AutoTrader.com's August Trend Engine Report Shows New Trucks and SUVs Remain Popular, While Small and Mid-Sized Cars Experience Notable Price Increases

Sep 13, 2011, 09:45 ET from AutoTrader.com

ATLANTA, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- So far, 2011 has been a roller coaster year for the auto industry, with numerous events influencing consumers' auto shopping habits. From gas prices that have risen and fallen in the span of a few months to natural disasters that put the brakes on production for a few popular models, this year has shown how dramatically consumer shopping behavior can shift.

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Each month, AutoTrader.com's Trend Engine report highlights the most-searched vehicles on the site and offers insight into what factors may be influencing changes in popularity and average asking prices. Over the past year, the fluctuations in gas prices have dramatically affected the types of vehicles searched on AutoTrader.com:  as gas prices rose sharply during the first part of the year, consumers turned their interest toward more fuel-efficient cars; however, with the decline in gas prices over the summer, consumers have shifted their focus back toward large trucks and SUVs, particularly in the new car arena. Accordingly, searches for small and mid-sized cars that are traditionally more fuel-efficient have continued to slide.

New Car Searches Focused More on Trucks and SUVs in August

Data from the site in August showed a decline in interest for cars in the small and mid-size segments, particularly on the list of most-searched new cars. Gone from the list is the new Ford Focus, which peaked at No. 10 in May but then began a steady decline throughout the summer—moving to No. 12 in June and then to No. 18 in July before disappearing from the list in August. Following in the Focus' trajectory were the new Hyundai Sonata, which fell four spots to No. 19 in August; the new Volkswagen Jetta, which fell one spot to No. 13; and the new Chevrolet Cruze, which fell two spots to No. 10.

Conversely, interest in new trucks and SUVs became even stronger in August than in July, with four trucks garnering enough searches month-over-month to move them up the list. The new Dodge Ram 1500, new Ford F-250 and new Chevrolet Silverado 2500 all moved up two spots month-over-month, landing at No. 7, No. 9 and No. 12, respectively. The biggest movement was seen in the largest of the trucks on the list, with the new Ford F-350 leaping an impressive seven spots month-over-month to land at No. 20.  The other full-size trucks on the list held steady in their positions from July to August.

SUVs also fared quite well in August, with the new Chevrolet Tahoe moving up four spots to No. 17 and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee moving up five spots to No. 14.

A Closer Look at Toyota and Honda

Noticeably absent from the list of most-searched new cars are some perennial favorites that appeared on the list during the same time last year: the Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry. These cars, which spent much of 2010 on the list of most-searched new cars, have been absent from the list for most of the months since the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. As has been widely reported, Toyota and Honda have both experienced declining inventory levels and market share since the dual natural disasters disrupted production.

In the April through July timeframe, the trend of declining inventory for new Toyota and Honda vehicles has been evident on AutoTrader.com; however, there was a hint of stabilization for both automakers in August. Toyota inventory remained flat from July to August, and inventory of Honda vehicles increased slightly at 2%.

As inventory of these Japanese brands continues to stabilize and increase in the coming months, analysts at AutoTrader.com believe that the automakers may be set up to enter the fourth quarter in a more competitive position and better able to reclaim lost market share.

On the list of most-searched used cars, there is some good news for these models in August, as both the used Honda Accord and used Toyota Camry gained enough consumer interest in August to move up one position on that list. The Accord came in at No. 7, and the Camry broke back onto the list at No. 20. The used Honda Civic held its position from July at No. 9. On the list of most-searched certified pre-owned vehicles (CPO), searches for the Accord and Camry also remained strong, as the Accord held steady in the No. 2 spot and the Camry held on to the No. 6 spot month-over-month. While the Civic dropped five spots month-over-month to No. 12, it still retains a respectable spot on the list of most-searched CPO cars.

"Despite the production issues facing Toyota and Honda, the strength of these brands and popularity of those models remains evident in the searches conducted on AutoTrader.com," said Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at AutoTrader.com. "The Accord, Civic and Camry have long been among American's favorite cars, and we expect them to remain viable competitors in the small and mid-size segments."

Price Watch for New, Used and CPO Vehicles

Prices are still on the rise for the majority of the most-searched vehicles on AutoTrader.com, particularly in the CPO arena. Out of the top 20 most-searched CPO vehicles, 18 showed year-over-year asking price increases, with 14 of those posting increases in excess of $1,000. Overall, smaller, non-luxury vehicles had the highest percentage increases year-over-year. Of those, the CPO Honda Accord had the biggest dollar value increase, rising $1,967 (10.8%).  Close behind was the CPO Honda Civic with a $1,841 (11.5%) increase and the CPO Volkswagen Jetta with a $1,751 (10.8%) increase.

