Small SUVs Claim Larger Slice of Market

Com­bined sales of com­pact and sub­com­pact SUVs have near­ly dou­bled since 2008, from 10 per­cent to 18 per­cent of the U.S. mar­ket, accord­ing to Ana­lysts pre­dict the mar­ket will grow for at least the next few years, as young, afflu­ent buy­ers are drawn to likes of the Ford Escape, Chevro­let Equinox and the even small­er Buick Encore.

“Sales of crossovers of all sorts have been grow­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly in recent years, but the growth in sales of small­er crossovers and SUVs has been noth­ing short of phe­nom­e­nal,” Michelle Krebs, senior ana­lyst for, said in a state­ment. “It’s easy to see why, with the seg­ment being so ver­sa­tile to meet the needs of a wide vari­ety of car buy­ers. They can car­ry peo­ple, serve as a sub­sti­tute truck or haul big­ger car­go while still dri­ving like a car.”

IHS Auto­mo­tive pre­dicts the com­pact SUV seg­ment — now at 2 mil­lion vehi­cles — will grow to 2.2 mil­lion in the U.S. by 2017. The com­pact seg­ment includes the Escape, Equinox, Toy­ota RAV4 and Hon­da CR-V.

The fore­cast­er believes the sub­com­pact SUV cat­e­go­ry — includ­ing small­er offer­ings such as the Nis­san Juke, Buick Encore and the soon-to-be intro­duced Jeep Rene­gade — will hit 500,000 in sales by 2019. In 2005, the sub­com­pact SUV mar­ket was nonex­is­tent.

Com­pact and sub­com­pact SUVs are con­sid­ered espe­cial­ly good for new­ly­weds or 20-some­things start­ing their careers. That’s because they’re a bit more spa­cious than com­pact cars, but not as bulky as full-size SUVs, said Eric Lyman, an ana­lyst with Cal­i­for­nia-based indus­try fore­cast­er

“(Small SUVs) are on fire this year,” Lyman said. “This is a key vehi­cle in a tran­si­tion phase of life. If you lose some­body at this crit­i­cal stage, you poten­tial­ly lose them for quite a bit of time.”

• Oth­er ana­lysts say the small­er SUVs are so pop­u­lar because they appeal to buy­ers of all ages.
• The CR-V, Escape, Equinox and RAV4 are the four major com­pact SUV play­ers
• Nis­san recent­ly redesigned the Rogue, and its sales are up 25 per­cent year-to-date
• The Sub­aru Forester and Buick Encore have had strong sales num­bers, too.
• In the sub­com­pact cat­e­go­ry, the Juke and Encore dom­i­nate.
• The Chevro­let Trax, Hon­da HR-V and Jeep Rene­gade sub­com­pacts will pro­vide com­pe­ti­tion.
•  Lin­coln recent­ly unwrapped its MKC, Lexus will intro­duce the NX.
•  Audi will come out with a new ver­sion of the Q5.
• Mer­cedes will intro­duce the GLA this fall.

“If you’re going to be a legit con­tender in the U.S. mar­ket, you’ve got to have a car in this seg­ment,” Lyman said. “It’s extreme­ly pop­u­lar, it’s extreme­ly com­pet­i­tive. That’s pushed a lot of redesigns so automak­ers can stay com­pet­i­tive.”


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