Honda says it just received data that shows that four key models, including the nation's second-best selling car, the Accord, were also the top hits with individual buyers.

Besides Accord sedan and coupe, Honda also points to the Civic sedan, CR-V crossover and Odyssey minivan as being the top vehicles among individual buyers in the classes, says Honda, which based its study on new data from analysis firm Polk/IHS.

"At retail, we're No. 1," says John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda.

USA TODAY says the study exposes a sore spot in the auto industry: As much as automakers love to crow about sales tallies, all sales aren't the same. Selling to individual customers -- "one at a time," as some executives say -- not only brings in top dollar, but it's considered a grass-roots endorsement of a vehicle. Some models post big sales because they are sold in bunches to rental car agencies or corporate or government fleets... They're still popular, but mostly because they sold cheap.

It has practical value, too. Cars sold at "retail" often depreciate less than those sold heavily to fleets. They are "not making people feel stupid" for their purchase decision by holding their value. "People are 'voting' based on the whole-life cost."

Polk says that taken together, Honda's top four models sold 1.1 million in 2013. Honda's retail sales rose 8.4% last year. Even though Accord was second behind Toyota's Camry in overall sales, it not only had higher new-car customer registrations to individuals, but they were up 12.2% over the previous year.

The news isn't all good for Honda. Aside from its four core models, it has others, like CR-Z and Insight, that have struggled.