Best-Selling American Cars

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBest-Selling American Cars
In a global economy, the concept of an “American” car is not easily, clearly or irrefutably definable. Years ago, the only vehicle considered an American car was one designed and manufactured in the United States by a U.S.-based company that employed workers primarily in the USA. Now that the auto industry has become a global enterprise with manufacturing and parts sourcing from all over the world, traditional American-brand vehicles are often built outside U.S. borders, while many European and Asian-based car companies build vehicles in America. In light of this ambiguity, what follows are the best-selling American cars — vehicles of time-honored American brands, based on 2020 U.S. sales as reported by auto manufacturers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience25. Jeep Gladiator
2020 Sales: 77,542
Vs. 2019: +93.6%
Although a pickup truck had not been part of the Jeep lineup in nearly 30 years, for 2020 the brand returned to this lucrative market with the all-new Gladiator. Gladiator started the new year as 2021 North American Truck of the Year, and while 2020 sales look impressive, Gladiator sales began in mid-2019. Fourth-quarter 2020 sales were up 23.6 percent year over year Much more than simply a Wrangler with a pickup truck bed, the Gladiator shares only about half its parts with the legendary off-roader. The new truck still carries the attributes and standout features of the Wrangler — including its off-road capability, open-top driving, and even the removable doors and folding windshield. But it also is a proper truck with the utility and equipment to match or exceed all other midsize trucks on the market.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience24. Ford Expedition
2020 Sales: 77,838
Vs. 2019: –9.9%
The Expedition is Ford’s full-size, truck-based SUV built with body-on-frame construction and seating for up to eight. Although Expedition sales were down about 10 percent for the year, fourth quarter 2020 sales were up 7.5 percent year over year — enough of an increase to push Expedition into the Top 25 Most Popular American brand vehicles. Ford began producing Expedition in 1997 when it replaced the aging Bronco, and today it’s offered in six trim levels: XL, XLT, Limited, King Ranch, Platinum and STX with standard rear-wheel drive and available 4-wheel drive. Expedition MAX sits on a 9.1-inch longer wheelbase and the overall length is 11.9 inches longer than Expedition. Expedition is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 producing 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 10-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift.

© General Motors23. GMC Terrain
2020 Sales: 86,020
Vs. 2019: –15.2%
One of the few models that had steady first-quarter 2020 sales compared to the same period in 2019, the GMC Terrain dropped steeply in the second quarter but finished the fourth with a 15 percent drop for the year. This 5-passenger crossover features a bold grille, sculpted headlights and C-shaped rear light graphics. In addition to the top-line Denali trim, Terrain is available in SL, SLE and SLT trims with three engine choices, all with available all-wheel drive. The standard engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter unit that produces 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 9-speed automatic transmission. For 2020 Terrain added the Elevation Edition available on SLE and SLT, highlighted by 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, a darkened grille insert, a black grille surround, black mirror caps, roof rails and black badging.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience22. Chevrolet Tahoe
2020 Sales: 88,238
Vs. 2019: –12.8%
Tahoe recorded a 36 percent sales increase for the fourth quarter of 2020 year over year, thanks to the arrival of an all-new 2021 model. There aren’t many vehicles on the road that compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe, which has helped it rank as the best-selling full-size SUV in America for 19 consecutive years. Chevrolet builds the 2021 Tahoe — and its larger SUV sibling, the Suburban — on a new chassis with a longer wheelbase and new independent rear suspension. Not only does this setup provide an improved ride, it also allows for a lower load floor, increased cargo capacity and improved overall passenger space including 10.0 inches of additional third-row legroom. Tahoe retains its squared-off classic SUV styling, although the 2021 model features sculpted doors and pronounced fenders that add considerable character. Available with 2WD or 4WD, Tahoe engine choices include an all-new 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel, a 5.3-liter V8 rated at 355 horsepower, and a 6.2-liter V8 rated at 420 horsepower.

