If cars don't appeal to the massive populus, as you call it, then they won't sell. It's that simple.
What I'm not sure of is exactly why the car manufacturers decided to push the SUV in the first place. Yes, it (might have) had the american ideals of freedom, power, independence, et cetera. But there's no reason you couldn't get those in a smaller car. Remember when you got your first car? That was a feeling of freedom, power and independence.
Perhaps - no, undoubtedly - it's related to the gradual obesification of america. I'm sure everyone's noticed how tables, chairs, etc have gotten subtly bigger over the last decades - it's accounting simply for the increase in the average size of the humans who use them. Personally, I feel as if I'm inside a leather-wrapped cave when I'm in an SUV (I'm fairly slim). Or, depending on the car, I can be astonished at how little room there is inside, when the car is so imposing from the outside. It's perfectly possible for car manufacturers to do the opposite; sit in a new Mini, for example (though, really, it's about the same size as a civic hatchback, and it only looks small in comparison to these gargantuan monstrosities that are overrunning our roads).
Oh well. It's the same beef I have with nearly all cars today: increase in size, resulting decrease in engine efficiency; decrease in interior size, resuilting decrease in total efficiency. The big three (and some european companies too) could take a lesson from Lotus...
190HP Toyota 4-cylinder
0-60 in 4.7sec
top speed 150mph (really, cars could be limited to 120 and it wouldn't make a big difference)
The Elise accelerates faster than a Porsche Carerra S or 911 Turbo (with tiptronic), costs 1/3 of the 911 Turbo and gets 50% better gas mileage, on an engine with about half the horsepower, all thanks to WEIGHT REDUCTION. It carries two *healthy* people just fine, and has a tiny bit of storage space - just enough for your box of donuts or what have you.
I'm not trying to plug the Elise as a commuter car (ha ha ha), but merely pointing out that it is reasonable to expect more from the car manufacturers than they're doing, especially in the realm of increased efficiency.
It's not possible, unfortunately, to expect more from the public. All they'll do is emulate celebrities. Until we get more of them on hybrids, the public will keep emulating rappers with lowered, mink-fur-upholstered, diamond-encrusted H2s. What a load of crap.