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The 10 Best Selling American Cars in History And 25 Least Wanted

What Is The Best Selling Car In America? And Which Ones Flopped Here?

Ford Taurus

American automobile manufacturers have been releasing amazing muscle cars over the past few years and appear to be experiencing a resurgence of sorts.  Cars such as the Dodge Hellcat, Chevrolet Camaro Z28, Corvette z06 and others appear to be winning the horsepower wars with very powerful cars that represent tremendous value when looking at horsepower per dollar.

American vehicles and auto manufacturers are mentioned many times in the record books for their accomplishments.  One of the most distinguished measures has to do with records about production.  While an American vehicle holds the number two spot for the highest production numbers in the World, who is on the list for the top selling American cars in history?

Without further ado, here is a list of the all time best-selling cars and trucks in America:

Ford F-Series Pickup Truck (1949-Present)
36 million units sold

The best-selling American car of all time is not a car, but rather a truck.  It is still going strong almost 70 years after its introduction.  With a reputation as a work horse, many Ford trucks have been purchased as a work vehicle for rugged tasks.  It’s durability, reliability and utility has made the F-Series is the second best-selling brand in the World, second only to the Toyota Corolla, but still the best selling car in America, or rather the kind of all trucks in America.

Ford Escort (1968-2003)
20 million units sold

The Ford Escort was introduced in Europe in 1968.  Europeans immediately took to its sleek design and economy.  Since its release, the Ford Escort has found tremendous success in motorsports in Europe and throughout the World.  In 1981, the Escort was released in the United States as a replacement to the Ford Pinto.  While Americans embraced the Escort, Europeans had much more enthusiasm for the vehicle than American consumers.  Of the total vehicles sold, Ford claims that more than half of sales of this best-selling vehicle were in Europe.

Ford Model T (1908-1927)
16.5 million units sold

Before the Model T, only the rich could own an automobile.  Henry Ford’s contribution was not only the Model T, but the assembly line as well.  The result was a car people could afford.  Priced at $825 when it first came out, (approaching $22,000 in 2016 prices), the Model T was priced one-third the price of other cars in the day.  As a result, it is obvious why the Model T is on this list. Arguably one of the most iconic best selling American car out there.

Chevrolet Impala (1958-Present)
15 million units sold

When the Impala was first released, it caught the eye of performance enthusiasts and had quite a following.  In recent years, it has had a reputation for no-frills transportation.  The Impala is a staple of rental car, police and taxi fleets throughout the United States.  The Impala is in its 10 generation and continues to sell very strongly, especially as a fleet vehicle.

Ford Fiesta (1976-Present)
15 million units sold

The Fiesta is about economy and budget.  It is primarily targeted at young, first time car buyers or people seeking an economical vehicle.  Fiestas start at around $15,000 and go up from there.  The Fiesta is truly a global car in that most Fiestas are produced in Germany.  Assembly lines producing much smaller numbers exist in China, Thailand, and Mexico.

Oldsmobile Cutlass (1961-1999)
11.9 million units sold

Over the years, the Oldmobile Cutlass has been available in many different body styles including a two door, four-seater, four door sedan and station wagon.  Additionally, the Oldsmobile Cutlass has been produced as compact vehicle all the way to high performance muscle car.  Like the Mustang and Olds 88, the Cutlass holds a special place in American culture.  Its most popular nameplate is the Cutlass Supreme, a mid-sized, mid-priced car that was the best selling car in America in 1976.

Ford Focus (1998-Present)
10 million units sold

Emerging first n 1998, the Ford Focus is on track to be at the top of this list in the next few years if things continue as they have been.  Ford claims that the Focus has been the most popular name-plate in the World since 2012, based on vehicle registrations.  A big part of the Focus’ success is attributed to its fuel economy of 40mpg.  As long as our economy remains challenged, the Focus will continue to sell well.

Ford Mustang (1964-Present)
9.4 million units sold

First revealed at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, the Ford Mustang went on sale at dealerships that same day.  Buyers flocked to dealers with their checkbooks in hand, buying 685,989 Mustangs by the end of 1965.  The Mustang is indelibly linked to American culture.  It has been symbolized in song and cinema alike since its release.  To this day, there are many car clubs around the World focused exclusively on the Ford Mustang.  Its influence can be found in many leading muscle cars from the era including the Camaro, Firebird, Challenger, AMC Javelin and Plymouth Barracuda.  Vehicles influenced that are not muscle cars include the Toyota Celica and Mercury Capri.

