US sales 2017 Q3: Premium Full-size SUV segment

Slowdown in the sector almost pushes it into the clutches of the Premium Compact SUV segment
Sales of Premium Full-Size SUVs were down 1% in the third quarter of 2017, a slight slowdown relative to the 3% growth in the second quarter, and a considerable slowdown relative to the 19% growth recorded in the first quarter. With 92,052 sales since the beginning of the year, the segment remains slightly ahead of the Premium Compact SUV segment, but with the latter growing at double-digit rates it seems likely it will become the smallest among the Premium SUV sectors in 2018, unless the new Lincoln Navigator and upcoming Cadillac Escalade can somehow bring back the era when bling dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Note: after lumping really models as disparate as the Lincoln MKX and Bentley Bentayga under the Premium Large SUV banner for a long time, we have decided to split the segment into two: Premium Large SUV and Premium Full-size SUV. The difference between the two will hopefully be self-evident, but we’re aiming for the latter segment to capture models that are ahead of the more homogenous Premium Large SUV pack either through their size (Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Lexus LX), price (Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz G-Class), or both (Bentley Bentayga). Let us know what you think of this new split.

Highlights for Q3 2017:

Mercedes-Benz GLS
  • Despite the segment shrinking gently in the third quarter of 2017 all but two models have seen their YTD sales rise relative to last year
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS remains the segment leader, widening its lead relative to the second-placed Cadillac Escalade, although once sales of the latter are tallied with those of the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV, it’s the American car that comes out on top
  • The fight is on for third place, with the Range Rover overtaking Infiniti QX80 in the third quarter, as sales of the Japanese car fall 11% in the third quarter in anticipation of the incoming facelift
  • Another car that has been losing sales in anticipation of a model change is the Lincoln Navigator, as the new generation is slated to go on sale towards the end fo the year
  • At the back Bentley Bentayga is showing signs of weakness – while its YTD growth seems impressive at 113%, the model only went on sale in the third quarter of 2016, and its Q3 sales are in fact down 27% on the previous year; the coming months will show whether this is but a blip, or signs of an early flame-out for the uber-SUV

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