The Top 10 this year has been the setting of many fascinating battles. First, there is the battle of the Large Pickups, a battle which Ford F-series remains firmly in control of despite a wobbly start to the year, with sales up 15.0% in August alone. Following the Ford are Chevrolet Silverado and Ram Pickup, with the Ram putting in some good performances earlier this year, outselling its rival for three straight months March through May and coming to within 5,000 cars in the YTD total at the end of that period, but the Chevy regaining initiative since then to widen the YTD sales gap to over 35,000 units by the end of August. August growth stats reflect this clearly: sales for the Chevy are up 3.9%, while for the Ram they are down 6.5%, the largest drop in 12 months.
The second fascinating battle is between the Compact, Mid-sized and Compact SUV cars for the title of “best of the rest” behind the Large Pickups. While traditional sedans from the first two segments have historically been the largest, the Compact SUVs segment has been growing much more quickly in the last few years, attracting families with children and becoming, in practice, the “new normal” for a family car in the US. This can be clearly seen in the stats: at this time last year, positions 4-6 in the YTD sales stats were occupied by Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, whereas this year they have been displaced by Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V. Interestingly, two of the three sedans put in a good performance in August, with sales of the Camry up by 12.7% as dealers get ready for the new 2018 model, and those of the Civic up by 11.2%, matching its growth in July and suggesting that the model’s sales may be on a bit of a rebound.
Which leads us to the final battle, that between the Compact SUVs. The year started off great for Nissan Rogue, which placed 4th in February, March and June, which allowed the model to build a nice YTD advantage over its competitors. However, the arrival of the new Honda CR-V and a push by Toyota RAV4 seem to have taken the wind out of the Nissan’s sails, and the model ranked a lowly 7th and 9th in July and August, with sales down 9.5% this month. This has allowed the resurgent RAV4 to overtake the Rogue in the YTD sales statistics this month, on the back of a great 30.4% growth in August alone, and if the Nissan’s fortunes don’t pick up soon it will be overtaken by the Honda as well, with the CR-V only 8,000 cars behind. Still, this is nothing compared to the 84.9% growth rate registered by the new Chevrolet Equinox, a performance which placed the model in the Top 10 for only the third time in its history, and second time this year.
The Top 10-50 saw the usual good performances from Jeep Grand Cherokee (sales up 28% this month, up 17% YTD), Subaru Outback (sales up 17.1% this month, up 13.4% YTD), Toyota Highlander (sales up 25.9% this month, up 23% YTD), Hyundai Tucson (sales up 48% this month, up 28% YTD), Kia Forte (sales up 28.7% this month, up 14.2% YTD), Honda HR-V (sales up 26.7% this month, up 28.4% YTD) and the new GMC Acadia (sales up 55.7% this month, up 45.4% YTD). In addition, there were some surprise good performances from Chevrolet Malibu, which despite being still very new has had a horrid year so far (sales up 35.9% this month, down -21.3% YTD), the geriatric Dodge Grand Caravan (sales up 61.8% this month, up 13.4% YTD), the aging Kia Soul (sales up 15.5% this month, down -16.4% YTD), as well as the new Subaru XV Crosstrek (sales up 45.9% this month, up 6.2% YTD) and Chevrolet Traverse (sales up 34.7% this month, down -1.7% YTD).
By comparison, bad fortunes continued for Toyota Corolla (sales down -15.4% this month, down -10.8% YTD), Nissan Altima (sales down -25.2% this month, down -15.6% YTD) and Hyundai Sonata (sales down -28.5% this month, down -30.2% YTD). However, it is the performance of the Jeep Cherokee (sales down -50.4% this month, down -26% YTD) that truly stands out, emphasizing just how the fortunes have turned for the once very-popular crossover. In addition, August was a bad month for Ford Escape (sales down -15.8%), Chevrolet Cruze (sales down -26.1%), Hyundai Elantra (sales down -35.9%), Subaru Forester (sales down -21%) and Subaru Impreza (sales down -14.7%), the latter two clearly suffering from the introduction of the new Subaru XV Crosstrek.
In the top 50-100 the best performance by a long shot came from the new Nissan Armada, whose sales growth was remarkable even given its YTD performance (sales up 766.5% this month, up 231% YTD), with good times continuing also for Buick Encore (sales up 31.5% this month, up 14.9% YTD), VW Golf (sales up 23.2% this month, up 35.9% YTD), Audi A4/A5 (sales up 40.3% this month, up 29.7% YTD) and Ram ProMaster (sales up 41.9% this month, up 25.5% YTD). A few other models registered great one-off performances: Chevrolet Impala (sales up 66.3%), the new GMC Terrain (sales up 53.5%), but in particular the Cadillac XTS (sales up 219.6%).