On the list of most-searched used vehicles, there were less average asking price increases overall (10 out of 20). However, the smaller, non-luxury cars showed similar increases to those seen on the CPO list. The used Honda Accord had the highest increase in dollar value: $1,793, which amounts to 11.4%. The used Honda Civic followed with an increase of $1,553 (11.5%), and the Nissan Altima had the third highest increase at $1,426 (9.5%).

For new cars, it was actually an SUV that had the highest asking price increase: the new Ford Explorer's price rose $4,044, or 11.22%. This increase is easily attributable to the highly successful redesign of that model.

New Vehicle Brands Show Rise of Korean Automakers

In looking at the most-searched new vehicle brands on AutoTrader.com, analysts noted a few intriguing moves that occurred in August. While Ford and Chevrolet retained the top two spots year-over-year, Toyota dropped one spot to No. 4. Jeep rose three spots to No. 6. Also rising on the list were two Korean brands: Hyundai rose three spots to No. 7, and Kia rose an impressive five spots to No. 9. These brands have been fierce competitors in recent times, and analysts at AutoTrader.com will be keeping a close watch on searches for these makes.

Top 10 Articles on AutoTrader.com in August

AutoTrader.com publishes insightful and informative articles about automobiles and car shopping, including how-to tips, car reviews, automotive trend stories and more. In August, consumers showed great interest in cars that have had a celebrity owner, as well as AutoTrader.com's popular used car reviews.

The Top 10 Articles in August were:

  1. For Sale on AutoTrader: A Detroit Lion's Lexus LS
  2. For Sale on AutoTrader: Papa John's Dodge Viper
  3. For Sale on AutoTrader: NY Mets Chrysler 300C
  4. For Sale on AutoTrader: Football Team Owner's Porsche Cayenne
  5. 2004-2011 Mazda RX-8: Used Car Review
  6. Why Eco-Conscious Women Should Love Ford
  7. 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 - First Drive
  8. For Sale on AutoTrader: Vanessa Williams' BMW 650i Convertible
  9. For Sale on AutoTrader: Funkmaster Flex Ford Mustang
  10. 2009-2011 Ford Escape Hybrid: Used Car Review

About AutoTrader.com

Atlanta-based AutoTrader.com, created in 1997, is the Internet's ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer information website. AutoTrader.com aggregates in a single location millions of new cars, used cars and certified pre-owned cars from thousands of auto dealers and private sellers and is a leading online resource for auto dealers, individuals and manufacturers to advertise and market their vehicles to in-market shoppers. The company also provides a robust suite of software tools for dealers and manufacturers to help them manage and market their vehicle inventory and display advertising on the Internet. AutoTrader.com continues to grow key business metrics, including revenue, profitability and site traffic. Today, AutoTrader.com attracts more than 15 million unique monthly visitors who utilize the site to review descriptions, photos and videos of vehicles for sale; research and compare vehicles; review pricing and specials; and read auto-related content like buying and selling tips and editorial coverage of major auto shows and automotive trends. AutoTrader.com operates two other auto marketing brands, AutoTraderClassics.com and AutoTraderLatino.com. AutoTrader.com also owns used vehicle management software company vAuto, Kelley Blue Book (Kbb.com), HomeNet Automotive, a leading provider of online inventory management and merchandising solutions for the automotive retail industry and VinSolutions, a leading provider of end-to-end solution platforms for dealers.  AutoTrader.com is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Providence Equity Partners is a 25 percent owner of the company and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is also an investor. For more information, please visit www.autotrader.com.

AUGUST MOST SEARCHED NEW VEHICLE BRANDS


MAKE

Rank 8/11

Rank 8/10

Ford

1

1

Chevrolet

2

2

Dodge

3

4

Toyota

4

3

Nissan

5

5

Jeep

6

9

Hyundai

7

10

GMC

8

8

Kia

9

14

Volkswagen

10

12




AUGUST MOST SEARCHED USED VEHICLE BRANDS


MAKE

Rank 8/11

Rank 8/10

Ford

1

1

Chevrolet

2

2

Toyota

3

3

Dodge

4

4

BMW

5

5

Nissan

6

6

Honda

7

7

Mercedes Benz

8

8

Jeep

9

9

GMC

10

10




AUGUST TOP 20 MOST-SEARCHED NEW VEHICLES


MAKE

MODEL

VDP

Rank

8/11

VDP

Rank

7/11

VDP

Rank

8/10

Avg.

Price

8/11

Avg.

