American motorists have long lived by the mantra, “bigger is better.” And that’s been fine for automakers, as well, as they’ve traditionally tied prices – and profit margins – to the size of the vehicles they’ve sold.
But with the steady run-up in fuel prices, Americans are downsizing at a pace not seen since the twin oil shocks of the 1970s. Indeed, compact crossovers have become the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. market – echoing trends in other key markets around the world. And while you can still get a reasonably good bargain on some of these smaller, mainstream CUVs, the industry has been fracturing the traditional equation that measures price by the pound and inch.
That’s especially true in the luxury end of the spectrum where manufacturers are charging into the compact crossover segment. Just last week, Lincoln and Porsche entered the fray at the L.A. Auto Show.
Porsche has had a history of challenging conventional wisdom. It proved naysayers wrong when it launched its first crossover-utility vehicle for the 2004 model-year, then did it again with the four-door Panamera – today, the brand’s best-selling models. Now, it’s hoping to score again with what’s been called the “baby Cayenne,” the compact Macan.