August marked two remarkable performances from Chevy cars: Chevrolet SS (sales up 1521.4%) and Chevrolet Caprice (sales up 757.1%). In addition, 2017 continues to be a good year for the new Nissan Titan (sales up 182.1% this month, up 274.3% YTD), the still relatively new Buick Envision (sales up 78.1% this month, up 532.6% YTD), the dinosaur GMC Savana (sales up 169.9% this month, up 60.6% YTD), the new Volvo S90 (sales up 520.1% this month, up 1098.9% YTD), Lincoln Continental (sales up 162.2% this month, up 100.2% YTD), and the new A4 Avant-based Audi Allroad (sales up 125% this month, up 78.4% YTD). In addition, two models saw a useful upturn in fortunes after months of falling sales: BMW 2-series (sales up 42.3% this month, down -33.2% YTD), and Porsche Cayman (sales up 53.7% this month, down -35.7% YTD).
The bad year continued for Jeep Patriot (sales down -77.5% this month, down -57.6% YTD), Hyundai Accent (sales down -74.6% this month, down -32.8% YTD), Chevrolet Spark (sales down -36.9% this month, down -53.5% YTD), Kia Rio (sales down -50.6% this month, down -55% YTD), Kia Sedona (sales down -68.7% this month, down -46.5% YTD), Cadillac ATS (sales down -59.1% this month, down -37.3% YTD), Chrysler 200 (sales down -77.6% this month, down -67.3% YTD), Buick Regal (sales down -57.7% this month, down -39.8% YTD), Toyota Prius C (sales down -41.5% this month, down -39.2% YTD), Toyota Prius V (sales down -38% this month, down -30.9% YTD), Hyundai Veloster (sales down -58.2% this month, down -42.9% YTD), Lexus GS (sales down -43.9% this month, down -50.6% YTD), Nissan Juke (sales down -50% this month, down -44% YTD), Jaguar XF, clearly suffering from the introduction of the F-Pace (sales down -40.2% this month, down -45.5% YTD), Hyundai Azera (sales down -41.5% this month, down -32.7% YTD), Lexus CT (sales down -75.1% this month, down -26.1% YTD), Maserati GranTurismo (sales down -70.6% this month, down -60.9% YTD) and BMW i8 (sales down -80% this month, down -67.3% YTD). There were also some unusually bad performances for Mercedes-Benz E-class (sales down -22.3% this month, up 3.9% YTD), the soon-to-be-replaced BMW X3 (sales down -37.5% this month, up 10.1% YTD), Ford Expedition (sales down -50.8% this month, down -4.8% YTD), the new Honda Ridgeline, which already seems to be running out of steam (sales down -24.1% this month, up 152.3% YTD), Chevrolet Corvette (sales down -42.9% this month, down -12.6% YTD), Cadillac XT5 (sales down -70.9% this month, down -3.3% YTD), Porsche Macan (sales down -28.8% this month, up 22.1% YTD), Chevrolet Volt (sales down -30.6% this month, down -2.8% YTD), the old-shape VW Tiguan, which continues being sold alongside the new model (sales down -69.6% this month, down -22.2% YTD), Jaguar XE (sales down -26.6% this month, up 137% YTD), as well as a bunch of luxury models clearly suffering from the introduction of the new Porsche Panamera: Cadillac CT6 (sales down -31.1% this month, up 76.5% YTD), Mercedes-Benz S-class (sales down -66.6% this month, down -19.7% YTD), and BMW 7-series (sales down -55.3% this month, down -30% YTD)
Only one new nameplate made its debut in August: Range Rover Velar, which did really well to grab over 400 sales and rank 223rd. August also marked a really good month for the new VW models: Atlas, which achieved its best ranking yet in 119th with just over 2,800 sales, and Tiguan L, which ranked 129th with just over 2,500 sales. In addition, Chevrolet Bolt cracked 2,000 units for the first time as the model is now available to buy in all US states, while sales continue rising rather slowly for Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Tesla Model 3.
Things seem to have stabilized for other recent newcomers Kia Niro and Toyota C-HR, with sales just under 3,000 units per month, which is good but not remarkable for both models. The automakers that have more to worry are Hyundai, whose Ioniq is struggling to sell much more than 1,000 units per month, and Alfa Romeo, whose Giulia saw its sales fall below 1,000, clearly suffering cannibalization from its Stelvio sister.
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