2015 Sales Round-Up: Facts, Trends and the Forgotten [Sales Report]

2015, honda, cr-v
2015 Honda CR-V

Now that 2015 has come to a close, all of the winners and losers in the sales race are already determined. Behind the numbers, though, are a wealth of facts and trends that tell a much larger story.


The first and most obvious trend is that 2015 has been the year of the crossover. Specifically, it’s been the year of the compact crossover. Based on data compiled by TFLcar, 120,000 more compact crossovers were sold in 2015 than midsize sedans. What’s even more telling is that every compact crossover included on TFLcar’s sales chart has had a sales increase over 2014, from a low of 0.1 percent for the Ford Escape to plus-40 percent gains from the Nissan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan and Mitsubishi Outlander. Ten of the 16 crossovers on the list posted double-digit increases.

Contrast that to midsize sedans, which used to be the bread-and-butter of the car industry. While the Toyota Camry still reigns as the best-selling vehicle that’s not a pickup truck, six of the twelve competitors on TFLcar’s list have seen sales drop off from 2014. Take away the Chrysler 200 – which saw a 52 percent increase thanks to a redesign that made it much more competitive – only the Subaru Legacy had a double-digit increase, and it’s a relatively low 15.6 percent.

If this trend continues in 2016, look for the gap to get even wider. Will it be the first year that a crossover takes over as the top seller? The Honda CR-V nearly beat out the Accord as the brand’s best seller and it would’ve placed third on the list of midsize sedans, so it could happen.

Interesting Facts

Given the dominance of midsize sedans and compact crossovers, it would be a logical deduction to say that each brand’s top seller would fall in one of those categories. In reality, however, that’s not always the case, and in some cases the answer is surprising.

Hyundai’s top seller of the year is the Elantra compact car, which is a big surprise since their Sonata midsize sedan is quite competitive in the class. Buick’s top seller is the Encore subcompact SUV, perhaps their only model with wide-ranging appeal.

Fiat-Chrysler has been meddling with their brands since Fiat took the reigns of the company, which is giving all their brands an identity crisis except Jeep. Is Dodge a performance brand or a mainstream brand? Is Chrysler a luxury brand or a mainstream brand? The answer to both of those questions is yes, with confusing results. This is probably why Dodge has no midsize sedan in the fight.

So what was Dodge’s top seller for 2015? Amazingly, it’s the aging Journey crossover. Sharing a platform with the also-ancient Jeep Compass and Patriot, the Journey found 105,400 homes in 2015. It was the only Dodge model with six-figure sales.

Speaking of the Jeep twins, both of them continued to inexplicably sell well in 2015. The Patriot outsold the Compass almost two to one and it also outsold the Journey. Combined, though, all three platform mates had sales of over 290,000, amazing for an eight-year-old platform.

Toyota’s Scion brand had a makeover this year as new models came in to replace the old ones. For the year, the tC coupe was the brand’s best-seller at 16,459, but the all-new iA has been the top monthly seller since its introduction. At its current rate, it will rack up 21,600 sales for the 2016 and will be the brand’s best seller. Not bad for a car that’s actually a Mazda. TFLcar gave it a “buy it” rating when the iA was reviewed back in November.

The Forgotten

Sales reports come out fast and furious at the beginning of the month, but they quickly become old news. At TFL, we concentrate on the top market segments, which means some segments don’t get coverage. There are also some vehicles that are hard to classify and so they don’t get included anywhere.

2016 Jeep Wrangler 75th Anniversary Edition

Off-Road SUVs: One such hard-to-classify vehicle is the Jeep Wrangler. While it’s technically a midsize SUV, that category has changed so much that the Wrangler no longer fits. Almost all SUVs these days are car-based crossovers with little off-road capability. The Wrangler’s only real competition in the affordable off-road SUV segment are the Nissan Xterra, which has been discontinued for 2016, and the Toyota 4Runner.

