The battle Royale that has played out between the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V for the better part of a year continues into February, with Ford's popular compact SUV outselling Honda by more than 3000 units for the month. But perhaps the even bigger story is the resurgent sales of the Chevrolet Equinox, which came within 20 units of taking the second-place spot from Honda.
Among the midsizers, the Explorer dominated the segment, with sales of 16,586, up a robust 58.9 percent, far outselling anything else in its class. Sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee took a tumble, down 26 percent for the month, possibly with potential buyers waiting in anticipation of the extensively refreshed 2014 model, or for richer incentives on the remaining 2013s.
Ford Escape - 24,110, Up 29.2 Percent
The Ford Escape is starting 2013 strongly, outselling its archrival CR-V for the second month of the year, by a decisive 3442 units. Although plagued by a series of recalls on the 1.6 EcoBoost models in the later part of 2012, Ford acted quickly to address the problem, and the bad news didn't seem to dissuade customers from the stylish, feature-packed small SUV. Will the Escape be able to maintain its momentum going forward? Time will tell.
Honda CR-V - 20,668, Down 16.5 Percent
Honda may be down for a little in February, but it's still a segment juggernaut and the one model every other manufacturer that has an entry in the compact SUV segment has its crosshairs on. It fell behind the Escape for February, but never count this perennial favorite out. The CR-V's powertrain is starting to look a little dated in light of competitors' more powerful, more efficient options, but that will likely be addressed with the 2014 model year, when we expect the CR-V to adopt the Earth Dreams direct-injected engine and CVT transmission from the Accord.
Chevrolet Equinox - 20,649, Up 15.7 Percent
The Equinox has held the third-place spot on this list for as long as we can remember, and although the bronze medal may not seem like a big accomplishment, take a look at the numbers. The Equinox fell a mere 19 units short of the Honda CR-V for the month, making the prospect of a second-place ranking for Chevy looking like it could be within reach. Keep an eye on this player.
Ford Explorer - 16,586, Up 58.9 Percent
The Explorer was within a few thousand units of the Grand Cherokee and some other midsize players for many months of last year, but widened its lead considerably among the midsize models, with a more than 7000-unit edge over the Grand Cherokee and Toyota Highlander. The addition of the newly available high-performance Sport model, in addition to the availability of the thrifty 2.0 EcoBoost model ensure there's a model for every taste, need, and budget, and the variety in the model lineup seems to have paid off for Ford.
Toyota RAV4 - 13,329, Up 5.1 Percent
Toyota was clearly targeting the Honda CR-V with the introduction of the 2013 RAV4, but still has some significant ground to make up in the sales race if it hopes to be a top-three player. Sales in February are still likely a mix of holdover 2012 models and the new 2013, so we may not see the full picture of the new model's popularity until later in the year.
Jeep Wrangler - 10,091, Up 8 Percent
The originator of the SUV genre had a positive February, but not as robust as in some months past. But it does take the distinction of being the Jeep brand's best-selling model for the month, a title usually carried by its uptown cousin, the Grand Cherokee.
Nissan Rogue - 9964, Down 25.8 Percent
Nissan's compact SUV experienced a significant sales decline for February, but still came within a handful of the five-figure sales mark. Although far from a top-10 player at this point, figures for the Rogue's newly redesigned big brother 2013 Pathfinder show huge growth for the three-row midsizer, up 145.6 percent over the same period last year. Will the Pathfinder work its way in to the Top 10 list for 2013? We'll see.
Ford Edge - 9683, Down 8.1 Percent
Sales for Ford's two-row midsizer were down slightly for February, but having three out of the 10 best-selling SUV models is nothing to be ashamed of. We recently saw some photos of a redesign on the horizon for the Edge, and the restyle and freshening could bump the Edge up in the months to come.
Jeep Grand Cherokee - 9439, Down 26 Percent
Sales for Jeep's midsize premium model were down significantly for February, but the sales slump will likely not last for long, as the significantly refreshed 2014 model is right around the corner, with more sophistication, equipment, and powertrain options than ever. Once the 2014 model arrives in showrooms, we expect a major uptick in sales for the Grand Cherokee.
Toyota Highlander - 9310, Up 14.1 Percent
The Highlander has anchored the 10th-place spot on this list for most of the past 12 months, occasionally being bumped off by the Kia Sorento. Although under the five-figure mark, sales were up 14.1 percent over February 2012. Receiving a styling update in 2011, no major changes are expected for the Highlander in the immediate future, which received Toyota's Entune multimedia interface for 2013.