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The Year in Auto Sales: 2019 Facts, Figures, and Bestsellers

We slice and dice the industry’s sales from 2019 so you don’t have to.

General Motors, which dealt with a 40-day strike last September and October, wasn't the only major automaker to suffer a sales decline in the fourth quarter. Also in negative territory for the calendar year were Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, and Nissan. For the fourth consecutive year, auto sales still managed to top 17 million units (17.1 million in 2019, according to Automotive News), even if that total is about 200,000 shy of 2018's numbers.

Though the trends still favor SUVs sucking sales from sedans, especially compact SUVs replacing midsize cars, increases among larger SUVs appear to be slowing. However, more all-new models are splitting the market pie while more and more sedan models are discontinued. Sedans continue to dominate at Hyundai and Kia, however, as the South Korean brands are still fleshing out their SUV lineups.

On the pickup truck side, Fiat Chrysler's all-out strategy on Ram pickup and heavy-duty pickup design and interior appears to be working, as that truck has surpassed the Chevrolet Silverado, with its "controversial" grille treatment and disappointing interior quality. The Silverado and GMC Sierra still outsell the Ram when the two GM model's sales are combined. And while Ram charged forward with an 18-percent sales increase last year, Fiat Chrysler's prime moneymaker Jeep slowed, with a 5-percent sales decline.

Elsewhere on the charts, Cadillac's strategy of expanding its SUV/crossover lineup is working. It was just 1,139 units short of catching Acura for fifth place on the bestselling premium marque chart.

Here are the figures you need to know:

1. General Motors: 2,887,046 | Down 2.3%

  • The United Auto Workers' 40-day strike against GM last fall took its toll. GM recorded a 6.3-percent drop in fourth-quarter sales to 735,909.
  • Chevrolet sales fell 3.8 percent for the year, to 1,958,925, while GMC enjoyed a 1.5-percent hike to 564,946 and Cadillac was up 1 percent, to 156,246. Buick sold 66 more vehicles in 2019 than 2018, for 206,929.
  • Chevrolet Silverado sales slid 1.7 percent, to 575,600 trucks. GMC Sierra was up 5.8 percent, to 232,323. Do customers prefer the front-end styling of the new Sierra to that of the new Silverado? If so, that bodes well for the upcoming GMC Yukon/XL versus the 2021 Chevy Tahoe/Suburban. Total sales for the two pickup trucks, by the way, were 807,923, up 0.3 percent.
  • Speaking of Tahoe/Suburban, the old, outgoing versions of these Chevy SUVs fell 7.1 percent, to a combined 153,117. The all-new Ford Expedition/XL certainly is gaining on the Chevys.
  • GM is touting its crossover and SUV success in the market. The Chevy Equinox is the automaker's non-pickup bestseller, at 346,048, up 4 percent.
  • Chevy sold 58,115 Blazers in its first full year of sales, and 4,910 Volts (-73.2 percent) in that car's last year. Bolt EV sales slipped 8.9 percent, to 16,418.
  • Chevy Traverse sales inched up 0.4 percent, to 147,122, while Trax was up 29.9 percent, to 116,816.
  • In the last full year of front-engine Corvette sales, the C7 was off 4.3 percent, to 17,988.
  • As it transitioned to a full-SUV brand, Buick sold 102,402 Encores, up 10 percent. Enclave was up 3 percent, to 51,156 and Envision was up 10.2 percent, to 33,229. Regal sales fell 26.6 percent, to 10,363.
  • GMC Acadia was up 12.2 percent, to 99,429 while Terrain was down 11.2 percent, to 101,470.
  • Cadillac's bestseller was the XT5, off 17.6 percent to 49,879, but the smaller XT4 was up 310.9 percent, to 31,987. XT6 sales totaled 11,559.
  • Cadillac CT6 sales fell 17.8 percent, to 7,951.

