The year is out and the final sales results are in.
Americans bought 17,245,872 cars last year. That’s a 1.8 percent drop over 2016 and the first annual decrease since the recession-ravaged year of 2009.
Pickup trucks and SUVs still reign supreme, though there are a few sedans defiantly clinging on to their best-seller status. It’s interesting to note not a single European car managed to break into the top 20 last year. If it’s any consolation, none made it on the list in 2016, either.
Here are America’s 20 best-selling cars and trucks in 2017.
20: Hyundai Elantra (198,210 units sold)
Coming in at number 20, the Elantra was the best-selling member of the Hyundai line-up. It almost didn’t make it on this list, however. The Toyota Tacoma performed well all year and ended 2017 with 198,124 units sold. The strongest December in the Elantra nameplate’s history helped Hyundai’s bread-and-butter model beat Toyota’s smallest truck by a slight margin.
19: Ford Fusion (209,623 units sold)
Ford developed the Fusion (which goes by the name Mondeo in other markets) to compete head-on with the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. It’s the company’s best-selling sedan but it has never come remotely close to its Japanese rivals in terms of sales. We doubt that will change soon.
While breaking into America’s top 20 is no small feat, the Fusion’s future is far from safe. Sales dropped 21.1 percent in 2017, making it Ford’s second-biggest loser after the Mustang. Some reports claim Fusion production will shift to China in the coming years. Others plainly assert the nameplate will get the bullet as Ford places a bigger focus on SUVs and pickups.
18: Toyota Highlander (215,775 units sold)
The Toyota Highlander cruised into 2017 after benefitting from a mid-cycle update that brought a new look and more efficient powertrain options. The upgrades were accompanied by a minor price hike all across the board, but they were substantial enough to propel the Highlander into the top 20.
17: GMC Sierra (217,943 units sold)
GMC positions the Sierra as a high-toned alternative to its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Silverado. It places a bigger emphasis on creature comforts, especially when buyers select the range-topping Denali trim. The Sierra’s transaction prices are normally higher than the Silverado’s and volumes are correspondingly lower.
16: Nissan Sentra (218,451 units sold)
The Sentra isn’t Nissan’s most affordable car; that honor goes to the Versa, which didn’t make it on this list. While the Versa is an unabashedly basic, bare-bones economy car, the Sentra is more attractive because it offers a bigger cabin and more amenities while still coming in well under the $20,000 mark.
15: Ford Explorer (238,056 units)
The Ford Explorer has been one of America’s most popular SUVs since it made its debut in 1990, but its appeal isn’t limited to families. The fifth-generation model is in hot demand as a law enforcement vehicle all across America. Both versions strive to offer a convincing blend of comfort and ruggedness.
14: Jeep Grand Cherokee (240,696 units sold)
Like bourbon in a barrel, the Jeep Grand Cherokee gets better with age. The current-generation model has gotten more popular every year since it went on sale in the summer of 2010. It set another record in 2017 with 240,696 examples sold, a 13-percent increase over 2016.
To put that figure into perspective, the Grand Cherokee’s best year was 1999 when 300,031 second-generation models found a home. The nameplate hit an all-time low in America a decade later with just 50,328 third-generation SUVs sold.
13: Nissan Altima (254,996 units sold)
2017 was a bad year for the Nissan Altima. While it finished the year in the top 20, sales nose-dived by 17 percent last year. It’s easy to see why. The Altima is a five-year old model that’s starting to show its age and the segment it competes in is collapsing.
12: Chevrolet Equinox (290,458 units sold)
Chevrolet took a big risk when it redesigned the Equinox. It decided to downsize. The new model is more compact than its predecessor, it’s much lighter and it uses smaller engines. It’s even offered with a segment-exclusive turbodiesel four-cylinder, a daring move in an era when diesel is a byword for evil.
The gamble paid off. After a 12-percent drop in sales in 2016, when sales plummeted to 242,195 units, the Equinox convinced 290,458 buyers to sign the dotted line in 2017.
