The first month of the year traditionally brings a little depression into dealer showrooms. As customers recover from their holiday spending, dealerships usually suffer through a New Year hangover until people start getting their tax refunds and plunk down some cash on a new SUV.
But even compared to January’s traditionally tepid new-vehicle sales, last month was a rough one for body-on-frame SUVs. Most of the 10 best traditional SUVs saw a slump in sales compared to January 2015, possibly due to the gripping winter storms found throughout the country and possibly due to mostly stale model lines. But if January’s snow and wintry weather scare people into purchasing vehicles with four-wheel drive and all-terrain capability, February’s sales might compensate.
Jeep Wrangler – 10,797, down 8 percent
The perennial best-selling traditional SUV took a sales hit last month, but its 10,000 units moved is still nothing to sneeze at. Although the Jeep Wrangler’s limited insulation and weather protection make it an odd choice for winter, its sterling reputation and heritage keep people in Jeep showrooms month after month. Now in its ninth model year, the current Jeep Wrangler sales machine shows no signs of slowing down.
Toyota 4Runner – 7,496, up 8 percent
One of the few bright spots in January 2016’s traditional-SUV sales was the Toyota 4Runner. The 4Runner’s evergreen popularity in Snowbelt states and mountain communities know no bounds. However, the 4Runner is getting somewhat long in the tooth, and a new version may be on its way for the 2018 model year. We hope it’ll stay true to its roots, unlike its former competitor, the now-unibody Nissan Pathfinder.
Chevrolet Tahoe – 6,199, down 6 percent
Chevrolet’s SUV sales took a significant tumble in January. There’s a limited market for fullsize eight-passenger SUVs, so it’s not terribly surprising. Still, of the options on the market, the Tahoe is the bestselling, thanks to its impressive interior room, powerful Chevrolet V-8 engines, and rugged platform.
Chevrolet Suburban – 3,270, down 21 percent
The Chevrolet Suburban is the original fullsize SUV, but not all buyers need as much space as the Sub offers. However, large families will find lots to love in the Suburban, including tons of third-row and cargo space.
Ford Expedition – 2,855, up 16 percent
Crosstown rival General Motors has the fullsize SUV market cornered, which is unfortunate for Ford. Still, the Expedition EL is the most spacious fullsize SUV on the market, and for really big families, it’s the sport-ute to beat. Those families must have all descended on Ford showrooms last month, as Expedition and Expedition EL sales were up significantly over January 2015.
GMC Yukon – 2,567, down 3 percent
The GMC Yukon follows the Chevrolet Tahoe’s formula, but adds a few more standard features and slightly more upmarket positioning to justify its (barely) higher base price. At the upper echelons, however, a Yukon Denali can just about keep pace with a Cadillac Escalade in terms of luxury and price. Sales were down slightly in January.
GMC Yukon XL – 1,995, up 1.5 percent
The GMC Yukon’s upscale aura plus the Chevrolet Suburban’s size equals the GMC Yukon XL. Sales were up, just barely, in January 2016.
Lexus GX – 1,608, down 11 percent
The Lexus GX bears some resemblance to the Toyota 4Runner, so it’s unsurprising to learn it’s the vehicle of choice of many outdoorsy professionals. Like the 4Runner, it’s equipped with a massive suite of off-road goodies like Crawl Control and an adaptive suspension. Sales of the GX were down last month.
Cadillac Escalade – 1,227, down 27 percent
One of the first luxury SUVs, the Cadillac Escalade has a loyal band of followers ranging from new-money yuppies to athletes and wealthy families. The latest Escalade is simultaneously the most powerful, most efficient, and most luxurious Caddy SUV ever. One year ago, the Escalade’s newness gave it a sales surge that it wasn’t able to replicate last month, but it still outsold almost all of its direct competition.
Infiniti QX80 – 1,164, down 7 percent
The Infiniti QX80, like most of its peers, saw a little sales tumble last month. The largest Infiniti has used a version of the Nissan Patrol platform since 2011, and it maintains that vehicle’s four-wheel independent suspension. With a maximum towing capacity of 8,500 pounds, the QX80 out-hauls the Escalade, Lexus LX570, and Land Rover LR4. Rumor has it the next Nissan Armada will be built on a version of the QX80’s Patrol chassis.
All the Rest
Toyota Sequoia – 852, down 6 percent
Land Rover LR4 – 846, up 39 percent
Cadillac Escalade ESV – 775, down 30 percent
Nissan Armada – 774, down 25 percent
Lincoln Navigator – 700, down 24 percent
Lexus LX – 585, up 100 percent
Mercedes-Benz G-Class – 338, up 46 percent
Toyota Land Cruiser – 273, up 9 percent
Nissan Xterra – 18, down 98 percent