What are the Best Selling SUV Trucks in America?
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UPDATED: Sep 9, 2019
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If you’re thinking of buying an SUV, you’re not alone. Despite the economic slump, dealers sold over 2 million SUV’s (sport utility vehicles) in 2010, reports Truecar.com.
In December 2010 alone, consumers purchased over 350,000 new sport utility vehicles. Despite a slump in January, SUV sales have held steady in 2011.
Although these sales figures are reassuring in the wake of the financial crisis, they are a far cry from the nearly 25 million new SUV registrations that the U.S. Census Bureau reported for 2002, when these vehicles were at the height of their popularity.
One look at this list of the top ten best-selling SUVs will convince you that consumers’ preferences have changed over the past decade. The SUVs that are popular today are smaller and more fuel-efficient than the gas-guzzling monsters of yore.
For instance, the #1-ranked Ford Escape is a smaller SUV that has seen its sales climb from just 42,635 units in 2000 to nearly 200,000 units in 2010.
In contrast, the gargantuan Ford Expedition has exhibited the opposite pattern. It sold 233,125 units in 1999, but sales plummeted to just 37,336 in 2010.
Other full size SUVs like GM’s Suburban, Yukon, and Tahoe have seen similar declines. The following rankings are based on May 2011 sales figures as reported by AOL Autos.
#1: Ford Escape
In May 2011, the Ford Escape sold 23,140 units. This represents an increase of 20.5% over its sales in May of the previous year. In July of 2010, the Escape was only the third best-selling SUV in America, with sales of just 14,869.
Even the #1-ranked best-selling SUV for July 2010, the Toyota RAV4, only sold 20,058 units, which goes to show how much SUV sales have improved since 2010.
For June 2011, Ford reported annual sales of 122,607 units for the Escape. This means that it’s not just the best-selling SUV in America for May 2011, but also the best-selling Ford SUV so far in 2011.
The Ford Explorer has sold about half the number of units that the Escape has since January 2011, and the Ford Edge has sold less than 10,000 units so far.
According to Ford, its year-to-date sales of 280,875 make it the best-selling SUV brand for the first half of 2011.
Despite its popularity with consumers, the Ford Escape gets lukewarm reviews from auto critics. U.S. News and World Report ranks the Escape just thirteenth out of the 23 affordable compact SUVs on the market.
#2: Chevrolet Equinox
According to AOL Autos, the Chevrolet Equinox is the second best-selling SUV in America for May 2011, with reported sales of 17,587 units. This is quite an improvement compared to July of 2011 when the Equinox sold just 9,869 units to come in at #7.
General Motors reports that at the end of the first half of 2011, Chevy Equinox sales were 79% higher than they were at the same time in 2010, and this increase is not just a fluke.
Equinox sales have been steadily increasing since their low of 67,447 in 2008. So far, the Chevy Equinox’s best year on record is 2010, with sales of 149,979 units, but Chevrolet suggests that 2011 sales could be even higher.
Unlike the Ford Escape, which is far more popular with consumers than with critics, the Chevrolet Equinox is a critical darling. U.S. News places it at #2 out of the 23 compact SUVs it reviewed. The Equinox was also selected as a 2011 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Top Safety Pick.”
#3: Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V ties with the Chevrolet Equinox for the second-place spot on U.S. News’ list. Kelley Blue Book calls the CR-V “practical” and “stylish,” and it placed the 2010 CR-V on its “Best Resale Value” list.
U.S. News also chose this compact SUV as the 2010 Best Compact Crossover for the Money.
With May 2011 sales of 16,307, consumers clearly recognize the CR-V as a great value, and this compact SUV did well in 2010, too.
In fact, 2010 was the Honda CR-V’s second-best sales year ever, with 203,714 units sold. This is up from 197,279 units sold in 2008. The CR-V’s best year was 2007, with 219,160 units sold.
Although it appears that the CR-V may be picking up where it left off before the 2008 financial crisis, the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in early 2011 could hamper production and sales this year.
The number of units sold in May 2011 represents an 8.5% decrease from the number of Honda CR-Vs sold in the same month last year. In July of 2010, the CR-V sold over 20,000 units, making it the best-selling SUV that month.
#4: Ford Explorer
Although it’s not as popular as the Ford Escape, the Explorer is a mainstay in the SUV market, having been on the road since 1990. AOL Autos reports May 2011 sales of 13,318 for the Explorer, which constitutes a whopping 134.6% increase over its sales during the same month in 2010.
As of July 2010, the Explorer did not even rank among the top ten best-selling SUVs on the market.
Ford is very pleased with the Explorer’s performance in 2011. It says that it sold 65,823 new Explorers during the first six months of 2011, which is more than the 60,687 units that it sold during all of 2010.
For the month of June 2011, Ford sold 10,422 Explorers, 56% more than it sold last June.
This sales increase comes after Ford redesigned the Explorer for the 2011 model year. Auto critics love the drastic exterior redesign, improved fuel efficiency, and high-tech gadgetry on the new model, and U.S. News ranked it first among midsize SUVs.
The Ford Explorer shares this spot with the Buick Enclave and the Mazda CX-9. The 2011 Explorer is also an IIHS “Top Safety Pick,” and the “North American Truck of the Year.”
#5: Kia Sorento
Compared to July 2010, the Kia Sorento has moved up five places in the rankings of the best-selling SUVs in America. Its sales of just over 9,000 units earned it tenth place in that month.
