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

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

Passenger-car sales are on the rise in the U.S. For now, at least.

  • The Toyota Camry is tops among the most popular cars in the U.S. after the third quarter of 2021.

  • Hyundai Sonata and Kia Forte joined the top 10 list, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu dropped out.

  • Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla also boasted significant sales gains.

Passenger-car sales have been in a downward spiral for the last few years, as consumers are shifting to more practical crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks. Those who prefer coupes, sedans and hatchbacks over utility vehicles haven’t changed their preferences, with very little changes in the list of most popular cars in the United States after the first nine months of 2021.

There is a ray of sunshine, as overall car sales increased by 8.2% so far this year in the U.S., thanks largely to Hyundai and Kia that recently redesigned their compact and midsize models, and maybe due to the fact that limited SUV and truck inventories in dealerships is getting buyers into cars for the time being. Let’s get to the list.

10. Nissan Altima (75,508 units sold)

The 2021 calendar year hasn’t been kind to the Nissan Altima. Sales in the third quarter alone dropped by 51.6% to 13,578 units, while sales through the first nine months of the year decreased by 22.2% to 75,508 units. As a result, the Altima fell from 6th to 10th place on the list, and could drop off the top 10 by the end of the year in favour of the Kia K5 (and remaining Kia Optima units on dealer lots).

9. Hyundai Sonata (80,460 units sold)

2020 Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata moved up from 14th to 9th place thanks to strong sales, pushing the Chevrolet Malibu off the list. It racked up 26,262 units sold (+15.0%) during the third quarter of 2021, and 80,460 units (+51.5%) over nine months.

8. Kia Forte (93,026 units sold)

2021 Kia Forte

Slowly but surely, the Kia Forte is inching its way up the sales charts, with 30,867 units (+31.5%) leaving dealer lots in Q3, and 93,026 units sold (+47.9%) during the first nine months of the year. This strong performance allowed the Forte to rank 8th, as it was 11th among the most popular cars in the U.S. at the same point last year.

7. Tesla Model 3 (estimated 94,900 units sold)


The Tesla Model 3 ranks 7th on the list with an estimated 36,400 units sold (+51.0%) during the third quarter, and 94,900 units sold (+4.7%) over the first nine months of the year.

6. Hyundai Elantra (106,106 units sold)

2021 Hyundai Elantra

With 32,049 units sold (+20.2%) during Q3, and 106,106 units (+41.3%) finding buyers through the first nine months of the year, the Hyundai Elantra managed to move up from 8th to 6th spot on the list.

5. Nissan Sentra (110,821 units sold)

2021 Nissan Sentra

The Nissan Sentra has been selling at a brisk pace, and it’s probably stealing customers away from the bigger Altima. During the third quarter, 32,962 units were moved out (+26.4%) while through nine months in 2021, 110,821 units were sold (+58.6%). As a result, the Sentra jumped from 10th to 5th place among the most popular cars in the United States.

4. Honda Accord (157,988 units sold)

The Honda Accord hangs on to its 4th place thanks to rather steady sales throughout the year, amounting to 157,988 units (+8.7%). However, the third quarter wasn’t all that great with 43,281 units sold (-23.4%).

3. Honda Civic (216,575 units sold)

2022 Honda Civic | Photo: Daniel Rufiange

Sales of the Honda Civic dropped by 12.9% during Q3 at 63,619 units, but increase by 7.8% over the first nine months of the year, totalling 216,575 vehicles. A good performance, indeed, but another compact car did even better and pushed the Civic down from 2nd to 3rd place.

2. Toyota Corolla (217,727 units sold)

2021 Toyota Corolla Apex | Photo: Olivier Delorme

With third-quarter sales of 62,196 units (+9.9%) and nine-month sales of 217,727 units (+31.0%), the Toyota Corolla shot up one spot on the list. It surpassed its arch-rival Civic by only 1,152 vehicles, but it’s still a ways back from the #1 car on this top 10.

1. Toyota Camry (256,769 units sold)

The Toyota Camry is tops among the most popular cars in the U.S. with 79,098 units sold during Q3 and 256,769 units sold after Q3. Toyota has the two best-selling passenger cars in the country, which is impressive given how many crossovers the automaker has in its lineup.

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