ATLANTA – AutoTrader.com’s March Trend Engine report showed that in spite of government and environmental advocacy groups touting the benefits of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, Americans seem to still have an insatiable feeling that bigger is better. Of the top 20 new vehicles viewed on AutoTrader.com in March, the majority were either large sedans or trucks, with exactly half offering consumers V-8 power as either standard or optional.
Trucks and SUVs dominated the top 20 used vehicle list on AutoTrader.com as well, clinching 11 of the top 20 spots, with muscle and sports cars holding another three spots on the list. Vehicles with a four-cylinder option accounted for only seven of the top 20 spots of vehicles viewed on AutoTrader.com last month.
Reflecting many Americans’ turn from new vehicles to used when they are buying at all, almost all new cars on the top 20 list saw drops in views in March 2009 compared to March 2008. Among new mid-size sedans, drops ranged from 41.37 percent for the Chevrolet Malibu to 60.13 percent for the Honda Accord.
Similarly, among full-size 1500-series pickups, declines ranged from 23.21 percent for the Dodge Ram 1500 to 60.55 percent for the Toyota Tundra. The new for 2009 Ram’s drop was actually a bit of a bright spot, as the new car sales market in March was down 37 percent in terms of sales year-over-year.
Other relative bright spots among mainstream vehicles were the heavy-duty Ford F-250 pickup, which saw a decrease in views of just 4.45 percent, and the Volkswagen Jetta sedan and wagon, which actually saw an increase in views of 0.79 percent. That increase, while minor, was enough to drive the Jetta from 54th to 20th year-over-year, relative to a soft marketplace.
Among the Top 10 most-viewed brands in general, most saw drops in line with their performance in March new car sales figures. The lone uptick came from Hyundai, which saw an increase in views of 7.93 percent, the continued result of its “Assurance” marketing campaign and favorably received new-vehicle launches.
Sole Top-20 Used Compact Vehicle Sees Significant Drop in Views
The used-vehicle market continued to show growth in light of consumers’ skittishness towards new vehicles, with many of the larger vehicles seeing the greatest increases in views year-over-year when compared to March 2008. While the average asking prices for used vehicles declined slightly from March 2008, views for 1500 and 2500-series pickups showed double-digit increases, ranging from a 12.77 percent increase for the top-viewed Ford F-150 to 24.40 percent for another Ford, the F-250. Similar gains were registered by trucks from Dodge and Chevrolet.
AutoTrader.com also looked specifically at sales of Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles this month, as the segment continues to grow in importance. The BMW 3-series and the Honda Accord continued their 1-2 dominance in the sector among most-viewed vehicles from March 2008.
The sole compact or sub-compact car on either Top 20 list — the Honda Civic — proved to be the largest loser in terms of views, dropping 22.56 percent among used vehicles, and 41.21 percent among CPO.