By on October 9, 2014

1. Kia Rio NOLAThe Hero in Town: the Kia Soul

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We have arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, also called NOLA or, more affectionately, The Big Easy. A very different experience than all other American cities I crossed so far, especially given the fact I was there on a Friday night… Bourbon Street with all its performers, singers, live music, good vibes, cheap (so cheap!) alcohol and deliciously spicy jambalaya is an experience I had not thought possible in the US and one I don’t think I will see again in this trip. Of course, NOLA has its own very particular vehicle landscape, slightly different from Louisiana – as is often the case for big cities compared to the rest of the State they are located in. The Top 5 ranking and full landscape description/photo report is below.

2. Dodge Challenger NOLADodge Challenger in New Orleans LA

Best-selling cars in Louisiana – source:

Pos Model FY2013
1 Ford F-150 16,614
2 Chevrolet Silverado 13,359
3 Ram Pickup 9,502
4 GMC Sierra 7,741
5 Toyota Camry 6,719

3. Ford F150 NOLA 2Ford F150 in New Orleans LA

Looking at the best-selling models in Louisiana we are faced with a barrage of pickup trucks. After monopolising the Top 2 in Mississippi they do two more here and trust the Top 4 rankings. The Ford F-150 leads the way with 16.614 sales, ahead of the Chevy Silverado at 13.359. Up until now, nothing special I hear you say. The Ram Pickup (my very own Albert) rounds up the podium with just above 9.500 units and that’s new news, even though it managed to reach that ranking nationally a couple of times, but the most impressive jump is definitely the GMC Sierra in 4th place here with 7.741 sales vs. Nb. 20 nationally. The only passenger car to find its way into the Top 5 is, logically, the Toyota Camry.

12. Mercedes GLK NOLAMercedes GLK

Now onto NOLA.

Below the ubiquitous Ford F-150, the main striking element in NOLA is the impressive performance of premium German brands. Based on the areas I visited (Downtown, French Quarter, Lower Garden District, Treme-Lafitte and Whitney), I’ll go as far as saying that they hold an even higher market share in NOLA than they do in New York City. Local favourites include the new generation Mercedes ML Class, Mercedes GLK and BMW 3 Series, absolutely at every street corner especially in the French Quarter, but many other models make a remarkable reappearance here like the Mini or Smart Fortwo. In fact I had not seen that many tiny cars in a very long time.

4. Albert NOLAAlbert getting a little posh in New Orleans LA

In contrast with Louisiana as a whole, the most popular passenger car in New Orleans is the Nissan Altima, in line with my observations in Tennessee and Mississippi. The Honda Accord is not far behind though, judging by the high frequency of new generations in town. Also strong: the Toyota Tacoma at its highest so far in the trip (possibly just below the Altima and Accord), Honda Civic, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Accent and Toyota RAV4. Less popular than their national rankings: the Toyota Corolla and Ford Fusion.

Toyota Sienna NOLAToyota Sienna

Almost all taxis in New Orleans are either Dodge Grand Caravan or Nissan Quest, and there is one model that has frankly surged in popularity compared to all other areas I have visited so far: the new generation Kia Soul and I will make it my Hero in Town for New Orleans. Strangely this popularity seems to have been triggered by the new generation as I hardly saw any first gen Soul in town. Brand-wise, Nissan is particularly successful here with the Versa, Sentra, Pathfinder and Maxima all over-performing on their national ranking.

5. Nissan Juke Versa NOLANissan Juke and Versa in New Orleans LA

26. Nissan Murano Convertible NOLANissan Murano Convertible

Arguably the eccentric capital of the United States, New Orleans had to display a few oddities, and it did: the only two Nissan Murano convertible I saw in the entire trip were parked a few blocks away from each other in the French Quarter, and it looks like the Honda CR-Z may have once cracked the Top 20 in town given how many I spotted in such a small area.

