By on August 15, 2016

2015 Honda CR-V

Through the first seven months of 2016, the Honda CR-V is not the best-selling SUV/crossover in America.

This comes as some surprise for a vehicle that led the utility vehicle sector in eight of the last nine years, including each of the last four.

With a 16-percent year-over-year jump to 197,771 units through July, the Toyota RAV4 is the leader of the pack so far this year.

Yet after the RAV4 led the monthly SUV/crossover rundown in each of the first five months of 2016, the Honda CR-V narrowed the gap in June, outselling the RAV4 by 2,250 units to mark a turnaround at the end of the first-half.

Then in July, Honda reported the highest monthly CR-V sales total in the nameplate’s two-decade run. (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2016

2016 Land Rover LR4

Six months ago, we said, “It’s about to happen.”

Well, it happened.

Americans took possession of more new SUVs and crossovers than cars in July 2016, a forecasted turn of events nevertheless made jarring by its sudden dawn. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2016

2016 BMW X4 M40i

U.S. sales of SUVs and crossovers grew 8 percent in the first-half of 2016, a gain of more than 240,000 units compared with the January-June period of 2015.

Producing a utility vehicle which transfers buyers from the passenger car sector to the SUV/crossover side of the ledger is almost as automatic as increasing ride height, installing body cladding, and inserting an X into the nomenclature.

Or is it? (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2016

Volkswagen Chattanooga CrossBlue

SUV sales are exploding in the United States. It doesn’t just seem as though the quality, origins, price, power, credibility, and style of a utility vehicle matter not one whit — it really doesn’t.

Critically panned and antiquated SUVs such as the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot are selling better than ever. The original Audi Q5, on sale since 2009, is on track for its seventh consecutive year of growth. Sports car builder Porsche now produces 60 percent of its U.S. sales with the Macan and Cayenne. The Buick Encore, a questionable Chevrolet Sonic-based subcompact crossover, is easily Buick’s best-selling model. Sales of the Ford Explorer are on track to rise to a 12-year high.

Easy peasy. Build it and they will come. Too small? No problem. Too big? Not an issue. Too ugly? More power to you. Impractical? Ignore the U in SUV; it won’t hold you back.

It’s therefore a great time for Volkswagen to finally release an SUV in the heart of the market.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

Golf Alltrack Subaru Outback combo

We don’t yet know the exact price of Volkswagen USA’s 2017 Golf Alltrack.

We are certain, however, that Volkswagen, a company with a brand image severely tarnished in the United States, will be able to do no better than slightly undercut the basic price of the Subaru Outback.

And that might be a problem. (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2016

Compass Patriot Replacement Poster, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ fourth-quarter reveal of Jeep’s replacement for the Compass and Patriot comes after mountains of late-in-life success for the small SUV duo.

In Jeep’s U.S. home market, sales of the Compass — known as one of The Worst Cars Today since way back in 2006 — soared to an all-time record high of 66,698 units in calendar year 2015. Through the first five months of 2016, Compass sales are up 72 percent, a gain of 16,411 sales for Jeep’s lowest-volume model.

The Patriot, meanwhile, topped the list of TTAC’s The Worst Cars Today in 2016, sales of the Patriot also having shot up to record levels of 118,464 units in 2015. Year-over-year, U.S. Patriot sales through the first five months of 2016 grew 4 percent to 52,067 units. Combined, the Dodge Caliber-based tandem essentially produce one-quarter of Jeep’s sales in the brand’s home market, outselling every other individual Jeep nameplate.

Against this backdrop of outrageous success for two critically panned trucklets with seven-slot grilles, a single Jeep candidate will step in to fill their shoes at a Brazilian debut later this year. Jeep already has a subcompact SUV: the Renegade. Jeep already has a small and affordable off-roader: the non-Unlimited Wrangler. Jeep already has an entry to challenge America’s leading crossovers: the Cherokee.

Can Jeep find space in tight quarters for yet another small SUV? If not, we’re about to see the first Jeep flop since the Commander arrived in 2005. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2016

2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus

Nearly one-third of the workforce at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plant in Kragujevac, Serbia, was laid off last week because of poor Fiat 500L demand.

In the United States, the 500L is by no means the only Fiat that isn’t selling.

Besides the 500L’s sharp U.S. sales decline — year-over-year volume has tumbled each month in the last nine months — the core 500 model which brought Fiat back to life in the U.S. has lost nearly half its volume this year, a 6,288-unit loss through only five months.

Meanwhile, the expectation that a crossover could make up for the poorly received 500L and rapidly aging 500 turned out to be false. A crossover, yes, that will be the ticket. Surely a crossover could work wonders. A relative of the Jeep Renegade, only prettier, could definitely restore Fiat to the peak glory days of 2014.

Glory days, when with two models in its lineup, Fiat USA failed to match its stated goal of 50,000 annual sales for the 500 alone? Of course, that Sergio Marchionne sales forecast was way off target.

