The beginning of a recovery. Looking back at the past year, cautiously optimistic headlines have prevailed with respect to auto sales. But by the end of the year it was a bit better than it sounds, with the auto market definitely finishing stronger than it started—and stronger than a number of analysts had predicted at the beginning of the year. But all year it had been tough to size up, with the market still very much out of whack at the beginning of the year due to the federal government's 2009 Cash for Clunkers program. And there were some persistent questions that lingered through the year: Such as, why weren't luxury-vehicle shoppers feeling the recession as much as family-car shoppers?