Given that competition, there really was no competition as the Wrangler trounced the others in 2015 sales:

2015 Sales % Increase
Jeep Wrangler 202,702 16.0%
Toyota 4Runner 97,034 26.2%
Nissan Xterra 10,672 -35.3%
Ford Mustang EcoBoost
2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

Pony cars: The label “pony car” may not be the best one for the current crop of affordable muscle cars as both the Ford Mustang and the new Chevy Camaro are much more sports cars than muscle cars. But although this pair have gone through the transformation, their only other competitor, the Dodge Challenger, is still firmly in the stoplight drag race mold. On the sales floor, though, the Mustang beat all others in 2016:

2015 Sales % Increase
Ford Mustang 122,349 48.1%
Chevrolet Camaro 77,502 -10.2%
Dodge Challenger 66,365 29%


Most of the year, though, the Camaro’s sales were based on the older 2015 model. The new 2016 Camaro is much improved and in many ways is superior to the Mustang. But will it translate to more sales in 2016? Only time will tell.

honda odyssey vs toyota sienna

Minivans: Yes, despite the dominance of crossovers, people still buy minivans. They may have lost the war to the crossover, but enough of them are purchased each year to make the minivan still a viable product in the market.

The Toyota Sienna reigned as king of the minivans for 2016, followed closely by the Honda Odyssey. However, to keep on the point with the FCA brand identity crisis, both the Dodge Caravan – the grandaddy of the group – and the Chrysler Town & Country sold decently if not spectacularly for the year, but combined, FCA sold over 190,000 minivans for the year, far more than Toyota or Honda sold.

2015 Sales % Increase
Toyota Sienna 137,497 10.4%
Honda Odyssey 127,736 4.1%
Dodge Caravan 97,141 -28.0%
Chrysler Town & Country 93,848 -32.0%
Kia Sedona 36,755 152.0%
Nissan Quest 11,018 33.0%


Chrysler just announced the new 2017 Pacifica at the North American International Auto Show, but didn’t say anything about a Dodge version. Perhaps they’re making good on their promise to turn Chrysler into a mainstream brand. Watch for this segment to grow after the Chrysler Pacifica goes on sale.

Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot

Mid- and full-size crossovers: While all the focus is on compact crossovers – and for good reason – midsize and full-size crossovers also sold well in 2016. The usual suspects are at the top of the midsize crossover sales list – Toyota, Honda and Ford, with strong showings from the Korean siblings Hyundai and Kia.

The Highlander took the crown – there can be only one, after all – but the Honda and Ford were close behind. The Koreans were strong, though, and their combined sales would have topped the list by far.

2015 Sales % Increase
Toyota Highlander 158,915 8.8%
Honda Pilot 136,212 25.1%
Ford Edge 124,120 14.0%
Hyundai Santa Fe 118,134 9.5%
Kia Sorento 116,249 13.4%
Nissan Murano 62,907 33.0%
Mazda CX-9 18,048 -3.1%


On the full-size crossover list, a familiar name took the top spot. The Ford Explorer, the model that brought the SUV to the masses, ruled the sales wars for 2016, topping 200,000 sales and enjoying a healthy 18.5 percent boost over 2014. The Jeep Grand Cherokee took the silver despite a precipitous drop in sales, and the aging Chevy Traverse took third. However, if all of the GM siblings’ sales are added up, they would beat the Ford by a wide margin.

2015 Sales % Increase
Ford Explorer 224,309 18.5%
Jeep Grand Cherokee 195,958 -28.0%
Chevrolet Traverse 119,945 15.4%
GMC Acadia 96,393 14.8%
Nissan Pathfinder 82,041 3.7%
Dodge Durango 64,189 0.0%
Buick Enclave 62,081 -0.4%


With that, the 2015 sales race officially comes to a close. With all of the new and updated models in 2016, this year should be just as interesting.

Check out this TFLcar Motor Mountan USA video of the 2015 Jeep Wrangler on the Dalton Highway in Alaska: