the top spot it also took in 2019 before the Ford Explorer struck back. The Explorer has been the class leader from 2011 through 2018 and in 2020. The Toyota Highlander had been leading the class this year, right up until December, but the Grand Cherokee had a very strong fourth quarter, outselling the Highlander by over 18,000 units to claim the annual victory by just 316 deliveries. Still, this is also a new annual sales record for the Highlander, which is also about to be joined by a 3-row version. The Japanese SUV was also outsold by the Explorer in Q4, and the latter at least recovers to finish the year on the podium, as the Jeep Wrangler was in P3 after the third quarter. There’s another new annual sales record for the Toyota 4Runner in 5th place, up 12% on last year. The Honda Pilot is up 16% to jump back ahead of the Chevrolet Traverse (-7%). The Hyundai Santa Fe (+10%) stays ahead of the Kia Telluride (+25%) and Hyundai Palisade (+6%), both of which set new annual sales records and move ahead of the Ford Edge (-22%). The Santa Fe’s sibling Kia Sorento is also up 10%, while the Volkswagen Atlas is up 22% to distance the Dodge Durango (+14%).
Newcomer Toyota Venza is up to #17 ahead of the Subaru Ascent (-11%) and GMC Acacia (-17%), while the Honda Passport (+34% to a new annual record) leapfrogs the Nissan Murano (-21%). The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport (+49%) is also closing in on the Murano, while the Nissan Pathfinder is down 15% due to a model changeover, dropping behind the Buick Enclave (+9%). In the fourth quarter, the Pathfinder was up 13% again. The Ford Bronco lands at #28, but if Ford can get deliveries under way properly anytime soon, the Bronco should be a top-6 contender for 2022, challenging the Wrangler and 4Runner. The Mazda CX-9 sets a new annual sales record with sales up by a quarter, but remains the slowest selling mainstream midsized SUV in the class at #29.
The luxury part of the segment makes up 19.8% of total midsized crossover sales, down slightly from 20% in 2020, with sales improving 10% in the 2021. In Q4, luxury midsized crossovers were down 20% compared to -10% for the mainstream models. The Lexus RX remains ultra dominant, even claiming an overall #8 spot and setting a new annual sales record with sales up 14%. The Acura MDX had a harsh fourth quarter with sales down 20% and dropping it from #2 after the third quarter to #4 for the year. The MDX is still up 26% for the year but finishes behind the Mercedes-Benz GLE (+35%) and the BMW X5 (+20%), both of which also set new annual sales records. The Volvo XC90 (+13%) follows at a distance, ahead of the Lexus GX (+14%) and Audi Q7 (stable on 2020), the latter of which had very slow second half of the year, down 24% in Q3 and down 65% in Q4. The Lincoln Aviator and its main rival Cadillac XT6 are both down 9% for the year, falling behind the Range Rover Sport, while the Genesis GV80 jumps to #36, moving past the Land Rover Defender and Porsche Cayenne (-4%). The BMW X6 (+31%) is closing in on the Audi Q8 (+4%) and sets a new annual sales record, and so does the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The Audi e-Tron EV improves as well and leapfrogs the Tesla Model X (-76%), even without the e-Tron Sportback version which is up 77% on its launch year.
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