By on July 4, 2011

While I was celebrating my independence from TTAC on a camping road trip through the wilds of Eastern Oregon this weekend, it seems that quite a little debate was stirred up by Bertel’s publication of the top 10 best-selling American-market cars in June. In hopes that more information will lead to a stronger debate, I’m dedicating a good chunk of my Independence Day to an overview of the American car market in the first half of this year, starting with this chart of the top 25 Year-To-Date performers. I’ve omitted year-ago numbers in the interests of chart cleanliness, but a snapshot of last Summer’s sales studs can be found here. The contrasts are… well, I’ll let you fill in that blank. With the exception of incentive and fleet sales mitigation, the numbers speak for themselves…

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57 Comments on “The 25 Best-Selling Vehicles In The First Half Of 2011...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    16 out of the 25 (depending on how you count the Subaru Outback) are NOT CUVs/SUVs/trucks. Perhaps Americans are smarter than we give them credit for. (Yes I admit that there are times that those vehicles make sense, but for the majority of the buying public, the majority of the time, from a fuel economy vs. usefullness sedans/wagons/hatches make the most sense. And yes I do believe in your right to choose your vehicle, but that doesn’t mean I have to always think you’re choice is great anymore than you have to think my choices are great.)

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      I don’t know, but I’m guessing that most individual (not business) truck purchases are “second cars.”

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      What strikes me is the choices that we have in America when it comes to cars and trucks. Above are listed just 25, but in reality there are even more.

      That’s why it is so asinine for people to advocate buying domestic over buying foreign, and vice versa. Let the buying public decide what works best for them rather than putting pressure on them to buy from failed companies. That’s where choice comes into play.

      I am a proponent of even more choice by adding vehicles made in China and India to the list already available in America. Not everyone can afford to buy a top-of-the-line super dooper pooper scooper from Government Motors, so why not let them have access to the throw-away cars made by smaller auto makers that provide reliable transportation at an affordable price?

      We see the popularity of such low-cost entries as the sub-$10K cars and other low-cost offering from Kia, Nissan and Hyundai and, while their sales numbers are not great, they provide a viable low-cost alternative to the daily commute transportation needs.

      We had to live with the planned-obsolescence and failure-prone domestic cars for decades until the foreigners started selling in America. That turned things around, didn’t it?

      I believe that there is room for even more choice, as long as each entry meets the DOT requirements as currently set forth. I bet they would sell well in America.

      • 0 avatar
        Acubra

        highdesertcat,

        If you ever tried those Chinese/Indian “throwaway” cars, you’d see that there is a good reason (actually, a long list of them) they are not allowed/have zero demand here.
        They are very crappy – quality/material/engineering-wise – and that makes them simply dangerous. And we have enough of neglected old beaters on the road already.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Acubra, the throw-away cars currently available in the US, like the Hyundai Accent and similar cars made by other foreign auto manufacturers, do real well and their “quality/material/engineering-wise” is pretty crappy.

        As long as these cheap throw-away cars meet DOT mandates and standards, I think they would sell well, especially if they can be sold through Big Box stores. Getting them serviced or repaired under warranty could be a problem but I’m sure that the importers will be resourceful enough to think of something.

        Think Tata. Why do you think that the US government is stalling them? Because it would take sales away from Government Motors and debt-ridden companies like Ford, and further minimize the probability of the tax payers getting their money back from these companies.

        I know several guys who commute 200+ miles roundtrip per day from El Paso, TX, to the airbase adjacent to White Sands Missile Range and the range itself. They drive sub-$10K cars, and when they are worn out and are no longer economically feasible to repair, they junk them, or part them out. Without choice they would have been forced to buy domestic brand vehicles with all the attendant issues of well-documented premature breakdowns, etc.

        My personal experience with domestic commute vehicles has been poor since none of them could go at least 100,000 miles without breakdowns. Many broke down way before that milestone was reached and needed warranty repair. But every day that car is in the shop for warranty repairs you are denied the use of that vehicle. So, often people choose to buy TWO $13K vehicles for the commute instead of ONE $26K vehicle.

