A survey of 5,870 people visiting the 2002 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS 2002) in Detroit last month indicates that Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) resoundingly lead all other vehicle segments in preference among consumers.


According to the survey by R. L. Polk & Co., 27 percent of respondents said they are most likely to purchase either a full-size, regular size or compact SUV as their next vehicle.


This compares with 15 percent who are most likely to buy a mid-size car, 15 percent who prefer a sports car, 11 percent who prefer a luxury car, 11 percent who will choose either a compact or full- size pickup truck, and 7 percent who are most likely to purchase a small car.


“Our surveys are virtual snapshots of auto show consumers,” said Eric Papacek, industry analyst for R. L. Polk & Co. “Here in Detroit, more consumers are indicating a preference for Sport Utility Vehicles. Statistics bear out that this is a national trend, where sport utilities have become the vehicle of choice among auto consumers throughout the United States.”


Polk also surveyed consumers about their preferences for in-vehicle technology. Coming out on top were hands-free cell phones, with 69 percent of 4,320 respondents indicating strong preference, including 35 percent who say the feature is something they “must have” in their next vehicle. Online mapping and navigation systems were also popular, with 61 percent of 4,324 respondents indicating strong preference, including 27 percent who say the feature is a “must-have”.