By on September 10, 2014

1. Toyota Corolla Washington Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these are from Maryland for illustration purposes)

After managing to drive through Manhattan and escape unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles Southwest to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article:

  • I did parallel park my 236 inch long Ram pick-up in Manhattan on a crowded West Village street  and felt very proud.
  • With French being my mother tongue I never can get quite used to the American convention of calling my truck (or any vehicle) as a “she”. In French, a truck is a masculine word, so my Ram will be referred to as Albert from now on
  • As a lot of you have noticed, it is the Tradesman level, a trim that normally doesn’t get lent to the press.

Dodge Durango Lincoln MKZ WashingtonDodge Durango and Lincoln MKZ in Washington DC

The Ram 1500 crew cab 4×4 I am driving has a US$35,805 base price. Add-in the Tradesman package, including carpet flooring and satellite radio, 8-speed automatic transmission, 3.0-Liter V6 EcoDiesel engine and destination charge to arrive at US$40,495. Depending on the rebate you can negotiate with your dealer, you can potentially get that back down to the base price or below. A lot of you have rightly asked about fuel economy. A road trip across the US in a pick-up truck immediately conjures up images of an endless flow of dollar bills being sunk into overly thirsty fuel tanks. Not so here.

Ram 1500 WashingtonAlbert proudly posing before the Capitol in Washington DC

Aware of the lengthy trip I was embarking in, Chrysler smartly lent me an EcoDiesel, launched only last February and one of the main reasons behind the nameplate’s sales surge in 2014. Back in February the EcoDiesel trucks set a new Ram record with the initial allocation of 8,000 units filled by dealers in just 3 days. Over that period the EcoDiesel variants represented half of all Ram 1500 pick-up orders and overall Ram expects EcoDiesel models to account for 15% of 1500 Series orders this year. So my Albert is quite the popular new kid on the block.

VW Jetta WashingtonVW Jetta in Washington DC

The reason behind this success? The EcoDiesel delivers 28 mpg highway, currently the best fuel economy for a full-size pick-up truck, compared to 24 mpg for the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and 23 mpg for the current Ford F-Series. The 4×4 variant I have gives up one mpg to sit at 27 mpg. Ford launched a challenge to Ram’s mpg crown with its new generation aluminium-built F-Series which will start deliveries in February 2015, however at an estimated 27 mpg for the all-new 2.7-Liter Ecoboost V6, it doesn’t quite match the RAM EcoDiesel yet.

Chevrolet Silverado WashingtonChevrolet Silverado in Washington DC

I won’t reset the mpg average at all during the entire trip, which should provide me with an all-trip average assuming Chrysler reset it before lending the truck to me. After 3 days and about 500 miles the mpg average stands at 25.3  mpg, keeping in mind there were 3 hours of virtual standstill in Manhattan – and therefore atrocious mpg – to begin with. So we are in line with a best-in-class score so far, and Albert is turning out to be not so thirsty after all.

Buick Enclave WashingtonBuick Enclave in Washington DC

Back to Washington DC, and this being a very small and touristy state, please bear in mind that my observations may not be limited to cars registered within Washington DC even though I tried to discard cars not registered here. As always this is not an exact science, rather a feel for the changing vehicle landscape as I traverse the country. State by state data published by Business Insider indicates that DC is the only State in the country to crown the Toyota Corolla as its favorite car. And as it was the case in New York City, I am pleased to announce that street observations match sales data which is always a great validation. The new generation Corolla has already taken charge of Washington traffic: I saw more of them in the few hours I was in the (relatively small) town than I saw in New York in 3 days!

Toyota Prius C WashingtonToyota Prius C in Washington DC

Overall my impression is that passenger cars are smaller than they were in New York City with less Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and more Nissan Sentra, Versa, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta – and of course Corolla as described above. Case in point: I saw my first two Toyota Prius C of the trip here. Hyundai also seems to be enjoying very strong sales here: I spotted a few new generation Sonatas. Nissan is as solid as it was in New York with numerous Altima spotted but less Maxima – in line with the smaller car preferences.