 Price

8/10

Price

%

Change

Ford

F-150

1

1

2

$38,051

$37,105

2.55%

Chevrolet

Camaro

2

3

3

$36,538

$33,771

8.19%

Ford

Mustang

3

2

1

$37,044

$33,614

10.20%

Jeep

Wrangler

4

4

10

$31,280

$29,706

5.30%

Chevrolet

Silverado 1500

5

5

5

$33,392

$33,740

-1.03%

Chevrolet

Corvette

6

6

6

$65,710

$69,011

-4.78%

Dodge

Ram 1500

7

9

9

$34,716

$34,990

-0.78%

Dodge

Challenger

8

7

15

$32,893

$33,733

-2.49%

Ford

F-250

9

11

7

$48,317

$45,950

5.15%

Chevrolet

Cruze

10

8

N/A

$20,710

N/A

N/A

Ford

Explorer

11

10

82

$40,094

$36,050

11.22%

Chevrolet

Silverado 2500

12

14

13

$43,463

$41,857

3.84%

Volkswagen

Jetta

13

12

22

$23,110

$24,103

-4.12%

Jeep

Grand Cherokee

14

19

8

$39,476

$37,445

5.42%

Chevrolet

Equinox

15

13

16

$27,949

$27,258

2.54%

Dodge

Ram 2500

16

16

18

$47,382

$47,121

0.55%

Chevrolet

Tahoe

17

21

17

$48,521

$49,557

-2.09%

Dodge

Charger

18

17

70

$31,902

$30,143

5.84%

Hyundai

Sonata

19

15

29

$25,287

$23,249

8.77%

Ford

F-350

20

27

19

$50,704

$49,705

2.01%




AUGUST TOP 20 MOST-SEARCHED USED VEHICLES


MAKE

MODEL

VDP

Rank

8/11

VDP

Rank

7/11

VDP

Rank

8/10

Avg.  

Price

8/11

Avg.

Price

8/10

Price

%

Change

Ford

F-150

1

1

1

$19,853

$20,397

-2.67%

BMW

3-Series

2

2

2

$26,636

$25,626

3.94%

Chevrolet

Silverado 1500

3

3

3

$19,670

$19,883

-1.07%

Ford

Mustang

4

4

4

$19,301

$18,264

5.68%

Ford

F-250

5

6

5

$23,664

$24,870

-4.85%

Jeep

Wrangler

6

5

8

$20,913

$21,060

-0.70%

Honda

Accord

7

8

6

$17,571

$15,778

11.36%

Dodge

Ram 1500

8

7

7

$17,709

$18,337

-3.42%

Honda

Civic

9

9

9

$15,120

$13,567

11.45%

Chevrolet

Silverado 2500

10

11

12

$22,450

$23,302

-3.66%

Chevrolet

Tahoe

11

10

10

$22,885

$25,240

-9.33%

Infiniti

G35/37

12

13

11

$23,547

$23,121

1.84%

Jeep

Grand Cherokee

13

17

16

$16,781

$16,393

2.37%

Toyota

Tacoma

14

12

14

$20,718

$19,321

7.23%

Dodge

Ram 2500

15

15

13

$24,801

$24,957

-0.63%

Nissan

Altima

16

14

15

$16,404

$14,978

9.52%

BMW

5-Series

17

16

17

$30,184

$30,647

-1.51%

Audi

A4

18

18

18

$21,525

$20,985

2.57%

Toyota

Tundra

19

19

19

$22,598

$22,626

-0.12%

Toyota

Camry

20

21

21

$16,714

$15,303

9.22%




AUGUST TOP 20 MOST-SEARCHED CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED VEHICLES


MAKE

MODEL

VDP

Rank

8/11

VDP

Rank

7/11

VDP

Rank

8/10

Avg.  

Price

8/11

Avg.

Price

8/10

Price

%

Change

BMW

3-Series

1

1

1

$31,795

$30,504

4.23%

Honda

Accord

2

2

2

$20,135

$18,167

10.83%

Chevrolet

Silverado 1500

3

3

3

$24,947

$24,332

2.53%

Toyota

Tundra

4

5

4

$26,968

$25,937

3.97%

Audi

A4

5

4

8

$27,498

$26,631

3.25%

Toyota

Camry

6

6

6

$18,623

$17,390

7.09%

Toyota

Tacoma

7

8

10

$24,086

$22,580

6.67%

Chevrolet

Tahoe

8

9

7

$33,631

$34,029

-1.17%

Ford

F-150

9

10

5

$27,104

$25,368

6.84%

Volkswagen

Jetta

10

11

14

$18,010

$16,259

10.77%

BMW

5-Series

11

12

11

$36,454

$37,462

-2.69%

Honda

Civic

12

7

9

$17,893

$16,051

11.47%

Toyota

Highlander

13

16

15

$27,264

$25,089

8.67%

Acura

TL

14

14

12

$27,642

$26,424

4.61%

Acura

MDX

15

17

18

$32,821

$32,800

0.07%

Honda

Pilot

16

13

16

$26,968

$25,138

7.28%

Toyota

4-Runner

17

19

17

$27,067

$25,139

7.67%

Ford

Mustang

18

15

13

$23,611

$21,719

8.71%

Nissan

Altima

19

21

21

$18,705

$17,648

5.99%

GMC

Sierra 1500

20

23

20

$26,018

$25,459

2.20%




SOURCE AutoTrader.com



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