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Best-Selling SUVs of 2021 . . . So Far

© Toyota Motor Sales USABest-Selling SUVs in America
U.S. automobile sales figures for the first three quarters of 2021 are in, and the numbers tell a story. Although SUV sales had been on the rise this year compared to 2020’s pandemic-deflated figures, totals were impacted in the third quarter of 2021 by the microchip shortage, slowing the positive trend of this year. Despite this third-quarter downturn, the top 25 SUV models are up 21.4 percent for 2021 so far, and the top 10 best-selling models are up 13.7 percent through the third quarter. Here are the best-selling SUVs in America based on final sales figures for the first three quarters of 2021, according to numbers compiled from automaker sales reports.

© General Motors25. Chevrolet Tahoe
2021 Sales: 75,148
Vs. 2020: +26.2%
Sales of Chevrolet’s full-size Tahoe SUV were down in 2020, but the arrival of the all-new 2021 Tahoe last fall boosted fourth-quarter sales 36 percent over the previous year. The uptick continues into 2021 to move Tahoe back into the top 25 best-selling SUVs for this year thus far, with sales up 26.2 percent over 2020. The best-selling full-size SUV in America, the 2021 Chevy Tahoe gets built on a new chassis with a new independent rear suspension, available Magnetic Ride Control and available Four-Corner Air Ride Adaptive suspension. The new design adds 10 inches of third-row legroom and 60 percent more cargo room. The standard engine is a 5.3-liter V8 producing 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Also available are a 6.2-liter V8 producing 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel producing 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.

© FCA US24. Jeep Cherokee
2021 Sales: 78,750
Vs. 2020: -19.6%
The Jeep Cherokee received an update for 2019; however, Coronavirus and tough competition had sales lagging nearly 35 percent early in 2020 before fourth-quarter sales picked up. Cherokee sales dropped more than 70 percent in the third quarter compared to 2020, and nearly 20 percent for the year. Cherokee’s updated exterior includes a more vertical 7-slot grille, a new fascia, new headlights and a lightweight aluminum hood. Like all Jeeps, this popular SUV delivers legendary off-road capability with available features including a lifted off-road suspension, skidplates, tow hooks, Selec-Terrain traction control, and Selec-Speed Crawl Control. An 80th Anniversary Edition based on Latitude LUX includes a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 19-inch wheels with Granite Crystal finish, remote start, Uconnect with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Anodized Gun Metal interior accents and Berber floor mats.

© Kia Motor America23. Kia Sportage
2021 Sales: 78,778
Vs. 2020: -26.2%
As Kia’s compact crossover SUV, Sportage has been one of the Korean automaker’s top-selling models in the U.S. market for many years. Although Sportage sales are down 26 percent for the year compared to the first three quarters of 2020, September sales were only off 8 percent and Sportage moved back into the top 25 best-selling SUVs through the third quarter. Kia designers redid the Sportage for the 2020 model year with a more aggressive exterior. Updates include new headlights with available LED turn indicators, redesigned projector-beam fog lights, available LED headlights with available LED fog lights, as well as a new grille, front bumper and wheel designs. At the rear, the new Sportage features new taillight trim, rear bumper and exhaust tip designs.

