In the market for a new car this summer? Has it been long enough since the last gas price spike that you're not really worried about possible pain at the pump? If so, then you're like a lot of U.S. car buyers right now, according to new figures from AutoTrader.com.

Autotrader analyzed recent sales data and found that large vehicles lead the way for the recent turnaround for the industry because "many new-car buyers continued shifting back to trucks and SUVs in the face of stabilizing gas prices." Based on recent car searches on its site, Autotrader believes that this trend will continue, since:
Twelve of the top 20 most-searched new vehicles on AutoTrader.com in July were trucks or SUVs, with muscle/sports cars and sedans making up the balance of the top 20 new-vehicle list.
AutoTrader.com president and CEO Chip Perry said in a statement that new car shoppers in the U.S. are just resigned to today's gas prices (currently at $2.78 U.S. per gallon), saying:
New-car buyers also want to make sure they make the right choice, but it appears many new-car shoppers and buyers have accepted gas prices in the high twos and low threes per gallon and are considering things like utility and style ahead of gas mileage.
Are shoppers right to do this, or will we hear a bunch of wailing and complaining again when prices top $3 and then $4 in the coming years? The full release is after the jump.

[Source: AutoTrader.com]


PRESS RELEASE

Recovery Likely to Continue In Larger Cars, SUVs and Trucks According to July Site Data From AutoTrader.com

ATLANTA, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Larger vehicles helped lead the recovery at many auto makers in the last quarter as many new-car buyers continued shifting back to trucks and SUVs in the face of stabilizing gas prices. That trend looks to continue as the in-market car shoppers on AutoTrader.com increasingly looked at trucks, SUVs and larger vehicles while shopping on the site. Twelve of the top 20 most-searched new vehicles on AutoTrader.com in July were trucks or SUVs, with muscle/sports cars and sedans making up the balance of the top 20 new-vehicle list.

The trend was less pronounced on AutoTrader.com's used and certified pre-owned (CPO) lists, with SUVs or trucks nabbing 11 out of 20 spots on AutoTrader.com's list of most-searched used vehicles and SUVs or trucks grabbing nine out of 20 spots on the site's list of most-searched CPO vehicles.

"With smaller and more fuel efficient cars still making our Top 20 used and CPO lists, you're seeing the impact value has on used-car shoppers," said AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry. "Even with gas prices moderating, the used-car shopper is still researching vehicles with a little more intensity, reviewing every angle to make the best purchase decision – price, cost of ownership, gas mileage and reliability. New-car buyers also want to make sure they make the right choice, but it appears many new-car shoppers and buyers have accepted gas prices in the high twos and low threes per gallon and are considering things like utility and style ahead of gas mileage."

Among new SUVs on the top 20 list in July, the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee caught many shoppers' interest, jumping from the No. 63rd most-searched new vehicle in June of 2010 to the No. 9 most-searched new vehicle in July of this year. The Grand Cherokee held the No. 50 most-searched new-vehicle spot in July of 2009.

The redesigned BMW 5-Series also continued to gain interest among new-car shoppers on AutoTrader.com. The luxury sedan held the No. 18 most-searched spot on AutoTrader.com's Top 20 new-car list in July of this year, compared to the No. 24 spot in June of this year and the No. 59 spot in July of 2009. The new Nissan 370Z also made a jump, landing at No. 20 among new cars searched on AutoTrader.com in July, compared to No. 38 in June of 2010 and No. 49 in July of 2009.

Prices Continue to Rise

Month-over-month increases in average asking prices continued to be big news across AutoTrader.com's Top 20 new, used and CPO lists. All but three of the Top 20 most-searched new vehicles on AutoTrader.com saw average asking price increases and all but two vehicles on both the most-searched used and CPO Top 20 lists saw increased average asking prices.

On the new car list, the biggest gainer was the BMW 5-series, which saw average asking price increase by 10.2%, from $55,510 in June to $61,190 in July. In second place in price gains was the new Chevrolet Corvette, which saw an average asking price increase of 9.5%, from $64,166 in June to $70,287 last month.

On the used-car list, the Ford F-250 was a big price winner, with average asking price up just over 10%, from $22,435 in June to $24,694 in July. The used Jeep Wrangler saw a nearly double-digit increase in average asking price, up 9.7% from $18,525 in June to $20,318 in July of this year.

Six of the Top 20 most-searched CPO vehicles on AutoTrader.com saw average asking price increases of between 10% and 16% in July compared to June of this year. They were the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Ford F-150, the Ford Mustang, the Honda Pilot, the Acura MDX and the Chevrolet Suburban.

"Increased average asking prices are a good indication of the confidence manufacturers and dealers are having in the recovery of the auto market," said Perry. "Even though economic recovery has been slow, more people are starting to shop and buy. Couple that trend with scarcity of some popular models in both new and used vehicles and the result is car sellers who are feeling more confident they can get the prices they're asking."

Ford Tops Brand Lists

Ford nabbed the No. 1 spots on AutoTrader.com's list of most-searched new and used brands in July of this year. Ford and Chevy frequently battle for the top spot on AutoTrader.com's top-searched brand lists, with Chevy holding the No. 1 most-searched new-car brand spot in July of 2009 and currently holding the No. 2 spots on both the new and used-car brand lists. Toyota held firm in July at No. 3 on both the most-searched new- and used-vehicle brand lists, positions it also held in July of last year.

"Ford has benefitted on AutoTrader.com from development and delivery of some great new models and execution of some very effective marketing," said Perry. "With a lot of new, quality product coming from other manufacturers, it will be interesting to see how auto makers, their associations and their dealers use traditional and online marketing in the coming months to influence shoppers to consider their vehicles and what those efforts do to our top vehicle and brand lists."

During July, AutoTrader.com's traffic continued its upward trajectory, hitting 15.7 million unique monthly visitors, up 2% from July 2009.

About AutoTrader.com

AutoTrader.com, created in 1997 and headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., is the Internet's leading 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. AutoTrader.com attracts more than 15 million unique monthly visitors who utilize the site to view vehicles for sale, research and compare vehicles, review pricing and specials, and read auto-related content like buying and selling tips, auto maintenance tips and coverage of major auto shows and automotive trends. Through innovative merchandising functionality such as multiple photos, videos, detailed descriptions and comprehensive research and compare tools, AutoTrader.com unites new and used car buyers and sellers online to improve the way people research, locate and advertise vehicles. AutoTrader.com is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the private equity firm Providence Equity Partners are also investors. For more information, please visit www.autotrader.com
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