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Home News USA High Gas Prices Kept Consumers Focused on Smaller Cars in May, According to the

High Gas Prices Kept Consumers Focused on Smaller Cars in May, According to the
added: 2011-06-13

Gas prices started a slow but steady decline at the end of May in many areas, but the still-high cost kept car shoppers focused more on fuel-efficient vehicles than their usual trucks and SUVs. According to's monthly Trend Engine report, which provides analysis of consumer shopping behavior on the site, many of the trends from April 2011 remained steady in May, from the still-strong interest in smaller cars and the continuing rise in average asking prices across the lists of most-searched new, used and Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles.

Additionally, average asking prices continued to rise on the site with some of the largest year-over-year increases so far this year. On the list of most-searched new vehicles, average asking prices increased for 13 out of the top 20; on the used vehicle list, average asking prices increased for 12 out of the top 20; and on the CPO list, average asking prices increased for 13 of the top 30. The new Kia Optima had the largest year-over-year increase of any car, at nearly 21%.

Interest in Fuel-Efficient Cars Remains Strong

Interest in fuel-efficient vehicles remained strong in May across the lists of the most-searched new and used vehicles on

On the list of the most-searched new vehicles on in May, nine of the top 10 remained the same. The new Ford Focus broke the top 10 last month, moving up two spots from April 2011. The new Hyundai Sonata made the biggest move month-over-month, moving up five spots from No. 19 in April to No. 14 in May. The No. 8 Chevrolet Cruze, No. 9 Volkswagen Jetta and No. 17 Kia Optima all held their ground month-over-month on the list of most-searched new cars. Two fuel-efficient models, the new Ford Fiesta and new Hyundai Elantra, made slight drops month-over-month; however, both of these models are still far ahead of their placement on the list year-over-year. The new Ford Fiesta moved up 183 spots year-over-year, going from No. 202 in May 2010 to No. 19 in May 2011, and the new Hyundai Elantra moved up 55 spots year-over-year, going from No. 71 in May 2010 to No. 16 in May 2011.

The list of most-searched used vehicles stayed relatively stable month-over-month, with only small movements occurring mostly in the lower half of the list. However, the year-over-year comparison showed that trucks and SUVs continued to decline in popularity, as all seven of these vehicles lost ground from May 2010 to May 2011. The larger, heavy duty trucks took the biggest hits year-over-year, with the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and Dodge Ram 2500 all dropping four spots. Conversely, family cars made notable year-over-year improvements, with the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta both moving up four spots and the Audi A4 and Nissan Altima moving up five spots.

Month-over-month, there were no new additions to the list of most-searched CPO vehicles, and consumers interested in these vehicles seemed less concerned overall with fuel-efficiency. In fact, the three vehicles to make month-over-month increases were either trucks or SUVs: the CPO Toyota Tundra moved up two spots from No. 7 in April to No. 5 in May, the CPO Chevrolet Tahoe moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11 and the CPO Toyota 4-Runner moved up two spots from No. 20 to No. 18. However, the biggest year-over-year decreases were also large trucks and SUVs, showing that while interest may have increased on a few select models recently, two popular models are still garnering less interest than they did the same time last year. The CPO Chevrolet Tahoe and the Ford F-150 both dropped six spots year-over-year. The only SUV to make a notable year-over-year leap was the CPO Honda CR-V, which moved up 12 spots, going from No. 31 in May 2010 to No. 19 in May 2011. The CR-V's relatively good fuel efficiency for its class could have contributed to this leap, as consumers attempt to find a balance between their needs for cargo and passenger space and decent fuel economy.

Majority of Asking Prices Increased Year-Over-Year for New, Used and CPO

A big trend facing the auto industry recently has been the rising price of vehicles across the spectrum of new, used and CPO models, and's data from May shows that this trend is alive and well. The majority of vehicles across all of the most-searched lists showed increases in average asking price.

On the new vehicle list, 13 out of 20 vehicles posted increases, with the smaller, more fuel-efficient cars garnering the biggest increases year-over-year. The new Kia Optima again showed the biggest increase of nearly 21%, going from $20,202 in May 2010 to $24,422 in May 2011; the new Hyundai Elantra gained 16% in average asking price, going from $17,373 to $20,223; and the new Ford Focus gained 12.74% in average asking price, going from $18,708 to $21,092 year-over-year.

For used vehicles, Toyota and Honda models showed the biggest increases in average asking prices year-over-year. The used Toyota Camry posted the biggest increase in average asking price, moving from $15,347 to $17,333, an increase of nearly 13%; the used Honda Accord came in second with an increase of nearly 10%, moving from $15,779 to $17,342; and the average asking price for the used Honda Civic increased around 9%, moving from $13,621 to $14,868. These perennial favorites are typically in high demand, but that demand may have increased for used models due to the production shortages caused by the natural disasters in Japan earlier this year, according to analysts.

Overall, average asking prices for the majority of CPO vehicles rose year-over-year, with 13 out of the top 20 showing increases, though there was less organization around body style or manufacturer than seen on the new and used lists. The CPO Acura MDX showed the biggest increase in average asking price of 21%, moving from $20,202 to $24,422 year-over-year; the CPO Ford Mustang came in second with an increase of 16%, moving from $17,373 to $20,223; and the CPO BMW 5-Series gained 13%, moving from $18,708 to $21,092.

According to analysts, prices are heavily affected by supply and demand, and the increase in consumer demand overall with the still-limited supply of used cars and the challenges facing the new car market due to anticipated shortages have again pushed prices higher.

Luxury Cars Make Big Moves in May on the New Car Front

Each month, looks at the Top 10 Big Movers on the site, which are cars that generated significant jumps in their rank on the site month-over-month, even if the vehicles didn't receive enough interest to garner a spot in one of the top 20 most-searched lists.

On the new car front, many of the top 10 big movers were sporty luxury cars. The BMW 6-Series took another big leap in May, moving up 107 spots month-over-month. This big leap comes on the heels of a prior 34 spot jump the car made in April. Another sporty luxury car to make a big leap in May was the new Audi A7, which leapt an impressive 92 spots. Mercedes-Benz also made headway in May with its G-Class and CLS-Class vehicles, which both landed in the top five big movers on the new list, moving up 30 and 27 spots, respectively.

The used and CPO big movers lists in May were lighter on luxury cars. On the used list, the Nissan GT-R took another big leap in May, moving up 45 spots; in the previous month, the GT-R leapt 26 spots. The Kia Sorento appeared on both the used and CPO big movers lists, coming in at No. 10 on the used list and No. 9 on the CPO list. Though there was not a heavy focus on more fuel-efficient models, the CPO list did include two vehicles known for their high MPGs: the Hyundai Elantra and the Lexus GS 450h, which both moved up 19 spots month-over-month.

Source: PR Newswire

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