The Top-Selling Vehicles Of 2021: Cars, Trucks & SUVs
More than 15 million cars were sold in the US in 2021, a 3.4% increase from the previous year. With dozens of different models of cars, trucks, and SUVs on the market, some secured sales while others couldn’t hit remarkable numbers.
Have a look at the top 40 best-selling cars in the US, and find out why these automobiles are favored above all others by the buyers.
The people who don’t want to buy a truck but still want utility and capability from their daily driver have the option to go with a crossover. The number of these people is on the rise for the last decade, as reflected in the sales of these vehicles.
With 407,739 units sold, the RAV4 is the best-selling crossover in the US market. That’s because these things are extremely reliable, incredibly fuel-efficient, and have a long service life in addition to offering the best of the worlds of sedans and SUVs.
Trailing behind the RAV4 is its Japanese cousin, the CR-V, with 361,271 sales. The CR-V boasts the largest trunk in its segment, great fuel economy, and mediocre off-road performance. It is also one of the most reliable cars on the market right now.
The CR-V offers gasoline-powered as well as hybrid variants that you can choose from. The interior is modern but feels just like any other contemporary Honda.
The first sedan on this list is unsurprisingly the Toyota Camry, the vehicle that has been the go-to sedan for people looking for reliable and comfortable means of getting around town. Toyota has sold 313,795 units of this fine sedan over the last year.
The Camry first came out in 1983 and, in pure Japanese fashion, has established itself as a dependable family car ever since. If you want a vehicle that can take you from point A to point B indefinitely without drama, this is the one.
The next vehicle on the best-seller list is another Japanese crossover SUV with 285,602 sales in 2021. The Rogue can be thought of as Nissan’s equivalent of the RAV4 or CR-V. Nissan has made some serious improvements in the crossovers over the last year.
That can be seen in the 25% increase in the sales of the vehicle as compared to 2020. The Rogue provides a near-perfect balance between the driving manners of a sedan and the utility of an SUV.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The first ‘real’ SUV on the list of 2021’s best sellers is America’s favorite off-road vehicle, the Grand Cherokee. Jeep sold 264,444 of these in 2021. This American SUV is available as a two-row as well as a three-row model.
Owing to its reputation as a capable off-road machine that offers ample interior space and amenities, Jeep sold 26% more Grand Cherokees as compared to 2020 sales numbers. With a new two-row model planned, this SUV’s sales are only expected to go up.
This three-row SUV from the Japanese automaker has managed a bit fewer sales than the Grand Cherokee at 264,128 units. This was a very good year for the Highlander as it climbed up the best-seller ranks with 24% more sales than the last year.
The Highlander is regarded as one of the most dependable vehicles in the three-row SUV segment. It comes with traditional Japanese reliability, a modern design, and all the small interior features and amenities you’d need from a modern SUV.
The Civic has been on the best-seller list since it came out in 1973. If you want a car just for going to and from work, that you can also take on inter-city trips, the Civic is one of the best options on the market.
Honda sold 263,787 of these in 2021, a one percent increase from the last year. Sales were rather slow for the Civic in the first quarter but things improved once the redesigned Civic went on sale.
Mid-size trucks today are just like crossovers… and in this segment, the Tacoma outsells its competition by a large margin. Toyota sold 252,520 Tacomas in 2021. These trucks are available in a variety of different variants.
You can have a rear-wheel-drive for the road or a four-wheel-drive for off-road in a single or crew cab configuration as per your hauling needs. If you want the absolute beast of an off-road truck, the Tacoma TRD Pro is a great option.
Another of the chronic best-sellers is the Corolla. Ever since Toyota released this car in 1966, people bought it like crazy. It is one of the cars that made personal mobility possible for the masses, the result; Toyota has sold 50 million of these cars so far, the highest number of any car sales ever.
With 248,993 sales in 2021, the Corolla finished behind its archrival, the Honda Civic, but it still is and will be, for a long time to come, one of the best-selling cars of all time.