2002 Saturn Ion Washington2002 Saturn Ion in Washington DC

I would like to be able to tell you that I saw more pick-ups here but this is only marginally the case and we are still frankly in sedan and SUV territory. The Toyota RAV4 did come across more frequently, both as taxis and private cars. A couple of more Washington observations: the most popular and almost only Jeep seems to be the Wrangler, the current generation Buick Enclave is a success as is the Tesla Model S and the Washington region has a love for the defunct Saturn brand: whereas I had not picked one up yet during the trip before, I spotted three 2002 Saturn Ion in the space of a few blocks!

Next we will be driving through Virginia, North and South Carolina to Charleston. Stay tuned!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and writes a blog dedicated to tracking car sales around the globe: BestSellingCarsBlog

Chevrolet Suburban Impala WashingtonChevrolet Suburban and Impala in Washington DC 

Toyota RAV4 WashingtonToyota RAV4 in Washington DC

Ford Fusion WashingtonFord Fusion in Washington DC

Hyundai Sonata WashingtonHyundai Sonata in Washington DC

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40 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Coast to Coast 2014 – Washington DC...”

  • avatar

    “Back to Washington DC, and this being a very small and touristy state”

    Slight correction, D.C. is not a state, it’s a Federal Territory. As a former resident, I can tell you most cars that you see are registered somewhere else with the bulk being in either neighboring Maryland or Virginia.

    It’s a conundrum, to park on the street at a non-meter you need a zone permit which requires a D.C. registration (you can get a temporary permit if you are out of state but you have to bite the bullet and reregister your car in D.C. after six months, I think). If you don’t have a zone permit then it’s either real pricey meter or garage parking.

    • 0 avatar

      DC is similar to Canberra in that respect. Both locations were chosen as a sort of compromise in the middle, and located in their own territories not under the control of a state.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t get me started about DC zone parking policy… when I lived there, I lived on a single block which was not zoned but which was surrounded on all sides by a zone. Because MY block was not zoned I couldn’t get a permit. Yet, because my block wasn’t zoned, there was pretty much never parking there except early on weekend mornings. So I had to park in my tiny alley parking space no matter what, and if I hadn’t had a parking space I couldn’t have had a car.

      Also, as a DC resident, I think the cars I saw the most were old econoboxes (Corolla/Civic/etc); BMW 3 and Audi A4 lease specials; and giant BOF SUVs, some driven by the drivers of officials or VIPS, others driven by locals living east of downtown.

    • 0 avatar

      @rpol35 — not technically a territory either; that’s something else, though we don’t have any at the moment. It’s the one and only Federal District.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Down 95? Going through the Sunbelt to LA, or zig-zagging back and forth up into rust country?

  • avatar

    Love these posts. Just a tiny thing though, there was no 2002 Ion model year. Production started 2002 but it was MY 2003.

  • avatar

    Good posts, just a shame there is no numerical data to back up the anecdotes of what vehicles are popular in different parts of the USA.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks mike978 and I agree! I only have the #1 model by state for now. So if anyone reading these reports has access to more detailed info please holler! You can click on the contact button on my site:
      Thanks very much in advance!

  • avatar

    Watch your speed in VA, especially if you head out to Sshenandoah park from DC.

  • avatar

    I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of Camry’s and Accords in this series. Unless you you check out rural areas where pickups rule the roads.

    • 0 avatar

      You see a lot of Camry and Accord in the rural areas as well, along with the ruling pickup trucks. But what has struck me during my many travels is that in the arid Southwest, the number of ‘old’ cars still on the road is mind-boggling!

  • avatar

    Living in Arlington VA (across the swamp from DC), I agree Toyotas are the preferred brand here. My theory is that people in DC tend to be self-centered narcissistic psychopaths. They are disinterested in anything that does not center on them. For them, a car truly is an appliance for moving them from the Hill to Crystal City to Tysons and back.

