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SUVs and Crossovers - US - April 2011

This report explores the SUV and crossover market in the U.S. It provides insight into the external and internal factors affecting SUV/crossover sales, consumption and developing trends, and what they mean for future sales, promotional campaigns and industry innovations. Specific questions that are answered in this report include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How has the economic recovery affected SUV/crossover sales?
  • What was the primary driver of SUV/crossover sales?
  • What is the consumer outlook regarding their own future purchases of SUVs/crossovers?
  • What effects do rising gasoline costs have on the SUV/crossover market?
  • What sales and development trends have emerged among major brands?
  • What do consumers value most when owning or thinking about purchasing an SUV: safety, comfort or utility? How does desire for these qualities differ among separate gender, age and household income groups?
  • What new technologies are being introduced into SUVs and crossovers?
  • How has the rise of social networking affected marketing, sales and vehicles launches in the SUV/crossover industry?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Advertising creative
                • Abbreviations and terms
                  • Abbreviations
                    • Terms
                    • Executive Summary

                      • U.S. sales increase to 3.5 million units, ending decline
                        • Rebound driven by rise of smaller, more-fuel-efficient crossover vehicles
                          • SUV sales fall 70% from 2005-10
                            • Three out of four respondents not sure about buying
                              • As gas tops $4/gallon, SUV makers better prepared, yet challenges exist
                                • Tragic earthquake in Japan disrupts production of SUVs and crossovers
                                  • Domestic crossover sales increase 29.4%, outpacing import sales
                                    • Domestic SUV sales down 3.4%, though still dominate SUV market share
                                      • Among major brands, crossovers sell, SUVs get smaller
                                        • Manufacturers reposition minivans as cool
                                          • Safety most important concern for respondents
                                            • Ford Explorer’s Curve Control demonstrates how to emphasize safety
                                              • Comfort, utility emphasized by more-affluent households
                                                • Middle-aged respondents seek utility
                                                  • Social media used to launch SUVs
                                                    • Young respondents prefer third-party reviews over company research
                                                    • Insights and Opportunities

                                                      • Thinking smaller, SUV makers must not forget safety
                                                        • Newest technologies can help SUVs compete in $4/gallon environment
                                                        • Inspire Insights

                                                            • Inspire Trend: Alpha Moms
                                                            • Market Size and Trends

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • U.S. sales pass 3.5 million units in 2010, ending decline
                                                                    • Figure 1: U.S. unit sales of SUVs and crossovers, 2005-11
                                                                  • U.S. sales of all light trucks pass 5.6 million units
                                                                    • Figure 2: Total U.S. new light truck unit total sales, 2005-10
                                                                • Market Drivers

                                                                  • SUV sales ride wave of overall recovery in auto market
                                                                      • Figure 3: Total U.S. vehicle volume sales, units, 2005-10
                                                                    • Post-recession, crossover rises as king
                                                                      • SUV makers may be better prepared this time as gas returns to nearly $4/gallon
                                                                        • Despite automaker preparedness, challenges still exist
                                                                          • Consumers are holding onto SUVs longer, creating future demand
                                                                            • Figure 4: Median age of light trucks in operation in the U.S., 1993-2008
                                                                          • Tragic earthquake in Japan disrupts production of SUVs and crossovers
                                                                          • Segment Overview—SUVs

                                                                            • Key points
                                                                              • SUV sales flat in 2011 as crossovers drive demand
                                                                                • Figure 5: U.S. unit sales of SUVs, by segment, 2010 and 2011
                                                                              • SUV sales fall 70% from 2005-10
                                                                                • Figure 6: U.S. unit sales of SUVs, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                              • Line between traditional SUVs and crossovers begins to blur
                                                                              • Segment Overview—Crossovers

                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                  • Crossover vehicles lead 2010 sales recovery
                                                                                      • Figure 7: U.S. unit sales of crossovers, by segment, 2010 and 2011
                                                                                      • Figure 8: U.S. unit sales of crossovers, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                  • SUV Segment Sales—Domestics vs. Imports

                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                      • Domestic SUV sales decline, though still dominate market share
                                                                                        • Figure 9: U.S. unit sales of SUVs, by domestic/import, 2010 and 2011
                                                                                      • Since 2005, both imports and domestics fall more than 60%
                                                                                        • Figure 10: U.S. unit sales of SUVs, segmented by domestic/import, 2005-11
                                                                                    • Crossover Segment Sales—Domestics vs. Imports

                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                        • Domestic crossovers increase market share due to perception, new models
                                                                                            • Figure 11: U.S. unit sales of crossovers, by domestic/import, 2010 and 2011
                                                                                          • Domestic crossover sales have grown 38.6% since 2005
                                                                                            • Figure 12: U.S. unit sales of crossovers, segmented by domestic/import, 2005-11
                                                                                        • Segment Sales and Brand Performance—Domestics

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • General Motors Company
                                                                                                • Figure 13: General Motors Company total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                              • Ford Motor Co.
                                                                                                  • Figure 14: Ford Motor Company total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                • Chrysler Group
                                                                                                    • Figure 15: Chrysler Group total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                • Segment Sales and Brand Performance—Imports

