By on July 20, 2015

TTAC best-selling expensive vehicles June 2015 YTD chart

So many upper-crust products sit at the top of their respective automaker’s lineup and do little more than look pretty. They are flagships, technological showcases, standard bearers.

On the other hand, there’s the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with its base price of more than $95,000 in the United States. Flagship? Yes. Technological showcase? That, too. Standard-bearer? Of course. But the S-Class is also popular.

6.4% of the non-Sprinter sales produced by Mercedes-Benz USA come from the S-Class.

Granted, that’s down from 7.4 percent a year ago, but even that figure is skewed by the expansion of Mercedes-Benz’s already massive lineup. S-Class sales are also down 5.8 percent through the first half of 2015 after sales reached a seven-year high in 2014.

Regardless, no vehicle with a base price beyond $70,000 sells more often in America than the S-Class, which now features both a sedan and a coupe, formerly the CL-Class.

2015 Cadillac Escalade & ESV

Incidentally, the next three best-selling vehicles on the list are SUVs. Mercedes-Benz’s own GL-Class would sit atop this list with 12,938 year-to-date sales, but GL pricing starts below $65K. That likely helps to explain some of the GL’s popularity.

Clearly then, this list doesn’t take into account costly versions of lesser vehicles, whether that be the $96K BMW M5 or a $71,415 GMC Yukon Denali XL 4×4. For one thing, sales figures for distinct trim levels aren’t made available by automakers. Additionally, there’s arguably a different level of prestige afforded to a car line that’s truly expensive in all variants. And what of the Tesla Model S? We still don’t receive reliable, monthly sales reports from Tesla, but HybridCars.com estimates 11,900 year-to-date Model S sales, including a surge to 2,800 units in June alone. The Model S’s base price is now $76,200*.

* This chart and article were filed before Tesla Motors’ announcement of a new, base-model Model S, now priced at $71,200 with destination.

All base prices in chart include destination/freight/delivery.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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61 Comments on “Chart of the Day: America’s Favorite Expensive Vehicles in 2015’s First Six Months...”


  • avatar
    dougjp

    S-Class includes a sedan and a coupe. Does BMW 7-series have both of those? Does BMW 6-series have both of those? If you add up the 6 and 7 series sales then its about the same as the S-Class.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    With some luxury brands having a lease rate of 50% or more, is it appropriate to use the word “sales”?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Without the Escalade bringing in the sales & bringing up Cadillac’s ATP, Cadillac would be Buick, which would lead to an analogous situation as when Buick & Oldsmobile co-existed to the detriment of each other.

    Lincoln has thus far gotten better results from a 1 billion, non-rwd, non BMW chasing, non unique chassis development program, non move HQ to SoHo, by merely dressing up Fords, than Cadillac has by undertaking a 12 billion dollar, Johan requested spending program.

    I’d nearly guarantee Cadillac is breaking even or losing money on every non-Escalade or SRX sale at this point.

    Without Escalade subsidizing the entire Cadillac division, it’d be a total loss.

    What happens when Escalade sales retreat?

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      Without Escalade Cadillac would still be selling cars that cost more than $70,000. Albeit not in the manner or amount catorgorized above. And I’m certain no one would spend $60, $70 or $80 grand and any new Buick. But they would and will on certain Cadillacs.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      The Escalade is definitely what’s keeping the lights on at Cadillac.

      And I doubt any Escalades sell for the $73,000 price that’s listed. I saw an “as tested” price in Car and Driver at something like $95,000.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      What Cadillac needs to do:

      1. Make an Escalade sub brand of luxury SUV’s and crossovers in various sizes that can be broken off as a modular piece if the mothership Cadillac brand folds.

      2. Base all of their sedans on lower Chevy and Buick models. No custom platforms, no custom rock hard Nurembergring conquering suspension, no shitty cost cutting junk no one wants like unturboed 4’s, badly programmed autos, crashy infotainment. Just stretch a Malibu, make it look like the new CTS, put lots of sound deadening and squooshy springs, and you have a Seville. Same thing with the Cruze. They already did this with the XTS and while its not a super hot seller, GM isn’t losing their shirt on it either.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Are you in my head bro? Yes, I think an Escalade sub brand pretty much aping Range Rover would be perfect. They would cover all bases and markets. The first Alpha platform vehicle should have been a little midsize Escalade, and the baby should have been a little Epsilon based one. People love that look… for better or worse it’s iconic; GM should milk it for all it’s worth instead of trying to reinvent the wheel for the millionth time.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Do you really need to keep repeating the same thing ad nauseum?