        Giving them more choice, no matter how crappy, gives them alternatives that they would not have without these throw-away cars.

        I think that the wave of the future is being able to buy a new car through a Big Box store. While in the military I have bought several new cars through the BX system for delivery overseas and stateside, so I know the concept works very well. Choice is the key here.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        highdesertcat, I think you are off-base in mentioning the Accent. It gives up nothing to say, the Chevrolet Cruze, in materials or build quality.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        moorewr, an Accent is a lot less expensive than a Cruze. I think that there is room for a lot more inexpensive cars in the market place, even if they are made in China or India, as long as they meet DOT mandates.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        Yes, the Accent is less expensive than the Cruze, but it is not lower quality (in fact, it is evidently more refined than the Sonic, its direct competitor). It certainly every bit as safe as cars from the US, Japan, & Europe in the same size/weight range.

        This just reinforces how wrong it is to think of Hyundais in the same way you’d think of Tatas or Chinese cars that don’t meet US-market safety standards.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        moorewr, today’s Accent is an enormous improvement over the Accent of the past. Even the people who sell Hyundai for a living would have to acknowledge that.

        All cars, even the domestic brands, have made great improvements in quality in the last few years, yet many buyers of the previous generations will only remember the bad experiences they had with their cars, regardless of brand or where it was made.

        Even the vaunted Toyota Camry has suffered set backs in quality since it started being made inside the US, yet it remains the best selling mid-sized sedan in America in spite of a loss in sales.

        The point was, and still is, that we could use a lot more choice in America, even if that means cars made in India and China. I would welcome that. I may no longer be a candidate for buying an inexpensive commuter car, but I know plenty of everyday, hard working Americans who would jump on that bandwagon rather than feed the kitty of the UAW or the overpriced Toyondasans.

        I know that expanding choice for the car buying masses is not popular with Ford and GM, or even the established brands like Toyondasan, but that is where Hyundai made such a startling upstart.

        And I believe the more choice we have, the better. So, let’s bring on the BYDs and Tata products, and let the buying public decide what sells and what doesn’t. Let’s expand the top 25 to the top 30, or 40.

        All cars sold in the US must meet DOT standards. And that includes BYD, Tata, and every other company that hopes to sell here.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    The only one that surprises me is the Altima. I had no idea it was such a big seller. What’s so great about the Altima?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s a pretty good car.

      For some time** it’s been tops of Consumer Reports’ performance rankings (besting the Accord and Sonata), gets pretty mileage, and isn’t overly anodyne nor overtly sporty other than de rigueur coupe roofline.

      The problem is that enthusiasts don’t seem to notice. The Mazda6 gets the Good Sport award, the Accord has more mindshare and the Sonata gets a lot of “new hotness” attention. But that’s ok because it does what most people want very well.

      ** I’m not sure if it still is as I let my subscription lapse, but there’s been nothing significantly new save the 200

      • 0 avatar
        Acubra

        Cheaply made, very uncomfortable seats – especially in cheaper versions, CVT-only auto (many folks are still wary about these too).

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I doubt people are “worried” about the CVT. For one, it doesn’t show up as a pain point at CR. For another, outside of forums like this, people don’t care. Either you shift it, or it shifts itself. After that it’s irrelevant detail to most consumers, even including Nissan’s “Xtronic” badging.

        I don’t think I agree with the other points. The seats aren’t uncomfortable (most reviews), or is it apparently any more or less cheaply made than anything else in this class.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        Psar, the biggest worry about the CVT was (and still is) long term reliability. Nissan had a bunch of issues with the unit in the Murano – most lasted 60-80k miles, which is barely out of warranty and unacceptable by modern vehicle reliability standards. Even for the Germans, that’d be a bad showing.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        @Sam P
        The CVT is probably quite reliable in the Altima.

        The (usually) 4 cylinder engine, lighter vehicle weight, and limited cargo/passenger room of a sedan prevent the sort of overwork that a CUV/minivan often gets.

