Such a deal
In compiling a gallery of 2012’s top showroom performers, I went looking for the proven winners: cars with a track record of success that depended more on reputation and value than a fashionable new redesign.
I was surprised by what I found.
The plan was to identify those models that had managed to win additional customers without the benefit of costly makeovers. These holdovers can be the most profitable ones for automakers. New cars don’t make any money until they’ve been on the market for several years because they have to amortize engineering, tooling, and launch costs. So instead of just recording the vehicles that recorded the highest percentage sales increases compared with 2011, I weeded out all those models that had been reworked and only looked at carryover models.
I expected my list to be studded by hardy perennials like the Ford F-150 pickup and Toyota Camry. But after some number crunching by the crack statisticians at Edmunds.com, the winners turned out to be mostly older models that had been heavily incentivized to keep drawing customers after the new wore off. More than anything, car buyers like to find a deal.
Here are the 10 models that made the biggest sales gains in 2012 without the benefit of a redesign.
10. Volvo XC60
9. Honda Ridgeline
8. Dodge Avenger
7. Lexus LX 570
6. Nissan Quest
5. Toyota Land Cruiser
Like the Lexus, Toyota’s (TM) Land Cruiser added enough bling to noticeably enlarge its tiny circle of customers (2,579 through November).
4. Smart fortwo
3. Chrysler 300
2. Kia Rio
1. Chevy Volt
General Motor’s (GM) technology showcase/showroom sluggard benefited from price cuts — as much as $10,000 on the $40,000 car or leases as low as $249 a month — to more than triple sales. Even the eco-conscious like a deal.