Millennials Showing New Interest in SUVs

The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC recently introduced readers to the Chrysler Portal, a concept car from Chrysler Fiat that was billed as a millennial dream car. It included selfie taking capabilities, shared playlists, LED accent lighting, and facial recognition software. Chrysler created the car in an attempt to combat the lack of interest from millennials in the automotive industry. 

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Well fortunately or unfortunately, the car selfies will have to wait. Car manufacturers such as Chrysler should be relieved by new data released by Autotrader and published in the Detroit Free Press which suggests that millennials are showing a newfound interest in SUVs. Data taken from an Autotrader survey showed that 40% of millennials say their dream car is an SUV. This growing interest from millennials aligns with an emphasis from car manufacturers on family-carrying vehicles. According to Ford US sales analyst Erich Merkle, who spoke to the Free Press, sales of SUVs are up across the board - large SUVs are up 12%, midsize SUVs are up 9%, and compact SUVs are up 4%. On top of that, consumers become very loyal to SUVs after their first purchase. Buyers cite the biggest selling points of SUVs to be the cargo space, higher seating position, ease of getting in and out, and extra seating. For instance, Ford's best selling car with millennials is the Escape, which can seat seven. After all, you can't have #squadgoals if the entire squad can't fit in the car!

While the features of the Chrysler Portal may be trendy for millennials, they might not be the safest. Millennials like to multitask, but keeping an eye on the road while trying to take the perfect selfie may prove to be difficult and certainly unsafe. Run-of-the-mill SUVs, on the other hand, have been consistently improving their safety features. Of the cars U.S. News and World Report consider to be the 10 safest SUVs, many come standard with safety features such as rear view cameras, automatic emergency breaking, and rear cross traffic alerts. Since millennials are a generation highly interested in technology, it's likely that they'll be willing to spend the extra money on optional safety features as well. These can include lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning - all of which make for a safer vehicle. 

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For years, the buying habits and lifestyles of millennials suggested that they wouldn’t be buying SUVs to the same degree as their baby boomer parents. Baby boomers moved out to the suburbs and started having families in their early 20s. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to live in urban areas and have shown less of a desire for marriage and children. As a result, millennials tend to use ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft as means of transportation, rather than purchasing a vehicle. Car manufacturers were right to be concerned by this lack of interest, as there are 80 million millennials in America, making them the largest generational group in the country. When it comes to the auto industry, according to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, millennials purchased only about 4 million cars and trucks in 2015, and are expected to have made up only 30% of new car sales in 2016. Millennials have enormous buying power, and if they weren't using that power to buy SUVs, it could be a huge loss for automakers.

There are a few factors that likely explain millennials' new desire for SUVs. One is that their lifestyles are starting to look more like those of baby boomers, no matter how much they try and deny that they're like their parents. While there is no exact definition of a millennial, the agreed upon age range is generally people born between 1980 and 2000. Since millennials are getting married and having children at older ages than previous generations did, this means they are just now reaching the time in their life when they need a bigger car to transport a family. As such, they are becoming more interested in the extra seating and cargo space that SUVs have to offer. Data from Ford shows that SUVs are most commonly purchased by people between the ages of 35 and 44, and millennials are just starting to hit that age range.

Another explanation for millennials' new interest in SUVs is the economy. Since the Great Recession has ended, it’s likely that millennials are just now starting to reach a point in their life when they have the resources to make a large purchase, such as an SUV and a house in the suburbs. 

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While millennial lifestyles are looking more like the life styles of baby boomers, according to Autoguide however, their actual car purchasing habits are still quite different. Millennials spend more time doing their own research before walking into a dealership, and the vast majority of that research is online. Millennials look up car ratings before going to the dealer just like they look up Yelp reviews before ordering takeout.

Millennials are clearly doing their research when it comes to car buying. This newfound interest in SUVs is great news for the automotive industry, who will welcome purchases of bigger cars and safety upgrades by millennials. It's also encouraging that millennials are just as interested in safety features as they are with selfies and custom playlists. However, no amount of research or high tech safety equipment can currently assure that accidents won’t happen. Whether driving an SUV or any other type of car, it’s important to be alert and to follow all traffic laws to minimize the risk of being involved in an automobile accident. Posting that car selfie would be pointless if you crashed the car that took it, right? 


