Nearly Half of All Midsize Trucks Sold in America Are Toyota Tacomas

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
nearly half of all midsize trucks sold in america are toyota tacomas

Competition improves the breed?

In order to tighten its grasp on the American midsize truck market, the Toyota Tacoma was thoroughly refreshed for model year 2016, a necessary development following the arrival – finally – of all-new competition at the end of 2014.

Evidently, Toyota unable to deliver in-demand diesel versions of its new trucks to an extent.

As a result, after selling 17,223 Colorados and Canyons in the first two months of 2015, GM’s midsize truck sales total increased by only 389 units in the same period one year later, an inconsequential increase given the 8-percent improvement recorded by the segment and the overall pickup truck sector’s 4-percent increase. As U.S. pickup truck sales climbed 7 percent in February, specifically, the GMC Canyon cancelled out a portion of the Chevrolet Colorado’s 13-percent improvement with its first year-over-year decline since the nameplate’s return in 2014.

The implication is not that GM’s midsize trucks are stumbling, not by any means. But a production increase is obviously vital. And based on the Tacoma’s response to greater availability of competitors in the past, that production increase won’t seriously alter the Toyota’s knack for selling half again as often as the GM twins.

Meanwhile, Toyota is turning up the wick on their own pickup truck production, as well.

Clearly U.S. sales of the Toyota Tacoma were unaffected by new competitors in 2015, but Nissan Frontier volume fell to a three-year U.S. low. The Frontier is rebounding in early 2016 with a 10-percent improvement to 13,197 sales in January and February, greater than the total of the GM duo’s better-selling Colorado. In fact, January and February represent a better start to 2016 than the Frontier managed in 2014, when sales of Nissan’s midsize truck shot up to an eight-year high.

For the most part, there are a great deal of similarities in the approaches taken by Toyota, General Motors, and Nissan: four and six-cylinder engines, extended and crew cab bodystyles, rear or four-wheel-drive. The arrival of the second-generation Honda Ridgeline later in the second-half of 2016, has the potential to shake up the category once again. The Ridgeline is an indirect truck rival for these true pickups: a six-cylinder, crew cab, front or all-wheel-drive crossover-based truck with ingenious bed solutions but questionable ruggedness.

Lest you think the Ridgeline has no capacity for insurgence, remember that the first-generation Ridgeline was initially common. Somewhat common. American Honda sold more than 50,000 Ridgelines in 2006, claiming 8 percent of the non-full-size truck market. The Ridgeline’s decline, persistent and severe, wasn’t just the result of consumer inattention. Honda seemingly forgot about the Ridgeline, too.

Between 2010 and 2015, Honda sold fewer than 15,000 Ridgelines per year, on average. The new Ridgeline is certainly expected to improve upon those totals. The Tacoma’s annual sales totals are unlikely to be hindered, but perhaps Honda will keep Toyota from claiming over half of all midsize truck sales in America.

On the whole, midsize trucks are producing a rising percentage of U.S. truck sales. 15.2 percent of the pickup trucks sold in 2015’s first two months were Tacomas, Colorados, Canyons, Frontiers, and Ridgelines. Even with the Ridgeline’s entrenched hiatus, that figure grew to 15.7 percent in 2016’s first two months.

Granted, on its own, the Ford F-Series produces more than three out of every ten trucks sold in America.

[Image: Toyota, General Motors, Honda]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Join the conversation
4 of 121 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 13, 2016

    Big Al--My wife's CRV does very well in the snow with AWD. Agree not everyone drives a pickup off road and much of the off road driving is more recreational and less necessity. My 4 x 4 Isuzu does fine in the snow.

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Mar 13, 2016

      Jeff S - I do think that the term "off-road" gets misused and abused. To use the terms I see in the Forest Industry we have "on highway" and "off-highway". Most people buy 4x4 or AWD vehicles for "on highway" inclement weather use. Basically paved roads and winter storms. Any departure from paved roads for the most part are all weather gravel roads and gravel roads that are seasonal. True off-road use entails traveling down very rustic roads or trails. Unless you live next to sand dunes or pure desert you are going to be confined to some sort of trail or path. Most served a work purpose at one time and have gone into disrepair. I've travelled in almost every situation imaginable and tend to be realistic about what each vehicle can or cannot do. I'm big on knowing the limits of one's vehicle or knowing the limits of what one is planning to buy.

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Mar 14, 2016

    Another student in my dojo bought a new Tacoma. Traded in a Fit, too. The truck looks less bloated than the previous generation and seems very nice overall. But the factory lift is a little insane. People do not mod Wranglers in such amounts often, and this is made right there in San Antonio like that, and is apparently how almost all of them come nowadays.

    • Gtem Gtem on Mar 14, 2016

      Tacomas definitely ride high, always have, like the older Pickups that preceded them. That goes hand in hand with their high floors which results in the 'legs-out' seating position that many dislike. The advantage is that there is less of a need to buy an aftermarket lift, with all the potential compromises in handling/ride quality/reliability that might come with going that route.

  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged
  • Albert Also owned a 1959 Continental Mark IV coupe for 20 years and loved every minute!