By on February 16, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4

Canadians purchased and leased nearly 43,000 SUVs and crossovers in January 2016. At the same time, fewer than 34,000 passenger cars made their ways to Canadian driveways.

This wasn’t an anomaly. Canadians also registered more utility vehicles than cars in January 2015, and over the course of 2015, only 2 percent more cars were sold than utilities, a margin of only 14,000 sales.

No, it wasn’t an anomaly, but the gap in demand was exceptional. For every passenger car acquired by a consumer, business, fleet, or governmental agency, the industry also recorded 1.3 SUV/crossover sales.

How soon before the U.S. auto industry makes the same claim? In January, as car volume plunged 9 percent and utility vehicle sales jumped 6 percent — despite an abbreviated sales month and an overall volume decrease — cars outsold utilities by just 1.1-to-1. That’s down from a 1.25-to-1 gap a year ago.

In other words, it’s about to happen.

CORRELATIONS
The rise of utility vehicles in Canada serves to befuddle observers who were previously under the impression that the market bore more resemblance to Europe’s than America’s. But for a far greater example of North American similarities, consider pickups: As a percentage of the market, pickup trucks are a far greater force north of the border, earning 22.7 percent market share during a particularly strong January, fully eight percentage points greater than pickup truck market share in America. Furthermore, full-size pickups generate measurably more truck market share in Canada than in the United States.

Canada’s historic small vehicle tendencies are seen in the SUV/CUV sector, however. Full-size body-on-frame SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition produce less than 2 percent of the Canadian utility vehicle market, compared with 5 percent in the U.S.

2016 Honda HR-V

Meanwhile, the new breed of subcompact crossovers owned nearly one full percentage point of additional market share in Canada than in the U.S. last year. U.S. sales of the supply-constrained Honda HR-V, for instance, weren’t even five times stronger than those on the Canadian side of the border. In contrast, the U.S. auto industry is nine times the size of Canada’s.

Yet the list of best sellers is largely filled by the same players: Escape, CR-V, RAV4, Rogue — five crossovers which earned more than a fifth of Canada’s utility vehicle sales in January; just under a fifth of the American utility vehicle sector’s sales.

DEFINITIONS
Vehicles such as the aforementioned HR-V, the low-slung Mazda CX-3, the obviously Impreza-on-stilts Subaru Crosstrek, and the upcoming tall wagon Kia Niro hybrid apply great strain to the border control agents who wish to define utility vehicles as ladder-framed, off-roadable ess-you-vees with low range levers and knobby tires.

Based on the results produced by the Canadian auto industry last month, even excluding a large number of least-like-an-SUV candidates wouldn’t have dramatically altered the results. Even after switching the ten-member subcompact crossover category into the car grouping, utility vehicles would still have outsold cars. Throw the Subaru Outback and Toyota Venza back to the car sector and SUVs/CUVs would still have outsold cars.

2013 Jeep Wrangler

The application of more rigid definitions won’t alter the trend line. And it’s likely time we accepted that just as a multitude of different vehicle types fall under the “car” banner – from the Mazda MX-5 Miata to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class – so too shall the SUV/crossover zone include a number of regions. There’ll be two-door convertibles akin to the Range Rover Evoque, front-wheel-drivers like the Fiat 500X, Rubicon-worthy Jeep Wranglers, the track-worthy BMW X6M rivals, and traditional family wagons which now operate not as the Ford Country Squire or Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad but as the Ford Flex and Chevrolet Traverse.

MAIN MOTIVATORS
If, or rather when, SUVs and crossovers overtake passenger cars in the United States, vehicles from all of those categories will be key factors behind the surge. In 2015, nameplates as disparate as the Chevrolet Trax, Lexus NX, Nissan Rogue, and Volvo XC90 added 200,000 sales to the SUV category’s ledger. (The Honda Accord, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Chevrolet Impala brought car volume down by 120,000 sales.)

2015 calendar year sales in the Honda CR-V’s small SUV segment increased 13 percent, subcompact crossover volume nearly doubled, America’s six best-selling three-row utility vehicles jumped 15 percent, and premium auto brands reported a 21-percent increase in utility vehicle sales.

Over the first half of 2015, SUV and crossover sales were expanding rapidly with average monthly market share of better than 35 percent. Since Independence Day, the average monthly market share for the sector shot up to 38 percent.