    With no interest in a anything but themselves, they buy the most time and cost efficient vehicle possible, which is why Camry, Corolla, and Prius dominate. For those that still want a car to display they narcissism though, BMW and Mercedes have you covered in the Capitol Wasteland.

    If you haven’t left yet, check out District Taco in Arlington VA (Lee highway/Route 29). Closest thing to good food here in the Wasteland, plus actual hewmon beings work there instead of soulless, mindless, political automatons.

    • 0 avatar

      good lord, Morbo, you must have been listening to the conversation I had with my wife not two minutes ago where I told her, “you missed out on the best lunch on Saturday at District Taco….”

      We were in town for a wedding. In fact, that suburban photo? We were in the hotel right in front of it.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a District Taco near the corner of F and 13th NW as well. I usually end up at Moe’s across the street. I suppose I should give it a try sometime – any suggestions?

    • 0 avatar

      Y’all should also try Taco Bamba, close to tysons just off of route 7 and 66. It is a tiny place behind the whole foods shopping center. Fantastic tacos.

  • avatar

    “these ones are from…”

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a passive-aggressive grammar nazi, too, but is that usage actually incorrect?

      The several grammar blogs that address it mostly decide that while awkward it’s no more wrong than saying “this one”, just similarly redundant. It also appears to be something of a regionalism.

  • avatar

    Parallel parking a 236-inch pickup, while no small feat, becomes a little smaller when you remember that 35-40 years ago vehicles approaching 250 inches ruled the road, and would routinely be forced to parallel park as well. 10 feet combined front and rear overhang, anyone?

    25.3 miles on a single gallon of diesel, in a full-sized pickup truck, after 3 hours of standstill traffic.


    “At some point there, we left the present and entered the future.”

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The FE is great. Diesel’s do tend to ‘hit the target’ in relation to their advertised FE more often than gasoline engines.

    Gasoline engines tend to get worse FE. I have read many time that the average FE from a Pentastar 2WD Ram is around 16-17mpg average.

    But, even a Pentastar would have gotten better than 16-17mpg on what Matt just drove.

    But, as well as the sitting in traffic the Ram was on the highway transiting between NYC and DC.

    Another thing, a diesel can run as low as 1:50 fuel/air at idle. It only requires enough fuel to ignite and tick the engine over.

    A gasoline engine could never run that lean, it must maintain it’s 1:14.6 fuel/air ratio.

    Diesels are great in traffic as well.

  • avatar

    C&D’s latest installment:

    “Safety Car: Lapping suburbia in the everyman sports sedan…..“It’s hard to buy much car in this price range,” opined senior editor Jared Gall, “unless you buy this, which is the perfect car for just about everybody.”

    btw, they found the Sport four’s power underrated, much better than uncompetitive (Ecoboost) turbo fours.

  • avatar

    DC isn’t a state!!!! LOL

    Yes others pointed it out already, but want to reiterate, so the article can be corrected.

    And yes, many yuppies just see a car as a ‘rolling computer’. Get the one with the best ‘CR stats’ and value, never mind style or passion.

  • avatar

    Interesting to note that the writer spotted and recognized the Jeep Wrangler as an extremely popular model while all other Jeep models combined pretty much fade into the background. Living where I do, Jeep Wranglers are so popular that you can’t look into any parking lot without seeing at least one of those distinctively-shaped vehicles–and the writer practically drove through my town when he crossed the Delaware/Maryland border on I-95.

  • avatar

    Why would the Corolla be popular in DC ?.

    1. It’s reliable. The last place you want your car to break down is in the middle lane of the Beltway during the friday night 15mph crawl while everybody is trying to get the hell out of DC. It’s also a good choice for reliability reasons in case you have to drive through the hood, or make a trip to downtown Baltimore.

    2. It’s cheap and easy to park. Any car you own in the DC area will eventually be hit or have numerous dents in it from driving on the Beltway, or from parking somewhere in town. The smaller your car is the easier it is to cut somebody off while merging lanes on the Beltway too. The ideal car for DC traffic would be a bumper car with Formula 1 engine and brakes, so you can cut people off easier in traffic and not worry about damage to your car. An armored personnel carrier would also be a good choice for driving in the city itself, because no matter what brand of GPS system you have in your car it’ll always take the route that takes you straight through the hood, especially after dark.

