By on March 27, 2015

2015 Honda CR-V Exterior.CR2

While compact SUVs are doing well in the showroom, their success comes at the expense of midsize and compact car sales.

In a report from Edmunds, 63 percent of compact SUV owners traded a midsize SUV, compact car or midsize sedan for a compact SUV like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue. Fourteen percent, meanwhile, traded like for like.

Either way, both groups have their reasons for choosing models from this segment:

Compact SUV popularity is truly a product story. They are a desirable size, but concede very little in efficiency and are comparably priced with models in other popular segments. They combine aspects of the market’s best-selling and pragmatic segments — establishing a new middle.

The report says that transaction prices for compact SUVs are on par with midsize sedans, averaging $26,420 compared to the latter’s $25,887 average. It adds that the popular segment is having an effect on dealer inventories as well, as midsize and compact cars take the longest to leave the lot; the aforementioned Rogue has 36 days-to-turn, while the Sentra takes 85 days to do the same.

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30 Comments on “Compact SUVs Gain Popularity At Expense Of Midsize, Compact Cars...”


  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Seems like everybody wants to sit higher and carry stuff.
    I don’t see anything wrong with this…other than IMO the higher wagon would fit this demand best…like the Volvo xc70…but people seem to dislike the wagon look as well.
    Just something about being NOT a wagon that has bitten folks. Like my wife!

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      We recently added a $1500 ’99 Malibu to the stable as a cheap 2nd car. The biggest reason I still prefer out old ’99 CR-V is that it is earlier to get in and out of. That and the station wagon ability to haul anything. A sedan is about useless for anything but hauling a few people.

      FWIW the ‘Bu has been great. Good fuel economy, reliable (and has been – I know the first owner), and gets the job done. It may have been borne in a dark era for Detroit but there is nothing wrong with it. Just don’t like the sedan body style and I’m not keen on the low enter/exit crouch required.

  • avatar

    Coming from Europe, and now three months into my year in the US I am amazed at the prevelence of these. Or should I say I am amazed that North Americans ever purchased anything else. I drive a 5.0 Mustang simply because it is insanely expensive in Sweden. If it was not for this you would probably see me in a Buick Encore or Honda CRV. Why? you guys drive long long distances. I cannot haul kids sports gear, friends etc in a sedan. Even if I was single I would find it immensely useful. It would seem to me with your geography and lifestyle it is the goto vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The minivan hands the job just as well but our “mini” vans have grown in size to in fact be full size. I view these things as a return to what the minivan was supposed to do as you eloquently explain.

      • 0 avatar
        rdclark

        That’s exactly right. Our former family car was a 2002 Mazda MPV, the smallest minivan of its generation. We configured it for five passengers plus cargo. Today’s compact SUV is the form factor that most closely resembles this in overall size, footprint, and capability — and is much more efficient. The Siennas and Odysseys of today are immense, hard to park in the city, and not cheap to operate.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I truthfully find them no more useful than a station wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Apparently these and smaller versions are lighting up the sales charts in Europe, too. They are just flipping practical. As a value proposition, you can hardly go wrong with a wagon; make no bones about it, these ARE wagons with barely plausible deniability.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      Thank you for acknowledging what some won’t, driving habits, needs and conditions in Europe are largely very different than in the USA. Longer distances, larger lots, more stuff, worse roads, a rougher climate than most of Europe.

      The quote in this piece is correct. The small CUV really is the best car choice for a lot of people. It’s a triumph of utility over style. As for the tall wagon, the Subaru Crosstrek is sort of that, and sells well. The XC70 was a hit, until the redesign made it much heaver, slower, smaller inside and less efficient. Volvo killed it, not demand for the concept. It’s too expensive too. The XC60 is a better looking, more updated vehicle at the same price.

      I’ll be buying a small SUV soon too. Trading in a 3 series.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        I had a succession of SUVs when we needed that configuration , but they weren’t nearly as enjoyable to drive as the cars that preceded or succeeded them.

        We also looked at a number of CUVs when we had to replace our A4 Avant. Frankly, even in “fully dressed” mode, none of them were any more practical from a capacity perspective, and all of them had significantly worse driving characteristics. In my opinion, CUVs are a fashion choice for the brain dead.

  • avatar
    udman

    I get why these things are so popular, as I am going to be in the market to replace a long-in-the-tooth vehicle this summer. The current front runner is the Buick Encore, as it would fit my needs better than almost any other vehicle right now. Yes, there is the Chevy version, but there are options not available on the Chevy that the Buick has. Other smaller CUV’s I have looked at include the Hyundai Tuscon (not really liking the whole look of the car), the Kia Sportage (same thing), the Forester (not quite high enough) and the others are a bit larger (like the CR-V, Rav-4, CX-6, Rogue, Tiguan) and I really don’t like the Juke.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      May I ask what are you replacing and why do you find yourself gravitating toward such a small class of vehicle?

