By Kelsey Mays on April 10, 2012
The Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Prius were in high demand in March, with just-released 2013 Elantra sedans staying at dealerships just three days before shoppers take them home — proof that if a car is executed right, it can sell fast even in its third year.
There are still nearly twice as many 2012 Elantras versus 2013s in Cars.com's national new-car inventory, and the 2012s moved briskly, too. They averaged just 10 days on dealer lots in March. That's well below the month's 41-day average, which was a tick slower than February's 39-day average but it's faster than March 2011, when new cars took 48 days to sell.Toyota ramped up supply for its long-awaited Prius variants, and shoppers lined up for the hybrid like it was the "Hunger Games" of cars. The original Prius nearly made the Movers list, leaving dealer lots in just 13 days. Shoppers snapped up the Prius c, which makes up 9% of Prius new-car inventory on Cars.com, in just six days. The Prius Plug-in is trickling into dealerships — it makes up just 1.3% of Cars.com's Prius inventory nationwide — but as gas prices hovered around $3.90 a gallon nationwide, shoppers couldn't buy it fast enough. It stayed on dealer lots just four days. Put it all together, and it's easy to see why Prius sales skyrocketed 54.3% in March, landing the car on the month's top 10 best-sellers for the first time since October 2009.
Media criticism and declining quality surveys on Ford's MyFord Touch system did little to blunt the Explorer and Edge, which stayed on dealer lots less than 10 days apiece. Ford's EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder, which gives EPA highway ratings of 28 mpg in the Explorer and 30 mpg in the Edge, may have blown some wind into the sails — and sales — for both SUVs. Less than 10% of 2013 Explorers on Cars.com have the EcoBoost four-cylinder, but more than 20% of Edges have the engine.
The rest of the winners include familiar nameplates: Subaru Impreza, Honda CR-V, BMW 328i, Lexus GS. In all, nine of March's 17 winners were on the list in February. It still flummoxes us why the 6-year-old Audi Q7 flew off lots — with no posted incentives, too. The smaller Q5, meanwhile, made its fifth straight appearance. It's been a mover since last November.
A tepid winter ended with record-high March temperatures, but — strangely — that did little to hasten convertible sales. Droptops made up seven of March's 10 losers. That outpaced February, when four convertibles made up the bottom 10. In perhaps a sigh of relief for Fiat, the slow-selling 500 escaped the Losers list, where it's been since last December. Still, it was a close shave: The 500 hatchback averaged 87 days on dealer lots, which left it just two spots off the list.
*As we've noted of late, the Porsche 911 includes the outgoing car (the 997, to Porsche enthusiasts) and redesigned (991) versions among its 2012 models. It's hard to quantify just how many 997s are slowing the car's sales pace, but either way, the 911 ranks at the bottom.
About the Lists:
The Movers and Losers list reports the average number of days it takes to sell models from the day they arrive on the lot until the final paperwork is signed by a buyer. This is not a days-of-inventory list like you may find on other websites. We're now focusing on only 2012 and 2013 model years.
For Movers, we only list vehicles that pass a certain threshold of sales in order to weed out limited editions, ultra-high-performance cars and others that might skew the numbers or otherwise inaccurately portray popularity. For Losers, we have removed any threshold to reflect 2012 models that may have the greatest incentives.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey