November 2014: Boom Times for Auto Sales Continue

November 2014 auto sales increase by 5 percent.

The good times are continuing for the US auto industry, now nearing the end of its fifth year of recovery from 2009’s depressively low sales numbers. Most automakers claimed healthy increases for November 2014, led by the Chrysler Group’s 20 percent increase over a year earlier. Sales for Toyota, Honda and GM also increased while Nissan and Ford registered slight declines for the month.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
Jeep sales continue to pace the Chrysler Group.

GM, Ford and Chrysler

GM continues to lead the market, enjoying a 6 percent sales increase for November. Buick and GMC paced sales with Chevrolet sales increasing a modest 3 percent. However, Cadillac sales continue to pull back, falling 19 percent for the month. GM credited Black Friday sales with boosting is numbers. Said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations, “The buzz around Black Friday helped drive strong showroom traffic but there was a lot more at work in the market.” McNeil noted that more people have jobs, household wealth is on the rebound and gas prices are falling.

Ford sales fell for the third consecutive month as the automaker retools to produce its all-new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Ford also said that it is ramping up production for two other models — Mustang and Transit — and expects brand sales to stay depressed for the short term. Even so, Ford managed to sell more than 8,700 Mustangs for the month, including its all-new version. Lincoln sales provided a bright spot for the month, rising by 21 percent as interest in the all-new MKC and the latest generation Navigator paced the brand.

Chrysler sales continue to outpace the industry, increasing an even 20 percent for the month. Sales of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat brand vehicles rose for the month with the Chrysler 200 sedan enjoying a 155 percent increase over the same month in 2013. Notably, 11 Chrysler Group models set records during the month with the Chrysler 200 recording its best sales month ever.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota sales climbed by 6 percent in November 2014.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan

Toyota reported sales of 183,346 units, reflecting a three percent increase for the month. Camry, Corolla and RAV4 each topped 20,000 units sold with 4Runner sales up by 53 percent for November. Lexus sales increased by 7.3 percent, helping the luxury brand to keep pace with segment leaders. “Lexus set an all-time November sales record thanks in part to the momentum surrounding the arrival of the newest edition to the lineup, the RC coupes,” said Steve Hearne, vice president for sales and dealer development. “As a result, Lexus outpaced the luxury market with strong growth for both passenger cars and utility vehicles.”

Honda sales increased by 4.6 percent on strong sales of its CR-V crossover, midsize Accord and compact Civic lines. Honda sold a record 32,378 CR-Vs, the best-selling compact crossover utility vehicle in America. Honda’s truck sales, including utility vehicles, came in at 51,735 units, a November record. Sales for Acura, Honda’s premium brand, rose by 2 percent based on strong demand for its TLX and ILX sedans.

Nissan’s bid to catch Honda continues to stall as sales fell by 3.1 percent for the month. Nissan division sales fell by 1.7 percent while Infiniti sales sank by 13.3 percent. However, year-to-date sales are up 11.5 percent and the Nissan brand has already set its all-time US sales record. One particularly bright spot for Nissan was its Rogue crossover as its sales topped 15,000 units, increasing by nearly 44 percent for the month.

Kia K900

Kia sales continue to grow even as cousin Hyundai slips.
the flagship K900 sedan.

Subaru, Hyundai and Kia

With one month remaining in the year, Subaru has already broken its all-time sales record. November sales climbed by 24 percent and are on pace to top 500,000 units before the month is out. Like Chrysler with its 56 consecutive months of month-over-month sales increases, Subaru’s streak is now at 36 months. Two models, Forester and Outback, are leading the charge for Subaru.

Hyundai and Kia continue to go in opposite directions in terms of US auto sales. Hyundai sales fell by 4.2 percent for the month, while Kia sales rose by 6.6 percent. Kia continues to enjoy strong demand for its Optima sedan, its best selling model. Soul sales slipped in November, while Sorento sales declined slightly.