Oldsmobile 88 (1949-1999)
8.8 million units sold

Towards the end of its production run, Oldsmobile and the Oldsmobile 88 were very popular amongst more mature buyers.  However, when the Oldsmobile 88 was first introduced, it appealed very strongly to the younger generation.  In fact, the Olds 88 is widely regarded as the first muscle car.  At the time, it dominated NASCAR and also found its way into the popular culture.  As time went on, the Olds 88 was renamed the Eight-Eight and became associated with larger, more luxurious models targeted at older buyers.  As Oldsmobile’s luster faded in the 80s and 90s, so went the 88.

Ford Taurus (1986-Present)
7.8 million units sold

The Ford Taurus entered production in the mid 1980s with great expectation.  Ford’s first vehicle with front wheel drive, the aerodynamic shape of the Taurus was well received by consumers in the marketplace.  By the 1990s, it was the best selling car in the United States, dominating sales between 1992 and 1996.  Because of the emerging popularity of imports such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, sales of the Taurus waned.  At the time, Ford was also focused on building profitable trucks and SUVs, rather than the Taurus..  As would be expected, sales plummeted and production stopped in 2006.  A year later, Ford reversed their position and the Taurus was once again in dealer showrooms.  The Ford Taurus is currently in its sixth generation.  Because of the increase in competition in the marketplace, sales of the Taurus are only a fraction of what they were in their heyday in the 90s.

So now you’ve seen what the best selling car in America is, how about the cars that performed the worst in the sales arena? Here’s a list of 25 cars American consumers are steering clear of…

The Top 25 Least Wanted Cars In America

2016 saw US consumers buy more cars than ever. The old all-time record was slightly beaten with 17.55 million new trucks and cars finding their way into parking lots of many American car buyers. Despite fears over the automotive industry peaking, vehicle buyers seemed to enjoy the wave of a much stronger economy which set its own record of straight employment gains over the last 75 months.

The pace has, for the most part, been steady in the automotive industry in 2017. As expected, pickup trucks are on top of the chart with Ford’s F-150 topping the sales chart in the US as well as other Detroit models following its example. Also performing well are the trucks and SUVs who are a having a good year like never seen before in the industry (taking almost 60% market share). However, this trend seems to decline when it comes to smaller vehicles which have been left vulnerable. We cannot go without mentioning this dark side of the story.

Even in the wake of the flourishing market conditions, car buyers are running for their heels regarding many cars that you can come across in dealer lots. In particular, 25 models are experiencing low volumes or mentionable sales declines attributed to their dying popularity. As the struggle gets more real for these models in 2017, we’re doing our due diligence and bringing to you the top 25 least wanted vehicles in America.

25. Toyota Avalon

It’s hard to come across a car that outlasts the Toyota Avalon. This full-size sedan has a huge number of spectacular models in its line that have hit the 200,000-mile mark and still keep on going. This, however, does very little for the sales bit. By February 2017, only 2,610 units of the Avalon had been sold which translates to a 34% drop compared to 2016. Avalon is currently holding the 112th position on the sales charts. Tis’ no Toyota RAV4, that be sure.

24. Jeep Patriot

Consumer Reports’ findings stated that between the year of 2014 and 2017, buyers of the Jeep Patriot were regretting their decision of buying the the new carwith many of them citing reliability issues as being the main problem. Jeep is scheduled to replace the Patriot with the brand new Compass and this might just be the solution for the future. Until the era of the Compass comes, the Jeep Patriot continues to take hits on sales. Its sales were split in the middle just between last year and early this year. Compared to the likes of the Jeep Wrangler or Jeep Grand Cherokee, this was a sales flop of epic proportions.

23. Mini Cooper

Even though some Mini Cooper designs show tremendous improvements and are holding their own, they’re still bumping into a sales wall. By February 2017, the Cooper’s sales had gone down by a whopping 56% compared to the year before. Just recently, the Mini Cooper announced a depressing sales total of 481 models per month which isn’t enough to earn it a spot on the top 200 US sales chart. Despite having excellent Kelley Blue Book reviews and icon status, the Mini Cooper fails to attract new customers.