© FCA US21. Chrysler Pacifica
2020 Sales: 93,802
Vs. 2019: –4.0%
Pacifica finished 2020 in a good position thanks to the arrival of the revised 2021 model; fourth-quarter sales were up 7.4 percent and total sales for the year were down only 4.0 percent. Introduced in 2017, Pacifica replaced the aging Town & Country minivan in the Chrysler lineup and today accounts for the bulk of Chrysler sales. With contemporary styling and a slew of innovations, Pacifica is arguably the best minivan Chrysler has built since it created the category more than 30 years ago. For the first refresh since its debut, Pacifica receives a new look designed to give it more of a sport-utility vibe with a much larger grille, standard LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights. The van continues to be available with the 287-horsepower Pentastar V6 engine, or with an innovative plug-in hybrid system delivering more than 30 miles of electric-only driving. For the first time, Pacifica is now offered with an advanced all-wheel-drive system. Pinnacle is the new top-line trim with a Satin Carbon grille, Platinum Chrome trim, Caramel / Piano Black interior color theme, Nappa leather seats with quilted side bolsters and perforated seat inserts for all three rows.

© General Motors20. Chevrolet Blazer
2020 Sales: 94,599
Vs. 2019: +62.8%
One of two models in the top 25 best-selling SUVs in America to post a sales increase for 2020 compared to 2019, the new Blazer launched in the first quarter of 2019 so sales are still increasing despite the current pandemic. The all-new Blazer marks the return of a storied name from one of the original truck-based SUVs that debuted 50 years ago. Unlike its original boxy design, the new Blazer is a bold, sporty midsize crossover. Available as the L, Blazer, RS and Premier, the Blazer comes well equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and dual-zone climate control. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder unit producing 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. A 3.6-liter V6 is standard for RS and Premier and optional for Blazer, producing 308 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.

© General Motors19. Chevrolet Colorado
2020 Sales: 96,238
Vs. 2019: –21.3%
The Colorado and its GMC Canyon sibling returned to the U.S. market as 2015 models — at the time the only American-brand midsize pickup trucks in the category. For 2021 Colorado gets refreshed with exterior updates including a new grille, front fascia and tailgate designed to create more differentiation between trim levels. Colorado WT, LT and Z71 receive updated center grille bars that extend to the headlights. WT and LT have gold bowties and Z71 has a black bowtie. The Colorado ZR2 features a black flow-through grille. A new Chevrolet infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and available navigation is standard for LT, Z71 and ZR2. Colorado is offered as extended cab or 4-door crew cab with rear- or four-wheel drive. Engine choices include a 308 horsepower V6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel that produces 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque for a maximum trailering rating of 7,700 pounds.

© Ford Motor Company18. Ford Ranger
2020 Sales: 101,486
Vs. 2019: +13.3%
Following an eight-year hiatus, the Ford Ranger returned to the U.S. market in 2019 and sales continued to build through the first half of 2020 before tapering off, with fourth quarter sales down 17.9 percent year over year to finish the year up 13.3 percent. The midsize pickup truck is available in a number of configurations with all variants getting a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Inside, the Ford Ranger offers seating for up to five, a center stack with an 8-inch touchscreen for the available SYNC 3 system, and dual LCD screens in the instrument cluster to display vehicle, navigation and audio information. Ford has been selling Ranger pickups in other areas of the world, so when the company brought the midsize model back to the U.S. it reengineered the new truck specifically for the North American market.

© General Motors17. Chevrolet Malibu
2020 Sales: 102,651
Vs. 2019: –22.2%
A familiar name in the Chevrolet lineup off and on for more than 50 years, the Malibu received fresh styling and upgraded features for the 2019 model year. Malibu sales are not as high as they once were, since passenger car buyers now tend to opt for crossovers, although Malibu is still the best-selling passenger car in the General Motors portfolio. For 2019 Chevrolet added some spice to the Malibu lineup with the all-new Malibu RS. The RS stands out with a black sport grille, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and 18-inch machined wheels. Malibu is available with two fuel-efficient turbocharged engines, including the 2.0-liter turbo that puts out 250 horsepower.

© General Motors16. Chevrolet Trax
2020 Sales: 106,299
Vs. 2019: –9.0%
Chevrolet’s compact SUV started 2020 with a sales increase of nearly 15 percent in the first quarter, although things have abated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales were down 21 percent in the fourth quarter, ending the year off 9 percent. Trax is offered in three trim levels: LS, LT and Premier, with the LS starting at $21,300. Trax draws power from an Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged engine making 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels. Trax receives EPA ratings of 26 mpg city / 31 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined, and when equipped with AWD is rated at 24 mpg city / 29 mpg highway / 26 mpg combined.

