By on October 8, 2014

2014 Mazda CX-5 greyIn September 2014, for the third time ever and the third time this year, the Mazda CX-5 outsold the Mazda 3 in the United States.

The difference was minimal: just 238 units in September compared with a CX-5-favouring 2067 units in February and 1319 in March. Year-to-date, the 3 leads the CX-5 by just 2069 units.

Together, they account for 65.8% of Mazda USA’s volume over the course of the last nine months, up slightly from 64.5% at this point a year ago.

While the U.S. sales gap between the two cars is narrow, the CX-5 and 3 are travelling in opposite directions on the same highway. After hitting record highs in 2012, sales of the 3 declined 15% in 2013. Through the first nine months of 2014, year-over-year volume 3 sales are down 2% in 2014. Q3 sales slid 3%.

It’s not as though America’s auto industry is regaining strength through compact cars – sales in the category are only slightly better than level this year and rose less than 1% in September – but the 3 is underperforming compared with key rivals. As accepted as the 3 is by the automotive press, its true rivals on volume terms aren’t big-name players like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Chevrolet Cruze but rather lower-tier cars like the Volkswagen Jetta (down 7% to 115,055 this year), Subaru Impreza (up 7% to 64,329), and Dodge Dart (down 8% to 60,763). 3 sales are down 2% to 80,259 over the last nine months.

The CX-5, on the other hand, is growing at an above-average pace in the small crossover battle led by the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4. Combined sales of that trio are up 9% this year while CX-5 sales are up 29%. Keep in mind, the surging RAV4 (up 26% in 2014) sells more than twice as often as the CX-5; the stagnant Escape sells nearly three times more often, and the CR-V sells more than three times as often.

But the CX-5 is central to Mazda’s expansion. The brand is a truly low-volume player in the United States. We’ve examined its market share at TTAC in the past, which is akin to the share of the market owned by BMW. But Mazda USA volume is up 9% in 2014, a faster rate of growth than that which has been achieved by the overall industry.

2014 Mazda 3It’s not down to the 3. The unique-among-minivans 5 is surely not responsible for growing the brand. 2 sales are up 40% this year, a gain of 3628 units. 6 sales are up 29%, equal to a 9328-unit improvement. (Mazda says the 6 set a record for September sales last month, but they didn’t mean an all-time record. 6 sales in September 2005 were 1% higher; 6 sales in September 2004 were 26% higher. The 6 currently owns slightly more than 2% of America’s midsize market.) The CX-9 has aged, and sales are down 31% this year. As we approach its replacement, MX-5 sales are down 20%, year-over-year, after falling 66% between 2006 and 2013.

If the 3 can’t perk up, the responsibility pressed down on the CX-5’s shoulders will only gain weight. CX-5 volume has grown by 17,522 units to 78,190 in 2014. Only once in 20 monthly tries have CX-5 sales decreased on a year-over-year basis, and that drop was valued at just 5% in the market’s lowest-volume month this year, January.

Exclude the small crossover from Mazda’s lineup and 2014 YTD sales are up just 1.8%, rather than 9.3%. Remove the CX-5 from the equation in September, when it topped the Mazda sales charts, and sales would have decreased 1.9% rather than increasing 6.7%.

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29 Comments on “September 2014 Sales: CX-5 Tops Mazda USA Sales Charts...”

  • avatar

    It’s about time this well received crossover gets it’s due recognition in the form of increased sales. Good going, Mazda

  • avatar

    Maybe the next Mazdaspeed should be a CX-5?

  • avatar

    The famous Zoom-zoom company. Maker of the Miata, the 3 and the 6 — the best handling vehicles in their classes.

    And what do the masses buy? a crossover that can’t come close to the handling of their cars. The vehicle least well associated with their brand.

    The masses have spoken.

    • 0 avatar

      By all accounts (I have never driven one) the CX-5 is among the best handling vehicle in its class too.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s why I bought one, a Sport 6spd (FWD)…bought it in spring 2013 because I couldn’t wait for the new 3 and I didn’t like the old 3..have not regretted it, not with 32 mpg on my commute, high seating position and some, if underpowered, fun to drive factor. No problems whatsoever in 23k miles. Great discount at Bommarito in St. Louis.

      • 0 avatar


        Like being the prettiest gal in the leper colony, that.

