November '17

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Page 19 of 115

18 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2017 T he North American SUV and cross- over market is about as varied as it gets, with seemingly countless size, style and luxury package combinations. Arguably the most widely recognized model is the Jeep Wrangler, with a four- door JK release in 2007 serving as the gamechanger that welcomed hordes of new brand loyalists to an already-swelling SUV/CUV segment—and another redesign is on the way! Aftermarket suppliers like Fab Fours, Rugged Ridge and Clayton Off Road—not to mention shops like Truck Toyz Unlim- ited in Connecticut, Endangered Species in Massachusetts and De Dona Enterprises in New York—have cashed in on the Jeep wave throughout the years. But it would be foolish to fence off the success of highly desirable SUVs—Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-9, Volvo XC-90 and others—from their smaller crossover counterparts. Because the real Cinderella story here is how vehicles like the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4 have helped elevate the collective market from niche to common and sustainable. THE SMALLER, THE BETTER In a quiet-but-persistent manner, these former underdogs have paved the way for models such as the all-new Mazda CX-5, Volvo V60 Cross Country and Toyota C-HR, as well as the revamped Ford Escape, Kia Soul and Jeep Compass, to ride the coattails of fame and fortune. With certainty, the OEs are doing a fine job delivering the goods and flooding the market with the power of choice to meet consumer demand. "SUVs and crossovers are headed in a well- tailored direction. Even high-end brands like Ferrari are considering the jump onboard, and that says a lot," says Rich Ramasir, national sales manager at Xanatos Auto- motive in New York. "The smaller, family- friendly vehicles have all the modern ame- nities (upgraded infotainment and speaker systems, Bluetooth, safety features, etc.)," Ramasir notes, so the reality is that vehicle owners don't need to sacrifice a thing. While automakers have worked to develop a robust portfolio, the aftermarket has been slightly slower to react to this busi- ness opportunity. Whether uninterested or unable to tap into these add-on sales, some shops and dealerships are blindly walking past a potential gold mine in SUVs and crossovers. Investing in the right categories, brands, products and applications will have retailers and restylers converting window shoppers into return customers. Regardless of niche, the right product mix always sells. So, how do shops adopt a more attrac- tive and diverse merchandise offering in this explosive space? Here's a top-down approach: FAMILY 18 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2017 Different types of SUVs and crossovers are popu- lar in different parts of the country. Shops should look to products that connect with local buyers. (Photo courtesy Subaru) By Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko Cashing in on the hot SUV and crossover market. Style

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