Looking for a new car? Maybe you have your heart set on something fuel-efficient because of $4 gas? Or perhaps you had a good year and feel you’re ready to move up to something with a touch of style, luxury or class?
Get in line. Despite tough times for the auto industry in general, there are some car models–across a broad range of classes and sizes–that are so popular that auto manufacturers are selling them faster than they can build them.
The range of hard-to-get vehicles is as diverse as consumer tastes and budgets in general. Case in point: As expected, the most-wanted vehicle on our list is the fuel-sipping $21,500 Toyota Prius hybrid sedan that gets an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined estimate of 46 mpg. No. 2 on the list? The not-so-expected gas-guzzling $74,700 Lexus LX Series full-size luxury SUV that gets a combined 14 mpg.
To compile our list of the most-wanted vehicles, we used information provided by Ward’s Automotive Group, a publisher of industry trade news and data, as well as automaker-supplied days’ supply data as a measure of dealer inventory levels.
A low days’ supply and low retail turn rate–the amount of time a car spends on a dealer’s lot–means some dealerships may have sold out of a vehicle, have only a few on the lot or may not have the style or trim you desire.
Vehicles with the lowest days’ supply made the initial list (Ward’s says the industry average is 60 days), which was pared down using J.D. Power and Associates’ retail turn rate to determine how quickly a model sold in the month of May. The average retail turn rate for all vehicles is 61 days; we only considered vehicles with a rate of 40 days or less, well below the industry average.
So how did the LX 570, in an age of $4-a-gallon gas, make it to the second spot on the most-wanted list?
Even though the premium SUV seems like an anomaly in a time when consumers are snapping up small cars, auto analysts are quick to note that there’s still a demand for luxury vehicles and that the SUV market, while struggling, isn’t dead. Furthermore, popular vehicles that undergo a redesign, like the Scion xD and the LX 570, often experience an initial surge in sales, says Tom Libby, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates.
“In fact, Lexus is still working through a pre-sold list of loyal Lexus owners who wanted to get the premium SUV as soon as it hit the market,” says Curt McAllister, a Toyota spokesman. “Its new styling and creature comforts appeal to loyal Lexus and premium SUV shoppers.”
The LX 570 had an average eight-day supply of vehicles at the end of May and the average turn rate for each model was eight days. It has a more powerful 5.7-liter V8 engine producing 383 horsepower, and leather seats with power extendable front seat cushions for added comfort. It also features new technology, such as wide-view front and side monitors located in the grille and under the passenger side-view mirror to aid drivers with hard-to-view areas. (forbes.com)