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We took a look at last month’s sales data to figure out which cars improved the most on a year-over-year basis. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the 10 strong performers we found are all-new or substantially revised for 2012. Last April, their predecessors were just about to wind up production.

To make the list more fair, we only considered relatively high-volume models – that is, cars that sold more than 500 units last month. And we also didn’t include new nameplates that had just hit the market last year. That cancelled out the Fiat 500, for example, which saw a 436 percent increase compared to April of 2011. Last April, Fiat didn’t have 500s (or even a dealer network) in full supply, so sales were almost certainly bound to improve this year.

We also excluded the Chevrolet Volt, which would have made a fourth place showing with its 197 percent improvement, because it was only available in a limited number of markets last April. Today, buyers in all 50 states can take home Volts if they so choose – and 1,462 people signed on the dotted line last month.

We also chose to include the Honda Civic Hybrid as a separate entry. Although it shares its body, interior and platform with the regular Civic, which was actually down 9 percent last month, its big demand boost could be indicative of a general consumer interest in efficiency since gas prices were generally up last month (although they continue to decline).

Among the select few on this list, only the Chrysler 300 and Nissan Quest were not redesigned for 2012. But both were fresh designs early last year, so they’re hardly outdated vehicles.

Most improved: 10 cars that were in hot demand last month
1. Honda Civic Hybrid up 533 percent to 766
2. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class up 522 percent to 647
3. Lexus GS up 421 2,006
4. Chrysler 300 up 138 percent to 7,763
5. Audi A6 up 137 percent to 1,565
6. Subaru Impreza up 124 percent to 6,791
7. Toyota Yaris up 115 percent to 4,274
8. Nissan Quest up 96 percent to 1,958
9. BMW 6-Series up 93 percent to 513
10. Audi A7 up 91 percent to 780


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