Wednesday, April 14, 2021
News Most Popular Cars in the United States, Third Quarter of 2020

Most Popular Cars in the United States, Third Quarter of 2020

Stable sales helped the Tesla Model 3 climb two spots.


  • The Toyota Camry tops the list most popular cars in the United States nine months into 2020.

  • The Nissan Sentra dropped from 6th to 10th place, Tesla Model 3 climbed two spots.

  • Top 10 list includes five compact cars and five midsize cars.


Passenger-car sales were already in a downward spiral, but the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have accelerated the pace as SUVs, crossovers and especially pickup trucks are gaining more and more market share. Here are the most popular cars in the United States after the first nine months of 2020.

Just before we break down the top 10 list, it’s worth noting that passenger-car sales dropped by 20.8% during the third quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Worse, they plunged 30.5% so far this year, although that includes the timeframe when many states were on lockdown because of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, light-truck sales dropped by 5.3% in Q3 2020, and by only 13.5% throughout the year so far.

10. Nissan Sentra (69,873 units sold)

2020 Nissan Sentra Los Angeles 44
2020 Nissan Sentra | Photo: Nissan

The 2020 calendar year has not been kind to the Nissan Sentra. Despite a thorough redesign, the compact sedan saw its sales drop by 31.8% during Q3, and by an eye-watering 52.8% through the first nine months of the year. As a result, the Sentra dived from 6th to 10th place on this list.

9. Chevrolet Malibu (73,399 units sold)

2020 Chevrolet Malibu | Photo: Chevrolet

Midsize sedan sales are struggling in the U.S., and no models in the segment have been spared. However, the Chevrolet Malibu is hanging on, with a 21.5% sales slide during the third quarter of 2020, and a 24.8% decrease so far this year. The sedan actually moved up a spot on the list of most popular cars in the U.S.

8. Hyundai Elantra (75,103 units sold)

2020 Hyundai Elantra | Photo: Hyundai

Here’s another passenger car that performed under the industry average this year, as Hyundai Elantra sales dropped by 34.2% in Q3, and by 40.1% through the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Nevertheless, the compact car remains in 8th place overall.

7. Ford Fusion (90,664 units sold)

2020 Ford Fusion | Photo: Ford

The Ford Fusion has been canned, but should end its career on the top 10 list of most popular cars in the U.S. for the 2020 calendar year. Sales were down 22.1% during the third quarter of the year, and by 32.3% through the first nine months, but remained in 7th place.

6. Nissan Altima (97,082 units sold)

2020 Nissan Altima | Photo: Nissan

Like the Sentra, the Nissan Altima has also struggled throughout the 2020 calendar year. Its sales fell by 45.2% during Q3, and by 39.3% so far this year, pushing the midsize sedan down one spot to 6th place.

5. Tesla Model 3 (128,000 units sold)

2019 Tesla Model 3
2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance | Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 climbed two spots in this ranking of most popular cars in the United States, with rather stable sales numbers. As a matter of fact, thanks to a 2.4% drop during Q3 and an insignificant 1.3% skid through the first nine months of the year, the Tesla sedan was an overachiever compared to the industry as a whole.

4. Honda Accord (145,291 units sold)

Honda Accord
Honda Accord Sport 2.0T | Photo: Honda

Honda Accord sales were down by 24.6% during Q3, and have decreased by 28.9% so far in 2020. Still, the midsize sedan remains in 4th spot on the list of the most popular cars in the United States.

3. Toyota Corolla (166,213 units sold)

2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid
2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid | Photo: Toyota

The Toyota Corolla failed to keep up with its nemesis that currently sits in 2nd place. With a sales drop of 30.2% during Q3 and of 29.0% through the first nine months of 2020, the compact line comprised of a sedan and a hatchback remains on the podium.

2. Honda Civic (200,941 units sold)

2020 Honda Civic
2020 Honda Civic | Photo: Honda

With only the few thousand units behind the best-selling model among the most popular cars in the U.S., the Honda Civic saw its sales numbers drop by 15.3% during Q3 and by 21.3% throughout 2020. Those are above-average results in the passenger-car market.

1. Toyota Camry (204,945 units sold)

2020 Toyota Camry | Photo: Toyota

The Toyota Camry is the overachiever in the midsize sedan category, with a small sales drop of 4.1% during the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. And despite a 20.7% slide in sales throughout the first nine months of the year, it holds on to 1st place on this list.

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