      And no, Cadillac w/o the Escalade/ESV would not be Buick.

      Yes, Cadillac bungled the interior packaging/sizing of the ATS and CTS, but nonetheless, Cadillac is on track to sell over 40k sedans in the mid-price segment with the CTS and XTS (the ATS and CTS replacements will rectify the interior room issue).

      Only MB and BMW sell more sedans in that price segment (Lexus doesn’t even come close).

      And the underwhelming, aged SRX is on track to have its BEST sales year ever (on track to sell over 60k) despite being at the end of its life-cycle – which further emphasizes Cadillac’s agonizingly slow progress in exanding its CUV lineup (Buick will soon have 3 CUVs whereas Cadillac will only have the SRX replacement, the XT5).

      Speaking of the XT5 – it looks to be a major improvement over the SRX and wouldn’t be surprised at all if it does 80-85k+ in sales.

      As for Lincoln – MKZ sales are behind that for the LaCrosse which will be replaced soon (and doesn’t have a real hybrid variant and also competes in-house with the Regal) and not that much ahead of the smaller RWD ATS.

      And despite all the hoopla about the MKC, the NX is selling TWICE as well and the RDX even more than that (not to mention the old SRX selling 3x as well).

      With the XT5 moving up half a segment and a new Cadillac compact CUV to take its place – it would a pretty easy bet to predict that the upcoming compact Cadillac CUV will outsell the MKC.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “Do you really need to keep repeating the same thing ad nauseum?”

        Did Liberace always have to dress funny? Yes!

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…….

        Not to nitpick, but um err uhh…… 2014, Caddy sold ~60K ATS/CTSs.

        Lexus sold 73K ESs ALONE. And another 73K IS/GSs.

        Lincoln sold 34K MKZs…. beating out the ATS/CTS individually. And they have the MKC, a hot segment in which Caddy has nothing but vague promises. Not sure what you are using to predict the Caddy CUV selling more than the MKC on either.

        Escalade sells IIRC 25K units per year. Given the sales success of the ancient SRX I am certain a momma bear and baby bear Escalade would move like gangbusters. GM made a huge misstep, period.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Are you really going to include FWD ES and MKZ sales?

          GM has the LaCrosse to compete against the ES and MKZ – so can add the 51.5k LaCrosse sales (which isn’t bad for a model at the end of its life-cycle and w/o a proper hybrid).

          And for those who want something smaller and sportier, there is the Regal.

          Anyway, I am talking about the all-important MID-price luxury sedan segment – which is the juxtaposition of “luxury” (no entry-level luxury here) and sales (significantly higher volume than the flagships).

          For that price-segment, only MB and Audi do better.

          (Yeah, Lexus is the “KING” of entry-level sedans with the ES and IS – so what?)

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Of course. It wouldn’t make any sense at all to calculate Lexus’ sales by including everything that it sold!

  • avatar
    hachee

    If you’re combining both versions (coupe and sedan) of the S-Class and the 6-Series (even if only because the manufacturers don’t break them out), then I don’t know why you wouldn’t be combining both versions of the Escalade(regular and lwb ESV). If you did, Escalade would be first on the list, by far.

  • avatar
    ydnas7

    so If Tesla reported sales, then they would be the leader on this list.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      No excuse for it not being in the chart. Just asterisk it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Right. Aside from the fact that Tesla doesn’t provide US-only data, there is no reason to exclude it from a US sales report that obtains its information from the automakers.

        (Yes, I used the sarcasm font. If you want the data so much, then go tell Elon Musk to report it. Better yet, ask him why he doesn’t do that already.)

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Right, so just pretend the sales don’t exist. Plenty of real analysts don’t seem to have a problem coming up with numbers based on registrations etc. The numbers are out there.

