10 most searched passenger cars
MSN Autos readers have spoken; here are your favorite passenger cars.
The Honda Accord and Civic have been favorites of MSN Autos readers for years, according to traffic statistics from our site's vehicle information pages. Hot on their heels is the Hyundai Sonata, redesigned for 2011 and riding a wave of strong quality and reliability survey results.
Toyota, on the other hand, has lost some of our readers' attention in the wake of a series of recalls. The Camry sedan is hanging on, but other popular models such as the compact Corolla and the iconic Prius hybrid have slipped into the background.
But the most telling change in these objective rankings is the solid return of American cars. Half of the most popular nameplates are from domestic brands, led by the dueling Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. This number could go up with cars such as the new Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Fiesta coming soon.
Enough of the preliminaries. Here are your choices for the top 10 passenger cars featured on MSN Autos.
1. Honda Accord
The current Accord midsize sedan's unmatched popularity with our readers is a sign of its strong following and balanced appeal. As they enter their fourth year, the eighth-generation Accord sedan and coupe are getting a number of upgrades to help them keep their competitive edge. The most visible changes to 2011 Accord models are styling tweaks meant to keep looks fresh and improve aerodynamics. Along with reduced engine friction and modified gear ratios, the tweaks bring fuel-economy gains of 2 and 3 mpg on 4-cylinder sedan models with the automatic gearbox. Additional interior touch-ups and equipment upgrades are meant to keep the Accord sharp among the new kids.
2. Honda Civic
With their swoopy styling and dual-level dashboard, the current Civic coupe and sedan were quite a leap when they were introduced back in 2006. Sharp dynamics, roomy cabins and Honda's typical blend of lively engine performance and top fuel-economy ratings landed the Civic the North American Car of the Year title out of the box, and it has kept on going since. The Civic Hybrid has been a mild success and lacks its siblings' folding rear seat, but the Si coupe and sedan are still a hoot to drive in spite of their peaky 197-horsepower engine. A ninth-generation Civic is coming next year.
Wrapped under stylish, striking body work, the 2011 Sonata is Hyundai's boldest and most ambitious yet. This midsize sedan is now in its sixth generation. To improve overall fuel economy, the Korean carmaker is offering it only with the new 2.4-liter direct-injection Theta II 4-cylinder engine. First out were naturally aspirated versions with outputs from 190 horsepower for "partial zero emissions vehicle" models to 200 horses. Coming soon are the Sonata Hybrid, with a 169-horsepower gas-electric hybrid powertrain rated at 38 mpg combined, and the sporty Sonata 2.0T with a turbocharged 274-horsepower version of the 2.4-liter engine and a combined rating of 26 mpg.
The Camaro was back last year after a seven-year hiatus. Its muscular looks, inspired by the classic 1969 model, are a major part of its appeal, and the fifth-generation Camaro is the first with independent rear suspension. The top-model SS is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that develops 426 horsepower with the manual gearbox and 400 horses with the optional automatic, both 6-speed units. Chevrolet has responded to the challenge from its pony car arch-rival by upping the output of the 3.6-liter V6 in LS and LT models to 312 horsepower for the 2011 model year. The fight is definitely on.
5. Ford Mustang
Ford has made substantial upgrades to the original pony car for 2011. The Mustang gets three new all-aluminum engines. First, a 3.7-liter V6 that develops 305 horsepower, up 95 horses from the previous 4.0-liter unit. Then a new V8 that brings the 5.0 badge back to the GT and belts out 412 horsepower, a 97-horsepower gain with one-fifth less weight than the previous 5.0 liter. A revised Shelby GT500 tops the line with a Ford GT-derived, supercharged 5.4-liter V8 that produces 550 horsepower. All 2011 Mustangs get electric power steering, upgraded suspension and stronger brakes and are available as coupes or convertibles.