US car sales analysis Q4 2017 – Subcompact SUV segment

Segment continues to grow despite its first stumble in Q4’17


Sales in the US subcompact SUV segment fell by 6.0% to 103,825 in the fourth quarter of 2017, the first time ever the segment has encountered a quarterly fall in sales! Overall in 2017 the segment still gained sales, growing by 7.0% to 424,724, but there is feeling that with the first-generations of pioneers getting older the segment may lose a bit of appeal before the second generation brings it back on track for double-digit growth. 2018 should see the debut of the first of these in the form of Nissan Kicks – a replacement for the Juke that takes a considerably more conservative approach, the new Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic, as well as, potentially, the debut of the next-generation GM twins towards the end of the year.


  • Although there was no change in leadership, Jeep Renegade lost some of its appeal in 2017, losing sales in both Q2 and Q4, with the latter decline exceeding 20% due to cannibalization from its newer Compass brother; still, it only lost 3% of sales overall in 2017
  • In second and third place lie Honda HR-V and Buick Encore, both experiencing double-digit sales growth in 2017, allowing the latter to open up a bit of a gap to its Chevrolet Trax sister

Note: Clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

  • The new Toyota C-HR climbed to a distant fifth place in 2017, a performance that will surely disappoint Toyota who is used to placing models in the Top 3
  • The segment standings are propped at the bottom by three stragglers: the pricey Mazda CX-3 (sales down 12% in 2017), the about-to-be replaced Nissan Juke (sales down by half) and the hapless Fiat 500X (sales down 39%), the car which was meant to be the “mainstream” model alongside the “sturdy” Renegade, but which is clearly held back by its brand name and contrived styling
  • On a side-note, it will be interesting whether the Nissan Kicks will be able to reclaim the segment leadership the Juke held until 2013, given how the segment has evolved since then (see chart below)

Note: clicking on the model names in legend turns the display for that model on/off; data is displayed from 1990 onwards, but starts in 1973 – access previous years using slider on bottom

    1. @Jonny B – FCA took a two-pronged approach and went after the “tough” and “sleek” markets with two separate models, and in the US the Renegade is clearly the more popular option. That said, it is unclear how much of that is the product itself, and how much is the Jeep brand, which has much better reputation than Fiat in the US, as well as Jeep’s better dealer network

      1. but it’s too strage: Jeep over 100,000 sales and FIAT less of 10,000. Are the same car: same engine, gearbox and quality of components.
        I can’t understand this big difference. Ok, Jeep is a brand so strong in USA… but more of 90,000 cars of difference are so much.

  1. Thanks for the article. The Chevy Bolt is nearly the same dimensions as the Honda HRV and Chevy Trax, and rightfully a subcompact SUV. Add total 2017 sales of the Chevy Bolt at 23,297 to the mix, and this sector grew by nearly 16%, keeping with the trend in growth for subcompact SUVs.

    1. Hi Britt,

      thanks for your feedback. The Bolt doesn’t really have the appearance of an SUV and isn’t marketed by GM as such. In Europe, we classify its Opel version Ampera-e more as an MPV, but this size of MPV doesn’t exist in the US so we consider it to be a compact car.

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