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Consumer Searches for Large SUVs Decline Rapidly

Search Activity Rebounds Across the Gulf Coast

For the second month, consumer searches for sport utility vehicles are rapidly declining, while searches for more fuel-efficient models are the most popular among consumers, according to the latest Cars.com Consumer Search Index.

Search numbers for some large SUVs, including the GMC Envoy, GMC Yukon, Toyota Sequoia and Chevrolet TrailBlazer, dropped by more than 25 percent in September. Conversely, fuel-efficient vehicles like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Prius continue to dominate both new- and used-vehicle consumer searches and email inquiries sent to dealers.

The Toyota Prius, one of the most popular hybrid vehicles on the market, continues to move up the list of the most-searched vehicles on Cars.com. In September, the Prius ranked No. 6 among the most-searched vehicles, up from eighth in August. The Prius also ranked No. 3 in the number of email inquiries sent to dealers, up from sixth in August.

Search Activity Rebounds in Areas Hardest Hit by Hurricanes

Consumer searches for cars in the Gulf Coast region hardest hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita also have begun to return to normal. A look at search behavior in markets including New Orleans and Gulf Port, Miss., show that vehicle searches have started to approach levels seen prior to Aug. 29, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

"With the amount of vehicle damage caused by the hurricanes, we expect that consumer searches will begin to escalate beyond pre-hurricane numbers as consumers returning to the area assess the damage and start looking for new cars," said Nancy Regent, managing editor at Cars.com.

"It's also unclear how many of those flood-damaged vehicles will return to the market, making it especially important for consumers nationwide to do their homework before purchasing a used car," said Regent. "Cars.com has a complete guide where consumers can find information to avoid buying a flood-damaged car."

New Vehicle Introductions Spur Consumer Interest

When new vehicles and redesigned 2006 models are introduced into the market accompanied by a major marketing campaign or an increase in marketing/PR efforts, there typically is an immediate boost in consumer search activity. General Motors has two vehicles — the Pontiac Solstice and the Chevrolet Impala — that have seen significant increases in both new and used vehicle searches as a result of successful marketing campaigns.

On the opposite end, the Hummer H3, which topped the search increase chart last month, is among the list of the greatest decliners. Consumer interest generated as a result of a large marketing campaign has seemingly waned.

About the Cars.com Consumer Search Index

The Cars.com Consumer Search Index offers a comprehensive look at the internet search behavior of visitors to Cars.com. The statistical information is compiled by tracking the more than 6 million unique visitors who log on to Cars.com each month and the vehicles that are most popular. The lists are based off a minimum of 8,000 searches for any given vehicle. Dealer inquiries measure the volume of emails consumers send to dealers seeking information about a particular vehicle. The information is supported by expert analysis from the Cars.com editorial staff. More statistical information to support automotive-related stories is available upon request. Please contact Steve Nolan directly at 312-601-5163.

About Cars.com

Cars.com lists more than 1.4 million vehicles from 10,000 dealer customers, classified advertisers and private parties 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.

About Classified Ventures

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).

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