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News Most Popular Cars in the United States, First Quarter of 2021

Most Popular Cars in the United States, First Quarter of 2021

The Nissan Sentra is quickly moving up the list.


  • The Toyota Camry is tops among the most popular cars in the United States after Q1 2021.

  • The Nissan Sentra climbed five spots on the list thanks to an impressive sales increase.

  • The now-discontinued Ford Fusion dropped off the list, while the Tesla Model 3 barely remains on it.


As auto manufacturers continue to shift their product lineup towards crossover vehicles, sales of conventional sedans and hatchbacks have been hitting new lows. Nonetheless, here’s a list of the most popular cars in the United States after the first quarter of 2021.

A total of 3,923,746 light-duty vehicles were sold in the U.S. through the first three months of the year, which represents an increase of 11.8% compared to the same period in 2020, and a 2.2% drop compared to the first quarter of 2019. As usual, light-truck sales gained momentum as crossovers are replacing passenger cars on the market, with a 17.3% increase over Q1 2020. Meanwhile, said passenger cars (coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, wagons and convertibles) saw a 3.9% slip in Q1 2021.

10. Tesla Model 3 (23,110 units sold)

2021 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: Tesla

It’s the only fully electric car on the list. However, Tesla Model 3 dropped by 45.0% during the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020. As a result, the sedan slid from 6th to 10th place.

9. Kia Forte (24,850 units sold)

2021 Kia Forte

The Kia Forte has been slowly, but surely climbing up the ranks on the list most popular cars in the United States, and is currently sitting in 9th place—up from 11th—thanks to an 11.1% increase over the same period last year.

8. Hyundai Elantra (26,093 units sold)

2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line | Photo: Hyundai

Although sales remained stable in Q1 2021 compared to 2020, with a 1.4% increase, they have yet to rise back to pre-pandemic levels. Still, it’s enough for the Hyundai Elantra to move up one spot from 9th to 8th place on the list.

7. Chevrolet Malibu (26,987 units sold)

2021 Chevrolet Malibu | Photo: Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Malibu climbed from 8th place to 7th, despite a 23.5% sales drop after the first quarter of the year. The Ford Fusion was in 7th place last year, but fell way down the list as production ended last summer and dealer inventory is drying up.

6. Nissan Altima (32,017 units sold)

2021 Nissan Altima | Photo: Nissan

With a 32.4% drop in sales during Q1 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, the Nissan Altima slipped from 4th to 6th place among the most popular cars in the United States.

5. Nissan Sentra (37,238 units sold)

With an impressive 55.9% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, the Nissan Sentra climbed five spots on the list, from 10th to 5th place. It seems as though Nissan customers are seeing better value in the Sentra than the Altima.

4. Honda Accord (46,591 units sold)

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid | Photo: Honda

The Honda Accord saw its sales drop by 1.1% in Q1 2021, but managed nonetheless to move up from 5th to 4th place on the list of the most popular cars in the United States.

3. Honda Civic (55,903 units sold)

2020 Honda Civic

On the verge of being thoroughly redesigned, the Honda Civic retained its 3rd place on the list after the first quarter of the year, despite a 12.6% drop in sales.

2. Toyota Corolla (72,520 units sold)

2021 Toyota Corolla

Thanks to a 4.8% rise in sales, the Toyota Corolla not only cemented its second place on the passenger-car sales charts, but is gnawing away at the lead of the best-selling model on the list—which wears the same brand logo.

1. Toyota Camry (78,151 units sold)

2021 Toyota Camry | Photo: Toyota

Sales of the Toyota Camry are up by only 1.2%, but that’s still enough for the midsize sedan to remain on top of the list of most popular cars in the United States after the first three months of 2021. It’s also the 7th best-selling light vehicle overall, surpassed by compact crossovers and pickup trucks—including the Toyota RAV4.

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