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Ford Motor Company (F), Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (ADR) (NSANY): These Cars Are Big With Subprime Buyers

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The Kia Forte may be a favorite of buyers with sub-prime credit. Photo credit: Kia

Is your credit rating damaged? Do you need a new car?

You might want to consider buying a car from Chrysler or Kia, like the Kia Forte pictured above.

Chrysler and Kia are the automakers with the biggest presence on a new list of top 10 new vehicles bought by subprime borrowers who worked through CarFinance.com, a site that helps subprime buyers find financing.

CarFinance.com’s data set isn’t big enough for us to draw too many conclusions about what actually might be going on here. But I found it interesting, because the automakers on the list have seen big growth since the economic crisis.

And for a couple of those automakers, there’s some evidence that subprime lending might have a lot to do with that growth.

10 cars popular with subprime buyers
Here are the vehicles on CarFinance.com’s Top 10 list, in order:

Vehicle Type Automaker Starting price
Dodge Avenger Mid-sized sedan Chrysler $18,995
Kia Forte Compact Kia $15,900
Kia Optima Mid-sized sedan Kia $21,350
Chrysler 200 Mid-sized sedan Chrysler $18,995
Dodge Journey Mid-sized SUV Chrysler $19,590
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) Compact Ford $16,200
Ram 1500 Pickup Chrysler $22,640
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (ADR) (OTCBB:NSANY) Sentra Compact Nissan $15,990
Nissan Versa Subcompact Nissan $11,990
Kia Sorento Mid-sized SUV Kia $24,100

This list probably reflects a limited data set, but it has a lot of overlap with one released by auto-data site Edmunds.com last year. That list showed the top 10 new cars with the highest percentage of purchasers paying more than 10% interest on their loans, which Edmunds considers an indicator of subprime status. The Avenger, Forte, Sentra, 200, Journey, and Versa were all on that list as well.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the vehicles on the list are value-priced choices. Chrysler markets the Dodge Avenger as America’s “most affordable midsized car,” and the Korean-made Kias are positioned as stylish but inexpensive alternatives to the mainstream Japanese brands.

The exception is the Focus, which Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has positioned as a somewhat premium product. But its position on this list might just reflect its general popularity — Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) said recently that the Focus was the world’s best-selling car in 2012.

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