As America shifts to SUVs, so does the L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES (AP) — America's shift from cars to SUVs is starting to look permanent, and automakers are scrambling to meet the demand.

Toyota, Ford, Subaru, Jeep and Volkswagen are all showing new SUVs at this week's Los Angeles Auto Show. Even traditional luxury-car makers like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo are debuting SUVs at the show, which opens to the public Friday.

Americans bought more SUVs than four-door cars for the first time last year, and the momentum is growing, according to registration data from IHS Markit. In the first nine months of this year, SUVs made up 39.5 percent of new-vehicle registrations; cars stood at 32 percent.

Unlike the previous SUV boom in the early 2000s – which fell victim to rising gas prices – this one is likely to stay. That's because automakers are offering more small SUVs with better fuel economy. The country's top-selling sedan, the Toyota Camry, gets 28 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The top-selling small SUV, the Honda CR-V, gets 29 mpg.

"There's no reason to not buy an SUV," says Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. "I can't imagine a lot of scenarios where this trend is going to change."

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