Our love for SUVs pushes new vehicle prices higher

You would think that rising fuel prices would dampen America’s love affair with SUVs. No dice, according to Kelley Blue Book. In fact, the continuing popularity of SUVs is almost single-handedly driving the average new vehicle transaction prices higher.

The analysts at Kelley Blue Book report the estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $35,411 in April 2018. New-vehicle prices have increased by $710 (up two percent) from April 2017, while falling $99 (down 0.3 percent) from last month.

"Average transaction prices moved up another two percent in April, with most manufacturers reporting year-over-year increases," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

"Although fuel prices rose for the second month in a row and are nearing a $3 national average, Kelley Blue Book saw greater price increases for SUV models than with cars. Luxury SUVs performed particularly well, as less price-sensitive luxury buyers splurged for the latest models, such as the Lincoln Navigator (up 30 percent), Volvo XC60 (up 16 percent) and Infiniti QX50 (up 12 percent)," Fleming said.

Still, not all of the excitement is over SUV models these days.

With its top performance among all major automakers, Toyota Motor Company transaction prices climbed more than three percent, helped most by the redesigned Camry, which was up 11 percent.

The refreshed Sienna minivan was up four percent, while the Prius climbed five percent. The Lexus brand was up four percent, as the redesigned LS sedan improved its transaction prices by 15 percent. The RX, now offering a three-row variant, also was up just one percent.

Volkswagen Group also showed transaction price strength, up three percent in April 2018, with all brands reporting large improvements.

The Volkswagen brand was up nine percent, thanks to the new Atlas and Tiguan SUVs. Porsche was up seven percent with help from the new Panamera, which was up more than 20 percent. Audi also was up five percent, with the redesigned Q5 utility vehicle showing the most improvement at close to 20 percent.

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