        I suspect that the heaviest work compact to mid-size sedans in the U.S. do is three or four people and modest luggage on an hour’s ride to the airport.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Nissan has been having these great lease deals this year: One payment leases. They advertise in big, bold letters “ALL NISSANS HALF OFF!”

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Since I drive an Altima, I’ll weigh in here…The car is overall very good. The seats (cloth) are not that comfortable for me, especially when the commute stretches beyond 2 hours. It handles very well; better than the last Fusion I was in, and the structure seems to be stiffer than the Fusion, too. Brakes kick a$$, steering is decent, visibility good by today’s standards, and acceleration is also sub 8 second. Mileage for me is average 33 MPG. Yeah, it’s a hybrid. And it performs very well. Overall quality if very good, as is the level of equipment. The car is a good value. That said, there are some areas were the beancounters took charge. The power window lockout switch not only kills the windows for passengers, it also kills the driver’s switches for the passenger windows. The door seals are flimsy, the mats are paper-thin (I wore a hole in mine in 25K), and the carpeting is pretty cheap. Trunk has old fashioned hinges, there’s a prop rod under the hood, no folding side view mirrors, and a few less than perfect exterior fits. The CVT is the least sporting part of the car. Goose the gas and the car sounds like a cow that got stuck at full moo. All that said, would I buy one if this one was destroyed? I’d test drive the competition, but I’d likely get another Altima. It’s the enthusiasts’ commuter, even in hybrid form.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        @ SamP

        Your comment about transmission problems in the Murano where you say “most lasted 60-80k miles” bothers me.

        Is it really true that MOST only lasted that long or is it really the case that there were SOME problems? If the former is true I would appreciate a link to a reference that confirms it. If the latter is the case you should really be more careful with your statements. Careless phrasing just leads to misleading information spreading around the internet.

        Even if 100% of Murano CVTs failed early, ASSUMING the problem will duplicate in another model is also dodgy posting.

        This site is supposed to be The TRUTH About Cars not “I’ll Just Make Up Any Old Garbage About Cars And Post It For The Hell Of It”.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        @SimonAlberta:

        Some links for your reading pleasure. Still think the Murano’s CVT is a solid unit?

        http://www.nissanmurano.org/forums/66-problems/2002-failed-cvt.html

        http://townhall.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f133968

        Given that Nissan shares components across models (for example, the Altima and Murano both use the same VQ engine on V6 models), I wouldn’t be surprised if they had CVT reliability issues through their model line. See a post below from a reader with personal experience with Altima CVT problems.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Even at its age, the Altima is a pretty decent vehicle, but those $99/month lease deals sure don’t hurt sales.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        @SamP

        Sam, you are spectacularly missing my point.

        You stated “most” Murano CVTs fail at 80k.

        The links you provide do not prove that statistic at all.

        If you state a “fact” then it should be accurate.

        Maybe the Murano CVT is a horrible unit, I am not arguing that point.

        I’m just urging people here on “The Truth” to actually be truthful.

        Is that too much to ask?

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        If you want to nitpick, go ahead, but the links I posted show that many Muranos are having serious transmission issues by the upper 5 figures of mileage.

        And with that, I’m done. Enjoy your CVT. Buy as long of a warranty as you can get if you get a Nissan product with one.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        @Sam

        I’m not “nitpicking”…I’m showing you that your posts are WILDLY inaccurate and, as such, are irresponsible.

        Please TRY and understand what I am ACTUALLY saying rather than ASSUMING.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “I’m showing you that your posts are WILDLY inaccurate”

        Believe whatever you want to.

  • avatar
    George B

    Based on the cars I see in traffic I would have expected higher numbers for minivans, CUVs, and SUVs. Kid hauling elevated station wagon type vehicles seem to be everywhere. Did the recession cause people to delay having children?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth about gas prices, the two top sellers are big pickups.

  • avatar

    I’m always amazed how low on the sales charts the Elantra and Sonata are in comparison to the Accord, Altima and Camry. It seems to be a regular trend. If i was in the market for an econobox I’d go wit the Hyundais but I guess everyone else has different plans.