If you take a Chevy Silverado and stick a bunch of fancy stuff and nice materials inside it, you’ll get the GMC Sierra. If the F-Series is the favorite truck of the working-class Americans, the Sierra is what millionaires buy.
Just like the Silverado, the Sierra also comes in the standard 1500 and the beefed-up Heavy Duty models. General Motors sold 248,924 of these luxury trucks last year, 4% less than 2020, but still earning it quite a high spot in the best-seller list.
The Explorer is the American answer to the Highlander and the two were close at the start. However, with the TRD Pro badging (and maybe some Japanese sorcery) the Highlander’s sales spiked 24% compared to the last year, leaving the Explorer with its 219,871 sales in dust.
The Explorer is a great vehicle in itself, but when you are competing against one of the most well-established nameplates of one of the biggest automakers in the world, being great is just not enough, apparently.
You cannot name a more ‘Murcian SUV than the Jeep Wrangler, okay maybe the Hummer. Bring someone from the uncontacted Brazilian tribes and show them the Wrangler and they’ll scream: “That’s a ‘Murican SUV.”
Jeep has made sure to offer a lot of options in the Wrangler including an optional V8, a diesel V6, and even a plug-in hybrid. The Wrangler remains America’s favorite off-road vehicle with sales 2% higher than last year.
Surprisingly, Honda’s answer to the Camry has fallen far behind in the best-seller list and is bested even by its own younger sister, the Civic. Honda handed over the keys of 202,676 Accords to happy customers last year, a 2% increase over 2020.
Just like the Camry, there’s nothing fun about owning or driving an Accord, it is a vehicle meant just to transport you from point A to point B reliably, year after year and that’s what most people want from their cars.
Tesla Model Y
This is the best-selling EV in the US market as per 2021 sales numbers. It is a pleasant surprise to see this one on the list of the overall best-sellers too. That indicates a shift in buyers from gas-powered vehicles to EVs – a much-needed shift.
However, there’s a little caveat attached to the 172,700 units sold in 2021. Tesla does not officially release sales numbers for their vehicles and this is an estimate from Automotive News.
The CX-5 is not the best-selling crossover, not by a long shot, but it is a good vehicle. One that you can drive reliably and economically on and off-road. 168,383 of these were sold in 2021, a 15% increase over last year’s numbers.
The CX-5 stands out for its athletic handling, cutting-edge safety features, and modern interior design that’s distinctly different from other compact crossovers on the market. Still, there’s a long way to go if Mazda aims to beat the likes of CR-V and RAV4 in sales numbers.
Chevy has seen better days as far as Equinox sales are concerned. It is the only compact SUV that has seen a decline in sales over the last year. Chevrolet still managed to sell 165,323 of these in 2021.
Things might improve for this American compact crossover in 2022, as it has got a new design, but only if Chevy can deliver the vehicles on time and buyers don’t have to pay premiums to the dealerships.
Even though the sales of the Forester were down a massive 13% this year, you are still more likely to spot a Forester in a parking lot than any other Subaru. It is the best-selling model made by the Japanese automaker.
The reason Subaru managed to sell just 154,723 of these in 2021 is partly that the bigger Outback is available at comparable prices and offers much more in a station wagon body than this compact crossover.
If you want a pickup truck but want something more upscale, the Silverado is what you need to buy. Chevy sold 519,774 of these in 2021, a 13% decline in sales over the last year, and for the first time in a very long time, it was outsold by the Ram.
Still, the Silverado maintains its reputation of being the more comfortable and luxurious alternative to the Ram and F-Series and is favored by people who want the best of utility and comfort.
Beating the Silverado from second place in 2021 is the Dodge Ram family of trucks. Here again, you have a choice of a number of models with different sizes and engine powers. The biggest one of them is the Ram 3500.
While the F-Series is known for being extremely reliable and utilitarian, Ram trucks are known to be rugged workhorses that people use to haul equipment and crew on weekdays and to take their family to a picnic come weekend. Ram managed to sell 569,388 of these in 2021.
Topping the list with 726,004 sales, the Ford F-series remained the most popular vehicle in the US market in 2021. It managed to keep the first spot on the list even after seeing an 8% decline in sales over the last year due to a global chip shortage.
