Introduction
  • Image Credit: Kia

Introduction

Ford Explorer. Hyundai Sonata. Kia Sorento. It's really no surprise that these vehicles are among the hardest to find, considering the amount of positive press they have been receiving since they hit the market. Americans are no strangers to shortages of those products that are the most in demand (iPhones, Playstations, Tickle-me-Elmo just to name a few) and the auto industry most certainly experiences the same complications.

According to NADAguides analysts, these are the six cars that are the most in demand, but hardest to find, mostly due to a combination of their popularity and the lingering supply constraints resulting from this spring's devastating earthquake in Japan. The problem with this, of course, is not only do consumers wanting to purchase these cars have to wait longer to get in them, but they also find themselves in a position of having to take the car either at MSRP or, in drastic cases, even above it.

Thus, if you're in the market for any of these vehicles and absolutely have your heart set on it, you may find it worthwhile to hold out until it becomes available. But, if you're in a pinch or simply want to get a better deal on a new car that's experiencing a little less scarcity, included herein are suitable replacements for each. Opting for the available car is sure to offer close to the same level of satisfaction and will most likely leave a few extra (hundred or thousand) dollars in your wallet.

Ford Explorer
  • Image Credit: Ford

Ford Explorer

MSRP: $28,190 - $39,190
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg Hwy/17 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $27,252

The Ford Explorer has long been one of the best-selling SUVs in the market. A capable tow vehicle and off-roader, it also offers the generous interior space, comfort features and safety technologies necessary for day-to-day tasks. An all-new Explorer debuts for 2011, sporting a fresh look, improved fuel economy and standard third-row seating. The 7-passenger Explorer is available in both front- and four-wheel drive configurations, with a choice of three trim levels: Base, XLT and Limited. A new 290-hp 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission (with available SelectShift manual mode) are standard on all trims.

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Other Option: GMC Acadia
  • Image Credit: GM

Other Option: GMC Acadia

MSRP: $32,000 - $45,380
Fuel Economy: 32 mpg Hwy/22 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $29,552

The GMC Acadia is a similar size and price point to the Ford Explorer. It's also nicely styled and offers great versatility for those in the market for an SUV.

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Honda Civic
  • Image Credit: Honda

Honda Civic

MSRP: $15,455 - $25,340
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg Hwy/26 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $15,330

The Honda Civic is one of the most reliable and popular economy compact cars in its class. For years it has set the quality and performance standard for the affordable, compact car market. Available in sedan or coupe bodies, all but the GX and Si trims are powered by a 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional five-speed automatic. The performance-oriented Si, comes with a 197 horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-4 bolted to a six-speed manual, while the GX is powered by a dedicated natural gas version of the 1.8-liter gas engine, and a five-speed automatic.

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Other Option: Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Image Credit: Mitsubishi

Other Option: Mitsubishi Lancer

MSRP: $15,195 - $27,695
Fuel Economy: 33 mpg Hwy/24 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $13,728

It's priced similarly to the Civic and currently has a massive inventory, making it very susceptible to deals as car dealers try to move them off their lots.

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Hyundai Elantra
  • Image Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai Elantra

MSRP: $14,830 - $19,980
Fuel Economy: 40 mpg Hwy/29 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $15,120

The Hyundai Elantra is a compact car with handsome styling and nice lines. It has excellent interior space and standard safety equipment. The current generation Elantra can seat up to five and has very accommodating trunk space. Two trim levels are offered: GLS and Limited. Both use a 148-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the GLS trim, while a six-speed automatic with Shifttronic is standard on the Limited trim and available on the GLS.

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Other Option: Suzuki SX4
  • Image Credit: Suzuki

Other Option: Suzuki SX4

MSRP: $13,499 - $18,999
Fuel Economy: 33 mpg Hwy/23 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $11,278

The SX4 is just slightly more expensive than the Elantra, but because of its availability, it is very likely that you could have it for well below its starting MSRP. Suzuki is often overlooked by American carbuyers, meaning there are plenty to go around.

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Hyundai Sonata
  • Image Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai Sonata

MSRP: $19,195 - $25,295
Fuel Economy: 35 mpg Hwy/24 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $18,907

The all-new 2011 Hyundai Sonata is a four-door, five-passenger sedan that has an established reputation for being well built and excellent value for money. The Sonata features a stylish coupe-like exterior and modern interior. The front-wheel drive Sonata is offered in three trim levels: GLS, SE, and Limited. The GLS and Limited are powered by a 198-hp 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection four-cylinder engine. The SE features dual-exhaust which increases the engine output to 200-hp using the same 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection four-cylinder engine.

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Other Option: Nissan Altima
  • Image Credit: Nissan

Other Option: Nissan Altima

MSRP: $20,270 - $30,540
Fuel Economy: 32 mpg Hwy/23 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $17,589

The Nissan Altima is a solid choice as a replacement for the Sonata. It doesn't get nearly the amount of love it deserves, as it's a perfectly capable midsize sedan with sharp looks and a nice interior.

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Kia Sorento
  • Image Credit: Kia

Kia Sorento

MSRP: $20,995 - $33,895
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg Hwy/20 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $20,289

The Sorento is Kia's entry into the cross-over utility vehicle (CUV) segment. Completely redesigned for 2011, the Sorento now features unibody construction and a more streamlined and modern appearance. The Sorento is available in front-wheel drive (FWD) or four-wheel drive (4x4) in five or seven-seat configurations. A 175-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 276-hp 3.5-liter V6 are the two available engine choices. Base FWD models use a six-speed manual transmission, while all others use a six-speed automatic transmission.

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Other Option: Mazda CX-7
  • Image Credit: Mazda

Other Option: Mazda CX-7

MSRP: $21,990 - $33,340
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy/20 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $20,797

The CX-7 is a very capable sporty crossover and is priced just about the same as the Sorento. There are plenty on dealer lots right now, so you'll be in a much better position to get a bargain on a very similar CUV.

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Toyota Prius
  • Image Credit: Toyota

Toyota Prius

MSRP: $21,650 - $28,320
Fuel Economy: 48 mpg Hwy/51 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $23,520

The Toyota Prius is a gas-electric hybrid that sets the standard for environmentally-friendly transportation. This front-wheel drive, five-door liftback delivers comfort, value and a smooth ride, as well as impressive fuel economy and low emissions. The Prius is available in five trim levels - Prius I, Prius II, Prius III, Prius IV and Prius V. All trim levels employ Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, a hybrid powertrain technology that unites a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine with a powerful electric drive motor to generate 134 combined horsepower.

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Other Option: Honda CR-Z
  • Image Credit: Honda

Other Option: Honda CR-Z

MSRP: $19,200 - $20,760
Fuel Economy: 37 mpg Hwy/31 mpg City

Average Base Selling Price: $19,345

It may not possess the green cache that the Prius enjoys, but the CR-Z is a solid choice if you're in the market for a hybrid around this price point. It has a cool, sporty exterior design and driving experience and gets 31 MPG City and 37 MPG Highway.

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