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The Best-Selling Car Model Every Year Since 1978 in the United States

Curious about the most popular car the year you graduated high school or the year you were born? Or perhaps you are car shopping and are doing your research on which car makes and models have withstood the test of time and earned the trust of the public. This infographic by the Alan’s Factory Outlet research team explores the best-selling cars in America every year since 1978 and can be a helpful tool when it comes to finding the most popular and most trusted cars of the past four decades. Read on to see our list of best-selling cars that spans from the 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass to the 2020 Toyota Camry and all of the favorites in between. Have you ever owned any of the most popular cars that made this list of car models?

Best Selling Car Model Every Year Since 1978

As you can see from this infographic, the Toyota Camry has dominated the most popular cars list since 1997. During this time, the Toyota company sold an average of 399,000 Camrys every year; they sold the most units in 2007, when 473,108 Toyota Camry sales were made across the country. Why is the Toyota Camry a good car? It is considered to be one of the most reliable cars of all time. Toyota Camry reliability is backed by J.D. Power’s expert review, which states: “Trading on its long-standing reputation for reliability, resale value, efficiency, and safety, the 2021 Camry is what midsize car shoppers frequently think of when the time comes to get a new vehicle.” It also has a history of high owner satisfaction ratings. Nearly every year since 2000, it has received either a four or five out of five (with the exception of 2008, 2017, and 2018, when it received three out of five). Due to this track record of satisfaction, the Toyota Camry has exceptional resale value. If you are interested in purchasing a used Toyota Camry, keep in mind that the four years when it received an overall five out of five satisfaction rating were 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2005. The Camry isn’t Toyota’s only popular and reliable car, though; four other Toyota models made the list of the ten best-selling models. The Toyota company dominates that list, with half of their vehicles making up the top ten, an impressive feat during a turbulent time for the automobile industry.

What Was the Best-Selling Car in the 1970s?

The Oldsmobile Cutlass was the best-selling car throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was found to have sold the most units in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1983, with more than half a million units sold in each of the first two years. The Oldsmobile Cutlass model appealed to many people, as it offered quite a few different variations, including a four-door sedan, wagons, fastbacks, and coupes.

Which other car models proved popular with the American people after the Cutlass had its reign as king? Interestingly, only seven different types of cars grace our list and have held the title of best-selling car over the past 42 years. This list of cars includes the Oldsmobile Cutlass, Ford Escort, Chevrolet Cavalier, Chevrolet Celebrity, Honda Accord, Ford Taurus, and Toyota Camry.

How many years did each of these popular cars hold the title of best-selling car in America?

  • The Ford Escort was the best-selling car model in 1982, 1987, and 1988.
  • The Chevrolet Cavalier was the best-selling car model in 1984 and 1985.
  • The Chevrolet Celebrity was the best-selling car model in 1986.
  • The Honda Accord was the best-selling car model in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 2001.
  • The Ford Taurus was the best-selling car model in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996.
  • The Toyota Camry was found to be the best-selling car model in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

What Is the Best-Selling Car of All Time?

The best-selling car of all time in the world is the Toyota Corolla. It made its debut in 1966, and since then, more than 49 million Toyota Corollas have been sold worldwide. It is by far Toyota’s most successful vehicle — one in every five Toyotas sold is a Corolla. Why is the Toyota Corolla so popular? The Toyota Corolla is known for its reliability, safety, gas mileage, longevity, and reasonable price. It is one of the most widely available cars globally, with factories worldwide producing high volumes to keep up with the steady demand. In addition, the Toyota Corolla continues to be upgraded to make it as safe and user-friendly as possible. With 50 years of trusted Toyota innovation under its belt, it is no wonder that the Corolla dominates the market. And another Toyota car is the best-selling car in the United States today: the Camry.

What Is the Best-Selling Vehicle in the United States?