          Getting accurate data is Cain’s problem, not mine. If he doesn’t like the data, he can complain to Musk. Otherwise either asterisk the estimate, or stay out of the chart business. Pretending the sales don’t exist doesn’t cut it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is hilarious. You actually blame everyone except Musk for something that Musk could easily do if he wanted to.

            Screw on your thinking cap for a half-second: Why isn’t Musk reporting this?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            You really expect Tim Cain to go sifting through registration data just so Teslas can be included in this one chart? Even then, the data wouldn’t equate to the sales numbers reported by the other automakers because registrations don’t = sales in their world.

            I realize many readers here have high expectations of the free content they receive, but that’s a bit much.

          • 0 avatar
            ydnas7

            If Tesla’s sales weren’t in the top 3 podium for the group, then it would not be reasonable to go looking for approx figures.

            But as it stands, Tesla fits exactly in the description, happens to be the highest seller in the category, and is basically ignored because its not easy.

            Tesla buyers do cross shop Mercedes S class and BMW 5,6,7 series.

            Pretending the sales don’t exist doesn’t cut it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The only way that Mr. Cain is going to get estimates is if he takes them from someone else.

            I don’t think that you have any idea how these estimates are calculated. It isn’t just a guy with a slide rule and a dartboard; it requires access to DMV data (that not every state provides) and a lot of work to do it right.

            If Elon Musk is so worried about these articles, then let him furnish the data. Tesla fanboys ought to ask their beloved hero why he isn’t satisfying their cravings for information when the company could easily report the information if it chose.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Tesla doesn’t release monthly sales, but they do release quarterly sales:

      Q1: 10,300
      Q2: 11,507

      Total: 21,807

      Looked those figures up on Google and did the math all by myself. I’m not sure why GoodCarBadCar can’t do the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Er, you’re comparing Tesla’s global numbers to every other automaker’s US numbers.

        • 0 avatar
          healthy skeptic

          @Pch101

          Ah, right you are. My bad. Never mind!

          That’s kind of lame of Tesla, actually. Why not break things down based on region?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            When organizations don’t report information, it’s because they don’t want you to have it.

            Tesla doesn’t sell that many cars. If the information was more detailed, it would make it easier to ask tough questions.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            He probably doesn’t want headlines every month that 2015 sales don’t match 2014 sales or 2013 sales.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So I know this is a “sub $70,000” vehicle but what are Hyundai Genesis sales figures and have they bothered to separate the coupe from the sedan yet?

    I guess what I’d be more interested in seeing is S-Class vs Lexus LS vs Genesis.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Right, how does the A8 sell more copies than the LS? And the LS starts at $72,500 – had to make sure it made the price cut.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Well someday I’ll have the money for a CPO luxury sedan and I’m kind of interested in production/sales #s to see which ones will be easiest to lay my hands on. :-P

        (BTW a big thank you to all of you who buy/lease them new and make depreciation happen.)

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Canada separates out the coupe sales from the sedan, but Hyundai USA still does not.

      Putting aside that the Equus competes with the LS and not the Genesis sedan, YTD, the Genesis is the 3rd best selling midsize RWD luxury sedan after the 5 Series and E Class.

      Every now and then, can find sales figures for the sedan (for the 1st Q, Hyundai sold 6,656 in the US).

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “but GL pricing starts below $65K.”

    Yep, about $62,995 with wheel covers and no sunroof. The GL is astonishingly bad value for money, even among the luxury class.

  • avatar
    turf3

    I still have trouble getting my head around the (clearly demonstrated) fact that people will pay $75,000+ for what is basically a Chevrolet pickup truck with added sheetmetal to provide two more rows of seating, leather seats, loud stereo with too much bass boost, and a big Cadillac emblem. (And black paint; do they even sell these things in other colors? I will also never be able to understand the popularity of black cars with black interiors in the South. Have these people never heard of solar heating?)

    It’s like the intelligence test that was the Cadillac Cimarron; except that the public are continuing to fail the test.

