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NewsMost Popular Cars in the United States in 2021

Most Popular Cars in the United States in 2021

The fourth quarter was particularly difficult for most automakers.

  • The Toyota Camry remains tops among the most popular cars in the United States.

  • The production-constrained Chevrolet Malibu tumbled down the sales charts, the Hyundai Sonata joined the top 10 list.

  • Nissan Altima slips a few spots, Kia Forte and Nissan Sentra gain a couple.

There are a few changes on this year’s countdown of the most popular cars in the United States, but the segment leaders remained comfortably on the top spots. Passenger-car sales dropped by 2.9% throughout the year, from 3,463,479 to 3,364,513 units.

Worse, fourth-quarter sales of sedans and hatchbacks dived by 32.6%, and the passenger car take rate slipped from 23.8% to 22.3% in 2021 compared to 2020. Obviously, family-friendly crossovers are continuing to gain traction in North America and pretty much across the planet.

10. Hyundai Sonata (93,142 units sold)

2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line | Photo: Hyundai

Thanks to its recent redesign, the Hyundai Sonata managed to climb from 14th to 10th place, knocking the production-constrained Chevrolet Malibu off the top 10 list. Sales were down by a significant 46.9% in Q4, but increased by 21.0% throughout the year. To put into perspective how much pickup truck and crossovers are now dominating the U.S. market, the Sonata ranked 45th overall on the light-vehicle sales charts.

9. Nissan Altima (103,777 units sold)

Sales of the Nissan Altima were down 30.9% in the fourth quarter of the year, and by 24.8% in 2021 overall. As a result, the midsize sedan dropped from 5th to 9th place on the list.

8. Kia Forte (115,929 units sold)

2021 Kia Forte

The Kia Forte is continuing its rise among the most popular cars in the United States with a strong 3.7% increase in sales in Q4, and a stellar 36.4% increase throughout the year. The Forte climbed one spot, from 9th to 8th.

7. Hyundai Elantra (124,422 units sold)

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Thanks to its overall 2021 sales increase of 18.0%, the Hyundai Elantra managed to keep its 7th place in the list of the most popular cars in the U.S. However, sales were down by 39.7% in the fourth quarter.

6. Nissan Sentra (127,861 units sold)

2021 Nissan Sentra

Like the Kia Forte, the Nissan Sentra sedan is also inching its way into the driveways of compact-car buyers, moving up from 9th to 6th place this year. Sales were down by 31.2% in Q4, but up by 35.1% overall in 2021.

5. Tesla Model 3 (estimated 130,000 units sold)

2021 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 climbed a spot among the most popular cars in the United States with an estimated increase of deliveries of 38.7% in Q4, and an 11.9% increase throughout 2021. Tesla does not publish exact sales figures.

4. Honda Accord (202,676 units sold)

The Honda Accord is in no-man’s land in 4th place, way ahead of the rest of the pack, but significantly behind the 3rd place contestant. The midsize sedan saw its sales decrease by 17.5% in the fourth quarter, while overall 2021 sales were stable with a 1.6% increase.

3. Toyota Corolla (248,993 units sold)

Once again, the Toyota Corolla places 3rd on the list with a sales increase of 5.0% for the entire 2021 calendar year, although the fourth quarter was brutal with a sales drop of 55.9%. Still, the compact car remains comfortably on the podium.

2. Honda Civic (263,787 units sold)

2022 Honda Civic Sedan | Photo: Honda

Sales were down by 21.7% in Q4, but up by a slim 1.0% throughout 2021. That was enough for the Honda Civic to keep its 2nd place spot, ahead of its arch-rival Corolla.

1. Toyota Camry (313,795 units sold)

2021 Toyota Camry XSE Hybrid | Photo: Toyota

The Toyota Camry is tops among the most popular cars in the country with a 6.6% increase in sales over the year, and despite a 36.2% drop during the fourth quarter. The Camry is also the 6th best-selling light vehicle overall in the U.S., but the automaker’s second most popular vehicle behind the 4th place Toyota RAV4.


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