© Ford Motor Company22. Ford Bronco Sport
2021 Sales: 81,204
Vs. 2020: N/A
A brand-new model for 2021, the Ford Bronco Sport went on sale in the fourth quarter of 2020 and momentum moved it into the top 25 best-selling SUVs for the first half of 2021. Although the Ford Escape still tops Bronco Sport for the year, Bronco Sport outsold Escape in September. The Bronco Sport compact SUV shares styling cues and off-road capability with the new Bronco now rolling into showrooms. A stepped-up roofline and upright body panels give the Bronco Sport a bolder look compared to many of today’s compact SUVs. The 2021 Bronco Sport is offered in five trim levels: Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands and First Edition. The standard engine for Bronco Sport Base, Big Bend and Outer Banks is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine producing 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Badlands and First Edition receive a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine producing 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA21. Lexus RX
2021 Sales: 84,625
Vs. 2020: +27.1%
The best-selling model in the Lexus lineup, the RX led the brand to an all-time sales record for SUVs in 2019. However, sales dropped off in the first half of 2020 before rebounding strongly in the second half and continuing into the new year. Although RX sales dipped 11 percent for September, the popular model still boasts a nice increase for the year through the third quarter. Last year Lexus upped RX utility with the addition of the RX L — a slightly larger model that offers seating for up to seven via a new third row. Both the original and L versions of the RX are available as the RX 350 or the RX 450h, the latter featuring a powerful and fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. For 2021 a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are standard equipment on all trim levels.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.20. Volkswagen Tiguan
2021 Sales: 85,000
Vs. 2020: +12.5%
Sales of the second-generation Tiguan dropped during the first half of 2020 but bounced back in the latter half of the year, and that momentum continued into 2021 with sales up 37 percent for the first half of the year. Third-quarter sales dropped nearly 30 percent, although Tiguan holds onto a 12.5 percent increase for the year. Volkswagen’s compact crossover was redesigned specifically for the U.S. market, offering more interior space and third-row seating. Adopting VW’s current design language, Tiguan’s exterior includes sharper, stronger lines and a lower, wider stance. Motivated by a new version of the German automaker’s turbocharged 2.0-liter TSI engine producing 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, Tiguan delivers power to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Volkswagen’s signature 4Motion all-wheel drive with Active Control is optional.

© Hyundai Motor America19. Hyundai Santa Fe
2021 Sales: 89,556
Vs. 2020: +27.2%
With the arrival of the all-new 2021 model, Santa Fe sales took off in the first half of this year. Third-quarter sales cooled to the same level as 2020, but Santa Fe sales are still up 27 percent year-over-year. The 2021 Santa Fe features a new exterior design, advanced lighting technology, new engines, an available hybrid with all-wheel drive and a new Calligraphy trim level. The standard 2.5-liter engine produces 191 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid drivetrain pairs a turbocharged 1.6-liter gasoline engine producing 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque with a 44.2 kW electric motor and 1.49 kWh battery pack for an estimated total system output of 225 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

© General Motors18. Chevrolet Traverse
2021 Sales: 94,198
Vs. 2020: +12.1%
Traverse sales were up nearly 60 percent for the first half of the year but third-quarter sales were down 65 percent year-over-year pending the arrival of the redesigned 2022 model later this year. Last year Chevrolet debuted a refreshed 2021 Traverse scheduled for release last fall, but the launch was pushed back to later this year as a 2022 model. For 2021 Traverse is offered in seven trim levels: L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country. Chevrolet Infotainment 3 and an HD rear vision camera are standard. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 9-speed automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive. Chevy also offers the Traverse RS with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that delivers 257 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission.

© Subaru of America17. Subaru Crosstrek
2021 Sales: 101,067
Vs. 2020: +31.4%
Sales of Subaru’s popular compact crossover fell in 2019 and continued to drop in 2020, but that trend changed last September thanks to the arrival of an updated 2021 Crosstrek. Since then, 2021 sales are up more than 30 percent for the first nine months of the year. For 2021 Crosstrek adds a new Sport trim with more aggressive styling; unique wheel arch moldings; 17-inch alloy wheels with a dark gray finish; and a gunmetal gray treatment for the grille, side mirrors and badges. For 2021 the Limited and Sport trim levels are powered by a new a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. All Crosstrek trim levels have redesigned wheels as well as a new front fascia, bumper, and grille.

