By on August 15, 2016

2015 Honda CR-V

Through the first seven months of 2016, the Honda CR-V is not the best-selling SUV/crossover in America.

This comes as some surprise for a vehicle that led the utility vehicle sector in eight of the last nine years, including each of the last four.

With a 16-percent year-over-year jump to 197,771 units through July, the Toyota RAV4 is the leader of the pack so far this year.

Yet after the RAV4 led the monthly SUV/crossover rundown in each of the first five months of 2016, the Honda CR-V narrowed the gap in June, outselling the RAV4 by 2,250 units to mark a turnaround at the end of the first-half.

Then in July, Honda reported the highest monthly CR-V sales total in the nameplate’s two-decade run.

Chomping away at the RAV4’s year-to-date sales lead — now a 2,679-unit margin with five months remaining — the CR-V was also American Honda’s best-selling model in July.

Despite a 1-percent drop in Honda car sales, a 13-percent decline in Odyssey minivan sales, and an overall industry trend that slowed year-over-year growth to less than 1 percent, Honda reported 4,232 more CR-V sales in July 2016 than in July 2015.

At this point last year, Honda was reporting best-ever July results. One year later, not only was that July record smashed, but American Honda topped the all-time CR-V sales record (set last August) by 4 percent.

2016 Toyota RAV4, Image: Toyota

The 36,017-unit CR-V sales total reported by American Honda in July 2016 corrected first-half sales figures, which were down by more than 2 percent. Year-to-date, CR-V volume is now level with the figures achieved during the first seven months of 2015. If Honda simply maintains that level of output through the remainder of 2016, the year will end with 346,000 U.S. CR-V sales. In that case, assuming no CR-V sales growth for the rest of 2016, Toyota would need a modest 2-percent year-over-year RAV4 increase for its compact crossover to end 2016 as America’s favourite SUV/crossover for the first time in the model’s history.

We can safely assume that even the auto industry’s slowdown won’t result in RAV4 growth of just 2 percent, nor will we assume that, after a two-month span in which CR-V sales jumped 9 percent, American Honda can’t continue to expand the CR-V’s appeal.

For Honda, the news in other parts of the lineup is largely positive as of late.

The launch of the tenth-generation Civic last winter has resulted in an 18-percent leap forward in U.S. Civic volume, at a time when passenger car volume has tumbled 8 percent across the industry. Despite a 7-percent drop in July, Honda Accord sales are up 6 percent this year. Sales of the discontinued Honda Crosstour and CR-Z are in the toilet. The Honda Fit’s 18-percent drop, valued at 7,149 lost sales, is more than cancelled out by a 23,787-unit uptick in sales of the Fit-based Honda HR-V. In the final year of the current-generation Odyssey’s life-cycle, Honda’s minivan on track to sell more than 120,000 copies for a fifth consecutive year. Short supply constrained Pilot sales through much of early 2016, a 13-percent rise over the last two months suggests the pain may now be mitigated. The launch of the Ridgeline took full effect in July.

2017 Acura MDX Front

The Honda division’s senior vice president and general manager, Jeff Conrad, says, “The strong cadence of new Honda products we continue to bring to market has created extraordinary retail demand that is unprecedented in our history.” Indeed, Honda is now reporting record brand-wide sales on a routine basis.

All is not sunshine and roses, however. Awaiting improved supply of the MDX — revamped for 2017 — and RDX while facing a 13-percent decline in its car division, volume at Honda’s upmarket Acura brand is down 9 percent this year to only 92,668 units through July.

This places Acura on a track for a four-year U.S. sales low of roughly 161,000 sales in 2016, a 23-percent drop since 2005.

[Images: American Honda, Toyota USA, Acura]

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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20 Comments on “Auto Sales Slowdown? Honda CR-V Sets All-Time Monthly Sales Record In July 2016...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Has anyone seen any industry studies on the mfgr profitability of crossovers vs the sedan platforms they are based on? My guess it that this trend is great for the auto companies. Looks like thousands in added pricing for hundreds in content.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      I am wondering the same thing. Also, wondering if someone is going to mention fleet sales. (Don’t know if they affect RAV4.)

