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Reasons the Crossover SUV Segment Attracts Younger Buyers


The crossover SUV segment is exploding with younger buyers. American car buyers have a love-hate relationship with full-sized SUVs.  Mostly we love the expansive space SUVs provide for people and cargo. We also love the high-riding view, brawny power and sheer bulk of big SUVs for a measure of protection.

The downside; even with consistent low gas costs and improved fuel efficiency of bigger SUVs, they have an over-sized carbon footprint. Therefore, if gas prices spike SUVs become costly to operate.

Carmakers learned their lesson from the years running up to the economic crisis of 2009 when large SUVs were wrongly blamed for the near-collapse of the auto industry. 

In recent years smaller crossover SUV, built on a car platform, has become the fastest-growing segment of the marketplace, the only serious challenge to the runaway pickup truck boom.

Rise of Crossover SUVs Is Not New to the U.S. Marketplace

What began in 1996 with the intro of the Toyota Rav4, gained momentum with the 2000 introduction of the Ford Escape, followed by the Chevrolet Equinox in 2004. Since then ranks of small crossover SUVs have exploded with new waves of entries coming out every season.

Crossover SUV Swarms American's Roads

Leading  American vehicle manufacturers General Motors, Ford and FCA have also gone big on crossovers with GM seeing a nearly 13% increase in 2019 sales in the category, led by Chevrolet Trax, GMC Acadia, Buick Envision, and Buick Encore, seeing the largest sales increases year over year.

Ford made big noise when it previewed a new all-electric Ford Mach-E Mustang, which has morphed into a crossover SUV treatment of that iconic model.

FCA meanwhile continues to scale new sales heights with smaller Jeep models like the Renegade and Compass, which despite their off-road image are basically part of the crossover SUV movement.

While Boomers and Gen X buyers are also driving crossover sales, millennial and Generation Z buyers are converging to make crossover SUVs the fastest-growing segment of the auto market.  

Crossover SUVs Resonate With Younger Buyers

Moreover, what SUVs give up in size, they make up for with ease of driving and parking. Additionally, they come with dazzling complements of infotainment and safety tech.

As crossover SUVs gain popularity, manufacturers are offering more customization features. For instance, specialty wheels, high tech lighting effects inside and out and snazzy colors with distinctive two-tone paint jobs.

These smaller SUVs also offer a variety of performance and drivetrain options from peppy twin-turbo engines to hybrid. There is even full plug-in electric (EV) models like the enormously successful new Hyundai Kona.

2020 LEXUS

How Younger Buyers Purchase Is as Important as What They Purchase

Beyond the bright shiny spectacle of new vehicle introductions, younger shoppers lean toward confidence-building internet research as they narrow their choices of what to buy. Dubbed webrooming by the tech world, this process can take up 9 or more hours. It is done mostly on smartphone devices by 60 percent or more of buyers of all ages and probably closer to 90% by younger buyers. 

Younger shoppers who have grown up tethered to their online devices have an instinctive understanding of what they need. Hence, car dealerships need to step up their game with their antiquated websites.

Anticipating this movement 321 Ignition designs all its dealership websites mobile-first, then adapts to laptop and desktop viewing. This makes these mobile-first websites faster and more responsive to younger buyers.

321 Ignition Obsession

321 Ignition offers sophisticated user experiences and user interface (UX/UI) features that engage and feel intuitive to younger buyers. 

Distracting, confusing dealership websites with murky pricing details, features and availability, risk rejection out of hand by these consumers. This demographic segment is set to account for 40% of all U.S. car sales by the end of 2020. Ignoring their preferences is a short-sighted approach to dealership businesses that depend on generational loyalty.