© FCA US15. Jeep Compass
2020 Sales: 107,969
Vs. 2019: –25.0%
Compass sales more than doubled in 2018 after the small SUV underwent a redesign that made it look a lot like a miniature Grand Cherokee. Sales cooled in 2019 and continued to slide in 2020, although things improved in the fourth quarter. Built on FCA’s small-wide 4 x 4 architecture, Compass has four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. Compass gets powered by a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine producing 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 9-speed manual transmission for 4 x 4 variants and a 6-speed automatic for 4 x 2 versions. An 80th Anniversary Edition based on Latitude includes 19-inch wheels with Granite Crystal finish, leather seats with Light Tungsten accent stitching, a Uconnect 4C nav with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, a 7-inch full-color TFT instrument cluster display and Piano Black and Anodized Gun Metal interior accents.

© Ford Motor Company14. Ford Edge
2020 Sales: 108,886
Vs. 2019: –21.4%
Ford’s midsize crossover received a new exterior look last year, boosting Edge sales to a modest 3.3 percent increase in 2019. Sales slowed significantly for the first three quarters of 2020, although the fourth quarter improved to a 14.9 percent drop and Edge finished the year down 21.4 percent. Edge is offered in SE, SEL and Titanium trim levels, as well as the new Ford Edge ST — the first utility vehicle from Ford Performance. The Edge ST is motivated by a 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine producing 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. It also has an 8-speed automatic transmission, standard all-wheel drive with selectable traction control, ST-tuned suspension and an available performance brake package. A new Titanium Elite Appearance Package includes 20-inch bright machined aluminum wheels and a body-color rear bumper, front bumper and lower fascia.

© Ford Motor Company13. Ford Fusion
2020 Sales: 110,665
Vs. 2019: –33.4%
In 2019 Ford announced it will end production of all passenger car models, including the best-selling American passenger car — the Fusion. Despite its imminent demise, Fusion continues to remain popular with American shoppers, outselling all other American-brand passenger cars. Fusion received a refresh for the 2019 model year with subtle exterior design changes, interior improvements and standard Co-Pilot360, which includes automatic emergency braking, a blind-spot information system, lane-keeping assist and a rearview camera. Fusion is available with a variety of powertrains including hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

© General Motors12. Chevrolet Traverse
2020 Sales: 125,546
Vs. 2019: –14.7%
The Chevrolet Traverse had strong sales in 2019 before dropping early in 2020, although the 3-row crossover finished with fourth quarter sales up 23.5 percent. Last year Chevrolet debuted a refreshed 2021 Traverse scheduled for release last fall, but the launch has been pushed back to this year as a 2022 model. For 2021 Traverse is offered in seven trim levels: L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country. Chevrolet Infotainment 3 and an HD rear vision camera are standard. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 9-speed automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive. The Traverse RS is offered with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that delivers 257 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission.

© Ford Motor Company11. Ford Transit
2020 Sales: 131,556
Vs. 2019: –14.5%
Like almost every other vehicle on his list, Ford Transit sales were down for calendar 2020 when compared to the previous year; however, the full-size Transit had a slight sales increase in the fourth quarter. Transit remains the best-selling van in America, outselling competitors by a considerable margin. Much of its success can be attributed to its versatility — Transit can be configured in almost 60 ways thanks to two available wheelbases, three roof heights and 150, 250 and 350 variants. The Transit seats up to 15 passengers, or as a cargo van offers a total of 487 cubic feet of space. With the high-roof option, a person 6 feet 5 inches can stand upright. Last November Ford announced plans to add the fully-electric 2022 E-Transit scheduled to arrive at the end of 2021. The 2022 Ford E-Transit will be powered by single electric motor expected to produce 266 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. With a 67-kwh battery, Ford estimates the E-Transit will travel up to 126 miles on a single charge (for the low-roof variant).

