Led by the Subaru XV Crosstrek and Jeep Renegade, U.S. sales of subcompact crossovers jumped 104 percent to nearly 43,000 units in August 2015, a year-over-year gain of 22,000 sales. August marked the second consecutive month in which segment-wide sales more than doubled.
The addition of new candidates certainly provides a massive boost to the nascent category, but most established players produced gains last month, as well. The subcompact CUVs which were on sale a year ago combined for a 7-percent increase in August and a 7-percent increase through the first eight months of 2015.
But five new competitors, including three of the segment’s five top sellers in August, produced 48 percent of all subcompact crossover sales in the United States last month.
At Jeep, the Renegade recorded its best month yet. With 8,156 August sales, Jeep has now reported 28,907 Renegade sales over the course of the model’s first six months. Renegade volume has increased each and every month, rising 30 percent in July and then 29 percent in August, month-to-month.
August was the Chevrolet Trax’s ninth month of availability in America. (The Trax went on sale in Canada just after Christmas 2012.) Trax sales reached the highest level yet in July and slipped by only 126 units to 5,985 in August.
Limited availability has curtailed the volume achieved by the Honda HR-V, which posted its lowest-volume month yet in August. Honda sold nearly 6,400 HR-Vs in May, another 7,760 in the best month of June, just under 6,000 in July before dipping to 4,567 sales in August. The still-fresh Fit subcompact car on which the HR-V is based was up 68 percent through the first four months of 2015, but since the HR-V debuted, Fit sales are down 0.6 percent, including a 52-percent plunge to only 2,901 units in August.
The Fit isn’t the only subcompact, or compact for that matter, suffering as subcompact utility vehicles become more commonplace. While you may follow Bark M in a pursuit for your own Ford Fiesta ST, overall Fiesta volume is down 3 percent this year, a disappointing follow-up to the Fiesta’s 8-percent decline at this stage last year. But the Fiesta’s decline isn’t nearly as dreadful as the subcompact slide at Chevrolet, where the Trax has joined the Sonic on which it’s based. Sonic volume is down 33 percent this year. Subcompact cars, as a whole, are down 9 percent, a far worse slide than the overall passenger car sector is enduring.
Meanwhile, the aging Fiat 500 tumbled 19 percent through the first eight months of 2015. In August, Fiat lost 1,275 500 sales while adding 1,029 copies of the 500X.
Mazda USA finally began delivering its first CX-3s last month. Although only 698 were sold in August, the CX-3 is expected to produce greater volume than the subcompact 2 ever did in the U.S. Mazda won’t bother bringing the new 2, from which this CX-3 is derived, to the United States. (You can buy the new 2 in sedan form as the Scion iA.) North of the border, the CX-3 has quickly become the segment’s number two player, trailing only the HR-V. Mazda, however, is a far bigger player in Canada than in the U.S.
The now five-year-old Juke appears to be the contender that’s faring worst now that so many new alternatives attempt to steal the show. After consistently selling more than 35,000 Jukes per year between 2011 and 2014, Nissan is on track to sell fewer than 30,000 Jukes in 2015. Year-over-year, Juke volume levelled off in August 2015, but the smallest Nissan crossover was down 43 percent compared with August 2013.
Similarly, Mini’s Countryman, which arrived on U.S. shores in late 2010, is diving quickly in 2015. Sales are down 29 percent this year as the Countryman must also face off against another four-door in Mini showrooms, a car which didn’t exist a year ago.
Lacking an all-wheel-drive option, we left the Kia Soul out of this equation, but it’s worth noting that the boxy Kia just posted its best month of U.S. sales in the nameplate’s history. 17,108 Souls were sold in August 2015, topping all of the vehicles in this post. Maybe all-wheel-drive isn’t quite as vital as we thought…