By on October 30, 2014

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe whiteGeneral Motors has sold 189,354 copies of its big Lambda-platform crossovers in the United States this year. Combined sales of the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia have risen by a scant 137 units through the first nine months of 2014.

GM’s six full-size, body-on-frame, pickup-based SUVs, on the other hand, have collectively increased their U.S. volume by 22%, a gain of 32,652 sales, to 183,080 units in total.

These nine nameplates have generated 17% of GM’s 2.2 million year-to-date sales.

Examining each nameplate individually reveals multiple storylines wrapped inside the hefty numbers.

Enclave sales reached record highs in 2013, and 2014’s 1% decrease, if it holds, should still translate to the nameplate’s second-best year in the model’s eight-year history.

The Traverse hasn’t been around as long – 2014 will be its sixth full year on the market – but it’s the highest-volume Lambda product, accounting for 42% of the trio’s sales. Traverse volume has risen 6% this year to 79,560 units through nine months. Year end volume should reach a three-year high but it’s unlikely the Traverse will match its 2011 record-high levels.

GM SUV crossover sales chart 2014 Like the Enclave, the Acadia also produced best-ever sales in 2013, but 2014 sales are down 5.3%. Year end volume should top 80,000 units for the just the second time since the Acadia went on sale in late 2006.

Among the fresh-faced, truck-based SUVs in GM’s portfolio, long-wheelbase variants account for 37% of the sextuplet’s year-to-date volume. The Tahoe and Suburban are the two volume leaders, with 70,528 and 38,588 sales in 2014’s first nine months. These big SUVs aren’t quite as readily available as the big crossovers, which all possess abundant inventory. The Escalade and Escalade ESV, in particular, are rather rare, with just 25 days of supply as of the beginning of October.

So, Lambda wins the family fight? Not so fast. While through nine months the crossover trio has outsold the GMT900/K2XX family, that wasn’t the case in July and August, and they outsold the big SUVs by only 225 units in September. Third-quarter sales of the Escalade, Escalade ESV, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Yukon XL shot up to 72,216 units. The Acadia, Enclave, and Traverse managed 65,989 third-quarter sales.

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60 Comments on “GM’s Big Crossovers vs. GM’s Big SUVs...”


  • avatar
    vvk

    Something has to pay for all those Volts they sell and lose money on.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Fine with me, I am in the market for a Volt! With gas down and cheaper forever the internal subsidies and incentives from lowered demand should be even bigger!

    • 0 avatar

      “Something has to pay for all those Volts they sell and lose money on.”

      All 1200 of them. Cars like the Volt will be biggest sellers 20 years from now and full size SUVs would be dead for a while by then.

      • 0 avatar
        Carilloskis

        The suburban will probably still be around in some form large families living in the mountain regions that need 4×4 wor do alot of out door activities, have trialers etc will still buy them. Most likely it will be like the era before the SUV fad of the 90s and 2000s where you had Jeep models, the Suburban, Blazer, Bronco, land crusier, tropper, and Range Rover. The suburban was the first 3 row suv, the first 4 door suv and one of the first SUVs as it came out in 1935 in 2010 they had a 75th aniversary edition no other car has had that the mustang is just now hitting 50. the suburban will just go back to being more like the silvarado, with the same grill and body panels to keep the costs down.

        There are also design costs to concider and the Volt has not sold enough units to pay for its design. GM looses $49,000 per volt sold even after using $2.4 billion in Federal subsidies to design the car.

        • 0 avatar
          mattmers

          I honestly don’t trust that number, And you can’t include engineering cost. That is always gained back over the life time of the model and other models.

          GM sold Saab when they were “losing 5k per car” I can’t see them sticking with the Volt when they lose a lot more. But is that number is some how right they deserve it after ditching and destroying their original EV program.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The all new SUVs against the aging crossovers probably have a lot to do with these numbers. Once the crossovers are all new again the pendulum will probably swing the other way

  • avatar
    slance66

    Is this as simple as a refreshed lineup of truck based SUVS and a set of Lambda based CUVs that are getting a bit old? And while it is clear from the numbers, I’ll point out that the Traverse is a really ugly vehicle, which drives more Acadia sales. Look at the Acadia vs Traverse and then Tahoe vs Yukon.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I think a big factor in the reversal of fortunes has to be the age of the Lambda crossovers. The Enclave is 8 years old!!! I think for what it is, the Enclave is still fairly competitive though. My wife has a 2014 (Leased) I contemplated buying up front and may still buy out the lease as it has a pretty decent/realistic residual, but figured 3 years down the road there will be a new Lambda, a new Flex (Or replacement Flex) and a new Chrysler Minivan, not to mention the Sienna, Quest, Sedona (I don’t think I would consider another Odyssey).

