Crossover SUVs may be on a lot of shopper’s want lists for the holiday, and perhaps this year subcompact versions may just be the perfect stocking stuffer. Sales of most crossovers and SUVs remain strong, but among the smaller variants there’s a bit of softness that’s reflected in increased incentives. Two factors responsible for this turn of events are a flood of new entrants and the vehicles themselves not having the same utility as their larger siblings.

In particular, you’ll find the biggest discounts on 2017 models. Fiat is currently offering up to $3,000 on the 2017 500X, while sister division Jeep has as much as $4,250 on 2017 Renegades. At GM, there’s $3,500 in incentives on both the 2017 Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax.

Larger compact models also are carrying sizable rebates. Jeep has as much as $5,000 on 2017 Cherokees and $4,000 on 2018 models. Ford is offering up to $4,500 on its 2017 Escape, while Hyundai has $3,750 on 2017 Santa Fe Sport.

Inventories stabilize

Generous incentives and a market stimulated by hurricane-replacement vehicle sales have kept industry inventories from ballooning as the manufacturers head into their year-end closeout sales through the holiday season. According to Automotive News, Nov. 1 saw a 71 days’ supply of vehicles, up two days over the 69-day average for the period. Days’ supply is the number of days it would take to completely move all the vehicles in stock at the current sales rate.

The trade paper said that before the two major storms that hit the U.S. in August and September, inventories had grown to 15 days above normal, but sales rebounded to clear out enough vehicles to where the number of vehicles in the pipeline is about normal for this time of year. However, at 71 days, it still is higher than the 60-day level that is considered ideal.

Subaru moved back into first place among brands with the shortest supply at 41 days, followed by Audi with 46 and BMW with 47. Nameplates with the largest supply of vehicles include Volkswagen with a 148 days’ supply, followed by Fiat with 144 and Mitsubishi with 127.

By model, the vehicle with the largest supply is the Buick LaCrosse at 213. That ample supply is a combination of a slow sales rate and 12,000 units waiting on dealer lots. Traditional sedans aren’t the only vehicles affected by slow sales. Honda’s subcompact Fit currently stands at a 158 days’ supply with 20,000 vehicles in inventory.

Chevy’s road trip survey

Just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday and traditional road trips to reunite families, Chevrolet has conducted a study to determine the biggest pain points in taking these journeys. While some would predict it would be children with their incessant chants of “Are we there yet?”, the survey discovered that two out of three parents identified traffic as the biggest stress inducer. The kids? Only 26 percent of the parents said they are bothered by them, and about a third feel some stress in trying to keep them entertained.

The study, conducted by Harris Poll, found that most people actually like family road trips, with more than half (53 percent) saying they “love them,” and that 80 percent like the opportunity that these outings present in spending time with the family.

As for trip length, American families believe the perfect trip is about six hours. And nearly two-thirds believe the ideal vehicle to take that trip in is an SUV and many of them (42 percent overall) preferring a full-size model with 3-row seating. Wi-Fi connectivity is evidently becoming a big thing. The survey revealed that the family, on average, takes as many as 6.6 mobile devices with them when they hit the road.

2018 Honda Clarity Priced

Honda has announced pricing on its 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, which will go on sale Dec. 1. The 5-passenger 4-door sedan will start at $33,400 plus $830 destination charge. The top Touring model is priced from $36,600 and includes leather-trimmed seats, navigation, and an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat. The Clarity was named a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Category Winner for electric and hybrid vehicles. Boasting 47 miles of pure electric range, the Clarity is also eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

“The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid takes a big step forward in bringing Honda electrified vehicles into the mainstream with no compromise to performance, range or comfort,” said Ray Mikiciuk, assistant vice president of Honda Automobile Sales. “The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid leads the pack with the highest all-electric range rating of any plug-in hybrid sedan.”

The EPA rates the Clarity at 110 combined MPGe and 44 city/40 highway/42 combined mpg in gas only mode. The vehicle teams at 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce a combined 212 horsepower and the 17 kWh battery pack provides the 47-mile pure electric range that contributes to an overall range of 340 miles.

The rundown

The Kelley Blue Book 2018 Best Buy Awards have been announced. Get the rundown on the 12 category winners and the overall champ here.

The 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show is set to open to the public at the end of the month. We take an early look at what’s expected in this preview.

Kia is looking to shake up the status quo with its hot, new 2018 Kia Stinger sport sedan. In addition to offering high performance, the Korean automaker announced attractive pricing.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal:

Kelley Blue Book’s Complete Guide to Incentives

All you need to know about leasing

Which dealer services are right for you?

What to look for in your next economy car

What you need to know about conditional rebates

New Car Spotlight


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