Ford Ecosport Brazil Picture courtesy cosasdeautos.com.ar

OUTCOMES
As the Dodge Dart was launching, Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne told 60 Minutes, “If you’re a serious carmaker and you can’t make it in this segment, you’re doomed.” Fast forward to early 2016 and we now know that FCA doesn’t want to develop a new compact car, is overrun with 200 inventory, and relies on Jeep for the bulk of the automaker’s growth.

Laugh at FCA for believing low fuel prices are a permanent fixture if you must, but healthy SUV and crossover volume is the prevailing certainty. “New technology has allowed small crossovers to get real world fuel economy that is on par with midsize sedans,” AutoPacific’s Dave Sullivan says. “The difference is not enough that people’s checking accounts would notice.”

The move away from larger utility vehicles, if there is such a move, won’t be back to sedans. “Fuel prices eventually will go up, but if it happens to that extent, we think people will shift to smaller SUVs, not away from SUVs completely,” Ford’s Mark LeNeve said in Chicago last week. Ford plans to offer plug four more holes with SUVs by 2020, and we expect at least one to be an efficient subcompact crossover, perhaps a next-gen EcoSport.

Automakers anticipating changes in demand may, using the Honda example again, make it difficult for buyers to locate the ideal Fit, a car that slid 47 percent in January, as they ramp up HR-V availability. Similarly, Hyundai will reduce Elantra and Sonata production levels as Santa Fe Sport availability increases. In addition to – and in advance of – changing tastes, these factors may cause the month in which Americans buy more SUVs and crossovers than cars to arrive sooner than we think.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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93 Comments on “SUVs And Crossovers Will Outsell Cars In America, But When?...”


  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    The subcompact SUV is replacing the compact car, and the compact SUV is replacing the midsize car. It’s been coming for a while, but now we’re hitting the tipping point, enabled by crossover vehicles with nearly sedan-like fuel economy. Pretty soon compacts and midsizers will be rental fodder (actually, my last rental was a Soul).

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Already have in Australia and the same in New Zealand

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      To me it seems the natural progression and evolution of all things automotive in America.

      When I scoot around in my 1989 Camry, I feel like I’m out of place and out of sync with the American automotive world of today, where most vehicles around me are taller, thus blocking my view.

      When I watch people getting in and out of their vehicles, most all I see is buttage through my Camry windshield.

      Who knew, for instance, that in America the demise of the large four-door sedan of old meant the full-size four-door pickup truck would become the replacement?

      Obviously someone knew because that is exactly why we have full-size four door pickups to satisfy our lusts, wants and needs.

      • 0 avatar
        Reino

        But we’re not talking about pickup trucks, we’re talking about crossovers. As npaladin2000 pointed out, people are moving down in size from sedan to crossover. This is because it costs more money to stay at the same size class in a crossover. So why are people buying these? Why are consumers sacrificingg space (or paying more money for the same space) just for an extra ten inches of ride height?

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Because apparently that few inches of extra ride height is worth it to some people.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            With how bad the roads are in some places, yes, of course it’s worth it. 10″ is exaggerating it, though.

            What mid-size sedan has larger interior volume than any compact CUV?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          It’s not really “moving down” in size. The better-packaged compact crossovers (RAV4, CR-V, Forester) are just as roomy as the midsize sedans in every meaningful respect. It’s just “moving down” in base platform, which tends to sacrifice a bit of refinement.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Reino, I see a parallel between buyers moving from “large four-door sedans to full-size four door pickup trucks” and buyers moving from mid and compact sedans to CUVs and SUVs.

          I also believe that ride height matters in CUVs and SUVs since it provides a commanding view of the road and traffic.

          The midsize CUVs and SUVs of today are as roomy as many full-size sedans of yesteryear, with less bulk.

          But ultimately, a buyer will choose what works for them.

          I’m of the generation of “the bigger the better” so I opted for a full-size half ton truck (Tundra) and a full-size SUV (Sequoia) as our vehicles of choice du jour.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Where is this “commanding view” from something like a RAV4? You still can’t see past the ubiquitous pickups and bigger SUVs. My Range Rover has a “commanding view”, a RAV4 might as well be a regular car. Accords and Camrys are a LOT taller now than they were in 1989 too.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Most Canadians live withing 100 km of the USA. All of the larger cities are within that 100 km strip of land. That urban density explains a fondness for smaller vehicles but due to our climate it would favour SUV’s and CUV’s because of the increased availability of AWD or 4×4. Ground clearance is also an advantage.
    The greater propensity for pickups I suspect is partially weather based and the fact that most urbanites have to travel out of the big cities a significant distance to find any decent outdoor activities. Rurally and in smaller towns pickups are the default mode of transportation.

