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Surging Popularity of Crossovers Reflected in CarGurus Lead Data

Posted by Ashley Karr on December 19, 2016

Perhaps you’ve heard that crossovers – Honda CR-Vs, Ford Escapes, Chevrolet Equinoxes, et al. – are now the nation’s most popular new-vehicle segment.

Turns out, their popularity extends to the used market, too.

November 2016 CarGurus lead data appears to show a surge in shopper interest in crossovers. Crossover lead volume rose 68% from year to year:

Body style Year-over-year change in share of lead traffic
Sedan -1.1%
Crossover +68.3%
Pickup +0.2%
SUV -28.2%
Coupe +2.9%
Convertible -6.6%
Hatchback +11.1%
Minivan -6.0%
Wagon -21.7%

This surge is real, but it comes with a caveat. We reordered our vehicle categories this year to reflect changes in how certain vehicles are built. For example, the Ford Explorer used to be a true SUV with a body-on-frame architecture. Now, it’s loosely based on the Ford Taurus platform, which makes it a crossover.

So the 68% figure takes into account these changes. A year ago, they were only the fourth-most-popular vehicle type on CarGurus – behind sedans, SUVs, and pickups. But now, there are more crossovers available than ever before. And in many cases – as with the Explorer – crossovers are replacing SUVs.

It’s not hard to understand why a shoppers are choosing the former. They ride comfortably and are easy to maneuver. They also get car-like fuel economy, with SUV-like cargo capacity.

All of these reasons to buy a crossover may also explain why hatchbacks are seeing a resurgence, up 11% year-over-year. For a long time, hatchbacks were enthusiast vehicles – think Honda CRX or Volkswagen GTI – but now, many ordinary compact cars are available in hatchback form. That’s helping to raise their share of auto sales.

Considering all of these factors in play – surging interest in crossovers, declining interest in SUVs, the surprising popularity of hatchbacks – maybe the real trend is towards practicality.

After all, people are keeping their vehicles longer than ever – 11.6 years, on average. If you’re driving one vehicle for that much time, you want it to be capable of handling all sorts of different tasks. That’s where crossovers really excel.

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Topics: car buyers, data, research