The compact crossover has officially become the modern station wagon. For families that need a practical vehicle that combines reasonable fuel economy and utility, they have become a natural choice. A new study by IHS Automotive published by Polk confirms this, with the relatively young market segment taking up a rapidly increasing portion of US auto sales.

IHS examined sales of 18 mainstream compact CUVs in the US in February 2013 and looked at them again in February 2014. Sales increased by 26.7 percent among the models it studied, and their market share increased from 11.7 percent in Feb. 2013 to 14.8 percent in Feb. 2014. The study asserts that the segment is now the third largest in the country behind non-luxury midsize sedans and non-luxury compact cars.

Building a successful entrant in the compact CUV market can really boost an automaker's bottom line. For example, IHS found that the new Jeep Cherokee sold 11,795 units in February 2014, which is nearly seven-times higher than the Jeep Liberty in February 2013. Jeep brand sales were up 47.43 percent year-on-year for February.

The examiners believe that the segment's boost in popularity lies in compact crossovers giving buyers a good balance between cost, fuel economy, driving dynamics and cargo space. However, the study claims that this growth will have to slow in the coming years because every major automaker now has a vehicle in the segment, and upcoming subcompact CUVs like the Honda Vezel may eat into their bigger siblings' sales. While the market growth continues so strongly, though, don't expect carmakers to turn away from expanding their ranges of these lucrative models.


