Cain's Segments August 2014: Full-Size SUVs

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

GM’s market share in the full-size, truck-based SUV segment grew to 82.9% in August 2014 as the company’s four candidates grabbed the four top spots in the category. Not unpredictably, Ford Expedition sales declined as we approach the arrival of a revamped 2015 Expedition with EcoBoost V6 power, further enabling GM’s quest for world domination.

Or American domination. Domination in a specific vehicle category. In a category which, while expanding in comparison to the recent past, simply doesn’t amount to what it once did.

That’s not to say GM’s four full-size Chevy and GMC SUVs form a low-volume quartet. The Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Yukon XL were responsible for 8.1% of the volume generated by America’s largest seller of new vehicles in August.

So far this year, they’ve managed to outsell all but three premium brands: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus. 7.7% of the new vehicles sold by GM so far this year have been Enclaves, Encores, LaCrosses, Regals, and Veranos, Buicks all. 7.4% have been Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons, and Yukon XLs.

In other words, these big SUVs play an important role in GM’s generation of sales in the company’s home market, and an essential role in GM’s generation of profit. We haven’t even taken into consideration the most costly SUVs that ride on the platform. Cadillac sold 2277 Escalades and 1257 Escalade ESVs in August, 89% and 64% year-over-year gains, respectively. Total Escalade sales, defunct EXT included, are up 21% to 17,884 in 2014.

AutoAugust 2014August 2013% Change8 mos. 20148 mos. 2013% ChangeChevrolet Suburban5,7484,00343.6%34,48731,8478.3%Chevrolet Tahoe8,2166,81820.5%64,83754,79418.3%Ford Expedition2,6233,176-17.4%29,09323,66123.0%GMC Yukon4,7152,345101.1%27,45817,24059.3%GMC Yukon XL3,3192,77919.4%19,76320,626-4.2%Nissan Armada1,0061,114-9.7%8,4119,601-12.4%Toyota Sequoia9131,280-28.7%7,8149,045-13.6%—— —————Total 26,54021,515 23.4% 191,863166,814 15.0%

Even the so-called volume brand sport-utilities we’re discussing in this space can be viewed on dealer lots with frighteningly Cadillac-like MSRPs. (There’s no denying that with 21,998 sales between the GM products alone, they’re still volume vehicles, regardless of price. The Tahoe is America’s 20th-best-selling SUV/crossover, behind the Lexus RX and two-wheel-bases-included Hyundai Santa Fe, but ahead of the Dodge Journey and Jeep Patriot.)

The true premium brand contenders from Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, for example, combine to sell approximately once for every three copies of these seven contenders.

Two of these contenders, however, sell less often than a number of the higher-end full-size SUVs. Sales of Nissan’s ancient Armada are down 12% to just 8411 units in 2014, just 4.4% of the segment. Toyota Sequoia sales are down even more sharply, falling 14% to just 7814 units during a period in which sales of its refreshed Tundra pickup stablemate have jumped 10% to 80,133.

Both Toyota and Nissan do a better job of selling higher-priced utility vehicles when they sell them through their Lexus and Infiniti outlets. Lexus GX sales, for instance are up 127% to 14,429 in 2014 – Lexus is on pace for its best GX sales year since 2007. (The RX is America’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle, although its base price actually places the RX a few thousand dollars below the Sequoia.)

Infiniti QX80 sales have risen slightly, just 2%, to a near-Armada-like level of 8119 units in 2014. Infiniti generates more than a quarter of its volume with the Pathfinder-based QX60, formerly the JX.

Obviously those numbers pale in comparison to the figures achieved by GM’s full-size SUVs. And if you think these GM numbers are large, stretch your mind back to 2002 when General Motors sold more than 67,000 Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons, and Yukon XLs in America during the month of August alone.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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  • Racer-esq. Racer-esq. on Sep 11, 2014

    It's fairly rediculous that the "luxury" full size SUVs aren't included in this list. I'm sure, for example, that Yukon Denalis and Escalades are cross shopped, with the potential buyers asking the Cadillac dealers how much they will undercut a Denali to make up for the embarrasment of an Escalade.

    • See 2 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Sep 11, 2014

      @racer-esq. "Mainstream" in this case refers to the brand. Chevrolet and GMC are mainstream, Cadillac is luxury.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Sep 11, 2014

    It appears the data I have doesn't break down the SUVs into 'rich peoples' SUVs/CUVs ie, BMWs, MB, etc. They are grouped with the laymans SUVs/CUVs. Hmmmm..... According to the graphs in this link the full size SUV/CUV market has grown immensely since 1990. But this data might be inaccurate as shown by the data below. I do think the US BOF full size SUV market has shrunk. Many of these people have moved over to the full size pickups. With the up and coming aluminium F-150 I do think the full size SUV market will shrink further. I also think many of the current SUV people want the utility and capability of the large SUVs. But they don't want the size of a full size pickup. What will they have in the future? CAFE will make these full size SUVs more or less obsolete. The more expensive aluminium full size pickup, which will more than likely be in their targeted price range of affordability will be a prime vehicle for them. This is good for full size pickups, except for the people who will be forced down the market because they can't afford the newer and more expensive aluminium full size pickups. I suppose they have the new midsizers. They will be more than capable to do most of what many use a pickup for. Or they can buy a midsize van or CUV. Now what constitutes a large SUV? Look at the numbers in this article it seems a Ford Explorer and Grand Cherokee must be regarded as a large SUV.

    • Bball40dtw Bball40dtw on Sep 12, 2014

      For these purposes, a large mainstream SUV is basically a truck based SUV sold by a non luxury brand. These vehicles are going to continue to get more expensive. Even the Expedition base price went up by a few thousand with the new model. Ford will at least be going the aluminium route with the next generation. I don't know about GM. The 10-speed transmission, plus additional engines may help too. These beasts are still profitable enough that Ford can sell the small numbers they do and print money.

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