Sport Utility Vehicles still popular despite high gas prices

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Even with the high gas prices, consumers are going for big SUVs.

Car salesmen say buyers spend money on the cars they like no matter what the prices are, but some "think economy" when shopping on the lot.

Knoxville, like the rest of the country, has seen some big increases in the price of gas in the past several weeks.

"At this point, it's hard to say when it'll end," said Don Lindsey from AAA.

Lindsey says analysts and consumers may be partly to blame.

"Speculation is driving the price up because of what people think might happen instead of what is actually happening," Lindsey said.

Another thing driving up prices is the shrinking value of the dollar. As the dollar drops, it means more money for oil, which spiked to 106 dollars a barrel Thursday.
Another cause for higher gas prices...

"The supply of oil actually dropped over the last several weeks up until today or the supply was going up dramatically, but it dropped a little bit yesterday," Lindsey said.

Car dealerships are seeing steady interest in hybrid cars because they get about 47 miles to the gallon, but people are still going for the gas guzzling SUVs.

"I think there's going to be a certain segment of people that are interested in those type of vehicles regardless of the price of gas, and I think though when they do look at those vehicles they're looking at value and still looking at things like cost of ownership and safety," Honda sales manager Joe Jemley said.

Safety is a main concern, but so are gas prices. Most consumers are keeping their fingers crossed for those to come down soon.

Knoxville is below the national average, which is $3.19 a gallon.