2011 Toyota Sienna

Toyota's dorky-chic ad campaign for the all-new 2011 Sienna minivan seems to be working. That's according to the more than 16 million car shoppers that logged on to AutoTrader.com in the month of June.

This time last year, the Sienna was the 50th most researched new vehicle at AutoTrader.com, now it's jumped up to 5th. No doubt this is due to savvy AutoTrader shoppers who know a good minivan when they see one, but Toyota's hilarious ad campaign touting the van as a "Swagger Wagon" is responsible as well. They even have a rap video featuring the sporty, blacked out grille, clear taillight lens wearing Sienna SE, along with a moderately attractive mom defiantly proclaiming that she's "Straight ownin' bake sales with my cupcake skills." Nice!

The 2010 Acura TL made an even bigger jump from last month moving from 143rd most viewed to 20th. Acura has also been aggressively marketing their cars, highlighting performance, technology and the fact that all Acura vehicles earn a Five Star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Certainly value and quality have helped Acura's cause as well, a decently equipped 2010 Acura TL is priced thousands of dollars under its European competitors, plus Acura was ranked second in Initial Quality by J.D. Power and Associates.

But the TL and Sienna's impressive jump in consideration runs against a larger trend. When it comes to new cars and trucks most frequently viewed at AutoTrader.com, 13 of the top 20 are American brands. Four are Fords, six are GM vehicles, and three are Chrysler vehicles including the always popular Jeep Wrangler.

Finally, the top 20 most researched new, used and certified pre-owned (CPO) cars right here at AutoTrader.com are not hybrids or fuel sipping compacts but luxury and performance cars along with full size pickups and SUV. When it comes to new cars, the Ford Mustang is the most researched car followed by the Chevrolet Camaro. The BMW 3-Series, Ford F Series, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Ram 1500 and Dodge Challenger are also in the top 20.

Based on this list, it looks like new and used car shoppers want more than just great gas mileage; they want a car that's fun, functional and a little stylish first with good fuel economy being a secondary consideration. The few fuel-sipping vehicles to make the list of most viewed include vehicles that offer something more than just high mpg. The VW Jetta is the third most viewed vehicle. Also the Honda Civic and Chevrolet Equinox are in the top 20, all three get decent fuel economy but all three offer more fun, function or style that the typical economy car. Of course this trend will only last as long as gas stays reasonably cheap. As soon as gas prices go up, expect to see cars like the Honda Fit, Chevy Aveo and Toyota Prius get a lot more attention.

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Brian Moody has been an automotive writer and presenter for more than 10 years. He has contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Fox Business, the Today show, Speed TV, Edmunds.com and KTLA in Los Angeles. He currently covers the automotive industry and reviews new cars for the nationally syndicated Car Concerns radio show.

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