CENTREVILLE, Va. — Despite steadily declining sales for most larger vehicles, recent figures released by Carfax show increased interest in several sport-utility models. The automotive data provider believes that car buyers are looking for bargains among vehicles that many others, scared off by high fuel prices, would not consider.

"People are definitely looking at SUVs again," said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax. "They're safe, practical cars and smart shoppers are searching for great deals. The time is right for dealers to showcase their SUV inventory and make them stand out from the competition."

According to the study, a total of 10 SUV and crossover vehicles had at least nine times more consumer activity at Carfax.com than a year ago. The Kia Rondo, with a year-over-year increase of 3,600 percent, led the pack. Others models showing increases in activity included the Jeep Patriot (2,477 percent) and Buick Enclave (2,242 percent). The company's research indicated that customers showed more interest in SUVs with a clear history and a competitive sticker price.