It was early 2014 when an Albertan car salesman drew my attention to a claim he noticed in commercials and promotional material from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada. The Dodge Journey, they said, was Canada’s No. 1 selling crossover.
It wasn’t. But at the time, FCA was using some hilariously inappropriate segmentation from R.L. Polk Canada, Inc. to support the claim.
FCA Canada’s more recent Journey-related claim uses altered language to make a similar-sounding statement. FCA calls the Journey, “Canada’s favourite crossover.”
The Dodge Journey is not Canada’s favourite crossover. The Dodge Journey never was Canada’s favourite crossover. Based on current trend lines, the Dodge Journey does not stand a chance of soon becoming Canada’s favourite crossover.
Despite its advanced age, there’s no denying that the Dodge Journey has historically outperformed sales expectations in Canada. While not highly regarded by critics — though given due credit for its value proposition — the Journey has produced nearly one-quarter of its U.S./Canadian volume north of the border, where one-tenth of all U.S./Canadian auto sales are produced. As a result, the Journey has certainly been among Canada’s most popular utility vehicles.
While last year’s all-time record U.S. Journey sales propelled the Dodge into 20th spot among SUVs/crossovers, the Journey has ranked as high as No. 2 in Canada. That was in 2011, when the Ford Escape ended the year with 52-percent more sales than the Dodge Journey.
But on an annual basis, that’s as close as the Journey has ever been. The Journey fell to third spot in 2012, fourth in 2013, sixth in 2014, seventh in 2015. Through the first 11 months of 2016, the Journey ranks 12th among SUVs/crossovers, behind 10 CUVs and the Jeep Wrangler.
Of course, definitions matter. An SUV to you may be a crossover to me. A CUV to FCA may be a SAV at BMW. But the general populace would surely agree that the vehicles which regularly outsell the Dodge Journey in Canada — 2016 will be the fourth consecutive year in which the Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 have all outsold the Journey — are just as deserving of a “crossover” definition as the Dodge Journey.
But FCA sees things differently. Very differently.First, go back to the aforementioned claim from a few years back. Supporting material obtained at the time by GoodCarBadCar.net from the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry showed that FCA’s “No.1 selling crossover” claim was based on a very narrow definition of the term, “crossover.”
The Buick Enclave, Cadillac SRX, Ford Flex, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Veracruz, Infiniti QX70, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Murano, Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Venza, Volvo XC70, and Volvo XC90 were listed as “full-size crossovers” while the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, Infiniti QX50, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60 were listed as “midsize crossovers.” Where were the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 listed? With midsize SUVs, naturally, along with the Lexus RX, Nissan Xterra, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and an eclectic mix of utility vehicles from across a wide spectrum.
Now, FCA is claiming that the Dodge Journey is “Canada’s favourite crossover.” The claim is supported by the following fine print: “Based on IHS Automotive: Polk Canadian Vehicles in Operation data as of July 1st, 2015 for Crossover Segments as defined by FCA Canada Inc.” Take note, FCA isn’t referring to current sales data but rather 15-month-old “vehicles in operation” data. Take special note: the claim made is licensed by FCA from R.L. Polk/IHS Automotive. And take further note of the real problem relating to the closing words: “crossover segments as defined by FCA Canada Inc.”
How does FCA Canada define the crossover segment? Small crossovers, FCA told TTAC yesterday, include the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Mini Countryman, Mini Paceman, Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Nissan Juke. Compact crossovers, why, there are only a couple according to FCA: Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Crosstrek. Full-size crossovers: Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex, GMC Acadia, Honda Crosstour, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Murano, Subaru Tribeca, Toyota Venza.
And then there’s the Journey’s “midsize crossover” category: Buick Envision, Dodge Journey, Ford Edge, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Outback.
RAV4? Escape? CR-V? Cherokee? Tucson? Santa Fe? Equinox? Nowhere to be found.
Essentially then, FCA is calling the Dodge Journey “Canada’s favourite crossover” based on the fact that Polk/IHS says there were more Journeys on the road on July 1, 2015, than there were Encores, Jukes, Acadias, Muranos, Edges, Rogues, Outbacks, etc. Forget the fact that the number of Ford Escapes already totalled in the six-digits before the Dodge Journey ever came along — the Escape doesn’t count.
(Incidentally, one vehicle that does count by FCA’s definition, the Nissan Rogue, has produced 52,148 Canadian sales since the Polk/IHS measurement period ended on July 1, 2015. During the same stretch, FCA Canada reported 27,760 sales.)
FCA’s claim that the Journey is Canada’s favourite crossover was brought once again to my attention last Saturday night during a Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins game aired on Hockey Night In Canada.
“What makes the Dodge Journey Canada’s favourite crossover?” the voice-over asks. I rejected the premise of the question.
But after making inquiries with FCA Canada early yesterday morning, head of communications LouAnn Gosselin said, “The TV spots ended in French Canada yesterday (Sunday) and English Canada today (Monday), per the media buy schedule.”
The timing of my inquiry and FCA’s pull of the ad? Coincidental, apparently. Indeed, at least for the time being, while the TV ad has disappeared, Dodge.ca continues to insist that the Journey is Canada’s favourite crossover.
It isn’t. And it wasn’t. In fact, the Journey is currently not even FCA’s own top-selling crossover. Up 5 percent year-to-date, Jeep Cherokee sales totaled 27,434 units in the first ten months of 2016, almost precisely double the number of sales managed by the Journey over the last ten months. Canadian sales of the Journey are down 34 percent this year and they’re down 45 percent from the Journey’s 2011 peak.
If this all feels strangely familiar, there’s a reason. Six months ago, we told you that Words Have Meaning: Dodge Is Not The Fastest-Growing Performance Brand In America, Whatever That Means.