    3. Because it’s a TOYOTA !. Nobody WANTS to be seen driving a Toyota, therefore nobody wants to steal one. You can park a Corolla pretty much anywhere, and chances are when you get back it’ll still be there. A Honda Civic would be a different matter, the kids like to steal them for their Ricer projects. Park your Civic somewhere in downtown DC, and the next day some teenaged kid will be beating the crap out of it doing speed laps around Summit Point.

    4. Nobody really owns a car in DC, it’s all a myth. The wealthy smart people all live out in the suburbs of northern Virginia and take the MARC train to work in the city. Only the poor people drive cars in DC, hence the reason why you see more Corollas there.

    • 0 avatar

      I knew there was a reason I hated driving in and around DC. In fact, I typically drive more than 50 miles out of my way to AVOID DC unless I can ensure it’s after 2am and before 6am. That’s about the only time the beltway is truly an expressway.

  • avatar

    Plenty of people in DC are very wealthy and very smart and own very expensive cars — ever been to Georgetown or Spring Valley? Per capita car ownership is lower in the District than in the burbs, but plenty of us drive because we have jobs in Virginia. As for commuting on MARC from Northern Virginia, I think you’d be a bit better off on VRE or Metro. MARC is in Maryland.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve been through Georgetown several times, so I know what they drive there. Last time I was in Georgetown I saw a guy driving a Bitter SC. It surprised me because I’ve seen pretty much most foreign cars, including the vintage ones, but I’ve never actually seen anyone driving a Bitter, that was an oddball choice.

      You don’t even have to take the Beltway to get stuck in traffic driving in from northern Virginia west of DC, you can get in traffic riding your bike with all the commuters on the W&OD trail too.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’d say DC and the immediate surrounding areas are van territory as far as trade workers go. You won’t see as many pick ups as you will Savanahs or Expresses.

  • avatar

    I walk past that silver Camaro parked at Freedom Plaza just about every day. Did you see the white 911 4S convertible parked on that street as well? The woman who owns it traded in a Boxster S with the same color scheme to get that car. If I had those kind of parking options, I wouldn’t be taking the Red Line into work, that’s for sure.

    Oh, and I just recognized Pershing Park behind the Suburban and Impala. A couple parking spaces down from there, there’s a Zipcar parking spot that was once home to an ATS. Not sure if it’s still there or not.

  • avatar

    Speaking of parking …. way to take up two parking spots there in the picture. Just begs for a “You park like an ….” note on the windshield. :-)

  • avatar

    Earlier this year I had the misfortune of driving in the rich north neighborhoods of DC. It always seemed to be rush hour. From my brief sampling, DC drivers choose their vehicles by the tone and power of the horns. They certainly seemed fond of using them. It was strange to see how much Southern-fried friendliness I encountered from strangers in shops and face-to-face, along with a Jeckyl-and-hyde hostility on the roads.

    When I wasn’t being honked at, it was fun to notice sightings of rare and precious cars like the electric BMW that aren’t often seen back home, out on the prairie.

    • 0 avatar

      DC drivers are some of the most impatient I’ve seen anywhere. It’s the inflated sense of self-importance, I think.

      The way it typically goes, a group people began walk through the crosswalk when the light changes. A turning car stops to allow them to pass. And then the car(s) behind him start honking for him to move, even though they can see the pedestrians, and even though they themselves would not be able to get through the crowd.

      A few days ago, this even happened with a DC cop honking the horn. The taxi was turning right, and he swung around it to go straight through the intersection. As a matter of fact, it was the intersection with the Camaro, pictured above.

      Of course, it could be worse. I just got back from China, where in the same situation the turning car just wades right into the crowd (which is usually much bigger). I’m still amazed that I never saw anyone killed while I was there. Also, this was a great opportunity to see a Chinese Mustang up close, because the driver got stuck in the crosswalk.

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