Top 10 Best Selling Pickup Trucks in America

Stephen Elmer
by Stephen Elmer

The pickup truck is an icon that embodies the working spirit. It’s every blue collar employee’s calling card and farmer’s best friend. Truck buyers grow especially close to their vehicles as trucks are a key tool in earning a living, depending on them to last through days and years of service.

This man-and-machine relationship breeds intense brand loyalty, with some families staying true to a brand for years. So how does each manufacturer stack up to the others in terms of overall sales? We did the dirty work for you, so click through to see the top 10 best-selling trucks in America from 1990 through today.

Before moving forward, it’s important to note that delving directly to each truck’s sales numbers from original inception is difficult if not impossible given the degree of variation and frequently lost records.

“Where do you start counting Chevy pickups? In 1918, when the first cowl-chassis Four Ninety was sent out the door for upfitting, or in 1930, when the first Chevy with a factory bed was built,” GM’s Tom Wilkinson said during our interview. That said, we gathered the numbers from 1990 on, which offer a window into the overall trends in the truck market.

As Nissan‘s first foray into the half-ton truck market, the Titan launched in the U.S. in December, 2003. Chevy, Dodge and Ford always seemed to best the brand, which managed a disappointing record just under 414,000 units to date. This truck is badly in need of redesign if Nissan hopes to compete.

The GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado were discontinued last year and never enjoyed the success of their half-ton big brother. Separately, the GMC Canyon sold just over 151,000 units in its lifetime and the Colorado sold almost 561,400, selling a combined total of 712,400 small trucks. The small truck market has consistently shrunk over the past five years as half-tons become more fuel efficient, affordable and customizable.

The Nissan Frontier is the Japanese automaker’s light truck, which actually enjoys quite a bit more success than its full-size sibling. It seems that Japanese sensibilities translate better into small vehicles than beefy trucks. The Frontier sold over 990,200 units since it was launched in 1997 and is also in need of a redesign to stay current, though the company says an update is unlikely for at least two more years. The Frontier is now one of only two light trucks on the market, with the GMC Canyon/Chevy Silverado discontinued along with the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota.

The Toyota Tundra launched in 2002 to mediocre acclaim, as it wasn’t until the 2007 redesign that people took much notice. Toyota engineers listened to the American truck market, and designed a truck with big knobs, big looks and big power. Built in the heart of American truck country — San Antonio, Texas, the Tundra claims just under 1.4 million units sold from its 2002 introduction through the end of last year.

The Dodge Dakota has gone the way of the do-do along with many other light trucks due to declining U.S. sales. It was introduced to compete with the Ford Ranger in 1986, and has sold 2.45 million units (sales from 1990 were not available) from its inception, up until its discontinuation in 2011.

The Toyota Tacoma is is one of the few light trucks still available today and arguably offers the best small truck option. Introduced into the market in 1995, the Tacoma has enjoyed major success with 2.46 million trucks sold up to December, 2011. When you consider that the Tacoma outsold the Dakota by about 10,000 units despite a nine year handicap, you see once again that Japanese light trucks are not to be discredited.

2002 Ford Ranger Tremmor.

The Ford Ranger gets the distinction of being the best selling light pickup of all time in North America. It was introduced in 1983 and followed the long line of light pickups into the automotive graveyard in 2011. The Ranger sold more than 4.7 million units from January, 1990 up to the last day it was for sale in 2011. While Japanese companies have a hold on the light truck market now, the Ranger was the dominating force while it was on sale.

The Dodge Ram takes third place on the list as one of the big three American automakers producing half-ton trucks. Dodge recently created a sub-brand for its trucks, which now simply go by the name RAM. From January 1990 through March 2012, Dodge sold 6.5 million RAM pickups, although the storied name has been in production since 1929.

2002 Ford F150 Supercab Styleside. (Neg No. CN335012-100)

Ford sold 15.6 million F-Series from 1990 to present day. As a leader in truck development, the automaker brought forth advancements like the new high-compression V6 EcoBoost, a tailgate mounted step-up into the bed, and even the luxurious King Ranch package that pushed half-tons into the luxury segment. Most recently, over the last decade, Ford took truck styling in a new direction with its big boxy design — something Chevrolet and Dodge were quick to copy.

2012 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Crew Cab Pickup. (08/29/2011)

The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra top our list as the best selling pickup since 1990, but that isn’t without an asterisk. Chevrolet and GMC combined truck sales from 1990 through 2011 equal to 15.9 million units, outselling the Ford F-Series by almost 330,000. Here’s the catch: If you look at the sales separately, (GMC Sierra with 3.9 million and Chevy Silverado with 12 million ) Ford’s F-Series outsold both of the trucks. However, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado are the exact same truck, and therefore we lumped the sales together.

Stephen Elmer
Stephen Elmer

Stephen covers all of the day-to-day events of the industry as the News Editor at AutoGuide, along with being the AG truck expert. His truck knowledge comes from working long days on the woodlot with pickups and driving straight trucks professionally. When not at his desk, Steve can be found playing his bass or riding his snowmobile or Sea-Doo. Find Stephen on <A title="@Selmer07 on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> and <A title="Stephen on Google+" href="">Google+</A>

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3 of 24 comments
  • Marquis Marquis on Aug 25, 2012

    Before moving forward, its important to note that delving directly to each trucks sales numbers from original inception is difficult if not impossible given the degree of variation and frequently lost records.

  • Anti-Obama Anti-Obama on Aug 30, 2013

    The wheel wells on the Chevy trucks are too big, designed for those nigger rims or wagon looking wheels it looks retarded!! I'll take a Tundra !!!

    • The Truth 1973 The Truth 1973 on Feb 24, 2015

      Maybe you are mad at your small penis not Obama and Chevy. I hope you don't have any kids if so I hope you have a daughter. She'll want "nigger penis". Lazy cave dweller go sleep with your dog.