    Anecdotal but a friend of mine has a son who works IT in Calgary. He drove around in a “sensible” car. He was told that it did not fit the image of the oil company he worked for and it was suggested he get a pickup if he wanted to move up the ranks. He got the pickup and was promoted to a VP type position.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Reasons why we like simlar vehicles here, urban density and the ability to go Off Road, but Off Road is much larger factor than in Canada. Pickup Trucks are smaller here, as they are used a lot Off Road, unlike in the US where only 10% of the population goes Off Road

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Canadians aren’t as avid about off-roading. We use our “off-road” abilities trying to stay on the road during blizzards.

        Throw-in the last 10 miles of ungraded, unpaved road on the way to the cottage, and hunting season (which is celebrated religiously in most of the country), and we have no need for recreational off-roading. Who’s got the time anyway? We’ve got to get the kids to hockey practice, and the forecast calls for 50cm of snow.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @heavy handle – I agree.

          In my town there is a hardcore group of “off-roaders” who go out of their way to find the worst trails. Those guys tend to be the “play’ off-road types who go into the back country just for the 4-wheeling.

          The rest of us tend to have a purpose other than trying to get stuck. Hunting, fishing, hiking, dirt-bikes, quads etc. all require a haul vehicle. Pulling a trailer down a rough logging road sucks. I’ve been to lakes that take me 3-4 hours to get to just because the roads are too rough. Add a trailer and you will consume a few more hours getting there.

          Since most of the province is covered in forest one is confined to industrial roads or what used to be industrial roads. IIRC there are over 60,000 km of forest service roads in BC and around 24,000 km of paved roads.

          Many see off-roading as a specific sport but for me it is a fact of life just as much as it is a way of life.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            In Australia, Off Roading finds you. You cannot avoid it, if you want to travel in Country Australia. Outback Australia, even more extreme, with very few roads

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Robert Ryan – You can’t avoid off-roading, going to the mall? 85% of Aussies live withing 30 miles of the ocean, in urban towns and cities. You don’t even own a 4wd. Your Skoda has an open front diff.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Alberta is the anomaly there. Growing up in Winnipeg, the border was an hour away, Grand Forks 2 hours, Fargo 3 hours, Minneapolis 6 hours. We took advantage of this a lot. Especially the Pembina Parcel Service, which was a great way to have stuff shipped when they specified US shipping only. Now in Calgary 1+ million people, unless its to ski or camp, Montana is a good 3 hours away and there are no large cities of note anywhere near the border that provide any services not available locally. Edmonton, another million plus, is 6 hours to the border. I agree though that the majority of Canada’s other urban centers are pretty close to the border.

      Your story about your friend’s son makes me sad. It also makes me glad that I’m not in the oil industry directly. Most of the people I deal with professionally are happy enough if your car is reliable enough to get where you need to go in a timely manner. Image beyond that doesn’t matter.

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        The Alberta market is different. When I’m in Vancouver or Toronto, I wonder where all the truck went. I’m in Edmonton and drive a full-size sedan. At most stop lights I’m completely surrounded by trucks (many lifted) and can’t see a damn thing. The CUV around here seems to be the second, or ‘wife’s’ car. At a suburban grocery store parking lot you will see 10-20-25 CUVs in a row. And, my Volvo 850 wagon looks like a compact next to a Honda CRV.

  • avatar

    Crossovers make all the sense in the world.
    Especially 4×4 models.

    Substituting length for height.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      In an unbridled “everyone-slower-than-me-is-a-slowpoke-holding-up-traffic, and everyone-faster-than-me-is-a-reckless-danger” lynchmobocracy, speed enforcement will certainly render the dynamic negatives of driving around in flagpoles with a lead bulb at the top, moot. Leading the trend towards UPS Van dynamics to become self reinforcing.

      All it would take to reverse the trend, is something as sensible as German speed limits on freeways, safe-and-prudent on surface streets, but fat chance of that happening.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “German speed limits on freeways, safe-and-prudent on surface streets, but fat chance of that happening.”

        Americans tend to resent having limitations put on them and 55mph or 62mph speed limits don’t make sense in the wide-open spaces of America.

        But limitations are a great tool for “mining the highways and byways” to raise money for the court system and the law-enforcement collection arm.

