Consumer interest between crossover utility & sport utility vehicles ~ Auto Guru India - Junction of News, Auto Reviews, Advice

May 23, 2008

Consumer interest between crossover utility & sport utility vehicles

COSTA MESA, Calif. - The gap in consumer interest between crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) continues to widen, according to a report released today by NADAguides. The company, a vehicle pricing and information website, says consumer interest in crossovers increased 14.8 percent in April 2008 compared to April 2007, while SUV interest was down at almost the same rate of 15.9 percent during that same timeframe.

The company defines "consumer interest" as the number of in-market vehicle shoppers at its website, who accessed pricing information for a specific vehicle. Crossover utility vehicles are defined as vehicles that have characteristics of both SUVs and cars.

Three out of the top ten CUVs showing the greatest increase in consumer interest last month compared to April of last year were hybrids, with interest in the Mercury Mariner Hybrid growing 165.3 percent and interest in the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid increasing 73.8 percent and 50.9 percent respectively.

"The fact that three of the top ten CUVs showing the greatest increase in interest were hybrids demonstrates that fuel efficiency is a serious concern," said Tara Baukus Mello, senior writer and lead market analyst at NADAguides. "Consumers are not only interested in the styling and handling characteristics of a CUV, they're also interested in saving money at the gas pump."

Following is a complete list of the CUVs showing the greatest increase in consumer interest at NADAguides in April 2008 compared to April 2007.

Hyundai Veracruz: 343.9% increase
Mercury Mariner Hybrid: 165.3% increase
Buick Enclave: 125.0% increase
Subaru Forester: 115.1% increase
Porsche Cayenne: 90.4% increase
Saturn VUE: 83.5% increase
Ford Escape Hybrid: 73.8% increase
Chevrolet HHR: 51.5% increase
Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 50.9% increase
Mazda MAZDA5: 44.6% increase

Coming off the heels of a 30.7 percent sales increase in 2007 compared to 2006, the mid-size CUV market remains strong and continues to grow, according to Baukus Mello. Two new CUVs -- the 2009 Dodge Journey and the 2009 Ford Flex -- get her nod for crossovers to watch in the coming months.

"The 2009 Dodge Journey starts at under $20,000 and is the automaker's first crossover to seat up to seven passengers with an optional third row. It has features such as a rearview camera and built-in booster seats," she said. "With a starting price of about $28,000, the 2009 Ford Flex, with its slab-sides and unique look, arrives this summer. Available features include all-wheel-drive, a multi-panel Vista Roof and refrigerated second-row console."

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