By on August 31, 2017

2016 Ford F-150 Limited - Image: FordThe Toyota Camry, America’s best-selling passenger car in 2016 for a 15th consecutive year, was not the best-selling overall vehicle in any one state last year.

According to registration figures tabulated by Kelley Blue Book and highlighted by USA Today, the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla were the only cars to claim any state-wide auto sales victories.

In 15 other states, utility vehicles of one variety or another (Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback, and Toyota RAV4) were tops in overall vehicle sales. Hawaii’s sales crown stayed in the hands of the Toyota Tacoma. GM’s full-size truck twins ruled the roost in eight states, largely east of the Mississippi.

That leaves the Ford F-Series’ F-150 variant, the top-selling vehicle in America, to take top honors in 22 states, including its biggest market of Texas.

State Most Popular Vehicle In 2016 Nationwide Rank
Alabama Ford F-150 #1
Alaska Ford F-150 #1
Arizona Ford F-150 #1
Arkansas GMC Sierra 1500 #17
California Honda Civic #6
Colorado Subaru Outback #27
Connecticut Nissan Rogue #10
Delaware Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
District of Columbia Honda Civic #6
Florida Toyota Corolla #5
Georgia Ford F-150 #1
Hawaii Toyota Tacoma #24
Idaho Ford F-150 #1
Illinois Honda CR-V #7
Indiana Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
Iowa Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
Kansas Ford F-150 #1
Kentucky Ford F-150 #1
Louisiana Ford F-150 #1
Maine Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
Maryland Honda CR-V #7
Massachusetts Toyota RAV4 #8
Michigan Ford Escape #12
Minnesota Ford F-150 #1
Mississippi Ford F-150 #1
Missouri Ford F-150 #1
Montana Ford F-150 #1
Nebraska Ford F-150 #1
Nevada Toyota RAV4 #8
New Hampshire Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
New Jersey Honda CR-V #7
New Mexico Ford F-150 #1
New York Nissan Rogue #10
North Carolina Honda Accord #9
North Dakota Ford F-150 #1
Ohio Honda Civic #6
Oklahoma Ford F-150 #1
Oregon Subaru Outback #27
Pennsylvania Honda CR-V #7
Rhode Island Toyota RAV4 #8
South Carolina Ford F-150 #1
South Dakota Ford F-150 #1
Tennessee Ford F-150 #1
Texas Ford F-150 #1
Utah Ford F-150 #1
Vermont Toyota RAV4 #8
Virginia Honda CR-V #7
Washington Subaru Outback #27
West Virginia Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
Wisconsin Chevrolet Silverado 1500 #2
Wyoming Ford F-150 #1

It’s worth noting that automakers release sales figures for full-size trucks such as the F-150, Silverado, and Sierra in a manner that encompasses the entire light-duty and heavy-duty lineups. KBB’s registration figures highlight the respective half-ton variants.

The most significant local anomalies relative to national status are the victories scored in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado by the Subaru Outback. The Outback was America’s 27th-best-selling vehicle overall in 2016, generating only half as much volume as the Honda Civic.KBB USA Today best-selling autos by state 2016 - Image: KBB via TwitterAll but one of the passenger car victories were scored in coastal states. The Corolla was 2016’s top seller in Florida, the Honda Accord was North Carolina’s most popular vehicle, and the Honda Civic outsold every other vehicle in California, D.C., and Ohio, home to more than half of Honda’s U.S. production in 2016.

Meanwhile, in 10 of America’s 11 least-densely populated states, the Ford F-150 was the most popular vehicle. In 22 of the 25 least-densely populated states, pickup trucks – F-150, Silverado, Sierra — were the sales leaders.

[Images: Ford, Kelley Blue Book via Twitter]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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78 Comments on “America’s Best-Selling Vehicles in 2016, State by State – What Are Your Neighbors Buying?...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That map bears a striking resemblance to the election results of the past several cycles.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Outback is best seller in 3 states while being #27 overall – this is something

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Subaru is HUGE with outdoorsy / hiker / biker / camper / crunchy granola / socially conscious folks, and there are a lot of them in Colorado, Washington and Oregon. It’s definitely a regional brand.

