New car sales are on the rise in the U.S. Nearly every model's sales increased in 2013 compared to the preceding two years, according to data released today by the various automakers and compiled by the Cars Examiner.
Americans continue to favor most of the same models, however, the sales data show. The best-sellers chart compiled by the Cars Examiner includes most of the same models as 2012. But there have been some changes. Some cars have had successful redesigns; others have slid down the list due to age or other factors.
2013's Top 10
At the head of the best-seller list, as it has been nearly every year for decades, is Ford's F-Series line of full-size pickup trucks. The numbers include two largely unrelated models – the quarter-ton F-150 and the Super Duty work truck line with the F-250 and up. But despite this fudging, the Ford trucks top the list primarily because Americans buy so many of them. 763,402 were sold last year, up 18 percent from 2012 and 31 percent from 2011. That volume is also 59 percent more than 2013's No. 2 best-seller – the competing Chevrolet Silverado pickup line – and 87 more than the No. 3 Toyota Camry.
The F-Series' sales gains are in part due to the general marketplace improvements, but the model has also seen tweaks over the years. Partway through calendar year 2011 came new engines, including the heavily marketed “EcoBoost” turbo V6 – unusual for a pickup and highly popular on the F-150. More recent changes to both the F-150 and the Super Duty include modernized in-cabin technology. But full redesigns are still on the way.
Meanwhile, the half-ton version of the No. 2 Silverado is fresh off a 2014-model redesign, which went on sale midway through calendar-year 2013. Sales actually dropped a bit in the latter half of the year, likely due to fewer discounts available on the new model. The heavy-duty members of the Silverado line haven't yet been redesigned, with their updates appearing in early 2014 as 2015 models.
The Camry is repeating its position as the country's best-selling passenger car and the No. 3 vehicle overall. It's seen no updates to speak of since the current model was introduced in 2011 as a 2012 model, but those upgrades to its styling and electronics features have helped it beat out competitors with lesser reputations. Just on sale is an updated 2014.5 model that boasts improved structural integrity after a poor showing in an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test; this change could help the Camry further over the coming year.
The No. 4 best-seller is the Honda Accord midsize car, sold as a sedan and coupe. Redesigned as a 2013 model and boasting new 2014-model gas-electric hybrids, its sales have held steady at high levels but haven't taken off to catch the Camry's, and hybrid sales have been miniscule so far despite favorable reviews.
In fifth place is Chrysler's line of Ram full-size pickups, which dates to 2009 despite a 2013-model update. Its sales have jumped of late, bringing it up from No. 7 in 2012 and 2011, No. 8 in 2010, and No. 10 in 2009. It's still a far cry from the No. 3 slot the Ram held a decade ago, though – a position it held for years before giving up for good in 2004.
No. 6 is the Honda Civic compact car, which had been 2012's No. 5 – fueled by unusual discounts for a Honda on an unusually ill-received 2012-model redesign from that automaker. Sales slipped in the first half of 2013 after Honda gave the Civic an emergency overhaul and dialed back the incentives. But the Civic was popular enough in the last six months for it to go from ninth place to sixth for the year – making it the best-selling vehicle in its class.
Seventh place goes to the Nissan Altima midsize sedan, which has slipped from No. 6 in 2012 and No. 4 in 2011 despite a 2013-model redesign, victim to increased competition. No. 9 is the Toyota Corolla, freshly redesigned for 2014 but not yet distancing itself from its aged predecessor in the sales race.
Nos. 8 and 10 are competing compact crossover SUVs, the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, respectively. The two have traded off in recent years as the best-selling SUV; the Honda repeated its 2012 win after trailing the Ford in the first half of 2013. And just off the Top 10, just a few hundred units behind the Escape, is another Ford – the Fusion midsize sedan, whose sales have increased of late but not sharply enough to be one of the 10 best-sellers.
Also of note
Honda dominated the Top 10 list with three models, though one of Ford's two is the No. 1. Toyota also has two cars on the list; Chrysler, General Motors, and Nissan each have one. But the Top 30 list is more diverse.
In total, the nation's 30 best-selling vehicles include four full-size pickup trucks, seven midsize cars, eight compact cars, four compact crossovers and SUVs, three midsize crossovers and SUVs, one large crossover, one full-size traditional SUV, one small pickup and one large sedan. Seven are GM products, five are Fords, and five are Toyotas. Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai/Kia, and Nissan each have three models on the list; there's also one Volkswagen.
None of the Top 30 is a luxury car; though a number of these models are often lavishly equipped, the best-seller from a premium badge is the No. 41 BMW 3-Series/4-Series entry-luxury car, followed by the Lexus RX midsize crossover at No. 47. No minivans are among the Top 30, but the newly updated Honda Odyssey comes close at No. 32, and combining the nearly identical Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan would put a van at No. 14.
Notable sales improvements among the best-sellers have included the Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck, which dates to 2005 but has capitalized on the vacuum left by small pickups from Chrysler, GM, and Ford, all of which have been discontinued in recent years (though GM has a 2015-model comeback planned); and the Hyundai Elantra compact car, whose four-door sedan model was recently augmented by a new five-door hatchback and two-door coupe.
Two models saw big jumps to join the Top 30 list. 2013's No. 29 is the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban full-size SUVs, which climbed from No. 38 in 2012 (and even in the first half of 2013) to make a surprise entrance to the Top 30 even before a 2015-model redesign. No. 30 is the Nissan Sentra compact car, redesigned for 2013, which jumped from No. 43 in 2012.
These bumped off the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan and Ford Edge midsize crossover, which have remained fairly popular despite their age and finished as No. 38 and No. 31, respectively; the Chrysler in particular saw a steep sales decline in the second half of 2013. Both models are expected to see redesigns for the 2015 model year.
Declines have come from the Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan, due for a 2015-model redesign; the Volkswagen Jetta compact car, which recently saw a 2014 update too late to make a difference in the overall year's sales figures; the Ford Focus compact car, which is facing tough competition from newer competitors; and the Chevrolet Impala full-size sedan, whose 2014-model redesign raised its price tag and reduced its fleet-market appeal.
Most of the sales data are collected from press releases posted here and are compiled by the Cars Examiner.
Sales charts of 2013's Top 30 best-selling cars
Best-selling cars of 2013, by class
Best-selling cars of the first half of 2013
Best-selling cars of 2012
Best-selling cars of 2012, by class
Cars Examiner car reviews