The small crossover class is up 12% in 2021 in an overall market up 3%. However, sales were down 24% in Q4, trailing the market which was down 21%. Still, small crossovers grow their share of the US car market to 7.8%, from 7.2% in 2020. The class has set a new volume record every year since the segment was created in 2010 by the Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman, and it continued to do so in 2021 as new entrants continued to be launched and the class continued to draw customers away from small and compact cars.
There’s a change of leadership at the top of the chart as the Honda HR-V is up 63% to claim the class win for the first time in its career, even though this was the last full year of sales of the current generation which has been around virtually unchanged since 2015. This is the first year the HR-V tops 100,000 sales. The former leader Subaru Crosstrek is up 8% for the year, despite a 38% drop in sales in Q4. The podium is completed by the Chevrolet Trailblazer in its first full year of sales, even though the Trailblazer was down 6% in Q4 and was outsold by the Hyundai Kona by almost 3,000 units. The Kona ended the year just 1,000 deliveries from the podium with sales up 18% to yet another record year for the nameplate. Like the Kona, the Nissan Kicks has also improved every year since its launch and continues that trend in 2021, gaining 41%to distance the Trailblazer’s clone Buick Encore GX which also had a difficult last quarter when it sales were down 41%. Still, the Encore GX is up 59% on its launch year and finishes ahead of the Mazda CX-30 and Kia Seltos. The Jeep Renegade struggled in the last quarter with sales down 70% to finish the year down 25% on 2020 and down 50% on 2018. Due to the arrival of the slightly larger Trailblazer, the Chevrolet Trax is down 60% (and -95% in Q4) into 10th place. Its sibling Buick Encore is down 52% (and -87% in Q4) into 19th place.
The Ford EcoSport loses a third of its sales, while the Toyota C-HR is down 17% for the year but lost 64% of its sales in Q4. There’s a 19% gain for the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport to keep its just ahead of the newly launched Volkswagen Taos, which was the #7 seller in the class in Q4. The Taos, which is a rebadged Seat Ateca which is sold in Europe, looks like a top-10 contender for 2022. The Hyundai Venue and Kia Niro are both up 50%, while the Toyota Corolla Cross was launched in Q4 and also could be a top-10 contender in 2022.
Luxury brands see their share of the class decline to 12.7%, down from 15.3% in 2020 as their sales were down 7% on last year. Best selling luxury small crossover is still the Audi Q3 at #13 overall, and at +26% it’s also one of the best performing luxury models. The Volvo XC40 is its nearest rival, up 13% to an overall 17th place, despite a decline in deliveries of 43% in Q4. The Cadillac XT4 has dropped to 6th and is the worst performing nameplate of the segment, down 48% on last year. The BMW X1 jumps to third place and it’s up 27% to leapfrog the Lexus UX, up 4% and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, which is down 43% as the brand is struggling with semiconductor shortages. The GLA lost 70% of its sales in the fourth quarter. The Mini Countryman is up 11% and distances the Range Rover Evoque, down 31%. The BMW X2 and Jaguar E-Pace remain niche players in the class.
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