      I’ll bet Subarus are big in Utah as well, particularly in the SLC area.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Correct. There was a billboard in the SLC area a few years ago thanking the populace for making the Outback the best selling car in Utah. I believe it just looking around, they’re as common as Camrys.

        We love our pickem-up trucks, though. Those F150s are so ubiquitous that it’s like some motherhive cloned a billion identical boxes, painted them a few different colors, and released them into the wild like a cloud of mushroom spores.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          In Denver, the popularity of the F150 (or any other full size pickup) rises and falls in direct proportion to voter registration. You see a lot fewer newer ones that aren’t being used as pure work trucks the further north you get.

          Here in my (highly Republican) part of the metro, the south part, the duded-up four door and diesel pickups are EVERYWHERE. The younger soccer moms drive Foresters, RAV4s, CRVs, etc. More affluent soccer moms go with Highlanders.

      • 0 avatar
        TXCOMT

        Subies also are big in Montana…those and Buicks! Of course, that’s based on living in Helena for four years, so it’s an anecdotal view, I know.

    • 0 avatar

      I know in past Years the Forester was #1 in CT interesting the Rogue pushed it out.

    • 0 avatar
      pbr

      Indeed … esp none of 3,4,11,13,14,15,16,18,19,20,21,22,23,25,26 are best-sellers in any state. The Taco way down in #24 overall is a surprise to me, those things litter the earth round here.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I’ll bet you the Forrester is in the top five in each of those states as well. Subarus are very big in the left wing dystopia where I reside. Their drivers range from invisible money to 300+ pound piles of unhappy poop. In between are a few authentic active lifestyle types and plenty of people who look like they’re trying to live off of a diet consisting solely of their own buggers.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      There was a time when Washington and Oregon accounted for near 50% of Subaru’s sales so it isn’t surprising that the Outback does so well here now that it is more mainstream.

      Or is it the fact that the stereo type is true and all Subaru drivers are either stoners, snow boarders, gay or all of the above and the legalization in those states have attracted more of those people to those states.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There’s a feedback loop. Because Subaru volume is so high around here, the dealers have great inventory and are easy to work with, increasing the sales advantage. My 2013 purchase of a new Subaru in Seattle was the easiest car transaction I’ve ever made, and the exact car I wanted (trim, color, options) was sitting on the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Remember, states aren’t of equal population.

      Oregon has 4 million people.

      Washington has 7 and a quarter.

      Colorado has 5 and a half.

      Together they’re not even half the population of California, so naturally it’s not so hard to be #1 in those three while #27 nationally; the Subarus have *weirdly specific* appeal, geographically.

      (I don’t have stats, but my bet is the Volvo XC70 and such follow the same sort of distribution, since they’re basically the same target market, just more expensive.)

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Purely anecdotal: I own vacation property in CO and as popular as Subarus are it seems like for every Outback I see there are 3 Tahoes/Suburbans/Yukons.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, confirms what I see every day here in Colorado: a s**t ton of Outbacks.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Michigan: Ford Escape

    I do see these everywhere – though the Escape is bland enough, in that small CUV way, that they barely register in my brain. A good undercover car ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Of the five compact SUVs, the Escape offers decent towing capacity, a capable AWD system for the snow belt, combined with readily available service at any garage, with relatively inexpensive maintenance parts. It’s a pretty sensible buy. But I still think it’s styling was girlified.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I don’t see how the Escape’s AWD system is any more noteworthy in performance compared to the rest of the class, nor the availability of parts or their relative cost. Most dealerships get anything short of super common maintenance items (or known defective things) shipped in next day to minimize inventory/warehousing costs.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          The original Escape did have the ability to lock in 4WD from a stop. I don’t know anything about the current iteration though. I doubt such a feature would be offered on a modern CUV.

