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Detroit Auto Show Reveals Effects of High Fuel Prices

Cars.com Vehicle Profiler Joe Wiesenfelder Comments That Introductions from the Detroit Auto Show Reflect High Fuel Prices

The new vehicle introductions at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit are reflective of the state of gas prices, as analyzed by Cars.com's Vehicle Profiler Joe Wiesenfelder.

"The horsepower war among high-profile super-cars suggests total disregard for issues of fuel economy," says Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com's Vehicle Profiler. "But the effects of sustained high fuel prices are clear amid the focus on cars and lighter people movers, the conspicuous absence of monster SUVs and the spread of fuel-saving technology."

Detroit Show Highlights

Several category introductions observed from the Detroit Auto Show support this theory, noted Wiesenfelder:

  • Mightier Horsepower: The engines and power ratings in the news keep growing -- above 500 and even 600 horsepower -- so cars like the 500-horsepower 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 seem moderate. "Environmentalists need not be terribly concerned," said Wiesenfelder, "because these are mostly concept cars and low-volume cars priced around $100,000 and well above. Compared to a decade's worth of truck-based SUVs, this is hardly a problem."
  • Large Cars Sustain Momentum: With several models updated, such as the 2006 Toyota Avalon, and new ones introduced, like the 2006 Dodge Charger, large cars continue a revival. Joe noted, "We tired of them years ago, but after driving large trucks, even large sedans seem reasonable, comfortable and are still more fuel efficient than SUVs. "
  • The New People Movers: "Large-SUV sales are so poor that automakers have idled some factories," said Wiesenfelder. "Truck-based SUV news out of Detroit consists mainly of redesigns of existing models. Conversely, manufacturers have introduced nine all-new 'crossover' vehicles that are lighter and more fuel and space efficient than truck-based SUVs, some with three rows of seats. The 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca seats seven, and concepts such as the Mercury Meta One show what upcoming crossover models will look like in the 2007 model year."
  • Flirting with Diesel: Fuel-saving technology is a hot topic, mostly in the form of gasoline-electric hybrid promises. In the meantime, diesel engines keep popping up in concepts, such as the Ford SYN, as automakers strategize for 2006's more stringent EPA restrictions. The higher-quality diesel fuel required will dramatically reduce tailpipe pollutants. Joe commented, "With this issue addressed, inherently more fuel-efficient diesel engines look mighty attractive."

From Detroit To Your Driveway

The Detroit introductions show that consumers may be seeing more fuel-efficient cars and less SUV's from manufacturers, making 2005 the return of the passenger car and what we used to call station wagons. In 2004, Cars.com saw a spike in the number of listings of SUVs for sale by consumers, which hinted that consumers might be seeking better cars for their gas dollar.

Consumers can post their used SUV for sale on Cars.com, and look for other fuel-efficient alternatives. For complete coverage from the Detroit Auto Show, car reviews from Joe Wiesenfelder and resources to find the right car for you, visit Cars.com.

About Cars.com

Partnered with 175 leading metro newspapers, television stations and their Web sites, Cars.com is the most comprehensive destination for those looking to buy or sell a new or used car. The site places vehicle listings from more than 8,000 dealers alongside nationwide classified advertising and private-party listings to offer consumers the best selection of new and used cars online, as well as the content, tools and advice to support their shopping experience. Cars.com combines powerful inventory search tools and new-car configuration with pricing information, photo galleries, buying guides, side-by-side comparison tools, original editorial content and reviews to help millions of consumers connect with sellers each month.

Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, (http://classifiedventures.com), which is owned by six leading media companies including, Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Knight Ridder (NYSE: KRI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) and The Washington Post Company. (NYSE: WPO). For more information, visit www.cars.com.

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