March 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Ford EcoSport Still Climbing, but so Are Other Mainstream Subcompact Crossovers

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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march 2018 u s auto sales ford ecosport still climbing but so are other mainstream

The Ford EcoSport, a new (to North America) subcompact crossover hastily inserted at the bottom of the Blue Oval’s lineup, went on sale in January of this year. No TTACer who sat in the vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit walked away impressed, and it was odd to see a new model introduction go without the obligatory first drive event.

Still, the vehicle, which starts at a hair under 20 grand and carries a 1.0-liter three-cylinder as a base powerplant, isn’t being ignored by the buying public. March EcoSport sales in the U.S. topped that of the well-regarded — but not especially capacious — Mazda CX-3. Still, as all things truck continue to garner ever greater market share in the U.S., the little Ford faces a difficult upward climb.

With dealer lots across the country now boasting EcoSports in healthier numbers, total sales of the model in the U.S. last month amounted to 3,296 vehicles. Compare that to the 1,728 CX-3s sold in the same month. The Mazda, despite being a lower-volume model, still shows growth potential, though: March’s figure represents a 38.1 percent year-over-year sales increase, with the model posting a 15.8 percent gain over the first three months of 2018.

For 2019, Mazda plans to give the CX-3 an upmarket makeover. Whether or not this endears it to a new class of buyers, well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Higher up the mainstream subcompact crossover volume ladder is the Toyota C-HR, a front-drive-only proposition that recorded 5,253 sales in the United States last month. Arriving in April 2017, the C-HR’s March tally is its best to date. It’s still below its Honda rival, however.

Last month, Honda moved 7,753 HR-Vs — an older model in this segment, but one that’s nonetheless growing. March’s U.S. sales figure is a 1.3 percent year-over-year increase for the smallest Honda utility vehicle, and growth over the first quarter of 2018 stands at 5.6 percent.

Where Japanese volume leaves off, domestic manufacturers pick up. Specifically, General Motors. The Chevrolet Trax’s U.S. sales of 8,207 vehicles in March represents a 26.3 percent year-over-year increase for the model, with year-to-date sales up 11.6 percent. Still, Buick’s upscale-leaning Encore blows these numbers out of the water, with 15,118 of the baby Buicks sold last month. That’s an 82.3 percent increase, year over year. Over the first quarter of 2018, the Encore found 26.8 percent more buyers than the same period last year.

The Encore figures are a complete anomaly, though, and one that GM doesn’t explain. The March tally is nearly triple February’s sales, and is by far the greatest Encore sales month in the model’s history. Until now, no month ever broke the 9,000 mark. Hmmm…

One vehicle that did break that mark last month, and did so not as a statistical outlier, was the Jeep Renegade. The off-road brand sold 9,971 of its smallest utes in March — a year-over-year increase of 21 percent. Year to date, however, sales have fallen 3 percent.

As seen here, EcoSport buyers face plenty of choice in the segment, and it’s only going to become more crowded. March was the Hyundai Kona’s first full month on the market, and 2,360 buyers took the bait. Leaping into the fray later this year is the front-drive-only Nissan Kicks.

[Images: Ford Motor Company, Honda, General Motors, Hyundai]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Ultraviolet Thunder Ultraviolet Thunder on Apr 05, 2018

    I'm a Ford guy, but this company is driving me towards Kia and Hyundai - that Ecosport is a terrible product - poor quality - and mediocre performance. The Fiesta is a dead car driving and the Focus is being shipped to China - a fact that will make it a banned car in my household. The Fusion is on the way out which is a shame since it is a great product. I refuse to buy a CUV or SUV.

  • OutBinkie883 OutBinkie883 on Apr 08, 2018

    I drove one yesterday, and liked it. I was in a 1.0 i3 FWD Titanium. Maybe it's gearing, but it had very firm acceleration. It didn't seem bouncy or awkward. My only gripe was the A-pillar design. Thick, seemingly pinched inward, and paired with tiny fixed quarter windows, they lent the view ahead the effect of being seen from a distance through a tunnel. The retractable rear cargo cover is a laughable thing, since it covers half of the space just by being retracted. It only extends a few inches. I'm considering moving from one sporty car to a small AWD crossover and a hardcore and compromised sports car, so this was viewed with intent. The biggest fail for me on the EcoSport is the option bundles. I want dark colored fabric seats (SE only) a vegan steering wheel (S only) dark alloys (S and SES only) a spare tire (S only) and Android Auto (any trim but S). Now you can't always get what you want, but my must haves for the EcoSport (rear mounted spare and Android Auto) are mutually exclusive. I'm guessing it's something to do with rear camera modules, since the rear hatch appears to be different on the carrier models, and the camera lives in the bumper rather than below the rear window.

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