In May 2011, AOL Autos says that the Kia Sorento sold almost 12,000 units, which is 45.8% more than it sold in May 2010.
Although Kia Motors does not report its sales by individual country, it says that it has exported 17,886 Sorentos to foreign markets so far in 2011, including the U.S.
Although the Kia Sorento is the fifth best-selling SUV overall, and the second best-selling vehicle in U.S. News’ ranking of midsize SUVs, its critical reviews do not quite square with its sales figures.
U.S. News ranks the Sorento just 14th out of the 23 vehicles in its category, a slot it shares with another Korean-manufactured SUV, the Hyundai Santa Fe, as well as GMC’s Acadia. The Sorento is also one of the IIHS’ “Top Safety Picks.”
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#6: Jeep Wrangler
AOL Autos reports that the Jeep Wrangler sold just over 10,000 units in May 2011, up almost four percent from the previous May. It has fallen one spot in the rankings since July 2010, when its sales of 10,043 earned it the fifth-place spot after the Nissan Rouge.
However, the Wrangler was the best-selling vehicle in the Jeep family for June 2011, reports parent company Chrysler. It counted 11,290 units sold, 27% more Jeep Wranglers than it sold the previous June.
The Wrangler’s 2010 sales totaled 94,310, up from their recession-induced decline to 82,044 in 2009.
Even longer-running than the Ford Explorer, the Jeep Wrangler has been in production since the late 1980s. Although it isn’t particularly well-loved by auto critics due to its clumsy handling in city driving, the Wrangler is up for anything when it comes to off-road pursuits.
Businessweek has described the Wrangler as “iconic,” and this off-road marvel has also garnered recognition from Kelley Blue Book and Forbes for its high resale value.
#7: Ford Edge
Although the Ford Edge is still hanging on as one of the best-selling SUVs in America, with 9,486 units sold in May 2011, this figure represents a year-over-year decline of more than 30%.
The Edge’s sales in July 2010 were just a bit lower than those for May 2011, though, at 9,342. This sales figure earned the 2010 Edge a ninth-place spot for that month.
Ford reports total sales of 9,663 units for the Edge in June 2011, which it says is a year-over-year increase of 18%. The Edge sold over 130,000 units annually when it debuted in 2007, but it has not reached that mark again in subsequent years.
The Ford Edge comes in sixth on U.S. News’ listing of affordable midsize SUVs, tying with Ford’s other entrant in this category, the Flex. Reviewers generally liked the results of the facelift that Ford gave the Edge for the 2011 model year. Ford Edge SUVs produced after February 2011 are rated “Top Safety Picks” by the IIHS.
#8: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Like the Ford Edge, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was also redesigned for the 2011 model year, and the critical response has been positive. Reviewers love the Cherokee’s refined, luxurious interior, which they say can compete with those of higher-priced luxury SUVs.
U.S. News ranked the 2011 Cherokee 11th out of 23 similar vehicles, and it’s also a “Top Safety Pick.”
With a starting MSRP of $30,215, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the priciest vehicle on this list. Despite its cost, sales are strong. AOL Autos reports May 2011 sales of 9,484 for the Cherokee, nearly 200% more Cherokees than Jeep sold in May of the prior year.
Had the Cherokee sold this many vehicles in July 2010, it would have earned the ninth spot on the best-seller list, but in fact, it didn’t make the top-ten list at all. Jeep only sold 84,635 Cherokees total in 2010, which averages out to just over 7,000 per month.
This is quite a downfall from the 300,031 units the Cherokee sold in 1999. However, Jeep says that in June 2011 it saw a year-over-year sales increase of 208% for the Cherokee.
#9: Toyota RAV4
Compared to May 2010, May 2011 sales of the Toyota RAV4 were down more than 34% to 8,624 units. In July of 2010, Toyota sold nearly twice that many, making the RAV4 the second best-selling SUV that month after the Honda CR-V.
Toyota reported a slight increase to 9,267 units in June 2011. The company attributed this increase to the fact that it has finally restored production, which declined dramatically after the 2011 Japanese earthquake.
Aside from a small dip of about 35,000 units in 2008, sales of the RAV4 have steadily increased since its debut in 2000. The RAV4’s redesign for the 2006 model year led to a huge bump in sales, from 70,518 in 2005 to 152,047 in 2006.
Toyota reported total sales of 170,877 RAV4 units for the 2010 model year.
U.S. News currently ranks the Toyota RAV4 first among all compact SUVs on the market. Abundant passenger and cargo space, impressive safety and reliability ratings, and nimble handling all contribute to critics’ high regard for this vehicle.
#10: Honda Pilot
With sales of 8,560 units in May 2011, the Honda Pilot comes in at #10 on the list of the best-selling SUVs in America, reports AOL Autos. It edges out the 11th-ranked GMC Terrain by 1,250 units. The May 2011 sales figure for the Pilot represents a 13.0% decline from its sales in May 2010.
In July 2010, the Pilot’s sales of slightly more than 9,500 units earned it the eighth-place spot on this list. Honda reports higher sales of the Honda Pilot during the beginning of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.
The 2011 Pilot comes in 17th among the 23 midsized SUVs on the market, as rated by U.S. News. The Pilot boasts strong reliability scores and a “Top Safety Pick” designation from the IIHS. However, reviewers say that its price, performance, and interior do not distinguish it from the pack.
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