US sales 2017 Q3: Premium Large SUV segment

Segment recovers as some of the newcomers see good sales growth

US Large Premium SUV
Sales of Premium Large SUVs were up 5% in the third quarter of 2017, a slightly recovery from the gently 2% sales decline over the first two quarters of the year. With a total of 366,324 units this still makes this the largest from amongst the Premium SUV segments, but the lead it has to the Premium Mid-sized SUV segment continues to shrink.

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:

Land Rover Discovery
  • The undisputed segment leader Lexus RX recovered after two quarters of falling sales with sales growth of 9% in the third quarter, putting its YTD growth at 1%
  • In fact, the Top 5 all saw their sales rise or fall by no more than 5% since the beginning of the year, which is remarkable seeing that the group includes the about-to-be-replaced Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5
  • Close on the heels of the Top 5 is the new Audi Q7, which saw a very healthy 41% sales rise in the third quarter, allowing it to outsell the BMW X5 for the first time ever
  • By contrast the much-vaunted Volvo XC90, Audi Q7’s contemporary, is still unable to recover from its 42% sales decline in the first half of the year – the modest 2% sales growth in the third quarter is unable to bring the model anywhere close to being in the black
  • Other models that did not do that great in the third quarter are the Range Rover Sport (down 16% in Q3’17), clearly suffering from the introduction of its sexy new Velar sister, and Porsche Cayenne (down 24% in Q3’17), whose sales are down in anticipation of the new model
  • By comparison, Tesla Model X continued gaining sales in the third quarter (albeit at a slower 9% pace), while the new Maserati Levante outsold the BMW X6 and almost outsold the Infiniti QX70
  • Finally, the new Land Rover Discovery is beginning to find its feet, and while its sales in the third quarter were still 14% lower than in Q3’16, this is a huge improvement over the over two-thirds collapse in sales the model saw in the first two quarters. It will be interesting how far the model can climb in the final quarter of the year

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

  1. I agree with the spli, but I think you should create a new segment, Off-Road for Mercedes G class, Nissan Patrol, Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler.


    1. @Claudio – I think this is an interesting suggestion, though unfortunately the line is very blurry between what is a “genuine off-roader” and what is a more road-oriented 4×4. For example, the Wrangler is a clear off-roader, but the G-class is mostly bought to live in city centers despite its off-roading roots, while both the Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol, in their latest iteration, are pretty road-biased, not to mention have luxury twins in the Lexus LX and Infiniti QX80. But I think your suggestion could easily be reflected in the commentary I write, as I can compare the models there

      1. Dear Krzysztof first of all thank you for your comments, actually if you consider my country Brazil even Wrangler and also pick-ups are mostly bought to use in city centers. That’s understandable considering the awful conditions of our streets so my idea with that split would be in line with your own decision to not compare apples with oranges let’s say, besides this considering that SUV’s and Crossovers are becoming the dominant type of vehicles all over the world, that broader segmentation will be soon necessary I think. Cheers!

    2. You seem to be getting at the distinction between body-on-frame SUVs, and Crossovers. While it may academically precise to separate the two classes of vehicles, the average consumer is unaware of the distinction; people buy these things for the badge on the grille.

      1. Dear 9exponent, you’re absolutely right. I’m getting at the distinction between body-on-frame SUVs and unibody SUVs (or Crossovers) not taking into consideration the average consumer. I’m aware of the their lack of distinction but as I said above to Krzysztof, I believe this broader segmentation is necessary considering that SUVs and Crossovers are becoming the dominant type of vehicles in every part of the world. Cheers!

  2. Claudio, I’m curious if you think it would be worthwhile to break out station wagons from sedans and lump them in with crossovers.

    1. Dear 9exponent, despite being in favor of broadening as much as possible the segmentation of the SUV’s and Crossovers’s market, I think that separating station wagons from sedans it’s not a good idea because usually stations are just variants of a model, some markets like the italian one still appreciate such variant but when you take the global sales in Europe stations are just a small fraction of compact or midsized cars sales, I think that a good idea for the site would be comparing for example sales of subcompact cars X subcompact SUV’s/Crossovers and so on. cheers!

      1. Wagons contribute only a handful of sales to the US market as well. If they’re such an insignificant portion of many markets, does it really matter to anyone, other than pendants such as you and I, where we put them?

        But the way I see it, wagons are usually more distinct from sedans than crossovers. A slight lift and some body cladding is a lot less significant than an alteration to the trunk and greenhouse of the car (not to mention the possible difference in rear overhang, doors, and body panels).

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