Accidents can happen regardless of the type of car being driven and whatever advanced safety features the vehicle may have. If you have been involved in automobile accident call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of motor vehicle collision lawsuits including those involving SUVs. 

Chrysler Portal: A Concept Vehicle Made With Millennials In Mind

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They've popularized the selfie, revolutionized the uses for social media, and thrive off of constant action. Who are they? They are millennials of course!

Also known as Generation Y, millennials  are the youngest generation of adults, made up of people born from 1980-2000, who are currently coming in to their own in today's world. While most associations to millennials seem to be negative, for example, one big stereotype is that millennials are lazy and narcissistic, they are the future of the world and of the economy. Recently, however millennials have been labeled as “ruining the American economy,” since statistics have shown that millennials commute by car less than any other generation, thus raising concerns for the multi-billion dollar auto industry. 

To address this lack of millennial car consumer demand, Chrysler unveiled its all-electric Portal concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, 2017. Fiat Chrysler, CNN News reports, is said to have spent 20 years conducting research on these potential customers, understanding their behavior and greatest vehicle desires. There is little surprise that technology was found to be the main requirement millennials were looking for in their cars. With the constant connections and multi-tasking young people do nowadays, both at home and in the workplace, automakers are developing new products with a different crowd in mind.

Chrysler Portal Concept Car

Chrysler Portal's Millennial Inspired Vehicle Features

  1. Portal’s most touted feature involves something as millennial as it gets: selfies. The car is able to take a photo of all six passengers, and then send the image to everyone’s mobile device so it can be shared on social media, connected via plug-in ports.
  2. Another important aspect of Portal is its music, a valuable part of the driving experience for potential millennial customers. The car allows everyone in the vehicle to combine their songs and videos into one shared playlist to listen to while on the road. Portal’s stereo also has “zoned audio” that lets passengers listen to different audio in different parts of the car, without wearing headphones. This technology also can amplify certain external sounds for the driver, like the sound of sirens from an approaching ambulance.
  3. A display screen on the car’s ceiling lets the vehicle’s occupants access a shared playlist from the passengers’ mobile devices, along with putting together things like a drive-thru dinner order. Portal can even pay for the dinner order by linking payment information with the feature.
  4. Portal also has a fully customizable interior. Indoor LED accent lighting can be changed to any color, and car sears may be moved back and forth along tracks and even removed completely to create more storage space. 
  5. All-electric, Chrysler's proposed vehicle can drive up to 250 miles on a full charge. In fact, just 20 minutes of charging allows vehicle operators to drive 150 miles. Not only is this convenient, but it caters to millennials' environmentally friendly mindset. 
  6. While Portal still has a steering wheel and pedals, its limited self-driving capabilities keep the product current with autonomous car technology. The steering wheel is able to fold into the dashboard when not in use. 
  7. Perhaps most importantly to the busy, career driven young person, Chrysler’s millennial-focused vehicle uses cameras with facial recognition software mounted on the outside of the car to recognize people approaching the vehicle. That allows for custom interior and entertainment features to automatically be set up for the passengers before they even enter the vehicle. Portal sounds like it has everything a millennial could ever dream for!
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While automakers are busy working to develop new vehicles with millennial customers in mind, cities on the other hand, are continuing to expand public transportation and other alternative forms of getting around. This recent growth in alternative transportation including city bike share programs, like Detroit's own MoGo, is why Citylab predicts that millennials will rely less and less on cars. Additionally, people who have more money tend to drive more, and millennials just aren’t making much income right now.  Also, this age group cares more about their environmental impact than other generations, choosing other forms of transportation to get around in order to keep the planet clean.  

Chrysler seems to be on the right track in gearing their new motor vehicle concepts towards millennials. However, it is important to remember to focus on the road at all times, as fancy selfie features and multitasking audio systems may increase the chances of a car crash due to distracted driving. Millennials can call themselves the “cool” generation all they want, but new cars like the Portal must promote safety as well as tech savvy, because nothing is cool about causing a car crash.


By designing a vehicle tailored to millennial preferences and driving style, Chrysler's concept vehicle could become a hit among America's biggest generation. However, with the introduction of even more technology in the car, millennial drivers must remember to always keep their eyes on the road, no matter what angle the in-car selfie is snapping a photo from. If you or someone you know has been involved in a distracted driving car accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.