California is different from the rest of the United States.

And its vehicle mix turns out to be very different too.

A simple glance at the state's rainbow of cultures and languages, its record of social and technological innovation, and its varied climates--a five-hour drive takes you from ocean beach to 11,000-foot-high ski slope--demonstrates its remarkable diversity.

2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius

2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius

While the Toyota Prius is the single most popular car line sold in California, there's a variation on that title: most popular car line sold to retail buyers.

That turns out to be the Honda Civic compact sedan and coupe lineup--not the Prius hybrid.

Based on registration data from Polk, issued yesterday by Honda itself, Californians purchased 65,910 Civics for their personal use.

The Prius wins--at 69,728--when you roll in fleet sales, which are the bulk purchases by companies, governments, and other entities that maintain large motor pools.

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Not surprisingly, the Prius lineup--rated at 50 mpg for three of its four models--is inexpensive to operate, especially for vehicles that cover more miles than average.

2014 Honda Civic Sedan 4-door CVT EX Steering Wheel

2014 Honda Civic Sedan 4-door CVT EX Steering Wheel

Unlike most other car companies, Honda does not make a particular effort to sell its vehicles to fleets, often to the dismay of its sales managers--who might like their total sales to be higher.

But retail sales are generally more profitable than bulk sales to fleets, which often order base models and bargain hard for them.

California is the largest of the 50 state vehicle markets, with 32.9 million registered vehicles on its roads, according to the state DMV.

Honda sold 336,000 Civic models nationally last year, including its high-efficiency Civic HF model, the Civic Hybrid sedan, and its Civic Natural Gas model as well.


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