2. Ford Motor Company: 2,422,698, off 3.0 percent.

  • Ford division sold 2,310,494 vehicles last year, enough once again to be scored as the favorite automotive brand in the U.S. Credit the F-Series pickup, which accounted for 38.8 percent of that number. The Lincoln marque was up 8.5 percent, to 112,204 units.
  • Ford Motor had a fairly dismal fourth quarter, with overall sales off 1.3 percent, consisting of a 4.1-percent drop in SUVs, a 41 percent drop in car sales, though with a 15.9-percent increase in truck sales. Is Ford becoming a truck (and not SUV) brand?
  • Mustang led Pony Car Wars, though sales slipped 4.4 percent to 72,489. Dodge Challenger was off 9 percent, to 60,997 and Chevrolet Camaro was down 5.3 percent, to 48,265. Perhaps naming Ford's upcoming EV "Mach-E "was a good idea after all.
  • Though Ford's F-Series remained the bestselling nameplate in the U.S., sales slipped last year by 1.4 percent, to 896,526. Compare that with the Chevrolet Silverado's 1.7-percent decrease in sales last year (the much smaller-volume GMC Sierra was up), and it looks like Ram pickup's sales success may have bit into both the Ford and Chevy trucks in calendar '19.
  • Ranger sales totaled 89,571 in its first year back on the market, outselling GMC Canyon (32,825, off 2.0 percent) and the Frontier (see Nissan, below), but short of Chevy Colorado (122,304, off 9.3 percent) and Tacoma (see Toyota, below).
  • Ford's two volume SUVs both were down. The Explorer is an exceptional new design on a rear-wheel-drive-based unibody platform, but it has suffered a botched launch thanks to serious quality issues. Sales of the Explorer last year, which included both the new and old model, dropped 26.1 percent, to 168,309.
  • The other key SUV, the compact Escape, also had a model changeover at the end of the year, which may account for its 11.3-percent slip in sales to 241,388.
  • The refreshed Ford Edge was up 3.3 percent, to 138,515, and the lame-duck Flex, which had its own peculiar following, especially in Southern California, was up 20.6 percent, to 24,484. The large, body-on-frame Expedition clearly bit into Chevy Tahoe/Suburban numbers, as its sales skyrocketed 58.1 percent, to 86,422.
  • With the Focus disappearing from Ford dealers' lots, sales plummeted 89 percent to 12,480, though the smaller Fiesta, also a lame duck, was up 16.3 percent, to 60,148, a healthy number for a b-car.
  • Fusion, another soon-to-disappear sedan, was off 4.4 percent, to 166,045.
  • Ford GT sales surged 81.7 percent, to 229, still nine units short of Acura NSX sales.
  • Lincoln's SUV lineup did fairly well, with Nautilus/MKX up 11 percent, to 31,711 and Navigator up 4.6 percent, to 18,656, though Corsair/MKC sales slipped 1.6 percent, to 25,815.
  • Lincoln sold 8,323 of its new Aviators, another well-reviewed SUV that suffered the same launch issues as its Ford Explorer platform-mate. The since-discontinued MKT was up 45.8 percent, to 3,388.
  • Continental sales dropped by 24.8 percent to 6,586 and still short of the Cadillac CT6, causing Lincoln to try and commit suicide doors.

3. Toyota and Lexus Motor Sales: 2,383,349 | Down 1.8%

  • Toyota Division sold 2,085,235 units, off 2 percent, while Lexus delivered 298,114, off 0.1 percent, or just 196 fewer vehicles than in 2018.
  • Toyota RAV4 was America's bestselling non-pickup truck at 448,071, up 4.9 percent. Toyota says about 92,000 of those were hybrid models, 12,000 more than initially predicted. Group vice president and general manager Jack Hollis says Toyota division expects the new RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid will account for about 2 percent of 2020 sales, limited only by production.
  • Camry remains the nation's bestselling sedan, though off 1.9 percent last year to 336,978, while Corolla was up 0.4 percent, to 304,850. Though the hybrid Corolla and Camry take rate was roughly half the RAV4 hybrid's 20 percent, dealers say Prius customers tended to switch to Corolla hybrid more than the other two models.
  • Prius sales slid 20.4 percent, to 69,718. Sales of the hydrogen fuel-cell Toyota Mirai, which will be replaced with a handsome new rear-wheel-drive model this year, fell 11.6 percent, to 1,502.
  • Toyota sold 2,884 Supras, and 3,398 of its 86s (including Scion FR-S), the smaller car being off 18 percent.
  • Other than RAV4 and Land Cruiser (up 9.7 percent to 3,536), sales of other Toyota SUV models all fell, including 4Runner, off 5.6 percent to 131,888, and Highlander, off 2.1 percent to 239,438.
  • Toyota Tacoma was up 1.3 percent, to 248,801, while Tundra sales fell 5.6 percent, to 111,673. Despite its age, Toyota will not show a new Tundra model this calendar year.
  • All Lexus SUVs were down except the UX, with 16,725 sold in its first full year. RX was off 0.5 percent, to 111,036 and NX slid 5.4 percent, to 58,715.
  • Lexus ES was up 5.9 percent, to 51,336 and Is was of 34.9 percent, to 14,920.
  • Lexus LS was down 40.6 percent, to 5,528. LC was down 38.4 percent, to 1,219.

