But with spiking gas prices, followed by the throes of the recession, larger trucks and SUVs have stumbled in the market ever since.
Even a couple of years after gas prices were climbing rapidly (on their way to top out at a national average $4.12 a gallon in July 2008), very few SUV and pickup models sell at a transaction price that's even close to the sticker price, or MSRP.
For instance, the pricing intelligence firm TrueCar—which provides market pricing here at TheCarConnection.com—said that the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee was the most discounted vehicle last month, with an average discount of about 18 percent off MSRP. That's a discount of more than $8,000 on a well optioned, $45k Grand Cherokee Limited. Even on 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi, TrueCar lists a target "great" price of more than $6,000 below sticker price, including a $4,000 manufacturer's incentive. The 2010 Jeep Commander is selling at about the same discount. And it's certainly not just Jeep; the 2010 Expedition King Ranch is selling for an expected discount of more than $5,000 off sticker, and you can expect to save $3,000 or more on a new 2010 Nissan Armada Platinum.
Full-size pickups are still being sold at massive discounts. For February, TrueCar listed the Nissan Titan as the most discounted 2009 model, which the automaker was still then apparently still clearing from lots. On a fully loaded 2009 Titan Crew Cab in PRO-4X off-road guise, which stickers at nearly $46k, shoppers could count on more than $12,000 off the list price. The 2010 Ford F-150 SuperCrew XL is selling at nearly $5,000 below its $30,030 sticker price, on average, according to TrueCar, and the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LS was selling at a discount of more than $1,500, before counting up to $3,000 in likely customer incentives.
2010 Ford ExpeditionEnlarge Photo
Toprak said that overall, truck-based sport-utility vehicles are still overpriced relative to demand. "Basically, they're still selling for $5,000 to $8,000 less than manufacturers want to sell them for."
"We've seen major drops in production," Toprak said, but he noted that in many cases automakers still haven't accounted for especially sluggish demand for larger SUVs.