    The Flex and the Lambda’s are really the only crossover that comes close to minivan interior capacity (aside from the Suburban which I have no interest in). I think that is a big part of why 8 years on the Lambda is still doing rather well. There just isn’t that much competition in minivan-esq crossovers. I wrote a reader review for TTAC on the Enclave that I actually spent quite a bit of time on that never got published :(. Perhaps because I bashed my old Odyssey a little, not sure why as I was encouraged to write it after they posted my 2014 Mazda6 reader review. Anywho, the Lambda’s do a lot of things right, and are uniquely positioned in large crossover segment, despite their age. Although a new model that adds features found on competitors, improved fuel economy and perhaps some additional interior/cargo room via lower floor and other tricks would be welcome. The Enclave has served my family pretty well over the last 5 months but I think by the time the lease is up it will be significantly outclassed by the next crop of large crossovers/minivans.

  • avatar

    One year does not make a trend. The full size SUVs are all new and the Lambdas are 2 months short of being 8 years old. You are also comparing 3 models to 6. Long term, the Lambdas will easily outsell full size SUVs especially with Cadillac joining in.

    • 0 avatar

      True enough…BUT

      a) Cadillac has stated that it will not build a crossover on the Lambda platform, for many reasons. The proportions and bulbous shape this architecture dictates aren’t right for the brand, especially with its new, edgy design language. Cadillac will probably build its semi-rugged, seven-seat crossover on an extended version of the Alpha platform (so RWD-based), to slot between the SRX and the flagship Escalade in terms of price and size. This crossover could wind up being a true world-class vehicle, with similar universal desirability to the X5, M-Class and GL-Class, Q7, Range Rover Sport and Cayenne.

      b) The Lambda platform as we know it is probably going to disappear. GM is trying to significantly downsize the number of specific platforms it has. The Lambda architecture is unique, but it borrows heavily from the Epsilon-II/Super Epsilon architecture that is used in many of GM’s mid and full-sized cars. So the next range of crossovers will probably just be directly based on Epsilon or even a common modular platform, with light modifications. This means that the Lambda replacements would lose their minivan-like accommodations and yield their advantage over competing crossovers that are already based directly on mid and full-sized sedans, and are less roomy for it…such as Pathfinder, Pilot, Highlander, Explorer…and whatever overpriced Passat-spinoff VW comes up with…

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The SUVs are too feminine, if they could go back to GMT800 look/goal where they looked good in all trims especially the Z71, and brung the price down accordingly, they could easily double those sales. The only benefit the lambdas offer is price.

    The market exists, and has since the 50s if not before, but it’s completely unfulfilled now.
    Trucks picked back up in sales, everyone but GM abandoned the Fullsize SUV, and GM quickly raised the price and dropped > half of the potential consumers.
    Forget Elio and Tesla, a startup would be smart to offer a modern Scout/travelall with a GM sourced power train at an affordable price.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      “The only benefit lambdas offer is price”

      Only if you exclude drive-ability, fuel economy, and roominess.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “The SUVs are too feminine”

      Feminines don’t decide what ends up in the driveway?

      (I know.. “Not in mine!”)

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Masculinity sells to men and women, feminine sells to women.
        The escalade and Denali are fine, the Chevy overlaps way too much with the GMC, and being Chevy is a mainstream brand, we shouldn’t expect a 75k low rider with plastic integrated bumpers for a truck in a mainstream brand.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          “a 75k low rider with plastic integrated bumpers”

          What if it sells like heroin?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Killing is my business….and business is good!

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “We in the killin’ trucks business. And Cousin, business is a-BOOMIN’!”

            Cut to Hummer:
            “Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein!”

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Well let it keep, but offer the rest of us an actual product we want, it’s as simple as taking a crew cab pickup removing the wall, boxing in the rear and changing the SRA to 5 link SOA

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            You have strong core beliefs. That’s honorable.

            Over on another planet, so do I.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          @Hummer- The plastic bumpers are for aerodynamics as is the low ground clearance. People who buy GM FS SUVs don’t want a stripper and could care less about how trail competent they are.

          If you want a cheap SUV with ground clearance and bumpers go buy a 4DR Jeep Wrangler.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Tahoe PPV is too loaded up for Hummer.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Carlson, I’m pretty sure we all know why they do what they do. That doesn’t make it a reasonable option, 5 dollars of plastic isn’t going to save an entire MPG in efficiency, and even if it did it should be made easily removable without looking like the truck is actually missing a part.

