By on January 6, 2014


In 2013, for the twelfth consecutive year, the Toyota Camry was the best-selling car in America.

Although it lost some of its sway in the growing U.S. automobile market, Camry sales grew in 2013, rising 3598 units over the course of 2013’s twelve months. 2013 marked the seventh time in the last decade that Toyota USA sold more than 400,000 Camrys in a calendar year. No other passenger car nameplate has topped 400,000 units in any single year during the last decade. According to the Automotive News Data Center’s tally, the Camry accounted for a little more than one out of every 20 cars sold in the United States in 2013.

However, the Camry’s top challenger made significant headway in 2013. A year ago, the second-ranked Honda Accord trailed the Camry by 73,014 units. That gap shrunk to 41,806 units in 2013, a significant sum to be sure; equal to a 3434-unit monthly sales gap. One would imagine that Honda is content with fast-growing Accord sales – they grew to a five-year high in 2013 – and does not require best seller status to further improve the company’s mood.

Yet automakers do see some benefit to topping the leaderboard. Chasing the crown with increased production and incentives does, so the theory goes, improve future fortunes. While many car buyers don’t want to drive the car their neighbor drives, there are yet many more who place a great deal of confidence in the fact that hundreds of thousands of buyers trust one product above all others. Automakers like advertising to the latter group, and they can’t do so by saying, “We’re number two!” The Accord was America’s top-selling car in April and again in December.

Honda does lay claim to number one status in the small car world. Civic sales jumped 6% in 2013, and even if Honda had kept Civic sales level, the Accord’s little brother still would have outsold the rising Toyota Corolla. Although the first quarter was rough and Civic sales were down 2% at the halfway point, Civic volume shot up 33% in the third quarter. 46% of the vehicles sold by American Honda in 2013 were Civics and Accords.

The Nissan Altima was America’s favourite car in March. (Its 100-unit victory over the Camry came despite an 8% decline in Altima volume that month.) Nissan sold more Altimas in America in 2013 than in any year in the model’s history: 6% more than Nissan sold in 2012; 36% more than they sold a decade ago.

Four compacts joined the Civic in the top ten. The Corolla (and its Matrix offshoot) was the fifth car to top 300,000 units in 2013. Toyota last sold more than 300,000 Corollas in 2008, the end of what had been a six-year streak. Since May, Corolla volume is down 1.5%, year-over-year.

Chevrolet Cruze sales rose to the nameplate’s highest level in 2013. Chevrolet last sold this many compacts in 2003, when 256,550 Cavaliers were sold.

The Hyundai Elantra, which trailed three cars in 2012 that it managed to outsell in 2013 – the Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, and Ford Focus – was almost three times as popular in its record-setting 2013 as it was in 2007.

After Ford reported its third consecutive year of Focus sales in 2012, 2013 volume slid 5% despite the car market’s 4% increase and the supposed halo effect of the ST.

The Camry, Accord, and Altima were joined by two midsize rivals in 2013’s top ten. Ford recorded the best annual Fusion sales figures in the model’s history while aspiring to climb much higher. In many ways it doesn’t seem long since the Hyundai Sonata debuted, but it now represents the midsize segment’s old guard. Sales dropped sharply to 203,648 units, a three-year low.

One other car topped 200,000 units in 2013. Chevrolet Malibu volume fell 5% to 200,594 sales last year. 2013 marked a three-year low for the Malibu, but it was just the fourth time in the last decade that GM sold more than 200,000 Malibus in a calendar year.

Seven of the top ten players wear Asian badges, but it’s worth noting that, at least in some measure, all of 2013’s ten best-selling cars are assembled in the United States.

Best-Selling Car
Toyota Camry 408,484 404,886 + 0.9%
Honda Accord 366,678 331,872 + 10.5%
Honda Civic 336,180 317,909 + 5.7%
Nissan Altima 320,723 302,934 + 5.9%
Toyota Corolla/Matrix 302,180 290,947 + 3.9%
Ford Fusion 295,280 241,263 + 22.4%
Chevrolet Cruze 248,224 237,758 + 4.4%
Hyundai Elantra 247,912 202,034 + 22.7%
Ford Focus 234,570 245,922 – 4.6%
Hyundai Sonata 203,648 230,605 – 11.7%
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50 Comments on “2013 Best Selling Cars...”

