Autos

The Nine Hottest Cars This Year

Car sales are on a tear. Through the first five months of 2013, U.S. car sales are up by 8.2%, compared to the same period last year. Some of the more popular models have posted even more substantial growth, well into the double digits.

The Nissan Pathfinder, the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota Avalon have all doubled their 2012 five-month sales figures. Based on sales data provided by Kelley Blue Book, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine models that sold most units and are up by 25% compared to the same period of last year.

Click here to see the hottest cars of 2013

Most of the popular models with major increases in sales have undergone some significant changes recently. In most cases, it has been a design overhaul of the entire model.

Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst at Kelley Blue Book, explained why redesigns of vehicles have had such an impact on the sales. “These are all the latest and greatest redesigns, so they really feature the best in terms of tech, in terms of features and amenities, in terms of style and design, and really in terms of fuel economy.”

The increasing importance of fuel economy gave some redesigned models a leg up on older models. It also led many auto manufacturers to introduce new hybrid models, which has boosted sales for some of the other models on this list. Lexus introduced the Lexus ES-300h to its ES line in 2012. Toyota released a hybrid model under its Avalon brand.

The importance of fuel efficiency also has led many auto buyers to transition to one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto business — crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs. Gutierrez explained that these cars, including hot models like the Escape, the Forester and CX-5, are meeting the desire for the space and utility of an SUV with better fuel efficiency. CUV sales through May are up 13.9%. “Growth in the small CUV segment is certainly contributing to the growth of a lot of these models, and the redesign that pushes them into the elite status.”

Based on sales data provided by Kelley Blue Book, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine models that sold more than 25,000 units in the United States between January and May of 2013, and are up by 25% compared to the same period of last year. We also reviewed the past five full years of sales. All combined fuel economy estimates listed are based on the smallest engine size and the least expensive configuration, with numbers provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

These are the nine hottest cars this year.