Dave Deslauriers /

The Rise of the SUVs

Sedans’ reign as king of the vehicles may soon be coming to an end, as trucks and SUVs are becoming the vehicles of choice for many Americans. Car sales declined 11% in 2017 and manufacturers are already starting to adjust to the shifting market. Ford and General Motors have recently announced the discontinuation of several sedan models in the coming years and we expect more to come. But what is causing this shift? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons behind the Great American SUV Boom.

Fuel Prices and Fuel Economy

One of the first places to look when discussing the meteoric rise in SUV popularity is the fuel pump. Over the years, one of the main drawbacks of SUV ownership was the added cost incurred at the gas station. SUVs were traditionally bigger, heavier, and far less fuel efficient than sedans. In fact, it wasn’t unheard of for sedans to average 10-15 miles per gallon more than their SUV counterparts. Couple that with a period of sky high fuel prices and many households simply couldn’t justify the added expense. However, today’s world is much different. As you can see in the above chart, the national average fuel price has been under $3.00/gallon for nearly 5 consecutive years. As compared to the period of 2010 – 2013, when fuel was nearly $4.00/gallon, today’s fuel prices are much more affordable.

Additionally, SUVs of today are much more fuel efficient than their counterparts from even a few years ago. Where as in the past, you would be lucky to find an SUV that could surpass even 20 miles per gallon, many of today’s models are approaching nearly 30 miles per gallon combined city and highway. While sedans as a whole still have an edge on SUVs when it comes to overall fuel economy, that gap has shrunk significantly. The result is more households willing to make the switch.

The Advent of Compact SUVs

If you have a large family or have ever had to transport bulky objects, you know firsthand that the versatility and cargo room of sedans can sometimes be lacking. However, often times the annoyance wasn’t justification enough to switch over to a full-sized SUV. In years past, that would mean an upgrade to a station wagon. Today, it means a switch to a small to mid-sized SUV. These crossover vehicles were specifically designed to give you the best of both worlds. They offer consumers more versatility and cargo room than a typical sedan, yet are more fuel efficient, cheaper, and less hulking than a full-sized model.

The commercial above is designed to illustrate that benefit. It depicts a couple racing to evacuate their home as a meteor races toward Earth. As they fold down the rear seats and load up their Volkswagen Tiguan with the essentials, they notice that they still have more room. They continue to add belongings, trying to fill the vehicle, but keep realizing that they have more room. This goes on until they are finally forced to leave the area.

While the situation is far-fetched, the results speak for themselves as trucks and compact SUVs dominate the top spots on Kelly Blue Book’s 25 Best-Selling Cars of 2017 list.

Perceived Safety Benefits

For most people, safety is of the utmost importance when choosing a vehicle. They want to make sure that if something happens, they and their loved ones will be as protected as possible. While the jury is still out on whether or not SUVs are scientifically safer than sedans, the general public perception that bigger equals safer has led many to make the switch. The thought process is that if there is a collision between two vehicles, the larger, higher, heavier vehicle will come out ahead of the smaller, lighter, lower vehicle.

Additionally, since SUVs are taller than sedans, the occupants sit higher up. Many people feel that this added height gives them a better view of the road ahead, including any potential hazards that need to be avoided.

SUVs also require less bending over upon entry and exit, thus being more ergonomically friendly than smaller, lower vehicles. This is extremely important as the largest generation, the baby-boomers, advance in age.

The automobile industry is ever changing, however one thing is for sure, SUVs are here to stay. For more information on introducing SUVs into your fleet, give us a call at (800) 243-0182 or email us at info@motorlease.com.


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