More than a dozen trends arose when CarFinance.com examined its full-year financing data to find out the Top 10 new- and used-vehicle choices for its below-prime vehicle buyers in 2013.
On the new-model side, CarFinance.com discovered the list of most purchased vehicles diverges completely from the overall Top 10 selling vehicles in the U.S.
The site indicated that Kia, a brand known for affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles, dominated its below-prime new-vehicle list, offering the automaker what analysts contend is “an important opportunity to develop loyalty among this customer base as it moves upstream.”
CarFinance.com mentioned Chevrolet performed well in both new and used below-prime categories.
Overall, the site pointed out below-prime buyers continue to purchase new compacts, used trucks and affordable vehicles that may not have a flashy pedigree, but offer great value.
“The CarFinance.com Top 10 Lists offer a snapshot of the vehicle preferences of consumers credited with helping drive U.S. auto sales growth,” CarFinance.com chief executive officer Jim Landy said.
“The automaker brands that show up on these lists should take note: today's below-prime car buyer — who is already re-building credit with a car purchase — could be your brand-loyal prime customer of tomorrow,” Landy continued.
The Top 10 New Vehicles Purchased by Below-Prime Buyers
1. Dodge Avenger and Kia Optima (Tied)
2. Kia Forte
3. Ford Focus
4. Kia Soul
5. Dodge Journey
6. Chevrolet Malibu
7. Chevrolet Cruze
8. Chrysler 200
9. Kia Rio
10. Nissan Sentra
Among the trends, analysts found when compiling the new-model list:
• Compact cars that offer good fuel economy and value in their class heavily dominated the list.
• With four models on the list, Kia “definitely is hitting a mark with this segment. Its range of product is resonating with this buyer,” analysts said.
• More domestics (6) made the list than imports with Kia and Nissan as the only import brands in the Top 10.
• No SUVs or trucks made the list, although the Kia Soul offers an 'SUV-like' vehicle without the expense of actually being one. And the Dodge Journey with a three-row seat option offers family-friendly space, more affordably than the average mini-van.
• Below-prime buyers snapped up the great deals offered by dealerships as they moved the 2013 Malibu off their lots to make way for a design update.
• The most popular vehicle with these consumers, the Dodge Avenger, is an often overlooked midsize sedan that performs well at a competitive price
• The Chrysler 200 is a natural for the list given that it is essentially the same vehicle as the Dodge Avenger: different design but similar incentives.
• Ford Focus is “no surprise” in third place, according to the site, which added, “It’s a well-designed, competitively priced compact, available as a sedan or hatchback, with appeal as a great ride even at the most basic and affordable trim level.”
• The popularity of the Optima, Soul, Rio and Forte, which offer 10-year/100,000-mile warranties, indicate that not only are fuel economy and pricing probably key to this buyer, but so are longer manufacturer warranties
Top 10 Used Vehicles Purchased by Below-Prime Buyers
1. Nissan Altima
2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
3. Ram 1500
4. Ford F-150
5. Chevrolet Impala
6. Dodge Charger
7. Toyota Camry
8. Chevrolet Malibu
9. Honda Accord
10. Ford Fusion
Among the trends, analysts found when compiling the used-model list:
• The used story is one of trucks and domestic sedans and import sedans that hold their value.
• Domestics (led by Chevrolet) overwhelmed imports with only three import models, Altima, Camry (top-selling sedan in the U.S) and the Accord, cracking the Top 10.
• Unlike the new-vehicle list, which lacks trucks or SUVs, it’s no surprise to see three trucks near the top here, given their overall popularity in the market, their longevity and the value they offer as pre-owned vehicles.
• Chevrolet Impala and Dodge Charger show up as strong choices for consumers looking for larger cars at more affordable prices.