          But I don’t think Pig_Iron’s comment suggested that the Escape’s AWD is exceptional; just that it’s competent for the needs of the typical user who never even disables stability or traction control.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          The Escape’s AWD system is much better at transferring more torque to traction wheels under extremely poor traction conditions than the likes of the CRV or RAV4. It does this at the expensive of efficiency. Ford decided to go one way. Toyota and Honda decided to go the other wway.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I went back and watched a TFL youtube offroad test of an Escape on all seasons climbing some mild but fairly steel trails with some snow, it actually did remarkably well to my surprise. Maybe there is indeed some truth to the differences in AWD setup.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yes the early Escapes were true 4wds that happened to have an automatic setting too. The 2008 and up are just automatic 4wd with no dial to turn of buttons to push. The 2008-2012 Escape system uses a gas and go strategy. From what I understand the current generation is similar.

      The clutch is electromagnetically activated and they vary the duty cycle of that magnet based on throttle position. So hit the throttle hard from a stop and you’ll see that clutch duty cycle hit the 70% range with zero slip indicated by the wheel speed sensors. However once it gets above a certain speed it employs a slip then grip strategy. It is very effective at getting you going in the snow.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “Escapes were true 4wds”

        Hmm Mazda’s rotary vane coupling system with the “On” setting still didn’t make it a “true” mechanical lock, it still detected slip, it just used a bypass valve to engage things quicker.

        The “predictive” engagement of current viscous couplings even on dry pavement using g-force sensors and such is basically universal at this point as I understand it, but as good as it sounds in theory, looking at how the systems perform in the real world leaves something to be desired IMO. Using the Rav4 as an example, Toyota’s oldschool true full time system (“STD 1” viscous coupling with locking on automatics, mechanical center-diff splitting 50/50 with locking on manuals) always had torque going to the rear, to the detriment of fuel economy. The current Rav4 has the predictive torque transfer, but generally fails at climbing loose steep inclines (in what I’ve seen in online videos, anyways).

  • avatar
    Rengaw

    For several years I have been spouting my opinion that here in the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon) Subaru Outbacks are thick as fleas. I feel so much better that my suspicions have been proven correct. Each day when I drive down the highway and I see a group of a dozen vehicles coming toward me, usually a Subaru Outback is among them. In fact, I am seriously considering an Outback for my next vehicle. It is important to me that I don’ t buck the trend.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Hey, Tim…did the KBB list break out the registrations by nameplate for every state? It’d be interesting to see the variations.

    The Outback’s ranking here in Colorado is no surprise, and I’d bet that VW and Audi sales are higher here than in most states.

  • avatar
    ash78

    News flash:

    People who live in areas with a lot of large cities often buy small cars.

    People who live in areas of large spaces and farming buy trucks.

    There are no politics at work here, just a correlation to urban vs rural proclivities.

  • avatar
    ash78

    What would be really interesting would be a county-by-county look at this. I suspect places like NY, PA, OH, CA, and a few others would have a wide variety due to their diverse urban vs rural populations.

    Obvious Hypothesis: The cities are driving the Civic, RAV-4. The rest of the states are probably still F-150.

    Anyone else shocked Corolla made the list anywhere? I always see that car as a permanent runner-up, never something that wins the top spot for anything.

    The Outback has half the sales of the Civic? I would have guess 10%. Wow…quite a cult following (and it’s everywhere. Even here in AL, go to any trailhead and its half Outbacks. People really, really swallow the marketing.)

    • 0 avatar
      vwgolf420

      I’m in Birmingham and this city is covered up in Outbacks these days. I remember going to Colorado to visit my ex-in laws just outside of Boulder and being astounded by the number. It’s nowhere near that here, but over the past five or six years they’ve really gotten popular here. Jim Burke has 50 in inventory now (compared to 21 Foresters and 5 Imprezas).

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        Agree, I’m in town, as well. It’s definitely grown (just like VW) over the past several years, but not really what I’d call mainstream yet. I think part of the problem there is Jim Burke — most people in the burbs don’t even want to bother going downtown to shop for cars, plus it keeps the brand out of their everyday awareness.

        Buying a Subaru here is voting Libertarian — you have to know about it because you seek it out…it’s not going to be in your face all day like in CO or the PNW.