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          Highdesertcat, you are correct on income from speeding. Utah just passed a law stating a town cannot get more that 25% of its income from traffic violations. This was due to a very small town north of Salt Lake City, Mantua. The town of Mantua raised over 42% of its income from traffic violations.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            VW16v, maybe they’ll lead by example for the rest of the nation. Thanks.

            My #2 son was a CHiP for 12 years before moving up to bigger and better things in Federal Civil Service at the MCRD in San Diego, CA.

            He was disgusted by the pressure for “stricter” law enforcement and the daily quota system.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Maine is smart about this – not a penny from tickets goes to the locals. It all goes to the state. And no automated enforcement period. No incentive for unreasonable enforcement. Even the Staties are pretty reasonable, though they did have a nice speed trap setup on Monday to catch the 3-day weekenders heading south. But even then, I doubt anyone doing less than 75 in the 60 zone had anything to worry about – too many Massholes doing 80+.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @stuki – Montana did “reasonable and prudent”. They ended up setting speed limits because some idiot in a POS got busted for driving beyond what is “reasonable and prudent’ and argued himself out of a ticket but lost the privilege for everyone else.

        33% of drivers should not have a driver’s licence. For them, they are clueless as to what is safe.

        Unfortunately laws are set to the lowest common denominator.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          I have been told, by a one time Montana judge no less, that Montana buckled from “reasonable and prudent,” due to pressure from the feds regarding highway funding. What you mention may have been a trigger, though.

          Regardless, even if there ever was some excuse for enforcement more rigid than “reasonable and prudent,” it surely is no more, in this age of pervasive, dirt cheap video allowing cops to clearly demonstrate violations to a jury.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        The dynamic negatives of CUVs are overrated. They can handle very well if they’re designed to. Most aren’t, but then most cars aren’t either.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/trackday-diaries-in-which-our-author-falls-in-love-with-a-cute-ute/

        My buddy’s 6-speed CX-5 is plenty of fun on the on-ramps and gets better fuel economy than the ’92 Camry it replaced. Unlike modern cars, you also don’t have to worry about destroying wheels, tires, and suspensions on pot-holes when you’re taking fast corners. It’s nice to be able to keep your eyes up instead of focusing on the cratered road twenty feet ahead of you. Also nice to be have some visibility while surrounded by pickup trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Anything Mazda is fun to drive. Zoom zoom is taken seriously during the R&D process.

        • 0 avatar
          cls12vg30

          This is similar to my experience with my 6-speed turbo Renegade. It can take on-ramps at nearly the same speeds as my previous car, a 2005 Sentra Spec V with KYB’s all around. It gets significantly better mileage than the 2.5-liter Sentra as well, and low-speed maneuverability is superior, largely due to the Renegade being nearly a foot shorter.

          It helps that the Koni selective-damping struts and even the electric power steering are very well-executed on the Renegade.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Try S turns on off camber roads, before you get too excited about their handling…. Steady state they’ll take a set and behave fine. But if you throw more complex problems at them, they loose their cool way before even supposedly less sporty lower, longer cars.

            They also get uncomfortably imprecise at higher speeds. While it is quite possible a good Hans “don’t lift” Stuck impersonator can simply drive through it without incident, it is not a comfortable feeling to endure on a long road trip.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          My complaint is that for a given level of handling prowess, a taller heavier vehicle HAS to ride worse. Sure, every CUV sold today is at least as competent a handler as the average sedan, but they ALL ride worse too. And they use more gas to boot. And there is no law that says you have to use fashion victim tire and wheel sizes on cars. They are easily replaceable, and the upper trim CUVs all have rubber band tires too.

          It’s the same problem I have with AWD in general. AWD and/or the added height is nice to have about 5% of the time, but you pay for it 100% of the time. And IMHO, you don’t get ENOUGH added capability with something like this to bother with. The difference in capability between my RWD BMW wagon and my roommate’s RAV4 in bad weather is a lot smaller than the difference between the RAV4 and my Range Rover. Go big or don’t bother.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      BTR,
      So, you are a tall person.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    As soon as Ford gets all those new SUV/CUV out there in the world, sedans will be buried by the deluge.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I think so. Fusion and Focus will survive, mostly because the engineering is justified by European and other non-US markets. But the Taurus and Fiesta are not worth investing in for the US. Especially when the price tags on SUV/CUVs are $5K higher.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The guy on the left wrestling with that tire will spend the rest of his life on painkillers, if he’s not already. Those ergonomics are horrible.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The comment that Canada would resemble the EU more than the US is quite funny.