          • 0 avatar
            Carilloskis

            Some people like my self grew up in big families that did stuff out doors and used chevy suburbans, most of the famillies i knew who had suburbans didn’t upgrade past the GMT 400s and 800s despite having enough money to do so. As the Trucks “improved” they lost alot of functionality for the original intended users. they have taken away ground clearnce , approach and departure angles, made it imposible to switch to aftermarket bumpers, the GMT 800s had horrible led room in every seat compared to the 400s, the 900s second row would not fold flat to accomidate large items, I feel like they made some minor mistakes on the 800 in retrospect looking at the GMT 900s and the current truck. i remember nearly every suburban 4×4 had fende flares, then on the 900s you only got those with the z71, on the current truck you dont get them at all, not only do they make the truck look better but they are functional and help keep down mud and dirt, compared to the same vehicles without them. the 900 you could not even use the front center seat on 9 passenger suburbans ass they used the same dash as the ones with consels instead of putting in the dash from the silvarado with the bench seat. rendering the front seat usless. now to get the rear seats to fold flat they have taken up cargo room and made the rear load floor higher, put on a goofy rear bumper with a ressesed trailer hitch, gone with the infotainment system of the sedans instead of the trucks. My parents owned two diffrent GMT 400 suburbans, and i owned an GMT 800, my parents didn’t see any reason to up grade and after a terrible ownership experince i switched to the Raptor. Now the current styling is hidious. I rember going on trips as a kid where we would by driving over high mountain passes in 4wd with all 8 of us in the suburban on narrow trails, the new suburbans cannot do that.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    Looking at it from a big macro view, it certainly makes the case for continuing forward with the two distinct options. Crossover AND BOF derived vehicles. The current take rate of 183K vs. 189K is virtually 50:50. No point in trying to force one or the other to “do it all”.

    What is perhaps more staggering, as previous reported by Mr. Cain, “GM’s market share in the full-size, truck-based SUV segment grew to 82.9% in August 2014”.

    While GM’s BOF SUV #’s are still very strong vs. their crossovers, I wonder if there’s really any reason for other automakers to attempt to reclaim market share in this space, or if they’re content to concede the title to GM as an overall dwindling market. Ford seems to have a big hole in their lineup above the car based Explorer, and the aged Expedition as a Tahoe/Suburban competitor is laughable (GM sells 5+ Tahoe/Suburbans for every 1 Expedition sold).

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Every one that has come to the BoF SUV table has been smacked around by GM. Ford had the most success but let their products die on the vine while cancelling another. I like the current Expedition when it’s priced 10%+ less than the Tahoe/Suburban. Until the Expedition/Navigator are on the same platform as the F150 with aluminium bodies, GM is going to continue to curb stomp everyone in the segment with impunity.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Everyone else has some strange fascination with ungodly sloping fullsize SUVs above the window base. Everyone else tries to sell SUVs that look like they’re based on car frames. GM (and ford) used to make an SUV with parts interchangeable with trucks, that sells. SUV buyers need the capabilities, but with a covered rear. Seeing a fullsize SUV towing with the rear wheels angled out from the IRS is embarrasing, and poor engineering for choosing IRS.

        Price, utility. That’s what is needed, GM has no competition willing to offer a proper SUV, and they (GM) are rapidly abandoning a segment.

        • 0 avatar

          You can’t be serious. The majority of full-sized SUV buyers don’t *need* a full-sized SUV at all. Many of them have only two or three kids, and would be better served by a five-seat vehicle. The ones with more kids could choose a minivan or a smart crossover with more fuel-efficient running gear. So why engineer the Suburban or Yukon XL to endure the hardship of a truck when 90% of the units will never be used for anything other than basic transportation? Even trucks themselves are fashion statements for many people. And as far as price goes, when people are willing to pay E-Class money for a moderately-equipped Tahoe…that’s what the market will reflect.

          The people who want a barebones people carrier with towing capabilities are in rather insignificant numbers…so yes, that segment is being “abandoned”.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I’m not debating the need of anything, people don’t need transportation to survive if you want to get down to it.
            The truck platform can handle work as it is now, the body and features of the vehicle cannot. The engineering to be done doesn’t change its workability so I’m not sure what your point is there.

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            That is absolutely true. On a recent vacation to the west coast, I rented a Suburban. When she first saw it, my wife was skeptical. About half an hour in, she was entertaining notions of getting one as our next vehicle. We have a) no kids and b), no boat. So, there’s no *need* for it at all, We just liked it.

