• Jul 30, 2010
2011 Infiniti QX56 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Finally, after years and years of stagnation and painfully slow sales, small cars are starting to take a foothold in the United States. Or are they? While conventional wisdom makes us believe that Americans are ready to take the downsizing plunge in the face of – or at least the threat of – high fuel prices and environmental concerns (we're all still watching the Gulf Coast, right?), it seems that reality may once again set us straight.

Automotive sales watchdog Autodata has found that the gas-swilling large SUV segment is growing at a faster pace than the America's small car segment. Like statistics? Here we go: With a 19-percent jump over the first six months of 2010, large SUV sales have outpaced small cars (14 percent). Critically, they've also outpaced the overall market (17 percent).

Now, before we get our feathers riled up too much, realize that sales of large SUVs still lag way behind small cars – 974,000 to 121,000 through the first half of the year. Further, large crossovers like the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex, GMC Acadia and Lincoln MKT are included in those figures right alongside traditional behemoths like the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Infiniti QX56 and Toyota Sequoia.

We also expect that small car sales will continue to climb with new models coming to market, such as the upcoming Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and Hyundai's Accent and Elantra. That said, there's always going to be a demand for large and powerful SUVs that can haul people and stuff while towing a boat or camper in cool, air-conditioned comfort, and automakers will be only too happy to provide the thick-margined vehicles for their consumption. For better or for worse.



[Source: USA Today via Kicking Tires]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Keep in mind how far SUV sales dropped in the first six months. It likely went way below even a diminished natural demand. And that demand is starting to correct itself. That doesn't mean it will climb back to old levels, or so I hope. Also, it is much easier to have a certain % increase over a smaller number than one 7-8 times as large. To use an extreme example: If Beverly Hills Gilded Lilly Motor Mart sells three Veyrons this six month period compared to two in the last, it is a 50% sales growth. That would out-pace every segment in the industry but it is still just one more car.

      Outside of all that, I tend to wonder if the current economy has the target market for cars $20K and less feeling much less confident than those in the 40-50K range.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I complain when gas hits 5 bucks a gallon and I don't drive a 5,000 lb suv.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It does not bother me as long as all those buyers of thirsty SUVs do not complain about their lousy mpg when/if gas hits $5 again.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep!! and SUV sales will dip hard again because they will be 1/2 off to buy used... Enjoy the see-saw effect, automakers :P
      • 4 Years Ago
      There will be a market for these SUV's even if gas prices rise. However the poseur market will shrink.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This article is misleading. This has everything to do with more fuel efficient SUVs... like everything that Ford and Chevy are doing. Great, powerful, economical 4cyl engines (some with turbos) that mimic 6cyl power.
        • 4 Years Ago
        nick allain, it's all relative, yes large SUV have gotten more fuel efficient, but so have smaller cars and their improvement in fuel economy will not outpace the rise in gas prices. It's like saying a car is safer at 100mph than 110mph in a crash. Y
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah... which is a good thing and a bad thing. I'd still love to see these beasts go, despite their environmental factors. Can't see past them if they pull in front of me.. gotta wait for them to make turns.. can't see over them.. usually the driver is not paying attention, etc.

        Whatever happened to putting kids in a sedan or wagon? when did we get this idea that we need 2 tons of steel to drive our 2 year old to school?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Derivative: In calculus (a branch of mathematics) the derivative is a measure of how a function changes as its input changes. Loosely speaking, a derivative can be thought of as how much one quantity is changing in response to changes in some other quantity.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Good catch. I do think auto sales are a smooth cont function though, since someone buys a car/large SUV at least once a day
        • 4 Years Ago
        ^ for a smooth, continuous function.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It looks like déjà vu all over again.

      Can't wait till gas prices spike and news reporters faithfully go searching out these people so they can interview them as they're filling up their tanks and complaining about how the rising gas prices mean they can't afford to take the little old ladies to church anymore...

      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. "
      Albert Einstein
        • 4 Years Ago
        Patrick - Nope, only wishing misery on those who have the memory of a goldfish... You want to buy the 5,000lb $50k SUV? Go for it, just don't complain when gas hits $5+ per gallon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow Travisty you sound cool wishing misery upon your fellow countrymen. Congrats
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here we go again...

