Many Americans steer clear of SUVs, survey suggests

Both in print and in practice, sport-utility vehicles seem to be all the rage. Several automakers have reported record SUV sales, and last year, they were among the most researched style of vehicle, according to a recent survey done by car information website Edmunds.com.

It appears, however, that SUVs may serve a niche market, as a newly released poll indicates a majority of Americans steer clear of SUVs for several reasons, among them reliability and cost considerations.

“75 percent of buyers didn’t consider an SUV last year.”

Approximately 75 percent of car buyers in 2016 avoided purchasing an SUV, according to a new study from J.D. Power and Associates.

Lack of affordability major deterrent

Why did many buyers not have SUVs on their radar? Their lack of interest largely derived from what they sell for, typically costing more than prototypical passenger vehicle, the report revealed. Interestingly, respondents in the survey also shied away from them because they weren’t large enough for their growing families or their extracurricular activities where extra cargo room is needed.

Dave Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of global automotive, said recent economic trends have some buyers jumping aboard the SUV train, but not for everyone.

“Low fuel prices, favorable lease deals and the availability of low-interest loans are attracting buyers to SUVs, which historically are more expensive than most car models,” he explained. “However, since consumers, on average, pay a 9 percent premium for an SUV compared with a comparably equipped sedan, many consumers still are not considering an SUV.”

Full-size SUVs cost upwards of $50,000

Indeed, the average transaction price for a new full-size SUV in December was $60,700, according to vehicle valuation firm Kelley Blue Book, up 1 percent from the same period last year and over $25,000 more than a full-size car.

“Not a single small SUV scored ‘good’ in a IIHS headlight quality test.”

Poor reliability may be another impediment for SUV-wary shoppers. In July, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a withering report, which found that zero of 21 small SUVs it tested earned a good rating for headlight quality. Additionally, only four yielded a score of “acceptable.”

“Manufacturers aren’t paying enough attention to the actual on-road performance of this basic equipment,” warned Matthew Brumbelow, IIHS senior research engineer.

Of the nearly two dozen small SUVs tested, the 2016 Honda CR-V earned an acceptable score from IIHS. This was also one of the most researched models last year, according to Edmunds’ analysis. Several of the others on the list had headlights deemed “marginal” or “poor” by IIHS, among them the Mazda CX-5 (marginal) and the Subaru Forester (poor).

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