Honda's HR-V Makes a Case for Subcompact SUVs


May sales were mostly good for automakers — very good in some cases and record setting for others. Americans are back to buying new cars and at a near-record pace. One new segment that car companies are betting on to attract shoppers is the subcompact SUV. Nearly every non-luxury brand has one on sale or is planning one in the future.

In the middle of May, Honda’s all-new HR-V went on sale nationwide. tracked it as the fastest-selling car in May, taking just six days to sell from the time it arrived at a dealership until the paperwork was complete. Today, Honda announced it sold an impressive 6,381 HR-Vs in those few weeks.

Related: 2016 Honda HR-V Expert Review

That sales number bests those of the all-new Jeep Renegade. It totaled 4,416 units in May — even with a full month of sales. The Renegade took just 27 days to sell; the industry average was 57 days.

Chevrolet’s Trax has been on sale longer than the HR-V or Renegade, but it’s still relatively new and sold 5,707 units in May. Buick’s Encore shares a platform with the Trax and sold 5,400 units of its own. 


15Jeep_Renegade_ES_AS1.jpg 2015 Jeep Renegade | photo by Evan Sears; graphic by Paul Dolan


You might think these small SUVs would take away from their larger SUV siblings’ sales. By larger, we mean compact SUVs. That wasn’t the case in May.

Honda CR-V sales stayed level while Jeep Cherokee and Chevy Equinox sales were up significantly in May, 23 and 30 percent, respectively. Small SUV sales as a whole were up 8.7 percent in May.

Subcompact SUVs may start to drain sales from an entirely different segment, the midsize sedan. The venerable family sedan has been a top-seller for decades, but the segment was down 2.9 percent in May, with the biggest sellers seeing serious drops in sales. Honda’s Accord sales fell 18 percent in May, while Toyota’s Camry was down nearly 12 percent; Nissan’s Altima was nearly 7 percent in the hole. 

The next entrants to prove this smallest SUV segment are Fiat’s 500X, which is just reaching dealers — a total of eight were sold in May — and Mazda’s CX-3, which goes on sale this fall.

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