Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Coast to Coast 2014 – Nashville, Tennessee

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

Follow all my Coast to Coast 2014 trip reports as they get published here.

After crossing Georgia and part of Tennessee – the State of Davy Crockett, Aretha Franklin and Dolly Parton (of course) – we have now landed in Nashville, the country music capital of the world. Having grown up in France, I am not overly familiar with this music genre but listening to Sirius XM’s “The Highway” satellite radio station all day long while driving had me catch up on lost time in a flash.

Full report below.

Nissan Altima in Nashville TN

Current country music favourites are Kenny Chesney (American Kids), Aaron Lewis (Endless Summer), Luke Bryant (Drink A Beer), Dierks Bentley (How Am I Doin’) and The Cadillac Three (Party Like You). I also had the privilege to attend the 6pm show at the legendary Bluebird Café which caught me by surprise with an intimate atmosphere, the songwriters playing right in the middle of the audience. For those of you in the know, the night I was there John Pierce, Justin Lantz, Corey Crowder and Cale Dodds were playing – or rather joking around most of the time while taking turns singing. Unforgettable night.

Ford F150 in Nashville TN

So which cars do Nashville country music songwriters and hipsters buy? Based on the areas I visited (Downtown, West End and Hilsboro Road), rather different ones from the rest of the regions I have traversed so far. Logically, in a more urban environment we have more passenger cars and less pick-up trucks, with the most popular vehicles in town being (in this order) the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord – not seen at these levels since New York, Ford F-Series and Toyota Camry.

Chevrolet Traverse

Yes, I did write the Nissan Altima was the most frequent new vehicle I spotted in Nashville, ahead of all pickup trucks. Similarly to yesterday in Georgia for the Kia Optima, this could simply be because it is manufactured close-by in Canton, Mississippi. There is another Nissan plant located in Tennessee (in Smyrna) and models being spat out of this plant are also significantly more frequent in Nashville than they were up to now: the Infiniti JX, Nissan Pathfinder, Murano, Maxima, ( the now defunct) Altima coupé and most interestingly the Leaf: I saw more in Nashville than in the entire trip combined so far (including New York!).

GMC Acadia in Nashville TN

But there are a couple of models with an even more striking surge in popularity in Nashville: the Hero in Town is the Chevrolet Traverse and I have to confess that I did not know that car very well before landing here. This is fixed now as I had many opportunities to spot it all around town. Logically, its “twins” the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, using the same platform and very similar in size, are also extremely popular in town.

Nissan Quest

Other extremely popular vehicles in Nashville are large MPVs: the Nissan Quest is everywhere, followed closely by the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, and most taxis are Dodge Grand Caravan. Would Nashville be a big soccer mum car market? Arguably the Toyota 4Runner, never more popular so far than here in Nashville could also fit this category. Small sedans also are disproportionately successful here, led by the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, VW Jetta and Hyundai Elantra.

GMC Sierra in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville TN

One brand stands out in Nashville that I had not seen much before: Swedish carmaker Volvo, with the S60 sedan seemingly the most popular followed by the XC60 and XC90 SUVs. Cadillac SUVs also seem to be much more popular here than they have been so far in this trip. Other over-performing models in Nashville include the Nissan Juke, Ford Escape and Lexus HS, with the Hummer brand getting noticed as well here and for the first time on my itinerary.

Pontiac Aztek in Nashville TN

Finallly, Nashville carbuyers seem to have had a (masochistic?) love for late Pontiac models, including the horrible-looking Aztek and the G3, a rebadged Chevrolet Aveo… That’s it for Nashville! Next stop is Memphis, still in Tennessee.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and writes a blog dedicated to tracking car sales around the globe: BestSellingCarsBlog

Ford E-Series in Nashville TN
Buick Enclave
Dodge Grand Caravan
Ford F150
Lexus HS
Nissan Altima
GMC Acadia
Pontiac G3
Toyota 4 Runner
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2 of 21 comments
  • EspritdeFacelVega EspritdeFacelVega on Sep 21, 2014

    I bought a new TN-made Altima GXE in 1994 so always notice when I still see them on the roads...They have a remarkably high survival rate here in TX, which speaks to their ruggedness and durability, especially as the survivors are clearly not pampered, just cheap reliable wheels. They were always likable cars, as is today's Altima. That first post-Stanza generation was quite a leap forward for Nissan, stepping away from the Stanza's blandness in both styling and dynamics. As I recall $14k got me a nice little commuter car, fully loaded and very decent to drive.

  • Jdowmiller Jdowmiller on Sep 23, 2014

    Nashville proper resident here. The wife and I moved here in the late 90s from bucolic Greene County, Ohio. It's different here than in the Midwest - very image-conscious. I would not be surprised if the cars Matt noted were from the suburbs, exurbs, or just tourists from who-knows-where. The car of choice here in the "acceptable" zip codes is a BMW. The Vanderbilt area is chock-full of leased 3 series (probably paid for by Daddy). Had he turned right where he noted the Acadia, he would've entered one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, rife with every high-end car imagineable. My latest observation places the Tesla S as a very popular car there. We've had a running joke for years that during working hours, the only vehicles on the road here are contractors in $60,000 pickups, landscaping trucks with trailers attached and wealthy wives/stay-at-home moms driving German steel. That said, I'm over generalizing of course. Nissan Altima does indeed seem to be the car of choice here in the greater Middle Tennessee area followed closely by full size pickups. I just wanted to add to his article the overwhelming sense of image and branding with which residents of Nashville proper are concerned. The most interesting cars I've ever seen here have been a RUF in the zoo parking lot and a Testarossa in a hospital parking lot. There are myriad Ferraris and Maseratis but they bore me.

  • Jeff S I saw a You Tube on this recently that said this truck was going to be midsize and just an EV. I hope that this truck is a true compact and that it will have ICE and hybrid as well especially a plug in hybrid. Matthew please keep us informed of any additional information that is released about this truck. This is good to have more competition in the compact truck market with Toyota already planning to release the Stout and GM talking about a compact truck.
  • SCE to AUX Whoa, I like the looks of that thing.
  • ToolGuy Found this.
  • SCE to AUX Their splash was the sound of breaking through thin ice. It's a matter of time until they withdraw from the US.
  • SCE to AUX I've said for years that the NACS Tesla protocol should become the standard.I had hoped the Feds would settle it, but it's probably better for the industry to do it.Now let's see if Ford and GM will help fund further Supercharger expansion.