6. Nissan Cube NOLANissan Cube in New Orleans LA

Having said all of the above, the New Orleans sales charts should actually be relatively conservative, at least at the top: Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram Pickup, conforming to the State podium. This changes when we leave New Orleans towards Texas: the Silverado becomes extremely frequent with a constant flow of 2013 models on the highway. It should even pass the Ford F150 to lead sales charts in this part of the state, while the Toyota Tundra experiences a sudden surge of popularity the closer we get to the Texan border.

7. Toyota Tundra NOLA 2Toyota Tundra in New Orleans LA

Chris Solomon, Manager at AllStar Toyota Baton Rouge LA, confirms this observation: “The new generation Tundra is our second best-seller below the Camry but above the Corolla. Doing particularly well for us is the 1794 Edition with specific 20-inch wheels (named for the ranch, founded in 1794, upon which the truck’s assembly plant is located in San Antonio, Texas). It has attracted buyers in the 25-40 years old range, especially trading in a Ford F-Series pick-up. We are still below Chevrolet in pickup sales as they have a more affordable offer, but it’s a true possibility that we beat Ford in the Baton Rouge area.”


13. Ford F250 NOLAFord F250

Building on my Charleston observation, overall one in 3 new F-Series is a F250/350, this ratio shooting up to 50% after Lafayette. Other striking observations in this part of Louisiana include a new gen Hyundai Santa Fe much more popular than both the old generation and all other States before now.

9. Ford F150 NOLA 31992 Ford F150 in New Orleans LA

Shane Smith, General Sales Manager at Allstar Hyundai Baton Rouge agrees the Santa Fe is a conquest model for the brand: “Our best-sellers are the Sonata, Elantra then Santa Fe, and we can count on high loyalty from our customers who come back to the brand time after time. As far as the Santa Fe is concerned though, on top of repeat business we are also seeing trade ins typically from the Toyota Highlander, GMC Terrain and Toyota Camry. The Santa Fe has the best warranty #1 rated safety its category and that has helped us a lot in our sales. It’s the perfect upgrade from a sedan for families that need a bit more room.

19. Chevrolet vintage NOLA1982 Chevrolet S10

Shane Smith also commented on the exceptional pent-up demand in the market at the moment. “We are dealing with the oldest fleet of cars overall out there in a long time, and our sales are at their best since before the financial crisis. People have waited a long time to renew their cars and now is the time. For example we also handle Volvo and just yesterday we had someone trade in a Toyota Prius with 250,000 miles. It’s not that unusual at the moment to see that type of trade-in.”

23. Chevrolet Suburban NOLAChevrolet Suburban

The Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL was seen in very high numbers again, understandable as this a much more touristy State than Mississippi and Tennessee I crossed beforehand, and 90% of Suburbans and co. that I have been spotting are rentals, with the French apparently being the most avid admirers.

10. Ford Thunderbird NOLAFord Thunderbird

Finally, a note on petrol prices. I later read in the press that this was a big deal but at the time I didn’t know it would stop there: for the first time since I left New York, the price of regular petrol has now plunged below $3, to $2.95 exactly in Lafayette. Not that it affects my budget as Albert drinks diesel and its price has not plunged in concert with regular petrol, staying at $3.66 cash and $3,71 credit in that very same 76 service station. Still no credit/cash price difference for petrol.

8. Ford Explorer NOLAFord Explorer

14. Kia Cerato NOLAKia Forte

15. Jeep Compass NOLAJeep Compass

16. Dodge Ram NOLADodge Ram

17. Toyota 4Runner NOLAToyota 4Runner

18. Nissan Titan NOLANissan Titan

20. GMC Sierra NOLAGMC Sierra

21. Cadillac SRX NOLACadillac SRX

22. Ford F150 NOLAFord F150

24. Hyundai Genesis NOLAHyundai Genesis

25. Toyota Tundra NOLAToyota Tundra

27. Saturn Vue NOLASaturn Vue

28. Ford Mustang NOLAFord Mustang

29. Chevrolet Avalanche NOLAChevrolet Avalanche

30. Fiat 500 NOLAFiat 500

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16 Comments on “Coast to Coast 2014: New Orleans, Louisiana...”

