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.