Alabama's top five rides; popular vehicles of the last year

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's one of the biggest purchases we make, buying a car! And when it comes to choosing a vehicle, many factors drive the decision.

The choices are seemingly endless: compact, convertible, crossover, sedan, SUV, sunroof and much more. A new car is a decision that has to meet your needs, while also fitting your budget.

"The consumer is very demanding," explains Michael Parente, "and they are in a position to be very demanding." Parente has been in the car business for 26 years and says consumers are more savvy than ever.

Thanks to the internet, customers come into the dealership with a lot of information. Most choose a car for the same reasons: they like the way it looks, the way it drives and one of the biggest reasons - gas mileage. It's about how much they will pay at the pump.

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, there were 65,989 vehicles registered in the state between April 2010 and April 2011.

Here are the five that topped the list:

At five, the ever-popular Honda Accord. Just over 2,600 were registered in Alabama within the last year. It gets around 34 miles to the gallon on the highway and will run you about $23,000.

Jennifer Hawkins purchased her Accord in November and says she bought it for three reasons. "Dependability, gas mileage and the car is just excellent."

At four, the Kia Sorento, a mid-sized SUV, sold 3,758 in the last year. It costs about $26,000, and you'll get 28 highway miles per gallon. Kia invested in the deep south, and car buyers are returning the favor.

"They are competing with Japanese imports," Parente says. "They have a wonderful warranty. It's a well made car, and the price point is excellent."

Coming in at three: A pickup truck - The Chevy Silverado. There are just over 4,000 of the trucks registered in Alabama during the last year. It gets about 23 miles per gallon on the highway and cost about $23,000.

Jimmy Russell put about 90,000 miles on his new truck in a single year! "It's a good truck," he said of his 6-cylinder. "It likes a little umph, but it gets the job done."

The second biggest seller is the Montgomery-built Hyundai Sonata sedan. There were 6,371 registered last year. The sedan gets 35 mpg at a price between $20-25,000 . The new body style seems to be a hit!

"You've got a great-looking car," says Michael Jackson of Capitol Hyundai Montgomery while looking under the hood. "Power, performance, then you have economy all rolled into one. You can't beat that." Jackson says the folks who build the cars are some of his best customers, and give them plenty of visibility on the road.

And the number one selling car in Alabama, like most places, is the Toyota Camry. There were nearly 10,000 of the sedans registered in the state in the last year. Costs run about $23,000 and the gas goes slowly at about 33 mpgs.

The guys at the Toyota dealership promise that once you drive one, you'll buy it. "If you make a mistake, it will try to correct it," explained veteran car salesman David Vinson. "It's not perfect, but it's as close as we've come so far.")

So you don't drive any of the vehicles in the top five? How about the top ten?

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.