      People will never learn. How quickly they forget that large SUVs and extravagant houses is part of what got the economy in a recession and people losing out on their homes. Soon as the economy starts to look up people start consuming, consuming, consuming. Then when things start to look rocky again, people are like "OH man! I can't afford all this, I don't have any savings, how will I keep this gigantic SUV and home full of sh!t?!!"

      • 4 Years Ago
      lets face it, as a society we are quite stupid. The minute gas prices are down we rush for giant metal boxes on wheels, and then we complain when gas prices rise.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not surprising that, given the choice and in the absence of government interference, most people would rather drive a big car than a small car. The general motoring public doesn't care about things like body roll or how their car fares on the Nurburgring. They care about utility and comfort, things that larger cars typically do a better job of providing for cheap. For the average driver, there is no incentive to pick a small car over a bigger one when gas prices are relatively cheap as they are now. Move outside cities and into wide open spaces and there is even less of a reason since you won't be dealing with parking garages and narrow streets.
        • 4 Years Ago
        tristar, I mention this every time somebody brings up green energy subsidy. American are to lazy to get informed about energy conservation and to ignorant to do it. We do know who to collectively b*tch about high gas prices though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Completely agree with both comments in this particular thread.

        Most Americans are ignorant, forgetful, and downright stupid. I can't believe that people forgot the near $5.00 gas prices just a few years ago.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Report: Large SUV segment outpacing small car sales growth in America

      Duh!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agrees with Sea Urchin. People are effing stupid. Have fun driving your McLemming Utility vehicles and never offroading or using their potential, and paying $75 to fill them up.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Care to tell me why this is a "duh", Richard?

        If I understand the article correctly, subcompacts are counted separately. But look at the compact market. The Civic and Elantra are about to be replaced. The Focus and Cobalt are especially long in the tooth, especially compared to their mid-sized brethren. Lastly, "large SUVs" include hot sellers like the Traverse. There's really not much story here, but it sure makes for a good headline. No wonder it was in USA Today.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "If you watched the numbers each month this as obvious, the other obvious issue is low fuel prices and the fact most Americans lke larger vehicles."

        I do watch the numbers each month. And the article points out that compact cars outsell large SUVs by a ratio of 9 to 1. So...I'm still waiting for your explanation.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why Duh?

        If you watched the numbers each month this as obvious, the other obvious issue is low fuel prices and the fact most Americans lke larger vehicles
        • 4 Years Ago
        Good point, bomb omb...

        SUVs have just been refreshed.. and we are indeed in the middle of a compact car refresh cycle. Everyone's waiting on the new civic, focus, elantra, cruze, etc..
        • 4 Years Ago
        Measuring the increase of "growth" is meaningless. It's like for the past 20+ years how Soccer has been the fastest growing sport in America. Sure. Because if you are Football or Baseball, can you really grow any bigger without actually taking over states? "Growth" isn't measuring how bit you are, just how much the size changes within a given time period.

        It's how the stupid kid wins "most improved" because they went from a F- to a C+. He's still the dumb kid.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I take it fools never learn. In 2006 and 2007 when gas was super expensive so many people sold their SUVs way below normal prices because they could not afford to fill them up any longer. Now that gas is cheap they are again buying cars that are very thirsty.

        We are coming out of a recession, we have a 6 month moratorium on drilling, it will become more expensive to drill because of forthcoming regulations, Iran id going nuclear, China and India are building more and more cars.....................can you not read the writing on the wall?

        By this time next year same fools will be selling these SUVs again because they will be too costly to fill up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      *yawn*

      Most cars these days are simply physically larger than they need to be, nevermind the short bus SUVs that clog up the roads around here. It's all rather laughable.
      • 4 Years Ago
      this would be because a small car is not always practical in everyone's life! some people need more room than what a small car can give! CAN WE ALL SAY DUH!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I bought a second hand van for $6800. It beats the hell out of driving some hybrid for $40,000. LOL.

      Now, if I could have bought a second hand hybrid van for $6800, that would be different. But no such thing exists and won't for a very long time.

      Value is what counts.
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