America's Hottest Selling Cars

Subaru, Mercedes, Audi and Toyota dealers had trouble keeping their cars on the lot in April. Based on sales growth data and consumer ratings of autos sold in the United States, the news is not surprising.

Research firm Edmunds uses “days to turn” as a measure of demand. The firm’s definition:

Days to Turn is the average number of days vehicles were in dealer inventory before being sold during the months indicated.

The average days in April was just under 70. Subaru’s number was around 30, Audi’s around 35, Mercedes around 42 and Toyota’s around 44.

Subaru’s sales have surged this year, and April was no exception. Sales last month rose 21.7% to 40,083. For the year sales are up 21.5% to 152,471.

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Mercedes vies with BMW as the best-selling luxury car in America. Mercedes sales rose 10.9% in April to 28,282. Mercedes and BMW are being chased by the Audi luxury division of Volkswagen. Its all-wheel drive cars have become so popular with American drivers that Mercedes and BMW offer the same feature on most of their cars.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s (NYSE: TM) sales rose 13.3% in April to 199,660. It came close to catching rival Ford Motor co. (NYSE: F), which sold 210,335 cars in April — down .8%

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All but one of the hottest four brands rate above average in the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, which is based on “problems per hundred vehicles.” Mercedes ranked second in the survey. Toyota and Subaru were well above average. Only Audi fell below the industry average — by a very modest amount.

Three of the four brands do equally well in the annual Consumer Reports study of best and worst cars. Among the “top scoring cars” there were three Audis, one Mercedes and two Toyota products.

It appears that car sales in the United States, which were so extraordinarily strong in 2012 and 2013, have cooled somewhat this year. Perhaps so many people bought new cars in the past two years that demand has dropped. Perhaps consumer spending has dipped some. For the time being, Audi, Mercedes, Toyota and Subaru are not feeling those effects.

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