© FCA US10. Jeep Cherokee
2020 Sales: 135,855
Vs. 2019: –29.0%
The Jeep Cherokee received an update for 2019; however, Coronavirus and tough competition had sales lagging nearly 35 percent earlier in 2020 before fourth quarter sales picked up. Cherokee’s updated exterior includes a more vertical 7-slot grille, a new fascia, new headlights and a lightweight aluminum hood. Like all Jeeps, this popular SUV delivers legendary off-road capability with available features including a lifted off-road suspension, skidplates, tow hooks, Selec-Terrain traction control, and Selec-Speed Crawl Control. An 80th Anniversary Edition based on Latitude LUX includes a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 19-inch wheels with Granite Crystal finish, power front seats with lumbar, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, Uconnect with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, premium leather seats with Light Tungsten stitching, Anodized Gun Metal interior accents and Berber floor mats.

© Ford Motor Company9. Ford Escape
2020 Sales: 178,496
Vs. 2019: –26.1%
Ford’s original compact 5-seat crossover, Escape was the segment’s best-selling American-brand for many years. Although redesigned for the 2020 model year, Escape sales dropped 36 percent year-to-date in June and 32 percent year-to-date in September before rising a bit in the last three months to finish 2020 down 26 percent. The redesigned Ford Escape is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor with different looks than the previous generation. The front end features an all-new grille surprisingly similar to those on the Focus and Fusion passenger cars rather than Ford SUVs. The Escape is available with a choice of four engines; the standard unit is a 3-cylinder 1.5-liter EcoBoost producing 180 horsepower. With the latest generation Escape, Ford also brought back the Escape Hybrid — available as a standard hybrid or as a plug-in.

© FCA US8. Jeep Wrangler
2020 Sales: 201,311
Vs. 2019: –11.7%
Not even Wrangler is immune to the pandemic — sales dropped almost 12 percent during 2020. The modern descendant of the original U.S. military vehicle, Wrangler upholds the Jeep name and legacy of extreme off-road capability. Both 2- and 4-door versions are available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon trims with numerous special editions including Willys, Freedom and the luxurious High Altitude. For 2020 Jeep added a fuel-efficient diesel powertrain to the Wrangler, as well as the new luxurious High Altitude edition. For 2021 Jeep adds a Wrangler 80th Anniversary Edition and Islander. Current engine options for 2021 are a turbocharged 2.0-liter, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a 3.6-liter mild hybrid and a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel. Also coming in 2021: the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid and the 470-horsepower Wrangler Rubicon 392.

© FCA US7. Jeep Grand Cherokee
2020 Sales: 209,786
Vs. 2019: –13.7%
One of the original and most popular SUVS of all time, the Grand Cherokee set a new sales record for 2019 and moved past Wrangler as top-selling Jeep model. Despite the pandemic and without a major redesign in 10 years, Grand Cherokee recorded respectable sales numbers in 2020. Jeep has already unveiled the all-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L, which is scheduled to go on sale this spring. Grand Cherokee L is 15 inches longer than the current version and offers a third-row seat for the first time. The updated two-row Grand Cherokee — as well as the hybrid Grand Cherokee 4xe — will arrive later in 2021. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L features slim LED headlights, a smaller forward-leaning 7-slot grille, a roof that tapers to the rear spoiler, and slim wraparound taillights. Initial engine choices will be a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and a 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience6. Ford Explorer
2020 Sales: 226,217
Vs. 2016: +20.9%
The best-selling SUV of all time, Explorer sales slowed in 2019 but the arrival of an all-new 2020 model boosted sales last year. As a result, the revamped SUV is one of the few vehicles in the Top 25 American models to post positive numbers for 2020. With its first major redesign in 10 years, the new Explorer is built on an all-new rear-wheel-drive flexible architecture designed to improve ride and handling as well as the vehicle’s overall capability. The standard engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder unit producing 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Two new versions have been added: the 400-horsepower ST and the 318-horsepower (combined) Limited Hybrid. Explorer now has Co-Pilot360, a suite of safety features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, post-impact braking and a rearview camera with lens washer.

