Downsizing Baby Boomers Favor Compact SUVs


  • 2014 Ford Escape Picture

    2014 Ford Escape Picture

    Baby Boomers are snapping up small SUVs and crossovers, including the 2014 Ford Escape. | March 24, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Compact SUVs and crossovers have become the vehicle of choice for many Baby Boomers.
  • Edmunds' data shows sales of compact SUVs and crossovers to consumers ages 55-64 have increased steadily since 2009, while sales of larger vehicles have trended downward.
  • Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst and director of pricing and industry analysis, notes: "The small crossover is perfect for this age group."

SANTA MONICA, California — Compact SUVs and crossovers have become the vehicles of choice for those Baby Boomers looking to simplify their lives and downsize their vehicles, according to new data from Edmunds.

Although small SUVs clearly appeal to a wide range of buyers, from young families to active singles, it seems that the Baby Boom generation is responsible for much of the segment's growth.

Said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst and director of pricing and industry analysis: "The small crossover is perfect for this age group. They may not need the size of a larger SUV anymore, since many may be empty nesters, but they still want the cargo capacity and flexibility. Also, like cars, compact crossovers have increased in the level of content, so Boomers do not have to forgo the creature comforts they may have been accustomed to."

Edmunds' data shows that Boomers ages 55-64 make up not only the largest, but also the fastest-growing market for compact SUVs, with sales to that age group increasing consistently since 2009. Conversely, sales of full-sized sedans, minivans and larger SUVs have trended steadily downward among that demographic.

In addition, Ford reports that retail registrations of its compact Escape SUV are up 81 percent since 2009 among buyers aged 55-64, well above the overall industry growth. And Ford also notes that 46 percent of its premium Escape Titanium models go to consumers aged 56 or older, indicating that as Boomers downsize they still demand comfort and technology features.

The roll call of favorites among Baby Boomers includes the Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage, among others.

So, why the emphasis on this particular demographic? According to Immersion Active, a company that specializes in Internet marketing to older adults, Baby Boomers outspend other age groups by a factor of two-to-one. And those 55-64 years of age outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, including travel, food, home furnishings and entertainment, as well as vehicles.

"The Boomer population has always set the trends," said Sheryl Connelly, Ford's futurist and specialist in global consumer trends, in a statement. "Now they've set a course for a more streamlined life that doesn't sacrifice style and comfort."

Edmunds says: Compact SUVs, which provide cargo capacity and flexibility, are proving to be a good choice for downsizing Baby Boomers.

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