10 surprising cars that are hot — or not — in 2014 – USA TODAY

Posted: Wednesday, July 02, 2014

With a half year of sales already gone, automakers are getting a pretty good idea of what models are motivating customers to buy — or stay away.

A detailed look at the sales figures, as compiled by Autodata, offer some surprises. We went through the stats to look at interesting trends in a most unscientific way — by whatever caught our attention. Thumbing through, we examined the more interesting models that could be considered hot — and those that clearly are not — when it comes to sales.

So, for instance, it’s interesting that Nissan’s Leaf electric car, which has limited range per charge and has been on the market for a couple of years, is clearly hot. Sales were up 29.4% in the first six months compared to the same period the year before.

Likewise, Chevrolet Spark, a minicar from General Motors, is also on a roll despite coming from a company better known for big land yachts and pickup trucks. Spark sales rose 26.8%.

Also in the “green car” category, everyone knows that the Toyota Prius has been a longstanding hit. But now the plug-in version is doing well, too. Its sales are up 120.7% in the first six months.

As small crossovers go, it’s hard to find one with stranger looks than the Nissan Juke. We’ve called it ugly. But buyers are finding it beautiful. Sales were up 44.9% in the first half.

Even the Buick Regal, a conventional car with a lot of features, is seeing stronger sales. Sales of the Regal rose 39.5% in the last six months.

As for losers, look no farther than Ford C-Max. Ford once had high hopes for this hybrid or plug-in people hauler. But it has been hobbled by problems like recalls and a fuel economy rating reset. Sales tumbled 33.9% in the first half compared to a year ago.

Mini used to the fun, careful car for buyers. But you have to take its sales decline seriously: down 23.4% on the hardtop in the first half.

Chrysler Group thought a new Dodge Dart compact would help fill in its needs for a quality small car. Buyers haven’t agreed. Sales are off 15.5% in the first half.

Many Hyundai models have scored. But one stands out for the trouble it has seen, the near-luxury Azera. It’s sandwiched in the line between a quality Sonata midsize sedan and the luxury Genesis sedan. And it’s not selling well: down 27.6%.

Sometimes the hot/not thing is difficult to figure out. Mercedes-Benz S-Class, a pricey full-size car that’s new in the market, saw an 80.8% sales swoon in the first half. By contrast, its main competitors, BMW 7 Series, was off 7.2% and Audi A8 was down 15% over the same period.


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