July was the month of the pickup truck. After months of unremarkable sales, full-size pickup sales jumped 12 percent in July as truck shoppers drove every single player — even the outgoing Nissan Titan — to gains. In some cases they were huge: GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra both posted double-digit increases, and the ‘Rado gained 33.9 percent despite lower inventory and no big incentives push. The Ford F-Series, meanwhile, snapped a five-month streak of year-over-year losses, too, to end July up 4.8 percent.
Related: Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: June 2015
Part of that comes from a lackluster July 2014 for the segment, but other factors spurred sales, too. The housing market, a backbone for full-size pickups, entered July on its third straight month of strong construction starts. And F-150 shoppers found that Ford seems to have fixed the 2015 model’s initial supply constraints for good. The redesigned truck accounts for 95.1 percent of all new F-150 inventory on Cars.com. Combine that with the recent redesigns from GM and full-size pickups thrived without much help on the incentives front.
Midsize pickups and nonluxury subcompact SUVs continued to climb, with the pickups gaining 52.5 percent and the SUVs nearly doubling their sales. A lot of that comes from new players. Midsize pickups have two all-new GM models in the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Subcompact SUVs have four new players, with a fifth, the Mazda CX-3, going on sale this month.
Meanwhile, conventional compact SUVs had a modest month (up 5.2 percent) despite gas costing 85 cents less per gallon today versus a year ago. That’s about even with the industry’s 5.4 percent sales gain with the largest seven automakers reporting, and it represents a leveling-off from the compact-SUV boom in recent months. Perhaps SUV shoppers are looking elsewhere: Subcompact models are booming, but midsize SUVs and large, three-row crossovers (all excluding luxury models) were all up by double-digit percentages.
Consumers weren’t exactly rolling in the dough in July, with quarterly wage growth slowing to its worst pace on record. But car prices gave some respite, as new-car average transaction prices fell in July for the first time in years. Maybe it’s been a while since you got a raise, but at least those new cars are, on average, a bit cheaper.
Or a lot cheaper, in the Nissan Altima’s case. Nissan’s popular family sedan had a big year-over-year increase in July incentives, and shoppers pushed sales up 27 percent versus a bad July 2014. Deals don’t always spur sales: The Hyundai Elantra had a strong incentives push in July, too, but sales fell 0.4 percent. After making the top 10 best-sellers in June for the first time in three months, the Elantra is back off.
Which cars remained? Read on.