        I have driven one. It is perfectly OK to drive. Handling is decent, ride is rather poor, which is typical of any tall vehicle that handles decently. Making it several inches lower and 500lbs lighter would make it a lot better.

    • 0 avatar

      Durango Hellcat edition it is then!

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I maintain a 6 wagon would be a significant volume creator for them. I, along with dozens and dozens of similarly thinking people, would happily plunk down $27-30K for a nice 6 wagon.

    Note: previous owner of 2005 6 wagon 5-speed.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Mazda6 wagon sales were <200/month, file that under

      The rumored CX-3,OTOH…

      • 0 avatar
        Sammy B

        I thought the “dozens and dozens” line would be a good indicator this wasn’t based in reality. It’s a shame, but I know it’s the way it is. 6 wagon would accomplish nothing for them. I’m honestly happily surprised they still bother with the 3 hatch

      • 0 avatar

        I love how everyone loves to look back at how wagons didn’t sell 10-15 years ago when gas was cheap as dirt and the SUV craze was in full bloom.

        Make a decent wagon, and people will buy them. BMW made the f31 wagon bigger and squarer and much more useful than my e91 wagon, and added a diesel, and sales of the things have taken off despite them starting $10K more expensive. Go figure.

        • 0 avatar

          Do you have sales figures for the sedan/wagon/coupe/’vert/GranTurismo breakdown?

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t think BMW normally breaks it out. Of course now there is a split between 3’s and 4’s.

            I do know what my local dealership is selling, as I have been over their recently looking at 2-series and talking to my salesdudette (a super hot blond, btw). They can’t give away GTs and no longer stock them. They are selling about 4-5X as many wagons as the previous gen, 2/3rds diesel. A very few coupes and the occasional convertible, but Maine is a tough place to sell $50K+ convertibles. Same with Gran Coupes – just not the right market here, they cost too much. GTs and GCs are basically special order if you want one here. Which is fine with most of those buyers, and BMW makes it quite painless. They do a LOT of European Delivery on the fancier cars. But this is a small (and the only) dealership in a small and poor state. They manage to sell 3x as many BMWs as they sell Infiniti’s out of the other half of the building. They are the only Infiniti dealer too.

  • avatar

    I can’t speak to the 3, except to offer my opinion that it (like the 6) is the best-looking vehicle in its class. But the CX-5 is a phenomenal little car. It felt a solid class above the Rav-4 and Escape when we were looking, and compared to it the CR-V had all the personality of an airport shuttle van. We put snow tires on it in the winter and got up and down hills, to and from the rocky Maine coast, through blizzards and whatever other hell New England winter could throw at it, all while returning 26mpg in mostly city driving. My only complaint is wind noise – oh, and that the fuel economy drops off a cliff over 75mph.

    • 0 avatar

      The 3 sedan is truly one of the best looking cars on the road, at any price. The 6 is only slightly behind. I don’t think the 3 hatch is too good looking a car. I’d still buy the hatch over the sedan, but the sedan is by far the looker. Aston Martin couldn’t do a small sedan that looks better than that one.

  • avatar

    Just a reflection of the general sales trend with C/SUV’s now outselling sedans. Wait until Mazda comes out with the new CX-3. Bet that will be a good seller too.

  • avatar

    The lack of a trailer hitch option on the 3, probably accounts for those few hundred…..

  • avatar

    They could sell far more 6`s if the dealers had any on their lots.

    • 0 avatar

      No they wouldn’t because production is set to match demand and there isn’t much demand for the 6. Problem is, its too small, almost the exact same size as the 3 and it shares a lot of the same interior parts. The 6 looks like a high trim level 3 so why buy a 6 when you can get the same car for thousands less. This blog once said the same thing about the Malibu compared to the cruze and raked gm over the coals for it…but Mazda gets a pass. Also its not a fun car to drive. The first gen6 was but this gen 6 is a snoozer to drive. Mazda has the journalists and bloggers fooled but not the consumer and the low 6 sales are proof.

  • avatar

    I have been reading about how wonderful Mazda is since I started paying attention (around 1982). Same ‘ol same ‘ol.

    I have read “journalists” and armchair blowhards breathlessly praise to the highest just about every new Mazda that gets introduced. And without fail, each lands with a thud or a “meh” (except maybe the original RX-7 and Miata).

