Best-Selling Passenger Cars in America

© American Honda Motor Co., Inc.Top Cars Lowdown
American drivers love their trucks and SUVs — third-quarter 2017 sales figures prove this — but there is another side to the story: Interest in the traditional passenger car continues to wane. Granted, certain cars still sell in high numbers, but overall car sales are down around 11 percent compared to 2016. Based on data from the first nine months of 2017, passenger cars make up 38 percent of overall vehicle sales. A few standouts have been successful in 2017, including the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte and Subaru Impreza. What follows are the top-selling passenger cars in America based on sales in the first three quarters of 2017, according to numbers compiled from auto manufacturer sales reports and goodcarbadcar.net.

© FCA US20. Dodge Charger
YTD Sales: 67,378
Vs. 2016: -6.77%
As a full-size rear-wheel-drive 4-door sedan, the sporty-looking Charger is a rare bird in the passenger car market. Charger offers a spacious interior and is available with a variety of high-performance powertrains, ranging from a 292-horsepower V6 to the extreme 707-horsepower supercharged HEMI V8 in the Charger Hellcat. Charger sales peaked about 10 years ago; however, demand for this large car seems to have grown lately, with sales steadily increasing over the last three years. Time and sales will tell if Charger has a strong fall and continues this trend.

© Nissan North America19. Nissan Versa
YTD Sales: 82,817
Vs. 2016: -22.20%
With a base price of $11,990, Versa holds the honor of being the least-expensive car in America. In 2014 the introduction of the slightly larger Versa Note provided a temporary bump in annual sales for this small Nissan. Even with its low price, the Versa is much more than a bare-bones econobox. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, an AM/FM/CD audio system and a trip computer. Although the Versa won’t win any races, it has an EPA fuel economy rating as high as 39 mpg on the highway. Although sales are down for the year, Versa had a slight sales increase in September versus a year ago.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA18. Toyota Prius
YTD Sales: 83,321
Vs. 2016: -21.07%
Toyota introduced an all-new Prius last year, and the updated model is better in practically every way. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that sales dipped in 2016 and are currently trending downward. September sales did not show any sign of recovery with a drop of more than 25 percent compared to 2016. A factor of this decline in popularity could be the relatively low price of gasoline across the nation. The primary reason for purchasing a Prius is its impressive fuel economy — something much more important to consumers when gas prices are high.

© Kia Motors America17. Kia Optima
YTD Sales: 84,704
Vs. 2016: -5.18%
Kia’s midsize sedan was completely redesigned a few years ago, and while the updated model brought attractive styling and the latest in high-tech features, Optima sales have dropped in the last year. Sales are continuing to trend downward for 2017; however, September did show some positive momentum with an increase of about 11 percent versus September of 2016. The Optima is available in several variants, including the high-performance SX Turbo as well as a newly-introduced fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience16. Subaru Impreza (includes WRX / STI)
YTD Sales: 88,745
Vs. 2016: 26.34%
Recently completing its 70th consecutive month of record sales, Subaru is writing quite a success story. Although many small cars on the U.S. market are in sales declines, the Impreza bucks that trend. Completely new for the 2017 model year, the updated Impreza offers a roomy interior, fresh styling, excellent handling and — of course — Subaru’s full-time all-wheel drive. The Impreza also is available with Subaru’s innovative EyeSight suite of safety features. With a sales increase of 18 percent in September versus the previous year, the Impreza will likely help Subaru continue to generate record sales.

© Kia Motors America15. Kia Soul
YTD Sales: 90,727
Vs. 2016: -15.86%
The Kia Soul is somewhat unique in the marketplace — there really isn’t anything else on the road quite like it. It features a roomy interior for five passengers and a spacious cargo area — all wrapped in a funky package that redefines the “boxy” car segment. The Soul was redesigned back in 2014 which resulted in a healthy sales boost to a level that has remained steady ever since. However, it may be that the Soul — now five years into its current design — may be ready for something new, since sales are starting to decline.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.14. Volkswagen Jetta
YTD Sales: 90,995
Vs. 2016: 1.39%
There’s no denying that Volkswagen’s entire company and vehicle lineup have been affected by its diesel emissions fraud, and the Jetta is no exception. Sales of this fun-to-drive 4-door sedan have been steadily dropping since 2011; however, the Jetta still outsells all other VW models. And perhaps the downward sales trend has been reversed — overall sales are positive so far this year, and September recorded a gain of more than 45 percent compared with a year ago. With prices starting below $18,000, the Jetta offers great value while delivering up to 40 mpg on the highway.

