The best selling SUV of all time

2011 Nissan X-Trail

Trying to find out what is the best selling SUV of all time can be a bit of a minefield. Manufacturers don’t always release their sales data. And even if they do, it can be skewed.

For example, you may have read that the Acura MDX is the best selling SUV of all time, however a little digging finds that it is only in the category of “three-row luxury SUV”.

Even the press release states that it is “America’s All-Time Best-Selling 3-Row Luxury SUV”.

Acura says that cumulative sales of the MDX over its “nearly 15-year history” amounted to 692,710 units. However, that was back in 2014, so the numbers are now well out of date. Anyone still hanging onto the MDX being the best selling SUV of all time needs to do some research.

Nissan Patrol Update

The problem is that the goalposts are ever-changing. As time rolls on, there may be an SUV that sells in greater numbers than predicted. So, of course, our research on the best selling SUV of all time applies to the sales data we have as of May 2018.

Initially, we assumed that the best selling SUV of all time would be something like the Toyota LandCruiser, thanks to its six-decade long run of sales. Anything on sale that long would surely have to be a contender, right?

Unfortunately, no. An explosion in midsize SUVs has meant that the LandCruiser’s reign was ended a long time ago. In fact, in 2017 alone, one medium SUV outsold the entire history of Toyota’s LandCruiser.

What about the Nissan Patrol, which also has been on sale for decades? Again, it was eclipsed a long time ago.

2018 Nissan X-Trail Diesel front three quarter view

What is the best selling SUV of all time

It may surprise you to learn that it is the Nissan X-Trail. Also known as the Nissan Rogue, its popularity made it the fourth most popular vehicle in the world in 2017. And its cumulative sales over its lifespan have made it the most popular SUV in the world (according to automotive market data research expert, JATO).

In just 2017, it sold over 814,000 units, and added over its lifetime, the X-Trail/Rogue soars into the millions.

In the early days, it was because of its practicality. Rarely could you find an SUV of that size which had such a huge loading capacity.

X-trail 2012 Boot

Then there was the underfloor drawers and storage in the luggage space. You could even take out the dividers and hose them down – practical design and implementation at its best.

It was also brilliant off-road and the addition of a diesel variant meant that it could be economical, too.

As the years rolled on, it got progressively larger, more comfortable and more refined. And thanks to addition of autonomous braking, it’s even safer that before, appealing to families.

Like we said before, it’s possible that it will be overtaken by another SUV, but at this point, the X-Trail holds its position as the best selling SUV of all time

About Karl Peskett 435 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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