There is more than one way to measure a car’s popularity. The most traditional is monthly and annual sales. This list has been dominated by full-sized pickups, such as the Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) F-150, and fuel-efficient, inexpensive cars like the Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) Camry.
Another measure of vehicle popularity is which vehicles people search for online. Since at least some portion of people who go to cars sites plan to buy, search volume and intent likely lead to real sales.
However, unit sales and number of online searches for vehicles do not always match. Some of the most searched vehicles were not among the top 20 selling vehicles in February at all.
Edmunds, the car research site, keeps records of search volume by vehicle. The most recent figures, which cover the top 50 most recent cars, SUVs and light trucks, cover the month of February.
Here is a look at the Edmunds top 10 and its comments on each.
1. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) Accord. “The 2014 Honda Accord earns top honors in the midsize sedan class with its mix of excellent packaging, superb fuel economy and rewarding performance.” The Accord was the eighth best-selling vehicle in the United States in February at 23,712. But its sales dropped 16% from February 2013.
2. Honda CR-V. “Roomy, fuel-efficient and loaded with family-friendly features, the 2014 Honda CR-V is our top choice among compact crossover SUVs.” The 13th best-selling car in February at 20,759, roughly flat from the same month last year.
3. Toyota Highlander. “With more room for people and their things, the 2014 Toyota Highlander remains an excellent choice for a do-all family vehicle.” Not among the top 20 cars based on sales in February.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee. “If you want a midsize SUV that does a little of everything, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is tough to beat. Its well-trimmed cabin is comfy for five, and it can handle a daily commute as easily as it does an off-road trail.” Also not among the top 20 best-selling cars.
5. Mazda CX-5.”In many ways, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is quite a conventional compact crossover. However, its sharp styling and engaging driving experience set it apart from the pack.” Another not among the top 20 best-selling cars in February.
6. Subaru Forester. “A full redesign brings better fuel efficiency as well as greater interior room and refinement for the 2014 Subaru Forester. It’s a top pick for a small to midsize crossover SUV.” Yet another car not among the 20 best sellers last month.
7. Mazda MAZDA3. “Purposeful styling, fuel-efficient engines and an ideal ride and handling balance keep the 2014 Mazda 3 among the favorites in the compact car class.” One more not among the top 20.
8. Honda Civic. “Honda has made another major round of improvements to the Civic for 2014. As a result, the 2014 Honda Civic is one of the best compact cars you can buy.” The 12th best-selling vehicle in February, with sales of 21,575, down 5% from the same month in 2013.
9. Ford Escape. “The 2014 Ford Escape is one of our favorite small crossover utility vehicles, thanks to athletic driving dynamics, an inviting cabin and useful high-tech features.” The ninth best-selling car last month, with 23,145 in sales, down 4%.
10. Ford F-150. “America’s top-selling pickup is offered in a substantial array of trims and powertrains to accommodate all manner of towing, hauling or off-road needs.” The longtime sales champion among American vehicles, with February units of 55,882, up 3% from the same month a year earlier
To show sales and searches are not completely disconnected: popular cars on the 11th through 20th spots on the Edmunds search list do include vehicles that were in the top 20 in actual sales in February. Among these were the Toyota RAV4, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion.