It's that time of year, when the automakers give out their final sales tallies for 2012.
Many people will be surprised by the No. 1 best-selling vehicle in the U.S., but close auto industry watchers should know this vehicle well. It’s been the best-selling vehicle for 31 years. Click through to find out.
And other industry stalwarts also continue hitting the best-sellers list, even after some ups and downs.
But the auto industry is a ruthless business. Despite the billions of dollars it takes to develop a new vehicle, sometimes the cars just fall flat. We've got a list of the 5 cars we think were the biggest disappointments on the market in 2012.
Best Seller No. 5: Honda Civic
MSRP: $15,755 - $26,305
Invoice: $14,661 - $24,943
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 36 mpg Highway
The Honda Civic had a great year sales-wise, up 43.7 percent compared with 2011, despite the fact that critics hated the car.
But customers seemed to like it. A lot. They especially seemed to like the deals Honda piled on in October and November in anticipation of the quickly redesigned 2013 Civic hitting the market on Nov. 29th.
Dealers were urged to sell out their inventory of 2012 models by David Hendley, Assistant Vice President of Honda National sales. In an email that was leaked to AutoBlog, he told dealers: "The changes made to the 2013 model will make the outgoing 2012 Civic a difficult model to sell when they are side-by-side."
The new model is indeed nicer, which means the Civic could have another good year of sales in 2013.
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Best Seller No. 4: Honda Accord
MSRP: $21,680 - $33,430
Invoice: $19,849 - $30,567
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 34 mpg Highway
Honda had two cars in the top five best-seller list. The Accord consistently sells well, ranking most often as the second-best-selling sedan on the market. 2011 was a tough year for the Accord, due to the March 2011 tsunami that ruined production for much of the remaining year. So that makes sales of the Accord look like they skyrocketed in 2012 – up 40.8 percent.
But in reality, it's just because the Accord had such a bad year in 2011 that its numbers look so impressive in 2012.
The Accord was recently redesigned for 2013. Redesigns often ignite interest again in models, which means the Accord could be looking at another solid year in 2013.
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Best Seller No. 3: Toyota Camry
MSRP: $22,235 - $30,465
Invoice: $20,345 - $27,723
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway
The Camry was also effected by the tsunami in 2011, but Toyota had another obstacle to deal with that year: Reverberating effects from its massive sudden acceleration recall, which cast a pall over the brand.
The Camry's sales rebound for 2012 – it was up 31.2 percent compared to 2011 – show those issues are behind them. The company sold 404,886 Camry sedans in 2012.
"Toyota had the biggest year-over-year gains of any of the Big Six manufacturers, which just adds more evidence that its unintended acceleration issues are officially in the rear view mirror," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com.
The new Camry was unveiled in 2011 as a 2012 model.
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Best Seller No. 2: Chevrolet Silverado
MSRP: $23,590 - $42,935
Invoice: $22,646 - $39,930
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg City, 20 mpg Highway
By many accounts, the Silverado didn't have a stellar year. Its sales were about flat with the year before, in a market that is moving steadily upwards.
Still, Chevy sells a lot of Silverado pickup trucks. And that sheer volume of trucks makes it the second-best selling vehicle in the country.
The current Silverado is at the end of its lifespan, and sales tend to trickle down when a model starts aging. A new Silverado should be hitting the market soon, coming in the second quarter of 2013. That should help revive sales.
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Best Seller No. 1: Ford F-Series
MSRP: $23,670 - $52,455
Invoice: $21,953 - $47,605
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg City, 23 mpg Highway
For 31 years running, Ford's pickup trucks are the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. by a virtual landslide. The company sold 645,316 F-series trucks in 2012, up 10.3 percent compared with 2011.
Ford is expected to show a sneak peak of its new F-150 truck at the Detroit Auto Show later this month. The vehicle isn’t expected to hit the market until 2014, but competition between Chevy and Ford will intensify in the coming months. Expect to see Ford offering more rebates and discounts on the F-Series trucks as it competes with a new Silverado.
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Biggest Disappointment No. 5: Dodge Dart
MSRP: $15,995 - $19,995
Invoice: $15,974 - $19,550
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg City, 36 mpg Highway
Given how much Chrysler, Dodge's parent company, has riding on the success of the Dart, its failure to gain serious sales traction in its first few months on the market is a worrying sign.
