DETROIT – SUVs remain popular with auto shoppers, as the 2015 Jeep Compass, Lincoln Navigator and Nissan Rogue posted strong sales in August.
The Compass turned in a 58 percent sales increase last month compared to August of 2014, while the Navigator was up 79.3 percent and the Rogue improved by 29.2 percent.
The auto industry as a whole performed better than expected in August. Many analysts were predicting an overall drop in sales, due in part to last year’s early Labor Day weekend and one extra selling day in August 2014.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted sales of more than 200,000 units in August, a 1.7 percent increase compared to last year.
The Jeep brand led the way for FCA with an 18 percent gain, its 23rd straight month of year-over-year sales increases, while Ram Trucks saw a 6 percent sales increase, the brand’s best August sales since 2005.
Overall, FCA’s car sales were off by 10 percent, while trucks and SUVs experienced a 5 percent gain. However, bright spots were the Dodge Challenger with an increase of 25 percent and the Chrysler 200, which posted a 30 percent gain.
“In spite of a tough 2014 comparison and extreme stock market volatility, our dealers’ competitive spirit kicked in and propelled us to our 65th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases,” said Reid Bigland, FCA’s head of U.S. sales, in a statement.
Ford reported a total U.S. sales gain of 5 percent, its best August since 2006, led by the Navigator with its 79.3 percent increase, a jump of 70 percent by the Ford Mustang and an improvement of 37 percent by the Lincoln MKC crossover SUV.
The F-Series pickups enjoyed August retail sales of 70,000 units, their best month of the year and a 4.7 percent increase compared to 2014.
Ford’s SUV sales saw a total 12 percent gain from this time last year, making 2015 the best August since 2003. In addition to the Navigator and MKC, the increase was supported by the Ford Edge, which experienced a 35.6 percent sales boost, and the Expedition, which posted a 29.7 percent gain.
“Customer demand for our newest vehicles made August a strong month for Ford,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a statement. “Improved availability helped make August the strongest sales month this year for F-Series. We also had our best month of Ford SUV sales in 12 years.”
At General Motors, August sales were off by 0.7 percent compared to 2014. But the company points out that retail deliveries are up 6 percent and market share has increased by 1 percent.
Here, too, SUV sales provided some bright spots, with the Buick Enclave gaining 27.4 percent, Buick Encore sales increasing by 29.2 percent, the Cadillac SRX by 51.9 percent, the Chevrolet Equinox by 17.9 percent and the GMC Acadia by 10.2 percent.
In addition, sales of the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup saw a gain of 11.7 percent.
“GM’s retail sales increase far outpaced the industry in August, and we have grown our retail share for five months in a row compared to last year,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of sales operations, in a statement.
McNeil concluded: “We will continue this momentum with the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu, the launch of diesel engines for our midsize pickups, a dramatic restyling of the Chevrolet Silverado and the aggressive rollout of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.”
Honda reported an overall decrease in U.S. sales, noting that its Honda and Acura brands were off by 6.9 percent compared to August of 2014.
Although Honda car sales were down 14.8 percent, truck and SUV models increased 3.9 percent.
The CR-V compact SUV gained 2.0 percent, posting an all-time monthly sales record of 34,771 units, the Acura RDX crossover saw a 9.5 percent increase, and sales of the Odyssey minivan gained 7.5 percent.
On the car side, while Honda Accord sales dropped by 19.9 percent and Civic models were off by 5.9 percent, the Acura TLX sedan turned in an impressive jump of 90.4 percent.
At Nissan, which reported an overall 0.8 percent sales decrease compared to August 2014, a 6.3 percent drop in car sales was somewhat helped by a boost of 7.9 percent in sales of trucks and SUVs.
Some of the best results were turned in by the Nissan Rogue compact SUV, with its gain of 29.2 percent, the NV200 minivan with a 30.9 percent increase and the Infiniti QX60 crossover, which jumped by 53.7 percent.
But on the car side, sales of the Leaf EV fell by 56.3 percent, the Maxima sedan dropped by 30.4 percent and the Infiniti Q40 sedan was off by 82.9 percent.
Toyota was hit hard with a decrease of 8.8 percent from August 2014, but healthy truck and SUV sales helped offset the loss a bit.
Sales of the Highlander, 4Runner and Sequoia SUVs posted gains of 16.1 percent, 15.1 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively, and the midsize Tacoma pickup jumped 13.2 percent since this time last year.
Car sales, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well, with the Camry sedan dropping by 14.6 percent from August 2014, the Avalon sedan by 22 percent, the Prius hybrid by 24.2 percent, the Lexus LS series by 29.8 percent and the Lexus GS series by 29.2 percent.
Edmunds says: Now is a good time for car shoppers to visit their local dealer, as inventory gets cleared out to make way for the 2016 models.