By on April 6, 2011

Escape and CR-V swapped spots last month, although Honda’s long-running compact CUV retained the top position in Year-To-Date sales. Toyota’s RAV4 dropped significantly last month compared to March 2010’s incentive-fueled volume binge, and though sales were up compared to the month before, it wasn’t enough to retake third place in the YTD standings from Equinox. The only other model failing to top its year-ago numbers was the Forester, a fact that may indicate a slowdown in Subaru’s strong recession-era sales growth. And though Nissan’s Juke is based on a B-segment platform and offers considerably less utility than the rest of the C-CUVs, it outsold Mazda’s CX-7, earning itself a spot on our chart.

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27 Comments on “Sales: Compact Crossovers, March 2011...”

  • avatar

    I’m still perplexed by the popularity of the Escape.  It’s an OK product, but it’s long in the tooth.  The only advantages I see are good visibility, relatively low pricing, and great space utilization.
    Poor Mazda, except for the 3, nobody notices they even sell cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m guessing that price is a large factor in the Escape’s popularity.

    • 0 avatar

      All of the advantages you list are probably among the highest items in the priorities for people shopping for these compact crossovers.  The only omission is probably reliability, which the CR-V wins with, but the Escape does admirably (based on Consumer Reports data at least).

  • avatar

    Ford has a lot of dealers, and they’re probably still benefitting from traditional American car buyers defecting from GM and Chrysler. It is a remarkable showing though, when you consider that Ford has so many crossovers that the others must really stink for them not to steal more sales from the Escape. It isn’t like the current Escape has been well received by the press. It is pretty much fleet grade, and I wonder what percentage of them are fleet sales.

    10,169 Jukes is 10,169 too many. Have some consideration for sighted road uses, okay you tasteless imbeciles?

    • 0 avatar

      You admonish Juke buyers for bad taste yet gloss straight over the RAV-4, CR-V and GMC Terrain buyers.
      Your post, good sir, makes no sense.

    • 0 avatar

      My post may not make sense to you, but buying a Patriot makes sense to you.

    • 0 avatar

      Well played.

    • 0 avatar

      Also RAV-4 is quite handsome even after the midlife facelift, that tends to uglify, and CR-V has this weirdo japanista chic that their own marketoids call “kakkoi mama-san” (or MILF in American). Really, tastes differ. If I did not need the low range and the breakover angle that Wrangler offers, I’d have replaced my RAV-4 with CR-V.

    • 0 avatar

      CJ –
      A recent customer of mine did back to back test drives of a new Escape and a used 2010 CR-V we had on the lot.  The CR-V feels more refined in some ways, and the 4 cylinder is quiet compared to the 4 in the Escape, but it to me it didn’t feel as peppy, and you lose a bit of utility due to the way the rear seats fold in the CR-V.
      When I first started at the dealership I wasn’t a big fan of the Escape – I thought it was too small, underpowered, and cheap inside.  Over time I’ve grown to appreciate the utilitarian interior, it’s actually pretty good for anyone whose going to use it to explore the great outdoors as it won’t scratch and scuff easily.  The small size and great visibility certainly help, and the major upgrades to engines and transmissions that came in ’09 turned it into a completely different car.  The closest other Ford CUV (the Edge) also sells very well, so I don’t think there is a lot of cannibalism of sales.  In fact, given the difference in prices, I rarely get someone cross shopping the two.
      The Escape isn’t trendy, sporty, or particularly luxurious, but it is practical, affordable, and reliable, and it drives well in the low-effort no-hassle sort of way that people who don’t really care about sporty driving dynamics can appreciate.  You can also get the bells and whistles like Sync, self parallel parking, and backup camera in one for a price not much more than your average midsize sedan.  In my experience people appreciate the value and practicality of the Escape, and that’s the reason it sells so well.  Plus, some people do just like the SUV looks but don’t want the price, fuel economy, or size that comes with true SUVs.

    • 0 avatar

      The Escape is a sleeper which is panned in most professional reviews as being past its sell-by-date.
      I have the Mazda Tribute variant of the Escape, which so far has been very reliable. 

      Selling points to me were: an available manual transmission, small dimensions on the outside, but not tiny on the inside and once the rear headrests are removed, an old-school rear seat that folds forward to create a flat cargo area.  Its dated styling  and wide rear door enhance the utility of the 4′ by 4′ cargo space.  Ground clearance is about 7 inches.
      There are fleet purchasers and locally they tend to go for the hybrid version, which is good for 32 mpg in the city.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 Oldandslow

        My in-laws bought an Escape. It will hold two large dog crates, plus luggage, which is a huge plus when travelling around the country to dog shows. That oh so passé square boxy shape is what makes the Escape such a good vehicle.

        My M-i-L loves it. It’s not too tall so that she can’t climb in, it’s got great visibility, and with the 4 pot she’s got enough “go” to merge onto the freeway, yet gets really respectable city and highway mileage.

