By on June 15, 2017

2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro - Image: ToyotaAll 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.2017 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - Image: JeepWhile 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 SUV May 2017 YTD May 2016 YTD % Change
Jeep Wrangler 80,083 80,320 -0.3%
Toyota 4Runner 53,098 46,058 15.3%
Chevrolet Tahoe 36,631 35,330 3.7%
Ford Expedition 26,316 20,251 29.9%
Chevrolet Suburban 20,619 18,945 8.8%
GMC Yukon 15,871 16,056 -1.2%
GMC Yukon XL 12,185 11,604 5.0%
Nissan Armada 11,785 4,497 162%
Lexus GX 9,157 9,052 1.2%
Infiniti QX80 8,115 6,519 24.5%
Cadillac Escalade 7,990 8,685 -8.0%
Cadillac Escalade ESV 5,670 5,372 5.5%
Toyota Sequoia 5,349 5,303 0.9%
Lincoln Navigator 4,017 4,879 -17.7%
Lexus LX 2,299 2,271 1.2%
Mercedes-Benz G-Class 1,796 1,752 2.5%
Toyota Land Cruiser 1,292 1,457 -11.3%
Land Rover LR4 555 5,349 -89.6%
Toyota FJ Cruiser 2 6 -66.7%
Nissan Xterra 1 34 -97.1%
Total 302,831 283,740 6.7%

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.

U.S. SUV/crossover sales chart may 2017 YTD - Image: © The Truth About CarsNevertheless, 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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23 Comments on “The Real Deal: In 2017, Traditional Body-On-Frame SUV Sales Are Still Rising In America...”

  • avatar

    I’m now seeing not just a plethora of the facelifted ’14+ 4Runners on the roads, but regularly seeing the TRD-Pros around town as well. There should be ample supply of clean non-offroaded units to pick from for years to come. But God forbid Toyota sticks the 3.5L out of the Tacoma in there…

    • 0 avatar

      “But God forbid Toyota sticks the 3.5L out of the Tacoma in there…”

      Exactly. Loads of complaints on the Tacoma forums regarding this engine, seems a little high strung for a truck application. But, to be fair, the transmission it is attached to has some issues of its own.

      Lot of people are waiting to see what is in store for the 4Runner. The way it continues to sell now, I see why Toyota is dragging their feet on an updated version. Resale value/dependability are outstanding. And I have to think more than a few people like the fact that it is still made in Japan.

      • 0 avatar

        “And I have to think more than a few people like the fact that it is still made in Japan.”

        As much as I love US-built Toyotas, there is something to be said for this. Driving a mid 00s Sequoia and something like a GX470 (or 4th gen 4Runner) back to back, the Tahara built trucks just feels better screwed together. The Princeton built Sequoia reminds me more of a Tahoe or something in terms of some of the interior pieces than anything traditionally Japanese. Likewise drive a 1st gen Highlander and a 2nd gen (specifically one built ’09 or later) and the gen 1 has better materials and just feels nicer and more expensive inside. Most of this comes down to how the vehicles are spec’d: for the more price conscious US market or more internationally where the Toyota “Kluger/Harrier” is a higher end vehicle. I don’t think it’s American workers doing a worse job of putting said pieces together than their Japanese counterparts.

        • 0 avatar

          A lot of it is parts suppliers. Toyota has had a strangle hold on their suppliers in Japan for 30 years and have consistently held them to an incredibly high standard. Toyota has a lot of clout here but can’t really do the same with USA suppliers.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s the same deal with the sequoia and land cruiser. Usually toyota does a redesign of the land cruiser every 10 years but I haven’t heard anything about the redesigned one. The sequoia is definitely due for a redesign but the refresh they just did really doesn’t go far enough to bring it up to par against the competition at least from an interior perspective. That being said, the sequoia would be my choice in the segment. Really good packaging and interior space relative to its size compared to others in the segment. Also it’s rock solid reliable and a towing monster. Only full size suv you can get at 3.90 or 4.10 rear end.

        • 0 avatar

          I actually prefer the packaging (and looks, and interior,etc) of the gen 1 Sequoia with the solid rear axle more. Third row is removable which is my preference, and there is more cargo space behind the third row with it in use (while maintaining a largely adult-friendly third row). The GM K2XX dropped the ball big time on interior room/packaging.

    • 0 avatar

      I hope they screw up the next generation 4Rrunner or better yet stop making them Making the value of mine rise like an FJ Cruiser.

      Speaking of FJ Cruisers. . . How did someone buy anew one this year or last year even? I should have checked online for them. Probably sold for over 50k though.

      • 0 avatar

        Haha a bit selfish, no? I hope they keep building them more or less as-is, maybe introduce a lower-tier offroad model with some sort of sturdier unpainted bumpers and steel wheels or something (probably never going to happen).

      • 0 avatar

        …Speaking of FJ Cruisers. . . How did someone buy anew one this year or last year even? I should have checked online for them. Probably sold for over 50k though…

        Leftover sitting on some dealer lot somewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      Wish they would bring the V8 back as an option

    • 0 avatar

      Cummins now sells the R2.8 4cylinder as a crate engine……… Should, once adapted, do wonders for range in both the 4R and the LC200.

  • avatar

    I would be happier if I could buy a BOF car again :(

    Seriously I miss my ol’ ’86 Monte Carlo SS, the ’81 Malibu, the Caprice, the Grand Marquis, and the Roadmaster. There is something about full frames that I really like. I couldn’t tell you what it is! – but the car seems to ride in a fashion that gives a different feedback. Maybe it’s a generational thing ;)

    • 0 avatar

      I think there is a degree of isolation/solidness with a BOF that it takes a very heavy/sturdy unibody to replicate. The other half of the BOF sensation I’d more so correlate to RWD layout: the sort of balance/feel associated with a BOF (that was invariably RWD) and lost with the widespread adoption of unibody FWD gets associated with the BOF vs non-BOF factor rather than driven wheels.

      I like having basically infinite jacking points on a BOF, and they are on the whole less susceptible to structural sheetmetal corrosion issues. My Ranger’s radiator support is rotted out by the body mount to the point of being disconnected, but it really doesn’t make a big difference structurally (I’m still going to weld in a new core support however). My departed Maxima had some terminal rot in the same vicinity, but it was a much more important structural element that held the front lower engine mount.

      I’m not opposed to unibodies either, I especially like them when they are extra-sturdy and well engineered for servicing like Toyota’s K-platform that I recently discussed in a thread about Camries.

      • 0 avatar

        There used to be some BOF FWD cars too. GM made them from 1966 to 1985. I was surprised to learn that the Mitsubishi Colt Vista wagon I drove years ago was BOF. There must be some others I’m forgetting.

  • avatar

    Dear Manufacturers:

    It’s okay to let trucks be trucks and cars be cars.


  • avatar

    Would anyone count the BMW i3 as body-on-frame? It certainly isn’t unibody.

  • avatar

    It drive me nuts. I would love to get a 4runner…. good luck getting much of a deal.

  • avatar

    “It drive me nuts. I would love to get a 4runner…. good luck getting much of a deal.”

    True that. I picked up a 2017 TRD Off Road Premium a few months back. We looked at the 2016 but the difference between the 16 and 17 was around $200 and there were no deals to had in early 17 on 16 models. We got an OK price through USAA, about the best we were gonna get. We also had to wait 3 months for the truck to be built/allotted. I live in Colorado so I am guessing the demand is even higher than in a lot of other states.

  • avatar

    The new LR Defender cannot arrive soon enough.

  • avatar

    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!

  • avatar

    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.

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