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Toyota's RAV4 hybrid is most-shopped EV, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Consumers Turn Toward Economical Sedans

A Kelley Blue Book study shows fuel economy drives shoppers’ considerations.

Credit the sedans in the Toyota and BMW lineups for moving those automakers to the top spots in the quarterly Kelley Blue Book (KBB) Brand Watch. 

KBB surveys consumers on a dozen factors influencing buying decisions for non-luxury, luxury and electric vehicles, with fuel economy driving many respondents’ answers.

“BMW and Toyota came back on top because of the sedans under their model lineups,” Vanessa Ton, senior manager-Cox Automotive Research and Market Intelligence, tells Wards.

“And when you look at the sedan or car consideration, it increased by six percentage points (from 31% the previous quarter to 37% in the first quarter of 2022). Six percentage points is a huge jump,” Ton notes.

That jump is in line with another leap – gas prices. In the month since The Center for American Progress reported U.S. gas prices up to $6 a gallon, AAA reports gas prices in California nudging the $7-a-gallon mark because of several factors, including supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Toyota reclaimed the most-shopped non-luxury brand crown for first-quarter 2022. It held that place for four years until Ford briefly took that spot in the last quarter of 2021. The Toyota RAV4 hybrid also kept its long-held top spot as the most-shopped EV.

In the same period, BMW was the top-shopped luxury brand. The automaker held that position for three consecutive years until Lexus nosed it out in the final part of 2021. 

While the most-watched brands have cause for celebration, all dealers can use these KBB findings to work toward boosting sales, says Ton. 

“They’ll notice that fuel efficiency is very important. That may lead them to think, “Maybe I should use my messaging, my advertising, to feature a certain vehicle’s fuel efficiency,” she says.

“They will also see driving importance (is ranked highly) on the luxury side. Touting that message is important because it’s relevant to (the luxury) customer base.”

Other notable KBB findings that dealers may use to hone eye-catching messages for shoppers are :

- In Q1, one in four shoppers considered EVs.

- The top 10 most-shopped EVs were split evenly between battery-electrics and electrified vehicles including gasoline-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

- The Chevrolet Silverado surpassed the Ford F-150 as the most-shopped pickup for the first time. KBB analysts note factors including the brand’s high-profile Super Bowl ad and GM’s announcement of an upcoming electrified Silverado played significant roles in that success.

- Shoppers doubled their consideration of Dodge, notably due to interest in the Durango SUV

- BMW kept its long-held top spot in luxury brands due largely to the strength of both the 5-Series and 3-Series sedans.

-Tesla dropped to fifth from its previous ranking of third in top luxury brands considered, despite its recently reported sales and market share gains.

- Cadillac surprised analysts by jumping to the second most-shopped luxury brand, largely because of the popularity of the Escalade SUV.

- Mercedes-Benz took the most honors in factors most important to luxury vehicle shoppers, ranking No.1 in Driving Comfort, Interior Layout and Prestige/Sophistication. Scoring in seven of the 12 categories, Mercedes-Benz placed in Safety, Technology, Durability/Reliability and Exterior Styling as well. Tesla was close behind, scoring in six of the 12 categories.


TAGS: Dealers
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