    Every single new design 323/Protege/3 was supposed to send Honda into a panic. Never happened.

    Every single new design 626/6 was supposed to make the Accord and Camry run with their tails between their legs. Never happened.

    Every new design MPV/5 was supposed to herald the end of the Odyssey/Sienna reign as the standard-bearers. Never happened.

    Every new design CX whatever is supposed to crush the Rav4/CR-V/Pilot/Highlander/etc. and send ’em back to the drawing board. Never happened.

    The 929/Millenia were supposed to send chills down the spines of Lexus/Infiniti/Acura and show ’em how to sell premium cars thru the cheap channel instead. Never happened.

    There is a reason Mazda is basically nuthin’… their reputation sucks. Their cars impress the car rag journos, but do nothing for the actual public. They can’t even impress people enough on a test drive to give up on Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai, let alone the domestics. That speaks volumes.

    Mazda has had 40 years to explode and have done nothing. Obviously pretty cars can’t overcome the public’s aversion to Mazda in general (and their cars many times are pretty).

    And where are all the dire predictions on here about Mazda’s imminent demise and ridiculous business model of relying on just a couple models to keep ’em afloat (were talking tiny numbers here). And yet any talk of Honda always devolves into how terrible Honda is and how they are just one quarter from going belly-up because the Accord, Civic, and CR-V are their cash cows and their lineup (and obscene profits) rely too heavily on just those three models (of course Mazda total sales many times don’t even equal Accord sales alone for the same period).

    I just don’t get it. So many have a hard-on for Mazda no matter what they do, yet can’t wait to smash Honda and Toyota (and their very happy owners) for being plain stupid and unworthy.

    Maybe it’s jealousy. Maybe it’s sour grapes. Maybe it’s a sense of rooting for the perennial underdog.

    Or maybe Mazda is just overrated. And the public knows it.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with most of what you said. I don’t get why journos love mazda so much… I think it stems from the fact that auto journos are not real car drivers and write their reviews based on how a 3 series performs on the track, not how REAL drivers perform driving cars on public roads…and they buy into the zoom zoom marketing tagline. Even though anyone who’s driven a new mazda6 sees that it’s as entertaining to drive as a cutlass cierra… throbbing dullard motor, numb steering, clunky suspension, loud intrusive engine and road nose, etc etc etc. When it comes to new mazdas all you do is get hyped up by the media for a budget performance ride and get let down….and I hate to break it to everyone but when it comes to “driving performance” and the “fun to drive” factor few drivers that can afford new mazdas care about that, and if they do there are better cars out there..those who love mazdas are like BRZ fans… they’re young and can’t afford one so they say they’ll hold out for the used ones to hit the market while flaming everyone for not liking the cars they want but can’t afford…then cry when it becomes discontinued.

      The first gen 6 was the only mazda I really enjoyed…but I couldn’t afford one and by the time I could I had grown up, my needs had changed, so I never got one and probably never will.

  • avatar

    Quite simply the Mazda 3 can’t compete with larger volume compacts because it doesn’t have the production capability to do so.

    Other compacts like the Jetta, Civic, etc have factories at or near North America. Mazda still has to send them in from Hofu Japan for the 3. Production capacity is still at the whim of the fluctuating exchange rate and it would be a large risk to commit large production numbers to fluid market.

    For this reason, Mazda can’t price the 3 as their rivals. They are also less flexible with inventory.

    When Mazda finally starts production of their Mexican plant they will be able to be more aggressive with the 3. With Mexican production, Mazda may be able to increase their sales volume like how Subaru did.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda3 production in Mexico started several months ago. Even with a lower production cost base, it does not appear as if Mazda is willing to compete in the discount game with the big boys. They can’t get the volume of a Civic or Corolla at current prices.

  • avatar

    This is the same 5 with the terrible overlap crash rating?

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    You can get this thing with the excellent 3.7L jointly developed with Ford, right? about the same weight as a Mustang? I’m in.

    Let me get back to you on the mysterious appeal of a Mazda.

  • avatar

    I’ll admit to having a very soft spot for Mazda. I briefly owned a 2010 MAZDASPEED3 and I loved it. We needed a new car for my wife and daughter to commute in and at the time I made the adult decision to put them into a new 2013 Passat TDI. In hindsight I should have unloaded the old Passat wagon and kept my MS3. I miss that car to this day.

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