Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, & (Very) Few Others

When people are looking for a new car, nowadays it isn’t a matter of simply checking out the classified section of their newspaper—assuming that they get one anymore—and going through the automotive buff books to see what those folks think about the vehicle the shopper is thinking about—assuming that said shopper is looking for something that’s at least as good as a BMW 3-Series, otherwise they’re going to probably find a lukewarm assessment—at best.

When people are looking for a new car, nowadays it isn’t a matter of simply checking out the classified section of their newspaper—assuming that they get one anymore—and going through the automotive buff books to see what those folks think about the vehicle the shopper is thinking about—assuming that said shopper is looking for something that’s at least as good as a BMW 3-Series, otherwise they’re going to probably find a lukewarm assessment—at best.

Car shopping websites are a must-visit. Like that of Kelley Blue Book.

Because metrics are seemingly everything on the web, the folks at kbb.com have sliced, diced and riced the numbers to determine the most-researched new vehicles for 2010. And the results are somewhat surprising.

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Here are the top 10:

1. Honda Accord

2. Honda Civic

3. Toyota Camry

4. Honda CR-V

5. Hyundai Sonata

6. Nissan Altima

7. Honda Pilot

8. Ford Mustang

9. Toyota Highlander

10. Toyota RAV4

What’s missing? Plenty. Especially any significant numbers from the Detroit Three.

So let’s dive a bit deeper. Maybe things will get better for Motown:

11. Toyota Sienna

12. Honda Odyssey

13. Chevrolet Equinox

14. Toyota Corolla

15. Ford Fusion

16. Ford Escape

17. Toyota Prius

18. BMW 3 Series

19. Chevrolet Camaro

20. Volkswagen Jetta

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Well, a little better. Consider that not only does Honda have 25% of the entire list, but the five vehicles represented are not only the volume leaders, but pretty much the whole line-up. That is, the others are the CR-Z, which was introduced this year, so one assumes the search basis would be somewhat limited; the Element, which will be going out of production; the FCX Clarity, which isn’t for retail sale at a dealer near you as it is a fuel-cell powered vehicle; the Fit, a small car undoubtedly hit by comparatively low gas prices throughout 2010; the Insight, a hybrid that hasn’t resonated well; the Ridgeline, that pickup that isn’t a pickup.

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And Toyota has 30% of the list. Of the models it has represented, kbb.com says both the Corolla and Prius dropped nine spots from their positions on last year’s list. Kbb.com’s James Bell speculates that this may be predicated on “a combination of lower fuel prices and reduced overall interest in compact and hybrid vehicles, and also possibly due to Toyota’s public perception crisis during the recall saga of 2010.”

Apparently, the Accord, Civic and Camry have been in the top three since 2004, varying positions over the years, but still staying right up there. Given what’s happened to Toyota this year, you’d think that the Camry would be somewhere in the high triple digits.

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The real Cinderella story is number 5, the Hyundai Sonata, which was 29 last year. Dedication to design, value and quality can really make a difference.