Ford and Lexus have a lot riding on their new SUVs. The redesigned Ford Escape and refreshed Lexus RX recently hit dealer lots and have big shoes to fill. The two have been hot sellers for their brands — the RX is Lexus' best-selling model, period — and both are in competitive segments.
That's why both automakers should feel a bit of relief: The two topped this month's Cars.com Buzz Index. The rankings chart how many people are searching for these models on Cars.com, as well as how many are contacting dealers from the site.
The 2013 RX has been getting a heavy marketing push right out of the gate with constant TV commercials and even billboards along major highways. Most of the model's changes are cosmetic — it has the same engine and overall dimensions as the 2012 — but the updated styling is eye-catching.
Ford, meanwhile, completely overhauled the Escape for 2013. Managing Editor David Thomas reviewed the small SUV and said, "A duo of new turbo engines offer better performance than the competition, the interior is roomy and comfortable, high-tech gadgetry works well, and it even looks cool."
Here is May's Buzz Index:
Top 10 in Overall Activity
The top cars that rank by total shopper activity — as opposed to those that are seeing a large increase in activity as measured by the Buzz Index — don't change as much from month to month. Apart from a few perennial high-interest cars, like Detroit's muscle cars, they generally follow the market's top sellers. The Volkswagen Jetta and Honda CR-V dropped off of this month's list, replaced by the Ford Escape and Honda Accord. Strong incentives on the aging Accord, which snapped a three-month slide in April to gain 25.6% in sales, could be driving interest higher. With a redesign around the corner, the outgoing Escape has similarly high incentives.
About the Buzz Index
Cars.com's Buzz Index analyzes data from thousands of Cars.com shoppers, looking at which cars have the highest increase in search and dealer-contact activity, using a floor to eliminate bit players. Index values analyze which cars garner the highest month-over-month increase in shopper activity — the movers and shakers — not which cars have the highest total activity, which stays comparatively similar. For each car, the index regards the most recent model year available for sale.
David Thomas contributed to this report.