US car sales analysis Q1 2018 – Mid-sized SUV segment

Segment growth rate slows as market leaders stumble, though Chevy Traverse and Honda Pilot shine 

US-sales-midsized_SUV-segment-2016-Kia_Sorento-Chevrolet_Traverse-Ford_Explorer-Dodge_Durango-Nissan_Pathfinder-Honda_Pilot-Toyota_HighlanderSales in the US Mid-sized SUV segment rose by 7.1% to 486,728 in the first quarter of 2018, a small slowdown relative to the 9.4% growth the segment registered in 2017. Still, such a performance put the segment in third place overall for the second quarter in a row, ahead of the Compact segment that it just lost out to in overall 2017 stats, and behind just the Compact SUV and Pick-up segments. However, the segment may yet slip back as the year progresses – after a lot of activity in 2017 (new arrivals included Buick EnclaveChevrolet TraverseGMC AcadiaMazda CX-9  and VW Atlas), there is a surprising dearth of new metal coming in 2018, the only exception being the recently-revealed Chevrolet Blazer and the new Hyundai Santa Fe, although the new Ford Explorer may yet come to market towards the end of the year.


  • After 2017, when segment growth was spread very evenly across all models, growth in Q1’18 was more uneven
  • Segment leaders Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee saw their sales fall, almost allowing Toyota Highlander to overtake the Jeep for second spot
  • Two models with the biggest sales growth, Chevrolet Traverse (up 30%) and Honda Pilot (up 50%, albeit on a dismal Q1’17), leapt over a lot of models to place fourth and fifth
  • Models placed sixth to tenth all recorded modest, single-digit growth with no changes in rankings on Q1’17
  • Interestingly, the sporty, five-seat Nissan Murano saw its sales rise by 20% at the same time as sales of its more family-oriented, seven-seat Pathfinder sibling fell by 32%, resulting in the two models switching places
  • The new Volkswagen Atlas had a pretty successful first quarter of 2018, handily outselling the Mazda CX-9 and the new Buick Enclave, and almost matching the Dodge Durango

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