Report: Ford Escape actually top selling vehicle under CARS

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently revealed a list of the most purchased vehicles under the cash for clunkers program, but a new report indicated the DOT's list may not be entirely accurate. Due to a counting anomaly, a number of trucks and SUVs are actually hiding on the most purchased list.

Whereas traditional sales tabulations go by make and model, the government is using a system that divides models into different sub-categories, counting each engine, drive and transmission combination as a separate vehicle. As such, the totals aren't exactly lining up correctly, giving an inaccurate picture of how the program is shaping up.

Using the government's sales measurement system, the Toyota Corolla is the top-selling vehicle under the CARS program. However, the Coroll's relative lack of engine, drive and transmission options is artificially vaulting the Corolla to the top spot.

According to a more accurate sales tally by Edmunds - one that strictly goes by make and model - the Ford Escape is the top-selling model of the CARS program. The Ford Focus occupies the second spot in the revised list, followed by the Jeep Patriot and Dodge Caliber in the 3rd and 4th spots, respectively.

However, the #5 vehicle on updated list seems to suggest why the government may have gone with a less accurate tabulation method. The Ford F-150 sits in the 5th spotted, averaging a less-than-stellar 17 mpg in its most efficient form. The Honda Civic directly follows the F-150 at #6, but the 17 mpg Chevy Silverado makes an appearance at the #7 slot.

The Chevy Cobalt, Toyota Corolla and Ford Fusion round out Edmunds' top 10.

The government claims that new vehicles purchased under the CARS program are averaging 25.4 mpg, but that figure seems a bit high considering the vehicles on the top 10 list. However, with the CARS program now set to run through September, we suspect we'll here more on the subject in the coming weeks.