Trucks and SUVs are gaining momentum with car shoppers. So says AutoTrader.com's August Trend Engine Report, which examined last month's site traffic and searches. According to the report, interest in large pickups and SUVs increased in August, while searches for small and midsize cars continued to decline.
Many large pickups fared well in August, with trucks manufactured by all three major US automakers gaining ground. Ford's heavy-duty F-350 posted the biggest jump moving seven spots to the number 20 most-searched new vehicle, while the Dodge Ram 1500, Ford F-250 and Chevrolet Silverado 2500 all moved up two spots compared to July. According to the report, SUVs also had a strong month, with the Chevrolet Tahoe moving up four spots to land at number 17 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee gaining five spots to reach 14th position.
But the story was far different for fuel-efficient small cars. Ford's new Focus, which peaked as the 10th most-searched new vehicle in May, dropped off the top 20 entirely in August - a decline mirrored by the Hyundai Sonata, which fell four spots to number 19 and the Chevrolet Cruze, which lost two spots to move to number 10. Volkswagen's new Jetta also lost ground, falling one spot to number 13.
The story was similar among pre-owned vehicles, where the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-250 and Dodge Ram 1500 each earned a spot among the top 10 most-searched used vehicles. Jeep's midsize Grand Cherokee SUV also climbed several spots among used vehicles, reaching number 13.
While it's hard to be sure why SUVs and pickups are gaining momentum among consumers, the major culprit is likely lower gas prices. While gas prices are nowhere near last September's $2.72 per gallon average, they're still far below summer highs that flirted with $4.00. As a result, consumers are feeling more comfortable purchasing larger, less economical vehicles instead of fuel-efficient smaller cars.
Topping the list of both the most-searched new and used cars was the bestselling Ford F-150 pickup. The updated Chevrolet Camaro finished second among new cars, while the BMW 3 Series took second place among the site's most-searched used cars.