      • 0 avatar
        udman

        It is a 14 year old Minivan (a Mercury Villager, or more commonly known as a Cheaper Nissan Quest) and I never really needed a minivan in the first place, but it was just easier to get in an out of, and the cargo room was pretty good. The 3rd seat design of the Quest/Villager was wonky (touted as a selling feature) as it could never be removed.

        I have a larger GMC Envoy SUV that I will be keeping (to tow the boat and use the open trailer I have when doing yard work or junk) but I want something a bit smaller for my 42 mile each way commute.

    • 0 avatar

      Trust me, the Tiguan is not *larger* than much of anything, haha. I had a Tiguan loaner up until yesterday, and it seemed to offer no more space than my grandmother’s 2014 Kia Soul…or the Golf 5-door to which it is closely related.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The CUVs are inherently much more practical in the long run, even though I prefer a nice car.

    As I get older, a CUV appeals more to me to the extent that I may consider one in he future, for it’s easier to get in and out of – you young guys will eventually understand that – and practical as a family truckster. Our 2002 CR-V is just that, and Wifey loves it.

    I tend to be attracted to a Malibu as my next car, but who knows? Stay tuned…

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    For those of us with knee issues, it is much easier getting into smaller SUV’s than practically squatting to get into any car.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Those of us who are adverse to SUVs of any sort are being forced to compromise our selections. Throw in the desire for a manual and I’m SOL.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’ve said it before, but this story bears it out: the CUV is becoming the default type of car in the US. (It seems many world markets are close behind.) SUVs and CUVs were specialty vehicles, like sports cars, for many years. Now, increasingly, the sedan and the low-riding hatch will be the specialty vehicle and the CUV the mainstream one.

    I thought it would be just a trend. Now I’m convinced it’s a permanent shift in what a car is. CUV ride height and (unfortunately for people who like interior space) wheelwell and wheel size are the new normal. Within a decade a CUV will just be called a “car.”

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    Wonder whether that would be the case, if the same manufacturers were offering AWD hatchbacks or wagons at the same price point.

    AWD in the winter in about half of the country (and with the last 2 winters, 2/3s of the country) is important.

    There is only a single manufacturer that offers a AWD non-SUV at that price point now that Suzuki is gone. Got to compare apples with apples and comparing a FWD to an AWD in the snow zone, is not that…

    I bet that if Nissan offered an AWD Sentra at the 20Kish price point, it would fly off the lots, but in expense of their 25Kish Rogue

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I think if an AWD Sentra would fly off the lots, they would sell it. They’re pretty happy to mix and match parts.

      Instead I think it would sit there and gather dust as all the people buying Rogues today continue to buy Rogues.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    CUV’s are the antichrist of vehicle design. You,can only style a breadbox so many ways. It always makes me laugh how many people deride minivans or station wagons yet think their CUV is so much cooler (not). Their prevalence will merely accelerate the decline of the “car” as object of desire to mere appliance.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “CUV’s are the antichrist of vehicle design”

      In the spirit of the Subaru article: I love you man.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Actually, I think the CUV will become the appliance, but other vehicles will become the object of desire.

      A CUV really is more desirable for me, and here’s why:
      1. My Kia Sedona minivan gets 15 mpg. A Sportage will get 24-ish.
      2. A nice CUV is $25k, but a nice minivan is $35k. [I spent $17k on a 1-year-old van 5 years ago, but most people want bling.]
      3. I’m moving out of the minivan stage of life. I can haul 4×8 sheets of plywood with the hatch closed, or haul my 5 kids around. But my kids are moving on, and I can rent a truck at Home Depot if I need to.

      Not all CUVs are created equal, so I can’t agree on the ‘breadbox’ comment. Interior space varies widely, as do features like folding seat design and towing capabilities. Some only offer CVTs, while some offer actual 6-speed autos. Warranties vary as well. I’m finding the CUV landscape to be pretty interesting as I study it.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Crossovers are basically “lifted” wagons (more popular in the US) or lifted hatches (more popular in Europe).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    What I really want is for Kia to put its hybrid drivetrain into the Sportage.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I hope that they don’t keep moving toward tall compact SUVs on short wheelbases…some look better than others, but they all tend to look a bit like little birdhouses tootling around.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Cars are returning to a height of roughly 70 inches; which is what they were before the influcence of the jet and space age had designers building cars that are long and low (and with wraparound windshields and tail fins.)

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15971293049/

    A more upright seating position does allow for more legroom. They are easier to get in and out of, as well as strapping car seats in. You can see better in traffic. Stability control means they have less of a tendency to roll over.

    I can easily see how they replaced both the station wagon and the minivan as the family truckster.

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