Most cars spend an average of 51 days in dealerships before they are sold, according to Edmunds.com, "days to turn" in industry parlance.
The 2011 model year officially began on Oct. 1. But for various reasons--unusually high demand, constrained production capacity or just odd timing of model changeovers--certain 2011 model cars are hard to find right now. Here is a list of the top 10 hardest vehicles to find right now.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe, a nice-looking, dependable crossover with a long list of standard features, is a smart choice at $21,000 to $27,000. But it's in short supply, partly because production was recently shifted from Hyundai's Alabama factory to a new plant in Georgia owned by its sister company, Kia Motors. Santa Fes spend an average of just seven days on dealer lots.
Lexus LS 460
Lexus lowered the base price on all-wheel-drive versions of its flagship sedan for 2011 after making the once-standard air suspension optional instead. Even though November sales of the LS were up 21%, the 2011 model wasn't available in great numbers. The average days to turn for 2011 models was nine.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The all-new Outlander Sport, starting at $19,000, is a slightly smaller version of Mitsubishi's top of the line Outlander crossover vehicle. It comes with a more fuel-efficient engine and seats five instead of seven. But it's still hard to find: The average Outlander Sport sells in just nine days.
Honda said recently it will discontinue the boxy Element after the 2011 model year. It couldn't compete with many newer crossovers, including Honda's own CR-V. If you want one, better move fast. The 2011 Element is hard to find; production is limited and most sell out within 10 days.
The smallest new crossover from Nissan, around $19,000, is inspired by motorsports. But good luck finding one--the Juke sells quickly, usually within 10 days of arriving at dealerships.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota doesn't produce a ton of Land Cruisers, and sales are down for the year. The 2011 model is unchanged from 2010, but it's still fairly hard to find, spending an average of just 11 days on dealer lots.
The high-performance version of Audi's sleek and sexy A5 starts at $53,000--if you can find one. The S5 usually sells within 12 days of arriving at dealerships.
With standard all-wheel-drive and ample cargo space, this small crossover enjoyed a 27% sales jump in November compared to a year ago. That's why the 2011 models don't spend much time on dealer lots--an average of 12 days, says Edmunds.com.
Toyota dealers are still clearing out 2010 models for the wagon-like Venza, so there aren't many 2011s to be found (average days to turn for 2011 model: 12). But it doesn't really matter--Venza is unchanged for the new model year.
Redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Touareg is still arriving in dealerships. It's available now with a hybrid engine, too. For now, though, the new Touareg is hard to find, spending an average of 12 days on dealers' lots.