By on October 30, 2018

Here’s a question we are certain is causing sleepless nights for a wide swath of our readership: What is the most popular vehicle in Metro Detroit?

I know! It’s a topic that’s occupied my mind as well, especially while enduring long hours on the semi-pro karaoke circuit. Verticalscope would rather you click on the jump to find the answer, however, rather than give it to you here above the fold … but we will tell you this: it’s most certainly not the Ford F-Series pickup.

In fact, that truck line doesn’t even rank high enough for a podium finish.

According to the Detroit Free Presswhich studied numbers through to the end of August, Ford’s cash cow only sold enough units in the Metro Detroit area – Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties – to warrant a fourth-place finish. Fiat Chrysler’s Ram was right behind it in fifth. Chevrolet Silverado? Sixth.

So what in the name of William C. Durant earned top honors? Why, the Chevrolet Equinox, of course!


I know; you coulda knocked me over with a feather, too. Yet, here we are. In terms of both retail sales alone and when measured as a retail/fleet mix, the Equinox lands on the pole. Behind it – in retail sales – are the Ford Escape and Jeep Compass.

This is a marked difference from five years ago, when the same retail data points placed the Ford Fusion, Ford Escape, and Chevy Malibu in the top three. In fact, half of the top ten was comprised of sedans, with the Cruze in eighth and the 200 in tenth. Now? There are no sedans on the list at all. None. Zero.

Alert readers will discern quite quickly that, of those five sedans, one is slated for cancellation and one has already departed for the great scrap heap in the sky.

Expanding the criteria to include fleet sales changes, the order slightly but not seismically. The Equinox remains on top, shifting 19,699 units, while the F-Series moves up to second place with 15,468 pickups sold. All those town councils and gubmint agencies need work trucks, I guess.

In fact, one could argue that a wide swath of those “retail” sales are fleet as well. According to data provided by Freep, over 120,000 people toil at one of the Detroit Three in some form or another. They certainly don’t pay full pop for a new car bearing the logo of their employer. Expanding that number to include family members widens the discount net even more.

We’ll have detailed sales reports for the whole country later this week once the calendar flips into November.

[Image: General Motors, Bryan Debus/Flickr]

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29 Comments on “Best Selling Vehicle In Metro Detroit? Nope, Try Again...”

  • avatar

    That sounds about right. I see Equini everywhere. Would also have guessed the Escape made a top 5 showing. Would not have guessed the Compass. But surprised that there is not a full sized pickup in the top 3. I must just notice them more often as I feel like I am constantly stuck behind a pickup. Thank you big three.

    • 0 avatar

      Compass like the Patriot before it is on the “stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” sales plan.

      If you absolutely positively have to have a CUV and can only afford X amount per month.

      Given the condition of MI roads a vehicle with ground clearance is a requirement.

      • 0 avatar

        Around here the last years of the 1st gen Compass/Patriot are absolutely thick on the ground in the bad parts of town, ex-fleet cars financed sky high by JD Byrider, taking the crown from the Avenger/200.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah our local Chrysler/Dodge/JEEP/RAM dealer was one of the top sellers of Avenger/200 (per capita, it is a very impoverished county) and I wondered what would happen after they were cancelled. The Patriot and Compass stepped right into the role.

    • 0 avatar

      The Escape is getting long in the tooth. Equinox is much newer, too rated, and is $6,000-7,00] less than the CR-V, with which it matched sales with for the first half of the year.

      With CR-V 1.5t engine quality at jeopardy the Equinox should finish off the year strong.

  • avatar

    I live in Howard Beach NY. I am in the market for an inexpensive AWD and I notice the Nissan Rogue owns the market in my neighborhood. As I walk my 10,000 steps/day I count them. I generally see 7 or 8 per street. Granted, we have a Nissan dealership in the neighborhood so my results may be skewed.

  • avatar

    Grab a copy of Sunday’s Free Press and look at the dealer ads. They all list Employee Pricing because they assume you work there.

    I’ll bet all 3 of the top finishers are available to employees on ridiculously cheap leases – something like $1000 down and $129/month.

    Trucks don’t go as cheap because they sell every one they make anyhow.

  • avatar

    The Equinox and Escape are also thick on the ground around here. So much so – and the general blah of most CUVs – that they are invisible to me.

    My dad has base one that he bought new for driving around town. As a once passenger, it seemed like a penalty box to me.

  • avatar

    I am a GM employee (my opinions are not necessarily those of GM’s) that works at the Flint Engine Plant that build the 1.5 Turbo that is the base engine of the Equinox. I lease one and I average between 30 and 34 mpg mixed driving. The product engineer told me that this is a rock solid engine. It has plenty of power when you need it when you kick the turbo in by hitting the gas pedal hard. I plan on getting another one when my lease expires. I have gotten as much as 38 mpg in the summer on all freeway driving going 75 mph. I see why people in Detroit are buying them. Excellent vehicle for the money.