        Florida seems to have a ton of Subies, but I chalk that up to transplants and retirees.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          True about the transplants and retirees, as well as AWD is great in torrential downpours. They’ve really made a presence here in Houston over the past 5 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            The highest concentration of Land Cruisers I have ever seen including CO/WY/UT/MT was Birmingham.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m surprised about the Silverado in Maine. I would have thought that a Subaru variant or the F150 would be king, but apparently not!

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Anyone notice what didn’t make the list of best sellers by state? The Toyota Camry.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Fun, but the inclusion of second and third place finishers may be more informative.

  • avatar
    Rengaw

    True, the marketing image Subaru presents with the Outback works very well with the Outdoor people. But from a practical point of view the Outback does two thing extremely well:
    1. It hauls a lot of recreational gear both inside and on top of the vehicle.
    2. It travels down rough roads just about better than any other vehicle. My 2011 Nissan Xterra and 2009 Toyota RAV4 can’t touch the Outback for smoothing out the many unpaved roads that run through the National Forests here in Washington.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Subaru definitely has long traveling independent suspensions figured out quite well. Many others in the FWD-based CUV class are overly stiff feeling by comparison, and the Xterra is a sloppy jiggly mess out back with its overly soft leafpack.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I have thought that a soft long travel suspension with fairly stout anti-roll bars front and rear is an ideal “everyday” setup for most vehicles that aren’t actual trucks.

        Soaks up the bumps but doesn’t lean over on the door handles during cornering.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Agreed on the two-track prowess. I’ve never had a car that did dirt roads as well as my Forester XT, and we miss that part of its skill set.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Too bad they’ve downgraded their AWD system to be similar to the CRV.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    NM – I knew it was going to be a truck or a truck based vehicle.

    Kind of surprising that that the Civic sells so well in Ohio even with production based there. I didn’t see many “foreign” cars period during my Ohio childhood (1980s).

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Times are a changing, I’d point to my wife’s grandparents in steel country south of Cleveland as prime examples: tried out a Marysville Accord in ’94, it was absolutely stellar and was passed down in the family to well past 240k miles and 2 decades of use. More recently her grandfather leased a CRV for a few years that he really liked, but wasn’t able to re-up for the new generation (too pricey due to new model demand) and ended up with a Japanese assembled Rogue. It was kind of emblematic to drive to the USW Union Hall with him on errands and park an Ohio-made CRV next to a shiny new Mexican-assembled Silverado crew cab in the parking lot.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My Dad worked with a mechanic at the John Deere dealership and the gentleman was a salty old soul who was just as likely to cuss you out as tell you “good morning”.

        He was the first I could remember buying an Ohio built Accord. Whenever anyone gave him crap about buying a “foreign” car he’d open the drivers door and point to the “Made in Ohio” sticker.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I can’t say I see a lot of RAV4 in Nevada. Then again, they’re so generic, I might not be noticing them.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I eagerly clicked on this article to see which way my state went, assuming it was likely a full sized pickup, but still ended up with a bit of a mystery. How does the GMC Sierra, which sells at an annual rate less than half that of the Chevy Silvarado, and around one fifth of the Ford F150, score a victory in Arkansas?

    Some quick google fu shows 14 GMC dealers to 17 Chevrolet dealerships in the state, though of course both are plentiful in the vast, “deplorable” middle of our country.

    GMC is thought of as the higher trim level to Chevy, but Arkansas overall is still a poor state ranked near the bottom in average income. I’m perplexed.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I was surprised as well. I wonder why the average person from Arkansas prefers the GMC. Although when I was looking for trucks earlier in the year, having a Cruze lease in my name only qualified me for Chevy lease loyalty. It still doesn’t explain why more people in Arkansas would have loyalty to GMC over Chevy.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Not shocking but still quite funny the Outback is the best seller in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.

  • avatar

    Surprised at Civic for Ohio, because I would have assumed it to be a truck of some sort, or at least a CR-V. I guess the urban population centers are big enough to swing it towards a car.

