March 21, 2007

Study shows luxury SUV buyers desire comfort and performance while non-luxury SUV purchasers look for fuel efficiency and reliability

Irvine, California – Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research’s report series, Brand Watch, which reveals key decision factors among consumers in the purchase consideration process, shows the two most important factors of luxury SUV shoppers are driving comfort and driving performance, whereas non-luxury SUV shoppers consider fuel efficiency and durability/reliability the two most important factors in considering an SUV. Falling in the middle of the top five consideration factors for both of these groups is safety.

Brand Watch asked both luxury and non-luxury SUV intenders their opinions and perceptions regarding up to 17 different attributes associated specifically with SUVs. New-vehicle shoppers were asked to not only rank these attributes in importance, but to also rate each manufacturer on those important factors. The price-point difference between luxury and non-luxury SUV considerers leads the top five attributes among these two consideration groups to be nearly opposites.

“Shoppers who can afford a luxury vehicle can also afford gas at $3.50 a gallon and are much more concerned with driving performance and driving comfort than fuel efficiency and reliability,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst. “Those concerned with fuel efficiency and reliability are much more cost-conscious overall and less likely to consider a luxury vehicle.”

In the luxury SUV shoppers group, GMC’s luxury Denali line topped the rankings for seating-capacity, towing and being family-friendly, but tied for last place with Saab among considerers when it comes to prestige and brand status. In the prestige and brand status category, consumers ranked Mercedes-Benz at the top. For brand cachet and perception among consumers, HUMMER and Cadillac came in close behind Mercedes-Benz among luxury SUV shoppers. And while Hummer placed high for brand and prestige, the military-style vehicle ranked last for luxuriousness and sophistication, where again Mercedes-Benz garnered the top slot.

Perceptions of vehicle brands in the non-luxury shopping group placed Toyota and Honda high for the majority of attribute categories including comfort, reliability and safety, but when it comes to stylishness, layout/design and versatility/flexibility, non-luxury SUV intenders rate Ford highest for those attributes.

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