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AutoTrader.com: Drop in Gas Prices Fueling Popularity of Trucks, SUVs

September 13, 2011

ATLANTA — AutoTrader.com's Trend Engine report for August indicated that the decline in gas prices over the summer has driven consumers’ focus back toward large trucks and SUVs, particularly in the new-vehicle arena. The trend in fuel prices, however, has had an opposite effect on small and mid-sized cars.

Interest in new trucks was stronger in August than in July, with the new Dodge Ram 1500, new Ford F-250 and new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 all moving up two spots into the No. 7, No. 9 and No. 12 spots, respectively. The biggest movement was seen with the new Ford F-350, which jumped seven spots to land at No. 20.

SUVs also fared well in August, with the new Chevrolet Tahoe moving up four spots to No. 17. The new Jeep Grand Cherokee moved up five sports to No. 14 on AutoTrader’s list of most search vehicles.

The opposite happened to many of the top-searched small and mid-sized cars. The Hyundai Sonata, for instance, fell four to No. 19, while the new Volkswagen Jetta fell one spot to No. 13. The Chevrolet Cruze fell two spots to No. 10, while the new Ford Focus, which peached at No. 10 in May, didn’t make the cut in August.

AutoTrader noted also that perennial favorites such as the Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry have been absent from the list for most months following the March 11 earthquake in Japan. Toyota and Honda have both experienced declining inventory levels and market share since the dual natural disasters disrupted production.

"Despite the production issues facing Toyota and Honda, the strength of these brands and popularity of those models remains evident in the searches conducted on AutoTrader.com," said Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at AutoTrader.com. "The Accord, Civic and Camry have long been among American's favorite cars, and we expect them to remain viable competitors in the small and mid-size segments."

Looking at most-searched vehicle brand, Ford and Chevrolet retained the top two spots, while Toyota dropped one spot to No. 4. Jeep rose three spots to No. 6, Hyundai rose three spots to No. 7 and Kia rose five spots to No. 9.

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