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What makes SUVs and crossovers so easy to sell?

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If you are a motor vehicle dealer, you likely have noticed the enduring popularity of crossovers and SUVs among consumers.

As of June 2022, crossovers had the greatest market share in the light vehicle market in the U.S., accounting for 45.1% of sales. While pickups were second with 19.1% of the market, SUVs beat out passenger cars of all sizes at a 10.3% market share.

Since fuel prices have been stubbornly high for months, auto dealers might wonder why these larger, less-efficient vehicles are easy to sell. Here are some reasons why SUVs and crossover sales have only increased in popularity. Even when state regulations require SUV and crossover buyers and sellers to remain in good standing with their car dealer bond and license, sales continue to soar in the CUV and SUV market.

1. Drivetrain options

SUVs and crossovers typically offer more drivetrain options than sedans. Consumers can opt for front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, allowing them to better handle slick road conditions. SUVs might also offer four-wheel or rear-wheel drive for better performance.

2. Cargo space

When compared to sedans, the average crossover or SUV offers more cargo space. While crossovers are smaller than SUVs, they typically provide more room to haul things than passenger cars. In contrast, most full-size SUVs tend to have enough power to tow trailers and therefore transport more cargo.

3. Passenger room

Modern SUVs and crossovers typically offer more room for passengers, making them popular choices for families, especially when third-row seating is implemented. Since these vehicles also tend to have more vertical cabin space, they remain a crowd favorite for larger individuals.

4. Ease of entry and exit

SUVs and crossovers remain an easy sell due in part to the aging global population. Getting in and out of crossovers and SUVs is often easier for older adults because they don’t have to sit in a lower position like in most cars.

With a crossover, people can slide onto a seat instead of crouching down to get in. Additionally, the extra vertical room makes it less likely that they will strike their head on the door frame. And while some people might need to climb up to get into an SUV, it is easier for many people to do this when compared to climbing up out of a low-slung sedan.

5. Power and performance

Many SUVs have more powerful engines than their sedan counterparts, with 4×4 prowess providing additional off-road perks. However, most people use these machines to drive on-road, and never take advantage of their off-road capabilities. Which is a bit of a pity in our opinion.

On the upside, buyers still enjoy the performance powerful SUVs offer when overtaking other vehicles on the highway. Although crossovers do not offer as powerful of engines as their larger SUV siblings, the use of forced induction and hybrid electric power make them plenty peppy for their size.

6. Higher seating position

Many people prefer crossovers and SUVs because of the higher seating position and increased visibility. While people might feel safer in an SUV or crossover than when riding in a sedan, it’s important to note that full-size SUVs are likelier to tip over when rounding curves due to their higher center of gravity and weight. Which explains why certain newer models offer things like adaptive electronic stability control and four-wheel-steering to counter this issue.

Disadvantages of Crossovers and SUVs

While a plethora of factors has lead consumers to buy SUVs and crossovers more than any other vehicle in recent years, these machines also come with their own disadvantages.

Some of the disadvantages of SUVs and crossovers can include:

• Poor fuel economy

• Higher purchase cost

• Higher cost for repairs and parts

• More carbon emissions

• Difficulty parking

When consumers purchase heavier vehicles like SUVs and crossovers, fuel consumption will inevitably increase. SUVs might have significantly lower fuel economy ratings due to their larger, more powerful engines, but the push toward electric variants has begun to alleviate this worry.

However, electric vehicles (EVs) typically tend to have higher purchase prices, making them unobtainable by certain buyers. In fact, the cost of SUVs and crossovers is typically higher across the board than the average coupe or sedan.

And while crossovers might be less expensive than larger SUVs, they still tend to be more expensive than most sedans. This can be an issue for buyers since the average cost of a new vehicle as of July 2022 stood at a whopping $48,182. The sky-high prices of the components found on newer vehicles might place them out of the market for many buyers, especially given inflationary pressures.

To put things into perspective, the average transaction costs for the four most common types of vehicles in July 2022 were as follows:

• Compact cars – $26,285

• Compact crossovers- $35,323

• Electric vehicles – $66,645

• Full-size SUVs or crossovers – $73,934

With a current inflation rate of 8.2%, it is easy to understand how these prices force many potential buyers out of the market, as their dollars simply don’t stretch as far as they used to. Bulkier, heavier vehicles also do not have the same degree of maneuverability in traffic as sedans offer. When vehicles are heavier, they also place more strain on brakes and other parts, meaning that consumers might have to replace these components more frequently.

Finally, SUVs and crossovers often produce more carbon emissions than sedans because of their larger engines. And unless they are an EV or a hybrid of some sort, they also tend to suffer from reduced fuel economy ratings.

Despite these disadvantages, the majority of consumers still opt to purchase SUVs and crossovers. High prices might drive some buyers to purchase used SUVs or crossovers, while others might choose to lease instead of buy. While it might seem easier to sell crossovers and SUVs in the current market, auto dealers need to remember that increasing inflation and a potential recession could change everything overnight.

Keeping on top of market trends and understanding the needs of customers can help steer people to the types of vehicles that might work best for them, while also keeping within budget. Being honest about the pros and cons of different vehicle types always helps, as it drives sales, and builds a good business reputation.

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