NEWS

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: April 2015

15Chevrolet_Equinox_SO_ES_16.jpg 2015 Chevrolet Equinox; | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Parity was the theme for car sales in April. The Detroit Three, Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai-Kia all posted single-digit sales gains over a decent April 2014. Honda was the only loser among the Big Seven this month, falling 1.8 percent as demand waned for the Accord, like so many other family cars. The segment slumped 6.4 percent as shoppers stayed (again) on a steady SUV diet. Despite stable pricing and incentives, hot sellers like the Chevrolet Equinox and Nissan Rogue gained more than 40 percent versus April 2014.

Related: April’s Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

The caveat for Rogue sales is the old Rogue Select, which still accounts for nearly a third of Cars.com new-Rogue inventory. As for the Equinox, it appears GM’s decision not to redesign the car won’t hurt. Despite its age, the SUV rode consumers’ appetite for non-luxury compact SUVs in general. The segment gained 15.7 percent in April as shoppers swarmed popular models like the Equinox, Rogue, Subaru Forester (up 21 percent), Jeep Cherokee (up 27.1 percent) and Toyota RAV4 (up 21.7 percent).

In fact, eight of the 10 fastest-selling cars in April were SUVs. It wasn’t just small models that enjoyed the popularity; low gas prices pushed shoppers toward larger crossovers, too. Full-size, three-row models gained 12.4 percent.

But gas prices, though still low, ticked up throughout the month, and that may have helped check the enthusiasm for less-efficient, truck-based SUVs. After months of meteoric sales gains, traditional full-size models — haulers like the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia — fell 13.2 percent in April.

Their pickup-truck siblings didn’t fare well, either. Despite a redesigned Ford F-150, fewer housing starts and a slowdown in the country’s upper-Plains energy boom seems to have plateaued demand for full-size pickups, which lost market share for the second straight month after a string of gains.

There’s another factor at play: Pickups got more expensive. Average transaction prices for every light-duty full-size pickup from the Detroit Three edged upward significantly in April versus a year ago. That means truck shoppers either saw fewer incentives or bought pricier versions of the trucks — likely the case for the F-150, whose redesign brought the highest year-over-year increase.

Still, the good news for car shoppers overall was that transaction prices slowed their rise across the industry, clocking the lowest year-over-year increase in six months. At the same time, consumers had a little more cash to pay for them. Wage growth rebounded from a slow ending in 2014 and picked up steam in the first quarter of 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Couple that with strong consumer confidence since fall 2014 and auto sales should see more gains ahead, even as April 2015 turns out to be a modest month.

 

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