Like the Saviors They Are, Two Compact Crossovers Lifted Their Struggling Brands in October

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
like the saviors they are two compact crossovers lifted their struggling brands in

It might not be the reality we want, but it’s the only reality we have. As car sales continue to dwindle (they’re down to roughly 30 percent of new vehicles sold), light trucks have picked up the torch at most brands, though some aren’t arriving fast enough to satisfy jittery executives in today’s stagnating market.

At two premium Japanese brands, the arrival of two crossovers in the scorching compact segment had exactly the effect their creators hoped for. Acura and Infiniti, faced with declining sales in recent years, had reason to smile in October. The recipe is working.

Acura’s third-generation RDX burst onto the scene this summer with a fairly aggressive level of content and a splashy launch that featured journalists getting tail-happy in the turbo, 10-speed ‘ute. This, plus the vehicle’s edgier design, clearly drew the attention of CUV-hungry buyers.

In October, the RDX posted a sales increase of 75.3 percent, year over year, with volume up 18.9 percent, year to date. It’s the only high-volume Acura model not in the red on a YTD basis (the RLX doesn’t count). The RDX’s 6,193 sales last months makes it by far the best selling model in the lineup, and October was the model’s second-best sales month after June 2018.

As for the Acura brand, the RDX’s performance was more than enough to compensate for a slipping MDX and TLX, the second- and third-best selling Acura models. Year over year, the brand rose 7.3 percent in October, and volume over the first 10 months of the year is now in the black, up 1 percent. (Acura nudged above this mark in September.)

It was a similar story for Infiniti. In late spring, the brand launched the redesigned QX50, a model bearing the unique VC-T four-cylinder engine. Whether it was the new skin or the variable compression mill, buyers responded in comparative droves for a model they were never all that fond of. Sales rose — wait for it — 141.8 percent last month, and there wasn’t anything weird happening in October 2017 to diminish the victory. Last month was by far the QX50’s best sales month, with the model’s 3,160 sales falling just short of the top-selling QX60. Year to date, QX50 sales are up 41.6 percent.

With the QX50 selling in greater numbers and the refreshed QX80 land barge posting its own 101.5 percent YoY increase, Infiniti’s volume rose 15 percent compared to the same month a year ago. This, while the Q50, Q60, and Q70 continue their respective declines.

While October’s light truck sales were good news for Infiniti, the brand hasn’t yet managed to pull its overall volume into the black. However, it’s getting there (though perhaps not by the end of the year). Through the end of October, Infiniti sales were 5.5 percent shy of last year’s marker — but compare that figure to September’s 7.4 percent YTD loss, or August’s 8.2 percent drop.

As for Toyota’s Lexus division, no new crossovers showed up to lure new buyers. The RDX and QX50’s main rival, the Lexus NX, saw its sales fall 7.9 percent last month. Year to date, the NX has a slim lead of 2.5 percent over last year’s YTD figure.

[Images: Acura, Infiniti]

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  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Nov 07, 2018

    Both of those cars look interesting to me, but they are too small for my needs. I wonder how that variable compression engine is holding up, I'll have to do some research. I sure see a lot of them running around all of the sudden.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Nov 08, 2018

    I'm still a car guy, even if any trip to "the city" means truck, and truck only. The combination of traffic and roads that don't deserve the name mean that stability at 90 is a fantasy (seeing 90, that is) and that you credit ability to eat a manhole raised in the road as much more important than transient response from cornering. I get why the masses buy trux. My next car is a car, but the city runs...the 10 year old SUV, because that 3 -d road is nastier than anything the German engineers can conceptualize.

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.