© American Honda Motors16. Honda HR-V
2021 Sales: 105,398
Vs. 2020: +70.5%
The smallest SUV in Honda’s lineup, HR-V sales are surging in 2021, moving the HR-V into the top 25 best-selling SUVS all the way to the 16th position. Introduced as a 2016 model, the HR-V received exterior updates for 2019 including a new grille, headlights and taillights; revised bumpers; and two new trim levels. The 2022 HR-V is now on sale and offered in four trim levels: LX, Sport, EX and EX-L; all offered in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Power comes from a 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine producing 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque that gets combined with a continuously variable transmission.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA15. Toyota 4Runner
2021 Sales: 105,475
Vs. 2020: +22.5%
After 35 years, 4Runner remains one of the few truck-based SUVs left on the market. This highly capable contender has a loyal following and sales are up more than 20 percent for the year. The 4Runner continues to be powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine producing 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, delivered through a 5-speed automatic transmission. New for 2021, the 4Runner Trail Edition is based on the SR5 trim with either 2WD or 4WD and exterior color choices of Army Green, Cement, Midnight Black and Super White. The 4Runner Trail Edition includes black exterior badging, black seating with tan stitching, all-weather floor liners, dark gray TRD Off-Road wheels, a Yakima LoadWarrior rooftop cargo basket, a custom 40-quart cooler and a sliding cargo tray.

© Ford Motor Company14. Ford Escape
2021 Sales: 111,791
Vs. 2020: -15.2%
Ford’s original compact 5-seat crossover, Escape was the best-selling American-brand SUV for many years. Although redesigned for the 2020 model year, Escape sales were down 26 percent in 2020 and have continued to drop in 2021, due in part to the arrival of the all-new Bronco Sport which is of similar size and had more than 80,000 sales for the first nine months of 2021. The redesigned Ford Escape is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor, with a look markedly different from the previous generation. Escape is available with a choice of four engines; the standard unit is a 3-cylinder 1.5-liter EcoBoost producing 180 horsepower. With the latest generation Escape, Ford also brought back the Escape Hybrid — available as a standard hybrid or as a plug-in.

© American Honda Motors13. Honda Pilot
2021 Sales: 114,667
Vs. 2020: +27.4%
Despite a refresh of the midsize Pilot for the 2019 model year, sales were still impacted by the pandemic but continue to pick up for 2021.The refreshed Pilot features more aggressive exterior styling, an available hands-free power tailgate, powertrain refinements, and an available new Display Audio touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter 280-horsepower V6 engine combined with available all-wheel drive. For 2021 the V6 gets paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters and Idle Stop for all trim levels. For 2021 Pilot also adds the Special Edition with black 20-inch wheels, black trim, wireless phone charging and a hands-free power liftgate.

© Hyundai Motor America12. Hyundai Tucson
2021 Sales: 116,047
Vs. 2020: +27.3%
Tucson sales in the U.S. dropped during 2020 but rebounded nicely in 2021 with the arrival of a redesigned 2022 model, including the addition of the Tucson Hybrid, Tucson N Line and the Tucson Plug-In Hybrid. Longer, wider and taller than the previous model, the new Tucson has lower, wider headlights and daytime running lights that seem to be an extension of the grille. The profile reveals a chrome accent that begins at the mirror and follows the shape of the roof. Tucson’s standard powertrain is a 161-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid drivetrain pairs a turbocharged 1.6-liter gasoline engine with a 44.2-kW electric motor and 1.49-kWh battery pack for an estimated total system output of 226 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience11. Subaru Outback
2021 Sales: 122,978
Vs. 2020: +15.6%
One of the original crossovers, Outback combines SUV utility with the comfort and convenience of a wagon. Despite the arrival of an all-new 2020 Outback, sales dipped in early 2020 but rebounded well in early 2021. Although September sales were off almost 60 percent compared to 2020, Outback still maintains an increase of 15 percent for the year. The latest Subaru built on the company’s new global platform, Outback received updated exterior styling last year as well as many new features, a greatly improved interior, updated powertrains and the latest version of EyeSight — Subaru’s suite of advanced safety technology. EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. All Outbacks feature Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive with active torque vectoring, vehicle dynamics control and a generous 8.7-inches of ground clearance. For 2021 Outback receives steering-responsive LED headlights.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience10. Subaru Forester
2021 Sales: 132,254
Vs. 2020: -1.4%
Following the arrival of the fifth-generation 2019 model, Forester set a sales record in 2019. Sales in 2020 were initially down but finished the year close to another record, and that momentum has continued into 2021. Although September numbers dropped slightly, overall sales remain steady thus far this year. For 2022 Subaru adds the Forester Wilderness, and the entire Forester lineup has new exterior styling for the 2022 model year, including a redesigned grille, a new front bumper, LED headlights, a revised lower rear bumper and new exterior trim details. Easily identified by its distinctive copper exterior accents, the Forester Wilderness receives upgraded suspension, all-terrain tires, a revised drivetrain, standard X-MODE and 9.2 inches of ground clearance to become the most off-road-capable Forester ever.