    First up, has Tim been to the EU lately or on a continuing basis over the past decade?

    CUVs are becoming ever more popular there as well, except they are midget in size.

    Many of those little vans are also made as passenger vehicles, which make them more CUV than van.

    I think if we look at how and what has occurred with the increasing adaptation of utility vs passenger vehicle historically not much has changed.

    Even in the days of horse and carts, I’d bet carts outsold buggies. Why? Because carts were more versatile. A horse and saddle was the sports car of the era.

    People want versatility from their vehicles. CUVs, SUVs, vans and pickups can offer this.

    If you add pickups this list, because most don’t ever really work (75%) you will find that cars really don’t rate. Then if you add hatchbacks/wagons, which in a way are a partial utility of a car the total even become more biased towards “utility” style vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      You’re misreading. I didn’t say there were more historical similarities between the Canadian and European market than the Canadian and U.S. markets. I expained that the notion that says, “Because Canadians are far more likely to buy Civics than Accords and Corollas than Camrys, Canadians must therefore be small-car-focussed car buyers just like the Europeans,” doesn’t fit across the auto spectrum. Canadians buy more pickup trucks (from a market share perspective) than even the Americans. And a greater percentage of those trucks are full-size. Canadians under the belief that Americans are far happier to buy SUVs/crossovers because vehicles and fuel are less costly in the U.S. may be surprised that Canadians, in fact, are the ones that buy more SUVs/crossovers than cars, not the Americans.

      On the flip side, there remain stark differences, most visible in terms of full-size, BOF, truck-based SUV volume, which remains relatively strong in the U.S., is growing but remains low in Canada, and isn’t measurable in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        They introduced the Surburban in the late 1990’s here. It met with almost total indifference. Off Road SUV’s very different story

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          RR,

          How did they market it?
          The name should be the first clue that’s it’s not meant for unpaved roads.

          That and a thousand TV series/movies where they get driven by FBI agents, and inevitably blown-up in act 3.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @heavy handle,
            Almost nonexistent publicity. Road tests by magazines were pretty universally negative. Very bad build quality, cannot go Off Road., poor road holding Positives : Can fit a lot of people in one.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @heavy handle – I always assumed that it would be a given that a 20 ft long 3 ton vehicle would be less than stellar off-road.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Most here thought it would be LandCruiser size. Impressed initially by the size, but not the lack of dynamics ,build, quality and surprisingly mediocre towing.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            RR,

            Did GM send over RHD or LHD models? Diesel or petrol? 1500 or 2500?

            GM’s HD diesel motors (Duramax) are world-class. I can’t imagine that Aussies would complain about those, especially after the local importer explained that they are actually Isuzu (which is only partly true).

            I find it hard to believe that they failed because Australians didn’t realize what they are. They are designed specifically for towing horse trailers and for looking badass in action movies. My guess is that GM just messed-up their marketing.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @heavy handle
            Not surprising, they did not have a clue.have you seen a Isuzu CabOver Semi Truck? Or a Scania? No.
            The engine was the 5.7 Petrol engine, other aspects of the Suburban killed it
            Suburban was RHD

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @heavy handle
            Isuzu does all the updates at it’s jointly owned facility in the US. GM does everything else
            Towing horse trailers is done by a heap of vehicles here ” badass” , more big than anything else

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          RobertRyan,
          The Suburban was way overpriced for the quality of the product. Back in “them days” a V8 was only good for 180-220kw, so power wasn’t that good.

          Even back then a Japanese full size SUV was far superior in qaulity, reliability and off road’ability.

          The vehicles were also too large for many and drove and rode like trucks according to reviews. Which is a big call considering the Patrols and Landcruisers back then were agricultural.

          I do believe a Tahoe would be more acceptable nowadays.

          Imagine a Tahoe with the input of HSV? A supercharge 6.2 with proper suspension modification to make it a better off roader. The only killer for a Tahoe is it’s width. US full size vehicle are just to large to be great off roaders.

          We could export them back to the US (joking).

          People rant and rave regarding the Raptor, but again it’s only good driving around cactus in the Baja. Quite restrictive.

          If Ford really want to produce a great off roader I would use the Ranger or even the Everest and Raptorise it.

