By on September 19, 2013


In every month since April, the four best-selling utility vehicles in America have fallen under the “small” banner. In July, the five top sellers were small. With one-third of 2013 remaining, the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, and Toyota RAV4 are both America’s top-selling small crossovers and America’s four leading crossovers overall.

Together with their rivals, they accounted for 14.4% of industry sales in August and 13.4% of the new vehicles sold in the United States in the first two-thirds of 2013. The vehicles listed in the accompanying table represent more than four out of every ten SUVs or crossovers sold in the United States.

Allow the popularity net to spread further afield and the Honda CR-V isn’t America’s favourite crossover. Combining the Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain, results in a General Motors total that’s 31,885 units better than what Honda has managed with the CR-V so far this year. It takes two to tango, and two to top the CR-V and Escape.

2012 marked the first year in which Chevrolet sold more than 200,000 copies of the Equinox. The Equinox’s total should top 240,000 units by the end of the year.

GM benefits from also selling the fleet-only Captiva Sport, which sells more often than the obviously retail-oriented Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, and the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Honda appears set to top 300,000 U.S. sales with the CR-V this year. Ford’s current pace could see the Escape top the 300K barrier, as well. After setting a Rogue record in 2012, Nissan’s continued clear-out of the outgoing Rogue has resulted in a 15,659-unit increase through eight months. The Rogue nameplate should easily top 150,000 units in 2013. Subaru last sold more than 85,000 Foresters in 2010 but is on pace to climb above the 100K mark by New Year’s Eve. In all cases, supply will be an issue.

In seven attempts, Mazda has yet to report a year-over-year CX-5 result in the negative. In fact, all of the CX-5’s monthly gains have been above 50%. Dodge will set a Journey sales record this year thanks in no small part to a pricing strategy imported from Canada by Reid Bigland. (The Journey is typically one of the four top-selling crossovers in Chrysler-friendly Canada.

Kia’s overall inability to keep up with the market’s rate of growth is partly the fault of its two SUVs. Sportage volume is down 23% (6248 units) after falling 31% in 2012. Sorento sales slid 9% in 2012 and the arrival of the a revamped 2014 hasn’t generated an improvement as Hyundai steals some capacity for the Santa Fe. In ten of the last eleven months, Hyundai’s own Tucson has reported year-over-year declines. The Volkswagen Tiguan, meanwhile, is selling only slightly more often this year than it did last year, in a market which is up 9.5%; in an SUV/crossover market that’s up more than 13%.


August 2013
August 2012
% Change
mos. 2013
mos. 2012
% Change
Chevrolet Captiva Sport
5735 2464 + 133% 33,045 24,299 + 36.0%
Chevrolet Equinox
25,073 20,231 + 23.9% 169,977 151,027 + 12.5%
Dodge Journey
8890 7922 + 12.2% 57,834 51,724 + 11.8%
Ford Escape
26,714 28,188 – 5.2% 205,683 176,927 + 16.3%
GMC Terrain
11,120 9143 + 21.6% 69,651 63,340 + 10.0%
Honda CR-V
34,654 23,877 + 45.1% 207,643 207,643 + 8.6%
Honda Element
2 3 – 33.3%
Hyundai Santa Fe
8102 4524 + 79.1% 56,105 43,583 + 28.7%
Hyundai Tucson
3886 5376 – 27.7% 30,042 33,271 – 9.7%
Jeep Compass
5249 3756 + 39.7% 37,249 28,368 + 31.3%
Jeep Patriot
7170 5056 + 41.8% 52,857 43,633 + 21.1%
Kia Sorento
10,568 10,529 + 0.4% 73,531 78,098 – 5.8%
Kia Sportage
3140 3097 + 1.4% 21,037 27,285 – 22.9%
Mazda CX-5
8506 4665 + 82.3% 54,388 24,904 + 118%
Mazda CX-7
204 – 100% 1 11,187 – 99.99%
Mazda Tribute
502 – 100%
Mitsubishi Outlander
1233 607 + 103% 7588 5306 + 43.0%
Nissan Rogue
17,273 12,626 + 36.8% 113,316 97,657 + 16.0%
Subaru Forester
13,163 6956 + 89.2% 73,752 50,505 + 46.0%
Suzuki Grand Vitara
381 – 100% 1037 3416 – 69.6%
Toyota RAV4
23,502 15,685 + 49.8% 144,314 120,371 + 19.9%
Volkswagen Tiguan
2948 2746 + 7.4% 20,744 20,652 + 0.4%
168,033 + 29.1% 1,429,796 1,263,701 + 13.1%


Disclaimer: We’ve included the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento in the mix, although they’re potential competitors for larger two and three-row SUVs. The Santa Fe Sport, for example, is more than six inches longer than the class-leading Honda CR-V with four more cubic feet of passenger volume. But it’s also nearly seven inches shorter, bumper to bumper, than the Honda Pilot, and it offers significantly less overall passenger volume. The price points for the CR-V and Santa Fe/Sorento also line up more appropriately than if we were to compare the Hyundai and Kia with the Pilot. Automakers don’t consult an official TTAC B&B Encyclopedia of Dimensions before development of a new vehicle gets underway, and models don’t always fit into the boxes labelled small, midsize, and large.