While this infographic covers the best-selling cars that are found across the United States, you may be curious about the most popular vehicles of any type in America. Here are the best-selling vehicles in the United States of 2020, according to CNBC:

  1. Ford F-Series (787,422 units)
  2. Chevrolet Silverado (594,094 units)
  3. Ram pickup (563,676 units)
  4. Toyota RAV4 (430,387 units)
  5. Honda CR-V (333,502 units)
  6. Toyota Camry (294,348 units)
  7. Chevrolet Equinox (270,994 units)
  8. Honda Civic (270,994 units)
  9. GMC Sierra (253,016 units)
  10. Toyota Tacoma (238,806 units)

Pickup trucks are the most popular vehicles in the U.S. The Ford F-Series dominates the market as the best-selling vehicle in America, with nearly 200,000 more units sold than the second-place Chevy Silverado. It comes as little surprise that a Toyota is the best-selling passenger vehicle that’s not a truck, with the Toyota RAV4 landing in fourth place with more than 400,000 units sold. According to Edmunds, the Toyota RAV4 is the most popular SUV and was responsible for kicking off the SUV craze in the United States. As for America’s best-selling car, the Toyota Camry’s 294,348 units sold put it as the sixth best-selling vehicle of any type in 2020.

How Much Do Americans Spend When Buying a New Car?

While public transportation is the most popular method of transportation in some countries around the world, people in the United States value having their own personal vehicles to do things like drive to work, run errands, and visit friends and family. An estimated 95% of American households own a car, which equates to many millions of cars of the road, considering that there are more than 122 million households in the United States. So how much are Americans spending when they buy a new car? According to Experian’s State of the Automotive Financial Market report, the average new vehicle loan amount is $37,280, and average monthly payments amount to $606. Meanwhile, the used car market has seen a large jump in prices: The new average for a used car loan reached a high of $25,909, which amounts to an average monthly payment of $465. The cost of a new vehicle has been on the rise and will probably continue to rise, as the auto industry is also dealing with shortages due to the recent supply chain issues that have been interrupting commerce around the world.

Here is the Complete Timeline of the Best-Selling Car Model Every Year Since 1978 in the United States

Year and Car ModelUnits Sold
1978: Oldsmobile Cutlass520,279 units sold
1979: Oldsmobile Cutlass518,160 units sold
1980: Oldsmobile Cutlass469,573 units sold
1981: Oldsmobile Cutlass454,188 units sold
1982: Ford Escort337,667 units sold
1983: Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme331,179 units sold
1984: Chevrolet Cavalier383,752 units sold
1985: Chevrolet Cavalier422,927 units sold
1986: Chevrolet Celebrity408,946 units sold
1987: Ford Escort392,360 units sold
1988: Ford Escort381,330 units sold
1989: Honda Accord362,707 units sold
1990: Honda Accord417,179 units sold
1991: Honda Accord399,297 units sold
1992: Ford Taurus409,751 units sold
1993: Ford Taurus360,448 units sold
1994: Ford Taurus397,037 units sold
1995: Ford Taurus366,266 units sold
1996: Ford Taurus401,049 units sold
1997: Toyota Camry397,156 units sold
1998: Toyota Camry429,575 units sold
1999: Toyota Camry448,162 units sold
2000: Toyota Camry422,961 units sold
2001: Honda Accord414,718 units sold
2002: Toyota Camry434,135 units sold
2003: Toyota Camry413,296 units sold
2004: Toyota Camry426,990 units sold
2005: Toyota Camry431,703 units sold
2006: Toyota Camry448,445 units sold
2007: Toyota Camry473,108 units sold
2008: Toyota Camry436,617 units sold
2009: Toyota Camry356,824 units sold
2010: Toyota Camry327,804 units sold
2011: Toyota Camry308,510 units sold
2012: Toyota Camry404,886 units sold
2013: Toyota Camry408,484 units sold
2014: Toyota Camry428,606 units sold
2015: Toyota Camry429,355 units sold
2016: Toyota Camry388,618 units sold
2017: Toyota Camry387,081 units sold
2018: Toyota Camry343,439 units sold
2019: Toyota Camry336,978 units sold
2020: Toyota Camry294,348 units sold

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By Alan Bernau Jr

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