Hyundai sales fell for the month, but are still ahead of last year’s record-setting pace by 3,400 units. Elantra sales topped the 200,000 units sold threshold for the year with the Sonata expected to follow within the next day. Sales of the all-new Genesis sedan were up 57 percent for the month.

Audi Q3

Audi continues to win a larger piece of the luxury segment pie.

Volkswagen and the Rest

Volkswagen’s struggles may not be over, but it is seeing increased sales for the second month in a row. November sales rose by 3.2 percent, paced by Jetta sales up by almost 32 percent. The strongest gain was recorded by the Golf as sales rose by nearly 86 percent for the month. “We are thrilled with the accolades the Golf family of vehicles has received, including the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year. These awards applaud the line up’s versatility, quality and value,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America. “Partnered with the refreshed Jetta and upcoming redesigned Touareg, the potential for increased showroom traffic looks promising.”

Among the German luxury makes, Audi continues to shine the brightest. Audi sales rose by 22 percent, BMW sales fell by 2.3 percent and Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 2 percent. With a 20,000 unit lead going into December, Mercedes has sewn up first place for luxury brands this year.

Other manufacturers and brands reporting sales included Mitsubishi, up 7.6 percent; Mazda, up 2.4 percent; Tesla Motors, up 6.5 percent; Volvo, down 14.4 percent; Jaguar Land Rover, down 19 percent and Porsche, up 18.5 percent.

November 2014 Auto Sales

Automotive analysts have pegged November’s SAAR at 17.2 million units based on 1.3 million+ models sold for the month. The five percent increase comes as manufacturers ramp up year-end specials. Keep an eye on special deals that can shave even more money off of sticker prices.

See AlsoRocking October 2014 Auto Sales Lift Industry

Note: November 2014 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. Sales information provided by the manufacturers and Autodata Corporation (Motor Intelligence).

Mini Cooper S: Oh, Yes!

Small car…big fun!

2014 Mini Cooper S

A Mini Cooper S will all the trimmings.

Ah, Mini! You stole my heart and in more than one way. Your iconic, good looks are what caught my eyes and, yes, I managed to put up with the decaling found on the side mirrors, along the doors and on top of the roof just fine. What I liked best about you is that you’re so full of personality as you bring a rare, premium feel to the small car segment.

I don’t usually write love letters to my weekly drivers and my thoughts about a recent Mini Cooper S model shouldn’t be considered such. Rather, Mini served up a model that was just a lot of fun and for the following nine reasons.

1. British at its best. Sure, Mini is now owned by German automaker BMW. Its distinct Britishness may be gone, but what you have left is a very good model. The current Mini is larger than the original, but the styling cues remain the same. Whatever made the original a worthy model in its own right has only been enhanced by BMW’s influence. Yes, it is still assembled in Oxford, England with its engine from Germany and the transmission from Japan courtesy of Aisin.

2014 Mini Cooper S

Unique decaling marked this special edition model.

2. Kissed by BMW. Speaking about BMW, the German make’s influence on the model is undeniable. As tested, the Cooper S is powered by a 2.0-liter twin turbo four-cylinder engine — it is the same engine that powers the BMW 2 Series. In the Mini it is tuned tamer, but the four banger still cranks out 189 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. With just 2,700 pounds of weight to push around, it lives up to its “S” or sport appellation with distinction.

2014 Mini Cooper S

View manufacturer details and pricing

3. A manual transmission, but not this time. Alas, the test model did not come with a six-speed manual transmission. Instead, a six-speed automatic was served. Nevertheless, much driving fun was realized by putting the transmission in sport mode and using the paddle shifters. My personal preference is nearly always a manual (when one is available), but the fast shifting automatic gets the job done and does so with fun. Take each curve and twist of the road with full confidence with this smart handling Mini.

2014 Mini Cooper S

A dual paneled sunroof with more decaling.

4. Upscale seating for the driver. There is no small car that I’ve driven over the past few years that offers the seating comfort of the Cooper S. Mini outfits the Cooper S with highly supportive and comfortable sport buck seats, covered in cloth and with leather sides. It wasn’t just the support it provided that made the difference: a seat extender aced it for this diminutive people mover. That’s a feature typically found in luxury cars.

