The 30 Best-Selling Vehicles of Last Year

the tailgate of a black 2018 ford f-150

Overall vehicle sales for 2021 were up compared to 2020, but that’s not exactly surprising considering the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted production with plant shutdowns and scared away shoppers from dealerships when the worldwide pandemic first began.

Things weren’t exactly rosy, however, as the pandemic has caused supply chain issues, particularly for much-need computer chips which are important parts of today’s tech-heavy vehicles. Some automakers even began selling models without some of the previously standard tech options in order to stretch their chip parts to the most vehicles possible. So while sales were up for the year, they were only up 3.4% in 2021.

Ford’s F-150 is, yet again, the best-selling vehicle in America for the 35th year in a row. And yes, you read that right. It’s not just the best-selling truck; it’s the best-selling overall vehicle of any that are sold in the U.S. Honestly, that should tell you all you need to know about America’s driving sensibilities. Only 2 of the top 10 are passenger cars.

30. Tesla Model 3

a black tesla model 3 driving through a snowy scene

(image via Tesla)

121,610 sold

This year, history was made. For the first time ever, TWO fully electric vehicles ranked in the top 30 most-sold in the country for a calendar year. The Tesla Model 3 used to be Tesla’s #1 selling model…that is, until its SUV-ish cousin the Model Y debuted. The Model Y beat it this year, but the Model 3 still sold a respectable 121,610 units.

29. Hyundai Elantra

a red 2021 hyundai elantra driving a city street

(image via Hyundai)

127,360 sold

Hyundai’s Elantra is sporting a daring new design. Perhaps that’s why this compact car’s sales figures are up nearly 21% year-over-year during a time when SUVs are reigning supreme. What probably helped is that gas prices are starting to tick upward again, and the new Elantra offers a hybrid model for the first time.

28. Subaru Crosstrek

a dark slate gray 2020 subaru crosstrek

(image via Facebook)

127,466 sold

While sales numbers across the industry were down, Subaru actually had a pretty good year. The automaker had 3 models on the top 30 list in 2021. That’s an improvement from a couple of years ago. While we think the Crosstrek is just a lifted wagon, all of the sporty plastic cladding draws buyers to this “crossover.”

27. Nissan Sentra

a dark gray 2021 nissan sentra driving down a road

(image via Nissan)

127,862 sold

It always seems surprising to us that a Nissan sedan makes its way into the top 30 every year. But every year, there it is. The Sentra has a middling score in our compact car rankings, but buyers bought enough of the model for it to land at #27 for most-sold vehicles of 2021.

26. Honda HR-V

a blue 2021 honda hr-v driving through a city

(image via Honda)

137,090 sold

We actually rank the Honda HR-V near the bottom of its class, but it doesn’t seem that buyers care about that. For comparison, something like the highly-rated Hyundai Kona isn’t even in the top 30. One thing the HR-V does have going for it is that you can usually find a pretty good deal being offered. That’s especially enticing when car prices are near all-time highs.

25. Hyundai Tucson

a dark slate colored hyundai tucson driving through the desert

(image via Hyundai)

140,721 sold

In past years, Hyundai’s top seller was the Elantra. Now Hyundai has caught up with the rest of the industry by having a compact crossover as its #1 model. With a spunky redesign in 2021 (sold as a 2022 model year), the sales of the Tucson may keep climbing higher and higher.

24. Honda Pilot

a black 2020 honda pilot

(image via Facebook)

143,062 sold

The Honda Pilot improved on its top 30 rankings, moving from #28 in 2020 to #24 in 2021. While its CR-V crossover sibling is in the top 5, the much larger Pilot lags behind. But since large SUVs are selling up a storm, these sales numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

23. Toyota 4Runner

a red 2020 toyota 4runner

(image via Facebook)

144,696 sold

The Toyota 4Runner is overdue for a redesign, but buyers don’t seem to care. This is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And Toyota isn’t going to mess with a good thing if its 10-year-old design sells enough to land at #23 on this list.

