Perhaps unbeknownst to anyone born in this millennium, SUVs didn’t originate from car-based unibody platforms. Their early credentials weren’t bolstered by drivetrain settings that shifted power to the rear when conditions required. They didn’t allude to off-road capability with electronic whizbangery.
In fact, SUVs in their infancy were naturally rugged, truck-like, body-on-frame vehicles with — at best — transfer cases to shift from rear- to four-wheel-drive.
And vehicles like this still exist. Indeed, they’re increasingly popular, as Canadian sales of body-on-frame SUVs, through the first three quarters of 2018, are rising more than four times faster than sales of the SUV/crossover category on the whole. Up 34 per cent so far this year, body-on-frame SUVs now account for 6.8 per cent of overall utility vehicle sales, up from 5.4 a year ago. If the category’s total volume — roughly 5,100 units per month — at first seems small, consider two factors.
First, body-on-frame SUVs combine for more monthly volume than the entire Subaru brand. And second, the majority of body-on-frame SUVs compete in a pricing stratosphere far outside the mainstream. Eight of the 10 vehicles on this list of Canada’s 10 best-selling true blue, real deal, genuine SUVs are priced well above $50,000. Four of the six trims in the second-ranked vehicle’s lineup are priced in excess of $50,000. Meanwhile, the top-ranked vehicle that made hay in recent years with advertised base MSRPs below $20,000 now starts closer to $35,000.
Regardless, sales of traditional SUVs, whether in distinctly off-road, luxury-oriented formats or both, are flourishing. Demand is rising, most notably at the top of the leaderboard but also among new and older niche models, as well. By the end of 2018, more than 60,000 Canadians will have acquired a new SUV with a very old-fashioned architecture. Old-fashioned, yes, but also sufficiently updated for the modern consumer.