By on November 8, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 Midnight EditionAmerica’s auto industry has now reported year-over-year sales declines in three consecutive months. The size of the market was 3.5 percent smaller in the August-October period of 2016 than during the same stretch in 2015.

Yet during the same period, U.S. sales of General Motors’ six full-size SUVs jumped 39 percent, a rate of success that throws pie in the face of an industry that’s now fading.

In October, however, the market’s fade became much more apparent. Industry-wide sales slid 6 percent, year-over-year, the worst monthly downturn since the recession. Yet at the same time, General Motors reported a 59-percent surge in full-size SUV volume worth nearly 12,000 additional sales.

Of course, the market’s October slowdown wasn’t as severe as it appears, and GM’s full-size SUV uptick is likewise not as inexplicable as it first appears.

The auto industry’s seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 18 million units was the highest of any month this year and higher than all but three months last year. The quirky auto sales calendar — “October 2015” extended two days into November; October 2016 was two days shorter — also means the daily selling rate grew 1 percent, year-over-year. Achieving this level of volume wasn’t easy — the average per-vehicle incentive in October 2016 was 16 percent higher than in October 2015.2017 GMC Yukon XL SLTAs for GM’s extraordinary full-size SUV growth, big discounts on remaining 2016s played a factor, as did a huge increase in fleet volume. Automotive News reports that the average transaction price among the Chevrolet/GMC quartet was $2,470 lower than the year-to-date average in October. Fleet volume, meanwhile, quadrupled to form 32 percent of the Chevrolet/GMC full-size SUV total, Automotive News reported.

Modern full-size SUV fleet volume, remember, isn’t tarnished by the old reputation of fleet sales tied exclusively to daily rental companies. GM told AN that the huge uptick in fleet sales was linked to commercial and government fleet, higher-margin fleet avenues for vehicles that already produce huge profits.

Yet a 33-percent surge in retail sales of the dual Chevrolet/GMC twins makes clear that the huge October increase in overall GM full-size sales reflected real demand. These huge figures weren’t merely the result of GM’s need to clear out of stock.

Fully 12 percent of the new vehicles sold by General Motors in October were Cadillac Escalades and ESVs, Chevrolet Tahoes, Chevrolet Suburbans, and GMC Yukons and XLs, up from 7 percent a year ago. With the full-size pickup trucks on which these SUVs are based suffering an 8-percent sales decline in October, GM produced nearly one-third of its K2XX-platform volume with SUVs. A year ago, the SUVs generated barely more than one-fifth of that overall full-size volume.

GM Vehicles
October 2016
YOY % Change
10 Months 2016
Passenger Cars 69,835 -14.1% 732,928 -7.5%
Other SUVs/Crossovers 72,892 -1.1% 660,143 -9.5%
Full-Size Pickup Trucks 64,818 -7.6% 654,814 -2.7%
Full-Size SUVs 31,213 59.2% 226,620 15.5%
Midsize Pickup Trucks 13,363 41.0% 120,616 26.8%
Commercial Vans 6,505 -25.9% 75,902 -1.1%
Total 258,626 -1.7% 2,471,023 -3.6%

In the sector controlled by the Chevrolet/GMC quartet, full-size volume brand SUVs, GM’s market share shot up to 81 percent in October 2016, up eight points from the year-ago period.

At the top of the leaderboard, Chevrolet Tahoe sales jumped 81 percent to 11,976 units, enough to make the Tahoe America’s 13th-best-selling SUV/crossover overall.

Gone are the glory days — the Tahoe ranked fourth overall as recently as 2007. But sales of the Tahoe were higher in October 2016 than at any point in the last nine years. October was just the seventh month in the last 106 that Tahoe volume climbed into five-digit territory.

So where’s our Buick Encounter?

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

[Image: General Motors]

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21 Comments on “What Market Slowdown? GM Full-Size SUV Sales Jumped 59 Percent In October...”

  • avatar

    Keep it up America!

    Every one of those sales raises the chance that I’ll be able to find one when gas prices inevitably go up.