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  • 96 Comments
      karman876
      • 9 Months Ago
      "water wet" I guess you're not from Michigan, all our water is solid.
      Karfreek
      • 9 Months Ago
      My .02 is that these are "right sized" SUVs for these times. The average family went from 2.3 kids to 1.6, the need for 3 rows and a ton of cargo room is not as great anymore. If you do need the room there is the minivan, which today's crop are not the "penalty box" they once were, or you put a Thule box on top of your CRV/Equinox/Escape/RAV4 and hit the road and still turn in respectable mileage. There is a lot of value and flexibility in these.
        rcavaretti
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Karfreek
        No kidding. That super sizing thing was out of control.
          Matt Mossberg
          • 9 Months Ago
          @rcavaretti
          What I remember about the big SUV craze was more about safety for the family then anything else. I remember on the news they would have silly discussions on "if SUVs were dangerous to other people's cars"
      Anurag
      • 9 Months Ago
      Dear lawd, This comment section is getting almost as bad as MT o-O
      raughle1
      • 9 Months Ago
      It seems there is an optimal size and configuration for a vehicle that gives the best trade off between seating height, legroom, maneuverability, handling, MPG, cargo capacity, cost, and fitting into a garage. And every manufacturer is honing in on those same dimensions from every direction. Every new SUV is just an inch lower and an inch shorter than the last one, and every wagon or crossover is just an inch taller or wider etc. They all seem to be honing in on something about the size and shape of, say, a Subaru Forester. After renting a Ford Escape on a recent vacation, I can see why. As a car guy I like to poke fun at these vehicles sometimes (my wife even says they seem like small minivans), but that Escape seemed like an awfully useful little vehicle. Not really great at anything, but pretty darn good at almost everything we asked of it.
      rcavaretti
      • 9 Months Ago
      Driving dynamics? Really?
        NightFlight
        • 9 Months Ago
        @rcavaretti
        Drive a CX-5.
          rcavaretti
          • 9 Months Ago
          @NightFlight
          Versus what???
          NightFlight
          • 9 Months Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ rcavaretti Anything else in the segment. @ normc32 No one cares. @ravenosa I had a MS3 for three years, loved it.
          ravenosa
          • 9 Months Ago
          @NightFlight
          No thanks, I'd feel like a tool driving a microvan. How about you drive a Mazdaspeed3 instead?
      Lastchance
      • 9 Months Ago
      Well most CUV/SUV drivers are some of the worse drivers on the road. They think their high center of gravity AWD vehicle will make them invincible on wintry roads. Except in most cases their general lack of skill and the vehicles poor handling characteristics will cause them to find themselves upside down in a ditch. Usually the idiots end up taking out a few other cars on the road. I see many SUVs wrecks during snow storms, while many people in cars get through with no major issues. Why..because people in cars usually slow the heck down, even people in Subaru tend to drive safely in winter.
        BG
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Lastchance
        That is the problem with many technology features: ignorant people think they can ignore basic factors like friction and think they are invincible. So in reality, they are more dangerous on the street.
        Susan
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Lastchance
        Unfortunately, that is what happens when you let the dumb or ignorant have access to technology that then lets them think they are invincible. Most are too stupid to know when they are at the limits of safety or friction.
        montoym
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Lastchance
        Not that I'm defending SUV/CUV drivers, but I can say, from many years of experience, that in inclement weather conditions, I'd much rather have everyone around me driving trucks and SUVs/CUVs than fwd cars. A recent example, I was up on I-70 in the CO high country heading back home from a day of snowboarding. The weather was getting worse, but was not bad (roads were wet, but not icy or snowpacked yet). I was stuck in a 5hr traffic jam, just to travel about 10-12miles from the town of Silverthorne just to the summit of Eisenhower Tunnel. 1.5hrs of that was just getting through the town of Silverthorne and onto I-70. As I mentioned, the roads were really only wet through most of this, but the conditions did deteriorate near the summit where the roads were snowpacked and slick. The vast majority of the vehicles on the road were trucks and SUVs/CUVs and were doing just fine. What I saw near the top though were numerous FWD cars (probably with all-season or bald tires), spinning their wheels and not moving which is what caused the backup for all the thousands of vehicles behind them. To be fair, there were several 18-wheelers contributing to the issues as well, but at least they are mandated to have chains, that's not true with non-commercial vehicles. The CO Dept. of Transportation confirmed this with their investigation claiming that out of all the vehicles they assisted that day, almost all of them were ill-equipped and had bald or near-bald tires. Not that a CUV or SUV can't have bald tires, but I'll take 4 poor tires scrambling for traction than 2 any day. If I could do it over again, I'd have chosen a different route home, but once I was on the Interstate, there are no exits until you are through the tunnel.
      Lucky Stars
      • 9 Months Ago
      with traffic and speed limits and cops, you cant drive fast or aggressive like the readers of autoblogs think they care about A small cuv is about the perfect car, it has a hatch, some ground clearance adequate power and good looks. The Cx-5 is an almost perfect example. This segment will continue to grow. I think people driving a ferrarri, etc look like a douche out there. Horsepower in American cars really should not be looked at as intensely as it is. Most drivers use 30% of the power their car has most of the time.
        ravenosa
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Lucky Stars
        But people driving high-riding station wagons don't look like douches compared to Ferrari drivers? Really? I can't think of a worse car to own/drive than a CUV/Microvan. Bad driving dynamics, inefficient, ridiculously awkward looks, high center of gravity, extra weight, etc. I can't see at what point in my life I'll be spending $20k+ on a car I think looks moronic, doesn't drive well and isn't doesn't offer any more utility than a AWD hatchback. They're the high-heeled hiking shoes of the road.
          Hi There Paul
          • 9 Months Ago
          @ravenosa
          Go drive a CX5
          Jesus!
          • 9 Months Ago
          @ravenosa
          My Grand Cherokee is one of the best driving vehicles I have ever had. In fact, I have not found anything that rides as well. I never feel like I am going to lose traction or tip over. Its a great vehicle and gas mileage is better than I thought. Everyone likes different things and has different needs.
          Matt Mossberg
          • 9 Months Ago
          @ravenosa
          Most people don't care about what you mentioned and looks are subjective. The demographic for most cars is not enthusiasts. For them its more of a tool that can get the job done and while not costing too much. You, me, everyone has something we bought which we did not care much about. but there are a select few that are enthusiasts about it who read daily about x product online, maybe buys x magazine and is on x forums while we are not. This could be fashion, cooking, home decor, etc which you might not be passionate about, but others are.
        lasertekk
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Lucky Stars
        Maybe true about the cops, BUT when they're not around, I take advantage of it with the proper vehicle. These high riding things won't raise my pulse.
      churchmotor
      • 9 Months Ago
      Now wait a minute, carguy1701 just informed everyone a few minutes ago that the crossover market is heading downward. Clearly this article is full of B.S. Quick, get carguy1701 on the phone
      Chuggowitz
      • 9 Months Ago
      Let's be honest, it's because as you get older it's a lot easier to get in and out of a CUV than a mid-size sedan. Hell, I'm 22 and I love driving my Focus, but getting in and out of my father's Edge is a much more comfortable experience (since I'm 6'3")
        Jesus!
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Chuggowitz
        Exactly. My gma can barely get in and out of her Taurus...she sat in an Escape...scooted right in.
        jonnybimmer
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Chuggowitz
        This is why I fully understand any new family choosing a CUV over a hatch/wagon. Getting a child buckled up and loading/unloading the car becomes infinitely easier with a taller vehicle than a low car, especially when you're tall (speaking as a fellow 6'3" driver).
          montoym
          • 9 Months Ago
          @jonnybimmer
          and a minivan would be even better. But, I guess a CUV is just "cooler". It's not all about practicality or people wouldn't buy CUV's, it's definitely an image thing.
      Rick C.
      • 9 Months Ago
      Why would anyone willingly and knowingly (the laws of physics haven't changed overnight, have they? ) want a higher center of gravity vehicle with diminished handling capability, and safety? This is a serious question.
        DK
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Rick C.
        Most people are driving back and forth to work not on the racetrack and don't take their vehicles anywhere near the limits. Not sure what you mean about safety, unless you think CUVs are just flipping over constantly?
        Karfreek
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Rick C.
        Aparently 26.7% more people this year than last year do.
      speeddanimal
      • 9 Months Ago
      "Small crossover sales explode; in other news, water wet, sun hot" Really, you're going to act all arrogant now and say this is obvious? Because every other article on this blog would lead one to believe that 99% of the human population drives Porscheborghini GTS10 Turbo Supercharged 6-speed Shooting Brakes, and that Station Wagons were about to make a huge comeback...
      Colin
      • 9 Months Ago
      In Europe it helps to sit a bit higher, the visibility is better and access is easier. Plus, in confined spaces the increased length of an estate (station wagon) is a pain to park: too long. Space is not at a premium in most of the US, but who wants to sit close to the ground and have to contort themselves to get in and out of a car when there are far more convenient and comfortable alternatives? Here the station wagon is getting to be a rare sight, and they are a bit barge-like, let's face it.
        lasertekk
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Colin
        Until the next guy comes along with a slightly higher vehicle, forcing you to do what? Get a taller vehicle. And so it goes on. No winners in that game.
          Colin
          • 9 Months Ago
          @lasertekk
          But looking at hubcaps and not being able to see over plantings on roundabouts or over low hedges - a British phenomenon I'll confess - doesn't make for a comfortable ride. Factor in the seats being at a sensible height for humans to get on and off easily, and the crossover wins every time. They were a great invention I think.
          clquake
          • 9 Months Ago
          @lasertekk
          Not a British phenomenon. In my neighborhood, the yards all have small trees and tall bushes as fences, making it very hard to see around corners. A CUV really helps alleviate this problem. A crazy person with a set of hedge clippers also solves the problem, but that brings on a whole new set of problems.
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