© Kia Motors America13. Kia Forte
YTD Sales: 92,092
Vs. 2016: 15.68%
The entry-level model in the Kia lineup, Forte is the brand’s best-selling model. Kia made several updates to the car for the 2017 model year — a new front bumper, a revised tiger nose grille, redesigned headlights with available Xenon HID, and new available LED taillights. The new look seems to be well received; Forte sales are well ahead of last year’s pace, which is even more impressive given that 2016 was a record sales year for the small car. An increase of almost 30 percent in September compared with a year ago. As with other models from the Korean automaker, Forte offers excellent value with an impressive list of standard equipment.

© Hyundai Motor America12. Hyundai Sonata
YTD Sales: 107,718
Vs. 2016: -30.63%
Hyundai’s midsize sedan, the Sonata receives a major refresh for the 2018 model year. With sales declining since they peaked in 2012, the Korean automaker anticipates that this new look and updated features will improve sales. Currently Sonata is trending downward, with September showing a 35 percent decline compared to September of 2016. The new Sonata sports a bold new front end that features a new “cascading grille” that will become a signature look for future Hyundai models. The front fenders and narrow headlights (with optional LEDs) taper forward to the grille. The updated Sonata receives a new rear suspension and revised steering calibration designed to improve ride, handling and steering response, as well as a suite of high-tech safety features.

© Ford Motor Company11. Ford Focus
YTD Sales: 123,827
Vs. 2016: -11.58%
Perpetually one of the best-selling American cars on the market, the Focus has been slowly descending the sales ladder in recent years — the small car has not had a year-over-year sales improvement since it peaked in 2012. Although annual sales are currently trending below last year, Focus did have a bit of a bump in September, increasing sales over last September by 5 percent. Focus is available as a sedan or hatchback with numerous configurations. Several engine options are available, ranging from a fuel-efficient 2.0 liter to sporty Focus ST, as well as the extreme 350-horsepower all-wheel-drive Focus RS. Focus also happens to be available as a pure electric vehicle.

© General Motors10. Chevrolet Malibu
YTD Sales: 141,162
Vs. 2016: -17.15%
The Malibu name has been part of the Chevrolet lineup off and on for more than 50 years, selling almost nine million vehicles since it was first introduced. The latest version debuted for the 2016 model year and represents the ninth generation of this iconic vehicle. With sleek new styling, more space, lighter weight and a host of new features and technologies, the Malibu had record sales last year. And although sales are down slightly in 2017, in September sales increased more than 11 percent compared to that record 2016. Malibu is available in multiple trim levels and can even be configured with a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain.

© Hyundai Motor America9. Hyundai Elantra
YTD Sales: 143,067
Vs. 2016: -8.90%
Hyundai’s compact Elantra received a complete redesign for the 2017 model year with updated styling as well as many new features. The revised look helped Elantra surpass Sonata as the brand’s best-selling model, and keeps it surprisingly far ahead of the Korean automaker’s SUV offerings. Elantra’s sleek look is anchored by a signature hexagonal grille that closely ties it to the rest of the Hyundai lineup, and includes high-end amenities such as HID headlights with Dynamic Bending lights, as well as vertical LED daytime running lights — unusual in this vehicle class. Sales are down for the year so far, with a drop of 25 percent in September compared to 2016.

© General Motors8. Chevrolet Cruze
YTD Sales: 149,234
Vs. 2016: 8.13%
Counter to the waning popularity of the passenger car, the stylish Chevrolet Cruze had experienced strong growth during the first months of 2017. This trend continued into September with a slight gain compared to a year ago. Redesigned for the 2016 model year and now featuring a hatchback version, Cruze has a turbocharged 153-horsepower 1.4-liter direct-injection engine paired with a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed automatic. Cruze achieves 40 mpg on the highway, with start-stop technology improving efficiency in stop-and-go driving.

