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Old 06-12-2003, 06:10   #1 (permalink)
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Survey says SUV owners happier with purchase than minivan owners

June 12, 2003
AutoWeek
By JOHN D. STOLL

Despite criticisms leveled by media, polling groups and environmental lobbies at SUVs in recent months, SUV owners are a pretty happy lot and feel pretty safe about their buying intentions, according to a recent Kelly Blue Book poll.
The poll, part of a Kelly study on prospective family-oriented car buyers conducted on its website in May, found SUV owners overwhelmingly satisifed with their choice of vehicle. Some 89 percent of SUV buyers polled said an SUV is what they’d most like to drive, with only 10 percent saying they’d prefer a sedan and one percent who'd rather drive a minivan. By contrast, only 50 percent of minivan owners say they're satisified with driving a minivan.

The survey is Kelly’s attempt to expose the mind of a family car buyer and to differentiate between what family-oriented buyers want to drive and what they actually drive. According to published results, 73 percent of family car buyers (sedans with seating for five, wagons, SUVs and minivans) say they will use their vehicle to run errands often, while 44 percent say they will haul kids often. Respondents carry large loads 19 percent of the time.

Of six predetermined criteria—comfort, fuel economy, safety, style, storage and value— respondents say the single most important factor in purchasing a family car is safety. Value and roominess follow closely behind as important factors. Storage capacity ranked dead last, right behind gas mileage and style.

As far as the pocket book factor, half the respondents say they plan to spend between $15,000 and $25,000 on their vehicle, while only seven percent expect to go lower than that. Twenty-nine percent say they will spend between $25,000 and $35,000, while the remaining 15 percent will spend more than $35,000. Eighty percent of the respondents are married and half boast a household income in excess of $75,000.

As for being happy with what they bought, sedan owners are nearly as comfortable SUV owners, with 82 percent saying they're happy with their sedan. Sixty-five percent of wagon owners are happy with driving their wagons, but 29 percent of them would rather buy a sedan. If 29 percent of minivan buyers bought what they most want to drive, they’d be in an SUV.

With a fresh influx of minivans flooding the market now or in the near future, the minivan owner’s perspective may swing from the “have to drive” syndrome to a “like to drive” emotion. The Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest, for example, have recently hit the streets. The dramatically restyled ’04 models feature instrument panel-mounted shifters and foldable third-row seats in addition to advertised car-like handling. The Nissan comes with a “Skyview” moon roof that extends most of the length of the headliner. Ford also has a fresh minivan in the works, the Freestar, and a Mercury derivative, both due sometime in 2004.
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