What are America's top-selling SUVs so far in 2017?
The five top-sellers that made our list all have something big in common: They're all five-passenger "crossover" SUVs. Crossovers are called this because they have traditional SUV body proportions and (often) all-wheel drive, but they're constructed like cars rather than like the body-on-frame SUVs of old.
Crossovers "cross" some of the advantages of those old SUVs -- plenty of space, upright driving position, safer handling in bad weather -- with some of the advantages of sedans -- more comfortable ride, easier to drive, better fuel economy. They've become very popular over the last decade or so, and as you'll see below, they're especially popular in compact-but-not-too-compact five-passenger form.
From a business perspective, surging demand for crossovers has been a boon to the automakers. Crossovers tend to sell at higher prices than comparable sedans, meaning that they're more profitable -- especially when they're selling in huge numbers.
Here's a look at the five crossovers that have racked up the biggest sales totals in the U.S. in 2017.
5th place: Chevrolet Equinox
General Motors (NYSE:GM) has always done well with SUVs, but until recently, its crossovers were so-so designs that were overdue for a rethink. But over the last approximately 1 1/2 years, GM has launched all-new versions of nearly all of its crossovers across the Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac brands.
All of GM's new crossovers have been well received, but none have sold better in the U.S. than the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, introduced late last year. The all-new Equinox is a thoroughly up-to-date package that's drawing new buyers to the Chevy brand. Through November, GM has sold 257,674 Equinoxes in the U.S. this year, up 19.8% from a year ago.
4th place: Ford Escape
Unlike the Equinox, which is all new, Ford Motor Company's (NYSE:F) stalwart Escape is nearing the end of its current model life. First introduced in 2012 as a 2013 model, the Escape was recently given a series of updates to keep it fresh until its replacement arrives -- likely late next year as a 2019 model.
The Escape is still a solid and safe contender, though, with Ford's latest SYNC 3 system and a full suite of advanced driver-assist technologies available. Through November, Ford has sold 282,043 Escapes in the U.S., up slightly (0.3%) from its very strong total through the same period last year.
3rd place: Honda CR-V
Honda's (NYSE:HMC) CR-V is a much-loved entry -- in fact, it's so loved that Honda made some elaborate factory moves last year in order to boost production for the U.S., which couldn't seem to get enough of them. The CR-V brings Honda's traditional brand virtues -- value, reliability, and fun-to-drive handling -- to the compact crossover segment at a good price. The formula works: Honda has sold 345,880 CR-Vs in the U.S. this year through November, up 3.1% from an impressive 2016 result.
2nd place: Nissan Rogue
The compact Rogue has become a monster hit for Nissan (NASDAQOTH:NSANY) in the U.S. and for good reason: It's priced right and it shines on test drives. Buyers like the Rogue's nicely trimmed interior and quiet ride, and Nissan has priced it to sell with aggressive incentives. The Rogue sold well last year, but its sales have boomed in 2017: Nissan has sold 359,219 Rogues in the U.S. through November, up 24.1% from the same period last year.
1st place: Toyota RAV4
For years, Toyota's (NYSE:TM) reliable, value-priced sedans topped the U.S. sales charts. Times change, but Toyota's value proposition hasn't: Its compact RAV4 crossover is the bestselling vehicle in America that isn't a full-size pickup. The current RAV4's basic design dates to the 2013 model year, but it was a good one -- and Toyota gave it a revamp for 2016 that has kept it up to date.
Through November, Toyota has sold a whopping 375,052 RAV4s in the U.S., up 19.1% from a year ago.