Mercedes-Benz stole BMW’s crown in US luxury-car sales for 2 consecutive years — now BMW is planning a comeback

Mercedes GLC

Mercedes-Benz held on to the No. 1 spot as the best-selling luxury automaker in the US, according to 2017 auto sales data released this week.

The brand beat out BMW, which came in second, with Lexus taking third place.

Mercedes-Benz’s success is due in part to its focus on the SUV market. American buyers have largely shunned traditional four-door sedans in favor of crossovers and SUVs in recent years. Sales of light-duty trucks — which include small, midsize, large, and luxury SUVs — accounted for nearly 10.9 million of the 17.2 million vehicles sold in the US last year.

The current Mercedes-Benz lineup features seven different SUVs, ranging from the entry level GLA to the top-level G-Wagon. The G-Wagon, by the way, has been around since the 1970s. And more than 40 years on, it remains one of Mercedes-Benz’s best-selling trucks despite presenting itself as basically the same big, boxy four-wheeler for more than 40 years — save for some incremental refinements along the way.

BMW X2 large

Reviving BMW’s SUV stable

As for BMW, the brand’s SUV ranks are equally robust in terms choice, but it is aging.

BMW buyers largely opted for the X4 and X5 models over the others in 2017. Sales of the smaller X1 were also up in December, according to BMW. But the automaker is looking to revive its SUV offerings in the near-term. It will introduce the brand-new X2 at the Detroit auto show this month. A full-size X7 is expected later.

Adding more SUV choices can only be good news in a US auto market teeming with eager buyers. And BMW and Mercedes-Benz are by no means the only ones in the game. Audi is seeing success with its newly redesigned Q5 crossover and the Jaguar F-Pace, which hit the road in 2015, has earned solid gains.

Not to be outdone, Lexus and its underdog rival Infiniti also added to their SUV offerings recently. Lexus introduced larger versions of its popular RX line at the Los Angeles auto show in November. And Infiniti took the wraps off of its QX50, which features a breakthrough new engine.

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