The Real Deal: In 2017, Traditional Body-On-Frame SUV Sales Are Still Rising In America

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
the real deal in 2017 traditional body on frame suv sales are still rising in

All across America, Hummer H2s are rolling over in their graves.

What even is a Toyota C-HR? Is the Hyundai Kona an indirect Kia Borrego replacement? The Jeep Renegade shares its platform with… an Italian cute-ute?

But have no fear, dead Hummer. The body-on-frame SUV is here to stay. The surge in crossovers — both the number sold and the number of nameplates available — has not caused the American consumer to leave traditional SUVs behind entirely.

U.S. sales of traditional body-on-frame SUVs are up 7 percent through the first five months of 2017, right on par with the growth rate achieved by the SUV/crossover sector as a whole.

This 7-percent year-over-year sales expansion has occurred despite the loss of almost all Land Rover LR4 sales. The LR4, replaced this spring by the Land Rover Discovery, made use of an Integrated Body Frame, essentially a hybrid ladder frame/monocoque construction.

While the LR4’s demise resulted in 4,794 fewer traditional SUV sales, and while Jeep Wrangler sales slowed as the Jeep faithful wait for an all-new model, body-on-frame SUV sales are continuing to grow.

Nearly 11 percent of the utility vehicles sold in the United States in 2017’s first five months were body-on-frame SUVs. Of the 303,000 body-on-frame SUVs sold, more than one-quarter were Jeep Wranglers.

The Toyota 4Runner owns nearly one-fifth of the BOF market.

General Motors, with six full-size, truck-based SUVs, has already collected nearly 99,000 body-on-frame SUV sales this year. That’s nearly one-third of the BOF market.

Body-On-Frame SUVMay 2017 YTDMay 2016 YTD% ChangeJeep Wrangler80,08380,320-0.3%Toyota 4Runner53,09846,05815.3%Chevrolet Tahoe36,63135,3303.7%Ford Expedition26,31620,25129.9%Chevrolet Suburban20,61918,9458.8%GMC Yukon15,87116,056-1.2%GMC Yukon XL12,18511,6045.0%Nissan Armada11,7854,497162%Lexus GX9,1579,0521.2%Infiniti QX808,1156,51924.5%Cadillac Escalade7,9908,685-8.0%Cadillac Escalade ESV5,6705,3725.5%Toyota Sequoia5,3495,3030.9%Lincoln Navigator4,0174,879-17.7%Lexus LX2,2992,2711.2%Mercedes-Benz G-Class1,7961,7522.5%Toyota Land Cruiser1,2921,457-11.3%Land Rover LR45555,349-89.6%Toyota FJ Cruiser26-66.7%Nissan Xterra134-97.1%Total302,831283,7406.7%

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the Ford Motor Company produce 69 percent of the body-on-frame SUV sector’s volume, down slightly from 71 percent a year ago as Toyota/Lexus and Nissan/Infiniti grew their combined share from 27 percent in 2016’s first five months to 30 percent in 2017.

The Patrol-based Nissan Armada’s introduction played a big role in Nissan’s post-Xterra body-on-frame SUV effort. Armada sales have nearly tripled this year.

Nevertheless, while rumors of body-on-frame SUVs such as a Colorado-based Chevrolet TrailBlazer or reborn Toyota FJ Cruiser intermittently pop up, this segment is not the future.

There are only 17 continuing body-on-frame SUV nameplates, and the number of platforms contributing to the segment is even smaller.

On the other hand, the utility vehicle sector’s crossover ledger currently includes twelve new nameplates that didn’t even exist two years ago.

No, body-on-frame SUVs aren’t the future. Fortunately, they’re not the past, either.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Analoggrotto Analoggrotto on Jun 15, 2017

    I think the 4runner's boxed chassis rail design, regardless of assembly location, might greatly help the feed of a new Tacoma. Nevertheless, I agree ; my dad's 4runner feels like a much better built vehicle than my Tacoma (but the TRD sport seats are of superior shape and design) but after 130k miles its still very solid. And this transmission debacle is easily solved with Toyota's excellent 6 speed manual option!

  • Matt3319 Matt3319 on Jun 16, 2017

    Love the BoF 4Runner in Trail giuse. The only problem with the 3 times I have tried to buy one is that every single damn dealer thinks they have gold in them there trunks. I will not buy anything over invoice. Ya I know that's silly but its a mental thing. The 2012 Taco DC Prerunner I bought under invoice and got the $750 rebate. The 3 times I have tried to buy a 4Runner they have been $2000 over invoice. Thats crazy to me. So I passed. I know the 4Runner, Taco and the FJ have phenominal resale so I didnt even try to buy a lightly use $Runner.

    • Markf Markf on Jun 16, 2017

      What part of the country are in? Even in Colorado they didn't try to get over invoice....

  • Jeff S Years ago Kentucky issued a license plate with a horse running with the words "Unbridled Spirit." The religious right objected and did not want the plate because they believed it encouraged people to go to the race track and bet on horses. Anyone who knows anything about Kentucky knows its famous for raising horses and yes there is Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is run but horses in themselves are not sinful. It got so bad that the state issued a blank sticker to put over the horse and the logo. Kentucky also issued a plate for those who were offended stating "In God We Trust." The latest KY plate has no logo and nothing. I always picked the horse because I thought horses were something to be proud of and associated with Kentucky.
  • Old Scold As a Marylander, I got those plates assigned to me when I purchased my car in 2016, 4 years after the so-called anniversary. I figured they were using up NOS, and it never occurred to me to check out the URL. I still don't care. It's a stupid issue, but I have my tag number memorized should I need it.
  • Hpycamper I drive a car with automatic braking and have nothing good to say about it. It has activated going around corners on mountain roads when the hillside is close to the road, when lawn sprinklers turned on and sprayed the car, and driving past cars on the shoulder that are making right turns. Luckily these phantom brake activations have not caused a wreck. The systems are just too dumb.
  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?
  • Ajla I do wonder what the legacy of the Alpha Camaro will be. It was higher performing than the Zeta but lacks the pop culture imprinting of that gen or the earlier F-body. And somehow it managed to be less comfortable than the Zeta. I guess it depends if this is really the last traditional Camaro.