Steering You Right with Sharon Peters:Compact Takeover

2014-02-12T08:00:00Z Steering You Right with Sharon Peters:Compact TakeoverSharon L. Peters CTW Features
February 12, 2014 8:00 am  • 

Q: It seems to me that there’s an exorbitant amount of attention given to compact SUVs compared to sedans and other types of vehicles that appear, when I’m driving around town, to be a lot more popular. So tell me. What percentage of vehicles that are sold every year fall into that compact SUV category?

A: About 13 percent of new car sales are compact crossover SUVs, like the Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester. That’s up from 2.3 percent in 2000, when the segment first began picking up steam.

They get a lot of attention for any number of reasons, not least of which is most have better rear space than a car trunk for loading up stuff for picnics, road trips and outings, as well as for schlepping kid and adult gear … but they cost less and get much better gas mileage than full-size SUVs.

The compact crossover segment has been the fastest growing of all segments in recent years, every manufacturer wants to be able to claim a decent share, so they’re expending a lot of energy designing, retooling, introducing new versions, and loading them up with great options, thereby generating buzz and headlines (and, by the way, buyer interest).

Q: We’ve been researching an Infiniti SUV, the QX 80, and the literature says it will accommodate seven or eight people. What? Either/or? So now they’re not only exaggerating how many people can fit, they’re waffling, depending, I guess, on whether a potential customer’s maximum tolerance for in-vehicle jabbering is seven people or eight.

A: There is definitely a certain amount of imprecision that goes on when carmakers tell us the number of people who can be accommodated (or maybe they all just have unusually tiny friends they shove into the back seat when they’re composing their marketing copy that promises five adults can fit). But in the case of the QX80, the reason for the “either/or” number is this: you can opt for captain’s chairs in the second row (there is a row behind that as well), or you can have a bench seat in that second row. If you choose the bench, more people will fit.

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email

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