Customers regularly come up to Adam Buls at O’Neill Honda not sure if they want to buy a sedan like the Honda Accord or go with the type of SUV that is growing in popularity.
The Honda CR-V is known as a crossover SUV or more commonly, a CUV.
“The first thing for me is to talk to them about the benefits of both, and then I always say let’s take them both for a drive. That is the deciding factor for most people – which one they are most comfortable in,” Buls said.
“There is no right or wrong answer. A lot of people will enjoy the ride of the CR-V better, and then there are a lot who enjoy the ride of a traditional sedan (like) a Honda Accord better.”
By all accounts, more and more people are enjoying the ride of a CUV.
According to IHS Automotive, the 2014 market share of SUV/CUV moved slightly ahead of sedans, 36.5 percent to 35.4 percent. It is the first time that has happened. In 2009, sedans led in market share 36.3 to 31.4 percent.
“These vehicles offer the combination of appealing features associated with both cars and light trucks,” IHS Automotive analyst Tom Libby said in a press release last summer about CUVs. “Combined with the successful launches of all-new models and the introduction of redesigned existing products, these body styles offer a compelling option for the market.”
Part of the reason for the success of crossovers is the improving economy and, lately, the decrease in gasoline prices.
Exactly what is a crossover vehicle?
A CUV (crossover utility vehicle) is a vehicle built on a car platform that combines in varying degrees features of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) with features from a passenger vehicle, especially those of a sedan, station wagon or hatchback.
“A lot of people like sitting up higher, the better visibility,” said Buls, a product specialist. “It is just a different ride.
“I’ve always said in the whole time I have been here that the CR-V is not like a lot of SUVs. It still handles like a car. It is still a comfortable ride. It still has the advantage of an SUV by having more cargo space than a sedan.”
In a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of the leading most affordable CUVs, the 2015 Honda CR-V was No. 1.
Buls knows the CR-V is leaving the O’Neill Honda dealership at a 7979 Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park at a fast rate. He said he sold at least 60 of them in 2014. The 2015 CR-V, which came out in October, has sold well.
“The 2015 CR-V was a complete update with Honda’s new technology,” Buls said. “They changed the transmission, which improved the fuel economy where it is up to 33 highway and 26 city. That used to be the bigger advantage of getting a sedan versus a SUV because there was a big difference in fuel economy. Now it is comparable.”
Buls said this was the first time since October that O’Neill Honda has had a few of the higher-end models of the CR-V in its inventory.
“Before that, every one was selling a few days before arriving,” he said. “I can say it has been very exciting. It is a good problem to have. Obviously, it would have been nice to have more of a selection. I would have had a few more sales.”
Other dealerships are probably having the same success with their CUVs. The Toyota RAV4 is a popular vehicle at Legends Toyota at 10100 Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kan., said new car manager Ben Miller.
“We have had an increase of 11.6 percent in RAV4 sales just since December 2014,” Miller said. “Right now I have 40 in my pipeline. A lot of them are selling as quickly as they get here. What that means on the ground (is) I only have 10, but I have some in freight status and they are on the way here, and some are being built at the factory now.”
Miller said Toyota puts the RAV4 in its core three vehicles, which includes the Corolla and Camry.
“So you are just going to see more and more advertising and more and more push for the RAV4,” he said. “You are going to see better deals, better everything to get that particular car out there.”
Miller believes in the RAV4 so much that in 2013 he bought one that his wife drives.
“She absolutely loves it,” Miller said. “We live in Piper, but she works in North Kansas City. On snowy days before the RAV4 I had to drive her to work. The RAV4 has given her so much confidence because of the symmetrical all-wheel drive system that she doesn’t even blink when she drives through snow.”
Buls said the reason he thinks the Honda CR-V does so well is because it is a vehicle for every demographic.
“The CR-V, you can have a student out of college, you can have a young family,” he said. “You can have a couple in their 50s or 60s. It is a good for everyone. I think that is why it is growing in popularity – because it fits everyone’s needs.”
The price for many CUVs ranges from the low $20,000 to the low $30,000 depending on options. And for that price, it is a vehicle that meets so many needs.
“It is the perfect combination of a smaller car and not a huge SUV,” Miller said. “It is not tough to park. It is not hard to see out of. It still has the versatility that you can go buy 30 bags of mulch or whatever, and put it in the back and take it home because I have done that.
“It is kind of a necessary vehicle.”