Just as the 500L and 500X have missed the mark, as well. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2016

2016 Audi Q3, Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

TTAC is the American car buyer’s influencer of choice. We render verdicts, and the masses abide by our verdicts. Why do Americans buy more than 400,000 Toyota Camrys per year? Because TTAC’s Jack Baruth track-tested a Camry and was more than a little complimentary. That’s why.

Want more evidence of TTAC’s overwhelming authority? On April 11, this article on the subject of the Audi Q3 written by yours truly accused the Q3’s ride comfort of being nonexistent. I said the Q3 is the Audi that makes sure, against all reason, that I possess no pro-Audi bias.

You already know the results of such an article. In response to the critique, Americans would quickly turn away from the Q3, and inventory at Audi dealers would surely build up as customers cancelled their orders.

Or, the Audi Q3 would break its own U.S. sales record in April and then break that record again in May. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2016

2016 Buick Verano Turbo

The Verano, Buick’s four-year-old entry-level sedan based on the previous-generation Chevrolet Cruze, will join the Century, LeSabre, Park Avenue, Reatta, Riviera, Roadmaster, Skylark, and numerous other cars in Buick’s mass grave at the end of the 2017 model year (hopefully far, far away from Harley Earl’s resting place).

Automotive News reported yesterday that its GM sources say the Verano, while living on in China, won’t be renewed on this side of the Pacific. Verano volume tumbled 30 percent between its U.S. sales peak in 2013, the Verano’s second full year, and 2015. Buick is now generating nearly six in ten U.S. sales with just two crossovers, while the brand’s four car nameplates combined for a 3-percent drop during the first four months of 2016. That’s before Buick adds the Envision to the middle of its crossover lineup and before Buick kills off the entry-level car that generates more than one-third of the brand’s passenger car volume.

So, if it’s not too impertinent to ask, not too morbid or irreverent to inquire, how long before Buick discontinues its whole North American car division in a quest to become America’s crossover-ized answer to Land Rover? (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4

Canadians purchased and leased nearly 43,000 SUVs and crossovers in January 2016. At the same time, fewer than 34,000 passenger cars made their ways to Canadian driveways.

This wasn’t an anomaly. Canadians also registered more utility vehicles than cars in January 2015, and over the course of 2015, only 2 percent more cars were sold than utilities, a margin of only 14,000 sales.

No, it wasn’t an anomaly, but the gap in demand was exceptional. For every passenger car acquired by a consumer, business, fleet, or governmental agency, the industry also recorded 1.3 SUV/crossover sales.

How soon before the U.S. auto industry makes the same claim? In January, as car volume plunged 9 percent and utility vehicle sales jumped 6 percent — despite an abbreviated sales month and an overall volume decrease — cars outsold utilities by just 1.1-to-1. That’s down from a 1.25-to-1 gap a year ago.

In other words, it’s about to happen. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2015

TTAC SUV market share chart July 2015

U.S. sales of SUVs and crossovers jumped 14 percent in July 2015, a year-over-year improvement equal to more than 67,000 extra sales compared with July 2014.

As a result, just under 36 percent of the U.S. auto industry’s volume was produced by utility vehicles in July 2015, a three-percentage-point increase over the same period one year ago.

Passenger car volume, meanwhile, slid 3 percent last month, a drop of around 18,000 sales as the overall market grew by more than 5 percent, or 75,000 units. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2015

2015 Porsche Macan S

In July 2015, for just the second time since arriving in America 15 months ago, the Porsche Macan outsold its bigger brother Cayenne.

Also in July 2015, for the first time since arriving in America 15 months ago, the Porsche Macan was the best-selling Porsche in America.

But is Porsche just using the Macan to appeal to Cayenne buyers who want something smaller or less expensive, thereby cannibalizing Cayenne volume in the United States? (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2015

TTAC COTD best-selling SUV sales streak Honda CR-V

Beginning in September 2014, the Honda CR-V began a streak as America’s best-selling SUV/crossover, a streak which has now extended through July 2015. Eleven consecutive months is no mean feat — the Toyota Camry’s current streak as America’s best-selling car is only six months long.

The CR-V is strengthening, however. In July, year-over-year volume jumped 11 percent to 31,785 units, 2,532 units more than the second-ranked Ford Escape managed. During this increasingly lengthy period of dominance, no one challenger has really stood up to take the fight to the CR-V. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2015

Ford Edge Escape Explorer sales chart 2007-2015As General Motors prepares to carve out space in between their best-selling utility vehicle, the Equinox, and their large three-row crossover, the Traverse, Ford reports significant improvement with the launch of their second-generation tweener crossover.

U.S. sales of the Ford Edge jumped 44 percent to 40,083 units in the second-quarter of 2015. The May 2015 total of 14,399 units was the best May ever for the Edge, which slots in between the Escape, one of America’s best-selling utility vehicles, and rubs up alongside the longer, three-row Explorer. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2015

USA Lexus sales chart May 2015 YTD

Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit.

The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their way into driveways across America.

Lexus, of course, has a tradition of building wildly popular premium crossovers. The RX is perennially America’s top-selling premium utility vehicle. (Read More…)

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