5. Not too bad for the front passenger. Uh, forget the back seat. The Mini Cooper seats four, but the back seat is, well, a token addition. Two children in booster seats can fit, but getting a car seat in and out would be a big challenge. Don’t punish adults by sitting in the leg-squishing rear seat even for a short drive. The front passenger seat is quite comfortable and also offers a seat extender. Push the seat all the way to the back and you have copious amounts of legroom. At the expense of anyone in the rear, of course.

2014 Mini Cooper S

The well-rounded Mini Cooper S interior.

6. Round is in. Very in. If you like personality in your small cars, the Mini Cooper S does not disappoint. The well-rounded interior makes use of a circular theme nearly everywhere. Behind the steering wheel is a circular speedometer with a half moon tachometer on its left side. The center screen, however, is the heart and soul of the car with its own circular design trimmed by glowing mood lighting. Circular knobs, rounded-tip switches, a circular shifter seat and a BMW-like iDrive control dial along with round speakers and near round headrests are also included. Rounded headlamps with circular LED lights are another feature of this model.

7. Limited storage, but then. Small cars have very little storage room, right? Well, Mini tries really hard to provide room, by making space where you might otherwise not find it. The glove box is small, but there is a secondary box above it in the instrument panel. The folding driver’s arm rest has space large enough to hold your smartphone. Two cup holders are up front and one is in the back. Importantly, there is a hidden, sectioned storage compartment underneath the rear storage area. Fold down the rear seats and you’ll get 38 cubic feet of storage space.

8. Enjoy the intersection of fuel economy and performance. Perhaps the best feature of the Mini Cooper S is that it combines excellent performance with superior fuel economy. Instead of the standard turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, you get a twin-turbo four-cylinder engine. You enjoy excellent off the mark acceleration and can pass anything on the highway with certainty. Moreover, this model delivers 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway — impressive numbers that won’t have you regretting the extra power.

2014 Mini Cooper S

Small hatchback with a hidden storage compartment.

9. The power to surprise. Sure, it is an option, but having head-up display is a nice feature. Especially when it appears on a small screen that emerges from the dashboard to project the speed limit. Personally, I would have designed a more comprehensive system to show navigational directional arrows and the local speed limit. Still, the optional navigation system was a welcome surprise. Other nice features included the dual panel sun roof — the decals on top of the roof provided a visual statement. Not my taste, but maybe yours?

Maxi Fun

Boil it down and the Mini Cooper S delivers a lot of fun in a small package. But it does come at a premium price: from $23,600. As tested, my model costs an eyebrow raising $36,895, reflecting several upgrades to include: a $4,500 “fully loaded” package with navigation, $1,500 for the automatic transmission, $500 for the automatic dimming mirrors which, by the way, fold in. Other upgrades included: cloth and leatherette seats ($750), special metallic paint ($500), a cold weather package ($600), park assist (($1,000) and the head-up display ($500). That price rivals the BMW 1 Series, a model that BMW no longer sells in the US.

2014 Mini Cooper S

TwinPower Turbo courtesy of BMW powers the Cooper S.

2014 Mini Cooper S

  • Sticker price from $23,600
  • Price as tested: from $36,895
  • Seats 4 occupants
  • 2.0-liter 16-valve four-cylinder gasoline engine
  • 189 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
  • 207 foot-pounds of torque @ 1,250 rpm
  • 3.2 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 11.0-to-1
  • 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 98.2 inches
  • Length: 151.9 inches
  • Width: 59.1 inches
  • Height: 55.7 inches
  • Passenger volume: NR
  • Storage volume: 8.7/38.0 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: N/A
  • EPA: 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway
  • Premium grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 11.6 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 2,760 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Good for moderate overlap front
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 12 years
  • Vehicle assembly: Oxford, UK

See AlsoDrop Top Fun: 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible

2014 Mini Cooper S photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.