By on October 19, 2017

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Image: ToyotaFor five consecutive years between 2012 and 2016, the Honda CR-V has been America’s most popular utility vehicle.

In fact, the CR-V has topped America’s SUV/crossover sales charts in nine of the last 10 years, a streak of dominance that began in 2007.

It appears increasingly likely in 2017, however, that the Honda CR-V’s streak will be broken by the Toyota RAV4. Thanks to 20-percent year-over-year growth through the first three-quarters of 2017, the RAV4 leads the CR-V by more than 31,000 sales and the Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport by more than 15,000 sales with scant time remaining for the RAV4’s rivals to make up the gap.

The difference maker? Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid.

2018 Honda CR-V - Image: Honda36,352 copies of the RAV4 Hybrid have been sold so far this year, without which the RAV4 is not America’s top-selling utility vehicle. RAV4 Hybrid sales are up 10 percent this year. Sales of the conventional RAV4, meanwhile, are up 21 percent.

Among America’s 10 most popular utility vehicles so far this year, the RAV4 is joined by one other Toyota, the surging Highlander. No top-selling SUV/crossover is growing faster, year-over-year, than the Highlander. Ford, with the Escape and Explorer, and Jeep, with the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, are the only other automakers with two vehicles in the top 10. The Escape is the only top seller that has attracted fewer buyers this year than last, albeit by only the slightest of margins. America’s leading subcompact crossover, the Jeep Renegade, ranks 21st overall. The top-selling premium brand contender is the 24th-ranked Lexus RX.

In a market that has declined 2 percent from 2016’s record pace in 2017, U.S. SUV/crossover sales are up 6 percent. That year-over-year gain of 324,000 units has caused SUV/crossover market share to rise to 42 percent in 2017, up from 39 percent in 2016.

Rank SUV/Crossover 2017 YTD 2016 YTD % Change
#1 Toyota RAV4 312,230 260,395 19.9%
#2 Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport 296,927 241,619 22.9%
#3 Honda CR-V 280,933 263,493 6.6%
#4 Ford Escape 233,878 234,764 -0.4%
#5 Chevrolet Equinox 212,735 173,736 22.4%
#6 Ford Explorer 199,034 188,425 5.6%
#7 Jeep Grand Cherokee 181,245 153,926 17.7%
#8 Toyota Highlander 158,196 127,045 24.5%
#9 Jeep Wrangler 150,142 148,627 1.0%
#10 Subaru Outback 140,491 126,426 11.1%

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

[Image: Toyota, Honda]

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24 Comments on “America’s Best-Selling SUVs and Crossovers Through 2017 Q3: Toyota RAV4 Primed to Break Honda CR-V Streak...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’m surprised by this. The CR-V is a well-received and fresh design, while the RAV4 is pretty far along in the model cycle.

    Has Toyota been offering generous incentives to move this metal, or has the CR-V been production-constrained while things shifted over from the Gen4 to the Gen5?

    • 0 avatar
      Heino

      Toyota is being generous. $700 more for the RAV4 hybrid and they throw in two years of scheduled maintenance. All the must have safety nannies are on every trim. Honda has gotten lazy and you must step up to higher trims to get the same. Honda dealers are not doing the company any favors either.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Me too. Particularly that the Rogue is up and the Escape is down.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      With very few exceptions, Toyota is lame-a$$ company with ugly styling, cheap materials, boring and uninspiring driving dynamics, and …..dare I say… Backsliding on reliability, fit/finish, and overall goodness in a big way.

      Vehicles like this RAV-4 (SCRAP-4), the Corolla, the Avalon, the Tundra, the Sienna, the Highlander – all garbage.

      The Corolla, RAV-4, and the Yaris or whatever the subcompact Piece of Literal $hit is are the worse, by far, though.

      The RAV-4 rides like $hit, is built like $hit, has NVH characteristics akin to $hit, and should be renamed to the $hit-4.

      Akio Toyoda would turn in his grave if he knew how badly the company he founded was being run into the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        drivin98

        That’s just, like, your opinion, man. Except for the part at the end where you say Akio founded the company and would turn over in his grave, blah blah blah.

        Actually, his grandfather Kiichiro founded Toyota Motors in 1937, years before Akio was born, and likely wouldn’t be turning beneath the topsoil of the family’s hilltop plot in a certain Nagoya graveyard upon learning his creation has become the largest auto maker in the world.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Rav4 has more options over the crv. And the crv has that hideous rear end bumper that covers 3/4 of the rear. Have not seen one with matching paint to the rest of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      I always thought the Rav4 was particuarly ugly as well.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Yeah, not the best looking. But it has so many options now, hybrid, off road, and base models. Crv doesn’t have those model options. And has the hideous rear end along with a Honda turbo. Which could turn some buyers off.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I literally have no idea what you are talking about with the “And the crv has that hideous rear end bumper that covers 3/4 of the rear. Have not seen one with matching paint to the rest of the vehicle.”

