SUVs Are King Again in January Sales | Edmunds

SUVs Are King Again in January Sales

SUVs continued to fly off dealership lots in January 2017, accounting for 41 percent of sales versus 37 percent for cars, a trend that began in 2016, according to Edmunds' monthly sales analysis. Pickups accounted for 16 percent of sales, and vans brought up the rear at 6 percent. Shoppers bought 1.14 million new vehicles in January, down 2 percent in an expected dip from the same month in 2016, Edmunds said.

That decline can't necessarily be read as an indicator of things to come, however.

"It's tricky to use January as a bellwether for how auto sales will trend for the year," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. "It's the lowest-volume month and only accounts for 6 percent of annual sales on average."

Fresh off a major redesign, the Honda CR-V was the best selling SUV last month, with 29,287 units sold. By comparison, shoppers bought 23,095 new Honda Civics. It was a similar story with other major automakers, as SUVs — Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4 — all sold more than the most popular cars from their respective brands.

This surging popularity in SUVs and light trucks has had the added effect of raising the average transaction price for a vehicle. It now costs on average about $34,960 for a new vehicle, a 4 percent year-over-year increase.

January was also notable for the increased percentage of zero percent financing loans. Though 10 percent of sales may not seem that significant, it is an unusually high level for January. The average loan term remained steady, but still at a record high average of 68.9 months.

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