Website: Consumer Interest in Trucks, SUVs Was Strong in July

Website: Consumer Interest in Trucks, SUVs Was Strong in July

Consumers' threshold for higher gas prices has become a 'moving target.'

In these uncertain times, there's one thing that never seems to change: Americans love their trucks and SUVs.

AutoTrader.com, an online marketplace for vehicle purchases, said trucks and SUVs dominated the new-vehicle searches on its website in July.

The new Ford F-150 pickup moved up two notches to No. 1, while the rest of the full-size trucks on the list made month-over-month gains in searches, according to Atlanta-based AutoTrader.com.

Only gas prices approaching $4 per gallon have been able to cool off Americans' love affair with trucks and SUVs, as the number of searches for such vehicles dropped off earlier in the year when gas prices rose, according to the website.

However, when gas prices went down in June and plateaued in July, vehicle shoppers seemed to pick up right where they left off.

The Dodge Ram 2500 made the biggest month-over-month gain in new-vehicle searches on the website AutoTrader.com.
"Every time gas prices start increasing, there's a threshold at which consumers start focusing more on fuel efficiency than other considerations," said Rick Wainschel, AutoTrader.com's vice president of automotive insights.

"However, that threshold becomes a moving target with each major increase, as shoppers' tolerance for what they pay at the pump eventually goes up."

Other trucks that moved up in the July search rankings included the Ford F-250, which moved up two spots to No. 11, and the new Chevrolet Silverado 1500, which moved up one notch to No. 5.

The new Dodge Ram 2500 made the biggest month-over-month gain, moving up seven spots from No. 23 in June to No. 16 in July, according to AutoTrader.com.

Among SUVs, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee continued to enjoy popularity with shoppers, moving up two spots and breaking into the top 20 at No. 19 in July.

The biggest jump came in the crossover segment, with the new Kia Sorento moving up seven spots month-over-month to land at No. 20 in July.

Another trend spotted by AutoTrader.com: The production shortages for new cars, coupled with continued short supply of quality used cars, have pushed asking prices higher across new, used and certified pre-owned vehicles.

"The combination of consumers holding on to their cars longer, leasing drying up and the lack of new car sales in 2009 and 2010 has caused a dearth of late-model quality used cars being available for sale in 2011," Wainschel said.

"This short supply has put tremendous pressure on the used and CPO market, pushing prices higher. Additionally, production shortages in the new-car arena have had a similar effect."

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