Why do Americans buy so many SUVs?

Interesting | September 8th, 2015 by 12
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At the moment, the car-selling industry in the United States is booming. With near record-breaking projected numbers of around 17.5 million cars for 2015, industry sales …

At the moment, the car-selling industry in the United States is booming. With near record-breaking projected numbers of around 17.5 million cars for 2015, industry sales are up nearly 70 percent from 2009. It seems as if things are turning around for the better, which is always exciting. There is still an issue, however, and that is the kind of cars we’re buying as Americans.

It seems as if, despite the growing economical and environmental shift towards efficiency, automakers are still shoving SUVs down American throats. Right now, there are more SUVs on sale by more companies than ever before. With the economy getting better and fuel prices coming down, we’re buying more SUVs and Crossovers at record rates. Which might just bring us back into the dark ages of not so long ago.

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Back in the 1990’s, the glory days of vehicles like the Ford Explorer and Chevy Suburban, Americans were going through a bit of an SUV frenzy. Most SUV customers claimed they bought them because of the supposed safety benefits and the needed utility of them. However, the real reason is that most Americans just feel that bigger is better and that’s how to get your money’s worth. These are the same kinds of customers who continue to spend big money on Explorers and Suburbans despite the horrid fuel economy and staggering price tags. And it’s this that’s is killing off so many great small cars in the US. Americans feel like the bigger the vehicle, the more valuable it is. Which is more often false than true. And it isn’t just some American cultural phenomenon that creates these false truths that Americans believe about SUVs.

Without trying to sound like a loathsome conspiracy theorist, the fault lies within the automakers who stand to make far better profits on SUVs than small fuel efficient cars. It isn’t just conspiracy, though. It takes very little extra money to built an SUV over a small sedan, yet the price difference between the two is staggering. A Nissan Rogue, basically just a lifted Nissan Sentra in all but the body, barely costs more than $1,000 more to make than a Sentra, but costs $6,000 more to buy with equally minimal equipment. So obviously Nissan wants to sell more Rogues. This is why you see five Rogue commercials for every one Sentra commercial and why every automaker spends hundreds of millions of dollars more on SUV advertising every year than any other kind of car.

Automakers love to showcase the idea that SUVs are more practical, safer and provide far more utility when those “facts” are often far from true. We see it with BMW as well. The BMW X3 sells tenfold more than the 328d xDrive wagon. Is it more practical or utilitarian? No, the wagon has just as much cargo space, carries the same amount of people and has far better economy as well as performance. Can it handle off-road better? Barely, and that’s only because of the added ride height. But in terms of actual all-terrain capability, not really because both have pretty much the same all-wheel drive system. Is the X3 safer? Again, not really. The F30 3 Series is one of the IIHS’ top safety picks, so there’s no evidence that anyone would be much safer in an X3.

It doesn’t matter what condition our economy is in or how high fuel costs are. Automakers will shove SUVs down consumers throats until it isn’t possible anymore, because of the massive profits to be had. And can you really blame them? Profits are excellent because the less tech-savvy consumer isn’t actual doing the research and figure to what to buy on their own.

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Now, I’m not opposed to the SUV, BMW actually makes some great ones. If someone genuinely wants or needs an SUV because of the lifestyle they live, surfers needing the space to carry multiple boards or a family that truly needs seven seats because they have more than three children, then by all means buy an SUV. But most Americans are buying SUVs because they believe the commercials and advertisements and word-of-mouth “truths” that claim SUVs to be superior vehicles. These uneducated buyers unwilling to learn will yet again send the auto industry to the dark ages, as oil prices rise again and environmental concerns amass. But as soon as another shimmer of light appears at the end of that dark tunnel, and oil prices hit the downward curve of their fluctuation, we’ll go right back to buying gargantuan monsters to fulfill our appetite for what we think we want. We’ll probably never learn.

[Source: Automobilemag]

12 responses to “Why do Americans buy so many SUVs?”

  1. Chris Llana says:

    The 2 Series Active Tourer is 4″ shorter and 3″ lower than the new X1, is more aerodynamic than the X1, likely gets better fuel economy, has the same utility, likely handles better than the X1, and so is arguably “sportier” than the X1, and yet the U.S. will get the X1 and not the Active Tourer. Ah, but the X1 is more SUV-like. Ha! (but would have been nice to give the U.S. consumer a choice)

  2. Indrit Selimi says:

    Do the americans care about the environment?

  3. raleedy says:

    By writing this article without once mentioning driver seating position, height and view, you miss the point completely.

    • Chris Llana says:

      Hmm. I guess that would also explain why there are now so many big urban/suburban pickup trucks, more and more with four doors, plush interiors, and tiny beds.

    • Jon Wiz says:

      Perfectly said. For me, it’s all about height and seating position.

    • iam_hezz says:

      I do not agree absolutely. I don’t really feel comfortable sitting in SUVs cos I always got my legs hanging.

      When it comes to Sitting position, height and View, BMW are the best and am talking about BMW Sedans

      • Max says:

        Totally agree!
        I would always prefer a touring/wagon than a SUV because of the seating postion. I want to have a more relaxed position not like sitting on a bench even it is a BMW it is just normal in these typ of cars. The trunk space is almost the same as the counterpart X model and you have sedan like handling. I think here they just drive the SUVs because everyone does and you get a better overview if you have one as well. I mean they even drive pickup trucks without any reason (they dont carry around stuff all day). Maybe its also because they can better watch on their smartphone (I see that every day a lot!) and if they crash into someone else its just safer for them :D

  4. CDspeed says:

    I’ve owned 1 Porsche Cayenne, and had 3 X5s, not all at the same time of course. But I like the fact that I got a big roomy luxury vehicle, that was also rugged. I live in a hurricane prone area, so having a car that can take standing water higher then curb height was a plus. It also came in handy when roads become blocked, for example I drove down an on ramp embankment once, it went into a ditch that I then had to climb up from. It was my 08 X5 4.8, it did the job without even getting dirty. Then there was cargo versatility which is excellent because they are basically giant hatchbacks. I think people like them because they are extremely versatile, they can be plush luxury cars, or sports car like, they can be a limo to a fine restaurant or a people/stuff hauler, and unlike a sedan if road conditions deteriorate it can keep going without getting trashed. They work better in a greater variety of life situations then the usual sedan.

  5. Chulle says:

    Add Australia to the list. SUV sales are rising faster than any other segment. Down here it seems to be more about keeping up with the Joneses rather than safety or perceived practicality.

  6. Jack says:

    It’s the perceived value of SUV. The X models are cheaper than their respective touring models. I think if the touring models were priced below the X models, sales would be much better for the touring.

  7. Jørgen Mo says:

    We all know that americans don’t give a d*** about the environment. So the rest uf us need to care extra. Here in Norway, electrical cars are now 17,5% of new car sales.

  8. iam_hezz says:

    In Nigeria, Girls love and have more respect SUVs. I prefer low rides anyway…

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