WASHINGTON (TheStreet) -- If an automaker's big strategy is to raise prices and sales drop off immediately as a result, chances are the car-buying public thinks some of those vehicles are way overpriced.
U.S. car sales fell 3.7% in May to 1.06 million, which puts automakers well off the 13 million sales pace initially predicted for the year. That's due in no small part to the $29,817 average transaction price car data firm TrueCar posted for May. That's the highest average selling price for automobiles since 2002 -- just the latest aftershock of earthquakes in Japan that resulted in tsunamis that killed tens of thousands of people, created a nuclear crisis and crippled the country's energy supply.
"Even though consumers continued to move toward smaller vehicles, they also chose [multi-optioned] vehicles that are higher priced, keeping transaction prices high," says Jesse Toprak, analyst vice president of industry trends at TrueCar,
Two of the automakers most affected by the disaster, Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM), led the way with price increases of 2.6% and 1.6% respectively. The two also slashed incentives, with TrueCar finding that Toyota gave drivers 54% less to buy its vehicles than it did a year ago; Honda slashed freebies by 42%.Not surprisingly, those price hikes made Toyota and Honda two of the biggest losers in last month's sales slump. Toyota's U.S. sales dropped by a whopping 33%, while Honda fared little better with a 23% decline. That misfortune played directly into the hands of Korean automakers Hyundai/Kia, whose prices stayed put last month while sales jumped 21%. While some of that windfall also came at the expense of Ford (F) and GM (GM), which saw incentives dwindle 23% and 27%, respectively, a 9.1% sales slide by Nissan just confirms a bad stretch for Japanese automakers. While mitigating circumstances haven't helped matters, there are now several models produced by Toyota and Honda that consumers and industry experts feel are overpriced. With help from TrueCar and auto pricing site Edmunds.com, TheStreet identified five overpriced models that aren't giving car buyers much more for their money:
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