Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: December 2016

2017_Nissan_Rogue_SL_03.jpg 2017 Nissan Rogue | Manufacturer image

CARS.COM — Maybe Santa did grant a few of those Christmas wishes this year, at least if they were SUVs. By the time the clock struck Mariah Carey Meltdown Hour, shoppers had driven popular models like the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota’s RAV4 and Highlander to double-digit December sales gains.

Related: What’s the Best Three-Row SUV of 2016?

The Rogue, CR-V and RAV4 are among December’s top 10 best-selling cars, with the No. 4 Rogue landing as the month’s most popular non-pickup truck. We combed through 60 months of past sales and the Rogue has never held that title; Nissan says December was the SUV’s best sales month ever. Indeed, backed by a Wookie-sized “Star Wars” marketing tie-in, the refreshed Rogue flew 52.9 percent versus its record year-ago month.

Sales for the CR-V (up 21.1 percent) flourished as shoppers found more to choose from — Honda had 66 days’ CR-V inventory in December, per Automotive News, versus just 49 days a year ago — as well as an incoming redesign for the 2017 model year. The 2017 CR-V isn’t everywhere just yet, but as of today, it accounts for more than 1 in 5 new CR-Vs in inventory.

The RAV4 (up 16.8 percent) and Highlander (up 57.9 percent) both notched double-digit gains. Both models have recent updates, and shoppers found higher purchase incentives on the Highlander in December versus a year ago, per Automotive News. Unsurprisingly, non-luxury SUV segments of all stripes gained steam in December. Even full-sized, truck-based models — an age-old group that’s been long surpassed in sales by three-row crossovers — gained 27.3 percent.

dec-16-sales-final.jpg chart by Paul Dolan

Pricier gas, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have stoked new demand for traditional cars. Non-luxury subcompact, compact and mid-size segments all decreased in December. Case in point: The Toyota Corolla, whose sales figures now include the ex-Scion Corolla iM, fell 7.4 percent in December to tumble six spots, from No. 4 on November’s list to No. 10 in December. In fact, no sedan, coupe or hatchback landed higher than seventh place among December’s top sellers. Among the four that were on the list — two Toyotas and two Hondas — sales dropped for all of them.

Still, overall sales likely set up 2016 as another record year. With the top seven automakers reporting numbers, sales increased 2.5 percent in December — a notch that likely sets up 2016 as the seventh straight year of sales increases.

What were the best-selling cars for the whole year? Stay tuned.

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