    • 0 avatar
      Mieden

      This one baffles me too. Better yet, how about $55K for a “Chevrolet pickup truck with added sheetmetal to provide two more rows of seating”. It is hard to fathom.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      What you described is a Chevy Tahoe. An Escalade is much more than leather seats and an upgraded stereo.

      Honestly, and I don’t mean to be snarky, but I think for those of you here who can’t afford these cars have a hard time understanding why people pay for an Escalade over a fleet sale rental Tahoe with just power windows and locks. A Tahoe and the Escalade are completely different driving experiences.

      I like nice cars and I love the Escalade. I wouldn’t buy one because I hate how inefficient they are. So I ordered an XC90 T8 instead, which is more luxurious for less $.

      • 0 avatar
        Mieden

        Having driven each previous generation Tahoe/Escalade and the current Escalade (but not Tahoe, interestingly enough), I have to irrefutably disagree with you. The difference in driving demeanor is FAR from marked…since you know, its the same truck! I will admit to them distancing them more with each generation, but even still, it is obviously a Tahoe+ in driving dynamics/refinement. You can slather as much makeup on a pig as like…

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          At least the current Escalade does a better job of differentiating the sheetmetal and esp. the interior/dash.

          Can’t say the same for the Lexus, Infiniti or Lincoln BoF SUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @bd2

            The QX80 is on an entirely different platform (Patrol) than the Nissan Armada (Titan). Check your facts.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            “Check your facts.”

            Awww…just like you don’t do sometimes!

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            @CoreyDL

            Aside from your history of “not checking facts” – you can add lack of reading comprehension (don’t smart too much over me having corrected you a no. of times).

            Where did I ever state that the QX80 is based on the Armada?

            I’m well aware that Nissan switched the basis for the QX SUV from the Armada to the Patrol.

            That doesn’t change the FACT that what I had posted is correct – that the Infiniti SUV is based on a Nissan and has less differentiation than does the Cadillac from the Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Maybe the driving experience is different (although I doubt it), but the riding experience is almost totally the same. I’ve spent more than enough time in all of the GM BOF SUVs in airport shuttle duty to know that. The Escalade has slightly nicer materials (although not nearly $95,000 nice materials) and is louder. It also may be a bit smoother because of the MRC, but having seen what MRC can do in cars I was really underwhelmed by it in the Slade.

        They are unbelievably cynical, yet unbelievably profitable. I’d never buy one in a million years. Either get the Chevy truck for $30k less (with nearly the same experience) or get a Range Rover that actually has $100k-like interior materials and rides like a luxury car.

      • 0 avatar
        turf3

        1) It’s still a Chevy pickup truck. What is it that changes the “driving experience” other than the expensive stereo, leather seats, and a different IP? Maybe softer springs and shocks? It’s still a Chevy pickup.

        2) You seem to think that my disdain for this vehicle is based on finances? I hate to tell you this but probably 90% of the people actually driving Escalades can’t afford them. They’re all leased. I can afford a vehicle like that, but I choose to use my money in better ways.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Fleetwoods and Caprices have been platform mates for decades, this is no different.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Odd to see a Porsche sports car on this list that isn’t even Porsche’s best sports car.

    Guess there are 5,072 buyers a month with more dollars than sense.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    What would be interesting to see (though maybe not worth the work) is total sales dollars per model (sales times base price) for a vehicle type. Say all sedans, or all small CUVs. Where are americans spending their money? Does an S-class pull more money than a 3-series?

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I’d say a lot of the reason the Escalade does so well is that it really has no competition with its LWB model, not that it is the best. The Navigator is old and has no V8 anymore, so if you want the full fledged super long luxury SUV with 3 rows and a V8, the Escalade is it. The GL sells very very well and pretty much would suck up a major part of the Escalade sales if it had an LWB version that was as long as the ESV. Once the GL gets updated with an interior on par with the new S-Class, it will eat up even more of the Escalade SWB business.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I agree that a LWB GL would sell extremely well in the US. As would a LWB, Lexus-ized Sequoia. I’m not sure that management from other continents can quite wrap their heads around how BIG some Americans like their vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      But a full-size Cadillac CUV (which Cadillac is working on) would also sell very well – so it goes both ways (not everyone wants an SUV).

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