The Dart was meant to resuscitate Chrysler's small-car lineup, one of the areas in which is was most sorely lacking when it fell into bankruptcy court four years ago. The Dart is a nice-looking car that was built on a platform originally designed for the Alfa Romeo, but tuned for American tastes. And Chrysler succeeded. We really like the Dart, and think it is a solid challenger to Ford Focus, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla, with some advantages on design and available features.
Despite the fact Chrysler has been marketing the heck out of the Dart, its sales were lackluster. We aren't sure why, but wonder if the "Dart" name may be a bit "retro" for some as it was a model name Dodge used until the 1970s. By the end of the year, the Dart was starting to do a little bit better, and December was its best sales month. But with 25,303 sales for all of 2012, the car, despite endorsements by us and others, has been a sales disappointment. Her's hoping for a better 2013.
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Biggest Disappointment No. 4: Acura ILX
MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway
The Acura ILX has had, by many accounts, a terrible launch. The car, based on the Honda Civic platform, was launched with three engines: Two which came straight from the Civic and a hybrid engine that gets just 111 horsepower.
That amount of power for a car that's supposed to be considered upscale is just meager and underwhelming. Reviewers have also been disappointed with the car's cargo space.
Acura said it aimed the car at a younger buyers who didn't necessarily care about performance. But with sales coming in a 12,251, apparently Acura missed the mark.
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Biggest Disappointment No. 3: Lincoln MKS
MSRP: $42,810 - $49,800
Invoice: $40,241 - $46,812
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 27 mpg Highway
As the entire Lincoln brand continues to flounder, one car stands out as especially disappointing in 2012: The MKS. Once the flagship to the entire brand, the MKS volume was at just 12,524 units (and that number marks a 2.5 percent increase).
But it's currently the worst selling sedan Ford Motor Co. makes today. (Many vehicles out sell the MKS annual figure in one month's time.)
Luxury does not have to be about volume. But then again, volume does help demonstrate a vehicle’s popularity. Right now, the MKS lacks style and sophistication and is more expensive that much better competition. Sometimes the numbers don"t lie. - Scott Burgess
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Biggest Disappointment No. 2: Buick Regal
MSRP: $29,015 - $34,980
Invoice: $27,854 - $33,581
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg City, 36 mpg Highway
The Buick Regal was one of those cars that could help redefine General Motor's premium brand. But in 2012, its disappointing sales figures suggest consumers have not bought into the brand's rehabilitation.
Overall, sales of the midsize Regal, a very sporty sedan built on the European Opel Insigna, were down 38.7 percent.
This car offers excellent performance, sleek European styling and loads of creature comforts. But it's hard to see how it fits in the Buick lineup and Buick’s damage to the nameplate may have created a road too tough to follow.
Furthermore, the popular compact Buick Verano may have cut into the Regal sales. The Verano has more of the quiet riding Buick feel to it. It's also an excellent vehicle that may have the right appeal to Buick customers looking for a luxurious car with a moderate price tag.
And if they want performance, the Verano's 2-liter turbo charged four-cylinder engine provides plenty of power. - Scott Burgess
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Biggest Disappointment No. 1: Honda Insight
MSRP: $18,600 - $22,065
Invoice: $17,724 - $21,012
Fuel Economy: 41 mpg City, 44 mpg Highway
This year, more and more customers put fuel efficiency as their No. 1 consideration when looking at new cars. Given that, the Honda Insight hybrid should have done much better than it actually did.
The car, which gets 41 mpg in the city and 44 on the highway, should be a great contender for fuel-conscious drivers. But it fails to compete well with the ever-popular Toyota Prius, which has more standard features and gets better fuel economy.
Insight sales fell 62.4 percent for 2012, and Honda says its evaluating whether or not it makes sense to sell the Insight in the U.S. or whether to transfer production over to the U.S. The car is manufactured in Japan, and currency exchange rates aren't helping make the car profitable for Honda.
"The insight is one of those vehicles that costs more to produce in Japan and sell in the U.S. than we would like right now," said Robyn Eagles, a spokeswoman for Honda.
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