Survey Says

Survey: SUV owners prioritize safety, comfort and use third row often

Volkswagen's recent survey found that SUV owners are using their third row much more than originally thought.

Photo courtesy of VOlkswagen

Americans are using the third row of their SUV more than Volkswagen originally thought. A survey of 1,000 current SUV lessees and owners revealed that fact and others that showed that safety and comfort are their top two priorities.

"This survey confirms that our current portfolio of SUVs aligns with what consumers are prioritizing here in the U.S.," said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy for Volkswagen of America, Inc. "All of our SUVs rank high on independent measures of comfort, standard safety features and passenger space within their classes, and we're focused on those priorities as we develop new entries like our upcoming subcompact SUV."

The survey consisted of 1,000 SUV owners in the U.S., 500 men and 500 women. Respondents identified an SUV as their primary vehicle. The survey was conducted September 19-24, 2019.

The results of the survey indicated three major trends among SUV buyers.

Safety and comfort rank high in importance but vary by gender.

  • Nearly nine in ten owners ranked SUVs as the best vehicles for your money (96 percent) and indicated that they do not plan on owning any vehicle other than an SUV in the future (87 percent). Drivers also agreed that they feel more confident on the road when driving an SUV (94 percent).
  • Safety and comfort are the highest priority features when it comes to SUVs, with 68 percent of drivers rating them as most important. For men, comfortable seating is more important than overall safety, while women are more likely to place importance on safety and passenger space.

Americans gather in their SUV for family time.

  • More than eight in ten parents say they have family discussions in their SUV, creating a new space for family time, whether on the way to school or on a family road trip.
  • Parents, more than non-parents, agree that they expect to continue to own an SUV from now on (90 percent) and use their SUV as a place for family discussions.
  • SUV owners with a third row are more likely to say family discussions take place in their SUV (75 percent, vs. 60 percent of owners without a third row) and younger SUV owners (18-34 and 35-54) and parents are more likely to use their third row on a daily basis.

Gen Z and Millennials want to be safe, first and foremost.

  • Generationally, Gen Z and Millennials rank the overall safety of the vehicle as most important when it comes to their SUVs, followed by handling on rough roads, whereas drivers ages 55+ ranked comfortable seating as most important.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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