Americans Can't Get Enough of Large Cars, Trucks and SUVs

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ATLANTA, Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Small cars and fuel efficiency were all the rage at the first major auto show of the season in Los Angeles in November, but shoppers are still attracted to larger vehicles, according to the AutoTrader.com November Trend Engine report, covering searches and site activity on AutoTrader.com for November 2010.  The November report also includes the top-searched new, used and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles for the year.

“While there is a greater focus in the industry on producing fuel-sipping cars, Americans traditionally lean toward vehicles that provide more room and more power when gas prices are low-to-moderate like they are now,” said AutoTrader.com CEO Chip Perry.  “The dominance of shopper interest in larger cars, big trucks and SUVs has continued for much of the second half of 2010.”

Mixed Bag as Cars, SUVs and Trucks Jockey for Position on New, Used & CPO Lists in November

While stylish cars and family sedans had the most spots on AutoTrader.com’s list of the top 20 most-searched new vehicles in November, big trucks and SUVs continue mounting a comeback.  For the first time since July, there are more trucks than cars in the top five new-vehicle spots.  The new Ford F-150 reclaimed the No. 1 spot in November, beating out October’s No. 1 new vehicle, the Toyota Camry, which fell to No. 3.  The new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 came in at No. 4 and was joined by the new Dodge Ram 1500 at No. 5.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee, though it was the only SUV to show a decrease in average asking price, leapt an impressive seven spots from the previous month, and a whopping 79 from the same time a year ago.  In fact, all SUVs on the list moved up in popularity—both month-over-month and year-over-year.

Larger sedans secured the largest percentage of spots on the new-car list, with the Ford Fusion making the only big leap for new sedans on the list in November, moving up seven spaces month-over-month, landing at No. 12 on the Top 20 new-car list.  

Conversely, trucks and SUVs make up the majority of vehicles listed on both the top 20 most-searched used and top 20 most-searched CPO vehicles lists.  The Ford F-150 topped the list of most searched used cars on AutoTrader.com in November and the BMW 3-Series topped the list of the most-searched CPO cars in November.

“As 2010 comes to an end with shoppers showing a still-strong focus on larger vehicles, we’ll be keeping a close eye on activity around the small car and green car segments to see if they heat up in 2011,” said Perry.  “New technologies such as turbocharged engines that provide more power while maintaining efficiency as well as small hybrid and electric cars have garnered significant media attention this year, and it will be interesting to see if those innovations are enough to attract today’s car shoppers.  My guess is they will if the continued economic recovery causes gas prices to rise significantly during 2011.”

Ford secured the No. 1 most-searched overall brand spots for both new cars and used cars on AutoTrader.com in November or this year, positions the brand held in November of 2009 as well.

New, Used and CPO Average Asking Prices Continue to Climb

As would be expected in a month of double-digit sales growth for most of the auto manufacturers, the price story for November is strong for the most-searched new vehicles on AutoTrader.com.  Average asking prices are up on 13 of the top 20 new cars.  The biggest new-car average asking price jumps in November were on the Hyundai Sonata, up almost 8% compared to November 2009, and the new Ford Mustang, up almost 5% compared to this time last year.

Average asking prices also continued to increase on used and CPO cars listed for sale on AutoTrader.com in November, reflecting the continued imbalance of supply and demand in the used car space.  Inventories of used cars have been low most of this year, while as a result of the economy demand for them has been up.  At the same time, sluggishness in the new car market has also constrained the supply of used cars as fewer people having been trading in their cars to purchase new.

The average asking prices increased for 16 of the top 20 used cars listed for sale on AutoTrader.com in November.  The biggest increases were on the Chevy Silverado 1500, up just over 5% from November of 2009, and the Ford F-150, up 4.26% compared to November of last year.

CPO average asking prices were also strong, with asking prices increasing on 15 of the top 20 CPO vehicles listed for sale on AutoTrader.com in November.  The CPO BMW 5-Series saw the biggest average price jump year-over-year at 9.25%.  The CPO Chevrolet Tahoe also saw a big jump in average asking price, up 7.14% compared to November of 2009.

“November was a strong month across the board for the industry,” said Perry at AutoTrader.com.  “New car sales were up significantly year-over-year, and CPO sales also saw a record month for 2010, which are great signs for the economic recovery,” Perry said.  “With increasing confidence, consumers are getting more and more comfortable moving forward on purchasing their next car, so we expect prices to remain strong.  As more cars are purchased, the available inventory of quality pre-owned cars will increase, likely putting a cap on the asking prices for pre-owned vehicles.”

Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Honda Place Strong in Year-End New, Used and CPO Rankings

Ford models captured four of the top 20 most-search new-car spots in AutoTrader.com’s year-end rankings.  The new Ford Mustang came in as the No.1 most-searched new car on AutoTrader.com for the whole of 2010, followed by the new Ford F-150.  Chevrolet and Honda models both captured three spots on AutoTrader.com’s top 20 most-searched new car list.

Ford was also a winner in the used-car space, with the used F-150 topping the list of the most-searched used vehicles on AutoTrader.com in 2010, followed by the BMW 3-Series at No. 2 for the year.  Chevrolet was also a big brand winner on the used car list, with Chevrolet models capturing three of the top 20 most-searched used car spots.

The BMW 3-Series topped the list of the most-searched CPO vehicles on AutoTrader.com in 2010.  Toyota was the big CPO brand winner, with CPO models from Toyota capturing five of the top 20 spots for the year.  CPO models from Honda and Chevrolet also garnered lots of interest from car shoppers this year, the three models from each manufacturer landing on the list of the top 20 most-searched CPO vehicles on AutoTrader.com.

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