The numbers don’t lie: cars in general are headed to the endangered species list, though specific models will surely survive in small numbers — like the New Guinea Singing Dog.

In October, actual passenger car sales in Canada declined 7.9 per cent, while light truck sales surged 13.6 per cent. Seven of every 10 Canadians who bought a new vehicle in October chose an SUV (sport-utility vehicle), pickup or van. Shocking.

2018 Hyundai Kona: one of the many, many crossovers and SUVs that are storming the marketplace.

Yes, you read that correctly: pickups, vans and SUVs accounted for 70 per cent of all the new vehicles bought in Canada for October, reports DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

“The only declines among the top ten selling light trucks were recorded for the Dodge Caravan (down 11.1 per cent) and the Ram Pickup (down 2.6 per cent),” says DesRosiers in a note to clients, adding that in October, sales fell for most of the top selling cars in Canada.

Honda Civic? Down 7.8 per cent in October.

Toyota Corolla, down 7.8 per cent.

Chevrolet Cruze, down a whopping 32.2 per cent.

Volkswagen Jetta, down 26.2 per cent.

Hyundai Accent, down 30.7 per cent.

Civics, Corollas, Cruzes, Jettas…these have been strong sellers for years, but they all are suffering mightily in 2017, and more pain is looming.

Honda Civic: sales down 7.8 in October

But light trucks? Sales are up across the board, save minivans which are actually down 3.7 per cent year-to-date. I’d argue that minivans are long, roomy cars with sliding side doors and all sorts of negative baggage, image-wise. So there’s nothing surprising about this slump in minivan sales.

SUVs and crossovers?

Scotiabank auto analyst Carlos Gomes, commenting on November sales, points to the crossover utility craze that “remains in full force. In contrast, nearly all manufacturers sold fewer cars than a year ago. In fact, car sales actually fell below the level prevailing during the Global Financial Crisis in late 2008.”

That’s right: while global vehicle sales are surging around the world (expected to top 92 million in all), and Canadians remain on track to buy more than 2.0 million new rides in 2017, actual car sales in Canada are lower than they were during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan Diesel: Cruze sales were down 32.2 per cent in October.

The exception? Luxury cars. DesRosiers notes that sales of luxury, luxury high and luxury sport cars are all up this year (7.4, 18.0 and 4.9 per cent, respectively).

Canadians, then, are feeling flush. At least when it comes to buying a new vehicle. In fact, J.D. Power and Associates reports that the average transaction price for a new vehicle in Canada is about $33,000. Wow!

That number is being driven by the SUV and crossover love affair. Consider that even the least expensive crossover is some $5,000 more than a similar-sized car which often shares its architecture, or mechanical underpinnings. Under their skins, a Civic, Honda Accord and Honda CR-V share a platform. They are essential the same car/SUV.

Today’s buyer, however, wants the image of a crossover/SUV, along with more ride height and the accompanying improved visibility. Buyers also want the perceived safety of a truck-like rig; and the overall functionality of a tall station wagon with luxury features like a rear hatch that opens automatically with a kick to the air underneath the rear end (Ford pioneered this with the Escape, but others have this feature now, too).

A slew of new crossovers and SUVs will keep feeding the market’s insatiable appetite for bigger, taller rigs – despite the exorbitant pricing.

2018 GMC Acadia All Terrain

Just this past week, FCA’s Jeep brand showed us the 2018 version of the Wrangler SUV. Nissan is about to introduce a new compact SUV called the 2018 Nissan Kick, too. And we also have coming:

  • Hyundai’s new “urban” SUV, the Kona;
  • Volvo new XC40 small crossover;
  • Subaru’s three-row SUV, the 2018 Ascent;
  • Lexus’s three-row version of the RX crossover, along with the 2018 Toyota Sequoia;
  • Lincoln’s 2019 Nautilus SUV, another monster rig;
  • General Motor’s new GMC Acadia, to go with the recently launched GMC Terrain.

New Volvo XC40 – exterior

What kinds of rigs are most popular? The big action is in compact and intermediate SUVs. DesRosiers reports that nearly one in three new vehicles sold through October was either a compact or intermediate SUV (513,757 sold out of total sales of 1.75 million). And if you’re keeping track, compact SUVs rule in Canada: 361,554 compact SUVs sold, versus 152,203 intermediate SUVs.

If you’re a car lover, here’s the sad news: automakers have begun to aggressively pare their passenger car lineups. Slow sellers are being banished to history’s junkyard and marginally popular cars are ending up in rental fleets or car-sharing schemes. They’ll all be gone when the factory tooling wears out.

Names? Want names? Here’s a small sampling of the cars slated to be extinguished after the 2017 model year: Buick Verano, Dodge Viper, Chrysler 200, Lexus CT 200h, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Mitsubishi Lancer, gasoline-powered smart fortwo and Volkswagen CC.

Yes, cars – actual cars – are on the endangered species list. And some models have left us forever, or will soon. Sad for some, but true for all of us.

2018 Lexus RX 350L – Lexus USA 1

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Subaru Ascent

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