          Have a base model with the 2.7 EcoThirst and have the premium with a 3.2 diesel. Let one of the German Transit racing teams lose on the diesel and crank it up a bit. Just a 3″ exhaust will give you another 20-25% with the 3.2.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            You act like the Outback is all tight canyon walls/rocks, nothing but a midsize can squeeze through. And yet we’re still waiting for the video you shot of yourselves. Still can’t figure out uploading?? Hmmm… Some kind of rocket scientist you claim to be.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Tim,
        I do apologise. I did read it as a direct comparison of the Canadian market being more EU than the US.

        The Canadian market in many ways is similar to ours.

        Utes/Pickups here a ruling. People just are moving away from the large and medium family sedans. This trend has accelerated since 2004 and increased markedly with the arrival of the new generation midsize pickups back in 2010 with the Amarok.

        We don’t receive full size US SUVs/pickups. We just don’t have the population to warrant the manufacturers to develop RHD variants.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I feel like I’m finally justified in my lifelong belief that vehicles without trunks are better than vehicles with trunks.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Stilt wagons replacing sedans as kid haulers, will certainly help the sale of Dramamine.

    The chase after sedan’ish fuel economy is CUVs, often lead them to have no better than sedan clearance between the wheels and fenders. Rendering them no better suited for snow than the sedans that came before them. Subies do go against that trend a bit, but even they seem to be moving away from having enough wheel/fender space to reliably clear Hokkaido snow.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I don’t understand the Dramamine remark.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Wagons, CUVs and SUVs tend to be wallowy. Dramamine counters motion sickness.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Wallowy? That’s news to me. Maybe I don’t know what wallowy is, then. None of the myriad CUVs in which I’ve been a passenger or driver could ever be described as wallowy.

          The last vehicle I actually got sick in was grandma’s LeSabre with the exhaust leak, about 12 years ago. For me, motion sickness is a function of the smell of the vehicle and the ability to see in the direction of travel.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            The 2013 Suburban my father-in-law drove when he still lived in America, suffered from pitch, yaw and roll.

            Our 2015 Sequoia also does to a certain extent but it is not nearly as pronounced as it was with that Suburban.

            The only CUV/SUV we owned that did not suffer from it was our 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit but that was because it had that special suspension that adjusted itself to road conditions many times per second.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      I think you are utterly wrong here. My daughter suffers from car sickness to the point that we keep target bags behind the front seat for her. She was usually fine in my wife’s RX350 but couldn’t really take my 3 series. Now that I have a CUV (Mazda CX-5, which handles fine by the way) she is fine in it too. It’s all about forward visibility, not sitting too low. I’ll add that for a driver, on long trips, seat height is hugely important to comfort. The more chair like the better. Ask any long haul truck driver.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        My experience including the low, low visibility Panamera, an S63 AMG and a Range Rover, is diametrically opposite. The Rover has so much yaw from it’s 2nd story seat height, that simply driving straight down a road with intermittent one-side-only bumps, would turn a little girl green. Repeatably, too. Without fail. Road trips anywhere, was an exercise in stopping for air and relief. While the complete lack of either pitch nor roll in the Pan, seemed to completely resolve the issue.

        The S63 owner seemed incapable of driving in a manner calm enough to prevent anyone from getting sick, so I’ll leave that one out. But it didn’t roll like crazy simply going down a straight road, regardless of bumps. I’m wondering if you also drove the 3 series in a more “dynamic” fashion than the Lex…. Even the Pan would undoubtedly be problematic if driven to it’s limit with kids in he back. I have chauffeured kids in 4Runners and Land Cruisers as well, and those are also very drammaminey.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    “Yet the list of best sellers is largely filled by the same players: Escape, CR-V, RAV4, Rogue — five crossovers which earned more than a fifth of Canada’s utility vehicle sales in January.” What was the fifth one?

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    A guy at work is a local volunteer firefighter. He just said that 80% of the pranged vehicles from last night’s snow and ice storm were SUVs. I guess there is nothing inherently wrong with SUVs beyond their high CG, crappy mileage, and miserable handling. SUV drivers must be the problem