© Mazda North America9. Mazda CX-5
2021 Sales: 137,343
Vs. 2020: +31.7%
Following four consecutive years of record numbers, CX-5 sales slowed in early 2020 but rebounded in the second half of the year, and sales continue to climb in 2021. Although sales were off slightly in September, CX-5 is still up over 30 percent for the year. Adopting the styling of the larger CX-9, the CX-5 is refined in nearly every way with a revised chassis, an updated SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine, a new interior and many available features. For 2019 Mazda added the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trim levels, both powered by the turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine, rated for 2021 at 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium fuel; i-ACTIV all-wheel drive is standard. The Carbon Edition includes Polymetal Gray paint, gloss black door mirrors, 19-inch black metallic aluminum alloy wheels and red leather seats.

© General Motors8. Chevrolet Equinox
2021 Sales: 151,110
Vs. 2020: -21.2%
Chevrolet’s second-best-selling vehicle after the full-size Silverado pickup, Equinox sales dropped in 2020 and have continued to drop in 2021. Equinox sales have likely been impacted by the arrival of the all-new Trailblazer, as well as the delay of a redesigned Equinox. Last year Chevrolet debuted a refreshed 2021 Equinox scheduled to arrive last fall, but the Detroit automaker pushed the release to later this year as a 2022 model. For 2021 Equinox features projector-beam headlights, LED running lights, wider horizontal taillights and LED taillights for upper trim levels. Inside, the Equinox has a down-and-away instrument panel with a low windshield base for improved outward visibility. Engine choices for the U.S. market continue to be a 170-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo and a 252-horse 2.0-liter turbo combined with a new 9-speed automatic transmission.

© Ford Motor Company7. Ford Explorer
2021 Sales: 160,174
Vs. 2020: 0.0%
The best-selling SUV of all time, Explorer finished 2020 with a sales increase over 2019 thanks to the arrival of an all-new 2020 model, and sales have remained steady for the first nine months of 2021. With its first major redesign in 10 years, the new Explorer gets built on an all-new rear-wheel-drive flexible architecture designed to improve ride, handling and capability. The standard engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder unit producing 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Two new versions have been added: the 400-horsepower ST and the 318-horsepower (combined) Limited Hybrid. For 2021 Ford adds the Explorer Timberline — a new trim level that offers a more rugged off-road appearance backed by engineering updates and new equipment to improve off-road performance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience6. Jeep Wrangler
2021 Sales: 164,709
Vs. 2020: +9.7%
Not even Wrangler was immune to the pandemic — sales dropped almost 12 percent during 2020 but have rebounded in 2021. The modern descendant of the original U.S. military vehicle, Wrangler upholds the Jeep name and legacy of extreme off-road capability. Both 2- and 4-door versions are available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon trims with numerous special editions including Willys, Freedom and the luxurious High Altitude. For 2020 Jeep added a fuel-efficient diesel powertrain to the Wrangler, as well as the new luxurious High Altitude edition. For 2021 Jeep adds two special additions via the Wrangler 80th Anniversary Edition and Islander, but the big news is a Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid and a 470-horsepower Wrangler Rubicon 392. Other engine options are a turbocharged 2.0-liter, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a 3.6-liter mild hybrid and a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel.

