In the ongoing sales battle between the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V for title of best-selling SUV, Ford took the gold by an ever-so-slim 44 units. The Chevrolet Equinox got bumped down to its usual Third Place once again but remained ahead of the Toyota RAV4 by 206 units.
Among the midsizers, the Explorer took First, followed closely thereafter by the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with the Wrangler and the Cherokee taking Eighth and Tenth Places, respectively. The Subaru Forester was up an impressive 53 percent for the month, putting it in Ninth Place overall.
1. Ford Escape – 28,701, Down 0.8 Percent
America's favorite SUV is once again the Ford Escape, but its miniscule lead over the RAV4 proves this highly competitive segment is still a two-horse race. With its recall troubles seemingly largely behind it, the Escape is once again winning fans with its handsome Euro-inspired styling and bevy of different options and configurations, one advantage it has over the largely pre-packaged trim levels of the CR-V.
2. Honda CR-V – 28,657, Up 6.5 Percent
The Honda was within spitting distance of the Escape's sales total, and there's no doubt that in the coming months it will pull ahead and take First Place once again. It may not be the sleekest or sexiest entry in the market, but its ample cargo space, sterling reputation for reliability, and historically strong resale value has kept it near the top of compact SUV shoppers' lists.
3. Chevrolet Equinox – 19,939, Down 5.0 Percent
The Equinox may have fallen back from its Second Place showing in February, but it's still a solid player in the SUV sales race and moves back down to its traditional Third Place spot. Larger than a compact, but barely a midsize, the Equinox's size puts it in the sweet spot of many consumers' preferences.
4. Toyota RAV4 – 19,733, Up 19.8 Percent
The RAV4 may be back down to Fourth, but March brought an almost 20-percent sales gain. It seems customers in this segment don't really much care what's under the hood, and the discontinuation of the V-6 doesn't seem to have hurt RAV4 sales all that much.
5. Nissan Rogue – 19,420, Up 26.3 Percent
The Nissan Rogue may have dropped one spot relative to its archrival, Toyota RAV4, but it's still a strong player in the SUV segment, and its 26.3 percent gain for the month shows the Rogue is here to stay. Sales totals are no doubt being aided by incremental sales of the carryover "Rogue Select" for value-minded shoppers.
6. Ford Explorer – 17,751, Up 1.4 Percent
The Explorer maintains its sales lead among midsizers by a comfortable margin, posting a modest year-over-year March gain, but still tallying a respectable total. A broad availability of powertrains and trim levels gives buyers plenty of options.
7. Jeep Grand Cherokee – 15,940, Up 26 Percent
The Grand Cherokee had a solid March performance, up 26 percent year-over-year. Combined with the solid performance of the Wrangler and Cherokee, Jeep is headed nowhere but up, and we predict the addition of the Renegade will make the brand even more popular among a broad array of customers.
8. Jeep Wrangler – 14,481, Up 12 Percent
The original SUV formula is still confounding the experts with its proudly defiant body-on-frame and live axle layout making it the overwhelming favorite among new SUVs with serious off-roaders. We hear all sorts of troubling rumors about the next-generation Wrangler, but we expect relatively minor changes to the overall formula, other than a possible eight-speed transmission and a possible diesel option.
9. Subaru Forester – 13,846, Up 53 Percent
Our 2014 SUV of the Year winner continues to be Subaru's best-seller, which posted an impressive 53-percent year-over-year gain. Whether your goal is efficiency or performance, the Forester delivers in base or XT form, and with plenty of comfort and space in a no-nonsense package.
10. Jeep Cherokee – 13,796
The Cherokee keeps up its five-digit sales pace for March and offers a fresh, unique alternative in a class of largely look-alike, anonymous competitors. We've been impressed with the Cherokee's off-road capability, especially in Trailhawk form. Our only suggestion would be to make the turbodiesel 2.0L I-4 optional in the U.S. market.