22. Ford Transit Connect

If we’re talking about the average consumer, the Ford Transit Connect might be the last car on their buying list. However, this working van has been a best performer for the Ford brand in the recent years. However, this is coming to an end as it is now riding the same boat with other E-Series models experiencing declines. In the first two months of 2017, it has seen a decrease of 35% in sales, managing to sell only 2,102 units per month. This has earned it the 127th spot in the US market.

21. BMW 5-Series

2017 will see a new BMW 5-Series hit the US market, but the current model has failed to impress consumers. The outgoing 5-Series had a 26.6% drop to 32,408 in 2016 earning it the 128th spot in the US market. Well, in 2017, its performance is deteriorating even further. The first two months of this year has seen it take a 47% sales drop.

20. Jeep Compass

A new Jeep Compass is on its way to replace both the existing one and the Patriot and will still bear the same name. Jeep, which has seen a decline in sales in 2017 for this model, can’t wait for the launch of the new Compass. By February 2017, the underachieving SUV had a sales dip of no less than 61%. To put it into perspective, this car once did 9,000 units at any given month which has now reduced to 2,700 per month.

19. Chevrolet SS

Would you be willing to part with $47,000 for a Chevrolet sedan? If your answer is a resounding NO, then your thoughts are aligning with that of every other consumer in the US. Chevy’s Super Sport has always been a darling of many critics about not making any significant sales, but at its current state, it’s barely doing any registrations. By early February, the SS was holding the 244th spot in the market, selling around 312 units per month. Seemingly fitting, SS’s production will come to a halt when General Motors stops their operations in Australia this year. How can this be such a flop when the same brand makes epic best-selling vehicles like the Chevrolet Equinox and legendary Chevrolet Silverado.

18. Toyota Prius C

In an auto world where the exceptional 52 mpg 2017 Toyota Prius is having a decline in market share year after year, the 46 mpg-Prius C has failed to catch the consumer’s eye. By early 2017, its sales went down by 1,372 units (40% drop). This saw the Toyota Prius occupy the 165th place in the US market sales chart which is not something to marvel about, especially for this particular car. Even with a gas-friendly offering, this Toyota still isn’t working out for many consumers.

17. Dodge Dart

If you’re looking for a vehicle that Americans didn’t want anything to do with in 2016, the Dodge Dart fits the description. Its sales crashed by 50.6%, selling only 43, 402 units and taking the 110th position for the year. By December 2016, the sales had plunged by 74% compared to the year before and the trend seems no different in 2017.

16. Nissan Juke

With a face that’s only loveable to a mother, the Nissan Juke has certainly seen better days in the auto industry. In early 2017, the Juke had sales drops of 30%, year over year. The current state is that the once funky crossover is struggling to even sell 1,200 units any given month landing it on the 162nd spot in the charts. Next phase should be extinction. Get rid of it altogether and make another thing that resemble the Nissan Rogue instead, or stick to regular and compact sedan models like the Nissan Altima and Nissan Sentra.

15. Buick Regal

If you were to have a chat with auto reviewers and car journalists, they will give you all sorts of praises for the Buick Regal. If you were to have the same conversation with American buyers, the story would be entirely different. This high-end sedan that used to rack 2,000 in sales per month in 2016, is now struggling to reach half the same number in 2017. In early 2017, their sales were down by 54%.

14. Volvo XC90

Talking about some of the most neglected vehicles over the decades would see us reach the conclusion that the Volvo XC90 tops that chart from behind. During its debut year, the XC90 scooped some awards with the enthusiasm among many automotive journalists remaining very high. As for the sales, it’s a different story. In February, the model was getting comfortable on the 158th position in the US market with its sales plummeting by 40% compared to the year before. Even some of the most unwanted cars such as the Dodge Dart are doing better than the XC90.

13. Lexus IS

In general, the US market hasn’t been kind to sedans, and some of the polarizing models such as the Lexus IS have found it rather challenging to maintain any sort of rhythm. As per February 2017, the sporty luxury design had a 43% sales dip, year over year. With their sales just under 1,700 units per month, the Lexus IS is nowhere to be seen in the top 150.

12. Cadillac CTS

In general, Cadillac sedans haven’t been having a pleasant experience in the US auto market with the ATS attracting double-digit dips from 2016, floundering in the 182nd spot. The CTS is no different, having a 38% drop in 2017. In February, the sports sedan had managed to only sell 913 units which landed it in the 191st spot. As per the moment, it seems like no number of Soho-based ads can come in handy for this model.