17,277 more small crossover sales came from the Buick Encore, Mini Countryman, Mini Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek in August. And of the 18,297 sales collected by the Toyota FJ Cruiser, Nissan Xterra, and Jeep Wrangler, the Wrangler attracted 86%, or 15,825, of the trio’s volume.

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29 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Crossover Sales...”

  • avatar

    Picking up a 2013 CR-V today. They really need to update the CR-V with some body-painted handles on the LX model. Anyways, .9% financing is available and an LX is 21,700 with destination. Not bad.

  • avatar

    Stupid CAFE rules… You are the cause of the death of the station wagon.

    – 2 wagons currently in Retrogrouch’s fleet

  • avatar

    I’m sure much of the success of the Equinox is due its wildly optimistic mpg advertising – something Ford has managed in spades with the Ecoboost Fusions.

    In advance, “Autosavant” bought a Verano Turbo. It doesn’t get anything close to 40mpg. AS gets below EPA at 23.9 mpg w/ 93 octane.

    I’m also sure TAC’s own “auto non-savant” will reply.

    • 0 avatar

      Are they still advertising the Equinox getting 40mpg? I’ve never believed that. The one I had as a rental didn’t appear to get that but I wasn’t watching too close.

      “I’m sure much of the success of the Equinox is due its wildly optimistic mpg advertising – something Ford has managed in spades with the Ecoboost Fusions.”

      I had a 2013 Fusion with the “paddleshifters” 2.0L and managed 33mpg highway and 25 city with a light foot. That was per the trip computer and driving I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver Canada with city driving in each metro. Pretty sure that’s close to the EPA estimates. That same engine in an Escape I would guess low MPG. Either way, I don’t think Ford has been too far off the mark on MPG’s given my rental experience.

    • 0 avatar

      Hmmn, an I suppose the constantly decent to good reviews of the Equinox has nothing whatsoever to do with its success?

    • 0 avatar

      @Thorny, the Verano sees EPA combined, say it isn’t so. Then Edmunds pops off a EPA, highway only 30mpg on their 1,500 mile review in mixed driving? How are auto reporters matching ot bettering EPA numbers? Just imagine if they pumped up tire pressures and tried to drive like they are ddriving a Prius?

      The Encore, that has publications and reviewers beating EPA fuel economy numbers, sold almost 1/3 of this pack of cars, ” 17,277 more small crossover sales came from the Buick Encore, Mini Countryman, Mini Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek in August.”

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I drove an Escape recently, I rented a Titanium. While this means that some of the sales are going to rentals, it was one of the best, if not the best SUV’s I’ve ever driven. Certainly the best compact SUV. It compares very favorably with my 2001 Nissan Pathfinder, one of if not my favorite truck ever, and compares well to my ex-honey’s much more expensive BMS x5. A GREAT truck. The only reason I can see the CRV selling near it is Honda reliability (which I understand) and people being Lemmings (which obviously I can’t).

    • 0 avatar

      I honestly don’t understand why the CRV outlets the escape. Are these buyers not test driving the escape before buying the CRV? After test driving the escape, the CRV just doesn’t seem like it’s in the same league. And I’m no ford fanboi, in fact, I’ve never owned a domestic car.

      • 0 avatar

        Take a look at True Delta. The CR-V is the best built vehicle you can buy. The Escape is one of the worst.

        • 0 avatar

          What data did you discover at True Delta that would lead you to believe that the Escape is one of the worst cars built?

          • 0 avatar


            This. A 2013 Escape is more reliable than a 2003 CR-V that’s been on the road for a decade. I wouldn’t pay $20K for that.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t see where the data is comparing a 2013 Escape to a 2003 CR-V unless you want to compare them. The CR-V does come out ahead of the Escape on a year to year comparison for reliability, but that doesn’t make the Escape the worst in it’s segment

    • 0 avatar

      So all of those folks buying Hondas are lemmings? I’d that because they chose what they felt was the best product for their money or because they didn’t buy what you felt they should. I like Fords a lot and considered a few models about a year ago (even ordering a 13 Fusion). We ended up with a 12 Accord. 0.9% financing and a $23k sale price on a car with a $29k MSRP, not a bad deal and better than a few Ford dealers were wiling to do on either a Fusion or Taurus. We didn’t like the Sonata rental we had for 2300 mile trip.

