ATLANTA - Two major trends were evident in AutoTrader.com's July Trend Engine report, which offers analysis of traffic to the site each month: shoppers continued to show interest in big trucks and SUVs despite relatively high gas prices, and the production shortages for new cars coupled with continued short supply of quality used cars have pushed asking prices higher across new, used, and Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles.
"The combination of consumers holding on to their cars longer, leasing drying up and the lack of new car sales in 2009 and 2010 has caused a dearth of late-model quality used cars being available for sale in 2011," said Rick Wainschel, AutoTrader.com's vice president of automotive insights. "This short supply has put tremendous pressure on the used and CPO market, pushing prices higher. Additionally, production shortages in the new car arena have had a similar effect."
New and Used Trucks and SUVs still Popular in July; Compacts take a Hit
While gas prices remained high in July, consumers continued to flock toward big trucks and SUVs. Shoppers briefly turned their attention away from these vehicles earlier in the year when gas prices were nearing $4.00 per gallon, but with the steady decreases in June and leveling off in July, shoppers kept their sights on the vehicles they love.
"Every time gas prices start increasing, there's a threshold at which consumers start focusing more on fuel efficiency than other considerations; however, that threshold becomes a moving target with each major increase, as shoppers' tolerance for what they pay at the pump eventually goes up," Wainschel continued.
Trucks and SUVs continued to make big gains on the list of most-searched new vehicles in July, with seven full-size trucks and five SUVs (including crossovers) dominating the list. Nearly all of the full-size trucks on the list made month-over-month gains in popularity, ranking higher in July than they did in June. The new Dodge Ram 2500 made the biggest month-over-month gain, moving up seven spots from No. 23 in June to No. 16 in July. The new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 also made a notable jump, moving up four spots from No. 18 in June to No. 14 in July. Both the new Ford F-150 and new F-250 moved up two spots, to No. 1 and No. 11, respectively. The new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 came in at No. 5, up one spot from June.
On the SUV front, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee continued to enjoy popularity with shoppers, moving up two spots and breaking into the top 20 at No. 19 in July. The new Ford Explorer moved up one spot in July, taking the No. 10 spot. However, the biggest jump came in the crossover segment, with the new Kia Sorento moving up seven spots month-over-month to land at No. 20 in July.
As in June, compacts took another hit in popularity in July, generating less consumer interest month-over-month. The new Volkswagen Jetta dropped two spots in July to No. 12; however, it is still up fourteen spots year-over-year. Similarly, the new Ford Focus dropped a notable six spots on the list, but it is also well above the No. 56 position it held in July 2010. The new Chevrolet Cruze at No. 8 was the only compact to stay put month-over-month.
Similar trends were seen on the list of most-searched used vehicles, as many full-size trucks moved up in popularity month-over-month while luxury and smaller cars declined. On the full-size truck front, the used Dodge Ram 1500, used Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and used Dodge Ram 2500 all moved up two spots month-over-month. With the exception of the used BMW 3-Series, all of the other most-searched used luxury cars took a hit in popularity, with the used Infiniti G35/37, used BMW 5-Series and used Audi A4 all declining two spots in their ranking month-over-month. The only other used vehicles to decline in their rankings month-over-month were the used Honda Accord and used Honda Civic, which both moved down one spot on the list.
On the list of most-searched CPO vehicles, the trends were a little less organized. Full-size trucks and SUVs remained relatively flat, with only a few standouts in the crossover category. The CPO Honda Pilot moved up three spots month-over-month to No. 13, while the CPO Toyota Highlander dropped two spots to No. 16. However, one minivan made the list in July, with the CPO Honda Odyssey moving up three spots to break into the top 20.
Asking Prices Still on the Rise for Majority of New, Used and CPO
Year-over-year average asking prices for the majority of the most-searched new vehicles on the site continued to increase in July, with 14 out of 19 going up (the new Chevrolet Cruze does not have year-over-year data at this time). Out of those 14, nine vehicles have asking prices that are at least $1,000 higher than they were during the same time last year.
In the full-size truck segment, the Ford F-250 showed a 6.3-percent increase in average asking price, which amounts to $2,896. Similarly, the asking price for the new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 increased 9.7 percent, or $3,880 year-over-year. SUVs also showed big increases, with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee's price rising 5.4 percent year-over-year, totaling $2,025; the redesigned Ford Explorer leapt 11.2 percent in average asking price, or $4,040. Of the small cars, the Ford Focus showed the biggest percentage jump in average asking price, going up 15.4 percent year-over-year, an increase of $2,918.
For the most-searched used vehicles, prices rose year-over-year for 12 out of the top 20 vehicles. The biggest price increases were for smaller cars, including compacts and mid-size sedans. All four of the vehicles fitting into these two categories saw average asking price increases of over 10%. In the compact car segment, the used Honda Civic's price rose 12% to $15,211, which was an increase of $1,631 year-over-year, and the used Volkswagen Jetta's price rose 11.4 percent, an increase of $1,540 year-over-year. For mid-size sedans, the used Honda Accord's price rose 12.2 percent, up $1,926 to $17,692 in July 2011, and the used Nissan Altima's price rose 10.3 percent, up $1,548 year-over-year to $16,556. The used BMW 3-Series was the only luxury small car to top the thousand-dollar increase mark, as its average asking price went up $1,108, which was a 4.3-percent increase year-over-year.
While many used trucks and SUVs gained in popularity, average asking prices for these vehicles decreased year-over-year. Most of these decreases were small; however, the used Ford F-250 and used Dodge Ram 1500 both saw decreases over 3.5%, with the F-250 dropping $892 and the Ram 1500 dropping $703 year-over-year. For used SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe took the biggest hit in asking price, declining 10.6%, a difference of $2,693.
The big story on the CPO front in July was definitely in average asking prices, which rose on 17 out of 20. Thirteen of those vehicles showed year-over-year price increases in excess of $1,000. These increases signal a high demand for quality, late-model used vehicles, which have been facing supply issues across the board.
Toyota and Honda, both automakers that have been facing challenges due to the Japan earthquake, had 10 vehicles that experienced a price increase over $1,000, with three models even topping the $2,000 mark. The CPO Toyota Highlander's price increased $2,412, the CPO Honda Accord's price increased $2,075 and the CPO Toyota's 4-Runner's price increased $2,012.