2012's surprising winners in auto sales

When in doubt, car customers shopped for auto sales deals in 2012 and bought these 10 cars.

Such a deal
auto winners 2012 intro

In compiling a gallery of 2012's top showroom performers, I went looking for the proven winners: cars with a track record of success that depended more on reputation and value than a fashionable new redesign.

I was surprised by what I found.

The plan was to identify those models that had managed to win additional customers without the benefit of costly makeovers. These holdovers can be the most profitable ones for automakers. New cars don't make any money until they've been on the market for several years because they have to amortize engineering, tooling, and launch costs. So instead of just recording the vehicles that recorded the highest percentage sales increases compared with 2011, I weeded out all those models that had been reworked and only looked at carryover models.

I expected my list to be studded by hardy perennials like the Ford F-150 pickup and Toyota Camry. But after some number crunching by the crack statisticians at Edmunds.com, the winners turned out to be mostly older models that had been heavily incentivized to keep drawing customers after the new wore off. More than anything, car buyers like to find a deal.

Here are the 10 models that made the biggest sales gains in 2012 without the benefit of a redesign.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated December 31 2012 09:33 AM ET
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2012 auto sales: The losers

If these 10 cars aren't destined for the scrap heap already, they're going to need better auto sales to avoid it.

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