These vehicles are not only immensely reliable, but the lineup also offers all sizes of trucks from the rather domesticated F-150 to the all-out monster of a truck, the F-750 with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of up to 50,000 pounds. No matter what you need a pickup for, the F-series always has a model for you.
The Outback is probably the most popular station wagon available in the US market right now. It will be right to say that this vehicle is in a class of its own and has little to no competition. Subaru sold 154,623 Outbacks in 2021, 1% more than the last year.
The future seems bright for this station wagon as Subaru has launched a new off-road-focused Wilderness edition for the 2022 model year with 9.5 inches of ground clearance and other off-road enhancements.
The first Korean car to make this list is none other than everyone’s favorite compact crossover, the Tucson. Hyundai did a radical redesign of the Tucson for the last year and it seems people are liking it as there was a 22% increase in sales over the last year.
The Korean Automaker totaled 150,949 sales of the Tucson in 2021, and if the trend continues this year, we’ll see this crossover quite high in the list in the coming year.
The Escape has secured a position on the list but that’s not much of an achievement for it. Ford sold 19% fewer Escapes in 2021 than in 2020. Part of the reason for that is the redesigned Bronco Sport.
The new and improved Bronco Sport has managed to get 108,169 sales, still less than the 145,415 units the Escape has sold but enough to adversely impact Escape’s sales. However, Bronco or Escape, money is going in Ford’s pockets anyway.
In a world dominated by unibody crossovers, a body-on-frame SUV might appear a bit dated, but people seem to like it a lot. The 4Runner has managed to sell 12% more than 2020, totaling 144,696 sales in 2021.
The 4Runner has always had a special place in the hearts of hardcore SUV lovers, people who want to get the most out of their vehicle when it comes to going off-road. The 4Runner has been delivering just that since 1984.
This three-row SUV from Honda has managed to secure a spot on the list, even though it has been the same since 2016. The sales of the Pilot were up 16% over last year’s numbers, coming in at 143,062 units.
The Pilot is an interesting vehicle. Just like Honda’s Ridgeline is a hybrid between a minivan and a pickup, the Pilot is a hybrid between an SUV and a minivan, and it is a good one.
Honda sold 137,090 units of the HR-V, the smallest vehicle in their lineup. While other subcompact crossovers try to make a mark with aggressive and bold styling, the HR-V has a subdued exterior and minimalist interior.
It does shine though when it comes to cargo-carrying capacity. However, the rather boring 4-cylinder fails to bring any fun to driving. Still, it gets the job done and that’s what most buyers want.
Nissan sold 127,862 units of the Sentra in 2021 to buyers who do not care about driving verve. The Japanese automaker’s offering in the compact-car section is everything an average buyer needs: comfortable, reliable, and economical.
However, if you want some fun driving to and from work, you should add some more money to the $20,000 price tag of the Sentra and go for an entry-level Charger.
Subaru’s third entry on the list, the CrossTrek managed to sell 127,466 units in 2021. This car-based crossover is not something you’d like to take off-roading on real trails alongside Jeeps and Land Cruisers.
However, if you want something to tackle muddy roads and snow, the high ground clearance and standard all-wheel-drive make up for a pretty capable vehicle. If you need a more powerful version of this car, the sports trim is a good option.
The Elantra is probably the single most distinctive compact car out there. The 127,360 sales are not up there with the competitors like the Civic and Corolla, but still a good number for the Korean automaker.
The Elantra might appear overly styled from the outside but under the sharp creases of the shell is a spacious and practical compact car. Like any other compact economy car, you get a rather unexciting engine and transmission setup in the Elantra.
Tesla Model 3
With 121,610 sales in the last year, the Model 3 is the second best-selling electric vehicle in the US market. It is the most economic way to buy and drive a Tesla. The Model 3 offers punchy acceleration, lithe handling, and a reasonable range.
The all-digital interior might need some getting used to and charging the car still remains an unsolved problem, still, if you care enough about the environment to let your gasoline-powered car go, the Model 3 is the most viable and practical alternative.
