The dominant theme for the better part of 2012 in SUV sales was the Honda CR-V's unchallenged sales supremacy in SUVs. But following the introduction of the all-new 2013 Ford Escape, the tables turned decisively in Dearborn's favor, with the Escape edging out the CR-V to take the top spot for the last three months.
2012 has also proven a good year for the Chevrolet Equinox, as well as a strong sales performance for Jeep, with the brand's co-anchor Wrangler and Grand Cherokee giving the brand a 22-percent year-to-date gain over 2011. The Nissan Rogue also continues to surprise this month, making another top-10 appearance.
1. Ford Escape: 28,188, Up 36.8 Percent
If there was any question the new 2013 Ford Escape would be a success, those doubts have likely been safely laid to rest with the model's stellar August sales results. In reality, there is a substantial inventory of 2012 models that likely remain on dealer lots that are being moved with the help of incentives, but now that Louisville is cranking out the 2013s at full clip, the Escape's future success hinges squarely on the 2013 model. Its August sales total surpassed the CR-V by 4311 units, as well as showing a healthy 36.8 year-over-year percentage gain. Year-to-date results are a little more modest, up 5.5 percent, but there are still four more months to go.
2. Honda CR-V: 23,877, Up 44.1 Percent
Long the SUV sales champ in 2012, the new Escape has proved a formidable competitor, and the CR-V's second-place August finish is nothing to sneer at. It's up 44.1 percent year-over-year compared with August 2011, and it's important to note that the CR-V cumulative year-to-date sales are still greater than the Escape by more than 14,000 units. As the remaining 2012 Escapes are cleared off dealer lots, and Ford has to rely on the 2013 Escape's core attributes, rather than generous cash on the hood of the outgoing model, we will see if Ford can maintain its lead.
3. Chevrolet Equinox: 20,231, Up 21.8 Percent
The gap between the Equinox and first-place Escape widened for August, but the Equinox still came ahead of the fourth-place Toyota RAV4 by more than 4000 units. Sales are up over July, as well as August 2011, posting a solid 21.8-percent gain. The Equinox's year-to-date performance is also strong, up 16.6 percent, totaling 151,027 units. The CAW has voted to approve a strike authorization, which would include the Equniox's Ingersoll, Ontario, plant, but if negotiations go well, the Equinox is poised to finish up 2012 strongly.
4. Toyota RAV4: 15,685, Up 141.2 Percent
The RAV4's August performance continues to highlight Toyota's robust comeback from 2011, with a triple-digit gain over August 2011 sales. A redesigned model is reportedly just around the corner, with spy photos and renderings suggesting a much more carlike appearance than the current RAV4's chunky, truck-like look. But although the overall design of Toyota's entry-level SUV has changed little since its 2007 introduction, it remains a hit with the buying public. Year-to-date sales are up a more modest, but still-impressive 36.1 percent, for a total of 120,371 units.
5. Jeep Wrangler: 13,293, Up 3 Percent
The Wrangler may only by up 3 percent for August, but it's still up, and it's still a solid number five. Sales are up 20 percent year-to-date, with the cumulative figure coming just a few thousand units shy of the six-figure mark at 96,380. The surprising refinement and utility of the 2012 model continues to win over buyers attracted to its iconic styling and legendary capability.
6. Ford Explorer: 13,168, Up 33 Percent
While it's not the chart-topping sales behemoth it was in the mid- and early 1990s, the Explorer is still a solid seller in the midsize segment, with its combination of refinement, tech integration, and consumer-friendly features winning over buyers. The performance-oriented Explorer Sport model has yet to reach showrooms, but the 365-hp model could be enough to, ahem, boost sales into the top five. Explorer is up 17 percent year-to-date, for a cumulative sales total of 100,202.
7. Jeep Grand Cherokee: 12,848, Up 13 Percent
The Explorer bumps the Jeep Grand Cherokee down one notch for August, but the Grand Cherokee is hardly an also-ran. It has been a top 10 fixture in SUV sales for most of 2012, and looks like it will stay there. With the announcement of the Trailhawk edition adding more off-road capability to Jeep's near-luxury entry, it's sure to find even more takers. Year-to-date sales are up a strong 32 percent, with cumulative sales just barely missing the six-figure mark at 99,536.
8. Nissan Rogue: 12,626, Up 10.1 Percent
Nissan's rebelliously named but solidly conventional compact crossover continues to be the brand's best-selling crossover, and its second-best selling vehicle, behind only the chart-dominating Altima midsize sedan. Its August 2012 total of 12,626 units is up 10.1 percent, bringing its year-to-date sales total to 97,657, up 21.1 percent compared with 2011.
9. Ford Edge: 11,603, Up 23.3 Percent
The Edge rounds out Ford's triple play in the heart of the SUV market, with the stylish two-row midsizer showing a 23.3 percent gain for August 2012. Its year-to-date performance is a bit more modest, up nine percent from 2011, for a cumulative sales total of 86,216.
10. Toyota Highlander: 11,441 Up 42.2 Percent
The Highlander just barely trails the Edge for August, only 162 units shy of the Ford's total. The Highlander's August year-over-year performance is up a significant 42.2 percent compared with 2011, and year-to-date cumulative sales are up 21.4 percent for a total of 79,554 units sold.