4. Fiat Chrysler: 2,203,663 | Down 1.0%

  • Ram enjoyed an 18 percent sales increase, to 703,023. Jeep was the bestselling brand again, though off 5 percent, to 923,291. Dodge was down 8 percent, to 422,886 and Chrysler fell 23 percent, to 126,971. Alfa Romeo sales slid 23 percent, to 18,292, still enough to outsell Fiat, which lost 41 percent, to 9,200.
  • Ram pickup outsold Chevy Silverado by 58,094 units, at 663,694, up 18 percent. ProMaster Van was up 21 percent, to 56,409, while ProMaster City sales fell 6 percent, to 12,920.
  • Grand Cherokee once again led Jeep sales, up 8 percent to 242,969, while Wrangler slipped 5 percent, to 228,032. The Gladiator pickup more than made up for Wrangler's 12,000-unit loss, at 40,047.
  • Cherokee was off 20 percent, to 191,397. Compass was off 16 percent, to 143,934, and Renegade was down 21 percent, to 76,885.
  • Dodge Charger was up 21 percent, to 96,935, while Challenger slipped 9 percent, to 60,997.
  • The old carryover Dodge Caravan was off 19 percent, but at 122,648, topped the much newer Chrysler Pacifica, off 17 percent, to 97,705.
  • Chrysler 300 sales fell 37 percent, to 29,213.
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio was Fiat Chrysler's bestselling Italian nameplate, though off 22 percent, to 9,444. Giulia was down 24 percent, to 8,704 and 4C was off 39 percent, to 144.
  • Fiat 500 was down 39 percent, to 3,267, and 500X was halved 52 percent, to 2,518.
  • Fiat sold 2,644 Spiders, down 25 percent.

5. American Honda: 1,608,170 | Up 0.2%

  • Honda division was up 0.3 percent, to 1,450,785. Acura was off 1 percent, to 157,385.
  • Like Toyota with its RAV4, Honda's sales were led by the CR-V, which was up 1.4 percent, to 384,168. Pilot was off 15.4 percent, to 135,008, and Honda sold 36,085 Passports.
  • Ridgeline sales rose 9 percent, to 33,334.
  • Civic was off by just 110 cars, or essentially 0 percent, to 325,650. Accord was down 8.1 percent, to 267,567.
  • RDX led Acura sales, though off 1.1 percent to 62,876. MDX was up 1 percent, to 52,019.
  • TLX led Acura sedans, though sales fell 12.9 percent, to 26,548. ILX shot up 30.3 percent, to 14,685.
  • NSX sales surged 40 percent, to 238.

6. Nissan Group: 1,345,681 | Down 9.9%

  • Nissan division sales fell 8.7 percent, to 1,227,973 and Infiniti dropped by 21.1 percent, to 117,708.
  • Rogue remains Nissan's bestseller, but its sales took a 15-percent hit last year to 350,477.
  • Altima was up by 37 units (0 percent) to 209,183. Sentra, the just-replaced old one, was down 13.3 percent, to 184,618.
  • Pathfinder sales slipped 2.8 percent, to 65,691, Frontier fell 9.1 percent, to 72,369 and Titan lost 37.5 percent of its sales, to 31,514.
  • Gainers were Kicks, up 149.6 percent, to 58,193, NV, up 18.5 percent to 20,022 and NV200, up 0.8 percent, to 18,768.
  • Leaf was off 16 percent, to 12,365, while 370Z sales fell 31.3 percent, to 2,384. Nissan sold 331 GT-Rs, off 38.5 percent.
  • On the Infiniti side, sales leader QX60 was off 8.9 percent, to 43,162. All Infiniti models lost sales in calendar '19, including the QX30, down 60.1 percent to 3,229, Q50, off 25.2 percent to 25,987 and Q60, down 44.1 percent, to 5,043.

7. Subaru: 700,117 | Up 2.9%

  • Outback was Subie's bestseller, up 1.3 percent to 181,178, though Forester was nipping at its heels, up 5 percent to 180,179.
  • Ascent sales grew by 126.3 percent, to 81,958.
  • Crosstrek sales slipped 9.2 percent, to 131,152.
  • WRX/STI was down 24 percent, to 21,838, and BRZ dropped by 39.1 percent, to 2,334. Combined Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ sales totaled 5,732.