© General Motors5. GMC Sierra
2020 Sales: 253,106
Vs. 2019: +8.9%
The best-seller in the GMC lineup, the Sierra’s 2019 sales ended on a high note and have continued that upward trend in 2020, bucking the overall downward direction for U.S. auto sales. Like its Silverado sibling, the Sierra was completely new for the 2019 model year. Larger in practically every dimension, the new Sierra boasts a range of new comfort, convenience and safety features. One of Sierra’s standout differentiators is the MultiPro Tailgate, which offers six positions for easier loading, as well as use as a standing workstation. A range of engine / transmission options are available, including a new 2.7-liter turbo and a new turbodiesel powertrain. For 2020 GMC added the AT4 Carbonaro Edition with a composite bed, unique grille surround and 18-inch wheels. For 2021 GMC expands Sierra’s standard features and increases the trailer-towing capability to 36,000 pounds on properly equipped 3500 HD variants.

© General Motors4. Chevrolet Equinox
2020 Sales: 270,994
Vs. 2019: –21.7%
Chevrolet’s second-best-selling vehicle after the full-size Silverado pickup, Equinox continues to be the best-selling American-brand SUV. Equinox finished 2019 with a second straight year of record sales and, despite the 21.7 percent drop in 2020 volume, was the third best-selling SUV overall. Last year Chevrolet debuted a refreshed 2021 Equinox scheduled to arrive last fall, but the launch has been pushed back to this year as a 2022 model. For 2021 Equinox stands out in the crowded crossover segment with projector-beam headlights, LED running lights, wider horizontal taillights and LED taillights for upper trim levels. Inside, the Equinox features a down-and-away instrument panel with a low windshield base for improved outward visibility. The two engine choices for Equinox are a 170-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo or a 252-horse 2.0-liter turbo, both teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission. For 2020 Chevrolet added the Midnight Edition Equinox to the lineup.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience3. Ram Truck
2020 Sales: 563,676
Vs. 2019: –11.0%
Ram introduced an all-new 1500 pickup for 2019 and followed shortly thereafter with the Ram Heavy Duty, and then finished 2019 with the fourth straight year of record Ram sales. The pandemic impacted Ram sales along with nearly every other model line, and thus the brand was unable to continue its record streak, finishing 2020 down 11 percent. The new Ram features updated exterior styling, and the interior is one of the nicest on the market. Six trim levels are available, as well as a new lineup of powertrains that includes a powerful diesel and will eventually feature a hybrid system. The updated Ram Heavy Duty now boasts a new diesel with 1075 lb-ft of torque providing a 37,100-pound towing capacity. For 2021 Ram adds the high-performance 702-horsepower TRX, designed for tackling off-road terrain at high speeds.

© General Motors2. Chevrolet Silverado
2020 Sales: 594,094
Vs. 2019: +3.2%
Chevrolet introduced an all-new Silverado 1500 for the 2019 model year; although sales were down at the start of 2020, the pickup finished the tumultuous year as one of the few vehicles showing positive growth year over year. The updated Silverado launched with fresh styling as well as improved performance and capability. Chevrolet’s best-seller can be configured in hundreds of ways with different cab sizes, bed lengths, drive systems and trim levels that range from the basic Work Truck to the luxurious and powerful High Country. With seven different engine / transmission combinations, the Silverado 1500 can be set up for whatever task necessary — including towing up to 13,400 pounds when the need arises. The new Silverado is longer and wider than its predecessor, which means more passenger space as well as more cargo room. Through an extensive use of mixed materials, engineers were able to lighten Silverado by an impressive 450 pounds, with 88 pounds of that coming off the body. Silverado received updated styling inside and out, as well variety of powertrains ranging from a new turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant to V8 options with dynamic fuel management.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience1. Ford F-Series
2020 Sales: 787,422
Vs. 2019: –12.2%
Even the best-selling vehicle in America was not immune to the sales downturn in 2020, although the Ford F-Series still outpaced the competition to remain the number one seller in America. The F-Series extends its streak as the best-selling vehicle in America to 39 years — 44 years as best-selling truck. This trend is likely to continue since Ford is currently rolling out a completely new 2021 F-150. With fresh styling, an updated interior, an available new hybrid powertrain, a range of innovative and versatile new features and a class-leading 14,000-pound towing capacity, the 2021 Ford F-150 will likely continue to bolster F-Series sales. For the first time ever, Ford will be offering F-150 with a hybrid powertrain. An onboard generator not only charges the hybrid battery when needed, it can also be used to power other items.

Source: Automaker sales data

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