Best Selling 2020 Compact SUVs

The compact SUV class has been popular for more than twenty years and that trend continues in 2020. In the first half of the year, in the January through June period, compact SUVs constituted 9 of the top 25 overall spots in automotive model unit sales. In fact, 14 of the top 25 selling models overall in the first half of 2020 were SUVs.

Before we get into the sales figures, it should be noted that the pandemic has taken its toll on automotive sales. With the shutdown of sales, automotive manufacturing, health and safety concerns, and unease about major purchases, the industry has seen the adverse impacts. While globally auto sales totaled about 8.2 vehicles in the first half of 2020, sales were down over 20% from 2019.

Based on manufacturer reporting in the first half, below are the best selling 2020 compact SUVs with the sales amount next to it.

Toyota RAV4 – 183,360

Despite getting less industry buzz than the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4 is the top-selling 2020 compact SUV. In the first half of 2020, the RAV4 moved 183,360 units which was relatively steady from 2019 when the model experienced record sales and placed first in the compact SUV class.

The RAV4 has been in the marketplace for more than 25 years and its redesign in 2019 helped boost its standing. It features new styling, more efficient powertrains, and Toyota’s latest safety features.

In 2021, Toyota is adding a RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid model with better fuel economy and higher performance.


The only models to sell more units than the RAV4 in the first half of 2020 were full-size pickups: the Ford F-Series, the Chevrolet Silverado, and the Ram Truck.

honda cr-v

Honda CR-V – 138,898

The CR-V was the second best selling SUV of 2019, but its sales pace dipped for 2020 down 21.5%. Nevertheless, the CR-V still moved 138,898 units in the first half of 2020 and is Honda’s best selling model overall.

The CR-V offers a compelling value with comfort, great utility, and excellent fuel economy and reliability.

The 2020 CR-V added new exterior styling and a two-motor hybrid version is available with all-wheel drive. The electric motors combined with a four-cylinder engine output 212 total horsepower, making it the most powerful SUV ever.

Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet Equinox – 124,251

Despite a drop of 28.7% from 2019, the Equinox sold 124,251 units in the first half of 2020. The compact SUV model remains Chevy’s best-selling model after the Silverado pickup and is the best selling SUV from a U.S. brand.

With its roomy interior and competitive fuel economy, the Equinox is a popular vehicle among rental car companies.

In addition to a fuel-efficient base 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the Equinox is also offered with a spirited 2.0-liter 252 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed automatic and 3,500 pounds of towing capability.

Nissan Rogue

Nissan Rogue – 106,965

The Rogue placed #10 overall in automotive model sales in the first half of 2020 moving 106,965 units. Its sales were down precipitously from 2019 dropping 39%.

The Rogue is available in three trims also offers a version in a smaller model called the Rogue Sport. It should be noted that despite being a subcompact model, Rogue Sport sales are included in with the Rogue’s sales figures.

The 2020 Rogue features Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist and Safety Shield as standard features. Even better news is good that an all-new Rogue is on the way for the 2021 model year.

Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester – 85,860

Sales of the long-running Forester have remained strong in 2020 with 85,680 units sold in the first half. The Forester was all-new in 2019 and offers more rear-seat legroom and more rear cargo capacity than preceding years.

The Forester is a solid compact crossover model with excellent safety ratings, comfort, quietness, and good driving dynamics.

The Forester is selling well in 2020 with only a 0.4% dip in sales from 2019. It is outpacing the Outback in sales, which was Subaru’s best selling model in 2019.

Ford Escape Interior

Ford Escape – 84,797

The Escape has been on the market for 20 years but is still a strong seller. In the first half of 2020, it moved 84,797 units, which is down from previous years.

With all the headwinds 2020 brought, many consumers may not know that the 2020 Escape was an all-new model, which should normally help its sales. The 2020 model has a new grille and is lower and wide than the preceding years. The Escape and four engine choices including a three-cylinder turbocharged engine, a standard hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid.

Mazda CX-5 – 65,072

The CX-5 is the best-selling Mazda model. Its sales were up four consecutive years from 2016-2019 but sales have slowed a bit in 2020.

The CX-5 offers more spirited driving than many of its compact SUV competitors. In addition to a base four-cylinder engine producing 187 horsepower, the CX-5 has added Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trim levels, which feature a powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged 250 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

The CX-5 joins the Forester as being the only 2020 compact SUVs to received the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation based on crash tests and safety features.

Hyundai Tucson – 57,941

The Tucson remained a decent seller in the first half of 2020 selling 57,941 units, which was down 12.1% from 2019. The Tucson was last refreshed in 2018 with updated styling and few features and powertrains.

On the bridge side, the Tucson comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Look for an all-new Tucson in the 2022 model year.

Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Cherokee – 56,938

The Cherokee faced a steep decline in sales, dropping 41.4% from 2019, but still sneaked onto the list of top-selling 2020 compact SUVs.

While the Cherokee lags its competitors in some areas, this compact model delivers Jeep’s legendary off-road capability with a practical package. In 2019, Jeep did add an updated interior, increased cargo room, and a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine option. In 2020, the Cherokee added new color options including Spitfire Orange and Sangria.

The Cherokee is not to be confused with the larger, nicer and pricier Grand Cherokee, which competes in the mid-size class. The Grand Cherokee was the 6th best-selling SUV overall in the first half of 2020.

What About the Model Y?

One of the most anticipated new models of 2020, Tesla’s Model Y compact SUV began deliveries to customers in March 2020. In the month June, Tesla reported 7,500 Model Y units sold.

During the 2nd quarter in the midst production and delivery shutdowns caused by the pandemic, Tesla delivered a total of 90,650 vehicles company-wide. This figure is less than the RAV4 sales pace alone for the year.

Recap

To review, the best selling 2020 compact SUVs during the first half of the year were as follows:

  • #1. Toyota RAV – 183,360
  • #2. Honda CR-V – 138,898
  • #3. Chevrolet Equinox – 124,251
  • #4. Nissan Rogue – 106,965
  • #5. Subaru Forester – 85,860
  • #6. Ford Escape – 84,797
  • #7. Mazda CX-5 – 65,072
  • #8. Hyundai Tucson – 57,941
  • #9. Jeep Cherokee – 56,938

While the majority of the best selling SUVs were compacts, the remaining models were mid-size, with two being three-row crossovers. Their rankings and sales amongst SUV models overall were as follows:

  • #5. Ford Explorer – 101,149
  • #6. Jeep Grand Cherokee – 96,409
  • #7. Jeep Wrangler – 96,131
  • #10. Toyota Highlander – 79,071
  • #12. Subaru Outback – 62,305

Interestingly no sub-compact or luxury models cracked the top 25 seller list.

Takeaways

While electric, luxury, and large SUV models get much of the publicity, all of the above models have a starting price under $26,000. This shows that affordability, practicality, and value reign supreme in SUV volume sales.

These sales positions and figures may be adjusted as additional numbers come in and final numbers are released for the complete 2020 calendar year.

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