22. Ford Escape

a red 2021 ford escape parked on the street

(image via Ford)

145,415 sold

The Ford Escape fits squarely in the compact crossover segment that is booming, and its sales numbers reflect that. However, the model didn’t surpass its all-time sales record set in 2017. Part of the blame can be laid on the inventory issues that carmakers had in 2021.

21. Subaru Outback

a white 2018 subaru outback at an auto show

154,623 sold

After many years, the Outback slipped to Subaru’s second best-selling vehicle…by only 100 units! Technically, it’s a station wagon (and the only station wagon on the list), but don’t tell the masses! They’ve convinced themselves that the Outback is a “short” crossover. Whatever works; the sales numbers don’t lie.

20. Subaru Forester

a blue 2018 subaru forester at an auto show

154,723 sold

Subaru’s Forester leapfrogged its formidable sibling, the Outback, when it came to sales in 2021. This compact crossover SUV underwent a complete overhaul for the 2019 model year, so expect to see the Forester on the best-seller list for years to come as compact crossovers become the class to beat.

19. Tesla Model Y

a dark blue 2019 tesla model 3

(image via Facebook)

161,527 sold

The Tesla Model Y is selling like hotcakes, and it is one of TWO purely electric vehicles on this list. Yes, for the first time ever, there are two different electric car models in the top 30 best-sold in the U.S. Tesla’s Model 3 is the only other electric car to sell near this number in a single calendar year.

18. Mazda CX-5

a red 2018 mazda cx-5 at an auto show

163,940 sold

Mazda cracked the top 30 again for the third year in a row. The CX-5 is by far the brand’s best-performing vehicle when it comes to sales numbers. This single model makes up 50% of all Mazdas sold in the U.S.

17. Chevrolet Equinox

a red 2018 chevrolet equinox on the street

165,325 sold

Chevy only has 2 models on this list of top 30 best-sellers. The Equinox is consistently Chevrolet’s second-best performer (after the Silverado). But it took a tumble in 2021 all the way down to 17th place after a 7th-place finish in 2020. A redesign for the aging current generation is needed to keep things on the up-and-up.

16. Honda Accord

a black 2018 honda accord

202,676 sold

Even though we prefer the Honda Accord over its competitor, the Toyota Camry, the Camy outsold it by a considerable margin. And yet, the Accord saw a 2% increase in sales from 2020. It’s Honda’s 3rd-most sold model.

15. Jeep Wrangler

a white 2018 jeep wrangler

204,610 sold

A couple of years ago, Jeep’s iconic boxy off-roader was the brand’s top-seller. The excitement has died down from a redesign released a couple of years ago, but a new plug-in electric version released this year may have helped boost things 2% year-over-year.

14. Ford Explorer

a blue 2018 ford explorer

219,871 sold

Ford bungled the rollout of the redesigned 2020 Explorer when it released in calendar year 2019. With production issues, low availability, and competition from a newly redesigned Toyota Highlander, the Explorer dropped 3% year over year after a fall of 28% the year before. That being said, the Explorer is still the #2 US-made SUV in the country.

13. Toyota Corolla

a blue 2019 toyota corolla

(image via Facebook)

223,215 sold

The Corolla is one of the few passenger cars to have passed 200,000 units sold in 2021. A redesigned 2020 model (including a brand-new hybrid offering) helped to entice more buyers. Still, it fell just outside the top 10, a place where it has been firmly entrenched during the previous decade.

12. GMC Sierra

a white 2019 gmc sierra

(image via Facebook)

248,923 sold

The Sierra trail’s the big 3’s truck models by a considerable margin, but GMC is making up ground since its 2019 redesigned with an innovative tailgate. Most carmakers struggled to keep inventory in 2021, and that may have plagued GMC, too. Sales were mostly flat, only down 0.5% year-over-year.