  • avatar

    Hey, how’s Albert’s mileage doing? Still holding near 30 mpg?

  • avatar

    That’s not an 87 f150. That’s a 91-96 generation.

  • avatar

    I’m overjoyed that the French admire Suburbans. Vive la France!

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I think they like to go “full native” while abroad. It’s not like they ever get a chance to drive Suburbans at home.

      • 0 avatar

        With a V6 diesel and 8 speed auto I think GM could sell more than a few Suburban type vehicles in Europe.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          That kind of powertrain sure sells a lot of Range Rovers in Europe.

          GM would need to update their interiors to appeal to European tastes. It’s not like your typical European finds a column shift and rough plastic to be reassuringly reminiscent of their granddad’s Olds 98.

          • 0 avatar

            Why would Europeans have a problem with a column shifter, my Saab 95 has one, and some old Peugeots did too I remember.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Exactly, it’s how they used to build them 50 years ago, and it still has the same clunky feel.

            They could get a few sales just by being old-fashioned and slightly awkward, but not many.

            A good part of the appeal of the Suburban (and its GM half-sisters) is that it makes you feel like you are in the family wagon in 1965 or 1975. It’s the automotive equivalent of comfort food in the US, but it won’t resonate with Europeans.

  • avatar

    I’ve been reading the anecdotal diaries of your trip with Albert without much view one way or the other (it is anecdotal after all). But I have to say I’ve moved to NOLA to finish out my transfer contract and then back to PA in a few years. The difference between the trendy neighborhoods in the French Quarter and the surrounding zone is night and day compared to the mid-city/uptown neighborhoods and Metarie that is farther West. I chose to live in a cheap suburb because I didn’t feel like dropping nearly a grand on 750 Sq. Ft. when a short drive on the highway makes the difference. If you go into the average neighborhoods the domestics and Nissan reign supreme. Undoubtedly Nissan has the magic for NOLA, I have no idea how or why but the sheer numbers of Versas, Sentras, Rogues, Altimas, and even Muranos and Titans are just abounding here.

    Also it seems like a Gen II Scion xB convention here. Normally in Pittsburgh & Flagstaff I saw maybe a few here or there. Here in NOLA I’m swimming in them, Souls still easily out number them but it isn’t 15 to 1, it’s more like 3 to 1…It’s just amazing. The city in general seems to favor smaller cars though, for all the trucks I see they’re almost all livery vehicles for the various gas/oil/shipping corps around here. It doesn’t seem to be a town focused on ‘buying a truck because it’s trendy’ feel. They also do seem to like their Mercedes here in the French Quarter, I don’t know if MB did market research when they bought the Superdome name or it’s civic pride but whatever it is I’ve seen more G-Wagens here than anywhere else except the most exclusive areas of Pittsburgh where the last remaining magnates live and their HQ VPs.

  • avatar

    Love the Challenger and balcony photo.

    And the Cube in that color rocks my socks. The lack of ground clearance wouldn’t matter in NOLA. Normally.

  • avatar

    Oh Yeah Baby! Albert at the Cornstalk Hotel on Royal Street! A favorite place in the Vieux Carre!

  • avatar

    LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL. G’donya Mate. You just stumbled on (maybe) the best party town in the WORLD. Have a cup at the Café du Monde. The food is (not as good) but right up there with Paul Bocuse in Lyon – and it has it’s own special luxury of fabulous French cooks and incredible local foodstuffs. They are half drunk all the time. Le ze bon tome roullez, or however you spell it.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    One place I would love to visit.

    I do think the diesel price is a bit of a bummer. From what I’ve read EU diesel is refined in that region around the Gulf. If the refiners are making more exporting diesel then the price will be higher.

  • avatar

    I notice the vue has a california tag. Probably not representative of NOLA.

    Live near Houston and I figure that should come soon in your travels. I think somewhat different than NOLA but still a lot of trucks and Nissans.

  • avatar

    You still on the road?

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