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Will someone please buy my SUV?

Fuel economy is now buyers' top concern.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 1:34AM

As the price of gas goes up, many people's desire to own a big honking SUV heads south. And so may be the value of that SUV sitting in your driveway.


A growing number of SUV owners are finding that they owe more on their vehicles than they're now worth. And those folks are going to have a heck of a time getting rid of them at a satisfactory price.


This from CNN:

Owners might owe $20,000 or more when the vehicle is now worth $12,000. It's similar to an upside-down mortgage, and it may not make sense to try a trade-in. "What they might be doing is spending thousands of dollars to save hundreds," says Jack Nerad, the executive director of Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "Because if you make a trade, you're most often going to spend more to make that move than you would just sucking it up and paying the extra gasoline prices."

Behind the Wheel blogger Phil LeBeau writes about an SUV-owning friend who can't find a buyer at a price the friend will accept. Phil says, "He's not alone. ... As one dealer on the East Coast told me, 'Selling an SUV now is about as tough as it was to sell a compact car in the late '90s when sport utes were red hot.'"


What's going on here?

A recent AAA survey found that fuel economy is now consumers' top consideration when buying a car, and the huge growth in sales of compact and subcompact cars demonstrates that. (Last time we checked, AAA said gas had surpassed $4 a gallon in seven states.)


Factor in supply (lots of SUVs for sale) with demand (people don't want them). The craigslist blog said in late April that listings in the "cars and trucks" category and for RVs were up 120% and 100%, respectively, from eight months earlier. 


Plus, to inject a little humor here, driving a gas guzzler is a turnoff. "What do women find sexy? Hybrids. They're chick magnets," writes Chuck Squatriglia at Wired. "So says a survey by General Motors that found nearly nine in 10 women would rather talk to a guy in a Prius than a Porsche."


What should you do? Keep your gas hog, as Nerad of kbb.com suggests, and find ways to reduce your gas consumption. If you can unload your gas guzzler, try to reduce the damage by replacing it with a small used car. You don't want to end up like blogger "SingleGuyMoney," who kept rolling what he owed on his previous car into the loan for each new car -- essentially creating a monster 12-year car loan. Congrats to him for recently paying it off.


Published May 26, 2008

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