Coming in at the 31st place is Chevy’s handsome minivan-alternative SUV, the Traverse. With a 3.6L V-6 and AWD, this vehicle is capable enough to tackle snowy and muddy roads and a bit of off-roading.
Chevy sold 116,251 units of the Traverse over the last year. This relatively newer car, which came out in 2008 has made a reputation of being comfortable and practical for family road trips and mild off-roading. It aims to deliver the best of both worlds… and it kind of does so.
If you think the RX is another of Lexus’s sporty and fun-to-drive cars, you’d be mistaken. Just look at this thing! No matter if you buy the standard, hybrid, or the F sport model, it is a softie.
It is a surprise that this is the only Lexus to make this list, whatever happened to the general public’s taste in cars! Anyway, Lexus sold 115,320 examples of this in 2021, impressive indeed.
Kia has made an attractive package in the form of the Forte, you get the looks and equipment of the Stinger Sport sedan at a much lower price, and that seems to be working out for them.
Kia sold 113,051 examples of the Forte in 2021, that’s more than any other car they sell in the US market. It is a surprise that this Korean car has proven to be a proper competitor for the likes of the Honda Civic Si and VW Jetta.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe is a good option for the ones who want a mid-size crossover but not the third row of seats. This crossover has managed to sell 112,705 units owing to its comfortable ride, premium appearance, and spacious cabin.
The Santa Fe offers four powertrains of which one is a hybrid and one is a plug-in hybrid variant. Anyone looking for an economical means of family transport can see Santa Fe as a viable option.
Even though the Tiguan is a global model of Volkswagen, the US has been its prime market where VW has sold 109,742 of these. VW offers only the long-wheelbase model of this vehicle in the American market.
The Tiguan offers athletic handling, a refined cabin with plenty of technology features, and a potent turbo four-cylinder engine. The biggest flexibility that this car offers is the option to add a third row of seats on demand.
Ford Bronco Sport
Styled like a mini version of the full-size Bronco, the Bronco Sport offers a perfect combination of the traits you’d like from a crossover that is equally good for urban living and adventurous weekends.
Owing to those qualities and the fact that this crossover lets you enjoy the looks of a Bronco for a highly discounted price, Ford has sold 108,169 of these in 2021. These numbers are not as high as those for the CR-V or RAV4, but it’s still quite an achievement for Ford nonetheless.
The Tahoe is the most versatile large SUV on the market right now. It blends the passenger capacity of a minivan with the towing capabilities of a pickup truck. It is also the favorite SUV for soccer moms and secret service guys.
Chevy sold 106,019 among moms who haul kids to basketball practice and guys who provide security to the most important people in the US. The future for the second-largest SUV from Chevy looks bright.
The Altima is a remarkable mid-size sedan with its attractive styling, athletic handling, and comfortable cabin. It might not be as excellent as the Accord or Camry but it isn’t as boring as other mid-size offerings, take the Passat, for example.
Nissan has sold 103,776 of these in the last year, a remarkable feat for the Japanese car rivaling the likes of the Camry and Accord, especially when the CEO of Nissan was a wanted fugitive who transported himself out of Japan in a box.
The Transit is the only full-size van on this list and for all the right reasons. Ford totaled 99,745 sales of the Transit in 2021. It has the most complete skill set of all the competitors in its class, including the Mercedes Sprinter and Ram ProMaster.
The Transit is known to be a van that is immensely capable and highly configurable, and those are the main selling points for this American-made van that puts the German rivals to shame.
Being on this list, no matter if it is the last place, is a bigger achievement for this three-row mid-size SUV than it is for any other car we’ve seen here. The Telluride came out in 2019 and still, Kia sold 93,705 of these in 2021.
The Telluride separates itself from other mid-size three-row SUVs by offering unrivaled value for money, unexpected luxury, and handsome looks. You can easily mistake the inside of this $40,000 SUV for a $90,000 Range Rover, no kidding, and that’s what translated to a sales success in 2021.