    No Kias up there either.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Hyundai just doesn’t have the production capacity to challenge the Japanese Big 3 or the domestics.

      YTD Hyundai has sold 218,315 Sonatas and Elantras which would roughly mean over 436,000 in sales for the year.

      Hyundai’s Alabama plant has a yearly capacity of about 310K.

      As for Kia, the Optima has worldwide production limit of 14K monthly, of which about half goes to the US – so Optima sales will stay around 7K a month until US production starts.

      Kia just misses the mark with sales of the Sorento – which is at 61,778 YTD.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I have brothers in the new-car retail business and they sell Hyundai, among other foreign and domestic brands, and they sell every Hyundai they have. More, if they could get them in their markets.

        Hyundai/Kia is a lower-cost alternative to Toyondasan and has an excellent warranty. The best in the business. Trying to get a new Sonata or Elantra is a challenge these days. A new Sorento is rare on any dealer lot, and is often pre-sold.

        With both Toyota and Honda pricing themselves out of the every-man’s price range, the fact that their quality has tumbled over the years has only added fuel to the fire for Hyundai/Kia and Nissan.

        Both Toyota and Honda fear Hyundai/Kia, and have good reason to. Hyundai/Kia learned from what Toyota and Honda got right when they first came to America, and improved on that with a warranty that is the best in the business.

      • 0 avatar
        revolver1978

        A friend of mine tried to buy an Elantra GLS last weekend. Two Pittsburgh dealers were out of them. Not out of GLS’s, out of Elantras. Completely.

        One dealer was up front and said they had none, the second stated they had a GLS in stock, but when he got there (an hour later) no Elantra.

        Peeved, he bought his second choice – a Honda Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        There’s nothing wrong with the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, but they do not have the style or appealing charm of an Elantra.

        My granddaughter turns heads wherever she goes in her red 2011 Elantra, on campus, off campus, at the mall, everywhere. She is a pretty stunning-looking girl in her own right, but the Elantra is the icing on the cake. You just expect a good looking person to get out of a stylish Elantra.

        You expect an old, frumpy fuddy-duddy to roll out of a Civic or Corolla. Elantra is hip. Elantra is cool. Civic and Corolla not so much.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Do you mean “Bertel’s publication of the top 10 best-selling American-*built* cars in June.” or “Bertel’s publication of the top 10 best-selling American-*market* cars in June.”?

    In any case, there has been quite a shift lately, it is amazing how fast it happened.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Wonder when the last time was combined Silverado/Sierra sales were less than F series.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      I was wondering that too. I’d be interested to see a breakdown of F series sales – F150/F250/F350 etc, and also which engines were selling the best.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        Based on a post Nullo Modo made on another thread I’m guessing the F150 w/ either the NA or Ecoboost V6. Definitely the F150 though, Ford sells more F150′s by a considerable margin than all the other F series models combined. GM & Ram sell way more half tons too, that’s the reason 3/4 & 1 ton models have substantially higher resale values because far fewer are sold than 1/2 tons. If everything else was equal you’d buy a 3/4 ton over a 1/2 ton every time just for the increased resale value.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The EcoBoost engine made up 41% of F-150 sales in June, and the 3.7 liter V6 made up 15%. The majority of the rest was likely the 5.0, as the 6.2 is only an option on pretty loaded trucks and limited production specialty models.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Thanks Nullo – I had a hunch that the Ecoboost would be a big winner for Ford as GM, Dodge (Ram) or Toyota don’t offer any truck engines with anything like the efficiency of the Ecoboost. Obviously MPG matters to truck buyers too.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The base 3.7 liter V6 does a bit better at 17/23 compared to the EcoBoost’s 16/22, and it has plenty of power to meet the needs of most people, but if you want any trim level above the XLT you have to go the EcoBoost route to get your V6 fix.

        That being said, the EcoBoost is a beast. It’s the engine that everyone in my dealership recommends to friends/family buying trucks, and the engine that the couple of salespeople who recently bought F-150s went with.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I went for a run this AM in my neighborhood and I estimate that 90% of the driveways had at least one full size pickup or BOF SUV. The pickups seem to sit in the driveways during the work week, so I don’t think they are daily drivers for most owners. Some of the homes here are in foreclosure but the trucks are still there.

