Shocked? One in Six Vehicles Bought Last Month Was a Compact, Mainstream Crossover

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
shocked one in six vehicles bought last month was a compact mainstream crossover

America knows what it wants, and the rest of the world — even those hard-to-reach places — is beginning to follow. Each week brings us news from far-flung locales pointing to increased demand for affordable crossover vehicles, if not the wholesale abandonment of certain car segments by certain automakers. Basically, the global auto industry in 2018 boils down to this: build a crossover, or become (or remain) a struggling niche company.

It’s hardly a new situation, but it’s hammered home with each passing month — as cars continue trickling out of every parking lot you pass and trunks begin appear on “Missing” posters at the post office.

Given that the compact crossover is arguably the most ubiquitous vehicle on the roads today, your author decided to look at just how prevalent their sales really are. Tossing aside premium or luxury offerings (a category we’ve tossed Buick into), this data dive focuses solely on the mainstream. The results? It’s grim stuff if you’re not the family type, so brace yourself.

Sales figures from the month of August suggest you’re probably sitting across from a sales manager in a dealership right now, signing on the dotted line for a two-row, high-riding, front-drive-biased vehicle.

Sales of mainstream compact crossovers — a group that includes the Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Nissan Rogue, (next-gen) Volkswagen Tiguan, Jeep Compass, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tiguan, Kia Sportage, and Mazda CX-5 — totalled 221,912 units last month, or 14.97 percent of the 1,482,268 total vehicles sold in the United States in August. We’ll round that up to 15 percent.

Compared to sales of all passenger cars, regardless of type, this particular crossover segment amounted to 49 percent of that total. Nearly half. Add in other crossovers, SUVs, and trucks of every size and price point, and cars shrink down to just 30.6 percent of all automobile sales last month. A year prior, the segment’s market share was 37 percent.

Now, there’s a degree of inaccuracy in these figures. As General Motors only dishes out its sales reports on a quarterly basis, the figures for the Equinox and Terrain are averaged from Q2 volume. August could have brought on a spike compared to the monthly average from April, May, and June; it also could have been less. As well, because Nissan doesn’t unbundle Rogue and Rogue Sport volume, we’re including the smaller vehicle here, noting that it’s still larger than a subcompact. Volkswagen’s now-dead Tiguan Limited, a previous-gen holdout, doesn’t make the cut, and should serve to cancel out at least some Rogue Sport volume.

Still, the broader picture is accurate.

Over the first eight months of 2018, roughly 1,700,872 Americans drove home from the dealer in one of these ubiquitous people movers. That’s 14.84 percent of all the vehicles sold during that period. Cars, on the other hand, amounted to 32.6 percent. If August’s results are any indication of a trend (of course they are), compact crossovers are catching up to cars at a steady clip.

Just imagine what hand-me-downs 18-year-olds will be driving in a decade’s time. There’ll be rivalries among owners of domestic and foreign crossovers in the high school parking lot, where battles between rusty Mazda Protegés and rattly Chevrolet Cavaliers once raged. Girls (and perhaps some guys) might get a little weak at the knees after seeing the football star arrive in his used RAV4 Adventure Edition.

Strange times.

[Images: Mazda, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, General Motors]

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4 of 51 comments
  • Darex Darex on Sep 14, 2018

    I, personally, do not understand all the hate for compact CUVs. I think they're great. Trunks are impractical and stupid, and a slightly taller seating height makes ingress/egress easier and sightlines better. I'm glad N.A. has finally embraced the "hatch". Many of these drive great, like the MINI Countryman/BMW X1, or Mazda's offerings. Sure, many are tending to resemble one another, but that's nothing new. Once you've owned a compact CUV, it's hard to imaging ever going back to a different style of vehicle.

    • See 1 previous
    • Johnds Johnds on Sep 15, 2018

      I sure can fit a lot more stuff on top and inside my CRV at IKEA or a home improvement store when I fold the seats down. I am more limited with my Accord in these respects.

  • I_like_stuff I_like_stuff on Sep 14, 2018

    My family is the oddball. 2/3 of our vehicles are cars. Stickin' it to the man!!! And even more oddball, my wife went from minivan to sedan.

  • Jimbo1126 I just looked at the Hyundai website and it appears the SE SR trim has gone away. The SE is now the base trim at $45,500.
  • Jimbo1126 Even my mother, certainly no big car fan, commented that the Mark Vi was the ugliest car she'd ever seen.38,391 in 1980 to 38,398 in 1981 is an increase of 7. :)
  • Kwik_Shift Important consideration when choosing your next vehicle. Its not only your own death, or of your passengers, but the possible lifetime of crippling injuries.
  • Teddyc73 Can we all once and for all stop calling this things "tacos"? Please!
  • David S. Bear Tooth and Chief Joseph highways.