After a frigid Winter 2014, automakers are picking up the pieces while they survey which vehicles were capable of getting U.S. consumers onto chilly dealer’s lots. On the whole, the results showed the Detroit Three’s lock on the top spots held with pickups driving the industry. Ford, Honda, Chevy, and Toyota basically owned the rest of the spots in the top 20.
Among automobiles that showed the most remarkable gains when compared to early-year action in 2013, foreign automakers saw their sporty cars and SUVs topping the list in the United States. From familiar luxury brands to the hot affordable crossover segment, these nine automobiles showed the strongest increase in sales totals in the early months of 2014.
Though the Mazda6 sedan placed well down on the list of overall sales in the U.S., its gains over sales from early 2013 were remarkable. The 7,117 units moved by Mazda dealers in January and February 2014 represented a 46-percent jump over the stats from the year earlier.
Sporting the 2.5-liter Skyactiv G engine that weighs less and offers a 13:1 compression ratio, the direct injection system delivers 40 mpg on the highway for drivers. Heavy Mazda ad campaigns throughout the 2014 winter have made U.S. consumers aware of the Skyactiv advantages. In fact, auto industry competitors agree. Toyota recently contracted with Mazda to put smaller Skyactiv engines in its next line of subcompact cars. The Mazda6 offers a peak 184 horsepower on 185 lb-ft of torque.
2. BMW X3 ($39,800)
The BMW X3 sports the intelligent all-wheel-drive system known as xDrive along with a 2.0-liter, Twin Turbo inline 4-cylinder engine capable of 240 horsepower and 28 mpg on the highway. Equally important, it packs the luxury components BMW drivers expect with an 8.8-inch touch screen and more spacious seats than in previous models.
Small SUVs were making huge gains in early 2014, and BMW was right in the middle of it with a 52 percent gain with 6,000 units sold through February.
3. Acura MDX ($42,290)
Honda is another automaker that proved capable of capitalizing on U.S. consumer hunger for luxury SUVs in early 2014. Its Acura MDX brought out 8,804 customers to dealer lots in January and February, which represents a 55 percent upgrade over the 2013 stats.
The Acura MDX sports a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine capable of 290 hp, and a luxurious interior that seats six. It’s a formula that’s working for U.S. consumers.
4. Subaru XV Crosstrek ($21,995)
The Subaru XV Crosstrek has been one of the biggest gainers in the past 12 months, but it maintained its furious pace in early 2014. Posting sales of 10,290 units — a gain of 69 percent over the prior year’s figures — the XV Crosstrek moved into sixty-fifth place on the U.S. sales list in 2014.
Subaru’s affordable crossover sports a 2.0-liter manual model capable of 148 hp while sporting an efficient EPA rating of 33 mpg on the highway.
5. Mazda CX-5 ($21,395)
Firing into forty-second place on the U.S. sales list in 2014 was the Mazda CX-5 with 72 percent gains through the first two months of the year. Mazda sold 14,351 units of its crossover that shares the 2.0-liter Skyactiv G engine with the Mazda6, giving it an impressive fuel economy of 35 highway mpg with front-wheel drive.
Base CX-5 models offer 155 hp while the 2.5-liter engines deliver 184 hp but lower the fuel economy to 32 highway mpg.
6. Nissan Rogue ($22,490)
Among the top sales gainers through February 2014, no automobile sold more than the Nissan Rogue. The popular crossover sold a whopping 31,028 units to vault into sixteenth place on the overall vehicle sales list. That marked a gain of 73 percent over the numbers for 2013.
A look at the Rogue’s specs tell the story of why the automobile is so popular. Packing a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine capable of 170 hp, the Rogue delivers an efficient 33 highway mpg along with seating up to seven people.
7. Nissan Juke ($18,990)
Though not selling anywhere near the volume of Rogues that Nissan sells, the automaker has a major gainer on its hand in the Juke. Posting an 84 percent gain over 2013′s figures, the Nissan Juke sold 8,639 units in the early months of 2014.
The Juke actually trumps its pricier sibling Rogue in the horsepower department with 188 hp in the base model. Fuel efficiency is comparable at a respectable 32 highway mpg.
The Subaru Forester has posted a banner 2014 with a 95-percent increase over its 2013 stats. In terms of volume, only the top-selling Nissan Rogue sold more units. Subaru moved 21,544 units through the end of February.
As the winner of Motor Trend’s 2014 Sport/Utility of the Year, the Forester has an ever-expanding fan base among U.S. consumers. It offers 32 highway mpg and 170 hp in its base model 2.5i. Upgrading to the turbocharged engine means a step up to 250 hp.
9. Lexus IS ($36,100)
As the one luxury sedan among the top gainers, what the Lexus IS didn’t do in sales volume (6,565 units through February 2014) it made up for with a 130-percent increase compared to 2013 stats. On the sales list, the Lexus IS is outselling the Dodge Challenger, Infiniti Q50, and Honda Fit thus far in 2014.
The very high customer satisfaction rating of Lexus automobiles promises every model of Toyota’s luxury brand will get its fair share of U.S. consumers on board. The base IS 250 sports a paddle-shift, six-speed automatic transmission with an engine that delivers a maximum 204 hp while flashing from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds and achieving 30 highway mpg. The IS 350 ($39,615) ups the power quotient to 306 hp and can push from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds while getting 28 highway mpg.