          • 0 avatar
            Carilloskis

            the Pick up based suvs offer true 4 wheel drive with low range, True 4 wheel drive is needed in some parts of the country that recive heavy snow fall. Having personnaly used the low range setting on 2 diffrent suburbans, when i got them in a pickle. I have also driven cross overs in snow along with front wheel drive cars and subarus, and nothing handles in the snow like a suburban. I have plulled several so called “4wd” cross overs out of the snow while in college in colorado with the suburbans, the Raptor had pulled a cross over out of the mud and the guys came up to me and said it was 4 wheel drive, and the raptor pulled a new subaru forrester out of the snow as well some of us cannot wait for snow plows to clear the roads especially in ruarl areas or if our job requires us to be there reguardless of the road conditions.
            Kyree, here is the simplest way to tell wheather a truck is a mall crawler or not, if the tires are the factory size , and have a more agressive tread they need and use that vehicle. If they have a lift with bigger swamp tires and has a Tap out or monster energy decal its a fashion statement, doesnt go off road well or tow often, and rides bad, and has horrible hanndeling the owner will still get it muddy to show that he uses it. If it has very fuel efficent non agressive stock tires its driven by someone who bought it for image but will never use it like a truck, they never inteand to drive it in a harsh environment and plan on keeping it pretty and want a more car like ride and handeling.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “..The people who want a barebones people carrier with towing capabilities are in rather insignificant numbers…so yes, that segment is being “abandoned”.”

            Or being more than catered to by pickup makers falling over eachother to release extended mega max crewcab pickups with 2 foot beds.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-X

          I agree. What made SUVs popular, GM is abandoning. Of course, GM has lots of Powerpoint presentations to rationalize that–until it doesn’t. Very useful, since decision makers at GM never buy their own vehicles, and certainly not anything but GM-brands.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            A large reason SUVs became popular, was because they were bigger than unibody vehicles. Being as they were already on truck frames, retaining some added rough road and towing capability wasn’t really a big deal, so customers kind of got that thrown in for free. But the sales driver was most often the size.

            Now, unibodies can be made just as large, but with better handling, efficiency and occupant safety. While only losing the ancillary benefits of being on a truck frame that SUVs used too have. And, given the choice, it looks like most people prefer the qualities that come easy to the unibody over the SUV. Driving GM to make their SUVs as close to unibodies as they can….

            Over the same period, pickups have gone from being work trucks to implements for ferrying well groomed young men in Stetsons up Brokeback Mountain. In large groups at the same time. So, traditional SUVs are squeezed from both sides.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          GM isn’t just spending money because they’re stupid. A SUV based very closely on the trucks would be far cheaper to make. They are spending the money to make the SUVs different because that’s what the bulk of buyers, especially the buyers who are willing to pay the highest prices, want.

          People who are looking for the capabilities you describe stopped buying SUVs as soon as crew cab trucks became mainstream. They bought crew cab trucks instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Truck sales didn’t explode with mainstream introduction of crew cab, not at all looking at the sales you can find no such data.
            However closely related truck Based SUVs certainly dropped in sales when SUVs separated themselves from trucks, and again, sales data shows that. The number of buyers of a truck based SUV greatly outnumber the number of people buying it as a fad, which they’re being sold on now.
            Fads don’t create long term buyers, even if they’re willing to buy at a price that creates $20k profits.

            The first maker willing to offer an affordable entrant for this segment with good reliability and traditional drivetrain will end GMs reign over the segment.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Truck based SUV sales declined because the fad *ended*, not because the product changed. There was a huge boom in sales of truck-based SUVs to individual buyers in the late ’90s and early 2000s, which ended sometime in the mid-2000s. That’s when sales tanked. The remaining buyers are those who are committed to the segment despite the disadvantages of driving such vehicles, and the planning of the remaining truck-based SUVs is driven by their wants. I promise you the offerings in the class are driven by customer demand.

            Pickup sales didn’t “explode” because they were already so much bigger than truck-based SUV sales, but they stayed relatively steady during a period when the general trend was downsizing, and the mix shifted dramatically to crew cabs. The utilitarian buyer who needs a back seat bought a Suburban in 1995. Now he’s buying a crew-cab pickup.

            Chevy offered Suburbans configured just the way you want in the GMT800 generation. My grad school had a bunch of diesel 3/4 ton versions for use by scientists. But GM barely sold any copies so equipped — even then, the big sales were of the luxed-up, less capable versions.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            dal20402: “GM isn’t just spending money because they’re stupid.”

