Crossover vehicles have become immensely popular in only the past few years, and while midsize sedans are still tops as far as American consumers are concerned, crossover utility vehicles are making gains thanks to their appeal as being both fuel efficient, enormously practical and versatile for their size, maneuverable, and all-around decent performers.
Data recently published by Polk indicate that even with the growth of the crossover segment in recent years, it’s still gaining at a rapid clip as new and reenergized models are released. “Among the 18 small mainstream crossovers now on the market, 15 enjoyed year-over-year sales gains in February, and several of the winners played a major role in their respective brands’ February successes,” Polk said in its statement. “At the segment level, the February results were extraordinary. Non-luxury compact crossovers captured 14.8 percent of all February sales, up from 11.7 percent a year ago and 13.8 percent for all of 2013.”
Non-luxury compact CUV deliveries saw gains of 27 percent from last February despite the industry lying down flat.
“It is unlikely the segment can continue to grow at the same pace in the next few years. All the mainstream makes are now in the segment, and before the end of 2013 we will see sub-compact crossovers hitting the market from mainstream makes such as Honda,” the site said. “Although these smaller vehicles will not offer the ideal combination of car and SUV features mentioned above, it is almost inevitable that their sales will eat into the compact category to some degree.”
10. Chevrolet Captiva Sport
The Chevrolet Captiva is in an interesting spot. The vehicle, which many might recognize as the last generation of Saturn Vue before the brand was folded, is only sold in the continental U.S. through a certified pre-owned program; it is also sold in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, sales for the Captiva have soared, up 15.1 percent to 4,452 units, up from the 3,867 vehicles it moved in February of last year.
9. Jeep Compass
Jeep (FIATY.PK) has struck a chord with buyers who don’t want to commit to a full-size SUV with its slate of entry-level options, and though they may not live up to Jeep’s off-road prowess that the Wrangler or Grand Cherokee offer, the Compass is finding its niche with urban dwellers who use their Jeeps mainly for getting around town. The Compass sold 4,354 units in February, up 15.3 percent over the 3,776 units it sold in February 2013.
8. Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 has been one of the incumbent leaders of the crossover segment for years, partially because it was one of the originals on the scene before it exploded into the popular category we know and love today. Its new design seems to be working wonders, as it moved 16,451 units this past February over the 13,329 units from the same period last year. That’s a leap of 23.4 percent, proving that the old nameplate still has more than enough fight left in it.
7. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is one of the lowest-volume crossovers on the market in North America, having sold just 1,644 in February 2013. However, this past month, Mitsubishi was able to move 2,348 Outlander Sport models for a 42.8 percent gain, indicating that the company’s sales downtrend might be reaching a pivotal point — at least for the small member of its SUV family.
6. Subaru XV Crosstrek
The Subaru Crosstrek is a godsend for those who enjoy the Impreza but want something a little more rough-and-tumble — but don’t need the hulking profile and large footprint of the Outback. Subaru sold 3,258 of the popular utility cars in February 2013, but that number swelled to an impressive 5,489 units this past month, netting a 68.5 percent gain.
5. Mazda CX-5
The Mazda CX-5 is among the most easily maneuverable and most fuel-efficient crossovers on the market, and it’s also one of the more stylish, in our opinion. Many seem to agree: Last year’s sales of 5,451 were by no means dismal, but Mazda was able to grow the sales of the CX-5 by 71.6 percent to 9,353 units this past month. Expect to see that number climb more as Mazda’s new line of vehicles continues to mature. Hopefully, the anticipated diesel from the Mazda6 will make it into the flagship crossover.
4. Nissan Rogue
The older-generation Nissan (NSANY.PK) was a great car and sold very well, but it was definitely starting to show its age. Fortunately, the new one seems to be just the revitalization that it needs, and sales are ripping furiously as a result. Nissan sold 9,964 of the last-generation Rogue in February 2013 and sold a whopping 17,197 during last past month — 72.6 percent over the year prior.
3. Buick Encore
The Buick label has struggled in recent years, but leading the charge forward is the Buick Encore. Like the Mitsubishi, the Encore is a lower-volume vehicle, having moved just 1,597 units in February of last year. Seemingly proof that buyers are giving Buick another chance, the Encore sold 3,078 units this past February, nearly double its sales from a year ago, with growth of 92.7 percent.
2. Subaru Forester
While the Crosstrek is popular, the Subaru Forester enjoys almost a cult-like dedication from its legions of fans, all of whom seemed none too upset to dig in for the newest model, which was revised for 2014. The same Forester hallmarks are there, but with better fuel efficiency; buyers snapped up 10,773 of the all-wheel crossovers in February, 94.8 percent more than they did last year, when Subaru sold 5,529 units.
1. Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Cherokee is all new for 2014, but it has established itself as a leading member of Jeep’s lineup. Its polarizing and bold new look doesn’t seem to be scaring off anyone, as Jeep sold 11,795 units this past month — the first February on the market since its release. Given that Jeeps are typically on the lower end volume-wise, the company might be setting itself up for a tough comparable for when 2015 rolls around, unless the brand does some serious growing.