8. Hyundai: 688,771 | Up 3.0%

  • Thanks to its Palisade and new Santa Fe SUVs, Hyundai had its best sales year since 2016. Note that the automaker has split off Genesis luxury brand sales into a separate release. Combined, the two brands sold 710,004 vehicles last year.
  • Despite Hyundai's upmarket moves, Elantra is still the brand's bestseller, though off 12.6 percent to 175,094. Similarly, the Tucson is still its bestselling SUV, though off 3.4 percent, to 137,381.
  • Santa Fe sales rose 8.8 percent, to 127,373. Hyundai sold 28,736 Palisades.
  • Sonata was off 16.8 percent, to 87,466.
  • Nexo sales jumped 507 percent, to 267.
  • Veloster sales rose 18.2 percent, to 12,849. Hyundai sold 1,077 Venues.

9. Kia: 615,338 | Up 4.4%

*NOTE: These are results corrected from previous versions of this post.

  • Kia's bestseller, the Soul, was off 6.4 percent, to 98,033. The next three were within a couple-thousand units sold of each other. Optima was off 5.3 percent, to 96,623. Sorento was off 11 percent, to 95,951. Forte was off 6.2 percent to 95,609.
  • So how did Kia post an overall sales increase? The new Telluride is riding high, with 58,604 sold in its first year on the market.
  • And Sportage was up, by 7.8 percent, to 89,278. Niro sales fell by 13.3 percent, to 24,467, while Stinger was off by 17.5 percent, to 13,861.

10. Volkswagen: 363,322 | Up 2.6%

  • Even with its expanded SUV lineup, VW last year was 211,501 units short of its U.S. sales record set in 1970. Bestseller was the Tiguan, at 109,963, up 6.7 percent.
  • Jetta was up 11 percent, to 100,453.
  • Atlas was up 37 percent, to 81,508, while Passat plummeted by two-thirds, to 14,123.
  • VW sold 2,449 Arteons in its first year, and 17,215 Beetles, up 19 percent, in its next-to-last.
  • Golf sales dropped 12 percent, to 37,393.

11. BMW Group: 360,918 | Up 1.8%

  • BMW brand was up 4.4 percent, to 324,826. Mini was off 17.4 percent, to 36,092.
  • The X3 is BMW's bestseller, up 14.3 percent to 70,110. X5 was up 21.3 percent, to 54,595.
  • The 3 Series was up 7.3 percent, to 47,827 and the 4 Series dropped by 40.7 percent, to 18,621.
  • The 7 Series was up 6.7 percent, to 8,823 and 21,574 of the new X7s were sold.
  • The 2 Series was off 3 percent, to 8,015, and i3 was down 20.6 percent, to 4,854.
  • Countryman led Mini, off 20.5 percent, to 13,969. All Mini models were down in '19, including the Cooper/S Hardtop 2 Door, off 15 percent to 8,462.

12. Mercedes-Benz USA: 357,729 | Up 1.0%

  • The Mercedes passenger-car marque was up by 47 units, 0 percent, to 316,094. Mercedes Vans were up 9.1 percent, to 41,635.
  • The GLC-Class is bestseller, up 5.6 percent to 73,650 units. GLE is next at 49,980, up 8.6 percent. C-Class is the bestselling car, at 49,153, off 18.6 percent.
  • E-Class/CLS was off 13.6 percent, to 40,113.
  • On the front-drive compact side, Mercedes sold 17,641 new A-Class sedans, topping the CLA, which was off 45 percent, to 12,400.
  • S-Class was off 16.4 percent, to 12,528 while GLS-Class was up 1.2 percent, to 22,225.
  • Mercedes sold 4,208 AMG GTs, up 175.9 percent.

13. Mazda: 278,552 | Down 7.2%

  • It's an SUV-led brand for sure, with bestseller CX-5 up 2.5 percent, to 154,545. CX-9 was off 4.9 percent, to 26,861. Mazda sold 899 of its new CX-30.
  • Mazda 3 was off 21.5 percent to 50,741, and Mazda 6 dropped 30.4 percent, to 21,524.
  • MX-5 Miata sales fell by 13.6 percent, to 7,753. Combined Mazda Miata/Fiat Spider sales totaled 11,397, but still nearly twice the number of Toyota 86/Subaru BRZs.