            I’m not entirely sure we can rule that out.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            GM never produced a diesel GMT800 SUV, and the buyers that need these, which included a large number of companies, especially field workers(surveyors and such), haven’t a reasonable replacement, as well as individuals such as myself that don’t want some cheaply made vehicle with planned obsolescence in every part; are left holding a bag of money waiting for something that can match the capabilities of the older vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            You’re right about the diesel GMT800. Thinking back I think the diesels must have been GMT400s. There were also GMT800s but they must have been gassers. In any case barely any SUVs were sold in the configuration those had. They were white, with spartan interiors, black bumpers, and steel wheels. For every one of those sold there were many leather-lined Z71s.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Not to keep getting picky, but no base GMT800 had black bumpers. And the basic interior wasnt exactly lacking even with no options. (Starting to doubt you here)

            Wasn’t anything wrong with the Z71, and is the model I would get if I could buy a new 800. But you don’t get GMT800 Z71 value in the current SUV range, you get underperformers.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            If you remove the air dam, what can a GMT800 Z71 do that a K2xx Z71 (coming soon) can’t? (Other than haul a few cubic feet of cargo because of the folding third row.)

            And about the UW Burbans… I may be remembering a few details wrong, but I know they had a bunch configured like work trucks. You can get a pretty work-trucky K2xx, but it still costs over $50k for a 4×4 version.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Where did you see a Z71 K2XX at? They haven’t made the Z71 since 09 or 2010, and it was a joke.

            The 800s had more clearence(both breakover/entry/departure angles, as well as size, better visibility, more front passenger room, the frame of the k2XX is almost like an afterthought it so far down, and the solution seems to wrap cheap plastic/metal down to hide it rather than properly tucking it into the body. Had actual metal bumpers that didn’t look scratched and crappy going over twigs/branches etc, had decent rubber on the tires vs the low profiles now used. Had thicker metal, seriously the GMT900s were the step above aluminum foil. Electric power steering, yea that will last doing anything more than street duty…
            I could probably find several more issues, but you get the point.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Z71s coming any day now:

            http://media.chevrolet.com/media/us/en/chevrolet/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2014/Sep/0925-tahoe-suburban-z71.html

      • 0 avatar

        Ironic that Lincoln, who developed the first venerable luxury SUV that wasn’t a Range Rover, should now be a minimal presence in that market, and is desperate enough to field a twin-turbo V6 SUV (the upcoming Navigator) in an arena where most people have no qualms about (and would vastly prefer) a V8.

  • avatar
    plee

    The driver’s seat and the steering column do not line up in all GM large pickup trucks and Suv’s. This has been true for many years. The gauges also do not line up with the center of the seat but are offset so that they appear to be in the middle of the steering wheel. The right side of the steering wheel is further away from the dashboard than the left side. Weird. Doesn’t this bother any of you owners? It makes for a strange driving position. Sure enough the 14 models suffer from the same poor design. Hard to imagine why this could not have been addressed with the redesign.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, this is a complaint that I’ve seen several times and…after driving a new Tahoe recently, I concur. The steering wheel is pushed noticeably toward the center of the car, probably to create a more car-like cabin and give people that insulated, driving-a-tank feeling that they seem to love. I, OTOH, think it’s stupid…

  • avatar
    Carilloskis

    Hummer they still offered the z71 through 2014 as an option pkg iinstead of its own trim a guy i work with has a 2013 Tahoe z71 the 15s are coming but without fender flares for some wierd reason and the rubber isnt as good as what came on my GMT 800 z71, and the first few years of the 800 you could get a trim level called Base that had painted bumpers ( they where a dark grey) and vinal seats crank up windows and no AC i think they stoped those around the 2003 refresh for the most part except of large fleets, where i work has a GMT 900 3/4 suburban in a simlar configuration as a fleet only option its got lower cloth than the LS suburbans do. and no window tint with steel wheels and a rubber floor. I see that many fleets never upgraded past the 800s especially the federal ones, i still see the feds driving around in black 3/4 ton 800s i guess since they no longer make a 3/4 ton the feds will just keep those ones around for a while, I also see the rail roads using the 800s a cre vehicles some have the ability to drive on the tracks but those have to be getting up there in age as well. The boarder patrol lifted their 900s and put diffrent bumpers on them when they replaced their stock 400s so yes their is alot of lost capability, which is why DHS swithced to buying the cheaper Ford Raptor.

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