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ATLANTA — Used-vehicle demand and average asking prices were on a stable incline during February, according to AutoTrader.com. The company also indicated that due partly to wintry weather, most of the models showing the heaviest traffic increases via the site were heavy-duty 2500 series pickups.

"The used-car market continued to hold steady, as both demand and average asking prices climbed steadily throughout February," officials highlighted. "Demand for pick-up trucks and SUVs, most likely driven partially by the weather in February, was especially strong."

Showing the largest year-over-year upswing in views among the 20 most popular used models on AutoTrader.com was the Ford F-250, whose traffic climbed 29.53 percent.

The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 saw a 27.79-percent uptick in traffic, while views for the Dodge Ram 2500 increased by just less than 25 percent.

Also showing a major increase in views was the GMC Sierra 1500, which jumped 27.02 percent.

As far as asking prices, the model among the top 20 most-viewed used cars with the greatest upward movement from February 2009 was Jeep Wrangler, whose average price was up 18.53 percent.

According to reports, there is not enough supply of new Wranglers to meet demand, which may be playing a role in the used-vehicle price upswing. Hardtops for these vehicles are apparently hard to come by.

Following the Wrangler was the Chevrolet Tahoe (up 18.15 percent), Sierra (up 18.07 percent), Ford F-150 (up 17.73 percent), Silverado 1500 (up 17.56 percent), and Dodge Ram (up 17.37 percent).

Asking prices for the Ram 2500 climbed 16.31 percent, while the Silverado 2500 climbed 14.82 percent and the F-250 saw a 14.47-percent uptick.


Moving on to the certified pre-owned arena, weather issues and the dearth in CPO inventory — stemming from leasing cutbacks and generally sluggish new-vehicle sales in the last few years — pushed down the amount of shopping in this particular market segment during February, according to AutoTrader.com.

That said, CPO prices, for the most part, saw an increase during the month. Yet again, at the forefront of these certified price gains were trucks and SUVs.

For instance, asking prices for certified Honda Pilot models increased 17.01 percent from the year-ago period and Silverado 1500 CPO vehicles saw their asking prices jump 16.89 percent year-over-year.

Overall, AutoTrader.com experienced a record February for traffic with 15.5 million unique visitors accessing the site during the month.

Additionally, the Web site achieved a daily traffic record when 986,052 unique visitors went to AutoTrader.com on Feb. 15. 

New-Vehicle Shopping

Continuing on, officials noted that new-vehicle shopping at actual dealer lots slowed down in many areas of the country due the weather. However, there was "good news" for automakers with average asking prices tending to "creep upwards."

Furthermore, the site suggested that AutoTrader.com traffic hitting a February record and other market indicators suggest that when the weather warms up, consumers are likely to be "ready to buy."

"Winter weather early in the month slowed shopping for new vehicles down in entire parts of the Northeast and Midwest United States," stated AutoTrader.com president and chief executive officer Chip Perry. "For dealers looking to move new vehicles, spring weather cannot arrive soon enough."

Later in his overall analysis, Perry added: "While shopping activity overall was down somewhat, we still recorded traffic to our site, indicating consumers are more engaged now than they were during most of 2009 in the process of researching a new or used vehicle purchase.

"Shopping activity on dealer lots slowed by bad weather will likely lead to a strong March as consumers who stayed away from the lots in February venture back out as the weather warms," he continued.

Looking at the new-vehicle side in more detail, the most popular new unit on the site was, once again, the F-150. In fact, the top 10 of the 20 most popular new vehicles list was laden with Big 3 models.

In fact, the top six most-viewed new vehicles on the site during February were all from Ford or Chevrolet, and eight of the top 10 were domestic models.

Specifically, the Chevrolet Camaro was No. 2, followed by the Ford Mustang, Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Equinox and Tahoe in spots Nos. 3-6, respectively.

The Wrangler was No. 7, followed by the Honda Accord, F-250 and Honda Civic, respectively.

Toyota Issues 

Moving on to offer some insight into the challenges facing Toyota, AutoTrader.com pointed out that a few new Toyota vehicles saw their traffic decline "after showing resilience" in the midst of the recall.

For instance, the Camry and Corolla — which have been mainstays on the most-popular new models list — were not among the 20 most-viewed new vehicles during February.

That said, the Tacoma climbed to No. 12 on the list, up from No. 18 in January.

Also, Toyota held same spot (No. 3) on the site's list of most-viewed brands as it did in the year-ago period.

"In the longer term, Toyota will most certainly move past these troubles and will regain the confidence and consideration of consumers searching for their next new vehicle," Perry shared.

Korean Vehicles Enjoy Super Bowl Success 

AutoTrader.com also shared some positive news surrounding new-vehicle traffic for two Korean vehicles — the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Sorento — which was lifted significantly during February thanks largely to publicity from Super Bowl commercials.

Specifically, the Sorento moved up 25 spots from a year ago to No. 18 on the new-vehicle list. They year-over-year rise was even more meteoric, as Sorento was No. 113 in February 2009.

Meanwhile, the Sonata was No. 16 on AutoTrader.com's list, after ranking No. 95 in January and 94th a year ago.

"Major events like the Super Bowl remain a great way to expose people to a brand and get them to put it in their consideration set," Perry stated.

"The activity the Sonata and the Sorento experienced on our site following that Super Bowl exposure shows how integrating marketing across all channels — mainstream media and online — can influence consumers to take a look at your vehicle," he continued.