    • 0 avatar

      Must be vastly different than the 1.5T in the Malibu, which rates as the worst engine I’ve ever had the displeasure of driving. 22MPG and no power, burying the throttle resulted in a lot of unpleasant noises and absolutely no difference in power. First time in my life I yearned for the iron duke.

      • 0 avatar

        At least the Malibu engine does not catch fire like similar engines produced by Ford. There are numerous lawsuits in Europe over exploding Ford engines. At least all GM engines are durable.

        Give it up, Ford is in last place among US carmakers.

        • 0 avatar

          The Ecotec 1.5t is not being repaired like Honda 1 5t:

          Honda says the repair—which will be free to owners—will include new software for the engine and transmission control units, an oil change, and in come cases, a replacement air-conditioning control unit. Consumer Reports

  • avatar


    Cars in the sunday paper are so cheap, you are friggin nuts to buy. Nuts to NOT lease.

    $999 down, $169 /mo for a mid lux silverado? Nickles more for non employee.

    These are FREE CARS.

    This is cheaper than buying a new one and running it into the ground over 15-20 years. (when you figure all costs including, lost interest, repairs, Maint etc.)

    I ll keep my $40,000 in BP stock and make the lease payment off a portion of the Dividends.

  • avatar

    My daughter’s FIL, who lives in Warren (Detroit’s largest suburb) certainly likes Equinoxes…he’s on his third one.

    • 0 avatar

      DId he have a 1st gen? Those were so terrible I can’t imagine anyone buying another after having one. I have extensive seat time in a 1st Gen V6 AWD fleet model and my in-laws former Torrent. The 2nd gen (as judging by the Terrain my wife owns) are decent highway cruisers for their small size. The 3rd Gen is down right pleasant for a CUV-thingy as long as it has the 2.0T.

      • 0 avatar

        Those first-gen Equinoxes were awful. The Chinese built 3.4L V6 was crap for power and got terrible mileage. My aunt and uncle bought one and traded it less than a year later because they never got better than 20 mpg. The Equinox Sport was louder and got even worse mileage.

        The only interesting vehicle to come out of that generation of GM CUVs was the Saturn Vue when it was available with the Honda Odyssey 3.5L V6.

      • 0 avatar

        No, his first one was a 2010 which I think makes it a 2nd gen.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    I’m sure its a decent value, and as posters have mentioned, the buy and lease rates are compelling. That said, the Equinox just doesn’t look very specia, and I have seen many. Not driven one and they seem ok, just kinda blah to me.

  • avatar

    They’re just the smallest and cheapest vehicles that won’t get lost in the local potholes.

  • avatar

    I was thinking more along the lines of something much large, like an old Blue Bird school bus ragged by the local brethren to match the general dilapidation of much of the metro area.

  • avatar

    Five years ago, five sedans were in the top ten, the Ford Fusion in first, the Chevrolet Malibu in third, the Chevrolet Cruze in eighth and the Chrysler 200 in tenth.

    I count four.

  • avatar

    I never really understood the appeal of American cars until I spent some time in and around Detroit. This was from the late 90’s, through the mid 2000’s. I always had sporty cars and a truck for work duty. I would normally rent something small because that was my preference. I would typically fly in Sunday night and then fly back out Friday night, about once a month. The first time I rented a Pontiac Grand Prix (or it could have been a Bonneville), I completely understood the appeal. That car made what had been a jarring, tooth-breaking interstate drive pleasant. During my trips, my home base would frequently be a holiday inn somewhere between Romulus and Dearborn. I would go to multiple places all over Michigan and occasionally into Chicago. After that, every trip to the area, I would grab the biggest GM car that wasn’t a caprice, and I would revel in its ability to just cruise over all the holes, cracks, dips, etc. It was a bonus if I got a GP GXP or Bonn. SSEi – which were both fun in their own way.

    As an aside, I owned an ’89 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan (White) from new to about 45K miles. It wasn’t fun in Florida or in the mountains, and while it was interesting, it didn’t really impress me in any way. It wasn’t particularly reliable and while it was strong (for the time), there was a very disconnected feel between the accelerator/shifter/steering wheel and the road – everything felt loose. The brakes (Teves?) were actually quite good and the car stayed flat in canyon/mountain roads. They are more appealing to me now, in retrospect. I always loved the dash and gauges.

    Anyway, my guess it that the popular vehicles in Detroit now probably share those traditional american car traits, mostly compliant ride.

  • avatar

    Chevy nailed the clean styling on this gen Equinox. The exterior design is elegant and well-proportioned, with no odd styling “protrusions or humps” like the CR-V. Even the interior/dash is smartly arranged, touch points and switchgear feel solid and satisfying. I would be a potential Equinox customer if the ridiculous Auto Stop/Start had a deactivation switch.

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