14. Audi: 224,111 | Up 0.4%

  • Q5 led sales, off 4 percent to 67,516. A4 was off 24 percent, to 26,435 and A5 was off 11 percent, to 23,023.
  • A6 sales jumped 69 percent, to 17,807, and A7 was up 2 percent, to 4,955.
  • Q8 was up 603 percent, to 14,256, and Audi sold 5,369 e-trons.
  • TT was up 3 percent, to 1,324, but R8 was off 36 percent, to 574.

15. Mitsubishi: 121,046 | Up 2.5%

  • Bestseller Outlander was up 0.8 percent, or 313 units, to 37,965. Outlander Sport was off 14.1 percent, to 33,644, and Outlander PHEV was down 32.5 percent, to 2,810.
  • Eclipse Cross was up 107.3 percent, to 19,661. Even Mirage sales rose, by 10.9 percent, to 26,966.


16. Jaguar Land Rover: 125,787 | Up 3.0%

  • Jaguar was up 2 percent, to 31,051 and Land Rover was up 3 percent, to 94,736. When Ford Motor Company sold the two to Tata in the early '10s, each marque contributed roughly 50/50 to the (much smaller) total.
  • As with other luxury brands, the bestselling model is far from the most affordable. Range Rover Sport was up 6 percent, to 25,768. Range Rover Velar was next-bestselling, at 17,087, up 50 units from '18.
  • Jaguar F-Pace was next, at 15,491, up 5 percent. E-Pace was up 7 percent, to 4,782 and XE was off 25 percent, to 3,551.
  • Jaguar F-Type was up 11 units, to 2,279. The I-Pace electric outsold it, up 560 percent, to 2,594.

17. Volvo: 108,234 | Up 10.2%

  • XC90 is again Volvo's sales leader, ahead of smaller, less-expensive models, with 35,760 sold last year, up 13.1 percent.
  • The XC60 was next, at 30,578, off 5.7 percent. XC40 was up 42.1 percent, to 17,654 sold.
  • On the Volvo car side, the S60 led with 17,526 sold, up 148.4 percent.

18. Porsche: 61,568 | Up 7.6%

  • Surprise. Macan is Porsche's bestseller, though off 3.6 percent, to 22,667. Cayenne was next, up 77 percent, to 19,001.
  • Panamera was off 17.6 percent, to 6,625, and Porsche sold 130 Taycans.
  • Porsche 911 was off 4 percent, to 9,265, and 718 sales plummeted 35.9 percent, to 3,880.

19. Genesis: 21,233 | Up 105.9%

  • G70 sales spiked 2,810 percent, to 11,901 units.
  • G80 was off 7.4 percent, to 7,094, and G90 was off by two units (0.1 percent) to 2,238.

Tesla

The EV-only brand says it delivered 367,500 cars and SUVs in fiscal 2019. But those numbers aren't broken down by model. And this number is for Tesla's global sales, so there is no comparison possible with domestic sales.

Bestselling Luxury/Premium Brands

  1. BMW - 324,826
  2. Mercedes-Benz - 316,094
  3. Lexus - 298,114
  4. Audi - 224,111
  5. Acura - 157,385

Bestselling Sports Cars

  1. Chevrolet Corvette - 17,988
  2. Porsche 911 - 9,265
  3. Mazda Miata - 7,753
  4. Porsche 718 - 3,880
  5. Toyota 86/Scion FR-S - 3,398

Bestselling EV-only Models

  1. Chevrolet Bolt* - 16,418
  2. Nissan Leaf - 12,365
  3. Audi e-tron - 5,369
  4. Jaguar i-Pace - 2,594

*The Tesla Model 3 may very well be the nation's bestselling EV, but Tesla does not release sales numbers at the same time as the rest of the industry. Automotive News reports total sales for the three-model Tesla line at 93,000 units YTD, off 13.3 percent.

Bestselling Midsize Cars

  1. Toyota Camry - 336,978
  2. Honda Accord - 267,567
  3. Nissan Altima - 209,183
  4. Ford Fusion - 166,045
  5. Chevrolet Malibu - 131,917

Bestselling Compact SUVs

  1. Toyota RAV4 - 448,071
  2. Honda CR-V - 384,168
  3. Nissan Rogue - 350,477
  4. Chevrolet Equinox - 346,049
  5. Ford Escape - 241,388

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