In a pro-SUV/anti-car Canadian automotive sphere, here are the cars and SUVs that most obviously reject those market-wide tendencies
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -30% to 5,381 – Canadian sales of SUVs/crossovers have risen 8 percent, year-over-year, through the first five-sixths of 2017. Yet sales of the Chevrolet Trax are falling faster than sales of any other high-volume utility vehicle in Canada. Trax volume has tumbled by nearly 2,300 units in 2017. One reason why? The second-gen Chevrolet Equinox’s clear-out produced great affordability of the larger, more refined Chevrolet crossover, and sales ballooned.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -27% to 19,843 – As SUV sales continue to explode, one would assume that Jeep, the most famous SUV brand of all, would produce its own sales explosion. Yet after Jeep volume climbed to a record high in 2016, sales are down 17 percent in 2017, led by the brand’s top-selling Cherokee and its 27 percent drop. The latest Jeep Cherokee is now entering its fifth model year.
Hyundai Santa Fe XL
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -20% to 5,717 – Now nearly five years old, the Hyundai Santa Fe XL operating as Hyundai’s Veracruz replacement is losing vast chunks of the popularity it found just last year, when sales peaked. Even now, the Santa Fe XL is vastly more popular than the Veracruz ever was; more popular than the Santa Fe XL was in the relatively recent past, as well. But while many competitors are flying high, Santa Fe XL demand is shrinking.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -19% to 2,810 – Are subcompact crossovers the future? Perhaps, but though they attract plenty of attention as a somewhat new segment in the Canadian auto sphere, subcompact crossovers are not yet all that popular as a collective group in Canada. As evidence, consider the Jeep Renegade, the second of two subcompact crossovers that feature among the four fastest-falling SUVs/CUVs in Canada. The Renegade, mind you, is far more popular in the U.S, where it leads the segment. It’s a niche player in Canada, far less popular than the common Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -17% to 11,780 – Ancient by the standards of most newly reengineered vehicles, the Dodge Journey’s 2017 model year was its tenth. Still operating in first-gen form, the Dodge Journey is by no means unpopular. But it’s by no means as popular it was when, half a decade ago, Dodge reported 28,888 Journey sales in calendar year 2012.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -15% to 5,433 – Formerly known as the M-Class, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is tumbling in 2017, the sixth model year for the third-generation M/GLE. Age is no friend of a luxury SUV, where competition is increasingly fierce, including within Mercedes-Benz’s own showrooms. The smaller GLC-Class has nearly doubled its volume so far this year.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -13% to 14,452 – As Jeep prepares to launch the next-generation 2018 Jeep Wrangler — one that won’t look all that different from the current model, of course — sales of the outgoing Jeep Wrangler predictably declined sharply through the first ten months of 2017. The current Wrangler has been on sale since the 2007 model year, when the Unlimited model brought new levels of popularity to the iconic offroader.
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -12% to 18,301 – Now overshadowed by its smaller Tucson sibling, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is suffering what will likely become the third consecutive year of decline for the aging middle member of Hyundai’s SUV lineup. The Santa Fe Sport remains popular overall, but Hyundai Canada now sells 1.5 Tucsons for every Santa Fe Sport.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -11% to 3,355 – In an entry-level luxury SUV/crossover arena increasingly controlled by the surging second-generation BMW X1, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is losing momentum as it nears the end of its third full year on the market. Mercedes-Benz’s GLA also has new competition in the form of the Infiniti QX30, which is essentially a Mercedes-Benz GLA at its core. Infiniti has sold 948 QX30s so far this year.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -10% to 2,190 – By far the best seller in Volvo Canada’s lineup so far this year, the Volvo XC90 is not likely to retain its position at the top of the heap. With the second-gen XC60 in stores, Volvo sold 70-percent more XC60s than XC90s in October, for example. Year-to-date, the XC90 accounts for four-in-ten Volvo sales, but it’s not making any gains in a hot luxury SUV market.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -8% to 2,068 – Build it and they will come? In the case of the Lincoln MKC, a long overdue small luxury crossover at Ford’s upmarket brand, it was finally built. But few came. Fewer than 10,000 have been sold since the MKC arrived in 2014, and what little momentum the MKC had early on is lost.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -7% to 3,118 – Aged even before it arrived in Canada in the second-half of 2014, the Audi Q3 is now an oft-ignored small crossover in an Audi utility vehicle lineup that features the surging second-gen Q7 and the Q5, Canada’s most popular premium SUV/crossover. The first-gen Q3 first went into production in 2011.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: -15% to 7,892 – Pickup trucks are more popular than ever in Canada. Canadians are on track to purchase and lease over 400,000 pickups in 2017. But the Toyota Tundra, the second-generation full-size truck that’s been on the market since 2007 and has not been thoroughly revamped since 2014. Only 2 percent of the full-size pickup trucks sold in Canada so far this year have been Toyotas.