SUVs Rejuvenate; Luxury SUV Sales Surge
What started out during World War II as a military vehicle from Jeep transitioned into what was considered one of the first modern SUVs—the Jeep Cherokee, produced in the 1980s, with car-like interior qualities although still built on a truck platform with 4-wheel drive (4WD) and extra cargo space.
Three decades later, SUVs have flooded the auto market with stylish, comfortable, safer, and more fuel-efficient designs. Today, there are 100 mass market and luxury SUV models to choose from, and nearly every auto brand sells them in small, medium, or large configurations, retailing from $21,000 to nearly $200,000.
The latest SUVs incorporate lighter, more durable steel and aluminum body materials and a greater selection of eco-friendly interior amenities, plus the latest safety technologies and infotainment systems. Many are powered by more efficient, turbocharged 4-cylinder engines or hybrid powertrains as well as optional V-6 or V-8 engines mated with automatic transmissions.
SUVs Continue to Outpace the Overall Industry
Just last month, consumers bought or leased 25% more SUVs than in September 2014—twice the industry’s 11% improvement, based on sales data collected by J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive. Nearly 548,000 SUVs were sold in the United States in September—128,000 more than a year ago—equal to 38% of the month’s sales.
During the first 9 months of 2015, SUV deliveries climbed 14%—significantly higher than the 5.1% growth for the industry. Year to date, SUV deliveries totaled 4.73 million units, up nearly 583,000 units from the year-ago period—equal to 36.7% of total deliveries.
A notable trend this year is that luxury buyers and lessees opted for SUVs. Sales for all four premium SUV segments rose 22% in September from a year ago, and year-to-date premium SUV sales surged 18.8% from 2014. The best-selling premium SUV was the Lexus RX Series followed by the Cadillac SRX. Also, premium brands continued to introduce smaller entries—Lexus NX, Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and the second-generation BMW X1—to entice new buyers. Even Jaguar will add a crossover utility to its portfolio for 2017. In addition, the Small SUV segment, led by the Jeep Patriot, was a tiny but expanding growth segment.
Compact SUVs were the sales sizzlers, however. The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V remains the best-selling SUV in the country and was one of eight Compact SUVs to be in the top 10 in September and year to date. Just two of the best-selling SUVs were midsize models. Ford builds two of the top 10—the Escape and Explorer—while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand produced three: Cherokee, Wrangler, and Grand Cherokee. Chevrolet, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota each produced one of the 10 best-selling SUVs.
Year to date, Honda delivered 18,707 more CR-Vs than a year ago. The CR-V, fully redesigned in 2012, features more than 60 improvements for the 2015 model year. The Ford Escape, which had its last major redesign in 2013, remained the second-best seller, while the redesigned 2016 Toyota RAV4 ranked third with 25,836 more units sold or leased on a year-over-year basis. The Nissan Rogue—fully redone in 2014—and the Chevrolet Equinox—slightly refreshed for 2015, but last redesigned in 2010—also were star sales performers, in the fourth and fifth slots year to date.
Jeep was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ leading U.S. brand, with the Cherokee—all-new in 2014—posting a year-to-date gain of 32,540 unit sales. The iconic Wrangler—due for a revamp in 2017—and the midsize Grand Cherokee—to be redone in 2018 or 2019—also celebrated double-digit gains. A redesigned 2015 Ford Explorer—the Midsize SUV sales leader—also was among the top 10 in year-to-date sales, rising by 31,519 units from the same period last year.
Top 10 SUV Models by Sales*
Jeep Grand Cherokee
*Source: J.D. Power and LMC Automotive
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|2018 Nissan Armada Preview
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|2018 Nissan Titan Preview
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|2018 Nissan Altima Preview
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|Chevrolet to Offer Midnight Package on 2018 Tahoe Custom SUV this Spring
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|2018 Nissan Titan XD Preview
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|Photo Gallery: Highlights from the 2018 New York International Auto Show
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|2019 Kia Optima Sedan Adds Standard Safety Systems
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|2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback Preview
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|Refreshed 2019 Kia Sedona Minivan Debuts in New York
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|2019 Hyundai Tucson Preview
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|2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR with Extra Clout Bows in New York
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|Genesis Unveils Sleek Essentia Electric Concept in New York
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|2019 Lincoln Aviator Preview
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|Mazda Reveals Refreshed 2019 CX-3 Small SUV at New York Auto Show
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|2019 Kia K900 Preview
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|VW Premieres Long-Rumored Atlas Tanoak Pickup Concept in New York
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|2019 Subaru Forester Preview
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|Hyundai Kona Electric SUV Range Hits 250 Miles
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|2019 Acura RDX Preview
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|VW Unwraps Hybrid Atlas Cross Sport SUV Concept in New York
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|2019 Nissan Altima Preview
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|Mini Classic Electric Car Turns Heads at New York Auto Show
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|2019 Toyota RAV4 Preview
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|Mercedes-AMG Unwraps 2019 C63 Powerful V-8 Variants in New York
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|2019 Cadillac XT4 Preview
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|2018 Fiat 500 Urbana Edition to Bow at New York Auto Show
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|GMC Unveils First Off-Road Sub-brand 2019 Sierra AT4 Pickup
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|2018 Nissan Murano Preview
The 2018 Nissan Murano midsize crossover, which shares a platform with midsize Altima, stands out from other midsize SUVs with sculptured styling and a host of safety and tech features.
|Infiniti QX60, QX80 Limited SUVs Bow at New York Auto Show
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|2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Preview
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|2019 Cadillac CT6 V-Sport Preview
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|2018 Nissan Maxima Preview
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|2018 Nissan Frontier Preview
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|Luxury Brand Share Edges Up in 2018 as Premium SUVs Make Inroads
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|Lexus RC F Sport Coupe Adds Black Line Special Edition
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|2018 Nissan Sentra Preview
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|2018 Nissan Rogue Preview
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|2018 Nissan Pathfinder Preview
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|Photo Gallery: Highlights from the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show
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|2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Preview
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|2019 Jaguar I-Pace Preview
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|2019 Audi A6 Preview
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|2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Preview
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|2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Luxury SUVs
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|2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Family SUVs
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|2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Small SUVs
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|2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Luxury Cars
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|2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Coupes and Convertibles
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|2019 BMW X4 Preview
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|2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 Preview
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|New for 2018: Volvo
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|New for 2018: Toyota Cars
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|Photo Gallery: Highlights from the 2018 Chicago Auto Show
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|New for 2018: Porsche
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