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The U.S. auto industry had a bit of a stumble in July, as sales were up a fairly modest 8.9 percent on the strength of 1,153,682 overall deliveries—that’s a drop of more than 130,00 sales as compared to June, when the industry recorded a 22.1 percent gain. On the other hand, some of the slowdown can be attributed to there being two fewer selling days in July 2012 than in July 2011, and a full 14 vehicles did set new volume records last month, including six cars, seven crossovers and even one work van.
(Note: All the following individual sales numbers come directly from the automakers; also, vehicles in their first year on the market are not included.)
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July Record Breakers: Chrysler 200
It’s now two monthly sales records in a row for the Chrysler 200, as the brand’s mid-size sedan continues to rebound from the Sebring years. The car was good for 9,287 deliveries in July, representing a 43 percent jump from the same month in 2011, and in an important symbolic victory, the 200 even outsold the VW Passat last month. (It also outsold the Chrysler Town & Country and Chrysler 300, making it the brand’s volume leader.)
There’s also good reason to believe the winning streak here will continue, since sales of the 200 have shown to be influenced pretty strongly by advertising—witness the whole “Imported from Detroit” business—and the vehicle is currently being featured in a campaign connected to the recently released movie “Total Recall.”
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July Record Breakers: Fiat 500
It was touch and go there for a while, but the FIAT 500 seems to have firmly ensconced itself as a top volume player among the country’s mini-cars. July marked the 500’s sixth consecutive monthly sales record, and its 3,710 deliveries (+22 percent) topped those from a number of potential rivals. Consider: The Fiat bested the VW Beetle by 871 units, topped the Toyota Yaris by more than 2,400 sales, and outsold the Scion iQ by nearly 3,200 deliveries.
As a reminder, the Fiat 500 is offered in three different variants, including the Fiat 500 proper, with an MSRP of $15,500; FIAT 500C, offering an open-air driving experience and a price tag that starts at $19,500; and the high-performance Fiat 500 Abarth, providing 160 hp, 170 lb.-ft. of torque and a price tag that starts at $22,000.
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July Record Breakers: Dodge Journey
It’s two records in a row for the Dodge Journey, too, following up on its best-ever June with a new high-water mark for July sales. Dodge dealers delivered 7,051 Journey models last month—an improvement of 69 percent over the same period in 2011.
And note, those big numbers comes courtesy of "America Most Affordable Midsize Crossover." The Journey with Dodge’s American Value Package starts from $18,995 and delivers a soft-touch interior, a Uconnect audio system with 4.3-inch touchscreen, steering-wheel-mount audio controls, the brand’s Keyless Enter ‘n Go technology with push-button start, a peppy 173-hp I4 engine that enables up to 26 mpg highway, air conditioning, LED accent lights and a full suite of advanced airbags (including a driver’s-side inflatable knee blocker).
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July Record Breakers: Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion got another month closer to seeing the debut of its all-new 2013 model, and it posted another record sales month in the process. The bottom line here: a jump of 21 percent that reflected 23,326 deliveries and the fifth straight monthly volume record for Ford’s mid-sizer. The performance put the Fusion in third place in the mid-size car segment last month, trailing only the recently redesigned Toyota Camry and the brand-new Nissan Altima. As for the 2013 Fusion, it’s due this fall with five powertrain choices, including EcoBoost, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid solutions, all three of which are expected to deliver best-in-class fuel-economy marks.
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July Record Breakers: Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V has now gone seven for seven in 2012 in terms of sales records, setting one in every month of the year so far. In July, that meant 20,544 deliveries and a 47.4 percent increase over July of 2011.
And July also meant victory for the CR-V in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment of the 2012 Ideal vehicle awards, presented by Autobytel and AutoPacific. Writing for Autobytel, reviewer Benjamin Hunting noted that: “The Honda CR-V has kept things simple, offering five-passenger seating and a solid amount of cargo space, and its recent redesign has given it sleeker looks and improved fuel economy.” It’s also given the CR-V an MSRP of $22,495 and EPA grades of up to 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined.