© Stellantis North America5. Jeep Grand Cherokee
2021 Sales: 189,727
Vs. 2020: +24.1%
One of the original and most popular SUVS of all time, the Grand Cherokee set a new sales record for 2019 and moved past Wrangler to finish the year as the top-selling Jeep model. Wrangler moved ahead of Grand Cherokee again in the first half of 2020, but with the arrival of an all-new 7-seat 2021 Grand Cherokee L, Grand Cherokee is once again the top-selling Jeep model. Grand Cherokee L is 15 inches longer than the 2021 Grand Cherokee and offers a third-row seat for the first time. The updated two-row 2022 Grand Cherokee — as well as the hybrid Grand Cherokee 4xe — debuted in September. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L features slim LED headlights, a smaller forward-leaning 7-slot grille, a roof that tapers to the rear spoiler and slim wraparound taillights. Initial engine choices are a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and a 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA4. Toyota Highlander
2021 Sales: 207,564
Vs. 2020: +48.1%
All new for the 2020 model year, Highlander sales were trending upward in 2020 until Covid hit. Despite a midyear slump, the SUV finished 2020 with a strong fourth quarter and sales for 2021 increased more than 80 percent in the first half of the year. Although sales diminished 14 percent in September, Highlander numbers are still up nearly 50 percent for the year. Highlander has fresh styling with a bold black grille, available premium projector headlights and a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces a plentiful 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque, combined with a Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission — enough power to provide a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. The Highlander Hybrid draws power from a new Toyota Hybrid System that combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a total output of 243 horsepower.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience3. Nissan Rogue
2021 Sales: 234,647
Vs. 2020: +40.2%
The top-selling model in Nissan’s lineup, Rogue sales cooled in 2020; however, the arrival of an all-new 2021 Rogue boosted sales by more than 70 percent in the first half of 2021. Rogue sales were off in the third quarter but are still up more than 40 percent for the year. Built on a new platform with fresh styling, advanced safety features and a family friendly interior, the 2021 Nissan Rogue features a more classic SUV design with a bold vertical V-Motion grille, strong fender flares and a squared-off tailgate. Unique multi-level LED headlights give the compact crossover a unique look. The 2021 Nissan Rogue has a 2.5-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque and gets paired with the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2. Honda CR-V
2021 Sales: 290,144
Vs. 2020: +22.2%
The Honda CR-V set a new sales record for 2019, but even this popular model was not immune to the pandemic and U.S. sales cooled in 2020. Sales increased more than 50 percent in the first half of this year, although the latest numbers indicate things slowed in the third quarter. The fifth-generation CR-V continues to be Honda’s top-selling model in the U.S. with more than 4.5 million sold since its introduction in 1997. For 2020 Honda refreshed the CR-V’s exterior styling and added the first hybrid to the lineup. Similar to the Honda Accord Hybrid, the CR-V Hybrid uses a two-mode hybrid powertrain that teams two electric motors with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine for a combined output of 212 horsepower, making it the most powerful variant in the CR-V lineup.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USA1. Toyota RAV4
2021 Sales: 313,447
Vs. 2020: +4.5%
The Toyota RAV4 finished 2020 as the best-selling SUV in America for the fourth consecutive year, and it continues to hold that position for 2021. Sales rose more than 20 percent in the first half of the year, but September sales dipped 50 percent compared to 2020, dropping RAV4 to a 4.5 percent increase for the first nine months of the year. One of the original compact crossovers on the American market, the RAV4 was redesigned for 2019 with bold styling, improved capability, better performance and an array of new safety and convenience features. RAV4 now has automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection — as well as lane departure alert — as standard equipment. For 2021 the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid began arriving in summer 2020. Not only is the plug-in more fuel efficient, it is also the second-quickest vehicle in the Toyota lineup behind the GR Supra sports car.

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Published on: October 19, 2021

Filled Under: Automotive Content Experience, Automotive Reviews

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