    • 0 avatar

      I love the look of the GMC however I refrain from buying these due to limited garage space. Most folks in my neighborhood who have these park them outside. FL garages are just not that big overall compared to back home in NC.

      • 0 avatar

        My neighbors have one small garage that would probably fit about a midsize sedan, max.

        They also have, sitting on the curb (and jutting out into the bike lane because of their sheer width), *both* a GMT900 Escalade and a pre-aluminum F-150 crew cab. At least they’re conscientious about folding the mirrors in.

  • avatar

    Here in the Midwest people buy these as status symbols, not because they need the space or capability. The bigger the vehicle the higher up the middle class ladder you are. Driving a Tahoe Denali XL in my state is the equivalent of owning a BMW 5 series in Florida or California.

    They’re literally everywhere around these parts and vastly outnumber regular cars in every parking lot. Best part is I never see more than a single person in one when I pass them on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, but they are also comfortable, rear drive V8s, with real 4×4, resale, and capability to boot.

    • 0 avatar

      My sister-in-law lives in small-town Texas and is very aware of social status. There is only one vehicle she could possibly drive (and she does): a loaded K2XX Suburban.

    • 0 avatar

      Can confirm. Neighbors down the street bought a nice new LT on what looks like factory 20 inch wheels, used strictly as the mommy mobile to carry her and their young child. I don’t mind at all, the only thing I scoff at is how gingerly they have to approach their driveway because of that low hanging air dam, it’s an SUV for chrissake!

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        I doubt if how they approach their driveway has anything to do with the air dam. Pretty sure it’s no lower than the one on my ’07 ‘Hoe which has plenty of clearance. Now my little Chevy Volt that’s another story.

        • 0 avatar

          Shh, don’t ruin the narrative!

          • 0 avatar

            I guess you guys are right, both the GMT900 and the current K2XX have laughable 17 degree approach angles. Ouch. The lip is just more noticeable on the latest trucks.

          • 0 avatar

            Honestly, I did think the K2XX was gonna be worse than the GMT900. I guess I’m just used to seeing so many GMT900s with the air dam removed or torn off, while the K2XX hasn’t reached its third owner yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            I honestly couldn’t care less about the approach angle of my Tahoe. The factory transmission temp gage is a lot more important to me than that. Also that it came from the factory with a 7 pin trailer connector which made wiring a proportional brake controller into it a piece of cake.

          • 0 avatar

            They’re great vehicles and great values. A much better value than any sedan out there. I love my gen 1 Q7, but the next vehicle has a good shot of being a Yukon Denali XL if they’re still in production by then.

  • avatar

    Love the Z71 in the top photo. Still a lot of front overhang length wise, but at least it’s not that ridiculous lip!

    Pretty legit offroad chops with the G80 auto-locker out back:

    My biggest dislike is the shrinking of usable interior space, namely in the trunk area in the pursuit of having a flat folding motorized third row.

  • avatar

    If I could afford one I would have one. I drive one occasionally at work and I love how they drive in all types of weather. On snow and ice covered roads they really shine. Not only that but they get better gas mileage than the V8 powered previous generation explorers we have at work.

  • avatar

    I truly enjoy my Tahoe and plan to replace it with another.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Agreed. Love my 08′ Suburban and yes I am that guy driving it around with no one in it but me. I guess I need to keep photos of it fully loaded with gear and kids to hand out to people…..

      Only I am hoping to not ever have to replace it. It should go 200k or better.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        My ’07 Tahoe w/130K still drives like a new truck. Amazing vehicle but unless I’m towing or road tripping it stays parked. Rather drive my car around town. My kids complain though, they would rather ride in the ‘Hoe because they like all the room and the big windows.

  • avatar

    I’m in the market for a Suburban and this isn’t going to help me get a good deal.

  • avatar

    Although these are good looking Utes, I understand their quality is rated one of the top 10 worst. Not surprising for a GM product.
    I guess checking, before purchasing, would be your best bet.
    I look at former gen trucks, and see them looking like junk already.

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