11: Ford Escape (308,296 units sold)
2017 marked the redesigned Ford Escape’s first full year on the market. The tweaks made inside and out have helped sales, and Ford even had to shorten the annual two-week summer break at its Louisville, Kentucky, factory to keep up with record-breaking demand for the Escape.
10: Toyota Corolla (308,695 units sold)
What sells isn’t usually what excites, as the Toyota Corolla magnificently proves. It’s persistently a favorite among buyers because it lives at the junction of value, comfort, and efficiency. It’s also a trusted nameplate that benefits from Toyota’s decades-old reputation of building solid, reliable cars.
9: Honda Accord (322,655 units sold)
The public and the press looked on with near-superstitious awe as the Honda Accord beat the Ford Taurus to become America’s best-selling car in 1989. It has been on the list ever since, but it was unfortunately born into a segment experiencing a sharp (and, likely, permanent) decline. It remains a highly competitive model. We expect the recent arrival of a brand-new model will bump it up a few spots in the rankings in 2018.
8: Honda Civic (377,286 units sold)
Honda’s bread-and-butter model is stronger than ever thanks to a recently updated line-up that now includes a sedan, a coupe, and a hatchback. The hot-rodded Type R variant, offered in America for the first time, was certainly not a high-volume model but it helped generate a substantial amount of interest in the 10th-generation Civic.
7: Honda CR-V (377,895 units sold)
It’s models like the Honda CR-V that are pushing conventional sedans out of the market. It’s roomy inside, it’s well-equipped, it’s priced reasonably and it offers what all SUV buyers want when they’re shopping for a family car: safety. The 2017 CR-V earned a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
6: Toyota Camry (387,081 units sold)
In 2016, the Toyota Camry earned the title of best-selling passenger car in America. It lost that distinction last year, which isn’t an immense surprise. The SUV segment keeps growing at the expense of passenger car sales and Toyota sold the aging last-generation model during most of the first half of 2017. The brand-new Camry is, by all accounts, much better than the model it replaces, so the decades-old nameplate could move back up this year.
5: Nissan Rogue (403,465 units sold)
The Nissan Rogue moved up six spots in the sales chart last year, continuing its meteoric rise in America. It’s once again the brand’s best-selling model by a long shot. Another factor contributes to its success, however. Nissan lumps sales of Rogue and the smaller Rogue Sport into one number. Taken on its own, the Rogue would still figure on this list but it wouldn’t be this far up.
4: Toyota RAV4 (407,594 units sold)
Toyota bounded into the efficient, family-friendly SUV segment when it introduced the original RAV4 in 1995. It continues to reap the rewards of its investment today.
Right-sized and loaded with useful tech, the RAV4 line-up offers a model to suit every car shopper. Last May, the Japanese firm made the RAV4 more affordable all across the board without removing content, a move which helped it post strong sales figures last year. In 2016, it slotted in the number eight spot behind the Corolla and the Camry.
3: Ram pickup (500,723 units sold)
Ram’s 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks joined forces to finish 2017 in third place. Like the Chevrolet Silverado, one of its main rivals, the 1500 will pass the torch to a next-generation truck at the Detroit Auto Show. Time will tell whether a ground-up redesign will be enough for it to move up in the sales chart.
2: Chevrolet Silverado (585,864 units sold)
The Chevrolet Silverado held on to its number two spot in 2017, though it’s relatively far behind the sales leader. Chevrolet will shortly introduce the brand-new 2019 Silverado 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show, and new versions of the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models will follow before the year is out, so the nameplate will likely get a boost in 2018.
1: Ford F-Series (896,764 units sold)
And the number one spot goes to... the Ford F-Series.
The model has been at the top of the chart 41 consecutive years. In 2017, Ford sold 896,764 examples of the truck, a solid 9.3 percent increase over 2016 - and an equivalent of 2457 sales each day of the year. The figures are a little bit misleading. The name F-Series encompasses the F-150, the F-250, the F-350 and the F-450. Even Ford’s consumer website breaks the F-Series down into two distinctly different models: The F-150 and the Super Duty (pictured).