© Ford Motor Company7. Ford Fusion
YTD Sales: 159,742
Vs. 2016: -24.1%
Ford’s best-selling passenger car has experienced a sales decline over the last few months compared to a year earlier; however, September had some positive motion with a 3.3 percent increase over the same month in 2016. That said, the entire Ford car lineup is down around 17 percent compared to this time last year. Fusion has been refreshed for the 2017 model year with subtle exterior design changes, interior improvements, new driver assistance technology and two new trim levels. Fusion remains the best-selling passenger car in the Ford lineup.

© Nissan North America6. Nissan Sentra
YTD Sales: 165,711
Vs. 2016: -2.2%
As with other manufacturers, Nissan is experiencing a general passenger car sales decline and Sentra sales are following suit. However, September was a bright spot for the compact Nissan, with sales up almost 40 percent compared to September of 2016. Last year Nissan introduced a new Sentra with updated styling, retuned suspension and a refreshed interior. Available high-tech features include Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Joining the Sentra lineup this year was the new high-performance NISMO edition.

© Nissan North America5. Nissan Altima
YTD Sales: 199,861
Vs. 2016: -17.5%
Once Nissan’s best-selling model, the Altima experienced a decline in 2016, allowing the hot-selling Rogue to claim its position as the top-selling Nissan in America. This sales dip has continued into 2017 and is part of an overall decline in the popularity of passenger cars — Nissan passenger car sales are down almost 13 percent compared to last year. However, Altima is still one of the best-selling passenger cars in the U.S., and is holding its own thanks to an update last year with new interior and exterior styling, enhanced technology and connectivity, a new Altima SR sports trim and new available safety features.

© American Honda Motor Co., Inc.4. Honda Accord
YTD Sales: 250,802
Vs. 2016: -3.0 %
Although Accords may not be rolling off dealer lots at the same phenomenal rates as years past, the popular family car is still selling well. Early 2017 sales had been in decline over the first few months, but September showed an increase of almost 10 percent compared to 2016. Available as a coupe or sedan in a variety of trim levels, the Accord sports some high-end features and the latest in safety technology. Honda is likely to see a sales boost later this year when an all-new 2018 Accord begins arriving in showrooms.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA3. Toyota Corolla
YTD Sales: 265,273
Vs. 2016: -8.2%
Corolla is one of the most time-honored names in the Toyota lineup; although the name connotes longevity, the iconic small car was all new last year. Sales of the compact sedan have declined slightly in the last few months, allowing the Corolla’s direct competitor — the Honda Civic — to overtake it. The new Corolla iM (formerly the Scion iM) makes up a very small percentage of total Corolla sales, but Corolla’s continued success can be attributed in part to its impressive fuel economy, roomy interior and extensive list of standard features.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2. Toyota Camry
YTD Sales: 282,507
Vs. 2016: -5.0%
Camry has held the title of best-selling passenger car in America for 15 years, but with sales in slight decline compared to a year ago and the popularity of the new Honda Civic, Camry has relinquished its crown — at least temporarily. However, don’t be surprised if Toyota takes back this top spot thanks to the all-new 8th-generation Camry that recently began arriving in showrooms. Lower and wider than the previous generation, the new Camry has an updated front grille, integrated headlights and sculpted lines to give the sedan a more engaging presence, as well as a completely new interior and choice of fuel-efficient, powerful engines. Sales are certainly reflecting high interest in the new model — September numbers are up more than 13 percent compared to a year ago.

© American Honda Motor Co., Inc.1. Honda Civic
YTD Sales: 284,380
Vs. 2016: 0.2%
Demand for the all-new Civic had decreased slightly in 2017, but a strong September showed a 26 percent increase over a year ago, putting the compact car back in the lead as the best-selling passenger car in America. The tenth generation of this popular car features fresh styling, improved aerodynamics, new vehicle architecture, a more spacious interior and two new engines. Fuel economy also is impressive — rated as high as 42 mpg with a new turbocharged powerplant. Civic has a lot of buzz thanks to new high-performance variants: the Civic Type R and Civic Si.

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