It looks like the age of the traditional body-on-frame SUV is coming to a close for most mainstream customers. While there will continue to be a market for big SUVs like the Tahoe and Expedition for customers who actually need to haul or tow stuff, many customers in the high volume mid-sized segment are realizing they can get by with something a little smaller and lot more fuel efficient.
The Ford Explorer dominated SUV sales charts throughout the 1990s and into the first part of this decade with sales of 445,157 in 2000. In the last couple of years, however, Explorer sales have tanked seeing it drop from first to fourth on the sales charts. Last year ,sales dipped to 179, 229 and the freefall shows no signs of letting up. The numbers are down another twenty-three percent so far this year.
On the flipside, sales of the redesigned Honda CR-V are up forty-two percent so far this year and it has jumped to the number one spot on the chart followed by the Toyota RAV-4 and Ford Escape, with the new Ford Edge coming on strong as well. The CR-V is doing so well that Honda is having to consider how to increase volume to meet the demand. For the first time, the automaker has started importing extra units from Japan to supplement the main production facility in East Liberty Ohio. Ford has already announced plans to move the Explorer to a unit-body crossover platform, which can't happen soon enough. The only problem will be finding a place to fit into a lineup already filled with the Escape, Edge, Flex and Taurus X.