We love the redesigned Elantra. We love it in a way that we don’t normally love cars, let alone cars we’ve spent less than a year with. It’s gorgeous, it’s fun, and it’s packed with features at a price that we still can hardly believe. Something that’s even harder to believe? All over the country, sedans like the Elantra aren’t selling nearly as well as they did just a few years ago.
So what gives? Well, as is so often the case, the most obvious answer is also the closest to the truth. Gas is cheap, and cars that sacrifice space to improve fuel economy just aren’t getting Americans excited like they did when a gallon of gas cost more than a hot dinner.
On top of that, the prices of SUVs and cars are more similar than they’ve ever been, and with the wide range of prices that different trim levels command, it isn’t hard to see a base-level SUV selling for less than a fully-loaded sedan and see the appeal of trading some extra features for more lots of space and an elevated ride-height.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s Auto Sales Market Data Center, every segment of light-duty truck, SUV, and crossover has improved from last year, while every kind of car has declined since last year, including a massive 42% drop in large car sales. How can we explain this trend? Cold, hard numbers, like gas prices and sales figures, only tell part of the story.
Cars have always been associated with a sense of freedom, and we tend to feel like we need more space than we do. It gives us, and our families, room to grow. It gives us a sense that, come what may, we will be prepared. Since SUVs cost about as much as cars now, and cost about as much to fuel as cars did 10 years ago, the shift to larger vehicles is understandable.
But if freedom is what you’re looking for, consider what you’ll need to do in your car, what you’ll need to haul, and how much room you’ll really need.
Because while the Elantra can’t compete with an SUV for holding car seats, it drives better, costs less to purchase, drive, and repair, and looks awesome. It’s human to feel the need for wide open spaces. We just prefer the feel of the open road ahead of us, not necessarily the third-row seating behind us.