2016-08-25 / Auto View

Gen-X Fave

STUDY FINDS GEN-XERS FLOCKING TO 365-HORSEPOWER FORD EXPLORER SPORT

Professional Gen-Xers don’t always drive SUVs, but when they do they drive Ford Explorer Sport, according to a new vehicle customer study by MaritzCX.

Data from the study shows the vehicle has the highest percentage of Gen X buyers of any nonluxury SUV in the United States, reflecting this group’s preference for exclusivity and performance at a great value. With its 3.5-liter twinturbo EcoBoost V6 engine mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, Explorer Sport delivers 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm.

Explorer Sport has grabbed a significant 15 percent of total nameplate sales since its debut in 2014.

Jim Mulcrone, director of research services for MaritzCX, says 23 percent of buyers of other midsize SUVs, on average, are Gen-Xers, but Explorer Sport attracts nearly 40 percent of those born between 1965 and 1978. “Ford has a very interesting customer with this product, and what’s unusual is that many are buying it without trading anything in,” he says. “Our study shows that while 17 percent of all non-luxury SUV buyers classify themselves as ‘specialty professionals,’ that number is closer to one in four with Explorer Sport. It seems this product is breaking through.” Peak earning years for members of Generation X are between 47 and 54 years old, and these consumers have a more practical, experiential and family-oriented mindset than baby boomers did at this stage of life, says Sheryl Connelly, Ford manager of global trends and futuring. “Boomers felt the need to display their status in more obvious ways than Gen-Xers do,” she says. “While both groups are hugely important, automakers need to pay special attention to Gen-Xers. Our Explorer Sport fits the profile of the successful member of Generation X.”

“When consumers look at Explorer Sport, they see all the style and performance of a luxury SUV, but at roughly $20,000 less,” says Omar Odeh, Ford Explorer marketing manager. “Our surveys show Explorer Sport owners highly rate such attributes as ‘power and pickup,’ ‘fun to drive’ and ‘overall performance.’ The best part is they represent incremental buyers for us, in that some don’t even set out looking at the Ford brand. Explorer Sport is proving it can stand on its own.”

The 2017 Ford Explorer starts at $31,160, plus destination and delivery, taxes, title and licensing fees; Explorer Sport starts at $45,205.

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