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July Record Breakers: Acura RDX
A close corporate relative of the Honda CR-V, the Acura RDX is exhibiting a similar penchant for record-breaking monthly sales volumes. The compact premium crossover is now on a streak of three in a row, in fact, courtesy of its best July sales performance ever. RDX sales catapulted northward by more than 142 percent last month, backed by a segment-leading 2,664 deliveries that was hundreds of units ahead of either the BMW X3 or Audi Q5. And at the same time, the Acura is hundreds of dollars less expensive than its German competitors, with a price of admission that begins at $34,320—$1,280 less than the Audi and $4,180 lower than the BMW.
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July Record Breakers: Nissan Altima, Nissan Rogue
Perhaps the least shocking entry among July’s record breakers is the all-new Nissan Altima, which set an all-time July volume record in its first full month on the market. The highly economical Altima—with segment-leading EPA grades of 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway/31 mpg combined—delivered 26,602 units last month for a 24.7 percent boost over its sales numbers from July 2011. The performance helped Nissan’s overall car lineup also set a July record, with 53,744 deliveries that were up 13.8 percent as compared to the same month last year.
The Nissan Rogue, leveraging a 17.2 percent sales leap to 13,193 units, posted its 14th consecutive monthly sales record. Customers waiting for the 2013 models to arrive before going Rogue can now safely visit their local Nissan dealerships as well, where the latest models await with an MSRP that starts at $22,310.
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July Record Breakers: Infiniti G Sedan
It ain’t broke, but Nissan’s premium division is going to “fix” the Infiniti G Sedan anyway. Coming off a month in which the G37 and G25 sedans sold a combined 6,078 units to raise the ol’ sales bar to a record level for July—garnering an 88.8 percent improvement in volume—the brand has officially announced the latter choice will no longer be available after December 2012. On the positive side, the G37 will have its lineup streamlined beginning with the launch of the 2013 models in September and be available in three variants: G37 Sedan Journey, G37 Sedan Sport 6MT, and G37x Sedan AWD.
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July Record Breakers: Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Tiguan
The VW Passat rang up another month of gaudy numbers in July, delivering 9,007 units, a 661.4 percent increase in sales and record volume for the month. Volkswagen’s Americanized mid-size sedan also delivered to more third-party industry honors last month, claiming segment leaderships in both the Autobytel/AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Awards and the J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Performance, Executional and Layout (APEAL) Study.
The Volkswagen Tiguan small crossover also enjoyed its second record sales month in a row in July. The turbocharged Tiguan’s 2,966 deliveries last month were up 26.2 percent versus July in 2011, assisted by a second-place finish in its class in the APEAL study. And the Tiguan will become more appealing yet for the 2013 model year, when all models will feature standard equipment like a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated system controls and a leather shift knob.
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July Record Breakers: Volvo XC60
The Volvo XC60 earned 1,782 sales in July—a robust performance that accounted for a 73.2 percent increase and the highest July volume ever for Vincentric’s Best Value in America in the premium compact crossover segment. The award-winning XC60 also gets fine-tuned further for the 2013 model year, adding standard goodies like rain-sensor windshield wipers, headlight washers, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminum-inlay accents to the starter model, as well as even more enhancements—including a “Sport” driving mode—for automatically transmissioned upper-level variants.
All XC60 trims also will see a notable upgrade in the headlight department, thanks to the deployment of “Tunnel Detection,” which automatically turns up the vehicle’s headlamps when it enters a tunnel.
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July Record Breakers: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van
Let’s end this baker’s dozen of bestsellers by recognizing the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, worthy recipients of a 27.2 percent sales jump and a record July volume of 2,203 deliveries. This is actually the third consecutive month of record sales for the Sprinter family, available in a number of configurations and opening at $35,815 for a chassis cab.
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