Perhaps one of the most watched head-to-head rivalries in the industry is between the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Both models were totally redesigned in 2017 as 2018 models and while Camry won the sedan sales crown in 2017, it was largely on the strength of the outgoing model.

So, with a new year underway, who’s going to win? In the end shoppers, because Toyota has already put some hefty incentives on its bread-and-butter car, while Honda, not so much, although there are deals to be had on remaining 2017 Accord Coupes and Hybrid Sedans. Both those models have been dropped from the Accord lineup for 2018, though we expect a hybrid version to come back perhaps as soon as the 2019 model year.

While avoiding lease deals or low-cost financing on the new 2018 Accord, Honda is offering the 2017 Coupe model on a 3-year lease for $189 per month with $2,399 down and 12,000 miles per year. The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Sedan can be leased for $229 per month with $2,699 down on a 3-year deal with a 12,000-mile cap.

Toyota is being much more aggressive with its all-new 2018 Camry. The base LE model can be leased for 36 months at just $209 per month with only $1,999 due a signing. And that’s also with a 12,000-mile cap. Move up to the better equipped SE model, and you’ll pay $219 per month over the three years, also with just $1,999 down.

2017 sales winners

As mentioned, the Toyota Camry won the car segment in sales, besting the Honda Civic, largely on the strength of clearing out 2017s during the year and a December where the auto maker sold more than 43,000 Camrys, most of which were 2018 models. That strong performance wiped out a 20,000-unit advantage the Honda had going into the month. While Camry sales were actually down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, the car segment in which it competes actually contracted by nearly double digits. Even though it displaced the Civic, Camry still finished only sixth overall in volume during the 2017 calendar year.

The big winners, again, are pickup trucks, which took the top three places in 2017 sales. Ford’s F-Series led the pack with nearly 900,000 units, followed by Chevrolet Silverado some distance behind at 585,000 units. Ram wasn’t that far off in third with just over 500,000 sales, a result that marks the first time FCA’s pickup has sold more than a half-million units.

The popularity of compact crossover SUVs can’t be disputed as the fourth and fifth spots were taken by the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue respectively. The RAV4 sold more than 407,000 units, with Rogue not far behind at 403,000. The Rogue makes it the first Nissan model to top 400,000 in annual U.S. sales.

Behind the sixth place Camry came another compact crossover SUV, the Honda CR-V which sold 377,895 units according to Automotive News, besting the Civic by just 599 vehicles. Rounding out the top 10 were the Toyota Corolla and Honda Accord with respective totals of 329,196 and 322,655.

Ford EcoSport goes on sale

In perhaps the quietest launch by a major manufacturer, Ford has finally got into the subcompact crossover SUV derby, launching the 2018 EcoSport some 14 months after its debut at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Built in India, the EcoSport is being offered in four trim levels, S, SE, SES and Titanium. The front-drive models are equipped with a 123-horsepower turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine, while all-wheel drive variants have a normally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 166 horsepower.

The S starts at $19,995, the SE at $22,905, the Titanium EcoSport at $25,740 and the SES at $26,740. Destination is $995 extra. Ford is already offering the vehicle with incentives, starting with a $155 per month lease on base S models for 39 months and $2,849 down. All leases are capped at 10,500 miles per year. The EcoSport SE can be leased for $173 per month with $3,208 up front, the Titanium EcoSport for $201 per month and $3,520 due at signing, while the SES is $218 per month with $3,637 down. Ford is offering $500 cash rebates across the board on the EcoSport, as well as 5.9-percent financing.

Features you can’t live without

Manufacturers are looking for ways to make cars lighter, more fuel efficient and affordable. One of the ways is to take out features that were previously standard. One of them is the traditional spare tires, which is almost irrelevant in the age of run-flats and standard roadside assistance offered by many makes.

However, buyers don’t necessarily buy into that rationale according to Quick Poll conducted by Kelley Blue Book. A total of 49 percent of the respondents ranked the spare tire as the feature they would least like to have deleted from new cars. The runners-up tied at 28 percent were CD players and shift levers as opposed to push-button gear selectors. Another 20 percent said they would hate to see the conventional ignition key disappear, while 17 percent each ranked audio volume knobs and manual parking brake handles as features they’d like to keep. Only 10 percent said they wouldn’t like to see analog gauges go, while only 9 percent would miss ashtrays.

The rundown

The North American International Auto Show is just a week away. Take a look at the latest news and introductions here.

Mini is out with an update of its 2019 2- and 4-Door Hardtops and Convertible. Check out the changes in this Video First Look.

Shopping for a new family car can be a daunting task. But you can whittle the list down quickly with Kelley Blue Book’s 12 Best Family Cars of 2018.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal:

Kelley Blue Book’s Complete Guide to Incentives

All you need to know about leasing

Which dealer services are right for you?

What to look for in your next economy car

What you need to know about conditional rebates

New Car Spotlight


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