The Honda CR-V once again tops our list, likely aided by the string of embarrassing recalls on the 2013 Ford Escape. But things are about to change in the compact SUV market, with the introduction of an all-new Toyota RAV4 that likely will give both the Honda and Ford a run for their money. The Nissan Rogue, though not among the troika of the best-selling compacts, placed a respectable sixth overall, outselling the RAV4.
Among the midsizers, the Explorer takes the lead, outselling the Grand Cherokee by a little more than 800 units. The Kia Sorento keeps its eighth-place spot, with sales up more than 12 percent year over year. The just-unveiled 2014 comprehensive refresh should keep the Sorento hot in 2013.
1. Honda CR-V - 22,333, Up 36 Percent
If there were any doubt to the CR-V's staying power, those doubts were erased with the November sales figures for Honda's bread-and-butter SUV. Up a robust 36 percent over 2011 figures, the CR-V was also more than 1000 units ahead of the Escape, widening its admittedly narrow lead nearly threefold. The single powertrain choice doesn't seem to have hurt the CR-V's popularity among consumers.
2. Ford Escape - 20,970, Down 3.9 Percent
With its fourth engine-related recall since its introduction, the string of bad press on the 2013 Ford Escape may have scared off just enough consumers to give Honda the edge. Although the recall was applicable only to the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, some potential customers may have crossed all 2013 Escapes off their shopping lists. But second-place in this cutthroat segment is nothing to sneeze at, and if Ford can finally exorcise the demons from the 1.6 EcoBoost once and for all, the Escape may retake the lead.
3. Chevrolet Equinox - 16,821, Up 12.6 Percent
The Equinox continues its solid third-place performance, and with the disappearance of a V-6 option from the 2013 RAV4, remains one of the few compact SUVs remaining with a V-6 option, although the majority of sales continue to be the four-cylinder model. For year-to-date November sales, the Equinox fell just short of the 200,000 mark, a milestone it's sure to surpass for 2012 end-of-year totals.
4. Ford Explorer - 14,456, Up 12.2 Percent
The Explorer retains its status as the best-selling midsize SUV, with sales up 12.2 percent over November last year. With the addition of the 2.0-liter EcoBoost and the V-6 EcoBoost Sport, there's a model to suit just about any taste, from frugal to fast.
5. Jeep Grand Cherokee - 13,619, Up 1 Percent
Somewhat uncharacteristic for Chrysler models this year, after months of double-digit gains, the Grand Cherokee ekes out just a 1-percent gain over last year's sales. But its fifth-place showing still makes it a major player in the SUV segment. The early-introduction 2014 model is just around the corner, and will bring a styling refresh and a new turbodiesel option, two items that could catapult the GC ahead of the Explorer in the coming months.
6. Nissan Rogue - 12,662, Up 16.8 Percent
In a surprising reversal of fortune, the Nissan Rogue outsells archrival Toyota RAV4, though only by a few hundred units. The all-new, redesigned 2013 Pathfinder is already showing huge gains over its trucky predecessor, but is still no sales threat to its little brother.
7. Toyota RAV4 - 12,423, Up 9.6 Percent
If you're a fan of hot-rod compact SUVs, and of the RAV4 V-6, you'd better act fast. Last week at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show, Toyota officially confirmed what many suspected: No more V-6. The compact SUV market has decisively trended in the trajectory of efficiency, and the relatively small percentage of V-6 models sold did not justify keeping it in the lineup. Toyota representatives we talked to at the show said the plan is to steer customers insistent on a V-6 to the larger Highlander. We'll see if the sleek new carlike design of the 2013 RAV4 is enough for it to climb into the top three once again.
8. Kia Sorento - 10,851, Up 12.2 Percent
The Sorento keeps its number-eight spot for November, and shows a respectable 12.2-percent gain over November 2011. A comprehensively-refreshed 2014 model will show up later in calendar 2013, with a new direct-injected V-6 option, premium features, and a new second-generation Uvo tech interface. Once the new model starts rolling off the line in West Point, Georgia, the Sorento could move even further up the list.
9. Jeep Wrangler - 10,337, Up 12 Percent
The Wrangler's continued presence on the Top 10 list shows that there's still a market for a no-nonsense, purpose-built, off-road SUV. The availability of the four-door Unlimited model, and multiple trim levels ranging from Spartan to borderline sumptuous appeal to a broad range of customers attracted to its rugged personality.
10. Toyota Highlander - 9474, Up 13.2 Percent
The Highlander bumped off the Honda Pilot for November, keeping it on our top 10 list. The Highlander could be the unintended beneficiary of the discontinuation of the V-6 option in the RAV4, as Toyota's stated objective for customers that would have bought a RAV4 V-6 is to steer them toward the Highlander. A hybrid model as well as an entry-level four-cylinder are offered for economy and budget-minded shoppers.