The Car’s share of the market continues to shrink amidst model line cancellations and shifting consumer tastes.
We’ll get it out of the way now: while there were a handful of bright spots in the SUV and truck list, you’ll find no such good news here. Every car on this list sold less units than it did last year—some almost half as much. COVID-19 hit the whole industry hard, but cars suffered more, especially as manufacturers discontinued some nameplates.
We do have a few fun facts to highlight the continued domination of crossovers and SUVs, though. The 20th-best-selling vehicle on the other list, the Toyota 4Runner, would’ve had a comfy fifth-place finish here. The Ford Mustang, a two-door coupe, was America’s 15th-best-selling model. Manufacturers have begun grouping minivans in with the utility vehicles, but if they didn’t, the Chrysler Pacifica would’ve clinched 10th below. See, minivans are cool again!
Read on for the top 10 best-selling cars of 2020.
Editor’s Note: At the time of writing, detailed 2020 reports were not available from Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo. As none of these were likely to affect the rankings, we’ve gone ahead and published, but will update if any surprises arise.
10. Kia Forte: 84,997 units sold
Compact cars faired better than other three-box segments, and the Kia Forte did better then most, shedding just 11 percent of its 2019 total. It just squeaks by Kia’s mid-sizer: the Optima name is dead now, with the K5 as a replacement, but combined those two sold 80,140 in 2020.
09. Nissan Sentra: 94,646 units sold
The new Nissan Sentra is a vastly better car than the one it replaced. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save Nissan’s best-selling nameplate from a huge 49-percent dip this year. Shedding nearly half its total 2019 sales dropped the Sentra down to 9th this year, joining the Forte in the sub-six-figure realm.
08. Chevrolet Malibu: 102,651 units sold
The Malibu looks to survive as the last remaining mid-size American sedan. Chevrolet has been cutting its car models for a few years now, most recently the sub-compact Sonic, but a confirmed burial date for the ‘Bu remains unknown. Sales of this car were down 22 percent over 2019’s numbers, but perhaps more surprisingly, it accounted for about 40 percent of GM’s entire car production.
07. Hyundai Elantra: 105,475 units sold
Hyundai suffered some colossally bad luck with the new Elantra this year, as the debut happened mere days into the COVID-19-related shutdown. A delayed roll-out of the angular new model didn’t help, and sales took a 40-percent tumble as a result. We liked it plenty in our First Drive, and we’ll be pitching it up against the establishment soon…
06. Ford Fusion: 110,665 units sold
Goodbye, Ford Fusion. The mid-sizer heads to the great scrap heap in the sky this year, as Ford cuts its car lineup to only the Mustang. In its final full year on the market, the Fusion sold 110,665 units. That’s down 33 percent from 2019, and a far cry from the 306,860 it pulled off in 2014. That’s more than any car managed in 2020.
05. Nissan Altima: 137,988 units sold
Nissan’s Altima helps maintain a top-five lockout for Japanese manufacturers. The current model debuted in 2019, adding in a revolutionary turbo engine and available all-wheel drive. There’s an enormous gap in sales figures to fourth place, though…
04. Honda Accord: 199,458 units sold
The Honda Accord has long sat in the fourth-place position for cars, and it held onto the title for another year here. Sales were down, of course, but it now has more air between the mid-sizer behind it (Altima) and ahead (Camry). For 2021, the Accord is going automatic-only, with manual transmissions discontinued.
03. Toyota Corolla: 237,178 units sold
Toyota’s Corolla used to be the butt of boring-car jokes, but the latest model is a much more interesting model, both visually and from behind the wheel. That wasn’t enough to save it from its own end-of-year decrease, shedding 22 percent of its 2019 figure. Expect a hotted-up GR Sport version at some point this year.
02. Honda Civic: 261,225 units sold
Even in its final full year of production, the Civic remains the best-selling compact car in America. A 20-percent decrease from 2019 opens up the space between it and number one, but with the markets recovering, and a new model arriving in a few months, the Civic could make a run for the crown. It’s long been the best-selling model north of the border, after all.
01. Toyota Camry: 294,348 units sold
Just as the RAV4 lays claim to the best-selling SUV title for another year, so the Camry does the same for cars. The Camry saw one of the smallest losses over 2019 figures—just 13 percent— which gave it a 33,000 unit buffer against the Civic. Toyota continues to update the Camry, with more standard safety features in 2021, plus available AWD.
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