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Top Ten Most Purchased Vehicles By Below-Prime Customers Reveal Distinct Preference for Practicality and Value

ram 1500 (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Ram 1500 report shows Chrysler, Kia and Nissan models dominating new vehicle choices; domestic pickup trucks and family sedans are top choices for used

IRVINE, CA--April 24, 2013: today released data on the top ten new and used vehicle choices for its below-prime car buyers over the last six months.1 With below-prime car buyers now accounting for over 43% of all car loans2,'s report provides a new window into the purchasing behavior of a vast, returning-to-car-buying population.

The report, based on's financing data, indicates that below-prime, new-car-purchasing behavior differs from the car buying population as a whole: only one model, Dodge Ram, consistently topped both's below-prime and overall industry top ten sales lists.3 And today's below-prime car buyer would seem to be making distinctly practical vehicle decisions. They're choosing economical new vehicle models that offer good fuel economy. On the used side they're opting for pickup trucks and sensible, roomy family sedans.

"With loans to the nation's large population of below-prime car buyers rebounding, and helping to fuel our economic recovery, the industry would be wise to keep a close eye on their vehicle preferences," said CarFinance President and CEO Jim Landy. "The Top Ten Lists offer a snapshot of consumers focused on vehicle choices that are realistic and economically viable, and reflect the responsibility we are consistently seeing in their loan behavior, which is characterized by low rates of defaults and low rates of late payments."

The Top Ten New Vehicles Purchased: Below-Prime Car Buyers (CarFinance)

The Top Ten Overall Vehicles Sold in the US, according to NADA Data 4

1. Dodge Avenger

1. Ford F Series

2. Kia Forte

2. Chevrolet Silverado

3. Kia Optima

3. Toyota Camry

4. Chrysler 200

4. Honda Accord

5. Dodge Journey

5. Honda Civic

6. Ford Focus

6. Nissan Altima

7. Ram 1500

7. Toyota Corolla/Matrix

8. Nissan Sentra

8. Ram Pickup

9. Nissan Versa

9. Ford Escape

10. Kia Sorento

10. Honda CRV

Top Ten Below Prime New: Most Purchased - Analysis

  • Practical sedans that offer good fuel economy and value in their class heavily dominate the list.
  • While domestic and import models are evenly divided on the list, it's Chrysler, Kia and Nissan that are most popular with below-prime buyers, not Honda and Toyota. This suggests that the inroads made by the domestics and Korean brands in the small and mid-sized sedan segment could be fueled by below prime buyers.
  • Except for the Ram and the Altima, Chrysler, Nissan and Kia don't show up at all on industry top ten light vehicle lists for the same period.
  • Many models on the list have experienced recent design updates (Avenger, Journey, Ram, Sentra and Versa), so while these consumers are looking for practical transportation, they also care about style.
  • Longer manufacturer warranties (Optima, Sorento and Forte offer 10 year/100K), fuel economy and pricing (all vehicles on the list) are critical.

Top Ten Used Vehicles Purchased (CarFinance): Below-Prime Car Buyers

1. Ram 1500

2. Nissan Altima

3. Ford F150

4. Dodge Charger

5. Chevy Silverado 1500

6. Chevy Impala

7. Chevy Malibu

8. Toyota Camry

9. Chrysler 300

10. Ford Mustang

"While compact sedans rule the new vehicle list, when it comes to used, pickups and midsize/large sedans dominate (with no compacts making the top ten)," added Landy. "This is a consumer looking for multi-use trucks and larger, fit-the-whole-family vehicles, but seeking those relatively high-cost vehicles at the significantly lower used price-point."

Top Ten Below Prime Used: Most Purchased - Analysis

  • The Big Three dramatically overwhelmed imports, with only two import models, Altima and Camry (top-selling sedan in the US), cracking the top ten.
  • Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, and Dodge Charger represent strong choices for consumers looking for larger cars at more affordable prices
  • Manufacturer warranties also seem to move the used car shopper: Chevy, Dodge and Kia all offer 100,000 mile warranties, meaning the majority of these vehicles sold would still come with the warranty benefit (given that 2-3 years old is average).
  • While the Mustang stands out as an iconic brand, the availability of a V6 -engine option, provides the below-prime customer that insists on practical fuel economy the opportunity to drive a sporty coupe.