The sales numbers are in, so it’s time to crown the winners: which cars and trucks sold more than any other in 2011? Listed below are the ten best-selling cars of last year.
1. Ford F-Series -- 584,917 sales
American buyers like trucks, and specifically the Ford F-Series lineup: the Blue Oval sold over half a million of the pickups last year. The tally of 584,917 sales in 2011 represents a gain of 24.4 percent compared to a year earlier. Many of those trucks had V-6 engines rather than V-8s, and Ford has so far built 100,000 examples of the F-150 with its EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6. About 45 percent of F-150 buyers opt for the twin-turbo V-6 instead of traditional -- but much more fuel-thirsty -- V-8 mills.
2. Chevrolet Silverado -- 415,130 sales
The saying “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” comes to mind when discussing Silverado sales: Chevrolet’s truck family never seems able to match the prodigious sales volumes of the Ford F-Series. Still, the second best-selling vehicle in the country saw its sales climb 12.2 percent compared to 2010. A new version of the Silverado will launch soon; General Motors is spending $928 million to upgrade the three plants that build vehicles on its full-size truck platform. The retooling will happen late this year, possibly in time for the new trucks to launch in early 2013.
3. Toyota Camry -- 308,510 sales
Even with the upset caused by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Toyota Camry remained America’s most popular car. Toyota launched an all-new version of the Camry for 2012, and it appears to be resonating well with buyers; however, 308,510 sales in calendar-year 2011 represents a drop of 5.9 percent compared to sales volumes in 2010. With assembly lines running at full speed after recovering from the natural disaster, Toyota can likely expect slightly stronger sales in 2012.
4. Nissan Altima -- 268,981 sales
The Altima made huge strides last year -- its sales in 2011 were up 17.3 percent versus 2010 -- yet Nissan’s midsize offering couldn’t quite catch the Camry. The biggest news for the car was the addition of an Anniversary trim package to celebrate the Altima’s 20th year of production. We also spotted the next-generation 2013 Nissan Altima testing under the cover of camouflage tape.
5. Ford Escape -- 254,293
Even though Ford unveiled the all-new 2013 Escape at the Los Angeles auto show, the current model of the Blue Oval's compact SUV enjoyed a strong sales year. The Escape has sold nearly two million examples since it debuted in 2001, and this year total sales were up 33.1 compared to 2010. The 2013 Escape will switch to an all-four-cylinder engine lineup, including two efficient EcoBoost engines displacing 1.6 and 2.0 liters.
6. Ford Fusion -- 248,067 sales
As was predicted, 2011 was the best sales year ever for Ford’s Fusion sedan. The car’s hot sales streak happened even though it will be replaced early this year by the 2013 Fusion, set to bow at the Detroit auto show next week. We don’t know much about the new Fusion so far, but Ford has revealed that the new midsizer will feature a Lane Keeping System that can alert the driver or gently steer the car if it drifts out of the current lane. It remains to be seen whether the new Fusion will prove as successful as the current model for Ford.
7. Toyota Corolla -- 240,259 sales
Toyota’s second entry on this list is the Corolla, which still managed to be America’s top-selling compact sedan despite production slowdowns after Japan’s natural disaster. Still, sales of the Corolla fell 9.7 percent last year compared to 2010. The Corolla hasn’t significantly changed for 2012, which is hardly surprising given that Toyota refreshed the car for 2011.
8. Dodge Ram -- 244,763
Dodge's pickup truck lineup -- now officially under the Ram Truck brand, rather than the auspices of Dodge -- once again struggled to keep up with its Detroit rivals from Chevrolet and Ford. Still, annual sales rose a healthy 23 percent versus all of 2010. Now that the company's compact truck offering, the Dakota, has ceased production, it's possible a few more buyers will opt for the larger Ram 1500 as an alternative, potentially boosting the pickup's sales figures even further in 2012.
9. Honda Accord – 235,625 sales
Like Toyota, production and sales of Honda vehicles suffered last year in the wake of Japan’s earthquake. As a result, Accord sales ended the year down 16.9 percent versus a year prior, trailing home-turf rivals Altima and Camry, as well as the Ford Fusion. Honda will show a concept version of the 2013 Accord coupe at the Detroit auto show next week, which almost certainly previews a full redesign for the brand’s venerable sedan and coupe twins.
10. Chevrolet Cruze -- 231,732 sales
There is no denying that the Chevrolet Cruze sedan has proven a roaring success in Chevrolet showrooms -- indeed, the upstart was the second best-selling Chevrolet product of the year and outsold both the Cadillac and Buick brands for 2011. For now the car is offered only as a sedan with a choice of 1.8- and turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline engines, but Chevrolet plans to launch a version of the Cruze with a diesel engine from 2013.
Sources: Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan, Honda