2013 Best Selling Cars

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
2013 best selling cars

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.

RankBest-Selling Car20132012% Change Camry408,484404,886+ 0.9% Accord366,678331,872+ 10.5% Civic336,180317,909+ 5.7% Altima320,723302,934+ 5.9% Corolla/Matrix302,180290,947+ 3.9% Fusion295,280241,263+ 22.4% Cruze248,224237,758+ 4.4% Elantra247,912202,034+ 22.7% Focus234,570245,922– 4.6% Sonata203,648230,605– 11.7%
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3 of 50 comments
  • Ion Ion on Jan 06, 2014

    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.

  • RollaRider10 RollaRider10 on Jan 07, 2014

    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%

    • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Jan 07, 2014

      They are only talking about sedans, not SUV's and Pickups.

  • Jeff S The question is how long will Ford offer the Mustang as a pony car? Dodge is sun setting the Challenger at the end of this year and it is doubtful if the Challenger will come back as an EV. Rumors are the Camaro name will be used on an EV and that will mostly likely be a crossover. There is not enough market for a Detroit muscle or pony car. It is sad to see not only the last of the cars like the Camaro and Challenger go but to see most cars go. Soon this site will have to change its name to The Truth About Trucks (TTAT).
  • Oberkanone Does GM build anything to compete with this? Does GM build any competent hybrids?
  • Dukeisduke So, it'll be invisible, just like all other Gen 6 Camaros?
  • Alterboy21 The gov't has already mandated control of your vehicle. 10 years ago they required cars to have ABS and traction control.I am not sure I agree that automatic breaking is ready for primetime, but taking control of a cars driving behavior is not new ground for the NHTSA. 
  • Parkave231 Collector's Edition hood ornament or GTFO.