11. Fiat 500X

The Fiat 500X isn’t attracting any positive reviews, especially after Consumer Reports ranked it as the worst car when it comes to reliability in 2016. This reputation might have perhaps preceded the 500X in North America’s Fiat Dealerships. The first few months of 2017 saw the 500X drop in sales by about 44%, averaging around 600 units getting sold per month. This poor performance has seen it achieve a 199th spot in the US market, a step above the Mendoza line.

10. Kia Rio

If you’re looking for a cheap mode of transportation from point A to B, the Kia Rio will fit the description. However, buyers aren’t still lining to get the cheap transporter. Its sales fell by 43%, year after year. This means that only 840 units were sold in America in February. The 37% decline in the first two months of 2017 was a better news.

9. Acura ILX

If you were to get Americans to choose the Acura ILX out of a vehicle lineup, you would experience too much confusion. Some might assume it to be a Honda Civic with a more good-looking badge. However, such cheap semantics won’t do anything for the vehicle as it had a 51% drop doing only 739 units in sales in the first two months of 2017. On the sales chart, it is in the 195th place. A Honda CR-V, this ain’t.

8. BMW 2-Series

If we’re looking at the top-rated luxury brands, BMW was the worst performer of them all in 2016. In general, the luxury brand took a 9.5% slump in sales year over year while its counterparts, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, made some strides forward in the American market. One of the vehicles that saw the brand behind was its 2-Series model which took a sales hit of 45% in February 2017, selling only 598 units a month. The performance saw it attain the 198th position.

7. Nissan 370Z

One would be surprised to learn that they can get the Nissan 370Z in its new form. This car has been around since its debut in 2002. Realizing its sales peak of 37,000 in 2003, it has steadily been on the extinction trend (.e in 2016 when it only did 5,913.) The 370Z was viewed as one of America’s deadliest vehicles. In February 2017, it only did 400 units in sales.

6. Acura RLX

If you’re one of the people that thought the ILX had a restricted audience, then welcome to the Acura RLX.  This modern $55,000 car features some of the best tech and safety offerings that you would wish for in a machine. All that’s lacking now are buyers. As per the current state, the Acura RLX can’t afford to take any more sales drops in the US market. Leading up to February 2017, it occupied the 252nd spot and didn’t even manage to sell 100 units in March. Only a few cars are these irrelevant.

5. Chrysler 200

It’s not like we’re ganging up on the Chrysler, but what we’re saying is that numbers don’t lie. The midsize sedan had the sharpest drop in sales in 2016 than any other active car. It also fell 65.8% down from 100,000 vehicles to 57,294, year over year. Apparently, the 200’s retirement is way overdue. The downward trend also extended to 2017’s first quarter.

4. Lexus CT

The Lexus sports models and the CT 200h models are riding into 2017 but car buyers aren’t following along as they’re supposed to. After a bad performance in 2016, the CT is declining even more in 2017. Early 2017 saw it record 40% in sales drops, selling only 458 units in February. The vehicle locked down the 212th position in the US auto market given the dull performance.

3. Fiat 500L

The Fiat 500L has never been a car to marvel about for any crowd, and the situation is getting even more severe for the vehicle in 2017. After a whopping 14 months of total irrelevance, the 500L was almost making its way out of the chart with only 72 units being sold in February. Such a horrible performance ensured it got the 253rd place. The prior year saw it took an 81% decline. To get acquainted with this bad performance, you can take a look at the Consumer Reports’ reviews that rendered it number 22 out of 22 available compacts.

2. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

American consumers couldn’t want this Mitsubishi less. It’s the real definition of an insect of a car which you would never think to be possible. Only one of these cars was bought in February, making it five purchases for the whole year. If you think that’s hilarious, just keep in mind there’s potential for it falling much further i.e down to zero sales.

1. Kia K900

If we’re talking in technical terms, the Kia K900 is typically not the worse when it comes to sales in America. That said, the courtly luxury sedan only did 31 units in sales in February 2017 which basically sends it to extinction. It’s holding the 270th position in the US sales chart. Like many other vehicles featured in this list, critics are in love with the K900. However, all they need are some buyers.

About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them, but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. I founded GearHeads.org and then built and ran AutoWise.com until selling it to Lola Digital Media in 2020. I look forward to watching AutoWise grow as part of the AllGear group.