Premium SUVs in a trimmer size are a growing sweet spot of the new-car market

Dave Kunz Image
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Smaller, premium SUVs a growing segment of new-car market
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As the premium sedan market has shrunk, the premium crossover SUV market has grown.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The fairly young Genesis brand - the upscale part of Hyundai - started out with only sedans, but quickly added SUVs to its lineup, including the new GV70, slotting below the GV80 that came out last year.

Genesis continues its design theme called "athletic elegance" and is aiming this new one at the sweet spot of the market, with a base price of $42,045.

There's sleek styling, a very nice interior, and the signature Genesis "two-line" design theme to the headlights and taillights.

This all adds up to what should be a pretty appealing package, and just in time. While the three sedans Genesis builds are nice, they're just not the popular choice these days.

As the premium sedan market has shrunk, the premium crossover SUV one has grown.

Lexus has wisely readied its showrooms with many SUV choices from large to small. And their next-to-smallest one, the NX, just got a redesign for 2022. The new interior features a greatly improved infotainment system, and the exterior gets subtle changes. You know it's new, yet it looks familiar too.

And if you're thinking hybrid, you're in luck. The NX once again offers a hybrid option, and a new plug-in hybrid choice. While a basic NX250 with front-wheel drive starts at a tick under $40,000, the plug-in hybrid NX450h+ is the top version, and with options edges up toward the $60,000 mark.

Over the past 10 years, most auto brands have had to shift their product mix, away from traditional cars and toward crossover SUVs. That's especially true for luxury brands. In the case of Buick, it wasn't all that long ago they had a broad mix of vehicles. SUVs, sedans, and they even had a convertible. But as of right now, Buick is an SUV-only brand.

And to better woo upscale buyers, Buick added the up-level Avenir trim level to their range of crossover SUVs. The package really dresses up the middle-size Envision, for example, especially in the interior. The outside is a little more subtle, but many people looking for a nice SUV don't necessarily want one that's too showy.

Base price for the 2022 Envision Avenir is $41,045.

The car world is changing, and will continue to do so in the coming years.

But for 2022, if you had to name a hot segment within the grand scheme of things, trim-size premium crossovers are the ones that many shoppers are looking at.