    – long live brown manual trans wagons

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You’re confusing CUVs with SUVs again. The average driver couldn’t care less about CoG or “handling,” and a CUV has much better mileage than the SUV it replaced. Most CUV buyers were those that bought BOF SUVs in the ’90s and ’00s and want something similarly tall.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        Yes, CUVs are not SUVs. Some handle better than others, as with cars. But I’d suggest that the average CUV of today handles no worse than the average family sedan of 10-15 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      It could well be the overconfidence of SUV drivers and rarity of snow tires, rather than their inherent features. I agree that higher CG is an issue in snow, but that is correlated with higher ground clearance, which is advantageous.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Vogo – Agreed. People tend to drive too fast with 4 wheel drive. They equate the extra traction to accelerate transfers to the ability to stop or turn. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve argued with people over that exact point.
        If you had a standard sedan you’d stay home because you know you would get stuck. Add some ground clearance and an extra drive wheel and people think they are superman.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        I’ll suspect “rarity of snow tires”, as well. It’s frightening how many SUV drivers reason that available 4wd/awd mean they don’t “need” snow tires.

        Aside from that, the high COG and “clumsier” suspensions and often drivelines of SUVs (and to a lesser extent CUVs), do hamper snow handling. By making the instantaneous weight on each wheel more variable, than on lower COG vehicles with lighter weight IFS/IRS suspensions. In slippery conditions, once a wheel looses traction, it has a much harder time regaining it, than if it never lost it in the first place. So, maintaining constant weight distribution at each corner becomes a design goal for snow specific cars. Subie claims that is a big reason for them retaining their flat engines, mounted low.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          stuki – statistically single vehicle roll overs are almost always 4×4 SUV’s. It doesn’t appear to be as big a problem now since the car companies tend to make them all a bit lower and wider that the “good ol’ days”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m looking forward to the Kia Niro – finally someone has come out with a high-mpg CUV. Two – and possibly three – available drivetrains makes the choice difficult.

    Perhaps as a late baby boomer I fit the demographic that is tired of low sedans. But I don’t really want a 20/30 mpg CUV, hence my interest in the Niro.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Rav4 hybrid comes out this year too. Unfortunately, there won’t be an Escape hybrid until at least the 2019 model.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Is the Niro truly a CUV, or is it a hatchback that is called a CUV? I did not see mention of ground clearance or AWD…

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Ford had a good thing going with the first-gen Escape hybrid. Too bad they let it go; victim of recession penny-scraping?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Sort of. The two major reasons are Ecoboost and C-Max. Ford thought that some Escape Hybrid buyers would move into a C-Max. They thought the others would buy the Escape 1.6T. Therefore, the additional expense of an Escape Hybrid, for <12K units a year wasn't worth it. Add the fact that Wayne was retooled with ATVM (Dept of Energy) green loans and the Escape Hybrid wasn't a priority any longer.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    This increase in SUV sales has made it a great time to purchase that sedan. Local Toyota dealers are selling Camry XLE’s for $23k. That is pretty much a loaded Camry, duel climate, leather.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Being an enthusiast site, I think I can safely say, the physical distortions required to get into a car, (a boring car no less) far outweigh the price when options exist that better match the human body design. Low and sleek was interesting when there was cool stuff under the hood. Fat bulbacious, and hard to live with just isn’t interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Man, the world’s gone geezer! I have long suspected CUVs have taken off, as baby boomers are getting arthritic, and CUVs’ seat height are about as close as one can currently get to the sorely missed BOF Panthers.

        Proper Lotuses are a bit of a pain to get into and out of. But Camries? Come on! But you are perhaps unusually tall, given you find Hummers easier in that respect, than sedans built for regular sized people?

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          It’s not that they’re really a pain to stoop down into, it’s more that nobody likes repeatedly hitting their head on the A-pillar every time the enter, or bumping their head on the ceiling when sitting in the back. Is it too much to ask for a sedan in which an adult can sit without having to take off his hat?

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I’m 6’2″, but the only Hummer I really have to go up to get into is the H2, but it’s not very far for me.

          I was trying to get into a Camaro recently, I’m relatively young to be feeling what I felt getting into that car, it’s easier for me to just sit on the ground and roll in than try to do that standing up. Think back to pre 1950s, cars sit higher up, then we had a race to get lower, sleeker, faster. I just don’t see any reason to continue that design for the typical person, it doesn’t help my feelings that the only car that interest me (SS sedan) is nearing the end of its production. Low and sleek are acceptable when there’s V8+ under the hood, after that I have no interest in sitting on the ground to be motivated by some overpriced V6.

          But yes Camry, Corolla, Malibu, it’s a real distortion act getting into one of those.

