As is the case with the January pickup sales, the cold weather across much of the country also took its toll on SUV sales, although many brands and models showed substantial sales increases. Particularly noteworthy was the performance of the new Jeep Cherokee, which for the second consecutive month of full sales, moved over 10,000 units. Although down from last month's 15,038, this is a highly respectable performance for an all-new model, and shows it could be a strong segment contender for 2014.
The Subaru Forester also had a solid performance in January, up 64 percent, and narrowly outselling the Cherokee for the month. The Cherokee's sales performance knocked its older brother Wrangler out of 10th place, with Jeep's historic standard-bearer selling just 9553 units for the month.
Ford Escape – 19,495, Down 2.4 Percent
In a reversal of trends for the last few months, the Ford Escape rallies to take the top sales spot from the Honda CR-V for January. These two compact SUVs have been battling it out for the better part of the last few years for first place. The CR-V ended the year slightly ahead of the Escape, but it's a new year, and it's anyone's guess how 2014 will shake out.
Honda CR-V – 18,232, Up 2.4 Percent
The CR-V ceded first place to the Escape for January, but there's no question Honda's compact SUV punches way above its weight in monthly sales. SUVs are all about practicality and versatility, and the CR-V offers plenty of both, as well as Honda's legendary reputation for quality and reliability.
Toyota RAV4 – 16,880, Up 45.4 Percent
Once again, the RAV4 takes third place, outselling the Chevy Equinox by more than 2000 units for January, with a noteworthy 45.4-percent monthly increase. The RAV4 outsells the next best-selling Toyota SUV, the Highlander, by more than 6000 units for this month.
Chevrolet Equinox – 14,547, Down 15.5 Percent
The Equinox may be fourth place overall in the greater realm of SUVs, but it outsold all of Chevrolet's other SUVs, the Equinox, Tahoe, and Suburban combined by a substantial margin. January unit sales were down 15.5 percent.
Nissan Rogue – 13,831, Up 54.5 Percent
Like the Equinox, the Rogue is Nissan's best-selling SUV by a margin of multiples. Despite chilly weather in January, sales were up a strong 54.5 percent year over year for January. Customers are no doubt attracted to the 2014 model's mini-Pathfinder styling, but if you're a fan of the outgoing Rogue, fret not, it's still offered new as the Rogue Select.
Jeep Grand Cherokee – 12,207, Up 10 Percent
The Grand Cherokee retains its status as the best-selling midsize SUV, pulling ahead of the Explorer, Highlander and others. The 2014 model received a host of updates, including an eight-speed automatic for all models, and an available turbodiesel engine, which gets a segment-best 30-mpg highway for the 2WD model.
Ford Explorer – 11,696, Down 19.6 Percent
Explorer sales declined 19.6 percent for the month, but it remains the brand's second best-selling SUV after the Escape. Until the Rogue added a (snug) third-row option for 2014, the Explorer had the distinction of being the best-selling three-row SUV.
Subaru Forester – 10,771, Up 64 Percent
The Forester is not only Subaru's best-selling SUV model, but the brand's best-selling model in the U.S., period. January saw a robust 64 percent increase. The Forester's combination of ruggedness, versatility, reliability, and high performance (when equipped with the XT's 2.0 turbo) continues to win it fans from coast to coast.
Toyota Highlander – 10,676, Up 20.9 Percent
The Highlander showed a healthy gain for January of 20.9 percent. The redesigned 2014 model features a significantly revised interior, with particular attention paid to the third row, making it much roomier than its predecessor. We can't say we're equally enamored of its exterior restyling, but it obviously hasn't scared off buyers.
Jeep Cherokee – 10,505 Units
If there were any doubts how well SUV buyers would receive the Cherokee's controversial styling, consider that question answered, with two consecutive months of five-figure sales. The December sales number of more than 15,000 units is likely an anomaly, as sales were held back until final calibration issues could be worked out with its new nine-speed automatic. January's number of 10,505 is likely more representative of the sales pace we'll see in 2014.