Despite rising gas prices (or perhaps "because of" - we'll get to that in a moment), large passenger cars continue to grab an increasing chunk of the automotive market in the United States. So far in 2006, big four-doors are on a tear, making up some 9.6 percent of car sales - up substantially from 8.4 percent in 2005 and 6.3 percent in 2004. The Buick Lucerne and Dodge Charger are making the largest contribution to the growth of this market segment, and Chrysler's 300 continues its record of strong sales.
While it may seem a bit counter-intuitive that large sedans sales would rise in an era of ever-increasing fuel prices, we suspect that many of the new buyers are coming from mid-size SUVs, particularly body-on-frame models - a market segment that most certainly is not doing well. For those coming from the world of Explorers and TrailBlazers, the improvement in fuel economy and performance is likely quite significant, and yet few sacrifices have to be made by drivers making the move. Indeed, many drivers would view the move from a SUV to a large sedan as a significant upgrade, and let's not forget price - a comparably-equipped sedan is often far less expensive than the same trim level in an SUV.