  • avatar
    Rday

    I really can’t imagine why anyone would choose a car when a cuv/crossover offers so many more options. Just doesn’t compute anymore. The mileage penalty is not that much greater and the features are so much greater. Generally easier to get in/out of and the visibility is much better too. Go figure!!!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’ve argued for some time cars are being effectively lobotomized because you can be conned into paying more for the “CUV” when in fact they are all built on the same platforms in the same place and very little effective difference exists on the engineering level.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If you do much open (lightly policed) country road tripping, a Civic is an easy 15mph faster for equal comfort, compared to a CR-V. 25 for an A8 vs a Q7. And the Panamera 15mph faster than that again. Etc., etc.

      Once you start getting up there speed wise on narrower, twistier and bumpier roads, it is remarkable how quickly CUVs loose their composure. I haven’t driven the X(5/6)M, nor the hottest Porsche CUVs, but I’d be surprised if they are any more comfortable at speed X between, say, Trona and the Panamints, than even the lowly, per Baruth designed to be unstable, FiST. Especially throwing in some gusty winds. And the FiST is pretty white knuckle at speed, compared to the big Autobahn sleds.

      As a practical matter, that can mean the difference between day trip and overnighter between LA and somewhere in Montana or thereabouts.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    When will CUVs outnumber cars in American? As much as I hate to admit it, soon.

    When will CUVs outnumber cars in my driveway? When hell freezes over

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    This trend makes me sad, because cars are better now than they ever have been. Take the Honda Accord, for example. This vehicle has Full-size car room, a nice size trunk, decent handling. It’s quiet and has all the features luxury cars had 10 years ago, and some they didn’t. It is quick – even as a 4-cylinder, it stops well, yet it gets better gas mileage than the previous generation Civic. It is durable and holds its resale value well. It is very safe. Despite all this, adjusted for inflation, the car’s price has stayed pretty steady over the years.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      It’s still a sedan. Hard to get into and out of and you can’t see a damn thing in traffic or parking lots with all the metal muskoxen now out there.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        I disagree with you, though going by your user name you probably don’t care. Parents have a 2014 Accord, and it’s crazy roomy, and super easy to get in and out of. My sister’s CX-5? Not so much. I can, from the super roomy back seat, see out the front of the Accord. Feel like I’m in a coffin in the CX-5, though it’s perfectly comfortable once you actually get in.

        If I had to actually buy a car tomorrow, the Accord would likely be tops on my list.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          The upside is that, as cars become the choice only for those who are either “enthusiasts,” or too poor/cheap to pony up for a CUV, they may retain proper transmissions that much longer…..

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Accord is a good example why so many people prefer SUVs. I recently borrowed a 2016 Honda Pilot EX to make a trip to Ikea. This car has effectively the same price as Accord V6, but the Pilot’s ride is just better. It feels like a much more expensive luxury car, something along the lines of a $60,000 dollar BMW 5-series. The ride is quiet, and the wheels glide over any potholes. Plus, it has three rows of seating. On the trip to Ikea, I brought back a disassembled sofa in boxes by folding the two rear rows. The sofa used pretty much every inch of space, but fit very nicely. The vehicle got 27mpg on that trip over 150 miles, which seems more than acceptable for a wagon of this size. On average days, the vehicle uses two row for humans, and the third row for a dog. The utility is awesome. The Pilot hits 60mph in under 6 seconds, and seems pretty firm (of course, it won’t ever be as composed in turns as an Accord Sport..) The vehicle feels very stable in snow country as well.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Man, you’re the third person in two days, I have heard raving about the new Pilot. Sounds like Honda has hit a home run with that one. Price wise, the higher trim V6 Accords never really made all that much sense to me, aside from the 6MT coupe. But for 10K less than the Pilot, you could have a manual Accord that handles better, uses less gas, is actually an entertaining drive, and leaves you enough money for a last years model literbike…

        The Pilot will spank it handily for hauling sofas, and for giving pooch his own seat row, though. I’m not a big fan of CUVs, SUVs as road cars outside of very snow heavy locales, since by far the majority of my car miles (80%) are spent on long drives in open country. Once there is any risk of being stuck behind more than 3 cars at the average stop light, I’ll take the bike, thank you. But for people who drive mainly in suburban/urban settings, I can totally understand building upwards, rather than sprawling outwards, to obtain a given amount of space.

        And while traditional SUVs were truly atrocious compared to their car brethren, the new CUVs are much less of a compromise. Sounds like the Pilot is really good. Now, if they could only figure out a way to avoid slapping my handguards with their mirrors as I zip on by lanesplitting……….


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