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AutoTrader.com June trend report shows increasing consumer interest in trucks and SUVs

AutoTrader.com’s June Trend Engine report, which provides analysis of site traffic as it relates to consumer shopping behavior, shows that trucks and SUVs have gained consumer interest since May and that interest in compact cars is starting to subside.

Though gas prices are still far from where they were at the beginning of the year, consumers have begun to feel some relief at the pump, which is likely a contributing factor to the rising interest in larger vehicles and the declining interest in more fuel-efficient models, according to AutoTrader.com analysts.

Consumers shopping on the site started considering more fuel-efficient models when gas prices hit the $3.50 mark, and now that prices are heading back toward that threshold, they appear ready to get back to larger vehicles.

Consumer interest in big trucks is already on the upswing, especially in the new vehicle segment, with the Dodge Ram 1500, Ford F-250 and the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 all moving up on the list of most-searched vehicles in June. The largest of the full-size trucks showed the most significant gains, as the new Ford F-250 moved up five spots month-over-month to No. 13, and the new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 moved up six spots month-over-month to No. 18. Demand for both of these vehicles also showed in the increase in asking price, as the F-250’s price increased 8.2% and the Silverado 2500’s price increased 10.6% year-over-year.

Trucks also made a big comeback on the list of most-searched used vehicles, with the used Ford F-150 reclaiming the No. 1 spot, the used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 moving up one spot to No. 3, the used Ford F-250 moving up two spots to No. 6, the used Dodge Ram 2500 moving up one spot to No. 17, the used Toyota Tundra moving up two spots to No. 19. The biggest mover on the list of most-searched used vehicles in the truck segment, however, was the used Chevrolet Silverado 2500, which leapt four spots to land at No. 13. Average asking prices for the majority of used trucks dropped slightly (less than 5%) year-over-year. One notable exception was the Toyota Tacoma, which gained 8.6% in average asking price year-over-year.

On the certified pre-owned (CPO) front, the CPO Ford F-150 moved up two spots month-over-month to land at No. 10 with an increase in average asking price of 6.1%, and the CPO Toyota Tundra moved up one spot to No. 4 with an average asking price increase of 5.5%.

SUVs across the most-searched lists for new, used and CPO vehicles also garnered notable interest from consumers. On the new list, the new Jeep Wrangler moved up two spots to No. 4 and the new Ford Explorer moving up one spot to No. 11. Both of these vehicles also showed a year-over-year increase in asking price, with the new Ford Explorer showing the biggest increase of 10.6%. The list of most-searched used cars showed a similar story for SUVs, with the used Jeep Wrangler moving up two spots to No. 5, the used Chevrolet Tahoe moving up four spots to No. 10 and the used Jeep Grand Cherokee moving up one spot to No. 18. With the exception of the used Tahoe, the other two SUVs showed an increase in average asking price year-over-year.

There were six SUVs on the list of most-searched CPO vehicles. Of these, four held their position on the list month-over-month, one moved down one spot and the rest moved up. The CPO Jeep Wrangler showed the biggest month-over-month jump, moving up five spots to No. 20; the CPO Chevrolet Tahoe moved up two spots to No. 9. As the only luxury SUV on the list, the Acura MDX show a slight decrease in average asking price year-over-year, but the rest of the SUVs all posted increases in this arena. The Toyota Highlander had the biggest average asking price increase of 11%, with the Toyota 4 Runner coming in second for price increases, with a 9% year-over-year jump.

With the precipitous rise in gas prices earlier in the year, consumers held out as long as possible before turning their eyes toward the small car segments. However, the steady decline in gas prices through June gave used car shoppers just enough confidence to begin diverting their attention from these cars, AutoTrader.com said.

Compact cars, as well as small luxury cars, on the list of most-searched used cars all declined in their position on the list month-over-month; however, the year-over-year average asking prices for those vehicles rose. The used BMW 3-Series dropped one spot month-over-month, landing at No. 2; the used Honda Civic dropped three spots to No. 8; the used Audi A4 dropped three spots to No. 16; and the Volkswagen Jetta dropped four spots to No. 20. The luxury used smaller cars on the list showed year-over-year increases in their average asking prices, with the BMW 3-Series increasing 4.6% and the Audi A4 increasing 1.2%, the non-luxury compacts posted the biggest increases in average asking price: the Honda Civic's price rose 10.9% year-over-year, and the Volkswagen Jetta's price rose 10.3% year-over-year.

Interest in smaller CPO cars also showed slight declines; of the four smaller cars on the list, two remained steady month-over-month while two dropped in their position on the list. The CPO BMW 3-Series and the CPO Honda Civic did not move on the list, but the CPO Audi A4 dropped one spot month-over-month to land at No. 5, and the Volkswagen Jetta dropped three spots to land at No. 12. Similar to the trend seen on the list of most-searched used cars, average asking price increases for the more affordable smaller CPO cars outpaced those in the luxury segment. The asking price for the Honda Civic rose 10% and the asking price for the Volkswagen Jetta rose 7.9% year-over-year.

The increases in average asking prices for used and CPO cars are consistent with the industry-wide trend of these cars commanding higher prices in the face of limited availability of quality pre-owned vehicles.

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