Insights

SUV Ownership in America: Where Bigger is Better

SUVs are having a moment.

Quickly shifting public preference towards SUVs in the United States have jolted the auto industry into a race to see who can produce the next big thing (so to speak) in vehicular manufacture. Foreign brands in particular are rushing to push out bigger models as U.S. preferences sharply shift towards SUVs. Consequently, sedan sales have declined, prompting many vehicle manufacturers to scale down production on smaller models in favor of their more heavy-duty counterparts. Stateside, for example, part of General Motors’ much-publicized radical restructuring can be attributed to shifting consumer preference to SUVs and trucks, resulting in the discontinuation of several sedan models.

In light of SUVs’ booming popularity—and now that holiday-season car sales events are in full swing—it begs the question as to which cities, states, and regions across the country boast the highest percentages of SUVs among all car owners. Where are SUVs most popular, and which models are currently dominating the national market? The data specialists at Insurify pursued these questions in order to rank the top 20 cities in America with the most and least SUVs as a share of all cars on the road.

Here’s what they found:

Insights

  • Explorers reign supreme. By a large margin, the Ford Explorer is the most popular SUV model in the U.S. Exactly half of the 50 states in the country can claim this decades-old standby as their number one most prevalent SUV on the road. Furthermore, only four states or territories have a non-domestic car model as its top SUV.
  • Regional patterns. In areas where Explorers can’t claim a complete monopoly, other SUV brands emerge as the most popular in curious geographic pockets. Perhaps betraying its evocatively Southeastern name, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is quite popular in New England and other Northeast states. The Chevrolet Tahoe, meanwhile, is the number one SUV of choice in a contiguous handful of states in the Deep South and Plains.
  • Golden State at it again. California drivers evidently prefer smaller rides. The massive coastal state claims the bottom spot on our state-by-state rankings, with only about 23 percent of all cars identified as SUVs. Furthermore, the state contains 11 of the 20 cities on our list of locales with the lowest share of SUVs.
  • All in the family. Given the SUV’s practicality for families of all sizes, Insurify’s data specialists analyzed if the cities with the most and least SUVs had any significant difference between their share of homes designated as family households. However, they found no statistical correlation between SUV ownership and family household prevalence, suggesting that the SUV boom is not merely a family-based phenomenon.

Methodology

The data specialists at Insurify, an auto insurance quotes comparison website, compiled data from its database of over 1.5 million car insurance applications, which ask questions about driving history, vehicle type, and other personal data. From this data, they were able to determine the 20 cities with the highest and lowest percentages of SUVs (as opposed to non-SUVs, mostly designated as sedans) as a share of all cars reported in that city. To improve the results, the final lists were filtered to include only cities with a minimum of 1,500 applications. The data specialists performed the same analysis on a state level for all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. For both geographic analyses, they also determined the most popular SUV (make and model) for each location. Data on the percentage of family households (as a share of all households) for cities was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

Cities with the Most SUVs

20. Pueblo, Colorado

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 58.9% of all households

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19. Anderson, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 55.4% of all households


18. Austin, Texas

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.3%
  • Most popular SUV: Honda CR-V
  • Family households: 52.0% of all households

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17. Summerville, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.4%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 68.7% of all households

16. Conway, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 62.0% of all households

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15. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 59.7% of all households

14. Charleston, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.8%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 52.5% of all households

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13. North Charleston, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 26.8%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 57.7% of all households

12. Cumming, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 27.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
  • Family households: 55.4% of all households

11. Reno, Nevada

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 27.3%
  • Most popular SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Family households: 54.6% of all households

10. Acworth, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 27.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 64.8% of all households

9. Chicago, Illinois

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 27.6%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Escape
  • Family households: 53.9% of all households

8. Naples, Florida

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 27.6%
  • Most popular SUV: Honda CR-V
  • Family households: 59.3% of all households

7. Alpharetta, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 27.9%
  • Most popular SUV: Honda CR-V
  • Family households: 71.9% of all households

6. Lexington, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 28.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 65.3% of all households

5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 28.7%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Escape
  • Family households: 55.5% of all households

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 28.9%
  • Most popular SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Family households: 63.9% of all households

3. Aurora, Colorado

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 29.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 65.8% of all households

2. Katy, Texas

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 29.9%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Escape
  • Family households: 75.6% of all households

1. Denver, Colorado

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 30.1%
  • Most popular SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Family households: 48.6% of all households

Cities with the Least SUVs

20. Athens, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.6%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 47.6% of all households

19. Atlanta, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.6%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 42.4% of all households

18. Long Beach, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 60.3% of all households

17. San Jose, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Honda CR-V
  • Family households: 73.3% of all households

16. Pompano Beach, Florida

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.4%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 55.5% of all households

15. Jonesboro, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.3%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 61.2% of all households

14. Norcross, Georgia

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.3%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 68.4% of all households

13. Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 59.6% of all households

12. Oakland, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 20.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Honda CR-V
  • Family households: 55.3% of all households

11. Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.8%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 55.9% of all households

10. Bakersfield, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.6%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 74.4% of all households

9. Sacramento, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.6%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 58.9% of all households

8. Arlington, Texas

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Escape
  • Family households: 68.7% of all households

7. Fresno, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.2%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 69.4% of all households

6. Fayetteville, North Carolina

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.1%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 60.7% of all households

5. San Diego, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.1%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 60.4% of all households

4. Los Angeles, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 19.1%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 59.9% of all households

3. Glendale, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 18.5%
  • Most popular SUV: Toyota Rav4
  • Family households: 69.0% of all households

2. Stockton, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 17.8%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 71.6% of all households

1. Riverside, California

  • Percent of drivers with SUVs: 15.9%
  • Most popular SUV: Ford Explorer
  • Family households: 73.2% of all households
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Insurify's team of data scientists and content specialists present Insurify Insights, a series of automotive and demographic studies focusing on driver behavior, regional superlatives, and national rankings. Through expert analysis of over 1.6 million car insurance shopper applications, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles every week.