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +17% to 3,714 – Inside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Canadian showrooms, cars are not thick on the ground. Midsize cars? Gone. Compact sedan? Dead. But full-size cars live on, and through the first ten months of 2017, FCA Canada has sold significantly more full-size cars than in the same period in 2016, including 17-percent more Chrysler 300s.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +19% to 3,431 – While Americans are now routinely snatching up more all-electric Chevrolet Bolts than range-extended electric Chevrolet Volts, Canadians (who can’t readily acquire a Bolt in vast swathes of the country) are buying more Volts than ever before. Canadian car sales are falling. Indeed, in October, Canadian car sales tumbled 9 percent, claiming only 29.5 percent market share. But Volt volume jumped 26 percent last month.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +22% to 21,199 – As Volkswagen seeks to become increasingly SUV-centric — October saw Volkswagen Canada glean 41 percent of its sales from utility vehicles — the vast Volkswagen Golf lineup is increasingly popular. In fact, few cars attract more buyers than the Golf, which is offered in two performance versions and two wagon versions in addition to the core Golf lineup.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +25% to 3,245 – Including the low-volume Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class offshoot, Canadian sales of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class have risen 25 percent in 2017’s first ten months thanks to increasing availability of a broader sedan/coupe/convertible/wagon range. The E-Class is nevertheless a much less important part of Mercedes-Benz’s lineup now than it was a decade ago, with only 7 percent of Mercedes-Benz buyers now choosing the E.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +26% to 2,637 – Likely nearing the end of its second life, the Volkswagen Beetle is nevertheless profoundly more popular in Canada now than it was at the end of its predecessor’s life. Only 2,116 Beetles were sold in Canada between 2009 and 2011. Volkswagen Canada is on track to sell more than 3,000 in 2017.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +26% to 2,179 – Midsize malaise? Mainstream family sedans are increasingly falling out of favour with the mainstream, and nowhere is that more obvious than with the Mazda 6, perpetually a sedan that tumbles to the bottom of the midsize sedan leaderboard. Yet Mazda 6 sales are significantly stronger in 2017 than in 2016, when 6 sales plunged to a four-year low, 83-percent off 2005’s total.
BMW 5 Series
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +27% to 2,111 – Replaced this year, the seventh-generation BMW 5 Series is perhaps not what you’d call a hit. But after 5 Series sales tumbled in 2015 and 2016, sales are on track in 2017 to rise to a four-year high.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +32% to 4,242 – With no smaller siblings, no Avenger and no Dart, the Dodge Charger is left to fight the passenger car war for the Dodge brand, where the Viper is also reaching its low-volume terminus. Charger sales rose 32 percent in 2017’s first ten months, a sharp turnaround. Charger volume slid 17 percent last year, but Charger volume is on track to hit a nine-year high in 2017.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +36% to 14,558 – As passenger car market share tumbled to 32 percent in 2017’s first ten months (from an already low 35 percent in 2016) the Kia Forte’s share of that passenger car market grew from 1.9 percent in 2016 to 2.6 percent in 2017. The Kia Forte is now Kia Canada’s best-selling model, overtaking the Sorento, the family leader at this time a year ago.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +42% to 9,213 – In a market increasingly controlled by SUVs and crossovers with optional all-wheel drive, the Subaru Impreza is a passenger car that makes all-wheel drive a standard feature. Unfair advantage, or Subaru acting with wisdom? Regardless, Impreza sales have grown by an average of 270 units per month in 2017.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +43% to 3,155 – Hybrids have never proven to be the success in Canada that they are in the United States. But after falling 65 percent between 2009 and 2015, the fourth-generation Toyota Prius is making headway. 2017 is on track to be the Prius’s best year since 2009, when 4,610 copies were sold.
– October 2017 YTD Sales: +138% to 3,109 – With a new Sportback variant more suited to rear seat usage and cargo-carrying, the second-generation Audi A5 is building on the success of the first A5 with recognizable styling but improvements in every other aspect. Already, with two months remaining on the calendar, 2017 has proven to be the A5’s best calendar year ever in Canada.
Through the first ten months of 2017, Canadian sales of new automobiles are up. Way up. Year-over-year, auto sales have grown 6 percent compared with 2016’s record pace. Canadians are likely to buy and lease more than 2 million vehicles in 2017, a figure unheard-of only half-a-decade ago. The reason? SUV and pickup sales are surging despite a sharp passenger car downturn.
Yet in the face of those industry-wide tendencies, there are vehicles that dismiss those trends as inconsequential. Examining vehicles that attract over 200 buyers per month, here are 12 SUVs/crossovers that are in reverse, 12 cars that are on fast-forward, and one pickup truck that is struggling whilst virtually all other pickups steam ahead.