Subcompact Crossover Sales Doubled In August

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Led by the Subaru XV Crosstrek and Jeep Renegade, U.S. sales of subcompact crossovers jumped 104 percent to nearly 43,000 units in August 2015, a year-over-year gain of 22,000 sales. August marked the second consecutive month in which segment-wide sales more than doubled.

The addition of new candidates certainly provides a massive boost to the nascent category, but most established players produced gains last month, as well. The subcompact CUVs which were on sale a year ago combined for a 7-percent increase in August and a 7-percent increase through the first eight months of 2015.

But five new competitors, including three of the segment’s five top sellers in August, produced 48 percent of all subcompact crossover sales in the United States last month.

The Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, and Mazda CX-3 contributed 20,435 sales in August 2015, up from nada in August 2014, prior to their arrival.

At Jeep, the Renegade recorded its best month yet. With 8,156 August sales, Jeep has now reported 28,907 Renegade sales over the course of the model’s first six months. Renegade volume has increased each and every month, rising 30 percent in July and then 29 percent in August, month-to-month.

August was the Chevrolet Trax’s ninth month of availability in America. (The Trax went on sale in Canada just after Christmas 2012.) Trax sales reached the highest level yet in July and slipped by only 126 units to 5,985 in August.

Limited availability has curtailed the volume achieved by the Honda HR-V, which posted its lowest-volume month yet in August. Honda sold nearly 6,400 HR-Vs in May, another 7,760 in the best month of June, just under 6,000 in July before dipping to 4,567 sales in August. The still-fresh Fit subcompact car on which the HR-V is based was up 68 percent through the first four months of 2015, but since the HR-V debuted, Fit sales are down 0.6 percent, including a 52-percent plunge to only 2,901 units in August.

The Fit isn’t the only subcompact, or compact for that matter, suffering as subcompact utility vehicles become more commonplace. While you may follow Bark M in a pursuit for your own Ford Fiesta ST, overall Fiesta volume is down 3 percent this year, a disappointing follow-up to the Fiesta’s 8-percent decline at this stage last year. But the Fiesta’s decline isn’t nearly as dreadful as the subcompact slide at Chevrolet, where the Trax has joined the Sonic on which it’s based. Sonic volume is down 33 percent this year. Subcompact cars, as a whole, are down 9 percent, a far worse slide than the overall passenger car sector is enduring.

Meanwhile, the aging Fiat 500 tumbled 19 percent through the first eight months of 2015. In August, Fiat lost 1,275 500 sales while adding 1,029 copies of the 500X.

Mazda USA finally began delivering its first CX-3s last month. Although only 698 were sold in August, the CX-3 is expected to produce greater volume than the subcompact 2 ever did in the U.S. Mazda won’t bother bringing the new 2, from which this CX-3 is derived, to the United States. (You can buy the new 2 in sedan form as the Scion iA.) North of the border, the CX-3 has quickly become the segment’s number two player, trailing only the HR-V. Mazda, however, is a far bigger player in Canada than in the U.S.

The now five-year-old Juke appears to be the contender that’s faring worst now that so many new alternatives attempt to steal the show. After consistently selling more than 35,000 Jukes per year between 2011 and 2014, Nissan is on track to sell fewer than 30,000 Jukes in 2015. Year-over-year, Juke volume levelled off in August 2015, but the smallest Nissan crossover was down 43 percent compared with August 2013.

Similarly, Mini’s Countryman, which arrived on U.S. shores in late 2010, is diving quickly in 2015. Sales are down 29 percent this year as the Countryman must also face off against another four-door in Mini showrooms, a car which didn’t exist a year ago.

Lacking an all-wheel-drive option, we left the Kia Soul out of this equation, but it’s worth noting that the boxy Kia just posted its best month of U.S. sales in the nameplate’s history. 1 7,108 Souls were sold in August 2015, topping all of the vehicles in this post. Maybe all-wheel-drive isn’t quite as vital as we thought…

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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  • Dwford Dwford on Sep 17, 2015

    Can we have some truth in size classing? How is the Crosstrek a subcompact? Or the Renegade? Vehicles have gotten so much bigger, they are actually rated a size above their claimed class by the government based on interior volume. Aside from the Fiat 500 and a couple others, what vehicles out there are truly in the subcompact class? These "subcompacts" are just filling in the gap because the formerly small crossovers have gotten so big.

    • Drzhivago138 Drzhivago138 on Sep 17, 2015

      Yes and no. The first CUV, the RAV4 (well, we could argue day and night about what actually constitutes "first," but let's just go with that for simplicity's sake), was definitely subcompact by today's standards (95" WB vs. 104.7"), but the CR-V rides on the same 103" WB as it did in 1997, and it's not any longer either. It has gotten an inch and a half wider, which is a good thing in my book. The HR-V has only a .3" shorter WB than any CR-V, but is 9" shorter and is the same width as the original CR-V. The CR-V has gotten lower over the years (I dunno if it's lost any ground clearance, but probably), but the HR-V is still lower yet at 63.2" vs. 65.1". Similarly, the CX-3 is smaller in every dimension than the original Mazda Tribute/Ford Escape. I think the CX-5 has the longest WB of any compact CUV at 106.3".

  • Wmba Wmba on Sep 17, 2015

    Anyone really like the HRV's low windshield header? It's weird and the vehicle needs the new Civic engines soon. The perambulating unit from the old Civic wheezes its way around like it's completely overmatched by reality. Came dead last in the C/D comparo as well. It's the ultimate "I gave up on life" vehicle for people who've lost their zest for living. Consequently, it's selling very well. The Soul just needs optional AWD, which Hyundai has in its parts bin, and all these little crapsters would be toast bar the CX-3. Never thought I'd prefer a Kia to the mainstream makes, but it does stand out and is cheerful.

    • See 1 previous
    • CJinSD CJinSD on Sep 17, 2015

      Car and Driver's website shows it ranked above the Chevy Trax and Buick Encore in its class. The test on their HR-V landing page reveals it to be a slow AWD car that averaged 35 MPG in their hands. I don't think I've seen any non-hybrid average that high in their hands, let alone an AWD car with zero crutches. It doesn't hold much appeal to me, but I wouldn't denigrate any current Honda customer if I were you.

  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.
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