  • avatar

    I just don’t see the Juke in this segment.  If I’m looking for a roomy but economical ride to haul the wife and two kids, with occasional runs to Home Depot, it’s just not on my list.  Sometimes 4 doors, a hatch, and AWD do not a CUV make.

  • avatar

    Just to add in some Info, the Compass Sold 3,703 along with the Patriot to make a platform combined (not including Caliber) 9305.
    The Equinox and Terrain combined net 21250, still third place behind the CRV and Escape.
    In other news, there are 10000+ blind people who think the juke is a good idea, and the Rav4 fell off a huge cliff

  • avatar

    I’m still perplexed by the popularity of the Escape.
    I, personally, am perplexed that anybody would even consider a CR-V, too which is #2. Mediocre fuel economy, mediocre crash results (at least if you figure in the new roof-crush tests), ugly at best styling.
    I understand the Escape’s strong sales as being based at least partly on looks. Firstly, if I had to buy a car right now I’d go either Patriot, Forester or Escape. I like the first and third because they look like real SUVs. I like the Forester for the AWD system and good price.
    I guess the rest are OK too, but most of the compact crossovers are getting way too carlike for my taste.
    I predict that the new Escape may lose sales to the Focus and Fiesta, and will sell more poorly than the current model, because its new Vertrek styling is pleasant but too much like a car. These vehicles are going to get consumers going back to traditional wagons and hatchbacks, simply because they’re losing the very characteristics that made them popular in the first place.

    • 0 avatar

      Why do people take the CR-V? Nameplate and bullet-proof reliability. Honda is already reliable, the CR-V is their most reliable car of the lot. Not to mention that Honda typically has high-quality interiors that far outpace the insides of the current Escape. In the end, its because CR-Vs are known commodities, and I figure that is okay.

    • 0 avatar

      When this segment was first developed in the 1990s, there was an emphasis on the utilitarian side and the capability to handle unimproved dirt roads.  The Ford Escape which was released in 2001 reflects this.
      Today, the CUV buyers are mostly female for urban or suburban use.  Hence, the evolution to a cross-wagon that more car than ute.  You can’t get a manual transmission in a US spec’d CR-V anymore.  The Element is done for.  The current Escape is its final model year.
      Styling is going to trump functionality.  The functionality of the rear cargo area is taking a hit as a result of this.  The Forester may be the last refuge of the original CUV design.

  • avatar

    It will be interesting to see what GM does with the Equinox/Terrain since their total sales seem to be capacity constrained (this years sales increases are more than likely due to the extra units from Oshawa).

    I wonder if they will they open up another plant to build the vehicles? If they do, can they sell enough to make two plants profitable.

  • avatar

    Why isn’t the Jeep Compass here? Dodge Caliber no longer offers 4WD, so that’s understandable.

  • avatar

    I agree with earlier posts that the Escape’s appeal probably lies in its truck-like styling, good visibility and low price, but I wonder how much of a fleet queen it is; do rental agencies even buy small SUVs?

    • 0 avatar

      We sell a ton of Escapes retail, but we do sell them as fleet vehicles as well.  There doesn’t seem to be much rental business with them, but they are popular company cars.
      Progressive and various other insurance companies seem to like Escapes, and they are also popular for local construction/trade business to use for their estimators – you can fit a lot of stuff in the back, the styling lends itself well to a vehicle wrap, and with the 4 cylinder you get great gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in Colorado there are tons of rental small SUV’s, including most of the Jeep products, Escape, RAV4, all the Kia’s, Mazda’s as well.  I can’t recall seeing a CRV anytime recently but everything else, sure, most of the above list is represented in one rental fleet or another.

    • 0 avatar

      Locally, the vast majority of Escapes are purchased by individuals.  Those that are in commercial fleets tend to be hybrids, which are good for 32 mpg in the city.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Considering that the Equinox platform-mate is relatively attractive in comparison, I’m surprised GM even bothered to sell & market the fugly Terrain. Judging by the over 2 to 1 sales ratio, I’m not alone in thinking this.

    • 0 avatar

      There are more Chevy dealers than Buick/GMC dealers.  If you look at pretty much any vehicle where there is a GMC copy of the Chevy, the Chevy outsells it by a fair margin.
      While on one hand I think it would make a lot of sense to get rid of GMC entirely, and move all GM dealers to combined Chevrolet/Buick/Cadillac dealers, apparently GMC is profitable enough to keep alive, and with small crossovers being a booming segment, GM needed something for the Buick/GMC dealers to sell.  Perhaps (and possibly correctly) GM figured that offering a Buick Theta-based crossover would create too much overlap with the Equinox and the SRX, so instead it went to GMC and received macho man styling to differentiate it.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Why is the Mazda CX-7 in “competition” against Juke, Escape, Equinox and or CRV?
    Mazda CX-7 is more in line with Edge, Pilot, G.C, Murano, Journey, Highlander…

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