      I just double-checked the one in my garage to make sure I am remembering correctly. The bumper rises up about 1″ from the load sill on the edges. And it’s unpainted black plastic.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Do you have a new CRV ? The side of the rear bumpers wrap around the side the car, that rise up to the rear windows. This is supposed to color keyed to match the rest of the vehicle. Most of the bumpers are somewhat caved due to the way they are attached to the side. Total bean counter build.

        • 0 avatar
          gomez

          I still have no idea what VW’s talking about. The rear bumper on the new CR-V is mostly black plastic, but it in no way rises up to the rear windows.

          https://article.images.consumerreports.org/prod/content/dam/cro/news_articles/cars/CR-Cars-Inline-2017-Honda-CR-V-r-ATC-11-2016

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            He’s conflating the roughly-triangular colored plastic panels on either side of the hatch with the bumper itself.

            Personally, I think they are a great idea. Many accidents/scrapes involve either the actual bumper OR that part of the car. This means you only need replace one and not both. (And this is way better than having to make repairs to the sheet-metal quarter-panel; those repairs are really expensive.)

            Certainly I don’t see any of these supposedly-widespread issues with the quality of the part that he’s referring to.

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          Yes, I have a new CR-V. The side of the rear bumper does NOT wrap up around the car. There are colored plastic panels on either side of the hatch (mine certainly match, and I can’t say I’ve seen any that don’t), but they aren’t part of the bumper itself.

          (And they aren’t color-keyed parts painted by a 3rd-party like the door handles or antenna; they are painted by the factory along with the rest of the car; the parts catalog confirms this, which does not offer these panels color-keyed) And I also don’t know what you are referring to with the bumpers being “somewhat caved.”

          I hang out on a CR-V forum, and despite your claims that these problems are widespread, I’ve never seen anybody make a single one of these complaints, and there are plenty of people that have totally nit-picked their cars and their finish.

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Even the salesman told me Honda was working on the paint issue. This was after I pointed out the paint color differences from the rear quarter panel bumper and the sheet metal. Not saying the crv is a pos. Honda just went bean counter on some design aspects. I guess plastic is cheaper than steel. The RAV4 just offers more options and no Honda Turbo. This could account for better RAV4 sales.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          @siwired,
          This probably is a much cheaper to repair. But what’s up with the 2 in rear bumper that does very little to protect the rear hatch? My neighbor has this similar design on his RDX. His insurance payed $3700 for a simple fender bump that bent the rear hatch and rear hatch window shattered. Yes, his insurance went up. So he says.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I don’t know that they wouldn’t be in the lead without the Hybrid version as many would have probably bought the RAV4 even if it wasn’t available in a hybrid version. That said I have a client who said that the hybrid version did tip the scales due to their satisfaction with their Prius and the promise of the better fuel economy.

  • avatar
    ash78

    The last RAV-4 was so pretty. And it came with that roaring V6, too. I miss it. My mom had one of each of the first two generations, which were cute in their own special econobox way.

    And the more I see the last-gen Highlander, the more I think it was way nicer than its segment deserved.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The V6 made a nose-heavy vehicle even worse. Yes, a good dragster, but who buys them for that? And the V6 Grand Vitara of the same days, due to lower gearing, could beat the V6 Rav4 0-40mph.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    It would be interesting to know how many if the Highlander sales are the Hybrid.

    The biggest proportion of Escape sales that the Hybrid version ever got was 13%. Out of 157,000 to 166,000 total in those model years. But that was 11 years ago and may have been limited by availabilty.

    Will be interesting to see if this forces Ford to reissue the Escape Hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      There have been rumors that Ford will reintroduce a hybrid version of the Escape. How much of that is due to the popularity of the RAV-4 Hybrid and how much is due to the fact that they will be dropping the C-Max. I found out recently that the plug in version of the C-Max won’t be available in my state for the 2018 model year.

      Fact is that other than a couple of teething problems in the earliest Escape Hybrids they were one of the most reliable and durable vehicles in the Ford showroom at the time and made a lot of happy owners. My state bought a bunch of them back in the day but for those going out of service in 2017 they are being replaced by Nissan Rouge Hybrids.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I don’t know why the Rogue and Rogue Sport are combined. If that’s the case, I feel like the HR-V should part of CR-V’s sales too.

    I am not in the market for either of these but I would choose the Rav4 mostly because it now offers their suite of safety features like forward collision mitigation as standard.

  • avatar
    scathma

    Any chance we could see a chart for the whole segment?

  • avatar
    hamish42

    I don’t understand Honda’s ethics in offering a comprehensive safety (nanny) package to upscale buyers and selling a less safe car to people at the entry level. If you can easily provide such a package in a nearly identical car you have no business selling cars which are less safe.


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