IRVINE, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- The utilitarian, mid-sized sedans that usually dominate automotive awards are all that's preventing a class war between fans of popular and premium vehicles.
When auto-research firms Intellichoice and Auto Pacific let drivers decide the winners of their Motorist Choice Awards, they accounted for this schism that's easily concealed by praising a Toyota (TM - Get Report) Camry, Honda (HMC - Get Report) Accord or Ford (F - Get Report) Fusion.
High-end car owners can smugly assert that Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Cadillac, Buick and BMW all increased sales during a dismal August while Hyundai, Honda, Ford, Toyota, GM and Nissan (NSANY) all reported drops.
Parking-lot populists, meanwhile, note that middle-of-the-road 2011 models like the Honda Accord and Ford Edge are only on the lot an average of six days before they sell, according to TrueCar.com. Upscale competitors like the Mercedes-Benz SL550 and the Volvo C70 spend more than two months in showrooms before they're sold.Seeing the merit in both arguments, Intellichoice and Auto Pacific separated the winners of their 15 categories into popular and premium segments. This made for some strange garagefellows, but spoke volumes about the worldview of buyers in each category. With help from IntelliChoice Executive Editor Charlie Vogelheim, TheStreet picked the 10 best categories and oddest pairings, and looked at the key differences between the auto industry's haves and have-nots.