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Most popular 'clunker' replacement? An SUV

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Edmunds.com, a popular auto site, has checked the numbers that the Obama administration is giving out for the most popular model purchased with the help of "cash for clunkers" money. Contrary to what the administration claims, the most popular replacement model is an SUV.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released official figures for the most popular cars purchased under the program. According to the NHTSA, the top five are the (1) Toyota Corolla (2) Ford Focus (3) Honda Civic (4) Toyota Prius and (5) Toyota Camry. (The government's official list is here.)

But Edmunds did its own independent analysis, and it says the top seller is the Ford Escape, followed by the (2) Ford Focus (3) Jeep Patriot (4) Dodge Caliber and (5) Ford F-150. A Chevrolet Silverado also is in the top ten list.

Why the diffference? "Edmunds.com uses traditional sales measurements, tallying sales by make and model. The government uses a more arcane measurement method that subdivides models according to engine and transmission types, counting them as separate models," Edmunds explains.

"For example, the Ford Escape is available in six different versions including two- and four-wheel drive and hybrid versions. The government counts each version as a different vehicle using guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Only the front wheel drive, non-hybrid version made the government's top ten list."

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