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Toyota
                                                                                                        • Figure 16: Toyota Motor Corporation total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                      • American Honda
                                                                                                          • Figure 17: American Honda total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                        • Nissan North America
                                                                                                            • Figure 18: Nissan North America total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                          • Hyundai-Kia Automotive
                                                                                                            • Figure 19: Hyundai-Kia Automotive total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                          • Jaguar Land Rover North America
                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Jaguar Land Rover total U.S. SUV/crossover unit sales, 2005-11
                                                                                                          • Other imports
                                                                                                            • Volkswagen
                                                                                                              • Suzuki
                                                                                                                • Mitsubishi
                                                                                                                  • Mazda
                                                                                                                    • BMW Group
                                                                                                                    • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                                                      • Toyota partners with Tesla Motors to produce electric RAV4
                                                                                                                        • Ford, GM boost fuel-efficiency, public relations with recycled materials
                                                                                                                          • Ford Explorer’s Curve Control helps prove the car is smarter than the driver
                                                                                                                          • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                                                            • Brand focus
                                                                                                                              • Seeking broader male audience, automakers push the “man van”
                                                                                                                                • Toyota leads marketing push with viral “Swagger Wagon” spot
                                                                                                                                  • Chrysler Group promotes more-powerful Dodge Grand Caravan as “man van”
                                                                                                                                    • Honda Odyssey marketed with heavy metal band Judas Priest
                                                                                                                                      • Ford C-Max utilizes smaller, European design for its “people mover”
                                                                                                                                        •  
                                                                                                                                          • Strategic marketing initiatives
                                                                                                                                            • Launching an SUV over social networks
                                                                                                                                              • OnStar mobile app helps GM SUVs stand out
                                                                                                                                                • Tap emotional connection to family and safety
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Subaru—a mother and her boys, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Do-it-yourself video look evokes social media
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Jeep—ride through the dessert, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Using patriotism to calm consumer nerves post-recession
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 23: BMW—A German car built in America, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                              • SUV/Crossover—Current Household Ownership

                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                  • SUVs most likely to be owned despite recent rise in crossover
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: SUV/crossover ownership, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                  • Middle-aged respondents with children need SUVs for space and safety
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 25: SUV/crossover ownership by age, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                  • With more household income, more ability to afford SUVs/crossovers
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 26: SUV/crossover ownership by household income, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Plans to Purchase an SUV/Crossover

                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                    • Three out of four respondents not sure about buying
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Plans to purchase SUV/crossover, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                    • Attitudes Toward SUVs/Crossovers

                                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                                        • Security most important quality for SUV owners
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Attitudes toward SUVs/crossovers by gender, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Ashamed of their SUVs, young respondents represent SUV EV market
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 29: Attitudes toward SUVs/crossovers by age, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                            • Household income drives SUV size
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 30: Attitudes toward SUVs/crossovers by household income, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                          • Reasons to Buy SUVs/Crossovers

                                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                                              • Once again, safety touted as top motivator for SUV/crossover purchase
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 31: Reasons for buying SUVs/crossovers by gender, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                              • For middle-aged respondents, SUVs fill multiple needs
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 32: Reasons to buy SUV/crossover, by age, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                              • Comfort, utility emphasized by more-affluent households
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Reasons for buying SUVs/crossovers, by household income, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                              • Reasons for Planning to Purchase SUVs/Crossovers

                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                  • Potential SUV buyers weigh safety, comfort, and utility
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Reasons for planning to buy SUV /crossover, by gender, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                    • Utility becomes more important for respondents aged 35-44
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Reasons for planning to buy SUV /crossover, by age, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                    • Driving utility resonates with the less affluent
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Reasons for planning to buy SUV/crossover, by household income, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                  • Ways to Research SUVs/Crossovers

                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                      • Test drive is the most popular research method
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 37: Ways to research SUVs/crossovers, by gender, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                      • Young respondents prefer third-party reviews over company research
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Ways to research SUVs/crossovers, by age, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                        • Less-affluent respondents choose on feel over research
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 39: Ways to research SUVs/crossovers, by household income, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                      • Impact of Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                          • Hispanics surveyed more likely to own crossovers
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 40: SUV/crossover ownership, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Surprisingly, Hispanics driving off-road
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Attitudes toward SUVs/crossovers, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Black and Hispanic respondents emphasize ability to carry passengers
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Reasons to buy SUV/crossover, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Even more than most, black respondents stress safety
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 43: Reasons to purchase SUV/crossover, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Hispanic respondents more likely planning to buy
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Plans to purchase SUV/crossover, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                            • Hispanics surveyed rely on family, local dealerships
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Ways to research SUVs/crossovers, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                                                              • Triers
                                                                                                                                                                                • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Leavers
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Utilizers
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 46: SUV and crossover clusters, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 47: Attitudes toward SUVs/crossovers, by SUV and crossover clusters, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Ways to research SUVs/crossovers, by SUV and crossover clusters, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 49: Perception of SUVs/crossovers, by SUV and crossover clusters, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cluster demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 50: SUV and crossover clusters, by gender, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 51: SUV and crossover clusters, by age group, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 52: SUV and crossover clusters, by household income, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 53: SUV and crossover clusters, by race, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 54: SUV and crossover clusters, by Hispanic origin, January 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Alliance Of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • American Automobile Association (AAA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Audi of America Inc
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAE)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • BMW of North America, LLC
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Chrysler LLC
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • CNW Marketing Research, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ford Motor Company (USA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • General Motors Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hyundai Motor America
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jaguar Cars North America
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kia Motors America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Land Rover North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mazda Motor Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mercedes-Benz USA
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Batteries (NAATBatt)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Independent Automobile Dealership Association (NIADA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nissan North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • OnStar Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Subaru of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Suzuki Motor Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tire Industry Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Toyota Motor Corporation USA
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Volkswagen AG
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Volkswagen of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Yelp Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        SUVs and Crossovers - US - April 2011

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