  • avatar
    James2

    Far be it for me to quibble with Kelley Blue Book, but the Tacoma the best-selling vehicle in Hawaii? I think not.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      If either article would link to the actual study results, we might be able to answer some of these questions.

      I’m super tired of “surveys” and “studies” that down show their work. I didn’t get away with that in math class, why do they?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      IIRC, 2017 will be the 14th consecutive year of Tacoma sales leadership in Hawaii.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      No one said it had to make sense. It’s not the first time I’d heard the Tacoma is huge in Hawaii. Also the Taco routinely outsells the F-150 in CA which is harder to believe!

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      Anecdotally, when my wife was stationed in Hawaii (Navy), it appeared that the Tacoma, as well as some older smaller Nissan Frontiers were a more common sight than any full sizer. Among full-sizers, the F-150 seemed more prevalent then the GM twins.

      On Oahu at least, Servco Toyota, Servco Chevrolet, and Cutter Ford seem to be the largest dealerships on the the island, both by inventory/size of lots, and by huge media/marketing presence.

      Once I was getting gas at Costco, and literally counted 9 Tacomas waiting….not one other pick up.

      More interesting were the large amounts of rust free, classic cars I saw. Not only American. Tons of VW Type I/II buses, as well as Vanagons. Old Chevys and Fords. Someone near where I lived has a suicide door Continental, simply the most BAMF car I have ever seen. I once saw a JDM Nissan Skyline…I want to say 80’s vintage…it was sporty looking, but I don’t think it was a GT-R (it had a right side driver’s wheel), and old, tiny Suzuki and Mitsubishi cars. I don’t know if they were imported before or after the grey market/25 year rule changed, or bought as is from an import business back when there was grey market. Mostly, I was surprised at the lack of rust on them. I think the ‘everything rusts faster in Hawaii” idea is over-stated.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I thought for sure I would have seen at least one state where the Fiat 500L topped the list. I’m really disappointed to say the least.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I thought for sure I would have seen at least one state where the Smart Fortwo topped the list. I’m really disappointed to say the least.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I thought for sure I would have seen at least one state where the Acura ILX topped the list. I’m really disappointed to say the least.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    I have most of my immediate family in the Pacific NW, and it’s true. Out of 10 families I can think of off the top of my head, every one of them owns at least a Forester or Outback.

  • avatar
    brn

    No one is questioning Connecticut and New York? Around here the Nissan Rogue seems to be reserved for sub-prime loans. For the rest of us, it’s not a desired vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      While I don’t doubt your mention of the targeted audience, I will say I recently rented one for a week on vacation, traipsing around upper NY, Toronto, Montreal and New England. I was actually quite impressed with fitting 5 of us and our luggage, easily keeping up with traffic, and still getting 30-32 mpg. It drove tight too, even with 20k rental miles.

      But yeah, with Mitsubishi all but disappearing Nissan has become the new budget king.

      Recent area discounts look like $5-6k on the Rogue, and up to $10k on the Armada. Which is a cut-rate QX80….

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Former Connecticut Resident. I know plenty of people with a rouge’s who are not subprime. People seem to like the low cost, and versatility.

      To me it makes sense for people where their financial future is in doubt. CTs, economy is not doing so hot and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at the moment.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    So…….the least dense you are, the more likely you will buy a full sized pickup.

    Aluminum and turbo V6 was such a failure for Ford ;)

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    When Texas was admitted, it could break itself up into five states if it wanted to. You should have done that, since it’s likely that southeast, northeast, Rio Grande, central, and west Texas all have somewhat different tastes.

    You could do the same for California, since bay area preferences aren’t shared with northern california, the central valley, the L.A. basin, the high desert, or San Diego areas.

    I suspect you could divide Florida into three or four zones of different preferences too, along with east-west Pennsylvania, upper NY vs. NYC metro, and downstate Illinois vs. Chicago metro.

    Those top six states by population (and sometimes area) have multiple urban areas that can skew the overall choice. Politicians already know those states have to be addressed by regional concerns.


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