Sports Utility Vehicles, commonly known as SUV’s, are becoming more and more popular. So much so that manufacturers are also making a kind of hybrid between the typical sedan and the sports utility vehicle, something to sit in between the two, known as Crossover vehicles. We have seen a definite trend as more and more people are searching for SUV’s to fit the needs of their family and of course their desire for the perfect vehicle. Currently used car dealership inventory is trending to have a larger number of SUVs and Crossovers as the previous owners are trading in their current ones for something newer. Because of the huge popularity and growth of that market segment, we sometimes actually see more used SUVs and Crossovers on used car dealers lots than we do sedans and pickup trucks. And WOW are they nice too! Yes they cost more, but that was also true when they were new, and yet people were still willing to pay the extra costs to get them. Why?
For years the family sedan was king. Honda Accords and Toyota Camry’s were everywhere! Sedans are great for being fuel efficient and hauling the family around town. Cars, specifically 4 door sedans, have traditionally been preferred for the ride and efficiency when compared to trucks which ride much rougher and burn sometimes twice the amount of fuel. Because trucks are designed to carry more weight and tow a load they are typically outfitted with tougher, stiffer, heavier duty suspension. That of course means the ride and handling of a pickup truck will be rougher than a sedan. Cars by comparison have a softer suspension which naturally leads to a smoother more comfortable ride. So historically it has been that you could get one, or the other, but not both. You just couldn’t find a family sedan that had the load carrying and towing capability of a truck. Manufacturers have tried with models like the El Camino, but they never had the staying power and popularity of the 2 door or 4 door sedan or of a pickup truck. But that doesn’t mean consumers didn’t want it! Even the legendary suburban that has been around for many, many years never had the sales of a pickup truck or car. It’s not that people don’t want it. The size of a Suburban means it will be much more expensive to purchase and operate than a car, so for many who wanted it the truth was they just could not afford it. Many people tend to forget that the cost of operation is a real cost.
The higher cost of a large SUV is not just in the actual purchase. It’s not just a one time hump to get over and then the cost comes down to be the same as a car. That just isn’t reality. Why? Not only does a large SUV cost more, but because it’s bigger it will have a bigger engine. That engine costs more. That larger engine burns more fuel. It costs more to change the oil. Plus the tires will be more expensive. The insurance will be more expensive. And it just keeps adding up. With all that said, if costs were not an issue there are still consumers who would like the interior room and cargo space of the SUV, but don’t want to sacrifice the ride quality and comfort and affordability of the typical sedan. Drivers still want the higher visibility that being high up in a truck offers, but the car was a better fit for their everyday needs. Then one day, someone figured it out! The mid-size SUV was born! Tahoe’s, Durango’s, 4Runners, Pathfinders, Pilots, and many others I haven’t mentioned. They were everywhere!
Why did that happen? I think drivers, men and women alike, loved the SUV! Sales skyrocketed. The typical SUV offers a better view of the road, room for the whole family plus all their stuff, and a better ride than the typical pickup truck although many of them are built on a truck chassis. Sure, they cost more than the typical car, but they also bring added value in terms of features, carrying capacity, and the sense of joy, safety, and security that comes from driving something a little bigger than the average car. It’s kind of nice not being the smallest thing on the road.
Car manufacturers were quick to take notice of the consumer’s love of the SUV. Yet, there are still the holdouts that prefer cars for their better ride, not to mention that the typical car is less expensive than the typical SUV. However, driving a car that is lower to the ground while being surrounded by pickup trucks and SUVs that are much larger can be a little intimidating. Plus a large portion of drivers will admit they like sitting higher up like one does when driving an SUV. So how can the car manufacturers take advantage of this? Ta-DA: the crossover SUV was born. Highlanders, CR-V’s, RAV4’s, Encores. From Ford, GM, and Dodge to Toyota, Lexus, BMW and Mercedes. Every major brand has made an entry into the market.
Crossover SUVs are usually built on a car frame instead of a truck frame. Combined with the right suspension, being built on a car frame and chassis can offer you a small SUV that stills drives and rides great, just like a car. So you get the ride quality of a car with the higher sitting position of an SUV. Plus you get the increased interior space. And because crossover SUVs are smaller they will usually cost less and are less expensive to operate than a typical pickup truck or full size SUV. It’s almost a win-win. Sure the crossover SUV will probably get less fuel economy than a car (sports cars and large luxury sedans may be the exception here) but drivers are happy to pay the difference to get the benefits that an SUV has to offer, not to mention the better comfort and security that comes from feeling like you are no longer the smallest thing on the road!
Certainly SUVs and Crossover SUVs are here to stay. No longer are they a minority. While it is true that the car will never go away, nor will the pickup truck, today the car / truck / SUV ratio is a lot more even than it used to be. In fact, the SUV and Crossover sales are still climbing, and we think they are here to stay! As a matter of fact, on our lot right now at Max Auto Sales we currently have more SUV’s and Crossovers for sale than any other type of vehicle, and we think it’s going to stay that way for a long time.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them! I’ve written this article solely based on observations and the everyday business experiences of myself and others in the car industry. Though no specific references are given because I have not pulled any specific data or facts from them, I have of course used the knowledge and experience I’ve gained from reading industry articles, news sources, and conversations to form my opinions. Let me know what you think! Call Max Auto Sales at 337-989-0078 and ask for Brian Leleux. April 2018