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SUVs, crossovers outselling sedans

With the U.S. auto industry in recovery mode, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand of some of their most popular sport-utility vehicles and crossovers, which for the first time are outselling conventional sedans.

2014 Jeep Cherokees
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2014 Jeep Cherokees

According to an analysis of new vehicle registrations by IHS Automotive, utility vehicles accounted for 36.5 percent of the overall American market during the first five months of 2014, compared with 35.4 percent for sedans.

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A year ago, sedans outsold utility vehicles 36.6 percent to 33.9 percent.

"These vehicles offer the combination of appealing features associated with both cars and light trucks, including a higher seating position, higher ground clearance, softer ride, more interior space, optional four-wheel or all-wheel drive, and towing capacity, among others," said IHS analyst Tom Libby.

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Meanwhile, what the industry refers to as trucks—including all utility vehicles, vans and pickups—has an even more solid hold on the market, accounting for 53.2 percent of total U.S. new vehicle sales.

By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at thedetroitbureau.com.

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