SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Dealers may be eagerly awaiting the return of car buyers to the market due to pent-up demand, but new data from Experian Automotive shows that the percentage of older vehicles on the road has reached its highest level since 2009.

According to the company’s most recent Automotive Market Trends analysis, vehicles predating the 2001 model year made up more than 28.3% of all vehicles on the road during the first quarter of 2014, up from 22.1% six years earlier. The findings mirror stats released by IHS Automotive earlier this month, which showed that the combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the United States is 11.4 years — a number the firm predicts will remain steady through 2015 before rising to 11.7 by 2019. 

“Auto companies have been seeing the benefits from consumers coming back to market due to pent-up demand following the recession. However, it’s clear that more and more consumers continue to drive older-model vehicles,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian Automotive’s senior director of automotive credit. “While the growth in early model vehicles on the road is slowing, getting the most out of the vehicle they purchase still appears to be top of mind for consumers.”

During the first quarter, the top model-year 2000 and older vehicle was the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Ranger and Honda Civic, according to the report. Additional data from the analysis showed that consumers were purchasing entry-level crossover utility vehicles (CUV) more than any other vehicle segment.

Also during the beginning of 2014, the entry-level CUV segment surpassed full-size pickup trucks as the top vehicle segment among new registrations. This marks the first time in 10 years that a CUV was the top registered vehicle segment. The only two segments to achieve this title in the last 10 years were full-size pickups and small economy cars.

From a make-and-model perspective, the Top 5 CUVs registered during the quarter were the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. The Top 5 new-vehicle models registered across all segments in the first quarter were the Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the Honda Accord. Regionally, the F-150 was the top new vehicle model in the Western, Midwest and South regions, while the Honda CR-V was the top model in the Northeast region.

Experian also found that the total number of vehicles on the road remained unchanged (247.4 million) in the opening quarter of 2014 vs. the previous year. Additionally, nearly 1.3% of those vehicles during the quarter were alternative-power vehicles. Also during the quarter, new vehicles accounted for 27% of all registrations, remaining flat from last year.

Imports made up more than 52% of all new-vehicle registrations in first quarter 2014, up from 51.8% the previous year. The top five manufacturers for new registrations during the quarter were General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler and Nissan.