      The Accord, like the CRV, are much more spacious feeling in the cabins than the comparable Fords. That was a selling point to me. No fancy shit means it’s more likely to hold up to 10 years of my wife driving our 2 little boys around! 1 year in and 16500 miles, averaging 35 on trips and 24 around town. Only oil changes and Michelin X-Ice tires.

      Oh it replaced both a 98 Acura TL and 07 Subaru Outback Lemon.

      That’s why so many people buy a Honda. And yes, it is used as an appliance… Just like a fridge, you pick the best one for your money and what will do the best job of keeping your goods fresh and safe.

      • 0 avatar

        Now you are moving on from what I meant. I was talking about the CRV vs the Escape. Not the Accord. In fact, I’m a Honda owner myself, I drive an all black six speed TSX..I think the Accord and the TSX (a European Accord) are great cars.

        But the Escape is better than the CRV. Recently, people got into the “I want a Camry” thing. Have you been in a last generation Camry? It sold well but the interior was AWFUL. Very bland. Some white plastic thing in the center stack. Virtually every mid-sized car (except maybe the early Malibu) was nicer inside. But every suburban housewife kept wanting one cause the others all had one, without looking at what else was out there – like your Accord. In fact, I know a lot of people who want what their friends have – Camry’s or Altimas for example, and then option them out to $35,000 cars when they could have bought a lot of other things – Acura TSX, TL, Hyundai Genesis, Ford Fusion or Taurus, small Benz (minus options), Audi A4 etc.

        If you go car shopping going “I gotta have” or “everyone else has” you often don’t objectively look at what is there and buy the better car.

        • 0 avatar

          Which is deeply ironic to hear, considering that my wife and I test drove the CRV, the Escape, the RAV4 and the CX-5, bought the CX-5, and couldn’t understand why the CRV or the Escape possibly sold as well as they do. And I’d say the same thing about the Mazda6 vs. just about anything else in the segment, many of which outsell it 10-to-1.

          • 0 avatar

            Never been in a CX-5. Maybe it is better. Just saying that an Escape is better than a CRV..I wasn’t car shopping, just renting. Avis under no obligation to make sure it lets me test all the small crossovers :-)…

  • avatar

    I didn’t realize this was a segment that GM owned with Honda coming in second and Ford being a very close third.

  • avatar

    What happens when you combine RDX and CRV sales? The Acura really isn’t that much fancier than the GMC.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      The CR-V’s total would thus increase by 30,517 units (YTD) to 238,160. Terrain’s base price is $8215 below the RDX’s, however. But it does reach upmarket in Denali trim, undoubtedly. The Terrain Denali tester I had a few months back totalled $47,265 with destination (CDN). RDX starts at $41,190 here.

    • 0 avatar

      Acura RDX is much more than a gussied up CRV. The V6 is worthy of the upgrade.

      Of course, including the RDX, you could include sales of the SRX with the Terrain and Equinox as well.

  • avatar

    so who owns, Ford with one vehicle or Honda/Acura and GM with two or more vehicles to design? BTW, I really don’t consider the Ford Edge so far out of this class.

    If the Terrain and Escape are in this class and the next bigger GMC, the Acadia matches up to the Explorer, where do Edge sales go?

    • 0 avatar

      The Edge certainly feels closer to the Escape than Explorer. Based on pricing, I bet some Escape sales are going to the Edge just like ‘Nox sales go to the Terrain. The Edge is an older platform, in some ways nicer than the Escape, and in many cases cheaper.

      The Ford CUV sales strategy is a weird one. There is overlap all over the place, but everything besides the Flex sells over 150K units. I’m interested to see if the MkC can move any units. I suspect my wife would really like an MkC hybrid.

  • avatar

    How are there still new Elements sitting on dealer lots? I’d love to know how much they went for, did they have to pile cash on the hood to move them out or have they become the rare and much sought after white buffalo of the CUV world?

  • avatar

    Mazda CX-5……8506…..4665…..+ 82.3%….54,388…..24,904….+ 118%
    Nissan Rogue..17,273…12,626…..+ 36.8%…113,316…..97,657….+ 16.0%

    Just… I can’t, no. Done. America, I’m done with you.

    Also, had to look on Chrysler’s website to verify that, yup, _that_ is (still) the Jeep Patriot that 52,000 people (well, 32,000 people and a couple of rental car companies who hate their customers) looked at and thought, “Yessir, that’s a good use of twenty thousand of my hard-earned dollars.”

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