Subcompact SUV delights with looks, value and unexpected features
Detroit Free Press
General Motors’ affordable Chevrolet Trailblazer small SUV may be 2021’s most unexpected hit, flying off dealer lots faster than any new other vehicle since the pandemic struck, according to a study by internet car research site iSeecars.com.
The little SUV spent an average of just 19 days on dealer lots from March through June, a fraction of the 96.9-day industry average for new vehicles and nearly a week less than No. 2, the acclaimed Kia Telluride.
GM’s other new small SUV, the Buick Encore GX, also did well, coming in at No. 11 with 46.6 days on the lot — less than half the industry average.
“The ISeeCars study validates all of our research to bring the Trailblazer to market with the right design, the right features, the right performance, at the right price,” said Brad Franz, senior marketing manager, Chevrolet SUVs. “Early sales are exceeding our expectations, led by the RS trim, which has doubled our forecast. We are very pleased with the consumer reaction to the all-new Trailblazer.”
The list had another bit of good news for Chevrolet: Its Bolt electric car was the only car to make the SUV-dominated list of fastest-selling vehicles. The Bolt, which, unlike the new Trailblazer and Encore GX, has been on the market for several years, placed sixth, spending 41.7 days on the lot.
2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ on Belle Isle park in Detroit. (Photo: Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press)
About 60 days on the lot is typical during normal times, but that average ballooned more than 50% because of economic unease, sales shutdowns and stay-at-home orders during COVID-19’s first wave early this year. New vehicles were selling in a brisk 57.8 days in November through February, before the pandemic struck.
“Many of these fastest-selling vehicles are popular cars that are hard to find for reasons such as the effect of the pandemic on supply chains, they were produced in limited quantities, or that they are new models that aren’t yet abundant in the used car marketplace,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly.
The Trailblazer was the fastest-selling vehicle in several other top metros, in addition to Detroit: Cleveland-Akron, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.-Hagerstown, Maryland.
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Buick’s small Encore GX averaged less than half the new-car average on dealer lots. (Photo: Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press)
The data is full of interesting nuggets.
Value was king for new cars nationwide. The top five vehicles were:
- Chevrolet Trailblazer, 19.0 days
- Kia Telluride, 25.7
- Kia Seltos, 31.3
- Honda CR-V hybrid, 35.2
- Hyundai Palisade, 39
The five fastest-selling used vehicles were led by three that promise technology and performance, followed by a pair of small cars:
- Tesla Model 3 29.3 days
- BMW X6 43.0
- Subaru BRZ 44.5
- Toyota Yaris 44.8
- Honda Civic 47.4
The X6 is particularly interesting because it’s one of the SUVs that depreciate most, making it prime territory for bargain hunters, according to issecars.
Surprises in pickup sales
Full-size domestic models rule the pickup market, but the midsize Toyota Tacoma was the quickest-selling new pickup, followed by the Honda Ridgeline, a midsize with a small but loyal following.
Surprisingly, the Ford F-150 — America’s best selling vehicle since Moses was a lad — came in 10th at an average of 122.8 days on the lot. The average pickup spent 104 days on the lot.
New pickups, March-June:
- Toyota Tacoma, 72.6 days
- Honda Ridgeline, 77.4
- GMC Sierra 1500, 83.9
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 85.1
- Toyota Tundra, 89
- Chevrolet Colorado, 107.3
- Ram 1500, 107.8
- Ram 1500 Classic, 111.7
- Jeep Gladiator, 116.3
- Ford F-150, 122.8
- Ford Ranger, 125.9
Quickest used pickups:
- Honda Ridgeline, 51.7 days
- Ram 1500 Classic, 52.0
- Toyota Tacoma, 60.5
- Toyota Tundra, 63.1
- Nissan Frontier, 65.4
The average used pickups spent a mere 70.4 days on the lot.
As in most automotive conversations these days, cars were an afterthought. The lists of fastest-selling vehicles and fastest-selling SUVs are nearly identical: only one car, the Bolt, cracked the top 12 vehicles.
Sports cars were a bit more interesting, a value-dominated list light on the usual suspects: Mustang, Camaro and Supra.
Fastest-selling new sports cars
(Average 107.2 days)
- Subaru WRX, 69.8 days
- Dodge Charger, 79.1
- Mazda MX5 Miata, 81.1
- Dodge Challenger, 92.5
- Hyundai Veloster N, 93.3
Fastest selling used sports cars
(Average 70.4 days)
- Subaru BRZ, 44.5 days
- Subaru WRX, 51.5
- Toyota 86, 53.1
- Ford Mustang, 55.7
- BMW M4, 56.7
To see the full list of vehicles, go here.
The rankings are based on 4.4 million vehicle sales from March to June. New vehicles were from model years 2019-21. Used vehicles were 2015-19. Medium-duty pickups, vehicles that ended production before the 2020 model year and low-volume models were excluded.
Follow Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan on Twitter @mark_phelan.
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