Crossovers, the segment defined as small and midsize sport utility vehicles (SUVs), have assumed a primary place in the U.S. auto industry. Seven of the top-selling thirty vehicles in the U.S. come from this category in 2014. The idea of an automobile with the form and space typical of an SUV combined with the efficiency and handling of a sedan has clear appeal to American auto consumers.
At this point in time, every automaker wanting to make its presence felt in the U.S. must have a viable crossover in dealerships. Between the segment’s top sellers and its top gainers, crossover vehicles have fueled the industry’s full rebound in 2013 and its continued strength in 2014. Here are seven vehicles from the standard and luxury markets that are leading the way.
1. Ford Escape ($22,610)
It’s impossible to overlook the Ford Escape, which has paced the segment with 71,305 units sold through March 2014. It managed to break the top ten of all vehicles sold on the year without posting improvements over its performance in the first quarter of 2013. Standard models come outfitted with the 2.5-liter I-4 engine capable of 31 highway mpg, while the 1.6-liter EcoBoost model ($25,060) can push the efficiency to 32 mpg on the highway.
2. Acura MDX ($42,290)
Among the top thirty in SUV sales in the U.S., none has gained more in March 2014 than the Acura MDX, the jewel crossover of Honda’s premium brand. MDX sales vaulted 81 percent in March compared to 2013?s numbers, which have pushed the crossover’s gains to 67 percent on year with 14,597 vehicles on the books for Acura.
While the efficiency of the MDX cannot compare to smaller crossovers, this luxury model packs superior engine power to go with the added space and comfort. Its 3.5-liter iVTEC V6 is capable of 290 horsepower on 267 pounds-feet of torque. The front-wheel drive (FWD) model can get up to 28 mpg on the highway while the all-wheel drive (AWD) model can get up to 27 highway mpg.
3. Nissan Rogue ($22,790)
Of the top twenty vehicles sold in the United States through March 2014, none has gained more on the year than the Nissan Rogue crossover. The Rogue has gained 47 percent in 2014 (26 percent in March) while holding down seventeenth place on the vehicle sales sheet as a whole.
In concrete terms, Nissan Rogue sales hit 50,448 through March, which meant the crossover is outselling the Chevy Malibu, GMC Sierra, and Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2014. Base Rogue engine specs include 170 hp to match 33 mpg in efficiency on the highway.
4. Toyota RAV4 ($23,550)
Toyota’s RAV4 sold 53,064 units in 2014, which vaulted the SUV to fifteenth place on the list of all vehicles sold in the U.S. through March 2014. The RAV4, which has increased sales by 28 percent thus far on the year, is the fourth best-selling SUV among American consumers.
In the base LE model, drivers get access to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with FWD capable of a maximum 176 hp. Fuel economy tops out at 31 highway mpg.
5. Subaru Forester ($22,195)
The 2014 Motor Trend SUV of the Year has more than its share of fans in the U.S. With 35,390 units sold through March 2014, the Subaru Forester claims No. 29 on the all-vehicle sales list with 67 percent gains notched so far this year (53 percent in March) over the 2013 figures.
In terms of efficiency and value, it’s easy to see why the Forester is adding new owners at such a rapid pace. The 2.5-literDOHC four-cylinder engine provides a max 170 hp in the base model while offering 32 mpg on the highway.
6. Hyundai Santa Fe ($29,900)
The Hyundai Santa Fe stretches toward the large end of the crossover SUV market, but that fact may explain its growing appeal among U.S. consumers. Slotting in at No. 50 on the all-vehicle sales list, the Santa Fe posted gains of 37 percent in March and is up 21 percent in 2014 over the prior year’s numbers with 23,440 units sold.
On the power front, Santa Fe drivers have access to a max 290 hp from the standard V6 engine. Standard 18-inch wheels and seven airbags are other elements of appeal. This SUV can get 25 mpg on the highway.
7. Mazda CX-5 ($21,545)
Mazda had its Mazda3 nominated for 2014 World Car of the Year, but its best-selling and fastest gaining automobile is the CX-5 crossover. Through March 2014, this compact SUV sold 26,206 units in the U.S. for a gain of 47 percent on the year (up 67 percent in March). That pace affords the CX-5 No. 42 on the all-vehicle U.S. sales list.
Named a Top Safety Pick Plus for 2014, the 2015 Madza CX-5 enjoys the extraordinary efficiency of SkyActiv-G engine technology to go along with its safety specs. Equipped with the base model’s 2.0-liter engine, drivers get the best-in-class EPA-estimated 35 mpg on the highway, which is a mark most midsize sedans are happy to hit.