And those surprise hits are crucial in an industry in which U.S. auto sales declined slightly in the first half of 2019, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to analysts.
One big reason for the sagging sales: Americans are ditching passenger cars in droves, and automakers have discontinued several models, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus.
That puts pressure on the automakers to make up for the lost sales with new SUVs. Luckily for them, the nation’s SUV boom is alive and well, although it’s not quite enough to make up for the lost car sales.
As a result, new vehicle sales for the first six months declined by about 1.9% to 2.2%, according to research firm IHS Markit.
“Most new products are seeing positive market reception,” said Stephanie Brinley, IHS Markit’s principal auto analyst, in a statement. “With many of the product updates in utility vehicle segments — and several more coming online in the third quarter of 2019 — sales improvements are concentrated in utilities both by demand and supply.”
Sales “aren’t hitting the same levels that they did last year, but they aren’t dropping off a cliff either,” Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds’ manager of industry analysis, wrote in an analysis of the industry’s performance.
As USA TODAY assessed the hottest-selling vehicles of the first half of 2019, we gauged year-over-year sales increases, momentum and industry buzz. Simply being a best-seller is not enough to make the list — otherwise, the Ford F-series pickup would always be at the top.