    America’s love affair with trucks won’t go away even with $4.00/gallon gas.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Someone please explain to me why the Equinox is selling so well. It regularly gets its butt handed to it in comparison tests by Toyota, Honda, and even Subaru crossovers, yet people buy the things like crazy. Plus, they’re notorious for not getting anything near the 32 mpg EPA rating on the highway that the EPA claims the 4 cyl FWD model will hit.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/why-the-chevy-equinox-epa-mileage-numbers-dont-add-up/#more-345614

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      People obviously like it.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Same as new Explorer and new Jetta — in the end if the car feels “right” to the buyers, they will ignore any number of “authoritative” reviews …

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      …It regularly gets its butt handed to it in comparison tests by Toyota, Honda, and even Subaru crossovers…

      Well, I did a search, Chevrolet Equinox vs. Toyota RAV-4

      Edmunds Inside Line:

      Four way test against RAV-4, CR-V, Tuscon, Equinox – Equinox won, test done in April 2010.

      http://blogs.edmunds.com/karl/2010/04/comparison-test-toyota-rav4-v-chevy-equinox-v-honda-cr-v-v-hyundai-tucson.html

      Motor Trend:

      Credible player on the same level as its peers:

      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/suvs/112_0909_2010_chevrolet_equinox_test/index.html

      Car & Driver:

      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/09q2/2010_chevrolet_equinox-first_drive_review

      OH, and here the Truth About Cars:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/review-2010-chevrolet-equinox/

      So which reviews are you referring too???

    • 0 avatar
      Scott

      Wait, you expect Americans to choose their vehicles rationally? Where have you been? If emotion wasn’t the primary driver in car sales, none of this retro muscle car stuff (Challeger, Mustang, Charger, Camaro) would be going on.

    • 0 avatar
      TheHammer

      Sorry to disappoint you but Equinox?Terrain excel against the competition. Oh yes, and they do look a lot nicer!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Because it’s big?

  • avatar
    obbop

    “we have enough of neglected old beaters on the road already”

    But I get bored spending too much time within the shanty.

    I become too moribund.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    [I doubt people are “worried” about the CVT.]

    If they aren’t perhaps they should be. Daughter’s ’09 Alt Coupe just got its CVT replaced after manifesting the “whine of death” at 50k. Dealer recognized it immediately and ordered the trans without batting an eye. Chat rooms abound with gripes from people on their 2nd and 3rd replacements. Having the warranty doubled to 10/100 on the CVT is a comfort, although the intent was to hold the car longer than 100k. She’s not sticking around to pay the tab for this grenade out of her pocket.

    This is not an old issue dating back to ’06 that Nissan worked out, at least not as of the start of the ’09 model year.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Sorry to hear that, jp. I’ve driven and liked the Altima, and have a Ford with CVT that has almost 120K miles.

      My own impression (see above) is that FWD mechanicals that hold up well in mid-size sedans often aren’t up to the task of moving CUVs and minivans full of people and luggage for the long haul.

      Prime examples: Chrysler and Honda minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Clearly this focus group of one is all the information anyone needs to know about CVTs and Altimas.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott

      I don’t doubt that many people are experiencing premature transmission failure. But until I see some actual data stating the failure rate of these CVT’s, and not more links to forums where a couple dozen people chime in about their CVT difficulties, I’m inclined to think that the problem looks worse than it is. After all, you don’t hear from the thousands of people that had no trouble at all with their transmissions. Those with complaints are far more likely to speak up, as is always the case. A chat room poll is about as unscientific as you can get.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    CVT=Kaboom!

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    Top 25? The Sentra? Really??

  • avatar
    TheHammer

    In June 2011, the Cruze was the best selling passenger car in the United States with total sales of over 20,000 units for the third consecutive month. Meanwhile, Malibu was the second best selling passenger car for the month posting 23,737 total sales. Thank you for your efforts last month toward this fantastic sales achievement.


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