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      No need for a formal study- just compare MSRPs. HR-V is about $3K more than a Fit of the same trim. CR-V is about $5K more than a Civic of the same trim. Even if you assume half of that as cost for equipment that’s a nice piece of profit.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      There was something in Automotive Week last year about this. The way they analyzed it was (IIRC): you take a sedan platform, add $1000 of fender flares and other gingerbread, and sell for an extra $5000 over sedan pricing. Yeah, the auto companies like this market.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “you take a [Chevy] platform, add $1000 of fender flares and other gingerbread [call it a Cadillac], and sell for an extra $[15]000 over [Chevy] sedan pricing. Yeah, the auto companies like this market.”

        Nothing new here.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Americans increasingly refuse to stoop to sedans. And many are both intelligent and still gainfully employed.

    Make yen wairu sun shine.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    I’m surprised. CR-V’s are slow, noisy, have CVTs, and are expensive if a buyer wants any decent options. Also, I haven’t seen a new CR-V on the road in a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Your comment implies there’s a CUV which is: fast, quiet, traditional automatic, and cheap with options.

      Which vehicle is this?

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Well…I purchased my Escape SE with a 2.0 ecoboost and it came to around 25,500.
        My little sister listened to my opinion and purchased a CX5 for her daughter and I think it was pretty loaded down in Austin for around a similar 25K…ish.
        I kind remember the sedans and offerings from both of these makers about the same price.
        So…these seem like affordable and great prices to me.

        • 0 avatar
          ItsJustaRide

          Ayup.

          I just bought a ’16 Escape Titanium 2.0 AWD with Nav for $28.5K courtesy of “time-to-panic” factory incentives and passive-aggressive negotiation (I always arrive at the dealership on the last day of the month).

          At $5700 off MSRP, it’s a metric ass-ton of quick, quiet and comfortable CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Also, I haven’t seen a new CR-V on the road in a long time.”

      Also, I haven’t seen any CR-V alongside the road evah.
      FIFY

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Slow: only in comparison with performance cars. They do OK next to the practical, budget-oriented competition — in fact, the CR-V is one of the quicker entries in the segment. The K24 sounds happier to do its work than any of the competitive big fours.

      Noisy: Maybe a little more than segment average, but Honda’s improved in this respect lately.

      CVT: That’s what made its fuel economy competitive with sedans, which is a very big piece of why buyers choose it. Most buyers don’t know the difference. In any case the CVT is only annoying when you’re at full throttle, which few CUV buyers ever are.

      The car is also one of the best-packaged in the segment. If there’s one thing the past decade of car sales has taught us, it’s that good packaging and roomy interiors sell like crazy, even when they’re attached to boring cars.

      Come to the west coast and you may have the experience of having late-model CR-Vs in front of you, behind you, and next to you at a light.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      To understand the CRV, one must understand the female mind. Unfortunately, I don’t understand either, but what I do know is there’s a 90/10 female to male driver ratio in them in the NY Metro area.

      • 0 avatar
        ItsJustaRide

        Whilst evaluating compact CUV options, my wife of 18 years wouldn’t even consider the CR-V:

        “I’ll bet it drives as dull as it looks.”

        Of note, her first new car was a ’98 Civic DX hatch 5MT (which she traded for a ’01 Impreza RS sedan 5MT).

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I find this news interesting for a very similar reason. So much of the CR-V’s popularity is built on its legendary reliability. Now it has direct injection, a CVT, and recent surveys say its reliability has dipped to average among new cars for the first time in its distinguished history. Yet they can’t build them fast enough. It’s remindful of those years – okay, decades – that the Camry has coasted on its 1992 laurels.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I’m driving a ’16 CR-V every day. Much better seating position than the Accord and Civic, which is enough to get me onboard the CUV bandwaqon. My only beef with it is that I perceive that its styling may be a little more feminine than, for example, a Rogue. Not a bad little vehicle, and there are great lease deals out there…what’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      My ex-wife just bought a new CR-V SE for $24.0k OTD (I helped out by advice for her negotiation technique through one of my daughters) and I even was allowed to drive it. Nice car, suits her fine. When I shut the door after driving it the little car immediately shouted “HONDA” at me by the tinny, echoing sound so familiar to the brand.

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