  • avatar

    It’s almost hard to believe how many F-150’s they shifted this year – 763,402. Why do people need so many new trucks every year? It amazes me even more when I consider that average age of a car on US roads is nearly 11.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you know what the number one vehicle driven by millionaires in NA is? The Ford F-150. Maybe they can afford to keep buying new

    • 0 avatar

      Construction and utility companies love F-150s, and with the new generation coming soon these may be leaving the lots with more cash on the hood than years prior.

      • 0 avatar

        Lots of incentives make them a good value for the money. 35k gets you a huge 4×4 V8 with Leather and a big trunk. Not too much else save the Dodge Charger/300 that does that.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the F series is 750,000 The F150 roughly 480,000 units, they are basically being used as a SUV with a bed.
      What is amazing is how much the Japanese dominate the sedan market.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup, if you look, top 5 spots are Japanese, bottom are Korean + American. If this was showed to an average American from 50 years ago they’d probably have a heart attack right there and then.

        • 0 avatar

          Very good point. They would probably be confused as to why their generation leveled Japan and then later why their same generation helped their former enemies rebuild in order for them to economically level the US car industry.

        • 0 avatar

          If that was not enough,VW is fighting Toyota over who is going to be the biggest Automobile company globally. They would have thought they have been transfered to an alternate Universe where the Axis had won. The fact that Fiat has taken over Chrysler makes it seem more like that has happend

    • 0 avatar

      Because Americans build things for a living including beautiful office parks and housing subdivisions…Unlike the rest of the world that live in 1000 year old, 500 sf. cement tombs.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    As I observe daily driving around in So Fla, the new Corolla should take over the Camry lead in sales, from what I’ve heard from owners, they claim that it drives “almost” as nice and comfy as the larger, more expensive stablemate and with today’s iffy economy continuing to look iffier, I don’t think I’m far off in my prediction.

    • 0 avatar

      In Australia the Automobile market very similar to the US. The Corolla has just become the top selling car. The Toyota Hilux was at one stage Pickups and SUV’s make up half of all vehicles sold and trait was a recod year for Automobile sales.

    • 0 avatar

      Not directed at you…

      … from what I’ve heard from owners, they claim that it drives “almost” as nice and comfy as the larger, more expensive stablemate…

      Confirmational bias is an amazing thing to watch. In no parallel universe does the Corolla ride as nice as a Camry – certainly not a S model Corolla versus an SE Camry.

      Not seeing a lot of the 2014 Corolla’s in Puget Sound – do like the look of the one’s I’ve seen in the wild MUCH better than the previous generation. They definitely catch the eye better.

      Toyota moved a lot of Camry’s by going around 16% fleet (which isn’t horrible but more than double where they were pre-crash), the lowest ATP, and Ford Fusion grade incentives.

      I think the question for 2014 is, will they continue in this direction (the stronger US dollar helps them with lower ATP and higher incentives) or will they give up their strategy of be number one at all costs.

    • 0 avatar

      Base Corolla has 132 HP, base Camry has 178. Upgraded Corolla has 140hp, upgraded Camry has 268 HP.

      Camry is about 2 inches wider and 7 inches longer.

      THe new Corolla may be bigger, but these is still some gap between it and the Camry. Camry is a mid-size, corolla is a roomy compact.

    • 0 avatar

      It ride pretty nice, and it’s bigger than the first 4 Camrys on the inside, but I still wouldn’t say it’s as nice as a Camry in terms of ride comfort.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        I recall when I first got my 86 Camry it did not ride as comfortable as my GF’s Taurus nor my cousin’s Pontiac 6000, but I didn’t care cause I had a better built/engineered car with better MPG to boot, when the 92’s came out, it was a revelation to drive.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Meanwhile, the Dart sold 83k units – ouch.

  • avatar

    Interesting. The top 5 cars sold all combined fall well short of all pickup trucks sold combine by almost half a million units.

    • 0 avatar

      Be mindful that over 50% of the businesses in the US are small businesses. A lot of those pickup trucks are going to the government at all levels (federal, state, county, municipal), businesses large and small, and non-profits large and small.

