Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: December 2012

2013_Honda_Civic

Cliff, shmiff. Holiday shoppers brushed aside concerns about impending fiscal doom (which Congress averted, sort of) to drive new-car sales to their best December since 2007. Pickups trucks remained atop December's sales pyramid, with Chrysler's Ram trucks moving up a notch. That's typical for the month, especially amid a sustained recovery for the truck-reliant construction industry.

On the car side, Santa left Honda a nice present under the tree. A substantially restyled 2013 Honda Civic sedan hit dealerships in November and sales for the nameplate shot up 61.2% in December; it secured Honda's workhorse compact the title of America's best-selling car for the second month in a row. The Toyota Camry held the spot for the first 10 months of the year.

In fact, Honda sales overall shot up 26.2% over an inventory-strapped December 2011, thanks to strong demand for the Civic and redesigned Accord — two models that regularly account for nearly half of the automaker's sales. Toyota gained 9% while Nissan fell 1.6% as its redesigned Altima dropped 7.7%. The Altima boasts impressive EPA mileage, but drivability and cabin issues left the car in last place in Cars.com's $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown.

The Detroit Three gained 5.1%, with overall sales up 7.9% for the year. All three reported their best Decembers since the recession — Ford since 2006 and Chrysler and GM since 2007. With higher incentives but much lower dealer inventory, the Ford Focus saw sales skyrocket 58.3%. Sales for the popular Escape, meanwhile, plummeted 21.3% as shoppers found few holiday incentives on the redesigned 2013 versus a heavily discounted 2012 last December.

Replacements for Hurricane Sandy-damaged cars may have added 50,000 sales in December, Credit Suisse estimated late last month. That's a relative blip on the radar and likely amounting to less than 0.4% of December totals when the final tallies come in. Transaction prices ebbed to just over $32,000 — their lowest point since April 2012 — thanks to rising dealer and automaker discounts, according to CNW Marketing Research. But they're still 6.4% higher than December 2011. What's more, prices for late-model used cars slid for the sixth straight month, driving more shoppers back to the used side. CNW reckoned last month that December could cap the best year for used-car sales since 2007.

If those factors created headwinds for new-car sales, you wouldn't have known it. Sales totals from the seven largest automakers increased 7.2% for the month, with 2012 totals up 12.9%. Check out December's best-sellers below. Oh, and if you read this morning's Fastest and Slowest Selling Cars, Acura notched 2,485 sales for the Civic-based ILX in December, making it the best-selling sedan in the brand's lineup. But the red-hot Civic still outsold it more than 13 to 1.

SalesDEC12Chart500

Related
December's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars
Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: November 2012
More Automotive News

Comments 

How is it possible that the Corolla with 22,616 in sales is above the Altima with 23,966 in sales?
That graphic needs fixing, cars.com.

gojira

Wow @ the Civic outselling the Camry - believe it did it last month too.

Jack,
Yes, that was a typo. Sorry about that. Fixed. The Corolla remains in that position but sold more cars.

Derrick G

Although I didn't note the exact figure, Honda had something in excess of 34,075 2012 MY Civics last month in cars.com's inventory around the point the sales month detailed here started. As of now, there are 16,365. So probably about 17K of the ones sold in Dec. were '12 models with plenty of incentives. For January, the majority of the cars on the lot will be '13 models, though not by a wide margin to begin with. I predict a much narrower victory over Camry for Civic when the number are available in Feb. (though a victory nevertheless). Unless gas prices surge, I don't think we'll see it again.

ouch the toyota camry went down by 6 percent XD wow fail

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