NEWS

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2016

16Honda_Civic_1stDrive_MH_03.jpg 2016 Honda Civic; | Cars.com photo by Mike Hanley

CARS.COM — Cupid matched plenty of shoppers with automobiles in February: Ford, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan saw double-digit sales gains in what was a pretty strong month for the industry.

Related: Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: January 2015

Half the top 10 best-sellers saw double-digit increases, with the biggest percentage gain from the Honda Civic. Dealers began February with nowhere near the glut of Civic inventory they had a year ago, per Automotive News, and shoppers winnowed it down even more: Civic sales spiked 31.7 percent versus a slow year-ago month as shoppers snapped up the redesigned, acclaimed Civic sedan. That momentum should continue; a redesigned Civic coupe hits dealers this month.

Meanwhile, sales for the top three sellers — all full-size pickups — show more than meets the eye. At face value, it seems shoppers spurned the Chevrolet Silverado for Ford’s F-Series and FCA’s Ram. But Silverado sales decreased versus a stellar year-ago month, and F-Series sales increased versus a mediocre February 2015. What’s more, Automotive News indicates Chevrolet began last month with Silverado inventory significantly down versus February 2015, while Ford began with F-Series inventory way up. Some truck shoppers just might not have been able to find the configuration they wanted at their Chevy dealer last month — but found it at the Ford showroom down the street.

Then there’s Ram, whose double-digit sales gains come versus stable inventory and a decent February 2015. Cash incentives for all three trucks in February don’t show any clear movement versus the year-ago month, so it seems the Ram’s sales increase has the fewest outside factors. Shoppers just bought more of them, plain and simple.

Here are February’s top 10 best-selling cars:

FEBRUARY_SALES_CHART_FINAL.jpg

Elsewhere among non-luxury segments, consumers still piled into subcompact SUVs, with the segment up 62.2 percent. Larger SUVs had softer gains, with big crossovers and full-size SUVs remaining fairly flat.

Amid low gas prices, Americans’ flight from traditional cars continues. Among subcompact, compact and midsize segments, the Civic-led compacts cars posted the best gain at 5 percent. That’s still short of the overall 8.6-percent February sales gain posted by the largest seven automakers.

Low unemployment and steady wage growth still paint a good economic picture for most consumers, but some storm clouds could lie ahead. Housing starts dipped in January — the latest month of government data — and consumer confidence showed some cracks in February. Americans’ investments have taken a two-month beating, and perhaps that’s starting to show.

Still, car shoppers are coming out — and automakers are greasing the wheels with plenty of deals. February incentive levels won’t be available until later today, but new-car incentives hit nearly $3,000 per vehicle in January, according to Autodata. That’s up 15.6 percent over the year-ago month, and the past six months of trends suggest incentives will remain elevated for months to come.

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