      Think about how many pickups a state like Texas, or New York, or California would buy at the state level alone for all the various government entities and their operations.

      It skews the numbers a bit.

    • 0 avatar

      We have a very similar now break up of Vehicles here. Pickups and SUV’s make up 50% of all vehicles sold.

  • avatar

    the majority of the cars still offer a manual – so I guess there is still some hope.

  • avatar

    Toyota sold 400,000 Camrys? People do love their delusions…this car stopped being the best midsize a LONG time ago.

    And I bet you Chevy wishes they could re-introduce the last-gen Malibu about right now…

  • avatar

    Got to unbundle the Corolla and the Matrix, otherwise you better bundle the Ford and Lincoln and the Huyndai and Kia products.

    • 0 avatar

      I would agree with your argument and Toyota has a history of playing with these numbers (for example combining Solara and Camry numbers together where GM broke out Impala and Monte Carlo numbers).

      However, Toyota sells so few Matrii I doubt it makes a huge difference. This is why I take the model counts with a bit of a grain of salt.

      For example if GM treated the HHR like Toyota treated the Matrix in the sales number, they would have rolled the HHR sales into the Cobalt number, called it a Cobalt wagon for the number count, and been selling well over 300K units combined a year (and Hertz and Avis would thank them for the cheap wheels).

      The who is the biggest is a bit of a game.

      Honda does only 4% fleet on the record, but does a significant amount of “fleetail” (as covered by TTAC) so what’s the real number. We know that Fusion fleet sales are down, but when Ford was 45% fleet for the Fusion in 2012, there was no where to go but down!

      The one big loser here is GM – the “shorter” Malibu was definitely a mistake.

      • 0 avatar

        “Honda does only 4% fleet on the record, but does a significant amount of “fleetail” (as covered by TTAC) so what’s the real number.”

        Wow. I can’t believe someone was actually gullible enough to believe that weak article about Honda fleet numbers. Here are the real numbers as posted many times in that article.

        By Manufacturer:

        By Vehicle:

        Accord has always been the retail winner save for one year that I can remember (2007?).

      • 0 avatar

        “Honda does only 4% fleet on the record”

        What record is that, exactly?

        Automotive Fleet uses data from Polk, and it’s reporting 2012 Honda brand fleet sales of 1.7%. If you have a better figure, then provide a source.

      • 0 avatar

        Camry rental fleet sales for 2012 was greater than Fusion rental fleet sales and that was for a brand new Camry vs. the old Fusion.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah…combining Corolla and Matrix is much worse than combining F150, F250, F350, F450, F550 and F650. Corolla and Matrix actually shares the same platform unlike the F150 and F250.

    • 0 avatar

      The Matrix was a Corolla hatchback. And besides, it hardly sold for the 2nd Generation and has been discontinued for almost 6 months now. The only place the Matrix sales would’ve made any noticeable difference is Canada, and it’s dead there too.

      Same argument with the Solara, it’s a Camry coupe. Honda counts Accord coupe sales in the standard Accord numbers, don’t know why it ever became a big deal with Toyota.

      GM not counting Monte Carlo and Impala together is their own doing.

      And I so agree that it’s far more “unfair” to bundle F150 and the Superduty.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one shocked that the Elantra outsold the Focus? Is it because of fleet sales?

  • avatar

    I don’t know if chasing the number 1 spot with heavy incentives really is healthy for an automaker. Sure it looks great for marketing but if I was an investor I would rather hear “most profitable”. Plus Lutz will tell you exactly how well the number 1 race worked out for Lincoln and Cadillac.

  • avatar

    I think the most surprising thing about this list is the complete absence of a SUV or 4X4. Here in Australia the figures where:
    1. Toyota Corolla +12.1%
    2. Mazda 3 -4.6%
    3. Toyota HiLux -1.7%
    4. Hyundai i30 +7.9%
    5. Holden Commodore -9.1%
    6. Toyota Camry -8.7%
    7. Mitsubishi Triton +32.4%
    8. Holden Cruze -16.3%
    9. Nissan Navara -7.4%
    10. Ford Ranger -7.2%

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