Autos

Cars So Hot They Are Out of Stock

5. Mercedes M-Class
Days to Turn: 15
Price: $48,990
Configuration: 6-Cyl, 5 Door-SUV

The M-Class is Mercedes’s standard SUV. “Fully loaded” with options, the vehicles sells for more than $70,000. Competition for the M-Class includes the BWW X5, the high-end Audi Q5 and the luxury SUVs made by Lexus, Cadillac and Lincoln. 2011 has been an extraordinary year for Mercedes in the U.S. Total sales through November were higher by 46% compared to 2010. The entire luxury end of the car and light truck market in the U.S. has held up well, despite a spotty economy.

4. Subaru Outback
Days to Turn: 15
Price: $23,295
Configuration: 4-Cyl Boxer Engine, 5-Door

The Outback is the crossover model from the only Japanese manufacturer that has four-wheel drive transmissions across its entire fleet of cars and light trucks. The Outback gets 27 mpg highway despite its relatively powerful 170 bhp engine. The vehicle has gotten extremely good reviews and is one of the cars recommended by Consumer Reports. The Outback is designed for, among other things, the driver who wants high gas mileage.

3. BMW X3
Days to Turn: 15
Price: $36,850
Configuration: 6-Cyl, 5-Door SUV

The X3 is BMW’s entry-level vehicle in the sports utility category, although the price of the model with the most options is as high as $50,000. The base 240 bhp engine gets only 25 mpg highway, so the target demographic for the SUV is not those who are gas-price conscious. The X3 competes with the Audi Q5, which is also on this list, as well as the Mercedes GLK 350. BMW’s sales through November were up by only 7% compared to last year, but sales of its light trucks, which include the X3, are higher by 91% for the same period.

2. Lexus RX 450h
Days to Turn: 16
Price: $45,235
Configuration: 6-Cyl Hybrid, 5-Door SUV

Lexus, owned by Toyota, has been troubled by supply constraints because of the March Japanese earthquake. It is also in the popular hybrid sector of the market. The SUV has a powerful 295 bhp engine, but the hybrid power plant allows the vehicle to get 30 mpg when driven on the highway. When loaded with all accessories, the RX450h moves toward the mid-tier of the luxury market with a sticker price of well above $55,000. The demand for this Lexus is a bright sport for Toyota because the manufacturer’s sales in the U.S. were up only 6.7% through the first 11 months of this year compared to last year.

1. BMW X6
Days to Turn: 16
Price: $59,300
Configuration: 8-Cyl, 5-Door Crossover

The BMW X6 is the company’s crossover. With a complete array of features its price can rise above $75,000. The vehicle competes with the Porsche Cayenne, Infiniti FX50 and Mercedes R-Class. The X6 gets 23 MPG highway. The popularity of the X6, like that of the Audi Q5, is an example of how the high-end of the crossover market has not been damaged by the recession. The shortage of X6 and X-3 BMWs shows that the German car company has extremely profitable models at each end of the light truck/SUV market, based on price.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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