11. Toyota Tacoma

a red 2018 toyota tacoma

252,490 sold

We told you to get ready to see Toyota’s name. Much like compact crossovers, mid-size pickup trucks also saw big sales gains. The Tacoma, however, is the only mid-size truck that makes this list. Its sales show no signs of slowing as a redesigned model is on the horizon. Compared to 2020, the Tacoma sold 6% more units.

10. Jeep Grand Cherokee

a white 2018 jeep grand cherokee at an auto show

254,445 sold

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee lept to the top of Jeep’s pack of models. It’s no coincidence that Jeep’s largest model was on a sales high when gas prices were low. Now that they are starting to creep up with inflation, time will tell if it will remain Jeep’s top-seller. An updated redesign is on the way this year, which should help.

9. Honda Civic

a gray 2018 honda civic at an auto show

263,787 sold

The new aggressively sporty design language that Honda has chosen for its latest generation of the Civic has pushed the compact car ahead of its compact competitors (including the Toyota Corolla). It still lags behind America’s best-selling car, the Camry, however. That being said, it’s one of just two cars in the top 10.

8. Toyota Highlander

a silver 2021 toyota highlander

264,128 sold

The Toyota Highlander just takes over the 8th spot ahead Jeep. Sales are up 24% year over year, thanks to a redesign. There aren’t many options for 3-row hybrid SUVs. Having the best fuel economy numbers in its class probably helps.

7. Nissan Rogue

a 2022 red nissan rogue parked on top of a parking deck

(image via Nissan)

285,602 sold

The Nissan Rogue took a tumble in 2020 to 12th place. Typically, it had been in the top 10 best-sellers. But that year, Nissan was rolling out a new updated Rogue and so sales were start/stop until dealers cleared the old model and go their hands on the newer version. Sales took off again in 2021, the first full year the new model was on the market. In fact, sales were up 25% in 2021.

6. Toyota Camry

a white 2018 toyota camry

313,795 sold

The Toyota Camry is still the best-selling car in America, but it has fallen from higher positions in recent years as buyers move toward crossover SUVs. But in 2021, its sales were actually up by 7%. So all the doom and gloom about people not buying sedans doesn’t necessarily hold true for the Camry.

5. Honda CR-V

a blue 2018 honda cr-v

361,271 sold

Honda’s top-selling vehicle in 2021 was the CR-V. It squeaked ahead of the Toyota Camry. Since 2014, this crossover and the Civic have battled it out for the brand’s top spot. In recent years, buyers have preferred SUVs to sedans. A new CR-V Hybrid model added even more to the sales column, which was up 9% year over year.

4. Toyota RAV4

the interior of a 2019 toyota rav4

(image via Facebook)

407,739 sold

The #1 SUV and #1 non-truck in the U.S. is the Toyota RAV4, which underscores just how important the 2019 redesign was for the RAV4. Toyota didn’t want to mess with a good thing. Thankfully, we still find it one of the best bets in the segment.

3. Chevrolet Silverado

a red 2019 chevrolet silverado

(image via Facebook)

519,774 sold

Chevy and Ram both released redesigned models in 2019. And in a surprising win for Ram, it helped them hop into 2nd place above Chevy. The trend didn’t continue in 2020, as Chevrolet’s Silverado squeaked out a few more sales to win back the 2nd place spot behind perennial leader Ford. However, they fell behind Ram for 2021. It seems that buyers simply like the Ram’s design more.

2. Ram Pickup

a dark gray 2019 ram pickup

(image via Facebook)

569,388 sold

Climbing up from 3rd place last year, Ram finds itself back in second after a surprise 2nd-place finish in 2019 also. It’s clear that buyers appreciate the relatively new design of the fifth-generation Ram 1500 (or maybe just the good deals that can be readily found at dealerships). Ram was running neck-in-neck with Silverados last year, but now they are firmly ahead of the Bowtie company.

1. Ford F-Series

a blue 2018 ford f-150

726,004 sold

There should be no surprise here. Ford’s F-Series of trucks tops the best-seller’s list for the 35th year in a row. We’ll see you at the top again next year, Ford.