November 2015 Body-on-Frame SUV Sales: Strong Numbers for the Workhorses of the SUV World
While crossovers continue to dominate the SUV category, many people (ourselves included) only consider a vehicle to be a true SUV if it’s attached to a separate ladder-type frame and comes with a proper low-range transfer case. There are exceptions to this rule, like the capable unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee, Range Rover, and Volkswagen Touareg, but by and large, we like the cost-effectiveness and rugged simplicity of a body-on-frame SUV.
Here, ranked in descending bestselling order, are all the body-on-frame SUVs available in the U.S. Notice that some of the most legendary off-roaders and tow machines are on this list. Just yet another reason to respect the body-on-frame SUV.
Jeep Wrangler: 13,847, up 2 percentOne of Jeep’s bestsellers, the four-wheel-drive–only Wrangler, is yet again America’s favorite body-on-frame SUV. It’s been on sale in its current “JK” generation since 2007, yet its fun personality and surprisingly pleasant on-road manners make it a good vehicle for “lifestyle buyers” who never touch the dirt, and obviously, its off-road talent makes it attractive to outdoorsmen, hunters, campers, and rock worshippers. We’ve fallen in love with nearly every single Wrangler we’ve ever driven.
Toyota 4Runner: 7,583, up 6 percentHot on the Wrangler’s tail in reputation, if not sales, is the rough-and-ready Toyota 4Runner. Although it experienced a brief midlife crisis in the last generation where it thought it was a three-row family SUV, the current 4Runner has again settled into its mission as a go-anywhere five-seater for singles, DINKs, and small, adventurous families. The TRD Pro version of the 4Runner only increases its skillset, turning it into even more of a rockcrawling campmobile.
Chevrolet Tahoe: 7,217, down 10 percentOne of the original family SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe’s sales took a slight tumble compared to November of last year. However, it’s still the bestselling three-row fullsize SUV on the market. And unlike previous generations, the current Tahoe features Cadillac-rivaling interior quality and surprising efficiency for something that can haul nine passengers and a speedboat at the same time.
Chevrolet Suburban: 5,216, up 3 percentAn extended-wheelbase version of the Tahoe, the Chevrolet Suburban is the de-rigueur choice for families who’ve outgrown their minivans or crossovers. Seating up to nine with the available front bench seat, the Suburban is a great choice for those who need the space, especially given the new generation’s improvements shared with the Tahoe. The added wheelbase over its little brother goes directly toward rear-seat legroom and cargo space, making it even more versatile. Sales were up slightly this month over a year ago.
GMC Yukon: 3,925, up 24 percentGMC is seeing something of a renaissance on the consumer market lately, and the skyrocketing sales of its Yukon brand have a lot to do with that. Although it’s available in lower trim levels that compete with its Chevy Tahoe twin, many Yukons are sold with GMC’s Denali badge, denoting the highest level of luxury available from the company.
GMC Yukon XL: 3,137, up 30 percentLike its shorter Yukon brother and its Chevrolet Suburban twin, the GMC Yukon XL enjoyed a pleasant sales hike this month. And like the Yukon, a good portion of those SUVs were likely sold as Denalis, meaning a healthy addition to GMC’s bottom line. The Yukon XL Denali makes a good case for avoiding the Cadillac dealer, offering almost all of the luxury of the range-topping Escalade at a healthy discount.
Ford Expedition: 2,980, down 25 percentWe wish Ford would break down Expedition sales by wheelbase length, but regardless, its largest SUV sells a fraction of its GM competitors even with the regular-length Expedition and long-wheelbase Expedition EL combined. Expect that to change somewhat when a new Expedition bows for the 2018 model year, based on the new-for-2015 Ford F-150. For now, Expedition owners get even more space than Tahoe owners, thanks to the Expedition’s space-saving rear independent suspension.
Lexus GX: 2,011, down 2 percentLexus’ entry-level fullsize SUV is loosely based on the Toyota 4Runner, which means it has a healthy measure of off-road capability to go with its luxurious interior and Lexus-signature spindle grille. Indeed, a surprising number of these get turned into overlanding machines after hitting the used market, complete with safari bumpers, rooftop tents, and interior modifications. That’s due to the GX’s center locking differential, Crawl Control off-road systems, and excellent ground clearance. Sales are slightly down this month.
Infiniti QX80: 1,737, up 32 percentBased on the overseas Nissan Patrol, the Infiniti QX80 is a decent foil for both the Lexus GX and its larger brother, the LX. With a long list of standard features (and a pricetag to match), the QX80 is powered by a huge 400hp V-8 and comes with available all-wheel drive and sophisticated four-wheel limited-slip technology. It’s a somewhat dated design, but Infiniti’s uniquely Japanese styling is aging fairly well.
Cadillac Escalade: 1,672, down 21 percentOne of the first fullsize luxury SUVs, the standard-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade saw sales take a tumble compared to last year’s strong November. The new is wearing off this SUV, which was redesigned to great effect for the 2015 model year, so sales are justifiably cooling somewhat. Even so, and in spite of the luxury available on its GMC and Chevrolet cousins, there are some for whom the whole-hog Escalade is the only viable option. One of the largest luxury SUVs on the market, the Escalade is also somewhat efficient.
Cadillac Escalade ESV: 1,309, up 16 percentBasically an extended-length version of the Escalade, the Escalade ESV combines that vehicles luxury with the space and versatility of the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. As such, its capabilities should be considered a blend of all of the above. Were it not for its near-80k price tag, it could be the perfect jack-of-all-trades. As such, it’s a great family hauler for the well-heeled of Pasadena, Miami, and Aspen.
The Best of the RestFullsize SUVs are seeing a nice little sales resurgence this month thanks to big industry incentives, low gas prices, and the wintertime rush to get into something with four-wheel drive. Save the antiquated Lincoln Navigator and Nissan SUVs, the rest of the segment is enjoying increased sales. Surprisingly, the Land Rover LR4’s sales spiked over last year, perhaps due to increased foot traffic for the all-new compact Discovery SUV and a few crafty salesmen who were able to talk customers into buying big.
Toyota Sequoia: 974, up 0 percent
Lincoln Navigator: 960, down 33 percent
Land Rover LR4: 927, up 196 percent
Nissan Armada: 812, down 34 percent
Lexus LX: 512, up 21 percent
Toyota Land Cruiser: 394, up 23 percent
Mercedes-Benz G-Class: 334, up 14 percent
Nissan Xterra: 169, down 85 percent
Toyota FJ Cruiser: 1, down 99 percent